Card games are one of the best ways to have fun in the casino thanks to their social element. However, while they all might look similar at first glance, one of the most important things that you should know about casino card games is that they all have different house edges.
The house edge is the percentage advantage that a casino or gambling establishment has over the player. Generally, the lower the house edge, the better the odds are for the player.
Poker is the casino game with the best odds, but if you are unfamiliar with this game, here are the other casino card games you should try.
10. Caribbean Stud (House Edge ≈ 5.22%)
While the house edge for Caribbean Stud might not look so high at first, it is one of the highest of all casino card games.
But the thing that makes this game even harder for the player is the fact that you have to implement the perfect strategy to achieve these numbers, and this requires extensive game and strategy knowledge.
Caribbean stud is played in rounds. Before each round, the player must place an ante. In each round, the player and the dealer receive five cards. The dealer turns one of his cards face-up, while the player’s cards remain turned face-down.
After the player takes a look at his cards, he has a decision to make. He can either choose to surrender his hand and forfeit his ante, or he can decide to make a raise. If he chooses to raise, he must put an additional bet that is two times larger than the ante.
For example, if the ante is $50, the player must bet an additional $100.
When the player decides to make a raise, the dealer must have at least Ace-King to qualify, if he has anything less, the player wins and receives even money on his ante and a push on his raise.
If the dealer has Ace-King or better, he qualifies and his hand and the player’s hand are compared based on the standard poker hand rankings.
The money is distributed in the following way:
If the player has the best hand, he wins even money on both the ante and the raise
If the dealer has the best hand, the player loses both the ante money and the raise money
Players can also choose to place a side bet, which is based on a separate paytable, between hands. Depending on the side bet, the player can make extra money if he makes a strong hand such as the royal flush or the straight flush.
9. Let It Ride (House Edge ≈ 3.51%)
In the casino game Let It Ride, unlike in Caribbean stud, the player does not play against the dealer, instead, the player is just looking to collect the best possible hand based on poker rankings while the dealer is just facilitating the game.
The game starts with the player placing three bets after which he receives three cards turned face up. After he receives the cards, the player has a decision to make. He can either continue with the hand or give up.
If the player decides to forfeit his hand, he can take back his first bet and surrender the other two bets, thus ending the hand.
On the other hand, if the player decides to continue with the hand, he must let his first bet ride. In return, the dealer will deal the fourth card which is the first community card that all players at the table can use to make their hand combination.
After the player gets to see the fourth hand he once again must decide whether he is to continue or surrender the hand.
If he decides to surrender after seeing the fourth card, he can take back his second bet, but he surrenders his first and third bets. If he decides to continue he lets his bets ride.
Then, the dealer deals the second and the last community card. After the final card has been dealt, all players that have collected tens or better get paid/ Players with hands worse than a pair of tens lose all three of their bets.
In the Let It Ride casino card game, players also have the option to place side bets before each hand. The side bets pay additional money based on the absolute strength of the player’s hand.
8. Three Card Poker (House Edge ≈ 3.37%)
Just like in Caribbean Stud, in Three Card Poker, the player plays against the dealer heads up and each round starts with the player placing an ante.
The main difference between Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud is that in Three Card Poker, instead of five cards, the player and the dealer each receive three cards.
The player’s cards are turned face up and the dealer’s cards turned face down.
After the cards are dealt, the player has the option to play or fold. If he chooses to fold, he forfeits his ante. On the other hand, if he chooses to play, he must match the amount of the ante bet to continue.
If the player decides to match the ante bet and continue to play, the dealer turns his three cards face up. For the dealer to qualify, he needs to have at least queen-high. If he has anything less, the player wins even money on his ante and a push on his play bet.
If the dealer qualifies, there are two possible outcomes of the hand:
The player has a better hand and wins even money on the ante and the play bet
The dealer has a better hand and the player loses both the ante money and the play bet money
Hand Rankings in Three Card Poker
While Three Card Poker for the most part uses standard poker hand rankings, there is one exception. In this casino card game, a straight beats a flush.
In addition to this, since participants only get three cards, three cards of the same suit are considered a flush, and three cards in consecutive order are considered a straight.
Another similarity between Caribbean Stud and Three Card Poker is that both games give the player an option to place a side bet.
In Three Card Poker, this side bet is called a “Pair Plus” bet and if a player collects a pair or better during the round, he gets paid based on a separate paytable.
It is important to know that the house edge for the Pair Plus side bet is 7.28%, which is extremely high for card games.
7. Pai Gow Poker (House Edge ≈ 2.84%)
Pai Gow Poker is a casino card game based on the Chinese tile game of the same name.
In this card game, the player starts with seven cards and he needs to make two hands out of them.
The game starts with the dealer dealing seven cards to the player and then dealing seven cards to himself.
After he receives his cards, the player then looks to make the best possible five-card poker hand. This hand is called the high hand, and the two cards that are left are called the second high hand.
Note that the high hand must always be stronger than the second high hand. The player can’t use the stronger combination as a second high hand and the weaker combination as the high hand.
When the player finishes setting up his hands, the dealer then turns his hand over and sets up his high hand and second high hand.
The only difference between the player and the dealer is that the dealer always must set his hand the dealer’s way while the player can set his hand however he likes as long as he does not break the rules of the game.
If both the player’s high hand and second high hand beat the dealers, the player wins even money on his bet, but he also must pay a 5% rake on his winnings.
If one of the player’s hands wins and the other losses, the bets are settled as a push. If both of the player’s hand lose, he losses all of his bets.
In addition to playing against the house, the player can also place a side bet against other players, but only when he is the in the “banker” position. The banker position rotates around the table, and each player gets his chance to be the banker which he can decline if he so wishes.
The house edge in Pai Gow Poker is 2.84%, but it goes down to 1.42% when the player acts as the banker.
6. Casino War (House Edge ≈ 2.80%)
If you are looking for a straightforward casino card game that you can immediately jump into without having any previous knowledge, Casino War might be the right game for you.
A round of Casino War starts with the player making a bet after which the dealer deals one card to the player and one card to himself. The cards are dealt from a shoe that contains six decks of cards.
In this game, the cards are ranged based on the standard card ranking. The ace is counted as a high card, which makes the deuce the lowest possible card a player can have.
If the player gets a higher card than the dealer, he wins even money on his bet, and if the dealer gets a higher card than the player, the player loses his bet.
In situations in which both the dealer and the player get a card of the same rank, the player has the option to double his bet and go to “War” mode or he can choose to surrender and lose half of his bet.
Going to War
If the player chooses to go to War, the dealer will match the player’s second bet. In the war round there are three possible outcomes:
The player gets a higher card than the dealer and wins both of his bets and one bet from the dealer
The dealer gets a higher card and the player losses both of his bets
The player and the dealer again get the card of the same rank and the player again needs to decide if he is going to another War round
As you can see, the casino’s edge in this game comes from the War round, since in this round, the player risks two bets to win one.
In addition to the main part of the game, in Casino War, the player has the option of placing a side bet on the “tie”. This side game pays 10 to 1, and for the player to win the side bet, both the player and the dealer have to be dealt a card of the same rank.
The house edge in the Casino War card game can go up to 3.7% if the player always surrenders after a tie.
5. Ultimate Texas Hold’em (House Edge ≈ 2.19%)
While they might have similar names, make no mistake, Ultimate Texas Hold’em is a completely different game from Texas Hold’em. The main difference is that in this casino game, you are playing against the house and not other players.
Before each hand of Ultimate Texas Hold’em, the player must place two equal bets, an Ante bet, and a Blind bet. After placing the two bets, the player and the dealer get two cards each.
The player then has the decision to make. He can either check or place another bet called the Play bet. The Play bet is usually 3-4 times the size of the ante/blind bet.
If the player decides to check, the dealer deals three community cards, and the player has the option to check again or to place a play bet equal to twice the amount of the ante/blind bet.
On the other hand, if the player decided to place a play bet before the community cards are dealt, he losses the option of making any further bets, and the dealer deals all five community cards.
If the player has checked in on his first two turns, he gets another chance to bet after seeing the last two community cards. If he decides to bet, the size of his play bet is equal to the size of the ante/blind bet.
The player also has the option of folding and surrendering both his ante and his blind bet.
The player’s cards stay turned face down until he decides to make a play bet after he makes the play bet both his and the dealer’s cards are turned face up and the rest of the community cards are dealt (if there are any community cards left to be dealt).
Determining the Winning Combination
In this card game, the player and the dealer can use their two-hole cards as well as the five community cards to make their combination and the best 5-card combination wins.
There are a few different scenarios that can happen based on the strength of the players and the dealer’s hand:
If the player has the best hand, and the dealer has at least one pair, the player wins even money on his play, ante, and blind bet
If the player has the best hand, and the dealer has a hand that is worse than one pair, the player wins even money on the play bet and the blind bet but pushes on the ante
If the dealer has the best hand, the player losses all of his bets
Finally, just like the casino card game we previously mentioned, Ultimate Texas Hold’em also gives players the option to make a side bet that pays based on a separate paytable if they make three of a kind or better.
The side bet pays even if the player’s hand losses to the dealer’s hand.
4. Baccarat (House Edge ≈ 1.24%)
At number four on our list of casino card games with the lowest house edge is Baccarat, one of the most popular casino games in the world.
In Baccarat, the player has two options, he can bet either on the Player or on the Banker. These terms are just used to describe two of the betting options and if the player bets on the banker it does not mean he is betting against himself.
After the player places a bet, the dealer draws four cards from the deck and places two cards under the sign “Player” and two cards under the sign “Banker”.
The goal of the game is to predict who will get closer to nine points without going over.
In Baccarat, tens and face cards count as zero points while aces count as one point. All other cards count as their face value.
To get the final number, all cards under the Player’s and the Banker’s names are added together.
In a situation in which the total number of the cards adds to ten or more, the “1” is removed from the point total and then the total points are again calculated.
For example, if the Banker has two eights, the total number of his cards adds up to 16, so the “1” is removed and his total point score is 6.
In Baccarat the totals of nine and eight points are considered “natural.” If neither side has a natural, the Player will take one more card in situations where his total points score is five points or fewer.
After the Player’s turn is over, the action is on the Banker. If the Player has six or seven points, the Banker is required to draw another card if his total is five points or less and he stands if his total points score is six or seven.
The side whose points total is closer to nine wins.
Baccarat Betting Options
If the player bets on the Player’s side and wins, he wins even money on his bet. On the other hand, if the player bets on the Banker’s side and wins, he wins even money on his bet but he must pay 5% commission.
All winnings on the Banker have a 5% commission because the Banker has the positional advantage, or in other words, he acts after the Player.
This means that the edge on Player bets in Baccarat is around 1.06%, while the edge on Banker bets is around 1.24%.
Also, ties in Baccarat pay 8 to 1, and while this may seem like a good option, the reality is that the house has a 14.36% edge in these situations.
Some casinos also give players the option to place side bets on which hand combination will the Player or the Banker will have.
3. Blackjack (House Edge ≈ 0.50%)
Blackjack is by far the most popular casino table game in the world, because of this it is also one of the most recognizable casino games and is often featured in pop culture.
Blackjack, also known as “21” has a lot of different formats, and each of these formats has slightly different rules, but they all have one thing in common and that is that they all favor the casino.
The player’s goal in Blackjack is to have a hand that has a higher total than the dealer but doesn’t total higher than 21. If the player’s hand totals more than 21, it is called a “bust” which means that the player is out of the game.
The round of Blackjack starts with the player placing a bet, then the dealer deals one card turned face up to the player, one card turned face up to himself, another card turned face up to the player, and another card turned face down to himself.
Cards 2 to 10 are scored based on their face value, jacks, queens and kings are all equal to 10, while the aces can be counted as either 1 or 11 based on what the player chooses.
If the player’s two cards equal 21 (for example the player has an Ace and a Jack) he automatically wins 1.5x his bet, and the round is over. On the other hand, if the dealer has 21, and the player does not, the player automatically losses the round.
If the player’s two cards are not equal to 21, the dealer will ask the player if he wants another card from the deck. The player has two options:
He can choose to take another card by saying “Hit” or moving his hand toward himself
Or, he can decline to take more cards by saying “Stand” or moving his hand away from himself
Note that there isn’t a limit on how many cards the player can take, but once he gets over 21, he is busted and automatically losses.
Determining the Winner
After the player chooses to “Stand” the dealer then turns his second card face up, if his total is 16 or under, the dealer must take another card, if it is 17 or higher, the dealer must “Stand” with his hand.
If the dealer busts, the player wins even money on his bet, and if the dealer does not bust, the player must have a higher total than the dealer to win even money on his bet, if he has a lower total then the dealer, the player losses his bet.
Depending on their strategy, seasoned gamblers can implement methods such as card counting to swing the odds in their favor.
However, although card counting is not illegal, most casinos do not tolerate it and will ask the player to leave the casino once they notice he is counting cards.
If the dealer’s card turned face up is an ace, the player has the option to place an “Insurance” side bet which amounts to half of the player’s original bet and pays 2 to 1 in the case of the dealer having a blackjack.
2. Video Poker (House Edge ≈ 0.46%)
It might come as a surprise to newbie gamblers, but while video poker is one of the most played card games in the world, it is not played at the table but in front of a machine.
There are dozens of video poker variants, and all of them are based on the five-card draw, however, some pay better than others.
A round of video poker starts with the player choosing how many credits he wants to bet before hitting the play button. After he hits the “Play” button, he is dealt five cards and he has the option to choose which cards to hold and which cards to discard.
When he is done selecting his cards, he hits the “Deal” button and the machine replaces the discarded cards with new cards.
The card combination that the player holds after getting the replacement cards is his final card combination and based on its strength he either wins or losses.
During play, the video poker machine displays the paytable, so that the player knows for which combination he can expect to get paid and how much.
The important thing to note about video poker is that there are many different variations of the game and many different paytables.
In terms of odds and payouts, the best video poker game is Jacks or Better 9/6 and this game has around 0.46% house edge if played with the max stake.
1. Poker (No House Edge)
Poker is the only game in which players play against other players and not against the house, which makes it a game without any house edge.
In poker, the casino makes money by taking rake from each pot, but these amount are not significant for skilled players. This is why it is possible for professional poker players to make a living playing this card game.
Because it is a game of player against player, at least two players must be at the table for the game to start.
With this said, the strategy for poker games mostly depends on your opponents, which means that there isn’t a one fits all solution or approach that you can learn and instantly make money. This is what makes poker one of the most complex games on the planet.
In addition to the game itself being complex, the poker landscape is constantly changing as players come up with new strategies realizing that some strategies that worked a decade a go don’t work anymore.
For people that have the time and energy and are looking to become good in a particular casino game, there is no better choice than poker.
Being a good poker player means that you are making money in the long run, while being good at any other game on this list only means that you are losing less money.