Casinos offer an abundance of entertainment with rates suitable for both casual players and seasoned regulars. Everyone has their favorite casino game, but did you know that some have more skill elements than others?
Why does it matter? Well, the answer is that the level of skill dictates the amount of control you have over the outcome of the game. There is always an element of chance when it comes to the casino, but some games offer you the opportunity to increase your odds with better decision making or reduce them with poor moves!
If you would rather stick to chance then you probably prefer the games that allow you to pick a number, sit back and see what happens. If you want to take hold of your destiny, you probably prefer a more hands-on game that allows you to get involved.
Here we take a look at the popular casino games, ranked in order of skill.
Slots – It’s time to dispel some myth; slot machines are a game based entirely on chance. The push of a button leads to a number of symbols on reels. If the symbols match up money is paid out.
Slot machines came about in a similar form to how we know them today way back in 1895, when the Liberty Bell machine was made. It had five symbols on each of the three reels, and was a simple and easy to use slot that quickly gained popularity. Slots are now one of the most popular games and make up around 70% of the US casino income.
The basic premise of a slot machine is simple. The player pulls a lever or presses a button, which spins a set of three or more reels. If the symbols match up on a pay-line, the player wins back a certain amount, from a very small win to a huge jackpot.
Most modern machines are now video slots. You still press a button, and reels still spin, but the slots have a more arcady element with special features and bonuses, themes and digital effects, and interactive mini-games.
However, no matter how flashy a slot machine may seem, you are always looking at a digital representation of a pseudo random number generator (SRNG). Behind the games and reels is a set of numbers, and when you push the button the RNG decides whether or not you have won. That’s all there is to it!
Skill Rating 0/5 – There is no skill in slot machines. That’s okay though. Many people enjoy them as a way to relax and give up control.
Roulette – It’s a game that needs little introduction, being one of the most famous casino table games in history. The game was devised in 18th century France, and its name means ‘little wheel’. There is no skill involved in roulette, and it really is the casino’s classic game of chance.
Players can bet on single numbers, multiple numbers, red or black, odd or even, high or low and a number of other options. The croupier spins the ball around the table, and it eventually falls on one number to determine who gets a payout.
Though you can decide what numbers to bet on, the chance of each number is always the same: 1/37 on a European wheel and 1/38 on the American wheel. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter what number you bet on (unless you believe in fate), as each is paid the same odds and the outcome is entirely beyond control.
There has been one method that is said to be able to beat the roulette wheel, but it has since been banned in casinos, or betting limits have been introduced to prevent it from working.
Skill Rating 0/5 – Another game of complete chance. Any illusion of control comes from the fact that you choose the numbers, but even though it may be more proactive, roulette involves about as much skill as pushing a slot button.
Craps – Craps is a game most often associated with chance. It is, after all, a game of betting on the roll of a dice. It’s true that there is only chance in Craps, in that you cannot affect the outcome of a dice roll, but there are some bets that offer greater odds than others.
Craps is a casino game which evolved from its life on the streets, where it could be played by anyone with a dice or two. A craps table offers a variety of betting options, and players take turn to shake and roll a pair of dice against the back wall of the table. All players can take bets on how the dice will fall, or even on more complex sequences.
Although there is no way to influence the dice roll, which is strictly monitored and regulated by casino operatives, there is a very minor decision making process that can help you to improve your game. In this respect you could say there is a small element of skill.
Even though all bets are in favor of the house, some give the casino a greater edge than others. The best odds you can get from a craps game is by betting on pass/don’t pass and come/don’t come lines, Place 6 and Place 8, and Buy 4 and Buy 10. All of these give a house edge of just a couple of percent. If you bet on any others, you are giving more money to the casino in the long term. For example, an Any 7 bet has a 16.67% house edge, while Hard 4/10 has an 11.11% edge.
Skill Rating 1/5 – Craps is a game of pure chance, but you can offer yourself the best odds by choosing the right betting options and avoiding more expensive choices.
Blackjack – Now we get to the beatable stuff! Blackjack is a little like craps in its skill level. You cannot control the outcome of the cards, and the dealer always has an edge, but correct mathematical decision making can improve your odds. Techniques like card counting can even put the edge in the player’s favor.
Blackjack is always played against the dealer, not the other players. The dealer gives out one card to each player, who can then decide on their turn whether to ‘hit’ or ‘stick’. In some instances other betting options may be available, such as ‘split’ or ‘double’. The object of the game is to beat the dealer. This can be achieved by scoring 21, getting a higher card total than the dealer without going bust, or when the dealer draws beyond 21.
There is a basic strategy to Blackjack, based on whether it is statistically profitable to stick or hit in a given situation, depending on your own cards and the dealer’s face-up card. For example, if you have 17 you should always stick, whereas 16 you should only stick if the dealer is showing a 6 or less. Studying the table will allow you to play optimal Blackjack.
Knowing the mathematics will allow you to reduce the house edge considerably, but it won’t make you a winning Blackjack player in the long run. The only way to do that is to take advantage of plays like card counting, hole carding, and shuffle tracking, all of which are extremely difficult.
Skill Level 3/5 – Blackjack has a pretty decent balance between chance and skill. Any player who knows the basic rules can sit down and enjoy a game, but at the same time knowing the mathematics softens the casino’s advantage significantly. Applying memory and card counting can actual make you a winning player.
Poker – Texas Hold’Em Poker is the most skillful game in the casino. There is simply no doubt about it. It is the only casino game that is played against the other players at the table, with the casino taking rake on bets rather than controlling the odds.
Players are dealt two hole cards face down and then bet for a round before any more cards are dealt. Once this has happened, shared cards are dealt face-up, with a round of betting after the flop, turn and river.
There is still a huge elements of chance in the world’s favorite card game (ask anyone who has had their pair of aces busted by a pathetic hand), but applying the right maths, decision-making process and psychology can make for long term winning players.
Skill Rating 4/5 – It’s an easy game to learn and a very difficult game to master, but professionals can make millions and show consistent profits playing poker for one reason: there is enough skill involved to allow them to do so.