In gambling as in life you keep score with money, and this is one of the reasons why gambling is so much fun: when you conspire to beat the house odds or the other players at your table, you feel literally – and figuratively – enriched. While slot machines can be very entertaining, strictly speaking there’s no real strategy involved in winning or losing. With slots you’re never beating Lady Luck at her own game; you’re just riding the virtual stops some computer chip has programmed into a flashing video display. The classic casino games are poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat.
Poker is actually a variety of different card games that share a common deck, betting rules and hand rankings, but differ wildly in the ways that cards are dealt and hands are formed as well as in betting rules. Arguably the world’s most popular card game, poker has been played in casinos since the 17th century when the first gambling houses were legalized in Venice. The game’s recent spike in popularity is due to the proliferation of online poker sites and cable and satellite television broadcasts of such events as the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour. The most popular casino poker variant is Texas hold ‘em in which two of the cards are dealt individually to players and the remaining five cards are dealt to the table.
Backgammon online is a versatile game, suitable for any age and for both gamblers and players who prefer playing just for fun. Backgammon has different variations and modes; it can be played in matches or tournaments and numerous benefits and features accompanying it; enhancing the thrill and pleasure.
Blackjack is king at the casino because it’s a fast-paced game where skill actually matters and you can beat the house regularly if you pay attention to what you – and everyone else at the table – are doing. The game is sometimes called Twenty-One. Its rules are quite simple: players draw to a two card deal trying to bring the numerical total of their hands as close to 21 as possible. The initial card can be dealt face-up or face-down. Wagers, called hits, are allowed at the beginning of each deal. Dealers use more than one deck at a time but the lower the number of dealer decks, the greater the odds for the house. If you’re good with numbers and you keep a sharp eye on the cards that are dealt, you can hone your own your own betting strategies in a way that will all but guarantee you come out with some serious bank, however card counting as such is strictly forbidden.
Craps is a dice game that harkens back to Roman times when instead of six-sided cubes, players used shaved pig knuckles. The rules of the game as it’s played in today’s casinos however are only 100 years old. In casino craps shooters wager against the house or bank, but when the game is played more casually on street corners or house porches, players bet against each other. The casino game is played on a specially designed table covered in green felt with different bets marked out in different colors. Craps fosters camaraderie: when the shooter rolls, the other players are all on his side since they’re all betting the shooter will be lucky while the bank is betting the shooter won’t be.
The famous French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal invented the first roulette wheel in 1655 as part of his ongoing efforts to build a perpetual motion machine. (The word “roulette” is French for “little wheel.”) Two centuries later two brothers, Francois and Louis Blan, created the casino game we know today by changing the pocket numbering and introducing features like the green single zero pocket to improve bank odds. Under the new system, the sum of the numbers on the wheel added up to 666 giving rise to the superstition that the brothers had sold their souls to the devil in exchange for this arcane knowledge. The game begins when the croupier spins the wheel in one direction and the little steel ball in the opposite direction along a tilted circular track. Players try to guess where that ball will land, wagering on the exact number, whether that number is even or odd, the range of numbers, and even whether it falls in a black or red pocket.
Baccarat is an extremely pared down game with just three results, ‘Player’, ‘Banker’, and ‘Tie’, which don’t refer to the gambler or the house but to betting options. The earliest Baccarat games were played with a Tarot deck. “Baccarat” means “zero” in Italian which is the value of most of the point cards in the game. Though Italian in origin, baccarat came to its own in 18th century France where it was the favorite recreation of the nobility. It remains one of the most elegant and sophisticated of all casino games, and James Bond’s favorite pastime when he played at the Casino Royale.