People who are new to gambling probably don’t realize that you can find almost endless of variations of gambling games. They think that blackjack is just blackjack, craps is craps, and so on.
But for every gambling game you know about, several variations of the game exist.
In this post, I look at some of the major gambling games by category and examine the variations of each.
Variations of Blackjack
Everyone knows that the basic game of blackjack involves trying to get as close as you can to a total of 21 without going over.
They also know that a blackjack pays off at 3 to 2 odds, and some of them even have an idea about doubling down, splitting, and taking insurance.
But not all blackjack games are the same. Even games that just call themselves blackjack change up the game conditions dramatically.
Examples of changes casinos make to vary their blackjack games include how many decks they’re using, how much they pay out for a blackjack, and whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft total of 17.
These changes in rules dramatically affect the casino’s edge. For example, in a casino where they pay off at 6:5 for a blackjack instead of 3:2, the house edge for the game jumps by 2%.
Variations of blackjack aren’t just limited to seemingly minor variations in conditions either.
Here are three examples of blackjack variations that are different enough that the games get their own names:
Double Exposure Blackjack – In a standard blackjack game, the dealer shows one card and keeps the other card face down. But in Double Exposure Blackjack, the dealer plays with both cards face-up. This enables the gambler to make more informed decisions. The casino mitigates this effect on the house edge by only paying even money on a blackjack. Also, all ties result in a loss for the player.
Super Fun 21 – Unlike many blackjack variants, Super Fun 21 doesn’t rely on a single gimmick to distinguish it from other blackjack games. Instead, it has several alternate rules to make the game more exciting. For one thing, the game offers the most flexible rules for doubling, surrendering, and splitting. More important than that, a player blackjack always beats a dealer blackjack. You also get bonus payouts. If you have a blackjack in diamonds, you get 2:1. Any hand with six cards or more that totals 20 or less is an automatic winner, and any hand with five cards in it that totals 21 pays off at 2:1, too. The casino makes its money back with one simple rules change—blackjack pays off at even money instead of at 3:2.
Spanish 21 – This blackjack variation uses what’s called a “Spanish deck.” It’s just like a regular deck, but they’ve removed all the 10s. (The face cards are still in the deck, though.) Card counters will know that having fewer 10s in the deck improves the edge for the house, but Spanish 21 has other rules changes that help mitigate that. As in Super Fun 21, a player blackjack always wins. In fact, any hand totaling 21 from the player automatically wins regardless of what the dealer has. The game also offers bonus payouts for hands of 5+ cards that total 21, and for hands consisting of 678 or 777.
These are just a handful of the many blackjack variations you’ll find in casinos.
One of these is “Crapless Craps.” In a standard game of craps, if the shooter rolls two, three, or 12 on the come-out roll, the pass line bet loses. This is called “crapping out.” But in Crapless Craps, those numbers become point numbers, just like any other roll would.
The other change to this variation of craps is that instead of a seven or an 11 being a win on the come-out roll, the seven is the only win.
The house edge on Crapless Craps is higher than you might think because of this change in rules. The house edge for the pass line bet in standard craps is 1.41%, making it one of the better bets in the casino. But in Crapless Craps, the house edge skyrockets to 5.38%.
You’ll face better odds at the roulette table.
Variations of Roulette
Speaking of roulette, you can find three major versions, each of which can be considered its own variation. The difference between the games is based entirely on how many zeros are on the wheel. And as you probably know, the zeros are where the house gets its edge.
The standard variation of roulette played in the United States has 38 total numbers on it, and two of them are green—the 0 and the 00. The house edge for this variation is 5.26%.
Another variation that’s not unusual is called “single zero roulette” or “European Roulette.” This wheel only has 37 total numbers on it, and only one of them is green. This reduces the house edge to 2.70%.
At most American casinos, if you can find a European Roulette wheel, you must play for higher stakes to join that table. Since the house edge is lower, the casino wants you to put more money into action.
Finally, the newest variation of roulette is called “Sands Roulette.” It’s a variation with 39 total numbers on it. There’s the 0 and the 00, but there’s also a symbol which basically acts like an additional 0.
The house edge for this variation is 7.69%. You should never play this game. The house edge is ridiculous. You might also see this variation called “Triple Zero Roulette,” too.
The biggest visible variation has to do with the brand name. A lot of slot machine games are related to existing intellectual properties. A lot of times, these are older television shows to cater to an audience’s nostalgia. I Love Lucy slots and Hee Haw slots are just two examples.
Another popular source of intellectual property that slot machine designers mine for ideas are game shows like The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune.
But you also have slot machine games which have come up with their own unique themes, like Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania.
To top all that off, you have a practically infinite number of variations to the rules and pay tables. Some games have three reels; others have five reels. Some games have a single payline across the center; others offer 243 ways to win.
They now have slot machine games with scatter symbols and wild symbols, too. Slot machines are hard on your bankroll, though. The house edge is generally at least 5%—often more—and the rate of play is astounding. The average slots player makes 500 bets per hour or more.
This adds up to a lot of money in the casinos’ pockets.
Variations of Video Poker
There’s no basic game of “video poker.” They’re all variations. If one game qualified as being the most basic version of video poker, though, it would be Jacks or Better.
The biggest variations for Jacks or Better have to do with the payouts for individual hands. The best Jacks or Better games are the 9/6 games, which pay off at 9 for 1 for a full house and 6 for 1 for a flush.
Those are also the least common variations. You’re more likely to find 8/5 games or 7/5 games. Those two numbers always refer to the payouts for the full house and the flush. The house edge goes up as the casino pays less for those hands.
The other main way the casinos vary video poker is by including wild cards. Some games include a single joker. That variation is called Jokers Wild or Joker Poker. Other games make all the twos in the deck wild. That’s called Deuces Wild.
These video poker variations also come with different pay tables, making the return to player hard to know unless you consult an appropriate computer program.
Many newer video poker variations have additional features like a randomly applied bonus multiplier. These variations add to the volatility of the games.
There it is. Now, you have several examples of variations of multiple classic gambling games and the effects that they have on the house edge.
But no matter what gambling game you’re playing, it has variations. For the purposes of this post, I stuck with casino games, but poker games are also available in a practically infinite variety.
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. ...
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