Online Casino Games
There are hundreds of online casino games to choose from. The sheer number of gaming options can be confusing, so we wrote a guide to the most popular games and some of their variants. This introduction will help you select a good casino for your gaming needs. We give you a comprehensive list of casino games that can be found online, as well as around the world. Use our guide of the popular games to pick your favorites. These include those real money games, as well as live dealer casino games that can give you the best gaming experience possible. Find the casinos that cater to your needs, as well as offer the best casino game bonuses that can help you fill your pockets as you start out.
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It’s recommended that you try every major game at a casino. The hundreds of titles fit into a number of categories: table casino games, slot machines, video poker, and specialty games. Each of the broad categories offers more choices. For instance, a good online casino is likely to offer two dozen variants of blackjack: classic blackjack, Spanish 21, Switch, Double Exposure, Pontoon, and a variety of others.
This article is a simple overview of all the gambling opportunities you’ll have. It describes bonuses, software companies, free play gaming, real money games, and live dealer casinos. Read the full-page reviews of any games or casinos which interest you. Learn a few table game tips for the most popular casino games online, which can help you start playing better.
Most Popular Types of Online Casino Games
More Online Casino Games
Choosing a Casino Game
The most basic decision you’ll make is which online casino games to play. New players should try all the major casino games online to see which their favorite is. You might wonder where to begin. In many cases, the choice comes down to payouts versus simplicity.
In casino gaming, it’s a rule of thumb that the easier a game is to learn, the higher its house edge is going to be. Games like blackjack and video poker offer the best-expected return, but those casino games require players to learn strategies. Casinos can offer better odds on those games, knowing many gamblers won’t have optimal results.
Slots have a lower expected return but require no tactical knowledge. Also, they tend to have more entertainment value. Between blackjack and slot machines are a wide variety of options.
Blackjack has the lowest house edge, usually in the 0.5% to 1.0% range. To achieve optimal results, you need to learn basic strategy. Every variant of blackjack has its own recommended basic strategy. These strategies are determined by running computer simulations of millions of hands. Online gamblers should ignore advice about card counting. Gaming software assures card counters get no advantage.
Video poker has the next-lowest house edge, often in the 1% to 2% range. In the 1990s, video poker machines sometimes offered positive expectations of casino games. To get this edge, gamblers had to find “full pay” machines. Full pay video poker machines are rarer nowadays, but video poker is still one of the best casino games frugal gamblers can play. Jacks or better, deuces wild, and loose deuces offer some of the best odds.
Baccarat has almost no strategy element, but a lower house edge. The only real strategy is whether to bet on the banker hand or the player hand. The key is finding the right form of baccarat. Online casinos are most likely to offer “punto banco“. In a live casino setting, if your only option is mini-baccarat, the results are going to be worse than playing punto banco.
Craps is comparable to baccarat in terms of house edge. It also has no strategy, besides knowing which bets to make. Craps has a lot of exotic-seeming bets, but if you make the basic wagers, you’re best off. In fact, some of those exotic wagers are nothing but “sucker bets“.
Roulette is a favorite for players who like slower-paced casino games. Video roulette allows gamblers to simulate the same spinning wheel bets offered in brick-and-mortar gambling houses. Most websites offer several types, including American roulette, European roulette, and French roulette. Read our official roulette page to learn the differences in the three.
Games like Three-Card Poker, Caribbean Poker, and Let It Ride are found in many online casinos. These casino games either have no strategy elements or few strategies. They are meant to be fun and easy to play, but their expected return isn’t good.
Slot machines are the most popular games in casinos. These games offer a wide variety of payouts, features, and themes. Video slots offer interactive videos, wild symbols, scatters, free spins, and bonus games. Licensed slots include franchises from movies, TV shows, musical acts, comic books, video games, and other pop culture elements. Classic 3-reels have fewer perks but often have the best payout rates.
In the United States, 70% of casino gaming revenues come from slot machines. Gamblers like slot machines because they offer high entertainment value. They’re also easy to learn to play. Many players like to play progressive slots. These are casino games with lottery-sized payouts. Every time someone plays and doesn’t win the big progressive jackpot, the pot grows. When a player wins the progressive, the prize amount resets to a minimum amount (which is still large).
Speaking of lottery gaming, most online casinos offer lotto-style games. Keno is a Chinese lottery game which is popular around the world. It has a high house edge, but a big jackpot potential.
Some casino sites now offer online scratch cards, like the scratch-off lottery tickets you can buy at convenience stores. The scratching process is done automatically, so be careful how fast you play the virtual scratch cards.
On the off-chance that you want to bet on something other than casino games online, you can always try your luck betting on sports offered by the casino sportsbooks.
Real Money Casino Games
Real money casinos are websites which offer gambling opportunities. You might be familiar with Facebook casinos or other social networking sites, where “play is for fun” or for bragging rights. The real money casino games are where the bets become real.
Online casinos offer both “free play” and real money versions of their casino. The free casino games can be accessed once you register an account. Players do not have to fund their casino account to enjoy these games. This is done for promotional reasons. If a player enjoys the games selection and software, it’s a gateway into real money gambling. Players could start with the simplest casino games, going for real money slots, or test their luck with video poker.
Keep in mind that some casinos only allow free gambling until the player make a real wager. Sometimes, free online casino games ends when you make a deposit. Be sure to read a casino’s FAQ or its “Terms and Conditions” page to make sure you know the policies.
Live Dealer Games
Live dealer games provide online gamblers with the entertainment and camaraderie of brick-and-mortar casino gaming. Instead of using video simulations of casino games and a random number generator, live dealers produce the results. These dealers are found in a gaming studio somewhere in the real world, often in Latvia or Estonia.
Using streaming video like you’d use on Apple TV or Roku, the games are streamed live to your computer. The dealers use real cards, real dice, and real roulette wheels to provide live gaming. A camera maintains a constant focus on the gaming table. If you have questions or issues, a pit boss is in the room. Everything is handled with Skype-style video technology.
Live dealer casinos are part of some online casinos’ gaming packages. They support a limited number of table games. The most common games offered at live dealer casinos are blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette.
Blackjack is known for its wide range of games, but the selection will be limited here. Classic blackjack rules are most common, with a handful of the most popular other variants offered. At the best casinos, you’ll be able to play at a table with other real blackjack gamblers.
The best live dealer casinos offer European roulette, which has the best odds. If the only game being offered is American roulette, understand the house edge is going to be over 5%. This is still an advantage over online roulette because the results are slower to happen when a live dealer spins the wheel.
No game suffers more in the transition from brick-and-mortar gaming than online craps. Shooting dice in a land-based casino is about camaraderie with the other gamblers because most of you are making the same wager. That’s lost in simulated craps at most online casinos. If the “live chat” function in a game of live dealer craps is good, then you can enjoy the company of other players at the table.
The most popular game in Macau is offered at most live casinos on the Internet. The most common version you’ll find is Punto Banco, which is most common in Macau, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The real advantage of live baccarat is the ability to bank the game. A handful of European casinos offers Chemin de fer, a variant with strategy elements played mainly in France. Others only offer mini-baccarat. Do your research before the game starts, to know which variant being offered.
3-Card Poker is one of the most popular casino games played through online and live casinos, and you may encounter it with different names like Tri-Card or even Trey-Card Poker. It is a simple card game, with the added possibility of winning bigger payouts. The goal in 3 card poker is the same as regular poker, get the highest ranking hand possible. There is only one round of betting or folding, and after the bet, the dealer will show their cards and a winner is decided.
Casino Hold’em is quickly becoming a favorite with players. It is similar to Texas Hold’em but has some major differences including an added ante, a unique betting structure, and dealer qualifying hands. The major difference of Casino Hold’em is that instead of playing against other players, you’re playing against the casino. There are a lot of decisions that a player has to make with Casino Hold’em, making it harder yet just as fun to play.
Finding the Casino Games
Choosing the right online casino is important because there are hundreds of options. There’s no other way to put it, but some operators are more trustworthy than others.
This site makes recommendations on factors like signup bonuses, VIP rewards, software support, game selection, and progressive jackpot. I recommend you do a bit of research yourself though we make evaluations based on objective guidelines.
These sites provide deposit bonuses to new players for promotional purposes. Sometimes called welcome bonuses, these are incentives to gamble at a particular site. Online casinos have two bonus types: the deposit bonus and the no-deposit bonus. At the majority of sites, the biggest bonuses are triggered when a player makes a first deposit. This is what most gamblers want to research.
The type of casino a player chooses often depends on the size of the bonus they hope to receive. High rollers want the largest deposit bonus offered because they want to max out the advantages of having a big casino account. Other gamblers prefer the welcome bonus with the most bang for their buck. For instance, they might not care about a $5,000 bonus, because they never intend to deposit that amount. Instead, they might focus on a 200% bonus up to $500 is worth more to them than a 100% bonus on the same amount of cash.
Some gamblers want a bonus tailored for a specific game. Casinos sometimes offer big bonuses for online slots, but smaller incentives for blackjack, video poker, and other games with a low house edge. If you aren’t a slot machine gambler, then the big slots bonus isn’t the promotion for you.
In the past, players who used the free play casino did not receive a welcome bonus. These days, a no-deposit bonus is offered at some sites. This tends to be a free promotional credit of $5 to $20 to encourage gamblers to try the product. Some online casinos have begun offering no-deposit bonuses in the hundreds of dollars. Like a welcome bonus, this is going to have a play-through requirement to protect the casino.
Some players decide whether to play at a casino based on its software package. Many online software developers exist. A few of the leading companies are Microgaming, IGT, Playtech, Bally Technologies, Aristocrat Gaming, and Cryptologic. Net Entertainment and Sheriff Gaming specialize in 3D slot machines. RealTime Gaming or RTG allows it licensees to accept U.S. players or not. Many of them do.
Each of the companies mentioned has their own line of slots titles. Table casino games like blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat are offered by everyone. The graphics from company to company vary wildly, but the same essential table games are offered. It’s the slot machine selection which often differentiates one online casino from the next.
Some software providers try to entertain with elite graphics and quirky themes. Others draw customers with popular licensed slot machines from entertainment franchises. Still others focus on the biggest progressive jackpots. Most offer a few throwback titles — the 3-reel classics — which offer fixed jackpots and a higher payback rate.
Not every operator does, but some online casinos are known to license gaming software from multiple companies. They do this for one of two reasons. An online casino might want to offer traditional iCasino games, but they also might want to offer Internet poker, sports betting, or bingo gaming. If so, they might deal with a specialist to provide that additional software support.
More commonly, an operator wants to pick-and-choose slot machine titles. That company might use Microgaming or Playtech software for the bulk of their casino, but also, sign a deal with IGT to offer some of its most popular slots titles.
Trustworthy Game Providers
Not every casino uses licensed software. Some use proprietary software they design in-house. Others use less famous software providers. Like you can tell a lot about a person from their associations, you can also tell a lot about a casino from its associations.
That isn’t to say all proprietary software is bad. Top brands like 888casino have proprietary software. So does Bovada. If you are signing up with a company you do not know, it’s best that they’re supported by a developer you know.
For instance, Microgaming formed eCOGRA, a trusted online gambling industry watchdog association. The eCOGRA auditors publish reports on each member every month. Anyone using Microgaming software must join eCOGRA, so that confers a certain amount of legitimacy on Microgaming sites. While bad actors can still happen, software support is an important indicator of trustworthiness.
That isn’t to say Microgaming is the only trusted software developer. International Game Technology (IGT) is the biggest provider of slot machines to brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States.
Free Casino Games
Free casino games are used by casinos for promotional purposes. They hope gamblers try their free-play games and enjoy them enough that they decide to play for real money. Free slots and table games are therefore the online gambling equivalent of food samples at the grocery store.
From a player’s perspective, the advantages of free casino games are they allow players to learn a new game, practice basic strategy, learn a casino’s interface, or preview new games. The drawbacks are they don’t offer the same excitement level and don’t satisfy wagering requirements on bonuses. Also, casinos sometimes block freeplay gaming after you make a deposit.
Free slot games allow players to sample a large inventory of content, because online casinos usually contain between 50 and 400 video slots. Each of these games has different themes, graphics, gameplay, return-to-player, and features. Free simulations allow players to test dozens of games without wagering on each of them. Free blackjack is a great way to practice basic strategy without risking cash on your play sessions. Free roulette allows a gambler to learn the many betting options, which can be confusing to new players.
- Learn to play a game you’ve never tried.
- Practice basic strategy before playing.
- Master a casino’s interface before gambling.
- The fun of gaming without the risk of gambling.
- Preview games, especially online slots.
- You get no winnings if you hit a big jackpot.
- Doesn’t offer the same excitement level.
- Doesn’t satisfy the wagering requirement of bonuses.
- Casinos sometimes block freeplay after you make a deposit.
Best Progressive Jackpots
Many slot machine gamblers search for the biggest progressive jackpots. Imagine walking into a convenience store and seeing the Mega Millions jackpot and the Powerball jackpot. You’re likely to play the lottery which has the biggest prize at the moment. That’s how many slots players are.
If so, then they’re searching for IGT slots because they have casino games like Megabucks Slots and Wheel of Fortune Slots. Megabucks holds the record for the 6 largest land-based slots jackpots of all times and 8 of the 10 largest prizes ever.
Though an Online Megabucks Slots game now exists, the drawback is it only hits 1 to 3 times a year. For that reason, many people prefer Wheel of Fortune Slots, because its progressive (though smaller) hits about 40 times a year.
American gamblers are not accepted at online and mobile casinos supported by IGT software. For U.S. gamblers, they’ll have to settle for a casino supported by RealTime Gaming software. RTG technology is found on Bovada and about 75 other websites.
I once counted a smaller casino that had about 65 RTG slot machine titles. Of those 65 casino games, over 50 had progressive jackpots. That might have been an outlier, but RTG has a high percentage of progressive slots. Their payouts are nothing like MegaBucks, though.
Compared to RTG, nowhere near the same percentage of Microgaming slots have progressives. Microgaming has well over 400 video slots, so their designers diversify on the types of games they offer. You’ll be able to find dozens of progressive slots in their library of casino games.
The last time I checked, NetEnt offers 12 progressive jackpots, though some of those are not video slots. The Swedish software developer focuses more heavily on aesthetics and entertainment value, including the best 3D graphics in the business.
Their list of slots titles with progressives includes Arabian Nights, Hall of Gods, Super Lucky Frogs, and Cosmic Fortune. Also, NetEnt has a series of “Wonders” slots that offer accumulated jackpots: Tiki Wonders, Icy Wonders, and Geisha Wonders.
Those are a few of the top companies to consider. Most of the brand name companies offer progressives. I cited that list to show how diverse the various companies’ approach to game design can be.
If you need more information about playing online table casino games, be sure to visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.