Casino Games with a Strategy Element

When visiting a casino, whether that is a bricks and mortar casino, or if you play online, you’ll find a wide range of different options available. Many people will head directly to the slots, which offer a buzz to the players, all hoping that the elusive big win will land in their laps today. Others might head to the Roulette wheel, dreaming of cashing out big when they have that dream run. Both of these games are a lot of fun, but in neither case are they games of skill and for me, nothing beats walking out of a casino with money in your pocket having beaten a game where you have to use your brain.

Here, I’ll discuss those games where a good strategy will see you have much more success than those playing without giving any thought to the tactics behind the games. I start by discussing Blackjack, perhaps the most popular of all skill games at a casino. I then move on to Video Poker, one of the most addictive and varied games at the casino. Lastly I look at Casino Holdem, a relatively new casino card game in comparison to the others, but one that certainly engages the grey matter.

All of these skill games offer a lower house edge and a better chance of beating the house than pure luck games like roulette and slots. You can further increase your odds by playing online, with online sites offering better payouts and odds as they don’t incur the same costs as brick-and-mortar casinos. Before you go ahead and sign up though you should find a site such as casino site that offers reviews on the different casinos, special bonus offers and beginners guide for new players.


On the surface, Blackjack is a relatively straightforward game, and any random individual would know that the aim of the game is to beat the dealer by scoring as close to 21 without going over. Fortunately for a casino, many of these people with this basic knowledge of the game will actually play Blackjack and eventually pay a particularly high house edge when their lack of strategy begins to show. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your Blackjack more successful.

Blackjack is the most written about game in the casino – head to any online book store and you’ll find a wide range of books aimed at all levels of players. The majority of these books will suggest two distinct ways that you can be successful at Blackjack.

The first method is by using an optimal strategy at the table. Many of these books will feature strategy charts (you’ll also find these charts quickly using a search engine online) which will tell you what your optimal move will be in any given situation. The charts will show your two cards as well as the dealer’s card, and you’ll simply cross reference the two, to see if you should stand, hit, split or double down – some charts will even suggest when you should surrender (if that is an option at the game you are playing). For example a newcomer to Blackjack might see that their card value is 12 and the dealer has a 4. In this instance the optimal way to play is to stand, however it would be somewhat surprising to see an inexperienced player actually do this.

The second method a book might suggest would be card counting. This method is particularly well known; especially since the film “21 (2008)” was released, which followed the exploits of a team of card counters in Las Vegas. Card counting can give players an edge, as they’ll know which cards have already been dealt, meaning they’ll also know which cards are more likely to come next. For example, if a player knows that there are a number of Aces left in the shoe, they may increase their stakes, as they know Blackjack is more likely. Unfortunately card counting is said to be more difficult than ever, with casinos having advanced detection mechanisms.

Obviously card counting is not an option at a virtual casino, as each card is dealt based upon the output of a random number generator. Though might still be possible at an online ‘Live Dealer’ casino, I would suggest that the casinos offering these games are on the lookout for any unusual behavior.

Video Poker

Video Poker is interesting in the fact that there are so many variations of the game – each one featuring either different rules where you’ll have either no wild cards, a single Joker wild card or Deuces Wild, or different payout charts, where you might receive a larger than normal win for landing four Aces for example.

As there are so many types of video poker we found this page that offers all the best video poker sites in one place together with guides on the different game types.

Like Blackjack, there is an optimal way to play Video Poker, however this will actually change from game to game. A decision to hold certain cards at one game might be the optimal play, but becomes the wrong play if played at another game with a slightly different pay chart. Here is an example:

You are dealt the Jack, Queen and King of Clubs, alongside the Jack of Hearts and the Three of Spades.

In Jacks or better Video Poker, you should hold the two Jacks and discard the other three cards.

If playing Deuces Wild, you should discard the Jack of Hearts and the Three of Spades, and give yourself more of a shot at the Royal Flush.

Like Blackjack, there are a number of books written about the game which will detail the optimal move at any game, and once again you’ll also find charts online.

Casino Holdem

Casino Holdem was only invented in 2000, which makes it by far the newest of the three games discussed. Of the games, this is the one that presents the most difficulty when it comes to strategy. There is no particular strategy that you’ll be able to memorize and take to a table to maximize your return, although it has been suggested that an optimal strategy is to actually raise 82% of the time when playing. In some ways, the lack of ‘optimal’ strategy at this game makes the game even more playable, as you’ll be thinking on your feet as opposed to mentally referring to a chart.

If playing online, there are ways to play optimally, as you’ll be able to find programs which will calculate whether you should fold or raise in any given situation – you’ll simply enter your cards and the three community cards and the program will do the rest for you.

Can I win playing these casino games?

In any casino games there is a house edge which unfortunately cannot be beaten in the long term. This means that if you are a fan of Video Poker for example, even if playing optimally, you’ll never be able to turn professional, as the house will always win in the end. However, if you are playing the correct way at these games, the house edge can be extremely small, even negligible. This means that you’ll be able to enjoy much more time playing these games than others might, and give yourself many more opportunities to enjoy those short term wins where you’ll be leaving the casino with a huge smile on your face.

For more great casino strategy articles, see

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