When it comes to the casino, there is much to be said for the genuine simplicity and old-school feel that come with the traditional casino card games.
It’s unknown just how many playing-card games are in existence in the modern-day world, but the International Playing-Card Society estimates there are anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 games. You won’t find anywhere near that many in the casino, but we’re sure that you’ll have no problem finding a card game to suit (pardon the pun) on your next visit.
From blackjack and baccarat to video poker and Texas Holdem, there are plenty of card games to choose from when you wander through the doors of any brick and mortar casino.
Not sure where to start on the long list of treasures available on the gaming floor? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a selection of casino card games that you absolutely must play this year if you are looking for a bit of casino fun.
You can’t beat a bit of blackjack
Blackjack: a game that you just can’t beat when it comes to simplicity and excitement in one game.
Made famous in Hollywood blockbusters such as ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Rain Man’, the game offers easy-to-understand rules with a sexy reputation that players can’t get enough of. It’s fast-paced, it’s skill-based and it has the lowest house-edge in the entire casino with a 99.7% RTP (return to player) rate.
You’ll feel like James Bond (or Dustin Hoffman) when you sit at the table. If you are brave enough (and much smarter than me) you can even try your hand at counting cards. Don’t be surprised if you get moved along soon after though…
How does it work?
The game of blackjack is simple, the player is pitched against the dealer and chooses whether to ‘hit’ or ‘stick’ in an attempt to make the value of the cards in their hand total 21.
If the player exceeds 21, they’re bust and the dealer wins, but if the player manages to land closer to the magical 21, they beat the dealer and win the hand. Pretty simple and will usually have decent odds with 3 to 2 on each hand – (avoid games offering 6 to 5).
Blackjack is unique as a card game in the casino due to the required etiquette that should be known by the players before taking a seat and wagering on hands.
As a general rule, it’s best to keep your hands away from anything they shouldn’t be messing with and make sure that everything you’re doing is in full view of the cameras above. You can see a full list of standard blackjack etiquette below:
- Don’t speak, hand gestures are the way to communicate
- Never hand your money to the dealer
- Stack your chips correctly
- Cut the deck correctly if asked
- Check if allowed to bet before wagering mid-shoe
- Only use one hand to hold your cards
- Never take your cards from the table
- Don’t touch your chips once the hand is underway
- Don’t touch the cards when they’re face-up
- Never place objects on the table (drinks are allowed in specific pockets)
It might sound like just a little bit of overkill, but there is a good reason that there so much effort goes into protecting the casino when playing blackjack. By minimizing the chance that any dodgy dealers or counterfeit customers can get one over on the casino, they can make sure that their bottom line is perfectly protected in a fun and safe way.
And it’s pretty cool to play a card game just using hand signals too…
Baccarat needs to make the list
If you’ve not played before, baccarat is one casino card game that will absolutely make the cut when you’re next heading into a brick-and-mortar establishment.
It’s not a game that a huge number of people know how to play, but with a rapid learning-curve, it won’t be long until it stands as your favorite game on the casino floor. You’ll feel like James Bond (I know, again) in Casino Royale.
How does it work?
Baccarat is particularly interesting as a card game because the dealer will actually do most of the work for you. All the players have to do is place a wager, sit back, and watch a potential victory come their way.
Players bet on one of three different outcomes by choosing one of two sides: either the side of the player or the side of the banker or a tie between the two. Once the bets have been made, the dealer deals cards face-up: two for the player and two for the banker. Whichever hand is closest to the value of 9 wins.
All of the cards 2-9 have their face value, but the 10 and the face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) all have a value of 0 when playing. Ace’s are low and count for 1.
If the total value of the cards adds up to a number larger than 9, the 1 is dropped from the start of the number to give a comparison of the value 1-9 e.g. 6+8 = 14 so with the 1 dropped, the value would be 4.
There can be more than just the 2 cards dealt in a game of baccarat for both the player and banker with the player receiving another card if the total hand is less than five. If the player stands, the banker then hits on a total of 5 or less to alter the total value.
Betting on the player and getting it right will let you double your money. Correctly betting on the banker will let you receive 95% of your wager and betting on the final option of the tie will see a payout of 8 to 1. Not bad at all if you’re calling the equal values regularly!
All different kinds of poker
When it comes to fun card games to play, there’s not much that beats hanging out and playing poker with friends.
With a focus on skill over chance, poker is one of those games for which it pays to do your research, build a strategy and practice it if you’re wanting to win big and impress those at the table. It’s a game of reading people, not just the cards so if you’re getting that down, you’re well on your way to the big leagues.
Of course, there’s not just one form of the card game; there are plenty of different kinds of poker you can cash in on and have fun within the casino.
Poker hand rankings
Before going anywhere, you’re going to need to know the hands you can make in the game of poker.
- Royal flush – The highest and most powerful hand with which you can make poker is the royal flush. It’s a five-card hand spanning 10-J-Q-K-A with all cards in the same suit.
- Straight flush – The straight flush requires five consecutive cards of the same suit, just not in the 10-J-Q-K-A combination. The hand of 4-5-6-7-8 of spades would be a straight flush.
- Four-of-a-kind – Exactly what it says on the tin. Four-of-a-kind means four of the same valued card. They do not need to be in the same suit.
- Full house – A full house requires 5 cards in total. It’s a combination of a pair (two cards of the same value) and a three of a kind (three cards of the same value). They do not need to be of the same suit.
- Flush – The flush is a hand consisting of 5 non-consecutive cards of the same suit. An example would be 3-5-8-9-J of clubs.
- Straight – To build a straight, 5 consecutive cards of different suits should be collected. An example would be 3-4-5-6-7 of varying suits.
- Three-of-a-kind – Exactly as you’d expect, 3 cards of the same value together in a hand. The suit does not need to be the same.
- Two pair – Two pairs of the same valued card, for example, 5-5 and 7-7 in a single hand. The suit does not need to be the same.
- Pair – Two cards of the same value together. The suit does not need to be the same.
It might take a little time for the rankings to sink in, but you’ll get the hang of it with a little practice.
Video Poker for a bit of screentime
The first variation is the only card game we’re including on the list that comes with a bit of screentime to make up for the hours you’ll lose watching tv – video poker.
Video poker is great for those just starting out playing poker and will build the confidence players need to have before moving onto the real table game – which you can do once there’s more understanding behind the mechanics of the game. You’ll come to grips with the hands and, if you’re playing with a great strategy, might even leave the machines with a few more spending pennies than you started out with.
How does it work?
Start the game off by depositing coins into the machine, this will display 5 cards on the screen from which you should build your winning hands.
The goal of video poker is to make the best hand with the cards dealt (as seen above): the better the hand, the bigger the payout. You’ll get one chance to change a selection of cards in your hand (from 0 to 5). By choosing whether to discard cards, you’ll be able to change those for others in the deck of 52 (or 53 in joker machines). By holding cards, you’ll keep these on the screen in the hope your replaced cards will make a strong hand.
Payouts and rankings are different depending on the hand that you’ve got with the royal flush giving the highest payout and the pair giving the lowest. It’s a good idea to check the paytable before sitting and deciding you’re going to be playing at the machine. The better the paytable, the better the payout for your hand.
It won’t take long for you to pick up the game and as they say, practice makes perfect!
Everyone’s favorite, Texas Hold’em
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Texas Hold’em when making my way through the doors of any casino, so it’s no surprise it’s on my list of top casino card games you should be playing this year.
How does it work?
The game starts with the dealer dealing two cards face-down to each of the players surrounding the table – these are your ‘hole cards’.
Take a peek at your cards, being careful not to show anybody else around the table before a round of betting known as the ‘pre-flop’ is started. When all betting is finished, three cards are dealt on the table face-up in what is called ‘the flop’.
You’ll then see another round of betting followed by a fourth card dealt face-up on the table known as ‘the turn’. One more round of betting will then begin before the fifth and final card known as ‘the river’ is dealt face-up. A final round of betting will be seen with all of the chips bet making their way to the pot in the center of the table.
The winner of the round is the player who makes the best poker hand with the combination of hole cards and community cards (those dealt face-up in the center of the table). They will receive the chips found in the pot.
There are, however, two ways a hand can end. Either a showdown in which two or more players turn over their hole cards to display who has the strongest hand or everyone else in the game folds leaving one final player to reap the rewards.
There are plenty of strategies, tips, and masterclasses out there to hone your skills and work to improve your game – but for me, nothing compares to time spent on the casino floor.