Choosing which casino games to play is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to online casinos and brick and mortar casinos. Many of these online gambling sites offer hundreds of different games, including several different options within each category.
Although it can sometimes be daunting to find the right casino game for you, we’re here to help.
In the following article, we’ll break down each one of the major casino games that you’ll find at most online and land-based casinos.
We’ll look into how each game is played, the variations they offer, and the house edge. On top of that, we’ll talk about some of the factors and personal preferences that might go into choosing certain games over others.
Different Types of Casino Games
Below we are going to breakdown the details regarding the most popular casino games to provide you with the information you need to choose which casino games you should be playing.
Slot machines are the backbone of the casino industry, and the online versions of slots are also by far and away the most popular games at online casinos. The number one reason why is because they are easy to play. They require no real skill or knowledge in terms of how to play the game; you just win or lose based on luck.
All slot machines have pay tables which show you what you’ll get for each combination of spins. The only real choice you have to make is how many coins you want to bet on each spin and how many lines you want to play.
From there, all you have to do is spin the reels and see what happens. If you manage to hit one of the winning combinations, you’ll win coins. The best possible winnings come from the jackpot spins, which are extremely rare.
If you go to one of the best online casinos, you’re likely to see hundreds of different slot games advertised. The basic gist of these games is generally the same in that you spin to win. But there are different variations that spice up the action and keep you interested even after hundreds of spins.
Here are some of the ways that online slot machines can kick the action up a notch:
Most online slots come with multiple line action included. But some include more lines than others, all of which are taken from different combinations on the grid of three rows with five symbols each.
Some slot games allow you to unlock bonus games where there are special perks included. For example, you might be able to find bonus rounds where pay tables are more lucrative or you get multipliers.
This is a type of bonus where you can spin without using any of your own money. But you can still win money during these free rounds, the only that is free is the spins themselves.
With multiplier action on real money slots, the winnings you would normally get from a spin are amplified. For instance, a 4x multiplier on a spin that could normally win you 20 coins actually gives you 80 coins (4 times 20).
A progressive jackpot on an online slot is one that keeps rising until someone hits it, at which point, it resets to its original level. With progressive jackpots, you can win even more than the standard top payback on most slots.
While themed games can include any of the bonuses listed above, what really sets them apart is that they raise the entertainment up a notch. They might be tied into pop culture or sports, or they can have a unique storyline as you play.
You can always sample new slot games to keep the action fresh. Or you can find a few that you love and stick with them.
House Edge on Slot Machines
One of the downsides of online slots is that you’re going to be in the dark about your potential payback. That’s because there is no rule saying that online casinos have to advertise what each game gives out. And because there’s no way to find out how often you’ll achieve winning spins, there isn’t a mathematical way to figure it out on your own.
But as a rule of thumb, the less strategy involved in a game, the higher the house edge is going to be. Expect a house edge for online slots anywhere in the neighborhood of 5% to 15% on average. That isn’t ideal, but online slots do compensate by giving you a chance to win a lot in a hurry with a jackpot.
If you’re trying to narrow down the house edge on online slots, try to research third-party sites to find ones that have the lowest house edge. Or try to time playing a progressive slot when the jackpot is particularly high. But for the most part, online slots players need to accept that their payback isn’t going to be ideal.
Blackjack is the most popular of all one-person strategy games that you can play in an online casino for real money. It’s not that difficult to learn. And it also includes a payback percentage that ranks among the best of all casino games.
In blackjack, you’re trying to beat the dealer with a hand that goes as high as 21 but doesn’t go over. If you get 21 on your first two cards, that’s a blackjack and earns you a higher payback than normal. Otherwise, you can add more cards or stand with what you have and hope that your total beats the dealer or that the dealer goes over 21.
If you do this, you’ll win receive even-money payback, which means you get your bet back and win an equal amount. There are other strategic moves that you can make in blackjack, such as doubling or splitting, that will give you different opportunities depending on the cards you have. One other exciting factor with many real money online casinos is that they allow you to play blackjack with a live dealer, which is great for those who want the feel of the casino but don’t want to endure the hassle of getting there.
Variations of Blackjack
While the basic gameplay of blackjack doesn’t change too much in different versions, there are ways it can be tweaked. Some of these tweaks give players a slightly better payback percentage on average. Others give you the chance to boost your single-hand earning potential.
Here are some of the different ways that blackjack can be changed in different variations:
House Rules: This refers to the rules in play for the blackjack game you happen to be playing. Depending on what those rules are, such as limits on splitting or doubling, insurance or surrender opportunities, or pay levels for a two-card blackjack, they can raise or lower the house edge. You should always try to find online games with the most advantageous rules.
Side Bets: Some blackjack games allow you to make bets on what cards are going to appear in addition to trying to beat the dealer. The best part of side bets is that you can often win more on them than you could in normal blackjack. But the bad news is that they usually carry a much higher house edge than standard games.
Deck Amount: You’ll occasionally see online casinos advertising something called “double deck” or even “single deck” blackjack. The fewer decks that are in play, the more the probabilities are in the player’s favor. Just be aware that other rules might be tweaked in the house’s favor to compensate, or the game might only be available with higher betting limits.
Blackjack House Edge
Even with strict rules against the player, the blackjack house edge is among the lowest in the casino. Most blackjack variations come in with a payback percentage of 99% or above, which would reduce what the casino gets to under 1%. When you consider the bonuses given out by online casinos just for signing up, you can conceivably make a profit playing blackjack over a long stretch.
The catch, however, is that you can only hope to do this if you learn proper strategy. When you make mistakes in terms of when you hit or stand, you’re hurting yourself in terms of the math. That’s why serious online blackjack players should take the time to learn the right play in every single situation, based on what they have and what the dealer has.
The other catch is that blackjack is a game where you’re limited to what you can win in a short amount of time. Because the usual payback is even money, and that happens roughly half of the time, you have to be content to grind out winnings. But that can be a good thing because it also means that you can play online blackjack for a long period of time on a relatively small bankroll.
There are two ways to think of the game when you’re playing poker online. First of all, there are versions of it that allow you to play as one person in automated fashion. This is a relatively stress-free way to play poker concepts and still win real money.
But the more popular version of real money online poker is the one that pits players against each other in online tournaments. These would be similar to what you might see on television but for lower limits and in an online forum. Online poker has soared in recent years and has become an absolute phenomenon, with millions of players taking part all over the globe.
The concept of online poker is similar to what was played in saloons in the Old West, in that you’re still trying to build the best combination of cards in your hand based on the old hierarchy (two pair beats a pair, three of a kind beats two pair, a straight beats three of a kind, etc.). But you can also win big pots through savvy betting either by sneaking up with smaller bets when you have a great hand or bluffing players when you don’t.
It seems like there are new versions of poker popping up all the time. But there are standby variations that always draw a lot of excitement in the online poker world. Here are some that you might know:
Stud: With Stud Poker, you generally don’t have a chance to control what cards you have in any way; you basically have to go with what you get on the deal. As a result, winning and losing at Stud is a bit more luck-based than other versions. It also puts a heavier emphasis on your betting skill.
Draw: Draw Poker, such as Five-Card Draw, requires you to know the probabilities of what cards are left in the deck after the deal. That’s because you’ll have the opportunity to discard some cards from your deal and draw others in an effort to make the best possible hand. It adds another layer of strategy to the action.
Texas Hold’em: The most popular of all poker versions, Texas Hold’em, took off at the turn of the 21st century because its the ideal game for television. In this version, players get two hole cards then share five community cards with other players at the table. These are shown in piecemeal fashion. There are several different rounds of betting during a single hand, which really amplifies the excitement.
You’ll probably be able to find even more variations of online poker, but all of them will likely spring from these three versions. From there, it’s just a matter of choosing a tournament to play in and getting started. Tournament poker offers some of the highest possible payback.
House Edge on Poker Games
It’s hard to even guess at the house edge for poker because, perhaps more than any other casino game that you can play for real money online, you need the right skills to succeed. It involves mastering the probabilities of the cards you have and what other players might have compared to the cards coming out of the deck. And it also involves being able to bet wisely at every juncture so that you can maximize your winnings.
In addition, poker is sort of a zero-sum game.
Because you’re playing against other payers at the table, there will be winners and losers. The overall house edge is what the online casino charges to be the administrator of the game, which isn’t all that much.
On the one hand, a skilled online poker player can actually make a comfortable living, which isn’t something you can say about other online casino games. An unskilled player can lose a lot playing online poker than other games. So it is, without a doubt, a classic double-edged sword scenario.
In terms of pure excitement level, there’s nothing that quite tops the rush of a spinning roulette wheel. Even in automated fashion online, where the winning number is actually determined by a random number generator and not an actual ball inside a wheel, the excitement still stands. And if you want the physical product, many online casinos feature roulette games where a live employee spins an actual wheel and the results go out to you via video.
As for how roulette works, on a basic level, it’s pretty simple. If the ball lands on a number where you have a bet, you win. But the betting part of it is somewhat involved in that you can make different-sized bets that cover different numbers.
For example, you can bet on odd or even numbers, or red or black, which cover almost half the outcomes and pay back even money. Or you can narrow down your wager to a few numbers or even one number, which allows you to win a lot with a small wager. Even though it’s a luck-based game in that you don’t control what number shows up, you do determine your odds by the way you bet.
Variations of Roulette
There aren’t as many variations of roulette as other games, but there are two versions you should know. Each version has a different effect on your house edge.
In this version, there are 37 numbers on the wheel. There are 18 red and 18 black spaces which cover #1 through 36, and one green zero, which is the house space. They call it a house space because the house will win when the ball lands there if you make an even-money bet. If you’re betting on one number, you have a 1 in 37 chance, and the payback odds are 36 to 1.
American Roulette is less advantageous for players because there are two house spaces, a zero and a double-zero. Thus, your chances of hitting a single-number wager are 1 in 38, and there are two house spaces which will ruin your even-money bets. But your payback when playing American Roulette is the same at 1 to 36 as if you were playing European Roulette.
You might also find that certain games allow different rules that lessen the effect of the house spaces on even-money bets. Experienced roulette players will get to know these advantageous rules and look for them whenever possible.
Roulette House Edge
The math of roulette is fascinating because of how the bets all break down to the same house edge. In European Roulette, the house edge stands at 2.7%, while it rises to 5.3% for American Roulette. This is the case no matter what bet you happen to be making.
By switching up the types of bets you make, you aren’t changing the house edge. But you’re changing the volatility. That’s what measures how high or low your bankroll might rise in a given period of time.
For example, if you were always making single-number bets in online roulette, you’d have long stretches of losses broken up by big wins every now and then. With even-money wagers, your bankroll won’t move too high or too low because you’ll get small wins and losses quite frequently. But your overall payback percentage will remain the same in the long run.
You’ll find that many of the gamblers who play video poker swear by it and often won’t be swayed by anything else in the casino. That’s because video poker offers a hybrid experience that not many other casino games can match. With video poker, you get the self-contained play of slot machines and the strategic challenges of table games. Video poker provides something for you no matter which casino games you enjoy to play.
At its basic level, video poker is like a simulated version of Five-Card Draw, only just a single player is involved so you don’t have to worry about bluffing. You get five cards and choose which cards to hold and discard. Any discards will be replaced by others from the deck, as you try to make the best possible poker hand.
The pay table will show you how much each winning combination pays. Video poker strategy depends on knowing when to go for low-paying hands and also realizing when it’s time to go for a big payback with a rare hand. In that respect, you get elements of both luck and strategy within the game.
Video Poker Variations
Video poker ranks second only to slot machines in terms of the different ways you can play. You can keep it simple if you want by playing Jacks or Better, which is the most common format of the game and the pay table that most resembles traditional poker rankings. Or you can branch out and try something different from the list of casino games at online casinos.
There are many different methods of altering video poker play. Here are a few:
Different Pay Tables: Some pay tables reward hands, such as four of a kind, more than Jacks or Better games. These “bonus” pay tables let you have a lot more chances of winning a big payback for a single hand than basic games. They also alter your strategy.
Multiple Hand Play: Here, you can play several hands at once. While you’ll still get only one deal, the decisions you make on that deal will play out over 3, 5, 10, or even 100 hands. By playing this way, you can really pick up the pace rather than just grinding out a hand at a time.
Progressive Jackpots: With video poker progressive games, the online casino will dictate a certain hand that you have to make to win the jackpot. In most cases, it’s the royal flush, which is the rarest of all video poker hands. From there, it’s just a matter of how high the jackpot rises until someone at the site gets the jackpot hand.
Wild Cards: Games such as Deuces Wild or Joker Poker let you play with wild cards in the deck. These wild cards can be changed into whatever card helps your hand most. With wild cards, you can achieve rare, high-paying hands at a higher rate than if you were playing without them.
Special Features: Many online video poker variations include special features that are unlocked when you make an extra bet on top of the normal maximum. Some bonuses include free rounds, multipliers, more lucrative pay tables, and extras for winning streaks. These special features generally add to the payback percentage of the game but also add to the volatility because of the higher wager required.
House Edge for Video Poker
Video poker comes in all shapes and sizes so, as a result, there isn’t a single house edge to which you can point when discussing the games. The good news is that the best video poker games can reduce the house edge to a very small percentage, even eliminate it in some cases. But you have to know how to look for the games that do that.
In most cases, you can figure out the payback percentage for a given video poker game on your own. You know how much each hand pays from the pay table, and you can use probability math to show you how likely it is to achieve those hands. From there, it’s just a little multiplication.
If you don’t want to do that math, there are online resources which show you the house edge for each game. Most games, such as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, and so on, have different pay tables attached to them. The trick is knowing how to spot the full-pay, or highest-paying, versions of each of those games to maximize your winnings.
Baccarat is a game that a lot of people might have seen played, probably in a James Bond film if not in a casino, but maybe haven’t tried to play. That’s because the rules can seem intricate in terms of which cards are drawn for which side at different times. But the good news is that you really don’t need to worry about that.
All you need to know is which side to bet. Many people think that they’re the “player” and the opponent is the “banker,” which is a common fallacy. In actuality, the player and the banker are just two possible outcomes on which you can bet.
When you’re playing baccarat, there’s no real skill involved since you don’t have any control over what side wins (or if there is a tie). But you do have control over what you bet, which you can do with a full understanding of the odds in play.
Baccarat is a game most often associated with high rollers, but the good news about baccarat at real money online casinos is that you can usually get in for a much lower limit. This makes it a good way to try it out.
Variations of Baccarat
There are two basic ways to change up classic baccarat play. The first is by changing up the number of decks. If there’s a lower number of decks in play, that will actually help the player in terms of the house edge.
Another way to add some action to the proceedings is to add side bets.
With side bets, you can usually bump the possible win amount on a single hand. But you have to be careful with them in that the side bets often carry a very high house edge.
But for the most part, baccarat is a game that is pretty rigid in its rules of play. And that’s okay if you like the game as it is. People looking for variety in their casino action should probably look elsewhere.
House Edge for Baccarat
In most standard baccarat games, there are three possible bets you can make at the start of each hand: banker, player, or tie. Here is the payback for each:
Banker: 19 to 20
Player: Even money
Tie: 9 to 1
The reason why the banker bet pays off slightly less than even money is because the banker has a slight advantage in each hand due to the rules of baccarat. Therefore, you essentially have to pay a 5% commission to make a banker wager. But what does the house edge look like or each?
As you can see, a bet on the banker on every hand is the best way to sustain your bankroll. Many gamblers hesitate to do that because of the 5% commission. Bu in the long run, it’s the most profitable way to play.
You can also see that the tie bet is a lousy one for the player. While it’s nice to get 9 to 1 back instead of even money or even less for the other wagers, you can see that there isn’t any long-term value in the tie bets. That’s why you should stick to the low-volatility bets if you’re planning to play online baccarat to win.
Other Casino Games
Online casinos feature many more games; some are well-known and easy to find, while others are somewhat rare or unique to a certain online casino. You should always browse online gambling sites to see if they have the games you want the most.
Here are some examples of games you might also find at online casinos:
Many online casino apps feature the virtual equivalent of the scratch-off tickets you can buy in the supermarket.
There are many more specialty games available online. Read up on them before you play to make sure you don’t end up playing something that’s working against you. You might be able to find one or two that suit your gambling needs.
Picking the Right Casino Game for You
When it comes to choosing between casino games, you should come up with some criteria to help you determine that selection. If you go in blindly and start choosing without thinking, it could lead to a bad, unprofitable experience. But if you go in with a game plan, it can lean in your favor.
Ease of Play
Some people jump right in and start playing a game without needing to know much about it. If you’re one of these people, you might like slot machines, which give you the chance to start spinning immediately. Games like this don’t require any strategy.
You might want to split the middle and find games that can be easy to play but still offer top payback. For instance, games like craps and roulette don’t require you to make many decisions that affect the outcome. But if you bet wisely, you can win big on games that are essentially luck-based.
Wanting a Challenge
For some people, the idea of mindlessly spinning an online slot game over and over is not their idea of fun. if you fall into that category, it might be a situation where you prefer to play something that requires a little bit more of a challenge. And there are casino games that offer it to you, many of which can be played online.
Poker presents the ultimate challenge, as it requires strategy with getting the right cards and strategy when you’re making the bets. Other games like video poker and blackjack also include strategic elements. These games give you the advantage of having some impact over whether you win or lose each individual hand or game.
Looking for Long-Term Gains
If you want to be more than just a casual player and you’re really interested in gambling at an online casino for the long haul, look into the house edge figures that we mentioned above. The lower the house edge, the better it is for you as a long-term player. When you play a game where the house edge is low enough, you can actually make a profit in the long run.
Of course, many of the games that offer a low house edge, such as video poker or blackjack, only yield that kind of payback if you play the games with expert strategy. In other words, you have to put in the work if you want to win big. But if you do, you can expect these games to be the most lucrative for you.
It’s understandable if you want to strike it big at an online casino. After all, it’s the goal of many a casino player to win a lot of money while only putting a small amount at stake. That’s where jackpots come into play.
Games like slot machines can bring you a quick strike if you get a lucky spin.
But even some strategy games, like poker or video poker, contain a jackpot element. Jackpot seekers need to look for the games that offer the best chance for them to win big in a hurry.
Some people just like the idea of being able to play online casino games for as long as possible. They understand that they might never win too big, but they get enjoyment out of the grind. If you’re one of those people, you might wish to play games that offer you the chance to play for a long time on a very small bankroll.
If that’s the case, you should look for so-called “low-volatility” games. These are the games that almost ensure you can keep a steady bankroll if you play well enough. Just be advised that low-volatility games will also reduce your chances of grabbing a jackpot.
How to Find the Best Casino Game for You
Come up With a Checklist
We provided some of the best criteria above. You should go you’re your search knowing exactly which of these aspects of online gambling mean the most to you.
Find the Site That Fits Your Needs or Head to the Casino
This will be a relatively easy process once you determine your needs. Keep in mind that you should go beyond just worrying about the games that are included. You should also think about banking, customer service, mobile gambling, and bonuses, all of which could go a long way in determining which site is right for you.
Give it a Try
Many real money online casinos allow you to play games for free at their websites. This can be an effective way for you to find out if the games you’ve chosen are indeed right for you. If you can’t do a free test run, you should probably start with betting sizes that are as small as possible so that you don’t get too carried away at first.
Dig a Little Deeper
Once you get comfortable with your new favorite game, you should try other variations. For example, if you started playing basic Jacks or Better video poker, you might want to try Deuces Wild. You could end up finding a variation that fits you the best.
Learn From Your Mistakes
If the first game you choose isn’t quite right for you, try to pinpoint what it is about the game that you find lacking. Once you do, you’ll be able to avoid those mistakes when you try out something new.
Questions About Choosing Which Casino Games to Play
Should I Play Casino Games?
If you’re thinking of playing them just for fun, there is really no harm in that. You can find many online casinos that give you the chance to play for free.
But if you want to play for real money, you should think twice if it’s the right thing for you to do. You should make sure that any money you put at stake is something that you can afford to lose. Otherwise, you could end up in some financial discomfort.
As long as you have the money to afford it, playing casino games can be a lot of fun, as well as potentially lucrative. This is especially true if you take the time to consider which games suit you the most. If you do that, you’ll find that playing casino games online can be an exciting way to pass the time, as long as you remember to do it in moderation.
What Is the House Edge?
The house edge is built into just about every casino game you can play. Brick and mortar casinos and online casinos need money to operate, and that money mainly comes from the house edge. With it in place, the player is always at a slight disadvantage against the entity administrating the games and taking the bets, i.e. the casino.
In other words, the higher the house edge, the more you’re expected to lose playing a specific game. That doesn’t mean you’ll always lose. But it does mean that, over the long haul, it is hard to achieve a profit.
The flipside to the house edge is payback percentage, which is how much the player can expect to return out of his bankroll. When you add up the payback percentage and the house edge, it will always add up to 100%. It’s just two different ways of saying the same thing.
What Casino Game Has the Lowest House Edge?
This is a question that can have more than one answer, as it’s dependent on several different factors. Many experts will tell you that blackjack offers the lowest house edge. But that’s only true if you know how to play the game with expert strategy, making the right decisions on every single hand.
There are also some who claim that video poker has the lowest house edge, in some cases, even eliminating it completely. This is another instance where you have to be able to play with perfect strategy. And you also need to make sure to choose the right pay table, one that offers the highest payback for each winning combination.
Here’s one rule of thumb with house edge: The less you have to do while playing the game, the higher the house edge will be. Online slot machines only require you to sit and spin the reels, and they have a high house edge. The more involved the game requires you to be, the lower its house edge.
What Casino Game Should I Play?
It depends on what you’re looking for out of your game. To choose, try to first identify the answers to the following questions:
Do I want to play the game that is the most fun?
Do I want a game that uses strategy?
Do I want a game that is easy to play?
Do I want a game that pays off the most in the long haul?
Do I want a game that gives me a chance at winning a lot on a small wager?
Do I want a game that lets me play a long time on a small bankroll?
If you can start to pinpoint what it is that you want out of your online casino play, you should be able to choose the right game for you to play easily.
Is There a Difference Between Playing Online vs. Playing in a Casino?
The gameplay is essentially the same. But when you’re playing online, you get to control the pace of the action. This is in contrast to when you’re playing in a casino, where you have to play at the pace dictated by the employee running the game.
That also plays into the other big difference, especially when it comes to table games. When you play blackjack, for example, your cards come from actual decks that are handed out by the casino dealer. But if you’re playing online, the cards will be determined by a random number generator within the software of the game to ensure random results.
Finally, bonuses are bit more substantial when you play online casino games. That’s because gambling sites don’t have the same kind of overhead that actual casinos do. One thing that land-based casinos can do to compensate is to offer comps for amenities located on site, such as restaurants, accommodations, or entertainment.
Choosing which casino games to play, either online or in land-based casinos, isn’t as hard as it might seem to beginners who’ve never tried it before. You really just need to do a little bit of research. That will make things much clearer and make your choices much easier.
We suggest you read through this page about the various games so that you can get a feel for each. This will certainly help push you in the right direction. And once you have your favorite games chosen, all you have to worry about is trying to win when you play them.
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