Online table games are the casino classics, covering virtually everything other than slots, scratch cards, and sportsbooks. If you imagine yourself a modern James Bond in Casino Royale or perhaps a Tom Cruise in Rain Man, here is your chance to use brains, strategy, and emotional cool to win some serious money. Creative developers have created engaging themed online versions of all the popular table games in multiple variations: poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette. All you need to do is pick your game and try your luck. If you are a high roller, you can make some serious bank.
The good news is that online table games generally have better payout percentages than their real-world counter-parts: usually in the 95-97% range. The challenge is that you are always playing against “the house” – having newbies at the virtual table won’t give you an advantage, so best to keep your wits about you, know the rules well, and learn some tips and tricks we provide here.
So let’s lay it all on the table and discuss your basic game choices and high-rolling strategies.
Blackjack, or 21, is a game familiar to most of us. The basic idea of this classic card game is to build a hand with cards whose face value comes as close to 21 as possible, without going over that number. If you do, you’re busted, out of the game, at least until the next deal. If you and the dealer have the same value, the house wins. The combination of a face card (10) and an ace (11), adding up 21, is known as blackjack. The good news is that the dealer is forced to draw cards until the face value is 17 or more, raising the chances that the dealer will be busted.
Unlike in the movies, the ability to ‘count cards’ (and thus have a better chance of guessing what the next card is likely to be) is virtually nil in most online games. Of course, it’s also illegal in real-world casinos. On the other hand, there are online-only enhancements of basic blackjack – such as multi-hand – which lets you play several hands at the same time, increasing your opportunities to win if you have sharp concentration.
There are also a ton of blackjack games with rule and theme variations – European, Double Exposure, Atlantic City, Vegas Downtown, Vegas Strip and Spanish Blackjack are just some of the many.
Roulette is perhaps the classic example of a real-world table game. We can all envision a suave tuxedo-wearing leading man in a Hollywood classic, calmly laying down markers on the green felt, watching the wheel go round, confident that the little bouncing ball will end up on the right numbers or color when the wheel stops turning so he can take home the loot and, perhaps, the lucky lady on his right.
The online roulette experience may not be not quite so glamorous, but developers and designers have done their utmost to optimise roulette play so its feels realistic and exciting, and so you can feel the adrenaline rush as that ball bounces around the wheel as it reaches its fateful destination.
There’s a small but significant difference between European and American roulette wheels. The European wheel has only one zero, while the American has two (0 and 00). This means that the house has a better chance of winning on the American wheel, all other factors being equal.
You can use your intuition to place bets on a single number or multiple numbers or choose odd or even. Of course, the payout is bigger – 36 times your bet! – if you wager and win on a single number, whereas guessing correctly odd or even will simply double your money. Some start with binary bets and then boldly bet on single numbers when they have a little cushion. It’s all up to you!
As in other table games, there are lots of variations and styles of roulette to choose from. Beyond the basic American and European versions, there are the options of English, French, German, Double Ball and Double Wheel roulette. Many offer both low and high limit games.
For the most part, the state of the art in online roulette has reached a very high level sophistication in terms of graphics and animation. You may be forgiven if you feel the need to wear a tux and diamond cufflinks as you “stand” around the “table”.
No table game has a richer legacy than poker, and there are an incredible variety of online Poker variations to choose from. Looming large in Hollywood lore and echoing scenes from saloons in the old American West, poker in recent decades has come into its own as an international spectator sport and, for some, a full-time profession. Developers of online poker games have responded to this interest and demand, providing a wealth of options for the wannabe stud or draw player.
Poker is played with a deck of 52 cards, with the Ace playable as high or low. A hand typically has 5 cards which can be assembled in various combinations of varying rank. For example, three of a kind beats two pairs, and three aces beat three kings. There are also high-value combinations of all cards of the same suit, or cards with consecutive numbers. The most valuable and rarest combination is a straight flush, with consecutive numbers of the same suit. There is even the unbeatable royal straight flush, topped by an ace.
In some game variations, a Wild Card is added to create more options to win, serving as a substitute for any other card, enabling you to make higher ranking combinations of your cards.
Poker game play is straightforward. Each player is initially deal three or more cards or sometimes fiver cards are dealt at once. Sometimes there is a “river” – a pool of cards which all players can use to advantage. After each round of card-dealing, the player has an opportunity to bet and respond to the bets of other players, either by matching (“seeing” or “calling”) the other player’s bet, increasing the bet (“raising”), or by dropping out of the hand (“folding”), forfeiting any chance of winning the pot but also not risking further losses. The pots can grow large, especially if players believe they have winning hands, or can bluff successfully that they do.
And, as in other table games, there are plenty of themes and variations to choose from, such as Texas Hold’em and Caribbean Stud, which are just some of the most popular.
This is a relatively sophisticated European game that has attracted a loyal following among sophisticated high-rollers. This became famous when Bond played it repeatedly in the classic Casino Royale. There are several different online variations. Punto Banco, also known as North American baccarat, is the version usually offered in online casinos and is strictly determined by the cards dealt with no element of skill. Chemin de Fer (“Railroad”) and Baccarat Banque are historic versions played largely in France and Monte Carlo, but rarer online, which do involve player skill.
Like Blackjack, you need to achieve a higher hand value relative to the dealer. Unlike Blackjack, at least in some games, you can also bet on the dealer. The highest value hand you can achieve in baccarat is 9, which is called a natural if made by just two cards. Face cards don’t count. Aces are worth won. So an Ace and an 8 would make 9 naturally. It gets a bit tricky if you go over 9: two nine, for example, would equal 18, but the hand value would be the rightmost number: in other words, 8. Of course, if you are playing online, you don’t need to calculate. The game software will compute the value for you. It will also determine if you can draw a third card.
In Punto Banco, all you need to decide is the size of your wager and the type of bet. In some game versions, unlike blackjack, you can bet on a tie. Or even bet on the dealer. But the house will always take a commission, regardless. Even if you cannot change the cards or the odds, Baccarat players have developed various strategies for play. But whether they help you or just interest you depends on you and the online casino you play!
Craps is another table game that has been made famous by Hollywood. There are endless scenes of players in smoky, boozy casinos blowing on the dice to warm them, with a lucky dame on their side to bring them good luck. The online versions of the game may not be as titillating or glamourous, but the adrenaline rush when those dice are tumbling is hard to beat!
The rules of craps are pretty simple. There are two rounds. In the first Come Out round, the player or ‘shooter’ needs to bet at least the minimum on the ‘Pass Line.’ You need to roll the most popular dice combination of all – seven – or the much rarer eleven. So combinations like 1+6, 2+5, 3+4 are all automatic winners, plus 5+6. If you get these, you win the bet placed on the Pass Line. On the other hand, if you roll snake eyes (1+1), three (2+1), or boxcars (6+6), you ‘crap out’ and lose the bet on the Pass Line. If, however, the roll is neither 2,3,7,11 or 12, then you advance to an additional round, in which you must match whatever non-winning and non-losing points (4,5,6,8,9,10) which showed up in the initial roll. In this second ‘Point’ round, rolling seven (‘seven-out’) causes you to lose, not win, the bet on the Pass Line. There are more details, of course, but this should suffice to get you started.
Online craps versions follow these basic rules, though they have their own variations, depending on software supplier and casino. So make sure to read the rules and fine print and, unless you are an adrenaline junkie.
More and more online casinos have taken game play to the next level by creating live casino experiences in which real people sit around a virtual table via streaming video conference, with actual human, live dealers – often remarkably attractive and engaging – representing the house. The immediacy of it all can give you a real adrenaline rush because you feel the action, win or lose. Blackjack, poker, and roulette are often featured live, including the option of private and VIP tables. The more exotic games of baccarat and craps are also sometimes available as live games. It’s a social experience not to be missed, and high-rollers thrive on their ability to factor in the human element and exploit it to the extent possible in online live casino table games.
Table games often involve more than just a good relationship with Lady Luck. You need to use strategy and therefore good players have a better chance at winning than with more random online casino games like pokies or scratch cards. That’s why casinos often steer players to more lucrative pure-chance games by making the latter contribute 100% to wagering requirements while table games have a lower rate or none at all.
New players should both learn the rules for the game variation of their choice, then practice on free demos, and then low-limit games. Then they will be ready to try their hand at the high-limit real-money tables, either in solo battles with the house computer or in live social games seeking to outwit other players.
However, even the more seasoned professionals can benefit from practice to improve their play. One of the most well-kept secrets is to pick up bonuses. Because even though most bonuses have rather bad gaming contributions for table games, pros will often still take the bonus and use the free casino credit to play for real at high-roller tables and with live dealers, both of which demand sharper skillsets, and with the real adrenaline rush.