21 Gambling Activities You Can Do with Friends
Many gamblers enjoy going to the casino or poker room.
But you don’t have to go anywhere to create gambling action.
I’ve put together a list of 21 gambling activities you can do with friends.
You won’t have to travel and most of these activities offer a fair bet. In other words, the house doesn’t have an edge because there’s no house.
When it comes down to it, you can bet on almost anything with your friends. This list isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive one. It’s simply a place for you to start when you’re looking for something to bet on.
1 – Pitch Quarters
Pitching quarters is a fun way to gamble with friends, and it’s inexpensive too.
Two or more players stand a set distance from a wall. Each pitcher has a quarter, and one at a time they toss their quarter toward the wall. The object is to have your quarter end up closest to the wall.
The player who gets their quarter the closest to the wall wins all of the quarters that were pitched on the round.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking no skill is involved in pitching quarters. If you plan to do it much you should practice. It’s just a quarter a throw, but some people are exceptionally good at pitching so if you’re not good you can loses several dollars quickly.
Be wary of anyone you pitch with that’s losing and all of a sudden wants to bet more than the quarters on each throw. The odds are that you’re getting conned.
2 – Bet on Sports
Betting on sports is one of the best gambling activities you can do with your friends. If you can get enough people willing to make and take bets you can replace the sportsbook and avoid paying vig.
When you bet with friends it can be as simple as a spoken agreement or if you have a group you can use software to track everything.
By betting with each other everyone in the group benefits by not being charged vig. This creates a saving of at least a couple percent on every bet made. The main problem is finding people who want to bet on the other side of games.
Betting among friends is either legal or ignored in most parts of the world. And who’s to know when you bet? But if you grow to the point where a large number of bets are being made you could cross the line over into an illegal, or at least gray, area.
You don’t want to get caught running what appears to be a bookmaking operation. So be careful if your group of bettors grows. If you can prove that no one is making money from the bets, because no vig is being charged, it may keep you out of too much trouble.
3 – Poker
Poker is a fun way to gamble with friends. You can set a poker night where everyone gets together or just schedule a game from time to time.
You only need four or five players or more to start a good game.
Game options include:
- Texas holdem
- Omaha high
- Omaha high low
- 7 card stud
- Dealer’s choice
You can play limit, pot limit, or no limit, and play in a cash game or tournament format.
One of the best things about gambling with friends is you can play for any stakes that you agree on. You can play poker for pennies or hundreds.
I sometimes play in a friendly poker game that’s played as a cash game format and the regular buy in is $50. A few people buy in for $100 and if you bust out you can buy more chips or finish for the evening.
This way no one loses too much money and the game doesn’t get too serious.
We usually each bring something to eat and the host grills out so everyone enjoys a meal and night of poker.
On a side note, if you’re a good poker player and can join games like this you’ll find most of the players are terrible. Though you won’t win thousands, if you play a smart game you can consistently profit in these games.
4 – Craps
Craps is usually played in a casino, but all you need to have a craps game is a pair of dice and a wall. Players can take turns banking the game and tossing the dice.
I suggest sticking with the simple pass line and don’t pass line bets instead of all of the others on the normal table, but you can set up and run your game any way you like.
A pass line bet wins if the first roll is a seven or 11. It loses if the first roll is a two, three, or 12. A roll of four, five, six, eight, nine, or 10 establishes a point. When a point is established the shooter wins if they roll the point again before rolling a seven. If they roll a seven before the point they lose.
A don’t pass line bet is the opposite. If the first roll is a two, three, or 12 it wins. If the first roll is a seven or 11 it loses. If a point is set the bet wins if a seven is rolled before the point is rolled again. If the point is rolled before a seven, the don’t pass line bet loses.
5 – Acey Deucy
More than one game is called acey deucy and the game I’m getting ready to describe is sometimes called by different names. I’ve heard it called high low and red dog, but the common rules for these two games aren’t quite the same as this.
Acey deucy is a simple game played with two or more players. It’s best with six or more.
To start each player places an ante in the pot. One person deals and play goes to the left around the table. The dealer places two card face up and the player who’s betting can pass or bet any amount up to the amount in the pot that the next card will fall between the two cards.
Here’s an example:
If the dealer places a three and a seven on the table, if the player decided to bet they win the amount of their bet from the pot if the next card is a four, five, or six. If the next card is a three or a seven the better has to put twice the amount of their bet into the pot. When any other card is dealt next the bettor has to place the amount of their bet into the pot.
This is a fast paced game with players stating the amount they bet quickly followed by the next card and then the next two card deal. When a player bets the size of the pot and the next card matches one of the first two dealt it quickly builds the pot. When the third card matches one of the first two it’s called railing.
When I was in college we played this all of the time with a quarter ante. This might seem like small stakes, but when you get seven to 10 players many pots grow quickly. You could win $50 or more on a good day.
If you play acey deucy like this it’s a large advantage to have more money than the other players. If you can stay in the game long enough you’ll have the opportunity to win the money that’s left in the game when other players bust out.
6 – Flip a Coin
It might seem boring, but flipping a coin for money is what many players are shooting for when they play casino games. If you bet on black or red or even or odd in roulette it’s close to a coin flip.
You can bet for any amount when you flip a coin against one of your friends and as long as you’re using a fair coin in the long run you should break even.
Instead of giving the casino an edge at roulette or another close to even money game, why not play a true even money game by flipping a coin with a friend?
7 – Liar’s Poker
This is another game that has many variations and is called by different names.
The basic concept is each player gets a dollar bill out of their pocket and looks at the serial number. One player makes a claim of a poker hand based on the serial number and the next player either has to make a claim of having a better hand or accuse the first player of lying.
When a player is accused of lying they lose if they lied and win if they were telling the truth. The winner gets both bills.
You can play for any size bill. To keep the game fair each player should put up the same amount of money and then the players exchange all of the money for different bills at the bank. Then the players split the money and play with the new bills.
You can start with a low claim so you can make a higher claim later or you can start with a high claim in hopes your opponent calls you a lair or makes an untrue higher claim. The game seems simple but you’ll quickly learn that you need to use strategy to have the best chance to win.
8 – Blackjack
Blackjack, or 21, is an easy game to learn and play among friends. You can play with two to eight players or more depending on the size of your table.
The dealer has a small advantage so the deal should pass around the table. When you deal you need to have enough money to cover all of the bets made by the other players.
In the event the dealer can’t cover all of the bets made by the players one of the other players can act as the bank.
9 – Rummy
Many people learned to play rummy as a child. You’ll find many different variations of rummy, but as long as everyone knows the rules and the stakes before starting it’s a fun game to bet on with friends.
The basic idea of rummy is to form melds of cards and go out, or lay down all of your cards, before your opponent or opponents. Melds are often three or four of a kind and four in a row of the same suit.
Scoring depends on the game rules and in some games you lay down melds as you get them and in others you need to wait until you can lay down all of your cards at once.
10 – Backgammon
Backgammon is such a good gambling game that some players travel the world playing for money.
Some professional poker players got their gambling start playing backgammon. This makes quite a bit of sense because backgammon looks simple at first but the best players win more often than poor players. This is much like poker.
Backgammon uses a pair of dice and a unique board and discs or chips. You roll the dice and move your chips around the board. If you have two or more chips on the same space your opponent can’t occupy it. If you have a single chip and your opponent lands on it you have to make specific rolls to put it back into play.
It’s a fun game and if you like poker you should definitely learn how to play. You’ll quickly learn that luck can help you win a few games but skill wins out in the long run.
11 – War
Like rummy, many of us learned to play war with a deck of cards as children. Casinos offer a game called casino war.
The basic game play is each player gets a card and the higher card wins. If the two cards tie you go to war to see who wins.
War is an easy game to play and easy to bet on. Just like a coin flip, each player has equal chances of winning so when you bet against each other no one has an edge.
12 – Euchre
Most euchre games require four players in two teams of two each. The game is played to 10, with each team scoring one, two, or four points per hand. A euchre deck includes four card each of nines through aces, for a total of 24 cards.
You can bet an amount on the game plus additional amounts per euchre and / or per point.
Here’s an example:
You can bet $20 per game plus $10 per point. So if you win the game 10 to six you win $20 for the game and another $40 for the difference in points.
Another example would be $20 per game and $20 per euchre. A euchre is when one team calls trump but doesn’t take at least three tricks.
13 – Bridge
Bridge is a popular card game that’s played in a few different variations. It seems like most bridge players are in their 40’s and older, with very few of the younger generations playing.
It is a trick taking game that requires two teams of two players each. Each team bids on the number of tricks they can take. Each player receives 13 cards so a complete deck of standard playing cards is used.
Once bids are placed the game continues with 13 tricks.
It sounds complicated and looks complicated at first. This scares many players off and hurts the growth of the game. But once you learn how to play it’s a fairly simple game and can provide hours of fun.
You can bet in many ways, but the most common wager is on a straight win of the hand.
14 – Yahtzee
Yahtzee is one of the most popular forms of dice games in the world. It uses five dice and a score sheet with each player taking turns rolling the dice and trying to score higher than anyone else
You can roll the dice three times on each turn and keep any that you want by not re-rolling them.
If you want to play Yahtzee and don’t want to buy a game or run out of score sheets you can make your own or find places where you can print them online. Then all you need is a writing utensil and five dice.
You can bet an amount on winning the game and you can bet an amount per point. But don’t bet too much per point because it’s common to win or lose by 100 points or more in any particular game.
Here’s an example:
You bet $10 on the game and 10 cents per point. If you win by a score of 256 to 233 you win $10 on the game and $2.30 on the point differential.
15 – Spades
Spades is yet another game many learn to play as kids. You can play spades with two or four players. When you play with four players the four players are divided into two teams of two players each.
This is a trick taking game and each person bids on the number of tricks they think they can take. In a team game the two bids of team members are added together.
Spades is trump but you can only play a spade on a different lead suit if you can’t follow suit. The player to the dealer’s left leads the first hand and the winner of each hand leads the next trick.
Scoring is based on how many tricks you bid and how many you were able to win. Different versions use different scoring systems.
You can bet on individual games or a series of games and can bet a set amount per game, a set amount per point, or a combination.
16 – Three Card Monte
Three Card Monte is usually played as a scam to steal money from unsuspecting people on the street.
A dealer mixes around three cards face down with one, usually a queen, of one color and the other two cards the other color. You place a bet and if you can guess where the queen is you win even money.
The dealer is a card mechanic and can switch cards and mislead you in a number of ways. Usually the game has shills that look like they win to get you suckered into playing. If you happen to guess correctly a few times it’s ok but eventually they take all of the money you’re willing to bet.
But you don’t have to play the game as a scam. You can play it fair with your friends and gamble on the results.
The deal should rotate around the table or between players because the dealer has a mathematical advantage if she can mix the cards in a way that the other player can’t follow the action.
17 – Canasta
Canasta is a unique card game closely related to the rummy family of games. Many players consider it a form of rummy. You can buy decks of cards with rules specifically for canasta.
A normal canasta deck has two standard decks of playing cards and four jokers. Jokers are worth 50 points, aces and twos are worth 20 points, eight through kings are worth 10 points, and fours through sevens are worth five points.
The game plays like most rummy games with players making melds and laying them down to score points. A seven card meld is called canasta. Most versions of the game have other special hands that score higher than others.
The scoring at the end of the hand depends on the game rules for the particular version you’re playing.
Most bets on canasta are for the win of the game, but you can also bet on points. Don’t bet too much per point as you learn to play because you can win or lose by a high number of points.
18 – Pinochle
Pinochle uses a special deck of cards, consisting of two euchre decks. Nines through aces each have eight cards in the deck.
The order of cards from highest to lowest is ace, 10, king, queen, jack, and nine.
Pinochle is a trick taking game like spades and euchre, but uses a different set of rules. If you’re used to playing spades or euchre it’s fairly easy to learn how to play pinochle, but it does take a little time to get used to the play.
The best way to play is to learn from someone who already knows how. My grandmother taught me how to play when I was young and we enjoyed playing for many years. She was much better at it than me, but I always enjoyed playing. It was a game that many of my class mates didn’t know how to play so I felt smart because I played. Young minds at work I suppose.
Scoring is based on the rules for the variation you’re playing.
You can bet on a series of games or a single game. You can also bet on the points. Many people play to a score of 1,500 but any agreed upon number works.
19 – Thirty One or Scat
Thirty one, also called scat, is an easy game to play and bet on.
Each player gets three cards and one card is placed face up and the rest of the deck goes in the draw pile. The object of the game is to score higher than your opponent. Only cards of the same suit can be counted with aces counting as 11, face cards counting as 10, and all other cards counting their face value.
Play goes to the left and the deal rotates after each hand. You can pick up the top card of the deck or the discard pile and then discard one card. When you think you have the best hand at the beginning of your turn you can knock.
Then each player has one last chance to draw and discard before all players show their hands. If you get 31 you immediately place your cards face up and win the game.
You can bet just on the outcome of the game or on the game and by point, just like betting on euchre.
Here’s an example:
If you bet $10 on the game and $1 per point and you lose by a score of 27 to 24 you lose $10 on the game and $3 on points.
Some players include a penalty for knocking and not winning. A common wager is double the game stakes if you knock and don’t win. So if you’re playing for $10 a game and nock but don’t win you pay $20.
20 – Baccarat
Baccarat is a casino game that uses a standard deck of playing cards. When you play in the casino you bet on the player, the banker, or a tie.
But when you bet with friends you just play to see who gets the best total. It works much like blackjack in this regard.
The highest possible score is nine. Each hand starts with two cards and you can draw one additional card if you want. You add your card totals up and only use the digit in the one place. So if you have 16 your score is 6 and if you have 22 your score is 2.
Aces count as one, tens and face cards count as 10, which is the same as zero, and all other cards are counted at their face value.
21 – Cut for High Card
One of the simplest and oldest gambling activities between friends is making a bet on who can cut a deck of cards to a high card. Each player cuts the deck and whoever has the highest card wins the money.
This is just like flipping a coin because each player has a 50% chance of cutting to a higher card. So in the long run you should break even cutting for high card.
The next time you’re sitting around with a friend or group of friends break out this list to find something to bet on. This list of 21 gambling activities you can do with friends has something for everyone.
If you want simple games you can flip a coin, cut for high card, or pitch quarters. When you want a casino based game you can play blackjack, baccarat, or craps. For more advanced players you can play euchre, canasta, or pinochle.
You can set the stakes as low or as high as you want and players of all ages can enjoy most of these games.