The question in the title gets asked by complete newbies in the world of online gambling all the time. Recently turned 18, a student of mine – knowing about my passion for games of chance in the cyberspace – wanted to explore its secrets for himself. He seemed a bit confused about the nature of poker, and that of casino games. But the question made me think about the perception of poker among the uninitiated – they see it as a game of chance.
Online casinos have poker – sort of
Poker is not a game of chance, which makes it unfit for online casinos. It is a game with a lot of skill and strategy involved, while casino games rely almost exclusively on chance. Besides, poker is a game you play with real opponents, not an impersonal random number generator, like in the case of most casino games. So, the first answer you might feel tempted to give to such a question would be a categoric “No”.
But casinos have games inspired by poker, adapted to their needs. If you take a look at the game libraries of Canadian online casinos, you’ll see that they have games like “Video Poker”, “Caribbean Hold’em”, “Three Card Poker” and the like. And these games, although completely different from poker, are built on top of the most popular card game of the world. Which makes them poker in a “sort-of” sense of the world.
Casino poker games
Video Poker is perhaps the closest thing to poker you will find in an online casino. It is basically a single-player Five Card Draw game where instead of playing against opponents and for a pot, players are paid out based on their hand value and a paytable. The game is played out similar to one played at a table: cards are dealt, the valuable ones are held, the rest are discarded and others are drawn in their place. The main difference between Five Card Draw and Video Poker is that the players place a single bet at the beginning, with no subsequent betting round to follow. The most valuable hand in video poker is a Royal Flush – it has the highest payout (and often a bonus) associated with it.
Caribbean Hold’em is a proprietary community card game you can find in many land-based and some online casinos. It is loosely based on Texas Hold’em, at least in the number of cards dealt, and the way the cards are played out by the dealer. But there’s no pot, and there are no betting rounds, which makes it a faster paced game. And, of course, the players have no way to bluff and no need to read their opponents to get the upper hand. Which is the soul of real poker, if you ask me.