Casino Card Games
Many players are drawn to the rich histories of the various card games on offer at online casinos, whether you’re playing against the house or your fellow gamblers. Throw in variations of each and you’re spoilt for choice — we’ve explained three of the most popular casino card games below.
The aim of online blackjack is the same as the real thing: stick or twist to get as close to 21 as possible without going bust. You’ll be playing against the dealer, whose actions are determined by the value of their hand. As you can choose whether or not to draw cards, there’s an element of skill here which means your decisions influence your success — that’s one reason why it’s the most popular casino card game around. By applying basic blackjack strategy, you can push the house edge right down — single-deck blackjack has one of the highest returns of all casino table games with a house edge of roughly 0.5%.
There’s plenty on offer for those who like to mix things up. Alongside variations like Blackjack Switch and Pontoon, you’ll find varied rulesets across blackjack games, allowing you to make extra side bets, such as betting on the occurrence of a pair. In some blackjack games, you can also buy insurance when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace — if they hit blackjack, you’ll get a 2-to-1 payout. Once you’ve got basic strategy under your belt, you can incorporate these side bets into your gameplay for some extra excitement.
21+3 and Perfect Pairs
21+3 and Perfect Pairs are some other popular variants you might encounter. These side bets come with a higher house edge, but you’ll stand a chance at a bigger win compared to standard blackjack’s even-money payouts. The payouts given below are just examples and will vary by casino. The house edge is affected by the payouts and the number of decks used, so it can run from around 3% up to 11% and higher.
The Perfect Pairs side bet uses the player’s cards and is won when you’re dealt the following:
- Mixed pair (same value, different suit and colour) – pays 5-to-1
- Coloured pair (same value, same colour) – pays 12-to-1
- Perfect pair (two of the same card) – pays 25-to-1
For 21+3, the player’s cards and the dealer’s face-up card are used. The following combinations are paid out:
- Flush (all cards same suit) – pays 5-to-1
- Straight (consecutive cards) – pays 10-to-1
- Three of a kind (same value, different suits) – pays 30-to-1
- Straight flush (consecutive cards, same suit) – pays 40-to-1
- Suited triple (three of the same card) – pays 100-to-1
Another game where luck isn’t the only deciding factor, online poker players must try to make the highest ranking hand possible to swipe the pot from their opponents. Skill makes a big difference to your chances of winning — whether you’re holding the nuts or nothing at all, you still need to outwile the other seats at the table with well-timed checks, calls, raises, and bluffs.
Texas Hold’em is the most popular variant of the game. Players are each dealt two cards face down, and after a round of betting, three community cards are dealt face up — that’s called the flop. There’s another round of bets before the turn card is dealt, more bets, and finally the river card.
The player who makes the best five-card hand using any combination of their cards and the community cards is the winner. From best to worst, the card rankings are royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, pair, and high card.
You’ll find many other poker variants at the best online casinos. As well as Texas Hold’em, there are many games played against the house, like Caribbean Stud poker or three- and five-card draw.
Fancy an even bigger challenge? Why not enter a knock-out poker tournament? It’s a thrilling way to compete against potentially thousands of others to prove your worth and take home a prize. Typically, players must buy in for a set fee and are given a stack of tournament chips to use. After that, it’s all about survival — lose your chips and you’re out, until just one player remains at the end of the final round.
Rules and prizes vary between tournaments. Go out early and you might be able to rebuy for another chance. The prize pools often consist of entry fees, and can be split between players or winner takes all. If you’ve never played in a poker tournament before, look for a freeroll as these tournaments cost nothing to enter and are a great way to get your feet wet.
Famous as James Bond’s game of choice and massively popular in Macau, online baccarat is a straightforward card game played against the house. Your aim is simple: bet on which hand you think will get closest to nine. All wagers are placed before any cards are drawn, so the game comes down entirely to chance.
The most common format played is punto banco, where you can bet on the ‘player’ or the ‘banker’. The number cards 2–9 are worth their face value, while the 10, J, Q, and K cards are all worth 0. Aces are worth 1. Only the units digit is counted in the value, so a total hand value of 13 is worth 3.
After the bets are placed, two cards are dealt to each hand. If either hand has a value of 8 or 9 — called a natural — the winner is announced and a new round begins. If not, a set of rules called the ‘tableau’ is used to decide whether the player and banker hands should draw another card. The winner is then announced and bets are paid out.
Baccarat’s house edge is attractively low: 1.06% on banker bets and 1.24% on player bets. We’d discourage you from betting on a tie as the house edge is significantly higher — 14.4% on 8-to-1 payouts and 4.85% on 9-to-1 payouts.