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Photo/Jeff Harris

Does your heart pump a little faster when you hear the melodic song of slot machines, or the snap of a card as it’s dealt from a dealer’s shoe? Then get ready to enjoy this issue of Cigar Aficionado.

Gambling is part of this magazine’s DNA, something we’ve covered from our very first issue. Most of our magazines have a story about betting in one form or another, but for the first time in our nearly 30-year history we’ve put together a comprehensive cover package that will arm you with everything you need to know about gambling. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever presented to you before.

Gambling is red-hot and Americans just can’t get enough of it, whether it’s using a phone to place a bet on the game or going to a casino. Last year, a record $53 billion poured into the U.S. commercial gaming industry, according to the American Gaming Association. That was a 21 percent increase over the $43.6 billion spent in 2020, the previous record.

People have returned to casinos, ready to have fun and put down some money in hopes of a payout. And modern technology is making it easier to bet without leaving your home. That’s particularly true in the $4 billion sports betting industry, the fastest-growing gambling segment, which saw revenues rise by nearly 200 percent last year.

We love to play too, but we really love to win. With the house always holding an edge we need all the help we can get. No matter what the game, we have you covered with this complete guide to gambling. We will tell you when to hit and when to hold in blackjack, the (many) spots to avoid on a craps table, how to win in a poker tournament and how to channel your inner James Bond and master baccarat. Our primer on sports betting includes a directory of the best apps, many of which will give you bonuses for your business. (We even give you tips on roulette, a fun game but one with bad odds that, frankly, should be avoided.)

And because it’s our firm belief that gambling in a cigar-friendly environment is the only way to bet, our editorial team researched hundreds of casinos across the United States to find the ones that are most welcoming to cigar smokers. From Washington State to California, from Arizona to upstate New York, we have a list of fine casinos with a cigar-friendly atmosphere.

So grab the dice (and your favorite smoke). Let’s hope the tables are kind.