This post explains why the simplest and oldest table games in the casino are still the best games to play. Sure, you can try the exotic, new games like Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Mississippi Stud, and Pai Gow poker.
But the 4 casino table games listed here are easier to learn and still offer the best odds.
I offer a quick overview of each of these 4 table games here:
Here are the 4 most important table games you should learn to play and why.
1- Baccarat Isn’t Just for Whales
One of the great things about baccarat is that it’s one of the only games of pure chance in the casino with a low house edge. (The house edge is how you measure the casino’s advantage over the player—the lower, the better.)
Blackjack, for example, has a house edge of 0.5%–but only if you play with perfect basic strategy.
In baccarat, there is no strategy.
And the house edge is only 1.06% in baccarat, making it far superior to almost any other game in the casino.
In fact, if you’re bad at blackjack strategy, you’re better off playing baccarat.
The problem is that baccarat has a reputation for being a game for high rollers and whales. To some extent, this reputation is well-earned.
But modern casinos now offer a variation called mini-baccarat which offers the same odds with lower minimum bets.
You can find baccarat games with a minimum bet of $10 in at least a dozen Vegas casinos.
And you can find at least a dozen more casinos with a minimum bet of $25.
No, that doesn’t compare to $5 blackjack, but $5 blackjack isn’t that common, either.
The only thing to remember about baccarat is to always take the banker bet and NEVER take the tie bet. The tie bet is a sucker bet, so no matter how strong your hunch is, avoid it. (The house edge for the tie bet is in the double digits.)
2- Blackjack Is the Easiest Game to Win
I already mentioned that the house edge for blackjack is only 0.5%, making it the table game in the casino with the best odds for the player.
But you can’t get that edge unless you’re willing and able to implement basic strategy.
Your decisions in a game of blackjack make a difference to your mathematically-predicted outcome. The better your decisions are, the better your odds will be.
Players who just stick with their hunches are giving at least 1% or 2% back to the casino.
How do you learn the correct basic strategy for blackjack?
It’s a simple matter of memorization based on your card totals and the dealer’s face-up card.
But you don’t even have to memorize it. You can buy a basic strategy table in any casino gift shop. Or you can print up a basic strategy chart from the internet.
The casino’s far more interested in keeping the game moving quickly than they are in having a higher house edge against an individual player.
If you’re really motivated, you can learn to count cards and get an edge over the casino. That’s both harder and easier than you might think, depending on your exposure to the concepts behind card counting and which movies you’ve seen.
And yes, you can find casinos offering real money blackjack for $5 per hand, making it perfect for low rollers.
3- Craps Is More than Just a Roll of the Dice
If you’ve never played craps, you might be scared of the game because it looks so complicated. The game does have an elaborate betting layout on the table. And the players also have their own language, it seems.
But the game itself is simple as can be.
A game of craps starts with a shooter throwing a pair of dice. If the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11 on the first roll, he has a natural and has succeeds. If he rolls a 2, 3, or 12, he’s crapped out and failed. If any other total is rolled, he’s set a point.
If the shooter sets a point, he keeps rolling until he rolls the point total again or a 7. If he rolls the point total before rolling a 7, he succeeds. If he rolls a 7 before rolling the point total, he fails.
The basic bet in craps is the pass line bet. This bet wins if the shooter succeeds and pays off at even money. It loses if the shooter fails.
The house edge on the pass line bet, which is the most basic bet on the table, is surprisingly low—only 1.41%.
The other most basic bet in craps is the come bet. This is just the pass line bet again, but it treats one of the rolls subsequent to the original come out roll as a new come out roll. It has the same 1.41% house edge as the pass line bet.
The only other bet you need to concern yourself with is the free odds bet. This is a bet you can only make if you’ve placed a pass line bet (or a come bet) and the shooter sets a point.
The odds bet is great because it has no house edge—it pays off at the same odds you have of winning.
You’ll find a whole lot of other bets on the craps table. The don’t pass and don’t come bets are worth learning about, because the odds on those bets are even better than on the pass and come bets.
The problem with those bets is that you’re betting against the rest of the table, which takes some of the fun out of craps—for most people, anyway.
All the other bets at the craps table have much worse odds for the player and should be avoided.
You’ll have a hard time finding a game anywhere in the casino that’s more fun than this one. So whether you play at the casino or play craps online, you won’t regret it.
4- Roulette Lets You Spin the Wheel
Roulette is the game with the spinning wheel and all the available bets. You can bet on a single number or a dizzying number of combinations. The more numbers your bet covers, the lower the payout is for the bet.
A bet on a single number pays off at 35 to 1, but the odds of winning that bet are only 37 to 1.
A bet on a color (red or black) pays off at even money, the odds of winning that bet are less than 50%.
That’s because there are 38 numbers on the wheel, and all the bets would be fair bets if the there were 36 numbers on the wheel.
You can use all kinds of betting systems to try to overcome the house edge in roulette, but none of them work in the long run.
In the short run, though, a roulette system like the Martingale can be a lot of fun. It can even make you likelier to walk away from a short session a small winner.
The problem is that every now and then you’ll have a big losing session which will wipe out those small wins on the previous sessions.
How does the Martingale system work?
You just double the size of your bet every time you lose until you win.
That way you recoup the losses and wind up with a profit of one unit.
Here’s a quick example:
You bet $5 and lose, so you bet $10 next time. You lose again, so now you have to bet $20, and you lose again.
Now you must bet $40. You win, which recoups the $35 you lose on the first 3 bets and leaves you with a $5 profit.
It’s a fun way to play roulette, especially if you have a big bankroll and a wide betting spread available.
And those are the 4 table games every casino gambler should know how to play along with my reasons why.
Here’s my question to you:
Which one of these games seems like it best fits your goals and personality as a gambler?