A casino can be a bit overwhelming, particularly during high traffic times.  Lights, bells, beautiful people and excited customers all add to the environmental chaos of a casino.  

There are dozens of games to choose from, each with their own set of rules.  And like any game there are the various strategies that a player can use to get a more favorable outcome.  Casino games involve money so the best strategy is the most profitable won.  Here I will give a brief overview of some of the most popular land-base and online casino games. This includes both popular table games and slots games. And ultimately we will explore the question “What is the most popular casino game?” In later articles we will discuss strategies on how to minimize losses and, in some cases gain an edge at certain games.

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Blackjack is among the most popular casino games because it has a simple objective.  Whatever player gets closest to the value of 21 wins.  The dealer has to hit to a total of 17 or higher. Face cards have a value of 10 and Aces have a value of 1 0r 11. All other cards have their face value.  If the player gets an Ace and a 10 value card as their first two cards they win 1.5 times their original wager.  A player is able to double their bet on their first two cards, if they want.  Blackjack gives the best chance for a non skilled player to minimize their losses in a casino.  The strategy varies depending on the rules of the game and number of decks being used.  It tells the player what the appropriate action is (i.e. whether a player should hit, stand, double down, split or surrender when applicable).  The lower denomination games, like $5 blackjack, have a 6 to 5 payout on a natural blackjack; this increase the casinos advantage to almost 2%, and should be avoided. Using the correct basic strategy on the right game decreases the house edge to almost zero.  
There is a difference between online blackjack and live casino blackjack. Online blackjack uses a random number generator that makes it so all cards available at the beginning of every hand you play. This is usually a 312 cards (52 cards multiplied by 6 decks).  In live blackjack the card removal effect is in play until the shuffle occurs.  This means if an Ace (or any card) is played there is one less of that card in the remaining shoe to be played.


Every bet on the Roulette felt has a high house edge.  The double zero, American wheel has over a 5% house edge and the single zero, European wheel has an approximate edge of 2.5%.  These percentages apply to both inside number bets and outside bets.  In Atlantic City the player has an added benefit because if outside bets are made and, the 0 or 00 hits the player will lose only half of their bet.  This cuts the house edgeF in half.  The house edge is the same for both online roulette and live casino roulette.



Traditionally, Baccarat is a high-stakes game played by only the biggest of high-rollers.  More recently, casinos have implemented a lower stakes version of baccarat called mini-baccarat.  If you bet the on the bank to win, the casinos advantage is a mere 1.17%. The nice thing about baccarat is that there is no playing decisions other than who to bet on; the player or the banker. The game plays itself.  The winner is the side that gets closer to a value of 9.  The game moves fast so to slow things down implement a “bet-after strategy.”  This means only bet the banker after the banker wins. This means you will not be playing every hand.  



Casinos earn more money from slot machines then all the table games on their floor combined.  The casinos edge varies from machine to machine. In general the house edge on slot machines goes down as the denomination of the machine goes up.  $1 dollar machines payout more than quarter machines and quarters payout more than nickel machines.  Machines with themes and fancy graphics or 3D graphics will have higher hold percentages than plain machines.  Because slot machines today are all computer based the online slots and slots in a physical casino work exactly the same. 

 Video Poker

Video poker is hybrid between slot games and skilled based games.  There is an optimal strategy for each variation of video poker.  The most readily available video poker game around with a slim house edge is the classic 9/6 jacks or better game. This is where the machine pays 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush.  This is true for other variations of video poker as well; the higher the full house and flush payout the better the game.  Be careful and check the pay schedules on each machine before you start playing.  Casinos sometimes give the player a 9/6 payout and then reduce the 4 of a kind or straight flushes payouts.  With smart phones it’s easy to determine what the % payback is.  Similarly to the slots online casino video poker works the same as video poker in a physical casino.


Three-Card Poker 

Three-Card Poker has two betting options; the Ante bet and the Pair-Plus Bet.  The player wins the Ante bet if the players 3 card poker hand beats the dealers 3 card poker hand.  The Pair Plus bet wins if the players hand contains at least a pair.  The higher your hand ranking the more you win.  There are a few different pay-tables for this game with the best being a flush that pays 4-1.  


Here we have listed a brief introduction to some of the most wide spread games that can be found in casinos. As for which is the most popular casino game? That depends on the player.  When determining that it is best to find a game with low stakes to play until you get a good feel for the game you are playing. A real money online casino offers a great opportunity to play at a variety of stakes to do just that. And with the readily available mobile casino apps you can play anywhere and at any time.

About the Author

Nicholas is an 18 year veteran of the casino gaming industry, He has been involved in a variety of gaming aspects, from advantage play as a  player/manager with the infamous M.I.T Blackjack teams, to a consultant to the “house” in the capacity of gaming mathematician and data scientist. He's designed mathematical models that have derived optimal play strategies for complexed slot games in 2 draw video poker and Casino Solitaire, both which have been approved for placement in US casinos. Nicholas has taught at DUKE, Clemson, and Michigan State Universities.