Table games in casinos are a popular gambling pastime, giving players the opportunity to put their strategy skills to the test. It’s all about the odds and therefore, more than simply pressing the spin button a slot machine (virtual or real).
Whether in person or online, novice and veteran players can benefit from knowing which games give the house the most significant advantage and understanding what to do. Some games, such as blackjack, require some knowledge or understanding of the basic strategy, whereas others, such as Baccarat, are more straightforward.
So, what are Table games and how do you play them?
Table games are the kinds of games played at special tables in casinos where players can gather in designated areas, away from the hustle and bustle of slot machines and play uninterrupted.
Blackjack is undoubtedly one of the most popular card games in casinos followed closely by poker, but it’s a common misconception that table games are exclusively about playing cards and using strategy to trick the dealer or other players. There are also games based on rolling the dice like craps or – one of the most popular games of pure chance roulette.
If there ever was a game that evokes the casino thrill, it's Roulette. The rules are easy; all it takes is to place your bets strategically.
A spinning wheel and a little ball is basically what Roulette is all about and the rules are simple – the player that bets that the ball will land on a certain number (or area) on the wheel. If it does .. you’re in luck!
Before we go any further, it’s probably important to understand that there are 3 versions of roulette as this has an impact on the percentage or house-hold. People often use the names on an interchangeable basis causing confusion but the basic difference is the quantity of numbers on the wheel.
• European Roulette, often referred to in Europe as American Roulette but not to be confused with it - has has single green zero and 36 numbers in red and black, for a total of 37 pockets;
• American Roulette, has both 0 and 00 pockets, for a total of 38 pockets;
• French Roulette, similar to European Roulette with one zero but with the addition of La Partage and En Prison rules
European, or single-zero, Roulette, has a total of 37 pockets on the wheel, scattered in random order, with eighteen of them red and another eighteen of them black. The zero is the only pocket in green.
Players like the odds in this version of the game which, due to having only a single zero, means the house edge is 2.70%, compared to 5.26% in the American version.
In American Roulette, the game is almost exactly the same: guess the number on the wheel where the ball will come to rest. However, American Roulette has both a single and a double zero, which increases the house edge in the casino's favour.
French Roulette variation borrows the wheel from European Roulette, meaning it has only one zero pocket. The bets are also the same as in any other version but with the addition of two rules that govern the gameplay: La Partage and En Prison.
La Partage means 'the divide' in French and is a rule valid only for even-money outside bets (e.g. high-low, even-odd, or red-black wagers).
When the 'La Partage' rule is in place, any time the ball falls on the zero pocket, the croupier splits all even money bets in half, retaining half for the house and returning the other half to the player. What's good about the La Partage rule is that it reduces the house edge considerably: from 2.70% to 1.35%.
Likewise, the 'En Prison' rule covers only even-money outside bets. Should the ball land on a zero, the dealer marks the bet indicating it is 'en prison' or 'in prison'. If you're lucky on the next spin, you get your initial bet back in full. So if you bet $50 on, say, even numbers, and an even number follows the zero, you get your $50 back. However, if the ball hits an odd number, you lose the whole bet.
To understand odds in roulette, familiarising yourself with the types of bets in this casino classic is important as these help you navigate the gameplay, making the most of each bet.
So let's break down the odds in each betting type and for both American and European wheel variation.
We will start with outside bets – those bets on the edge of the layout - as they offer higher odds of winning. Naturally, higher odds are in the players favour and so means lower payouts. So if you don't enjoy taking risks, betting on outside bets is your way to go:
Red/Black; Odd/Even; High/Low
• Payout 1:1
• The odds are around 48#
• Payout 2:1
• Odds are approximately 31#
The so-called inside bets – the actual numbers that make-up the majority of the layout - offer significantly lower odds but, in turn, have substantially higher payouts, depending on how you bet on them.
Straight Up Bet or Single Number
A straight bet means you're betting on a single number, red or black.
• Payout 35:1
• Odds of approximately 2.6#
Split Bet or Two Numbers
A split bet is made on any two adjacent numbers, vertically or horizontally, where you placec the chip so that half of it is on the one number and half on the other.
• Payout 17:1
• Odds approximately 5.3#
A street bet is made when placing your chips on the sequence of three consecutive numbers. Your chip is placed on the side nearest to the players and lines with 3 numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3, or 16, 17, 18, or 28, 29, 39, etc.).
• Payout 11:1
• Odds approximately 8£#
Placing your chip at the corner (or intersection) of four numbers.
• Payout 8:1
• Odds: of approximately 10.6£
6 Line or Double Street Bet
This type of bet is essentially betting on two streets or two sequences of consecutive numbers; it is placed by putting your chips on the border of the numbered grid, right between the two streets.
• Payout 5:1
• Odds of Approximately 16£%
Basket Bet (Five-Number Bet) – AMERICAN ONLY
A bet placed on both 0 and 00 pockets, and 1, 2, 3. It is also known as the worst-odds bet, so our advice - avoid it.
• Payout 6:1
• American Roulette odds: 13.2#
Often referred to as 21, Blackjack is massively popular the world over and the fact that its so simple to play is one of the key reasons for its appeal.
How to play …
The aim of playing a standard game of Blackjack is to get a stronger (higher valued) hand than that of the dealers, without exceeding 21.
There are dozens of different Blackjack variants, all of which come with different rules and payouts. The house edge of these games varies significantly from game to game, but in many cases Blackjack has one of the highest RTP (return to player) values, making it one of the smartest games to play.
For this exercise, we'll use the basic steps for the most popular 6 or 8 deck games found in most casinos and the outline of a game is as follows:
• Player purchases chips
• The player places a bet.
• The dealer deals cards.
• Player makes decisions on their hand.
• Dealer plays their hand
• Payouts are made
Playing is relatively simple. You start by placing a wager in the betting box directly in front of you on the table. The dealer will then deal out cards to himself, you, and any other players involved if you are playing a multi-player game.
With the exception of Aces, the cards you are dealt are all worth their face value, with all picture cards being worth 10. Aces are the only oddball, which can be worth either 1 or 11 depending on which would make you a better hand; so an Ace and a 5 could either be 6 or 16. It is important to note that if you have two cards and one is an Ace, it is impossible to bust on your next card.
Once you have received your cards, you must then decide what action you wish to take. A summary of the options available to you is given below, however the actual options you have may vary depending on the variation you are playing:
• Stand: f you have a strong hand of 17 or over you could decide to stand. This means that no further cards will be dealt to you.
• Hit: If you have a lower value hand you might choose to hit and request another card. If the card drawn makes your total over 21, then you have ‘busted’ and are out of the game. If your total is under 21 you have the option to stand or hit again.
• Double Down: When you double down you need to place an additional wager equal to your initial bet, after which you will receive one more card. Regardless of the value of your hand, you cannot draw any further cards after this. Some casinos will restrict when you can double down to when you have a hand value of 9, 10 or 11; whilst others will let you do it whenever you like.
• Split: Splitting cards is done when you are dealt a pair of cards – such as two 9’s or two aces. In this context, any card with a value of 10 is considered the same – so a ten and a queen could be split if you so wished. To split you must place an additional wager equal to your original bet, and then your cards are separated into two hands. Each hand then receives a second card. Once you have split your cards you will then play as normal, with the options of standing, hitting, doubling down or even splitting again if you are dealt another pair. Note: Some casinos or versions of Blackjack may have restrictions on how many times you can split, or whether or not you can double down after a split.
• Surrender: Only possible in certain games. Here, you have the option of surrendering if you have a poor hand, and if you surrender you will receive half of your wager back and the game ends.
If you are dealt a 21 in your first two cards (an ace and a 10, or an ace and a queen), this is known as Blackjack and is paid out at 3 to 2, unless the dealer also has a Blackjack, in which case you will tie.
Its worth noting at this point that when the Dealer deals their cards, they deal one face up and one – known as the Hole Card – face down. If the dealer is showing an Ace with their Hole CARD, you will also have the option of buying ‘insurance’ for half of your wager. If the dealers’ second card is a 10, then your insurance bet is paid out at 2 to 1, meaning you get your total wager returned to you.
The above outlines the base game or Classic Blackjack. There are many other versions such 21+3 Blackjack, Pontoon, Perfect Pairs, Blackjack Switch .. the list goes. All of the are built off the game Classic Blackjack and incorporate their own twist or bonus that is designed to make it more exciting for players. Learn and master Classic Blackjack and the rest will be easy!!
The reality is that each variation of the game, from Texas Hold Em to Omaha, has its own poker rules and gameplay quirks. Despite this, learning how to play basic poker is pretty simple. In almost every case, the aim of the game is the same: put together a stronger poker hand than your opponents.
Whether you're an absolute beginner or already a big poker fan, it's always a good idea to brush up on the rules. There are numerous different variants of this popular card game, but you only need to know one or two of these before you can start playing online. In this guide, we’ll be covering:
• Poker rules, and step by step information on how to play a hand
• An overview of poker hand rankings, as well as what makes up the best poker hands
• Some key poker terminology, like limits and pot odds, and what it all means
However, winning at poker isn't always tied to having the best hand. Being a vying game, poker lets you win without having the best hand by tricking other players, or "bluffing", into thinking that yours is the best hand. Bluffing takes practice and isn't easy to master, but it's an essential skill that sets poker apart from other card games.
There are five basic steps in poker which can best be described as follows;
• Players are dealt their cards and initial bets are placed,
• Any Community Cards are dealt, followed by a round of betting,
• The 4th Card is dealt, followed by another round of betting,
• Final card along with last round of betting
• Showdown – players who haven’t folded reveal their hands
As we mentioned there are numerous variants out there. To go through each and every version out there would take up many pages but below we will list some of the more popular versions.
Texas Hold 'em is among the most popular poker variants. Two cards, known as hole cards, are dealt face down to each player, followed by the distribution of five community cards in three phases. The stages are comprised of three cards, a single card, and a final card.
A casino table game with five-card stud poker-like rules known as Caribbean stud Poker is also known as Casino Stud Poker. The only difference between Caribbean stud poker and other forms of poker is that the house is playing against you, not the other players.
Hold 'em is the most popular type of poker online and in most card rooms worldwide. Casino Hold 'em is a fast-paced variant of standard Texas Hold 'em in which players compete against the dealer to form the best possible five-card hand. Casino Hold 'em Poker is played with a conventional deck of 52 playing cards. In Casino Hold 'em, you play against the house as opposed to other poker players, as in Texas Hold 'em. Aside from placing your initial ante, the only decision you must make each round is whether to continue playing or to pass.
Three Card Poker is actually two games rolled in one. You can opt to play either the standard game on its own, or you may wish to combine it with the Pair Plus / Bonus game. Equally, you could just play the Pairs Plus / Bonus game on its own.
The aim of the base game is to simply get a better valued hand than that of the dealer, out of the three cards you are both dealt. The Pair Plus game plays independently and pays out based on the value of your hand, regardless of whether or not it beats the dealer.
For the base game you need to decide whether your hand could beat the dealers unseen hand. If you think it will, then a second wager must be placed equal to the first; when playing online this is done by clicking the ‘Play’ button. If you have a weak hand, then you can choose to fold and forfeit your ante.
When playing on, the dealers hand will be revealed. The dealer needs to have at least a queen or higher to play, and if they do not then you win the ante bet and your play bet is returned.
If the dealer qualifies then the two hands are compared and the best hand wins. Normal poker hand rankings apply, except for the fact that a straight beats a flush in three card poker – this is because there are less combinations of straights than there are flushes when playing with three cards (the opposite is true for five card poker). If the dealer wins you lose both your ante and your play bet, and if the dealer loses you win both bets at a rate of 1 to 1.
There is also an ante bonus bet that is paid out for a straight or better. The payouts for the bonus are as follows:
• Straight:1 to 1
• Three of a Kind:4 to 1
• Straight Flush: 5 to 1
When playing the Pair Plus game, the value of the dealers hand does not matter (including whether or not the dealer qualifies) and the bet is paid out if you manage to make a pair or higher. The full payouts are as follows:
•Pair: 1 to 1
•Flush: 4 to 1
• Three of a Kind: 6 to 1
• Straight Flush: 40 to 1
The Pair Plus bet is completely independent of any ante bet, so you will still be paid out on the bonus bet even if you fold against the dealer.
• Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10 – all of same suite
• Straight Flush: 5 cards of same suite in sequence eg J, 10, 9, 8, 7
• 4 of a Kind: Four cards of same value or rank eg K, K, K, K
• Full House: 3-of-kind and Pair eg J, J, J, 8, 8
• Flush: Any 5 cards of same suite but not in sequence
• Straight: 5 cards in sequence but not same suite
• 3 of a Kind: 3 cards of same rank eg Q, Q, Q
• Two Pairs: 2 cards of same rank and 2 cards of another eg 3, 3 and A, A
• Jacks or Better: A pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces
• Pair: Any 2 cards of the same rank eg 5, 5
The beauty of playing Baccarat is that there are only three possible outcomes to each game played. And as the house edge on two of these bets is around the one percent mark, it is also one of the best paying casino games.
The aim of any game of Baccarat is to try and guess what the outcome of the game will be; specifically, whether the bankers or the players hand will be closer to a total value of nine, or if both hands will tie.
You can bet on any of the three possible outcomes and at varying stakes. The bet levels at most casinos start quite modestly, but they also accommodate the super high rollers, for many of whom Baccarat is the game of choice.
How to Play …
To play Baccarat you must first decide which of the three betting options you would like to place a wager on. You can place as little or as much on any of these betting boxes as you please, however, they must fall within the minimum and maximum permitted table stakes as displayed on the Baccarat table.
Once you have placed your wager, hit the ‘Deal’ button and the banker will then deal two cards to both the bankers and players hand. Both sets of cards are dealt face up and the total of each hand is tallied up to give a total value.
When counting cards in Baccarat, any ten or picture card is counted as a zero. If the total value is over nine then the right hand digit in the total is the one used; so for example if the total is 14 then the value of that hand is 4, and if the total is 15 then the value of that hand becomes 5 and so on.
The next bit is where Baccarat gets a little confusing if you are unfamiliar with the game. Both the players hand and the bankers hand may draw additional cards, depending on their value.
If the players hand is a 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 then they will draw a card. If the player stands (ie: totals 6,7,8 or 9) then the banker will only draw a card if their hand totals 5 or less.
If the player does not stand, then whether or not the banker draws a card will depend on both the value of the players third card and the value of the bankers hand.
• For banker hands of 0, 1 or 2, a third card is always drawn.
• For banker hands of 3, a third card is drawn unless the players third card is an 8.
• For banker hands of 4, a third card is drawn if the players third card is a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
• For banker hands of 5, a third card is drawn if the players third card is a 4, 5, 6 or 7.
• For banker hands of 6, a third card is drawn if the players third card is a 6 or a 7.
• For banker hands of 7, 8 or 9, a third card is never drawn.
If you place a winning bet on the banker then a 5% commission is deducted from your winnings. This is to cover the fact that the banker’s hand is slightly more likely to win than the players hand. Regardless of which hand you choose to bet on, the house edge is still around 1%.
Due to the high payout odds available on the ‘tied hand bet’, this can lure many players into placing this wager; however it is worth pointing out that this particular wager has a huge house edge attached to it, and this means it offers very poor value for players.
So our main tip for playing Baccarat is to stick to placing either a player or banker bet, and never be tempted by the high payout odds of the tied bet wager.