Casino games vary in style, payouts, strategy, and more. There are handfuls of games available as well as multitudes of versions of each! In this guide, we will cover the four main non-slot casino games and their variations along with two more games you may run into, so that you can confidently pick which to play on your next visit.
CHOOSING A GAME
With an abundance of options available, there are many ways to decide on what to play. You can pick a game by type, or judge games based on their house edge, skill factor or strategy needed to play, and how much chance they rely on.
Types of Games
Picking What to Play
When choosing a game, think about the following as you consider each aspect of the game:
House Edge:Pick games with a lower house edge for better value for money in the long run.
Potential Payout:Check games offer the potential to win big relative to your stake.
Skill Factor:Do you prefer games of pure chance or those involving skill and strategy? How well do you know to play?
Enjoyment:Which games do you find the most fun? Do you prefer speedy games or slower ones?
Consider games that are fun for you and in which you know how to play to win. Which of these games has the lowest house edge? Which has the highest payouts? After narrowing down your options, try a game and see how it goes!
Available Casino Games
Multitudes of casino games exist, with casinos offering different varieties of games globally.
The following are some of the more common games available both online and in physical casinos:
– Video Poker
Blackjack, also known as 21, is one of the most popular casino games in the world due to its fun strategies and simple rules. It also has a lower house edge, making it one of the most attractive casino games to play. Played with two or more people, this game can be enjoyed at home with an alternating dealer (also known as a “changing bank”) or at the casino with a house dealer (or “permanent bank”). A standard 52-card deck is used, though most casinos shuffle multiple decks together.
To win, players must beat the dealer by getting a total closest to 21 without going over. Each participant may decide if their ace is worth 1 or 11 and each face card amounts to 10. Before dealing, every player must place their bets. Minimum wagers tend to run low in blackjack, usually costing around $2. Once all the bets are placed, the dealer hands one card face up to each player in a clockwise rotation. After a second round, the dealer takes their second card face down so that everyone has 2 cards facing up except for the dealer, with one facing up and another facing down.
There are many variations of blackjack and among them lie common differences. One of these is the dealer’s move on soft 17 (a 17 that includes an ace card), some games require the dealer to hit on soft 17 while others require them to stand, which changes the strategy for some hands. Some blackjack variations limit which cards players can double down on. For example, in European Blackjack players can only do so on totals of 9, 10, or 11. Other games may restrict doubling down on hands post-split. Players might only be allowed to double their bet in some games while in others they get more flexibility. Differences in how many times players can split is often found with varying game versions. American Blackjack allows up to three splits in a game, giving them up to four hands to play, whereas European Blackjack only allows players one split per hand.
Natural 21 –If a player’s first two cards are an ace and face card, they have a “blackjack” or natural 21. Any player, that gets a natural when the dealer does not, instantly wins one and a half times their bet. If the dealer also has a natural, they immediately collect the bets of all the players with other cards. When both a dealer and another player have naturals, the player’s bet is considered a stand-off (tie) and gets returned to the player. If the dealer’s first card is an ace or a ten-card they must turn over their second card.
American Blackjack (Classic Blackjack) –This, along with European Blackjack, is the most popular form of blackjack. In this version, the dealer gets their hole card (the one that stays facedown) before players make any moves or decisions with their hands.
European Blackjack –Another widespread version of blackjack with few differences from American Blackjack. There are more restrictions on gameplay and the dealer gets their hole card only after the player has decided on how to play their dealt hand.
Vegas Strip Blackjack –This game variation is almost solely found on the Las Vegas Strip, the famed stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard filled with casinos and hotels.
Perfect Pairs Blackjack –Before cards get dealt, players get to place a Perfect Pairs side bet. If the first two cards are the same or of the same value, the player wins the side bet for their pair.
Blackjack Switch –Improve your chances and strategy playing blackjack with two hands! In this game, players can swap cards between their two hands to produce a winning combination.
Many other variationsof blackjack exist, including Face Up Blackjack, War Blackjack, Super Fun 21, Spanish 21, Free Bet Blackjack, and more.
The most popular casino dice game by far is craps! This gambling game is simple to play though it grows in complexity with its large bet variety and in-person etiquette. There are two ways to play craps; active and passive. Playing active craps involves throwing dice at the table with other players while playing passively is as an onlooker betting on other people’s dice throws. Many casino craps games follow a code of etiquette with rules on bets that are not forbidden though frowned upon. One of these is betting against the shooter, or person whose turn it is to roll. These include ‘don’t pass’ and ‘don’t come’ bets and are considered poor etiquette when playing craps in person. Alternatively, online craps games do not follow any rules of etiquette, so you can play any move without offending other players. The best strategy in playing craps is to first look at the house edge and odds for each bet and then check their potential payout.
Simple overview of craps bets
Pass –The most common bet in craps. Played on the come-out roll, this bet is placed on the dice shooter succeeding. If the shooter succeeds, you win! The payout is 1:1, and is therefore a fair though low payout bet.
Don’t Pass– Similar to the pass bet but placed on the shooter failing. If they lose, you win.
Come –Same as the pass bet but can be placed at any time. Bet by placing your chips on the ‘come’ rectangle on the betting table.
Don’t Come– The opposite of the come bet. This bets that the shooter will lose the come bet and can only be placed on non- come-out rolls.
Odds –These bets include Pass Line Odds, Don’t Pass Odds, Come Odds, and Don’t Come Odds; and can be made even after a point has been made, like side bets. The odds of odds bets are exactly even, meaning the house edge is zero. If a player lands their odds bet, the payouts differ depending on the number: 4 and 10 pay 2 to 1; 5 and 9 pay 3 to 2; 6 and 8 pays 6 to 5.
Place –These bets can be made at any time and are placed on a number that must be rolled before a 7. There are three different payouts and house edges depending on the number bet on.
Buy –Same as a place bet but with casino commission fee, usually 5%. A bet is placed on a number, and you will owe the casino a small commission along with your bet for fair odds and a better payout. Understand craps payout odds before making this bet.
Hardway –Your number was rolled the “hard way” if it rolled out as a double. For example, a double 4 would be a hard 8. These bets are placed on specific doubles (hard 4, hard 6, hard 8, or hard 10) being rolled before a 7. The payouts are different depending on your bet, but if you roll your bet double before a 7, you win.
Field –This bet pays 1:1 and is always settled on the next roll. If a 2, 3, 4, 9,10, 11, or 12 is rolled it wins and if a 5, 6,7, or 8 is rolled it loses. The payout is double (2:1) if a 2 or 12 is rolled.
As you might already know, poker is a card game played with two or more people betting on the value of the cards in their hand. To win the pool of bets, a player must have the highest combination of cards at the table or trick all other players to forfeit without showing their hand, called ‘bluffing’. Video poker is a similar game, though it is played on a slot-like machine between a single player and a computer.
What is video poker?
Video Poker games are gambling machines though are not slots (even though you may run into video poker machines by slot machines in a casino). In video poker, you bet between 1 and 5 coins and hit the ‘deal’ button (5 coins allow for the biggest payouts!). The machine deals you a hand of 5 cards you can decide to keep or discard, getting a replacement card for each one you get rid of. The payout you win will be determined by your final hand. Since the probabilities are the same as those on physical playing cards, you can calculate the house edge and know your odds of winning and payout total.
Why play video poker?
Unlike with slots, in video poker, you can better your odds of winning by selecting which cards to keep and which to throw. This characteristic of the game is one of the main reasons why it is popular. Playing video poker is more relaxed than other casino games and is great for players who like playing alone, interacting with other players, and/or thoughtfully crafting their next move in a game. This game is both easier and lighter in decision making and does not keep you nervous like more lively or fast-paced games and can have a payback of over 99%!
Video Poker Online vs. at the Casino
Games usually offer similar odds and payouts. Differences between video poker games tend to be minor as they are run using RNGs (random number generators) like slots. Usually, the same games are offered with similar probabilities. Most online video poker games are run using a random number generator, making differences between games minor.
OTHER TYPES OF POKER
Five Card Draw –This variation of poker is simple and popularly played at home! It starts with every player receiving a five-card hand. Players can then exchange up to three cards in their hand to come up with the best combination of cards at the table.
Texas Hold ‘em –The most popular poker game variation in the United States, Texas Hold ‘em is the type of poker played in WSOP (World Series of Poker). Each player starts with two cards in their hand and the game is played until five cards are on the table, resulting in four betting rounds during the game. Your overall hand is made up of a combination between your two initial cards and the five community cards, and the best hand at the table wins the chips!
Seven Card Stud –In this poker variation players must create the best five-card hand out of three face-down cards and four cards visible to the other players. This game is similar to five-card draw, however, in seven-card stud, there may be more risk since more cards are involved. The four open-faced cards on the table allow players to strategize based on the open-faced cards of their fellow players.
Omaha Hold ’em –Though it may look like Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha Hold ‘em is played with two key differences. The first is that players begin with four dealt cards rather than two, and the second is that all five community cards get turned over at the same time instead of over the course of three rounds. Players may only use two of their cards in making the best five-card hand.
CARIBBEAN STUD POKER(also called CASINO STUD POKER) –This variation of poker is played against the house and instead of other players and uses rules taken from five-card stud poker, with a few dissimilarities. The first is that in Caribbean Stud Poker, no draws are made. Some versions of this poker variation do involve a draw or two, though it’s rare to find. Another difference is that bluffing does not play a part in Caribbean Stud Poker; you have the choice to either play or fold. There is an option to play a progressive bet, though the most recommended way to win is through wins on your additional ante when your hand is higher than the dealer’s open hand.
3 CARD POKER –Think you can make the best poker hand with 3 cards? In 3 card poker, you are playing against the dealer and not the other players. Three cards get handed to each player once all the ante-wagers have been placed. All bets are paid 1 to 1 if the player hand wins and nothing happens to either wager if the hands come up a tie.
PAI GAO POKER –Like Chinese poker, Pai Gao poker is a form of banked poker with a house edge of 2.8% that was invented in the 1980s. This game is played with 52 cards (ranking from highest to lowest as A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5) and a semi-wild Joker (can complete straights and flushes) instead of traditional Chinese Pai Gao dominoes. It has very low volatility and as a result, many hands come up as a push (tie), allowing players to participate in the game for longer without hurting their bankroll. Just like in 3 card poker, Pai Gao poker is played to beat the dealer. In this game, you must end up with a five-card hand (top) and a two-card hand (bottom) that are both better than the dealer’s two hands to win.
Popular for its easygoing nature and high RTP (Return to Player, or payout percentage), roulette is a casino game played on a wheel with 38 numbers on it. ‘Roulette’ means “little wheel” in French and first appeared in 18th century France with only slight differences from what is played today. The game underwent changes as it spread in popularity around Europe and North America, resulting in the variations of the game this guide will cover below. To play, players place their bets on a red or black square with a number, ‘calling’ it as the place where the ball will land. A dealer then spins the wheel as you wait to see if luck was on your side. With just one bet, your odds of winning on a single number is 37 to 1, or 1 win to 37 ways to miss. This bet pays off at 35 to 1.
Roulette is a leisurely game that is fun for both new and experienced players. Winning requires no strategy or skill and there is no way to predict outcomes, so the best strategy is to play slowly and try different variations of the game to find the one you like most! Though it’s all up to luck, having patience and knowing the odds of each bet can help. As mentioned above, roulette has a rather high RTP. American Roulette has a 94.7% RTP, and European Roulette has 97.3% and higher odds of winning. Online roulette is also available and tends to run faster, without the nuances of playing in person and waiting for each player to place their bets. For an even higher-paced experience, speed roulette is becoming more available on many casino gaming websites.
There are two types of bets in roulette. Inside bets are on the number and have a higher risk and reward while outside bets are on multiple groups of numbers and pay less but with less risk.
- Straight Up: A bet on only one number; high risk and high reward.
- Split: Betting on one of two adjacent numbers
- Street: On a horizontal row of three numbers
- Double Street: On two horizontal rows of three numbers
- Corner: Betting on one of four numbers in a sequence
- Column: Bet on one of the three columns on the betting table.
- Dozen: 1-12, 13-24, or 25-36
- Even/Odd: 0 loses
- Low: 1-18
- High: 19-36
Odds for each bet can be found online and lays between 2.6% and 49% success. This remains under 50% since zero is considered the house edge rather than a color or number on the wheel. Check out the odds and payout for the type of roulette you are playing before placing a bet.
American Roulette:Roulette was introduced to the United States in the early 19th century and the original American Roulette wheels consisted of numbers 1-28 along with a single zero, double zero, and bald eagle symbol representing the house edge. The eagle was eventually replaced with numbers up to 36, and the zero and double zero spots becoming a classic signifier of American Roulette.
European Roulette:This is the most popular version of roulette! European Roulette has the highest payout percentage, with a bet on any number paying out at 35:1. This game has numbers 1-36 with a single zero giving the house its edge. European Roulette follows the “en prison” rule, which allows you to keep your bet until the next spin if the ball lands on zero on a 1:1 bet.
French Roulette:This game is similar to European Roulette, though it follows the “en prison” and “la partage” rules. The latter states that you must give up half your bet if you land on zero. The en prison rule requires your bet to be put “in prison” if you bet on an even or odd and the ball lands on zero. You can acquire your bet back by winning the next spin, but the house wins your bet if you lose. This version of roulette is mainly found in French casinos and online.
Multi-Wheel Roulette:This is a game of traditional roulette played with multiple roulette wheels! Players sometimes spin up to six wheels at a time. The odds of landing on your bet number increase with each wheel you add, and you can place safe bets.
Multi-Ball Roulette:This is a thrilling-to-watch variation of roulette played with multiple balls spun simultaneously. Players usually spin with up to three balls. With the added balls players can place more bets, and wins are split based on the number of balls that were used.
Penny Roulette:This game of roulette allows for significantly smaller bets, like penny slots. This variation is not for players looking to reel in big wins, but for those wanting to play and practice getting into the game before playing with higher bets.
Mini-Roulette:Traditional roulette, but small! The mini roulette wheel has only a single zero and numbers 1-12 instead of the usual 1-36. Since there are fewer numbers on the wheel, your chances of hitting zero are increased, which is why many casinos have adopted the French “la partage” rule in mini roulette, where you get back half of your bet if the ball lands on zero.
Spingo:Ever wanted to play a combination of bingo and roulette? The Spingo wheel has three assorted colors and numbers 1-10. Bingo balls fall onto the wheel at random as it spins, resulting in variations of color and number pairings with every spin.
Live Speed Roulette:Live speed roulette is just as it sounds – fast! Each round only lasts 25 seconds, and bets are placed as the wheel spins without any time between spins.
There are morevariations of roulette played with other wheel colors, bet amounts, and techniques.
SOME MORE GAMES
This game is a popular favorite, known for its simplicity and low house edge, which can be as low as 1.06%! From its origins in 14th century Italy and gaining popularity in 19th century France, baccarat is a card game played where bets get placed on the best of two dealt hands between a player and the Banker. The winner totals a number score with a final digit closer to 9 than the other hand. Statistically, the Banker is the better bet because its odds are higher. However, since it’s a better bet, casinos place a 5% commission on winning bets, making their payout 0.95:1 instead of 1:1 like the player bet whose odds are not much lower. Logically, the 8:1 payout and 9.52% odds of betting on a tie is the least likely bet to win.
Side Bets & Decks
Baccarat side bets allow you to bet on more than just the 3 common options. Some online and land-based casinos have even come up with their own bets to spice up gameplay! The lower the odds are on a side bet the higher the payout might be! You can bet on a Player/Banker Pair to up your 1:1 payout to 11:1 or even an awestriking 25:1 payout for betting on a Perfect Pair.
Though commonly played with eight decks, single-deck and six-deck baccarat games are available with the same common bets and similar side decks. The house edge and odds only differ minimally from the eight-deck game.
In choosing your baccarat bet, think first about whether you want to play for the thrill of the risk or to safely try and win. With no real strategy and winning solely based on luck, your best method for playing would be to switch up your Banker and Player bets every so often and avoid bets with low odds- unless there is a huge, risky payout you want to try your hand at!
Find the house edge, payouts, and odds for the three main baccarat bets in a standard 8-deck game in the table below.
Baccarat Banque:This type of baccarat is one of the oldest and most popular forms of the game played with three 52-card decks. At the start of each round, a new dealer is chosen and reshuffles the cards before dealing each hand. There are three hands with 2 cards, though only the dealer can bet on the Banker and the other players cannot.
Chemin de Fer (also called Shimmy or Chernay):Literally translating to “iron path” or “railway” from French, this version of Baccarat differs from other forms in that players bet one at a time against each other rather than against the house. This game was replaced by baccarat in the United States as recently as the 1950s.
Punto Banco:Baccarat with the 3 common bets played with si6 standard decks. The banker deals one card each to the player and the bank. The total between their hands is then calculated to determine whether a third card needs to be drawn.
Mini Baccarat:A faster, lower-stake version of Baccarat played similarly to Punto Banco with eight standard decks on a small (or rather, mini) table.
Keno, whose name has Latin roots meaning “five each” or “five winning numbers”, is a lottery-like casino game that originated in China. As Chinese immigrants introduced keno to the US in the 19th century and by 1866 it had already become popular under its new name ‘keno’ in Houston, Texas as a mainstream gambling game. In keno, players bet on numbers they select between 1 and 80. Once all wagers are placed, 20 numbers get drawn at random by an RNG (random number generator) or ball machine (like in bingo or lotteries). Payouts and paytables vary between casinos and games everywhere, so be sure to always check before placing a bet and only play games with bigger payouts. The house edge in keno does not get as low as it does in Baccarat, though it can be less than 4%! Generally, casinos maintain their house edge for non-slot casino games at under 5%, though depending on the stake, some keno games can have a house edge of over 35%.
The highest probability of hitting a number in keno lies with number 5 with a 1 in 4.287 chance on a 20-spot card. The next closest numbers are 4 and 6, with probabilities 1 in 4.877 and 1 in 5.258 respectively however the probabilities change drastically according to the number of numbers selected on each ticket. Though it is nearly impossible to hit all 20 numbers on a ticket, you can play keno for “catches”, or the harder hits in the game (1, 2, 3, and 7-19). Playing for a high amount of catches is a real possibility, with some 17 through 19 catches paying out the same as a solid hit.
Payouts are based on how many numbers the player chooses and how many of those numbers are a “hit”, multiplied by the fraction of the player’s original bet to the “base rate” on the paytable. The more numbers you choose that hit, the higher the payout – however, some casinos add bets on catching 0 out of 20 for a high win.
Did you know? The original Chinese name for the game Keno means “white pigeon ticket”, alluding to the tickets used to bet on pigeons. The original ticket, still in popular use today, features the first 80 characters of Qianziwen, or the Chinese Thousand Character Classic; a poem used in teaching Chinese characters to children since the 6th century.
- Play at a casino you know is reliable
- Pick casinos and games with higher payout rates
- Practice by playing for free
- Select 4-8 numbers
- Choose consecutive or cold numbers
- Cold numbers are numbers that get listed after not being drawn 15 consecutive times. Alternatively, hot numbers are drawn most frequently throughout 5 keno games.
WITH THIS GUIDE, CAESAR,
…you have learned about which games you may run into on your next casino visit and how to pick what to play. Always remember to consider what you think is fun, payout potential and odds, and the skill and strategy needed to win before playing a game. Good luck, Caesar!