Guide to Online Casino Games
Casino gambling has always been a popular pastime in the US. From Las Vegas to Atlantic City, players have been hitting casino floors across the country to try their luck with classics like blackjack, slots, roulette, baccarat, poker and craps.
With the inception of online casino gambling, these games have become available for more to enjoy. As long as you have a mobile device or a computer, you can get in on the action without having to leave home.
Some players indulge in casino games purely for entertainment purposes, but for others, it’s serious business. No matter which group you belong to, this page can help you find something new and potentially useful.
Whether you want to spin the roulette wheel, roll the dice or take on the dealer with blackjack, our casino knowledge hub will help you get started.
Read on to get the hang of various casino games before you start playing them for real money. Once you have become familiar with each game’s mechanics, rules and strategy, your chances of success will rise significantly. Let’s get down to business.
Slots are the cornerstone of nearly every casino establishment in the world, both online and land-based. Their appeal lies in their simplicity, affordability and diversity. With fantastic payout potential, stunning graphics and engaging gameplay, new and exciting slot releases bring in millions of players every year.
The sheer number of existing slot games is astonishing. There are thousands of titles with various storylines, bonus elements, themes, soundtracks and payout structures. Between old-school three-reel slots featuring one payline and modern five-reel releases that boast the novel 243-ways-to-win concept, the choices are abundant.
All slots fall into three general categories:
- Classic slots
- Video slots
- Jackpot slots
Each class is unique in its own way and has a distinct set of characteristics. You can read all about them in our slots guide.
There are some important terms all slot players should know, as they represent parameters that directly affect how much and how frequently a particular slot will pay out.
- RTP: Stands for return to player and is a figure that describes the sum of money that will be paid back to players after a vast number of spins. It’s the exact opposite of the house edge and is also expressed as a percentage. In theory, the higher the RTP a specific slot has, the more bang it will give you for your buck.
- Payout potential: Like the name already suggests, this trait shows how much a particular slot is capable of dishing out. It can vary anywhere from 100x to 50,000x the stake.
- Volatility: This concept, also known as hit frequency, is a metric that essentially shows how risky a game is and how often it’s expected to trigger a winning combination. With low volatility slots, you can expect frequent but small payouts. On the other hand, high volatility slots deliver fewer but larger cash prizes.
Getting started with slots is a breeze. Once you’ve chosen your preferred title, you merely need to adjust the bet and the paylines (if you’re playing adjustable payline slots), and that’s it — you can start spinning right away.
The outcome of each slot spin is determined by a random number generator, a computer program that ensures fairness and randomness of casino games. In other words, the result of your session is solely determined by chance. Still, there are some tips and tricks you can use to boost your odds of winning, as explained in our slots strategy section.
Roulette is a timeless classic. To this day, it remains as popular of a casino game as ever. It has been a staple at casinos ever since it was invented in the 17th century, and nowadays, it’s impossible to envisage the casino floor without it.
With the rise of online casinos, software developers have recaptured that authentic, adrenaline-pumping roulette experience by creating an interactive online version of the popular game. They wanted to create the thrilling sensation that comes with playing roulette in brick-and-mortar casinos. And, judging by the popularity of roulette in online casinos, we’d say that their efforts were successful.
The most appealing aspect of roulette is its unpredictable nature. It’s a pure game of chance.
The popularity of roulette also stems from its simplicity. The game is very easy to pick up, and even if you’ve never set foot on a casino floor before, you can play with confidence after a few minutes of watching the action.
The goal in roulette is to predict which numbered pocket the white ball will land on. After players have made their bets, the croupier will throw the ball into the spinning roulette wheel. Shortly after, the ball will lose its momentum and fall into one of the wheel’s pockets. If you have some cash on that pocket (number), you win — simple as that.
In the online version of roulette, the gameplay, rules and payouts are all the same. The only difference is that the outcome is determined by RNG rather than the dealer.
Fundamentally, there are two types of roulette — American and European. The biggest difference between them is the layout of each game. Specifically, the European version features one green zero pocket, whereas its American counterpart features two of them. The additional zero pocket in American roulette increases the house edge, decreasing players’ chances.
Apart from these, you can find dozens of other roulette variations, depending on the casino. Each of them comes with a twist — a unique side bet or an exciting bonus feature. You can read our in-depth roulette guide for more detailed information on the most popular roulette variations at online casinos.
Many will tell you that there’s not much you can do to increase your chances of winning at a roulette table, but that’s only partially true. There are some betting systems that could work to your advantage and possibly bring you bigger profits in the long run. Our dedicated roulette strategy section will tell you what those systems are
Blackjack came to North America in the early 18th century, and from that point on, it has become one of the most prevalent casino games in the country.
Blackjack is so popular because it’s easy to play. It also boasts a low house edge and fast-paced gameplay.
Blackjack is played with a standard 52-card deck and follows easy-to-understand rules. The aim of the game is to draw a hand value that exceeds the total hand value of the dealer without going over 21. If your hand exceeds 21, you have gone bust and lost the bet, regardless of the dealer’s hand.
The game of blackjack begins with players placing bets. Betting limits vary among casinos. In land-based establishments, the minimum bet at blackjack tables is usually $5 to $10. Online casinos have lower minimum bet requirements, so you can play for as low as $1 at some tables.
Once the bets are settled, the dealer will deal two cards to each player, both face down, while dealing him or herself one card face up and one face down. Once the dealer has dealt the cards, you have several options:
- Hit — This option means the dealer gives you another card. You can keep on hitting until you’ve decided to stand or have gone bust. In most US casinos, dealers are required to stand when their hand is a soft 17.
- Double down — This one will double the value of your initial stake. If you decide to double down, you will have to stand after receiving one more card.
- Stand — If you choose to stand, you will stop asking for more cards and end your turn.
- Split — You have this option if your hand consists of two cards of the same value, and taking it allows you to split the two initial cards into two separate hands. Note that if you decide to split your pairs, you will need to double your bet because you’ll be playing two hands instead of one.
- Surrender — If you surrender, you will fold or give up your hand. By doing so, you will lose only half of your original wager. This option is not available in every blackjack variant.
The payout for a natural (ace plus any 10-value card) in most blackjack varieties is 3:2. In other words, you get paid $7.5 for every $5 that you bet. Other wins are paid out at 1:1.
If both the dealer and the player(s) have a blackjack, then it’s a push. Nobody wins, and you get your original stake back.
These are just the basics. In our blackjack guide, we discuss all the significant blackjack terms, rules and variations of the game. It’s a great read for blackjack beginners and recreational players alike.
As for advice on how to win more consistently at a blackjack table, we have plenty on the blackjack strategy page.
Ever since Dale Electronics released the first-ever video poker machine back in 1970, the game has been a key ingredient of every brick-and-mortar and online casino.
One of the main attractions of video poker machines is the fantastic house edge these games carry. Video poker is one of the rare casino games where the player can actually get an advantage over the casino and completely nullify the house edge. Keep in mind that this isn’t always possible and will happen only in the right set of circumstances by using an optimal video poker strategy.
Video poker games provide an exciting alternative to slots because they have something slot machines don’t — an element of skill. They may not be as flashy and colorful as slots, but they are equally profitable, if not more.
Fundamentally, online video poker represents a computerized version of the video available at land-based casino venues. The game is based on five-card draw poker, one of the simplest poker variations.
At the beginning of each round, a video poker machine dishes out five random cards. Unlike the original five-card poker, in video poker, players can discard all five cards in order to form the best possible hand combination.
Once you’ve made your pick and decided whether you want to keep or discard the cards, press the draw button, and the computer will randomly replace the selected cards. If you have a winning combination, you get paid. The amount of money you win from each hand is displayed on the paytable.
Video poker games use the same hand rankings as a five-card draw, so those familiar with the classic game should be able to learn the basics of video poker pretty quickly. Just to be on the safe side, make sure to go through our video poker guide.
There are dozens of video poker variations, and each of them has different rules, house edges and payouts. The bonus variations offer higher prizes for certain hand combinations. Some feature wild cards, which can substitute any card and make it easier to form a winning combo. There are even some jackpot video poker games where players can win five- or six-digit sums.
The most commonly played video poker variants include Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, Joker Poker, Aces & Eights and Tens or Better.
Craps is the world’s most recognizable dice game and a significant asset of every casino. The craps table is also usually the loudest place in a casino, as players cheer and clap for one another every time the croupier rolls the dice.
This game is well-loved by players because it’s wildly entertaining and has a low house advantage. Also, craps is pretty easy to understand and play. More importantly, even total beginners can hit it big at a craps table if lady luck is on their side.
Let’s go over the basics you need to know before you start shooting craps.
- A typical craps table can accommodate up to 20 players and four members of the casino staff — two dealers, a boxman and a stickman.
- Players take turns (in a clockwise direction) rolling two dice, and the person throwing the dice is called the shooter.
At the beginning of the round, the shooter chooses two dice and throws them across the table so they hit the back wall.
In craps, players can make a pass line or don’t pass wager at any time, as long as a point hasn’t been established for that round. The point is established if the shooter rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 in the come out round (the shooter’s first throw of the dice).
If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11 in the come out round, pass line bets win. If the result is a 2, 3 or 12, pass line bets lose. Those who make don’t pass bets win on a 2 or 3, and lose on a 7 or 11. On a 12, all wagers are a push.
Once the point has been established, players can place come and don’t come wagers, which are the equivalents of the pass and don’t pass bets from the come out round.
For now, these rules will suffice. All of this probably sounds more complicated than it actually is, but once you’ve read our craps guide, everything will become much clearer. Payouts, house edge, betting options and rules vary among different craps variations.
Keno is one of the most straightforward casino games. At the same time, it’s quite amusing and potentially lucrative.
The object of this lottery-type game is to predict which numbers, ranging from 1 to 80, the keno computer will draw. The minimum and maximum number of selections you can make depends on the type of keno you’re playing and the casino in question.
Once you’ve selected the numbers and input the amount you want to take, the keno draw will draw 20 out of 80 numbers. Depending on how many drawn numbers match the ones you have on your betting slip, you can win anywhere from a couple of bucks to over a million dollars.
Players usually engage in this game because of its massive payout potential. Even for a small wager, you can nail it big time. To put things in perspective, the payout for catching nine spots is 37,500 to 1. Of course, the odds of it actually happening are astronomical — over a million to one.
There are various types of online keno, and each brings something special to the game. The most popular ones include packaged keno, single-card keno, multi-card keno and power keno. Progressive keno is particularly noteworthy, as it boasts a massive jackpot that accumulates with each bet placed.
Keno is super easy to grasp, with no strategy or reasoning involved. You don’t need to be an expert in probability and statistics to play the game. However, you should familiarize yourself with the rules and understand some basic terms.
Baccarat is thrilling, dynamic, and easy to understand, even for a casino newbie. The biggest reason why many players tackle baccarat is that its house edge is among the lowest of all casino games — a mere 1.06% on banker bets.
Baccarat is a game for up to 12 players on a kidney-shaped table. In front of every player, there are two fields (betting spots): a banker and a player.
Before the cards are dealt, players choose whether they want to put money on the banker or the player betting spots. There is also one more option — betting on a tie, which is when the player and the banker cards have the same value.
Once all bets have been settled, the dealer deals out the cards, two for the banker and two for the player. Whichever hand has a value closer (or equal) to nine wins. The payout for banker and player bets is 1:1. On the other hand, a tie bet pays 8:1 or 9:1, depending on the casino.
Baccarat also comes with a couple of side bets that give players a chance to increase their level of excitement and payouts. They are optional and vary depending on the casino and the version of baccarat played.
Baccarat is a game based entirely on chance, so there is no magical formula or foolproof strategy you can use that would guarantee you win. Usually, common sense and a little bit of luck will do the trick. That said, there are some tips that could help you set your mind in the right direction and ensure an enjoyable experience at the baccarat table. See our baccarat guide.
Three card poker
Unlike the majority of poker variants where players compete against other players, three card poker is a popular table game that’s played against the house.
The goal in three card poker is to make the best hand possible, and that’s pretty much it. Before the dealing phase, players place one of the following types of wagers (or both):
- Ante — You’re betting that your hand value will be of higher rank than the dealer’s.
- Pair plus — This wager is on whether you’ll make a hand of a pair or better with your cards, regardless of what the dealer holds.
Once the bets are settled, the dealer will deal three cards face down each player and to him or herself. A friendly reminder — you’re playing against the dealer, so other players’ cards shouldn’t concern you.
The players then look at their cards and try to determine whether they want to go to a showdown and compare their hands with the dealer’s.
When players fold, they lose both ante and pair plus wagers, and the round is complete.
One last note — three card poker uses slightly different hand rankings than regular poker. You can consult our handy three card poker guide for more info on hand rankings, payouts and the rules specific to the game.
Let It Ride
Let It Ride poker is an exhilarating variation of five-card poker that’s available in almost all online casinos via RNG and/or live dealer lounges. The object of the game is to make a poker hand that meets the qualifications for a payout.
Here is how it all works in practice:
- In front of each player, there are three circles. Two of them are marked with the numbers one (1) and two (2), and the third circle is labeled with a dollar sign ($).
- Before the cards are dealt, players need to make three bets of equal value in the three circles.
- Once the bets have been settled, each player receives three cards, while the dealer receives two cards face down (common cards). With the player’s three cards and the two common cards, the player forms a five-card poker hand.
- Players who decide not to play may ask for their first bet back (wager marked with number one) or may opt to let it ride. At this point, the dealer reveals one face-down card.
- Players can again decide not to play and ask for the second bet back. Or, again, they can elect to let it ride. Finally, the dealer reveals the second face-down card, and the players expose their cards.
- The dealer will now pay all winning hands according to the paytable. At this point, the dealer will also collect or pay the optional three-card bonus according to the bonus paytable.
Payouts are paid according to the poker ranking of the hand. The highest hand possible is a royal flush (10 through ace of the same suit) and pays 1,000:1. If you want to learn how and where you can play Let It Ride online for real money, check out our Let It Ride poker guide. It will give you all the info you need to get started.
Pai gow is a variation of poker that derived from a Chinese domino game. It’s not as common as other poker games, but you should be able to find a couple of pai gow tables in the majority of casinos in the US.
To play pai gow successfully, you need to have a basic understanding of poker hands and how they work. If you’re familiar with fundamental poker rules, then this game is going to be a walk in the park.
A round of pai gow begins with the dealer dealing seven cards to all players at the table and him or herself. Then, you’re required to make two poker hands:
- A five-card hand (also called the “high” or “back” hand).
- A two-card hand (also known as the “low” or “front” hand).
According to the rulebook, your back hand must always beat your front hand. For instance, if your front hand contains a pair of sixes, then your back hand must be better than a pair of sixes. Once you’ve formed the best possible combination, your hands are compared to the dealer’s. There are three possible scenarios:
- The dealer wins both hands and you lose your bet.
- You win both hands and get paid accordingly.
- The player and the dealer each win one hand, resulting in a push.
Pai gow is a relaxing and enjoyable game to play. However, it can be challenging, too, as understanding its fundamentals can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re a poker rookie. There’s nothing to worry about, though — once you’ve read our pai gow guide for beginners, you’ll be ready to go out and try this poker variation.
Caribbean Stud is a fun alternative to regular poker. It’s widespread across most US casinos. Some of the world’s most renowned software providers have developed versions of Caribbean Stud for online play, but the game is also available at many live dealer casinos.
The game has the same basics as regular poker, but it doesn’t involve community cards and removes the element of bluffing.
In the online version of Caribbean Stud, the game begins with both the player and the dealer receiving five cards each. The player’s five-card hand is dealt face up, while the dealer’s hand has only one card revealed.
Before the cards are dealt, the players wager an ante according to their own betting preferences (this amount is not fixed). The ante here is slightly similar to a small bind in poker and represents the amount any following bets are based on.
After the ante, the dealer deals the cards. At this point, you can choose either to fold your hand and lose the ante or continue the game by placing a call bet, which is always double the ante.
The objective of the game is to get a better hand than the dealer. Caribbean Stud uses the same hand rankings as regular poker, with the high card being the lowest-ranked hand and royal flush the highest.
Of course. this is just a rundown of what a typical round of Caribbean Stud looks like. For advanced tips and lessons, go through our Caribbean Stud poker guide.
Out of all the casino games featured in our comprehensive guide, keno has the worst (highest) house edge, and it’s in the 20% to 40% range. It’s followed by craps (5.56%-16.67%) slots (4%-6% on average), Caribbean Stud (5.2%), Let It Ride (3.51%), pai gow (2.84%), roulette (2.70%-5.26%; 1.35% on even-money bets), three card poker (2.01% on the play bets), blackjack (0.5%) and baccarat (1.06% on the banker bets). The absolute winner is video poker, which has a negative house edge of -0.76% in the full pay version of Deuces Wild if you use optimum strategy.
It is if you live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Delaware or Nevada.
Because the internet gambling industry in the US is highly regulated. Each state appoints a regulatory body that constantly monitors casinos and makes sure that the outcomes of the games they offer are fair and random and that the site uses appropriate security measures to protect players’ personal and financial data at all times.
Absolutely. Every online casino in the US is mobile-friendly and will allow you to play your favorite games on the go. Some gambling brands have even developed standalone apps for iOS and Android users. However, keep in mind that the game selection on these apps can be scarce at times. If you opt for the browser-based mobile version, you’ll have access to every game from the chosen casino’s portfolio.
Almost every online casino from our list gives its users the option to play for free in demo mode. Demo mode can serve as a great learning platform where you can get to know the game’s mechanics, betting options and winning strategies. Once you learn how a particular game is played, you can easily switch to real money mode.
You can do it in one of the social casinos, which are websites or apps where you can play slots, poker, roulette and other casino games with your friends, or you can link up via Zoom or a similar platform and find an online casino. Free casino apps on Facebook are also a nice alternative.
That would be in a regulated online casino — that is if you live in a state where online gambling has been legalized. If not, you can always go to sweepstakes casinos to appease your gambling appetite.