Before last week, everything I knew about casinos was learnt from Rain Man and Ocean’s Eleven. I’m terrible at maths and can barely rustle up four friends to go to the pub, let alone ten to enact a plan, so until last Monday, I had never stepped foot in one. That changed when Empire Casino offered to show me what it really means to spin the roulette wheel with one of their Learn to Play Packages. The class (£29.50 with a burger and drink) teaches you how to play Blackjack and Roulette, two seemingly simply games with a surprising amount of variations.
Over the course of an hour, our croupier explained the various rules, including how to place a bet and what Blackjack actually entails (hint: it’s not screaming ‘twist’ every five seconds). After we’d blown a grand's worth of chips playing cards, we headed over to the roulette wheel, where after an explanation of how to bet, we were left to our own devices. Once we were done betting, we were taken for a meal at FuLuShou, a Chinese restaurant that serves up affordable dishes such as Singapore noodles, sticky pork ribs and steamed sea bass.
I certainly had my reservations about casinos but Empire’s lesson was great fun. It also turns out there is a lot more to Blackjack and roulette than I first thought. The venue isn’t just gambling though, the upstairs bar must be one of their best kept secrets, with views over Leicester Square and a generous happy hour from Sunday-Thursday.
Empire Casino is located 5-6 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7NA. There learn to play classes cost £29.50 and include an hour lesson, burger and drink.