A Guide to 5 Lesser Known Casino Table Games

Slots and roulette aren’t the only games in most casinos. Many lesser-known table games are out there that you can play. These games will give you hours of enjoyment and you may even make a few bucks.

When I go to a casino with friends, we all have games we gravitate to. I gravitate to the blackjack table. My friends will disperse throughout the floor heading to the slot machines, the roulette wheels, or the craps tables.

In some small casinos, those might be the only choices you’ve got to choose from. But in larger casinos, you may have dozens of more options for table games.

We know the basics:

  • European Roulette (single zero)
  • American Roulette (double zero)
  • Blackjack
  • Craps

But these aren’t the only games (otherwise this blog post would be useless). Other games–including games that are variants of the above–are available in some casinos and may be worth your time trying (others may not).

If you’ve made a lot of trips to a casino or casinos, you may have heard of these games but haven’t tried them for any number of reasons. Maybe you’re a creature of habit. Maybe you’re a person who has a hard time learning new things. Maybe you were intimidated by it. Whatever the reason, today, I’ll give you an overview of these games.

These games may only appear in larger casinos, certain geographic areas or may be new and rolling out to specific casinos for the time being.

1 – Sic Bo

If you’re a fan of craps, you might want to give Sic Bo a try. Sic Bo is a Chinese dice game that dates back several centuries. It involves 3 dice.

Unlike craps, the dealer is the one who rolls the dice. The dealer puts the 3 dice in the chest. He or she then closes and shakes the container. When finished, the dealer places the container down and opens it up. The dealer then opens the container to reveal the winning combination.

Several casinos around the world have “Asian” game rooms in which they offer a variety of games from the Far East. Sic Bo is a frequent offering in these rooms. The game is most popular in Macau (China), Atlantic City and to a lesser extent, Las Vegas.

Sic Bo Betting

As in craps, you must place your bet before the dealer rolls the dice.

You have the choice of 8 different standard bets. Some casinos may also have unique side bets that can make as well.

Casino payouts for these bets can vary for each bet depending on where you’re playing.

Big – This bet wins if the dealer rolls a total between 11 and 17. If the dealer rolls a triple, the bet loses automatically (even if it totals between 11 and 17. Rolling a triple 4 or triple 5 loses even though it is between 11 and 17). On this bet, the probability of winning is 48.61% and the house edge is 2.78%.

This bet pays out even money in most casinos.

Small – This bet is like the big bet, but is for the lower end of the possible rolls. Betting Small is a wager that the dealer will roll between a 4 and 10. Much like the Big bet, triples are automatic losses, so triple 2s or triple 3s lose. The house edge on his bet is 2.78% and the probability of winning is 48.61%

Much like the Big bet, Small also pays even money in most casinos.

Odd – On this bet, you’re wagering that 3 dice that the dealer roll equal an odd number. This works much like the Big and Small bet, where a triple is an automatic loss. This bet is also an even money bet in most casinos. The house edge and probability of winning is the same as on the Big or Small bets.

Even – If you place this bet, you’re wagering that the total the dealer rolls is an even number. Triples lose automatically and most casinos have this as an even money bet. The house edge and probability is the same as Big, Small or Odd bets.

Totals – This is a bet placed on the sum of the dice rolled. 14 different possible totals exist with 20 possible payouts (in most casinos) depending on the combination shown on each of the dice.

  • A total of 4 or 17 pays 60 to 1 odds. The probability of winning is 1.39% and the house edge is 15.28%.
  • A total of 5 or 16 pays 30 to 1 odds. The probability of winning is 2.78% and the house edge is 13.89%.
  • A total of 6 or 15 pays 17 to 1 odds. The probability of winning is 4.63% and the house edge is 16.67%.
  • A total of 7 or 14 pays 12 to 1 odds. The probability of winning is 6.94% and the house edge is 9.72%.
  • A total of 8 or 13 pays 8 to 1 odds. The probability of winning is 9.72% and the house edge is 12.50%.
  • A total of 9 or 12 pays 6 to 1 odds. The probability of winning is 11.57% and the house edge is 7.41%.
  • A total of 10 or 11 pays 6 to 1 odds. The probability of winning is 12.50% and the house edge is 12.50%.

Any Triple – With this bet, you’re wagering that the dealer will roll all 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, or 6s. If any of these appear you win. The payout is 30 to 1 and the probability of winning is 2.8%. The house edge on this bet is 13.89%.

Specific Triple – You must choose a specific triple to win this bet. If the triple that you chose is rolled, you’ll win 180 to 1 payout. The probability of this happening is low, only 0.46%. The house edge on this bet is 16.20%.

Specific Double – For this bet, you must pick a number 1 through 6. If you get a double 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, you win a payout of 10 to 1. The probability of winning this is 7.41% and the house edge is 33.33%.

Other non-standard bets are available in some casinos as well. These bets include doubles, a specific number, 2 specific numbers, or 3 specific numbers.

The game is also known as Tai Sai, Dai Siu, big and small or hi-lo. Grand hazard and chuck-a-luck are English variants of sic bo.

2 – Casino War

As a kid, I’d often play war with family and friends to pass time. Little did I know that it was a casino game.

For those of you who’ve never played, war is a high card game. Usually, people who play at home play with 1 deck. For the casino version of war, 6 decks are used.

The game starts with a wager. Once the wager is placed, the dealer deals a card to you and to him or herself. There can be only 3 results:

  • You get the high card and win.
  • The dealer gets the high card and wins.
  • Both dealer and you get the same rank card and tie.

In the event of a tie, you’re given 2 options.

  • Surrender and forfeit half of your wager
  • Go to war and double your bet

If you choose to go to war, the dealer will discard 3 cards. He or she’ll then deal you and him or herself an additional card. If you win, you win back what you paid in plus the amount of the original wager. (So, for example, if you bet $10, then added $10 to go to war, you get the $20 back plus $10 for a total of $30).

In some casinos, you can place a side bet that you’ll tie the dealer in the initial deal. If you place this bet and win, most casinos pay 10 to 1.

All cards in this game have the same rank as a poker game. Aces are always high in this game.

3 – British Pontoon

A popular casino game in the United Kingdom and in other Commonwealth countries is British Pontoon. I specify British Pontoon because there’s a version that’s popular in Australia and Malaysia that’s called Pontoon, but it’s actually Spanish 21.

Pontoon is a variation of blackjack where the goal is to beat the banker’s (dealer’s) hand and not exceed a point total of 21.

Pontoon Hands

The hands in pontoon are valued in the following way:

  • Much like blackjack, the best hand in Pontoon is an ace with a king, queen, jack, or ten. This is called a pontoon.
  • The second best hand up can have is a hand where you have 5 cards that total 21 or less. This is known as a 5 card trick. It is the same as a 5 card Charlie in blackjack.
  • Any hand totaling 21 is the next ranking hand.
  • Finally, all other hands are ranks by their total. The closest to 21 without going over will win if no one has the other above scenarios.
  • Going over 21 is an automatic loss as it is in blackjack.

Gameplay

The banker will deal 2 facedown cards to each player that they can look at (this includes the banker). The betting and turns then begin. Each player has the following options on his or her turn:

  • Reveal the pontoon: Flip the ace card up on top of the 10 point card. (Etiquette dictates the 10 card does not need to be revealed in most cases.)
  • Split: This works just like blackjack. You play both hands. You must double the initial bet. The amount added is a separate bet on the new hand. The game allows for multiple splits, but can only be cards of the same rank.
  • Buy a card: If you want to buy another face-down card, you must make a bet equal to the initial bet. So if you bet $5 and you get 3 more cards (the most you can ask for) then you’ll have bet $20.
  • Twist: This is a request for the banker to deal you a card without having to buy it. You can do this 3 times as well, but the cards are all dealt face up.
  • Stick: Similar to standing in blackjack, you may stick if you’ve 15 or more.
  • If you bust, you must tell the banker and the round is over.

After all the players have gone, the banker reveals his or her hand. If the banker doesn’t have a pontoon, he or she’ll deal cards face up until one of the following happens:

  • The banker busts and goes over 21
  • The banker gets 21 or less with 4 or fewer cards
  • The banker makes a 5 card trick

If the banker busts, everyone that didn’t busts wins.

If the banker sticks at less than 21, everyone with higher totals wins. Those with a pontoon or 5 card trick win double their bet.

If the banker makes a 5 card trick, anyone with a pontoon wins double, the rest lose, even if the player had a 5 card trick.

While these are the standard rules, it is important that you check with the casino you play at for any house rules or betting variations. It is equally important to make sure that you’re playing British pontoon and not Spanish 21. While similarities exist in both games they’re different.

3 – Triple Zero Roulette

If you’re familiar with European roulette (with the single 0) and American roulette (with a double 0), then triple zero roulette won’t be hard at all to understand.

In standard European roulette, the roulette wheel has 37 pockets in which the ball can land.

In standard American roulette, the wheel adds a 38th pocket featuring a double zero.

Triple zero roulette adds a 39th pocket to the wheel. This features either 000 or the logo for the casino.

When triple zero roulette first launched, it was referred to as Sands roulette. It was first available in the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. The Venetian was built in the same spot that the Sands Hotel and Casino used to occupy.

The reason that triple zero roulette came to be was that it makes the casinos more money. With that 1 extra pocket, the house edge increases 2.5%. Here is the comparison:

  • European roulette: 2.7%
  • American roulette: 5.2%
  • Triple zero roulette: 7.7%

But as a tradeoff, casinos are allowing lower minimum bets. So in theory, this can make your money last longer while playing.

So far, it seems that triple zero roulette is only available in Las Vegas.

Triple zero roulette wheel can be found in the following Las Vegas casinos:

  • Venetian Resort Hotel Casino
  • The Palazzo
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Circus Circus
  • Golden Nugget
  • Park MGM
  • New York-New York Hotel & Casino
  • Harrah’s
  • Luxor
  • Wynn
  • The Linq
  • Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel
  • Four Queens Hotel and Casino

With the higher house edge, you might expect to see it in many more casinos soon.

4 – The Big 6

Depending on where you play, the Big 6 may be labeled as the Big 6, the Big 6 Wheel, or Wheel of Fortune.

In this game, a giant vertical wheel with several pockets (depending on the location of the world that you play in) is spun to determine the winner.

In the United States, the wheel has 54 spots listed with $1, $2, $5, $10, and $20 denominations along with a joker and a casino logo.

The Big 6 wheel will differ depending on the city and even the casino where it is played. For example, Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have different odds and house edges due to the number of each denomination in each pocket.

Las Vegas:

  • The wheel has 24 $1 spots. The probability of hitting this is 44.44% and the house edge is 11.11%.
  • The wheel has 15 $2 spots. The probability of hitting this is 27.78% and the house edge is 16.67%.
  • The wheel has 7 $5 spots. The probability of hitting this is 12.96% and the house edge is 22.22%.
  • The wheel has 4 $10 spots. The probability of hitting this is 7.41% and the house edge is 18.52%.
  • The wheel has 2 $20 spots. The probability of hitting this is 3.70% and the house edge is 22.22%.
  • The wheel has 1 spot each of a joker and the casino logo. The probability of hitting either of these is 1.85% and the house edge is 24.07%.

Atlantic City:

  • The wheel has 23 $1 spots. The probability of hitting this is 42.59% and the house edge is 14.81%.
  • The wheel has 15 $2 spots. The probability of hitting this is 27.78% and the house edge is 16.67%.
  • The wheel has 8 $5 spots. The probability of hitting this is 14.81% and the house edge is 11.11%.
  • The wheel has 4 $10 spots. The probability of hitting this is 7.41% and the house edge is 18.52%.
  • The wheel has 2 $20 spots. The probability of hitting this is 3.70% and the house edge is 22.22%.
  • The wheel has 1 spot each of a joker and the casino logo. The probability of hitting either of these is 1.85% and the house edge is 14.81%.

The payouts for each spot is equal to the dollar figure displayed, so betting on the $1 spot is even money. Betting on the $20 pays 20 to 1.

For the logo and the joker spots, the payout varies. In Las Vegas, it pays 40 to 1. In Atlantic City, it pays 45 to 1. Most locations and casinos either pay in the 40 or 45 to 1 range.

5 – 3-Card Poker

A popular poker game in casinos is 3-card poker. The game is quick paces and the rules are easy to grasp making it a great game for all skill levels.

The game incorporates elements of blackjack and poker.

Like blackjack, the game is between the player and the dealer. The game can have multiple players at one time, but the goal is to beat the dealer.

Everyone will toss in the initial bet or the ante. The dealer then doles out 3 face-down cards to each player and him or herself. The player can either fold or play. If you decide to play. You must place another bet equal to your ante.

This is a straight up stud poker game. No additional cards are dealt or traded in.

All cards are then flipped. The dealer must have a queen or better to play. If not, the player wins even money on the ante.

If the dealer can play and loses, the player wins even money on both the ante and the additional wager.

If the player loses, the dealer wins both the ante and the additional wager.

Since each hand only has 3 cards, the ranking hands differ slightly from traditional poker where 5 cards make a hand. The hand rankings are:

  • Straight flush – 3 suited cards in sequence
  • Three of a kind – 3 cards of the same rank
  • Straight – 3 cards in sequence
  • Flush – 3 suited cards
  • Pair – 2 cards of the same rank
  • High card

3-card poker also has side bets available that will vary from casino to casino. One of the more common side bets in the game is the pair plus bet.

A pair plus bet is a wager that the player has at least a pair. This doesn’t have to beat the dealer’s hand, only be better than a pair. The payout will vary based on the hand. The payouts are:

  • Straight flush: 40 to 1
  • 3 of a kind: 30 to 1
  • Straight: 6 to 1
  • Flush: 3 to 1
  • Any pair: Even money

Conclusion

Casinos realize that they’re a type of entertainment. While winning money can be fun, they realize that the games themselves must provide excitement.

They also realize that have 3 or 4 games in the casino can make game-play boring. That’s part of the reason why they add games like these.

Even games that are based on other games, such as triple zero roulette can provide fun and excitement. Even to experienced players who’ve been burned out on American or European roulette. A slight change of pace can make all the difference.

But some like to explore and try completely new things. That’s what a casino might bring in a game like sic bo for these types of players.

The players get to enjoy the new variety of games and the casino benefits from the cash spent. It’s really a win-win situation to carry these and other lesser-known games.

Also, a casino that has an exclusive game, such as triple zero roulette was to the Venetian and the Palazzo for a while can get a lot of buzz in the gambling world which will bring more people through the door. And players get a bit of a euphoric feeling from being among the only ones to play the game.

Michael Stevens: Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016.