The casino: a place where games are played for fun or money. Or sometimes fun and money. Depending on how wealthy you are, just fun. For many, it’s simply that cold, hard cash that keeps them coming back. Don’t let anyone judge you for that ( I certainly won’t) as long as you’re walking out of there a champion, every time. If only things were so simple…

Regardless of your motivations for playing casino games, you will more than likely agree that everyone has the right to do as they please with their money. Given the vast choice of games available to players in almost any casino, however, this freedom can leave us a little spoiled for choice. That is why you see some players drifting from game to game, like a wide-eyed kid in a candy factory, while others play one game and one game only.

The way we get our kicks – be it on the roulette wheel or at the craps table – will differ depending on how we like to gamble. It may even come down to our personalities. Ask anyone who identifies with the term “gambler” and they might tell you their destinations are the games with the lowest house edge. A casual player may spend hundreds of dollars chasing a jackpot. The point is, we get to dictate how we want to play.

What I am curious to know is what game really stands out above all. If we threw every casino game into an old-school, wrestling Royal Rumble match, what would be the last game standing? I decided to take a look at what I believe are the 10 best games in a casino.

Caribbean Stud Poker

You might be shaking your head at this one, but stay with me and I’ll explain why Caribbean Stud is a great choice. For one, you don’t have to be from the Caribbean or a stud to play.

All jokes aside, this game has charm and lots of it. It also has a progressive jackpot, which will see you rolling around in dollar bills all night if you win. And, unlike progressive jackpot slots, there is a reasonable chance of winning the jackpot in Caribbean Stud. It wouldn’t be crazy to suggest that the main reason players flock to Caribbean Stud tables in casinos is for that jackpot.

I believe that there is a certain element of cool with this game you don’t really find at other tables. Call it a psychological thing (that the Caribbean connection makes players loosen up), or simply the way this poker variant is played, but there always seems to be more enjoyment at the Caribbean Stud tables than almost any other game found in the casino.

While the house edge is a little on the high side (around 5.224%), by using the optimal strategy, players can lower this by almost half. Odds for wins are not too far removed from what you would expect with a standard video poker game, too. Oh, and did we mention there is a jackpot?

Pai Gow Poker

Not to be misunderstood with the Chinese domino game from which it takes its name, Pai Gow poker is another great game to play at any casino.

While this is an adaptation of Pai Gow (I know, I’m stating the obvious here), the poker version is a seven-card game also known as “Double Hand Poker.” There is a very unfortunate story about how this game came to be, which led to the creator missing out on millions in potential revenue. Aside from this, it is definitely a poker variant which is purely based on luck.

A 53-card deck is used (52 cards and a joker). Players aim to create two hands, which are a 2-card and 5-card hand, which are then pitted against the dealer’s hands. If both hands beat the dealer’s hands, you win. If one wins, it is a push. There are a lot of pushes in Pai Gow poker, which makes it an excellent casino game for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Much like Pai Gow, there is a community feel to this game. Players tend to have a lot more fun and camaraderie at the tables, as there is usually less to lose. I believe that this game is certainly one which every player should try at least once. Big wins are few and far between, but should that really be a barrier to fun?

3-Card Poker

I really think 3-Card Poker deserves a little more love than it gets. Make no mistake, it has been an incredibly popular game for many years. However, over the last decade or so that it has become a little unfashionable with many (insert comparison to 90’s pop/rock/hip-hop star here).

Fashion shouldn’t dictate how good a casino game should or shouldn’t be. While games such as blackjack and craps have been played for hundreds of years and have never really wilted in popularity. other games do tend to have their ups and downs. 3-Card Poker is definitely one of these games.

As this is a poker variant where you play against the house. As there are only three cards in a hand, the pay table is different to any 5-card poker game. Therefore, the highest odds you get are for straight flushes, three-of-a-kind, and straights. This makes things really cool and quite different. When you throw in the bonus bet, however, things get even more interesting.

The bonus bet is paid out regardless of the dealer’s hand and comes with pretty high odds of 5 to 1 for a straight flush, 4 to 1 on any three-of-a-kind, and more. Bonuses aside, the game is played at a really nice pace and does not come jam-packed with rules and regulations which can be a dampener on the fun. I would certainly recommend everyone to give 3-Card Poker a try at their next visit to a casino.

Slots

Ok, I know. Slots are divisive, I get it.┬áMuch like that Aunt who overshares, gets drunk too quick at Thanksgiving, and brings a new boyfriend around every few months, you can’t get rid of her.

Slots are ubiquitous in a casino. They are everywhere. There are two main reasons why: they make casinos a lot of money and they are massively popular among players. For all the bad points, such as a high house edge, an unpredictable nature, and an oversaturation of Egypt-themed games, they can be pretty enjoyable.

With slots, there is so much variation. In most casinos, you will find classic 3-reel slots, modern 5-reel video slots, jackpots, progressive jackpots, 3D slots and much more. There are the old-school casino slots with those played-out themes and the modern varieties based on movies, bands, or, erm, dinosaurs.

While we all know slots can eat money, one of the other criticisms some have of slots is that they are “anti-social.” Is that really a bad thing? I mean, sometimes people can get a little tiresome, right? So, finding an awesome slot to have a little “me time” on can be cathartic in a casino environment. Well, that is if you like getting away from the crowd.

Slots can be awesome for players who understand how to play them, know the right machines to look for (3-reel machines usually pay better than 5-reel machines), and manage their bankroll. They are games of pure luck, but so are most casino games, right?

European Roulette

There are two main versions of roulette you will find in a casino. These are American roulette and European roulette.

What both have in common is that they are games heavily favored by casual casino players. It can be really fun throwing your chips on the table when you are in a happy crowd, but sometimes things can get a little heated. In my humble opinion, this game tends to attract more angry players than any other in the casino. Does it matter if this is European or American roulette? Not in my experience. So, what is the difference?

Does European roulette over American roulette make you less patriotic? No! Of course not. You can still wave your flag and be a great American. It’s a game, that’s it. One of my friends – that shall remain nameless (Hi, Mike) – who I recommended European roulette to, didn’t get this. “Why should I play European roulette, man? I’m an American. Give me one good reason why.” I said, ‘the house edge is almost 50% lower.’

That’s right. When we compare European roulette (2.7% house edge) to American roulette (5.26% house edge), there is only one real winner. In the American variant, there are two zero pockets. In European roulette, there is one. Payouts are the same for a single number (35-1), which means you are at a greater disadvantage when playing American roulette.

Now you are probably thinking of heading for a European roulette table the next time you are at the casino. This is the right idea (if you are set on playing roulette of course). With a 5.26% house edge, American roulette has one of the highest house edges of any game in the casino. Avoid. Always. If roulette isn’t really your bag, then it is probably a good idea to just move on to the next game on this list.

Craps

Ah, craps. The game of choice for old-fashioned mobsters and, erm, my grandma.

She does love craps. So much, in fact, that she taught me how to play. Kind of. Which is like many players you will find at a craps table. They kind of know how to play the game. As much as there are rules which can trip casual players up now and again, it is not that difficult to learn. Once you overcome the rules and get acquainted with the bets, you’ll be throwing like Sonny from “A Bronx Tale” in no time.

Hopefully, this is encouraging enough to prompt you to give craps a try. The game is definitely worthy of a place on this list. While the house edge on many bets can be as high as 10%, there are also bets which come with a lower house edge. An odds bet comes with a 0% house edge, which is great. So, depending on how you want to play, you will have choices. Choices are always good when it comes to casino games.

In order to play the game, you must first acquaint yourself with the rules. In basic terms, there are two dice and one shooter. The shooter is aiming to roll a 7 or 11 on the come out. They do not want a 2, 3, or 12, as this will be pretty disastrous. If the player does not roll any of the above, then this means that they have set a point. Now they must roll the point before a 7.

Players have a number of bets to place on the roller. The game is, therefore, pretty varied when it comes to the opportunities to bet. Craps is also one of the most fun games to play, especially when everyone at the table is on form and in good spirits. If you haven’t played a game of craps before, you should make it a priority for your next visit to the casino.

Texas Hold’em

While most casino poker variants are player vs. dealer types, there are also a number of community card games you can play, too.

One of the most popular games on the planet, Texas hold’em, is the first that springs to mind. Given its peerless popularity among players, you will never be short of competition. That can be a downside sometimes, as you may need to do a little waiting around before your seat is ready. When you are called up to the table, however, that’s when the fun begins.

The buzz of joining the table and looking around at your opponent’s faces is, hands down, one of the most exciting things in a casino. Your heartbeat races (unless you truly are Mr. Cool), the adrenalin flows, and you apply that poker face like your girlfriend puts on her makeup. Despite how you play (if you are conservative or a bluffing-master) you will always have a great experience.

Of course, there are players who are not there for the fun. These sharks are there to take your money and can sniff blood in the water from miles away. You are being sized up to be shaken down. This shouldn’t put you off if you are a novice, but don’t expect any Hollywood-style script to play out in your favor as these guys are likely to be skillful players.

As casino poker games like Texas hold’em do not involve casinos paying out any money (other than occasional bonuses), you will not be playing with a house edge. This can really make a difference in the long run, but only if you understand how to play the game. Still, everyone deserves to try their hand at a game of Texas hold’em in the casino at some point.

Baccarat

Baccarat is one of those games which seems to polarize players. It has often been considered the game of the gambling elite. Exclusive, so to speak. While it is true that this game is fashionable with high rollers and those looking to pass themselves off as high rollers (we all know one), the game is open to everyone. Whether you rock up to the casino in a Gucci suit, or in a shirt and jeans, you won’t be turned away from the table.

Well, most baccarat tables, that is. As they say, there is no smoke without fire. The snobbish tag that baccarat has been branded with does come with an element of truth. In some casinos, you can find Big Table baccarat games cordoned off from the riff-raff with red rope. These types of games are exclusive, for sure, but don’t count on finding them everywhere.

Baccarat is one of my favorite games in the casino. Yes, it is also James Bond’s favorite game, and no, I’m not a “Bond” fanboy. The main reason why I recommend this game to my friends and family is the low house edge it comes with. This works out as 1.06% on the banker bet, a slightly higher 1.24% on the player bet, and 14.36% on a tie. It also helps that it is an easy game to play, too.

Punto Banco, the most widely played variant of the game, is the one I would recommend the most. The player gets a hand and the dealer gets two cards. The aim of the game is to score an 8 or 9 by combining the scores of both cards. If both cards total up to 9, cool. You will likely win. If the combined value of both cards is over nine, you remove the first digit (for example, 15 becomes 5).

Yes, it is a game of class. Sometimes it can be exclusive. What is certain is that this is, hands down, one of the best games in the casino. So dust off your tuxedo, order a martini (shaken, not stirred), and head over to the tables with your best Sean Connery impression.

Blackjack

As long as we are discussing games which split players (pun unintended), blackjack is another.

Some love it, and some hate it. When we discussed slots earlier, we touched upon how some players enjoy games where they don’t have to communicate with anyone else. Slots and video poker are two examples of these games. Blackjack is not. It is that simple. You will have to interact with a human dealer when playing at a casino, which is not ideal for some.

You will also have to spend time playing at a table where other players are also doing their thing. Those random dudes you see hovering around tables can sometimes bet on your hands, too, which can be a little off-putting. All in all, blackjack attracts a lot of players in the casino, and there are reasons for this.

For one, it is a game which has an element of cool to it on account of its frequent depiction in movies and on TV. Mostly, casual players flock to the blackjack tables as it is a very easy game to play. Although you have to decide whether to stick or hit, it is as simple as working out how close you are to 21 and deciding if it is best to keep your position or go for broke.

Of course, it is not only casual players who play blackjack. Experienced players are also fans of the game due to the ultra-low house edge they can avail of. When using the best strategy, it can be as low as 0.3%, which makes it one of the safest games to play at a casino. It pretty much speaks for itself. Blackjack is also pretty laid back and fun. It is a no-nonsense game, where surprises are seldom, and things are pretty, well, civilized.

Video Poker

Looking for a sociable game where you and your friends and family can all spend some time together, cracking jokes and having a hoot?

Well if you are, it’s about as sure as water is wet that it won’t be video poker. The game has many benefits, charms, and advantages, but a way to bond with others is not one of them. Playing video poker is a game which can be quite solitary and is usually favored by those who prefer an individual casino experience. That is not the only reason why people play video poker, however.

In terms of house edge, video poker has some of the lowest anywhere in the casino. With some titles, the player has an advantage over the casino. A full-pay Deuces Wild pay table, for example, provides players with returns of 100.77% when playing with the right strategy. If you have been playing casino games with a high house edge for years – like slots or roulette – this should be music to your ears.

The great thing about video poker is that there are a number of variants. Long gone are the days of finding one or two video poker machines. These days, most casinos should stock a nice variety of Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, and more. Although the graphics and gameplay are not going to appeal to long-time slots players, I have personally known many slots players who have converted to video poker.

Video poker players have an understanding amongst themselves. It is unspoken, of course, as most of the time they do not communicate with one another. They search out the best machines and play with smiles on their faces, watching other players stake their money on games with super high house edges. They know that they are not. There has to be something comforting in that, right?

Personally speaking, I think so. Video poker is a game where there is skill involved. Using a strategy can really add to the fun, too, while making sure the house edge is cut down (if there is a house edge at all). The best casino game out there? It is hard to say. What is for certain is that it is up there with the best.

The Verdict

There are many ways to spend money in a casino. Trust me, I know. I have played every single game on this list over the years and have my own personal favorites. I believe the ten games above to be the best, based on a number of different factors. Some have low house edges which can ease the pressure on players, while some come with high house edges but can be great fun when played right.

But what is the best game of all? Is there one casino game that stands out above all competitors as the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time)? It is difficult to say. The proof is in the pudding, so why not try them all for yourself and make up your mind. What works for one may not for the next person. Just have fun and play smart!

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