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.
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:
These are just a handful of the many blackjack variations you’ll find in casinos.
Craps is such a traditional casino game that people love so much that you won’t find a lot of variations on the tried and true. But there are variations out there.
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.
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.
Let’s face it. Slot machines are available in literally countless variations.
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.
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.
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