There are plenty of unique games of chance found around the world. Depending on where you’re from, some of these games may be familiar to you. Many games that have traveled with people have changed over time. In fact, some of the older versions of games played today are still played in other parts of the world.
All of the lesser-known games on this list can still be enjoyed in modern day. Some can only be found in homes, carried on as tradition, while others can be found at casinos and pubs. All can be wagered on and some have fairly good odds.
1 – Faro
You’ll be hard-pressed to find the game of faro in a casino. In the United States and Canada, faro was the game of choice in the 19th century. Around 1882, more money was wagered playing faro in the US than any other game. It wasn’t till the widespread popularity of poker in the early 20th century that faro began to see a downturn.
Although originally played with the European 32-card deck, the game was played more recently with the standard 52-card deck. Games revolved around a faro board that contained a copy of all the cards in a given suit (usually spades).
Players bet on which cards the dealer will flip, whether they are higher or lower, and what sequence the cards are flipped in. Much like roulette, players could place bets between cards on the faro board and even reverse bets with the use of a special token.
Faro was known to be easily “gaffed” or rigged. Even at the height of its popularity, faro’s reputation for a strong house advantage was widespread. Dealers would use specially designed dealer boxes and stacked decks to draw cards in pairs (according to the rules, the house could claim half the bets).
Boxes would also be fitted with mirrors, so the dealer could see cards before they were dealt, allowing strategic betting. Dealers would also use sleight of hand to rearrange bets at a busy faro table, moving players’ chips to losing wagers.
2 – Two-Up
The game of two-up is an Australian improvement of the classic coin flip. Players use a strap of wood with two coin-sized indentions called a “kip” to toss two coins simultaneously. There are only three possible outcomes; the coins will land with both sides heads up (obverse), tails up (reverse), or a combination (Ewan). Rules vary but, generally, the spinner’s bet is covered by one other player, the spinner must bet on heads, and players take side bets.
Like most games, there are variations. Two-up can be played with different rules for the win/loss outcomes, in a casino with the house matching player’s bets, and with three coins instead of two. Players can also bet on a series of rolls, such as winning if unlike sides were rolled five times (called “odding out”).
After soldiers returned, illegal gambling houses began offering “two-up schools,” most notably in Sydney, but also elsewhere in the country. It later became a traditional game of Anzac Day celebrations (an Australian holiday commemorating military service).
3 – Tempeln
Tempeln is a card game similar to faro, played most extensively in the 1700s, in the region that would later become Germany. Popular names for the game at the time included “my aunt, your aunt” and German faro. You’ll often see tempeln described as a simpler version of basset, a game cited as the origins of both faro and tempeln.
The game would be played with either a 32- or 52-card deck. Also like faro, a betting grid consisting of each card value in a set would be drawn onto which players would place their bet. This grid would be shaped like a temple (hence the name) and chalked onto a table for gameplay.
Players bet on which cards will be drawn by the dealer. Bets can be placed anywhere on the grid similar to faro. The first card dealt represents the dealer, the second card for the players, followed by two more cards shared by the table. With each successive card, players have the option to increase or decrease their wagers. In tempeln, players do not bet on as many outcomes as basset or faro.
4 – Yablon
The game of yablon can refer to several similar games, most notably red dog poker and acey-deucey. These games have many rules in common and differ only slightly. Both are played with three cards, players only bet on the outcome of the third card, and suits are irrelevant.
Gameplay generally follows the same rules; two cards are dealt and players bet on whether the third card falls within the first two. If the first cards dealt are sequential and equal players bet on whether the third is higher or lower, the hand is scrapped. In acey-deucey, players choose whether an ace falls at the beginning of a sequence or the end.
One other feature of yablon is that players increasingly add to the betting pool if matching cards continue to be flipped. If the third card falls outside the first two cards, players add what they bet to the pot. If the third card matches the values of the first two cards, players add double to the pot, and if the third card matches the first two, the player must triple their bet.
5 – Teen patti
Teen patti is a card game originating in India. It is played similarly to the English game three-card brag and it’s sometimes called flash or flush. Like poker, teen patti follows betting and playing phases. It’s played with a standard 52-card deck and can accommodate up to 10 players.
The goal of teen patti is to increase the betting pool and win the best three-card hand. Cards are only dealt once and gamblers must play the hand they are dealt or fold. Like three-card brag, players have the option to view other players’ cards, changing the pot amount or forcing players to fold.
There are numerous variations of teen patti. Games can be played with more than three cards per hand, with cards assigned “wild” values, and community-style (with shared cards like Texas hold’em).
6 – Trente et Quarante
Trente et Quarante (French for 30 and 40) is also known as Rouge et Noir (red and black). It’s a French card game originating in the 17th century and can still be found in some European casinos. The game is played on a special table and requires two dealers.
The game is played with six 52-card decks. Cards are dealt in two rows, one representing the color red (upper row) and another black (bottom row). Each card has a value of one through 10; with aces being one, court cards being 10, and pip cards assigned their numerical value. Each row is dealt until it equals between 30 and 40. The row which gets closest to 30 is the winning row.
Players have four options for betting. Players can bet on the winning row being red or black. Players can also bet on whether the winning row (red or black) is the same color as the first card in the row (same) or its opposite (inverse). If both rows add up to 31, a special condition is called and the player’s bets are kept until the next game. If players want to withdraw their bets before the next deal, they must forfeit half to the dealer.
7 – Crown and Anchor
Crown and Anchor was a game played by sailors in the Royal Navy as far back as the 18th century. The game involves rolling three special dice and betting on the outcome. It’s still played in the Channel Islands and Bermuda on special occasions.
Players bet on six symbols: crown, anchor, diamond, spade, club, and heart. Gamblers can make bets on multiple symbols. The player rolls three dice that feature the six symbols instead of standard pips. The dealer returns the player’s stake and pays that amount back for each matching dice. The gambler forfeits any losses to the house.
Crown and Anchor is similar to many possibly older games. Other European versions of the game are found in Belgium and France. Very similar games involving betting on special six-sided dice with unique symbols can be found in Nepal, China, and Vietnam.
8 – Casino War
Casino War is a proprietary game meaning it is patented by a company. It was created by SFHL entertainment, Inc. and is found at casinos in the United States. It’s modeled after the classic card game played by children all over the world and plays very similar.
Playing Casino War is done with six standard 52-card decks. Cards are in ascending value with aces being high. Gamblers play against the house and, in the event of a tie, a player must double their wager to play another hand or lose half their bet. Players can also bet on the event of a tie with the house paying out 10 to 1.
These interesting games can provide a welcomed change to your game night or casino experience. Next time you play poker, look up the rules and try a few rounds of faro or teen patti. Buy a kip online and play some two-up with your friends. Some of these games are found in faraway places, but with enough creativity, you can play your own versions at home.