With online gaming taking off in a bit way, it can be confusing for new players who don’t have much experience with casino games. While pokies are often self-explanatory, table games like Roulette can be anything but. Here you’ll find a series of guides to explain the basics of several of these online casino games.
Focusing on table games and video poker, these guides will tell you a little about the most popular games being used by online casinos at the moment. We’ll also go over the rules of the games and a few useful tips and hints to help you develop a strategy. Finally, this article looks at some of the new game variations being seen in the online world.
With the boom in online casino gaming still rising, the variety of available games is also changing. Game developers like Microgaming and Playtech are always producing new games and creating variants on existing games. Land based casinos are similarly pushing to match these developments with new and exciting attractions to go alongside their traditional games. Nevertheless, online casinos are known for a greater variety than offline casinos, thanks to the ease of developing video games compared to building physical units.
Floor space is the ultimate factor in variety. Naturally, for a website, floor space is hardly an issue. Picture a traditional casino, which is limited by the size of the building in which it resides. To implement a new game, the casino must make space for it. Roulette tables are not small! This may mean cluttering the casino floor or even removing existing games. Therefore, variety is limited by practicality. Online casinos have none of this trouble, because a game only takes up a web page and there’s very little limitation on the number of web pages. An online casino can list hundreds of games in a small space, without having to remove old games. This always gives online casinos the edge in variety, able to host upwards of 20 Blackjack types which would usually take up a huge room.
Also known as 21, Blackjack is considered the most widely played casino game in the world! It has been recorded in sources as old as ‘Rinconete y Cortadillo’, a book published in 1613. Blackjack is a card game played between a player and dealer, often with more players, where the aim is to avoid a score higher than 21. Online Blackjack takes a very similar form to offline Blackjack, with virtual tables being modelled closely on their traditional counterparts. The differences are noticed in the details, with online Blackjack implementing new rules and subtle changes to reflect the mechanics of online play.
The aim of Blackjack is to beat the dealer, which can be done in three ways. You can get to 21 points on your first two cards (called Blackjack), you can have the highest score without going over 21, or you can win when the dealer exceeds 21. In other words, the objective is to get as close to 21 as possible, without going over.
Each player is dealt two cards, which are added togather. Numerical values stand for themselves, while Kings, Queens and Jacks are counted as 10. Aces can be counted as either 1 or 11, though this does vary (the phrase ‘aces high’ comes from this). After receiving these two cards, the player chooses to stay or hit, which means asking for another card. The dealer and players continue until everyone stays, or goes bust (having a total over 21). Then, the highest score wins.
The core strategy to Blackjack is knowing when to push your luck. If your starting hard is low, such as a 5 and 4 making 9, then you have nothing to lose by asking for a another card because even the highest card cannot push you over 21. Conversely, if you have a score of 17, then asking for another card is more likely to push you over 21 than not. Only the ace, 2, 3 and 4 are useful at that point, with all the others causing your defeat.
Therefore, the tricky part of Blackjack is when your score is in the middle. A score of 16, for example, leaves a lot of room for scores between 17 and 21 to defeat you if you stay. However, if you hit, then any card over 5 will cause you to lose. Your game can really go either way at this point, hence the gamble! The best advice is to consider your wins and losses so far and be cautious if things aren’t going your way.
Roulette is a very iconic casino game, usually seen in movies. The name comes from the French for ‘little wheel’ because of the wheel featured in the game. In traditional casinos the wheel is fitted into the table, while online versions use an animated wheel. A ball is released onto the spinning wheel, to generate a random result by seeing where it lands. The wheel is painted with numbers to get a result of 1-37 (sometimes 38) and a colour; red or black. Online Roulette follows the same pattern as usual, but the randomness is created by a Random Number Generator instead of a physical wheel.
The game of Roulette is played by making bets on the table and spinning the wheel to see the result. The bets vary a lot, but the heart of the game is betting which number the ball will land on. On a 37 number wheel, this is only a 1 in 36 chance of being correct, so the game then develops by betting on broader terms. For example, you might bet that the ball will land between 1 and 10.
There are several names for the various types of bet. You could choose to bet on a ‘street’, for example, meaning you bet on any three horizontal numbers (such as 1, 2 and 3). There are lots of combinations with varying odds, some with special house rules which will always be explained. Online players usually have the benefit of checking the website’s rules section, to read up on their chosen Roulette at leisure.
Something to be aware of in Roulette is the 0 on the wheel, which is green. On American Roulette, there are two green spaces. This represents the house. Because most of the bets don’t include 0, when the ball lands on 0, nobody wins! Everyone loses their money to the house, provided a special rule isn’t in place. Some games give players a second chance at this point. The strategy to bear in mind is therefore that there’s always a chance that the house will win, no matter your bet, so always plan for a chance of failure.
The best returns come from the hardest bet, which is ‘straight up’, or betting on one number. The opposite strategy to betting one solitary number is betting on the colours, red or black. This is almost a 50/50 bet because there are only two colours, plus the solitary green. As the chances of you being correct go up, the returns on your bet diminish, rewarding those who take more risk.
Video Poker is a variant of standard poker, using video game technology. Like traditional poker, this game was popular in bricks and mortar casinos before moving online. Each Video Poker unit would be a whole console, like arcade games, but online Video Poker allows you to run the game on your home computer. Video Poker differs from normal poker in that you play against the computer, rather than another person, so the bluffing element is diminished. Usually these games are based on five card poker and payouts are based on the combinations you would expect in normal poker.
Video Poker is very straightforward. Because you play in a solitary fashion, games are very quick and simple. First, you place a bet in the same way that you would when spinning a pokie, with varying coin sizes. The game will begin by automatically dealing five cards to you on the screen. Randomness is assured by a Random Number Generator instead of the usual shuffling of a deck.
The player then simply sticks with the hand they have been drawn, or chooses to discard one or more card and receive new replacements from the virtual dealer. At this point, the computer compares the hand to the list of winning hands and pays accordingly. This is just like a pokie machine, comparing a set of symbols to the pay table. The winning hands are, in order or rarity: a pair of jacks or better, two pairs, three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, four of a kind, a straight flush and a royal flush. The rarer the hand, the better it pays. Some variants change these hands up.
This game is skill based, as the player can use their judgement to decide when to keep a hand or try for another. The player might be given a good hand to start with, at which point they must judge the odds of getting an even better hand if they choose to discard part of the hand. For example, with a hand containing two pairs and an unused card, there’s nothing to lose in discarding the spare card. It might come back as a matching card and turn your two pairs into a full house!
Variations on Video Poker require better strategy, as you must watch for new winning combinations. Tens or Better is a version where the minimum paying hand is a pair of tens, instead of a pair of jacks, so don’t overlook those individual number cards. Joker’s Wild is a very popular variant where a joker card is added. This card is wild and substitutes for other cards, making stronger hands, or even a five of a kind. When a joker appears, never discard it!
Baccarat is a long standing table game, popular in land based casinos but increasingly moving online. This is a card game which i and is played between the player and banker. Baccarat first appeared in 19th Century France and evolved from similar games. The game of Baccarat is known for using a pallet, which is a short wooden tool used to move cards. The online versions of the game are more streamlined, but still feature sumptuous graphics of casino tables to enhance the feeling of being in a real casino.
Baccarat is not as hard to learn as it seems, it just has a lot of rules. The key is learning the point value of your hands. The cards 2 to 9 are worth their numeric value in points. The 10, Jack, Queen and King are worth no points and aces are worth 1. Hands are valued by adding up the cards and using the rightmost number or unit if two digits are reached. This means that 2+3 makes 5 points, but 6+8 makes 4 points, because they total 14 and only the unit 4 is counted.
Most Baccarat is the Punto Banco version. Drawing is not chosen by player or banker, but by a set of rules. Two cards each are dealt face down, then the player consults the ‘tableau’, or rules board. If the player’s first two cards total 0-5, he draws another card. If he has 6 or 7, the player stands. If the player stands, then the banker follows the same rules. If the Player takes a third card, that third card is revealed and the banker consults more complex rules:
Punto Banco Baccarat is not very open to special strategies because the player has no choice in when to draw cards. However, there are some strategies involved in when you choose your bets, as well as knowing when to play. For example, the number of decks used in Baccarat varies, often from one online game or website to the next, which you can check by looking at the game’s rules section. Ideally, play games with fewer decks to increase your odds of winning.
Baccarat players should not bet on a tie, because the house edge is five times higher. Also, the banker bet has a slightly lower edge than the player bet. Players can also note that each game of Baccarat does not affect the next, so there is no statistical problem with betting after a series of losses and no benefit to betting after a series of wins, except of course the factor of your available funds.
Microgaming has created a lot of popular table games, with a series of Blackjack games chief among them. They are known for elegant graphics, giving very realistic representations of actual casino tables and cards. Their Blackjack games are also credited with smooth running on slower machines. Microgaming Blackjack is also widely available on mobiles for gaming on the go. They currently produce a whopping 40+ variations of Blackjack, based not just on the real world versions but also their own ideas.
Microgaming’s Blackjack selection is very broad. They are known for taking advantage of the flexible nature of online casino gaming, which allows for rules to be continually tweaked. They often cut rules out, change them up or add surprising new variations, always keeping traditional Blackjack on offer too. For example, they have versions where you only get one hand. Online games are very flexible in bet sizes too, so Microgaming can offer anything from a few dollars per hand (which isn’t worth a traditional casino’s time) to the huge hundred or thousand dollar stakes of high rollers. This flexibility makes their Blackjack very popular among new and veteran players.
Microgaming varieties start with classic Blackjack, which has a very direct and elegant style. Fans of casino Blackjack will feel right at home with standard rules and straightforward options for betting, hitting and standing. Another popular version is European Blackjack Gold, which focuses on European rule variations which may appeal to those who only see American rules in some land casinos. Vegas Single Deck Gold Series is another big Microgaming Blackjack, which uses just one deck and cards are re-shuffled after each round. Among many others, they offer Triple Sevens Blackjack allows a win with a hand containing three sevens to win a huge progressive jackpot.
Playtech are a rising star in online casino games development, particularly in the fields of table and card games. They put a focus on smooth gameplay for various internet speeds and graphics that make play easy to follow, with clear cards and chips and betting information. The company currently offers over 500 casino games, with 50 released each year. Their Blackjack selection is smaller than some, but puts a focus on finding new and interesting ways to play that go beyond the usual rules of the game.
Playtech Blackjack has eight main variations that are found on the majority of Playtech enabled casino sites. Some others are available too at certain sites, along with variations based on the usual Blackjack variations found in land based casinos. Blackjack Pro is a highly rated Playtech game, with no double after split, double on 10 or 11 and aces can be re-split. This version just uses one deck and clearly represents a Blackjack game for well-practised fans of the game. On the opposite end they offer an 8 deck game of Pontoon with a handsome 99.68% return, though note this can vary.
One of Playtech’s most unique and widely known Blackjack games is a variant called Blackjack Switch. The great twist to this game is that it allows players to perform what would usually be considered a cheating manoeuvre. This is simply trading cards between two hands, or switching cards. This allows for some interesting, flexible play that you might not see at an offline casino. The downside is that a dealer result of 22 causes a push against all non-busted hands, plus Blackjack hands pay even money. The game uses six or eight decks and the player must make two equal sized bets. Switching to a Blackjack counts as 21 points.
Net Entertainment is one of the leading developers of casino games, with a strong collection of both table games and pokies. They pride themselves on trust and innovation, making them a popular partner for many casinos, so you’ll often see their games featured online. They are particularly known for their CasinoModule, a gaming system with 200 high quality games that focus on premium entertainment.
This diverse company has built some great Blackjack offerings into their collection, with variations on the usual game available for those who want to make the most of online technology, breaking the usual moulds that traditional casinos must stick to. They offer Single Deck Blackjack, Blackjack Pro and Double Exposure Blackjack, Blackjack Classic series and Pontoon, among others. Blackjack Classic mostly focuses on the standard game and traditional variants. Net Entertainment’s basic Blackjack rules have four decks. The dealer stands on a soft 17 and peeks for Blackjack, with double after split allowed.
The Double Explosure Blackjack variant has made Net Ent popular. This fun version exposes both player and dealer cards from the start, changing your strategy in subtle ways. The downside is that the player loses ties and a winning Blackjack pays 1 to 1, so this isn’t exactly an easy version of the game. Usually there are six decks and the dealer stands on soft 17, also there’s no re-splits. However, rules are variable between sites and in game settings. All the Net Entertainment Blackjack games feature smooth, undemanding graphics and pleasant background music, with house rules written in the table’s felt. Game settings allow you to modify music, choosing between soundtracks and volume, or alter the game’s speed.
One of the latest game types to hit the online world is Live Dealer games. This innovative system, will surprise a lot of newcomers to the online world, as it really makes the most of the technology available to modern computers and the internet. Live Dealer, as the name suggests, lets online players enjoy games that feature a real, living dealer. Thanks to the magic of the internet, players see a real person dealing cards instead of just watching an animation. This kind of gaming was inconceivable just a decade ago.
When you play a Live Dealer game, which is now being offered by a wide variety of online casinos and developers, your end of the game stays much the same. You play bets virtually, just as you would with normal online table games, by clicking on chips and other on-screen buttons. The difference then comes in as the bets are counted and the game plays out, be it cards or Roulette. Because this game is live, you can’t just take forever to decide on your bets; it really is like a real casino table. When the game plays out, you get to see an actual croupier or dealer, standing with a real table and genuine items, running the game. The results are then synchronised with the players.
The technology that makes all this possible is live web streaming, which is simply broadcasting video over the internet in much the same way as a television broadcast. In essence, this is a hybrid of land based and online casino gaming. You get the comfort of home with the visuals and pace of live play, plus the competitive element with other players, instead of a computer opponent. The live croupiers are glamorous and fun, with personal information listed to make the most of that real person connection.