How to Choose Which Casino Games to Play
Deciding which games to play is a dilemma faced by most new casino players. Although the wide variety of different games available is a good thing, and actually one of the major reasons why casino gambling is so popular with so many people, it can also make things a little bewildering for beginners.
Many people know exactly what games they want to play. Some are interested only in playing slots, for example, while some are tempted by the thrill of roulette. A lot of players simply want to try out as many different games as they can. There are plenty of others who have no idea where to start though.
In this article we're going to take a look at some game elements that you might want to consider when choosing what to play in the casino. These include the following.
- Simplicity of rules
- Size of the house edge
- Potential payouts
- Level of skill involved
- Fun factor
We'll cover each of these elements in detail, and also offer some advice for the best games to play. Before we start, though, we should make it clear that there is no correct decision to make here. There are some things you should think about for sure, but it ultimately comes to personal choice. Each and every game in the casino has its own merits, and it's really a matter of just deciding which of the many options appeal to you the most.
Before you play any game in the casino you should make sure that you fully understand how to play, so we recommend having a read through our selection of casino game guides. We have provided comprehensive guides to each of the most popular games, featuring all the rules and plenty of other relevant information.
Simplicity of Rules
The most logical option for beginners is to play the games that are easiest to learn. Most games are fairly straightforward really, and only a few could actually be considered complicated, but there are some that are especially simple.
Casino games really don't come any easier to learn than slots. In fact, there is very little to learn at all. All you have to do is put your money in the machine you want to play, and then push the start button. On some machines you may have to pull a lever instead, and if you're playing online then you'll be clicking your mouse of course.
That's really all there is to it, apart from watching the reels spin and hoping to see a winning combination. Some slots have a few extra features, but these are never very complicated at all. Please read our slots guide to find out more.
Some other easy to learn alternatives are as follows.
- 3 card poker
- Casino War
In roulette there are several betting options to consider, but the rules themselves are simple enough. In baccarat you only have to decide whether to bet on the player's hand or the dealer's, and keno is a lottery style game where you just have to pick some numbers. 3 card poker is the easiest of all the casino poker games to play, with very little in the way of decisions to be made.
Casino War is also an incredibly simple option, perhaps even simpler than slot machines. The only reason it's not our number one pick in this category is because it's not as much fun as playing slots in our opinion.
The Size of the House Edge
The size of the house edge is relevant when it comes to getting maximum value for money in the casino. It only really takes effect over the long run but, in theory at least, a lower house edge means you will lose less money over time.
Blackjack has a very low house edge, providing you can play the game properly. This means knowing when to hit and when to stand, and knowing when to split and when to double down. Although this might sound complicated, it really isn't. It's just a case of learning basic blackjack strategy, which is essentially about following a clearly defined set of rules for what decisions to make and when.
The exact edge in blackjack depends on the house rules and the variant being played. There are several different variants, and each one has slightly different rules. Different casinos also adjust certain rules of the game.
Generally speaking, using basic strategy will mean an edge of around 1%. Our blackjack guide contains detailed information on how to play the game and the strategy involved, and covers a wide variety of other blackjack related topics too.
Here are some other games where the house edge is reasonably low.
- Pai Gow
- Video Poker
Please note that craps is mentioned because some of the bets you can make have a low house edge. There are also some bets that have a very high edge, so it's important to be aware of all the different betting options and their associated edge.
Video poker is worthy of a special mention, because in the right circumstances you can actually play where the house edge is effectively zero. This means finding specific variations of the game with specific pay-tables, and also taking advantage of comp points. Check out our video poker guide to find out more.
One of the most appealing aspects of casino gambling is that it is possible to win substantial sums of money from a small stake. This is only true of certain games though, so if this is what attracts you to the casino then you need to make sure you play the right ones.
Yep, it's slots again for this category too. There is no greater game when it comes to playing for a big prize. Some of the jackpots on slots can be huge, bigger than a lottery win in some instances. And you can usually have a chance of winning them even when playing for very small stakes.
Las Vegas, as you'd expect, has the largest jackpots available, but you'll find good sized prizes at most live venues and also online.
The following games all offer the potential for big wins too.
- Video Poker
- Caribbean Stud Poker
- Roulette (single number wagers pay at 35:1)
It should also be noted that a lot of table games, including blackjack and most forms of casino poker, frequently have side bets where you can play for big payouts.
A lot of players like to test their skill in the casino rather than just rely on luck. Although all games are games of chance, there are several that involve some level of skill too.
Blackjack is the game that involves the most skill, in our opinion at least. It's possibly up for debate, but we think most people would agree. Every single decision you make at the blackjack table has an impact on the outcome of a hand, so you have the ability to influence your results.
Some might argue that playing blackjack “correctly” is more about having a good memory than being skilled, as it's essentially just a case of learning what decisions to make in any given situation. That's a fair point, but we'd maintain that remembering what to do and when is a skill in itself anyway. There's also the fact that card counting is possible at blackjack, and that's definitely a skill.
We've made a second pick here, as video poker is very similar to blackjack in respect of the strategy involved. It's also about remembering a set of rules about what decisions to make, and playing the right way can bring the house edge right down.
Here's a list of other popular casino games that involve at least some level of skill.
- Caribbean Stud Poker
- Let It Ride
- Three Card Poker
- Pai Gow
There's another game that we could possibly have included on this list, but it would have been controversial. Some consider craps to be a game of skill, based on the claim that it is possible to control the dice and affect what values are rolled. This claim has never been proven beyond any doubt, but it's never been disproven either.
Here's an interesting fact though. When the American state of Missouri first allowed casinos to open, only games that involved some level of skill were allowed. Blackjack and video poker were both permitted for example, while slots and roulette were not. Craps was also permitted, so maybe there is substance in the theory that dice control can work.
Is there a better way to choose which games to play than to simply go for the ones that are the most fun? We'd say probably not. There are some exceptions to this of course, as some people will be more interested in the factors we've discussed above. In our view, having fun is just about the most important thing in a casino.
You want to give yourself the best chance of winning money of course. Not least because winning money most certainly helps with the fun. But there are better forms of gambling if making money is your priority. Casino gambling should really be enjoying yourself, with any money won viewed as an added bonus.
As we stated right at the start of this article, there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing which casino games you play. Some games have specific advantages over others, but these advantages are only relevant if they actually matter to you. You might not care about the size of the house edge, for example, and just want to play the games that you find the most fun. You might not be interested in whether there's any skill involved, providing the potential payouts are high enough.
There are just two pieces of advice we have for you. First, make sure you try at least a few different games. This is the best way to actually find out which ones are best for you. Secondly, don't listen to what other people might tell you to play. Who cares if someone thinks you're crazy for playing keno because of the high house edge? It's your money, and therefore entirely your decision to play whatever it is you want to play.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: November 2015
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