Pai Gow Poker – First off, the obvious question—how do you pronounce “pai gow”? It rhymes with “pie now.”
What is this game? It’s a house-banked poker variant that uses a 53 card deck—the 52 standard cards, plus a joker. You shouldn’t confuse this game with “pai gow”, which is a Chinese dominoes-style game using tiles. Pai gow poker borrows aspects of that game to create a completely different animal.
In pai gow poker, the casino takes the role of banker, and all the other players compete against the banker. Everyone gets seven cards dealt to them, which they have to separate into a five card hand and a two card hand. Your goal is for your five card hand to beat the banker’s five card hand AND for your two card hand to beat the banker’s two card hand. You have to win both hands to win.
Pai gow poker is a social game that involves luck and skill. Poker players and blackjack players who are looking for a change of pace should enjoy this one.
Three Card Poker – This is another casino-banked poker variant, and, as the name might imply, it’s poker played with three cards instead of five. The game involves very little skill. The house edge ranges from between 2% and 4%.
Three card poker does have some differences from normal poker. One of the most important is that straights outrank flushes, and a three of a kind beats both flushes and straights. This will take a little getting used to for some die-hard poker players.
The game features two bets. One is almost completely slots-like in its simplicity. You wager your money and take your chances, getting paid off based on the strength of your hand. The other bet pits your hand against the dealer’s hand.
Let It Ride – Let It Ride is a card game invented and marketed by Shuffle Master Gaming. It was first introduced to casinos in 1993, and the inventors’ goal was clear—they wanted to create a larger market for their card shuffling machines. It’s turned out to be a successful game—you can even find knockoffs of it online under similar names like “Let THEM Ride.”
The game has three betting circles, which intimidates some players who aren’t familiar with how it plays. That intimidation is unwarranted, as it’s actually a simple game. To start, you place equal-sized bets in all three circles. In each round except the third, you have the opportunity to pull your bet back. You need a pair of tens or better to win, and the payoff chart varies from casino to casino, especially online.
Caribbean Stud – Like pai gow poker, Caribbean stud is a game for people who enjoy socializing with other players while they gamble. The house edge is a relatively high 5%, though, so it’s comparable to roulette in terms of odds.
This is another casino-banked variation of a poker theme. Players start by making a bet called an “ante.” Then they get five cards each. Two options are available. You can fold, which means you lose your ante and are out of the game, or you can bet, which means you have to place another bet.
If the dealer “qualifies” by getting a hand of AK or better, then the player compares her hand to the dealer’s to see who wins. If the dealer does NOT qualify, then all the players win, but they ONLY win their ante bet. The other bet is returned to them as if it were a push.
The bet wager pays off based on the strength of your hand. A pair or less pays off at even money, two pairs pays off at two to one, and so on, up to a 100 to 1 payoff on a royal flush.
Blackjack Switch – This is an interesting and relatively new blackjack variation. Each player receives two hands, and she has the option of switching the top cards of each hand. Naturals only pay even money, though, which helps to nullify this advantage. Also, if the dealer has a natural total of 22, everything’s consider a push, no matter what.
Double Exposure Blackjack – This is a blackjack variant where both of the dealer’s cards are played face up. This would seem like an enormous advantage to the player, and it is, but there are other rules variations to make up for it. Dealers win ties, and naturals only pay even money.
Casino War – This is one of the simplest casino games you’ll ever play, and I’m amazed the casinos have the chutzpah to offer it at all. You’re dealt a card and so is the dealer. The higher card wins. In the event of a tie, you go to war. Going to war means you have to place an additional bet, and that’s where the house gets its edge. It’s a fast game with lousy odds for the player. You can find better choices among table games pretty easily.
Red Dog – This one is rare in live casinos, but it’s still fairly common online. You probably have played a variation of it called acey-deucey or in-between at home. You get three cards. The first two are revealed. If their ranks are consecutive, like a 7 and an 8, the hand is a push. If the two cards have the same rank, the third card is revealed—if it matches the other two, then it’s an 11 to 1 payout for the player. The most common outcome is that there is a spread, and the player wins if the third card is ranked between the first two. The smaller the spread, the higher the payoff, and vice versa.
These 8 games only represent a small sampling of the many table games that are found at the many different casinos throughout the world and across the Internet. New games are being “auditioned” all the time.