Ask someone to name the games you’ll find in a casino, and chances are they can name a couple. Slots are obvious, and most people know of blackjack and roulette. Others might have seen a video poker machine or know how to play craps.
But few people really appreciate the diversity of games that are available in a modern casino. Step into a casino today, and you’ll see a wide variety of games, ranging from centuries old classics to new creations that are giving players completely new ways to gamble. Technology has given casinos additional options in the form of electronic gaming machines that are far more advanced than even the machines commonly seen in casinos just a decade ago.
With the huge number of games available in casinos these days, it’s likely that there are a few that you aren’t familiar with. The following list should get you up to speed on all of the most common and popular casino games.
There is no single game type that’s more common in casinos than slot machines. Walk into a typical casino, and the majority of floor space is devoted to the one-armed bandits. Slots have been around for over a century, and remain popular thanks to their fast and simple action.
Of course, there are several different types of slot machines that have evolved over the years. In some casinos, you’ll still find some older mechanical three-reel and five-reel slots, though even these will almost certainly be electronic in nature. Modern casinos are even more likely to have video slots with sharp graphics, special features, and huge progressive jackpots.
Possibly the most widely played table game in the United States and Europe, blackjack is incredibly popular due to the mix of fast action and a razor thin advantage for the casino – one that’s usually less than 1%. However, in order to get the best odds possible, players must put in the work to understand basic blackjack strategy.
Blackjack is also famous for the ability of players to gain an additional edge through card counting, the process of keeping track of the cards that have left the shoe to figure out if the remaining cards are favorable to the player and bet accordingly. There have been many famous tales of players winning huge sums through card counting – as well as plenty of stories about casinos throwing out players who have been caught trying.
In addition, there are numerous variations on standard blackjack that have been developed over the years. These games usually use the same basic action as standard blackjack, but offer twists. Examples include Super Fun 21 (which offers many different special payouts for special combinations of cards) and Blackjack Switch, in which players can mix and match cards between two different hands to improve their odds of winning.
One of the all-time classic casino games, roulette is the game of choice for players who want to leave their money in the hands of fate. In this game of chance, players can put their chips on one of 37 or 38 (depending on what version of roulette is being played) different numbers, or on various combinations of numbers. If a winning number hits, the rewards can be enormous, as casinos pay out 35-1 odds on single number bets. As one of the most social games in the casino, roulette is a game beloved by casual gamblers and serious casino veterans alike.
If you want to rely on the roll of the dice to determine your gambling fortunes, Sic Bo is definitely the game for you. There’s no real strategy here – all you can do is make your bets and watch as the dice reveal their results. But that also leads to a ton of excitement and drama, as every single roll has the potential to earn you a fortune.
One of the greatest things about Sic Bo is the tremendous variety of wagers you can make during play. You can bet on the total the three dice add up to, whether the total will be high or low, how many times a specific number will appear on the dice, or just about anything else you can imagine. This means that no matter how conservatively or aggressively you like to play, there will always be a bet at the Sic Bo table that appeals to you.
Keno is a lottery game that’s played very similarly to…well, any other lottery. Players choose numbers, and then wait for a drawing to see if they’ve hit enough numbers to claim a prize.
But keno works a little differently than most state or national lotteries. Most casinos offer drawings every five to ten minutes; electronic keno games can be even faster, with drawings happening whenever players request one. In addition, while keno usually has one of the higher house edges in the casino, your odds are still much better than in a traditional lottery.
Three Card Poker
While there have been many attempts at creating new casino games that would be just as popular as classic favorites, none have been nearly as successful as Three Card Poker. In this game, players are dealt a three-card poker hand, and must hope to beat the dealer to win prizes.
What makes Three Card Poker especially fun is the fact that it is made up of two games in one, and players can choose to play either (or both) of these games on each hand. In the second game, players receive prizes based just on the strength of their hand, with payouts as high as 40-1 or more available if you make a straight flush.
While video poker games are often placed in the same part of the casino as slot machines, they’re actually a completely different game type. Where slot machines are based entirely on luck, video poker machines require complex strategies to play optimally. It’s well worth taking the time to learn these strategies, though, as video poker machines often have the best odds in the entire casino. Some machines are even known to have a slight player edge, provided you can play them perfectly (or very close to it).
Popular video poker machines include Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Double Bonus Poker.
If there’s one game that exemplifies the mystique of high-stakes casino action, it has to be baccarat. While baccarat is a simple game, it has become extremely popular among high rollers, to the point where the majority of table game revenue in the world likely comes from baccarat alone.
In baccarat, the player’s goal is to guess whether the player or banker will make a better hand, with hands being scored by special rules that are unique to this game (faces cards count as zero, aces count as one, other cards count as their numbers, only the last digit of a hand’s total score counts). In most games, the dealer controls both hands, and players are free to bet on either side, or wager on the possibility of a tie.
While the game is usually associated by high rollers, it’s a great game for more casual gamblers, too. With some of the simplest strategies and lowest house edges in the casino, baccarat is likely to remain extremely popular for a long time to come.
Caribbean Stud Poker
In Caribbean Stud Poker, players have a pretty simple task: make a better five-card poker hand than the dealer. Make a really big hand like a straight flush, and you’ll have the potential to win some massive prizes if the dealer makes a qualifying hand (ace-king high or better). It’s a game of luck that also requires a little strategy, as players are given the opportunity to raise or fold after seeing their initial hand.
But the real appeal of Caribbean Stud comes from the progressive jackpot game that’s commonly attached to the game. For as little as $1, players get the opportunity to win a progressive jackpot that at some casinos can grow to well over $100,000. Generally, it takes a royal flush to win the full jackpot, though players can usually snag a portion of the prize for a straight flush as well.
If you’ve never played craps, you probably only see it as a crazy game involving dice, screaming gamblers, and a whole lot of bets and lingo that make little sense. However, there really is a method to the madness, as craps offers some of the best odds in the casino if you stick to just a few key bets.
The main action in craps is centered on the come out roll where players may win immediately if the “shooter” throws a 7 or 11 on the dice, but lose on a 2, 3 or 12. Any other number becomes a point; in the most common craps bet, players now win if the point is rolled again before a seven. There’s also an odds bet that can be made that actually offers a 100% even wager against the casino – something rarely seen when gambling against the house!
Craps also has dozens of side bets available for players who want to throw more money on the table and add a little more action and variety to gameplay. While some of these are sucker bets, others offer odds that are still better than almost any other game in the casino – and are a lot of fun to boot!
Let It Ride
If you’re looking for a game with a nice, steady pace of play and just a touch of strategic thought, Let It Ride might be just the casino option for you. While Let it Ride won’t reward you very often – something like 75% of your hands will end in a loss – it gives you way more control over how much you win and lose than any other casino game.
The object of Let It Ride is to make the best five card poker hand possible, with at least a pair of tens needed to score a win. Players start with their own three cards, as well as with three bets on the table. They can then choose to take back a bet or “let it ride,” depending on how strong their hand is. Players get this choice again after seeing a fourth card revealed, and are then paid after the fifth and final card is dealt.
Pai Gow Poker
A creative combination of traditional Chinese gameplay and the poker games that are beloved around the world, Pai Gow Poker pits players against the dealer in two simultaneous poker hands. Each player receives seven cards, and must use them to create two poker hands: one containing five cards, the other a small two-card hand. Beat the dealer on both hands, and you’re a winner!
Pai Gow Poker, like the original version of pai gow, is a game that features a lot of pushes. Action junkies may not like this, but for those who want to see their money last a long time and aren’t so worried about hitting a jackpot, this game is perfect. With a relaxed pace and a deep strategic component, it’s easy to understand while Pai Gow Poker has managed to spread beyond the Asian gaming sections of casinos and acquire a wider audience.