How Does Skill Factor Into Online Casino Games?
At online casinos you’ll find a whole host of different games, including slots, table games such as blackjack and roulette, video poker and many more. In each of these games, luck (or rather chance / probability) plays a major role, as a run of good luck might see your casino account bursting with dollars, or with a whole lot of luck you might even bag one of those much sought after progressive jackpots, while a run of bad luck might see your casino funds diminishing rapidly as you have seemingly forgotten how to win. However, luck is not the total story at an online casino, as many games have a skill element to them, where the more skillful you are at the game, the greater chance you’ll have of actually winning.
In this article I look at the roles of both skill and luck at an online casino. I start by examining those games where skill does indeed play a major part and talk about your strategy in these games. I then look at luck, describing how casino gaming is governed by the laws of variance, which unfortunately is completely out of your hands. I then look at ways that you can actually enhance your winning prospects at an online casino by making full use of offers and promotions. At the end of the article I answer the question – what is more important? Skill or Luck?
Skill at Online Casinos
A casino makes money due to an inherent house edge built into the games. At many games this can be worked out mathematically just by looking at how the game works, roulette being a fine example where with a spreadsheet and a little time, you’ll know that the house edge is 2.7% (if playing at a European wheel). Obviously the higher the house edge, the more money a casino makes. However, at some games the edge isn’t quite as obvious. A good example of this is blackjack. In fact, the better you are at the game, the lower the house edge is. Therefore a casino will actually have different house edges for different players – a highly skilled player will make them a very small amount of money, while someone with no idea of strategy might make them a great deal! Of course, the bad player might have a good run at times, but over the long term, the skilled player will fare much better than the player with a lack of skill.
Fortunately, there are many resources online which you can use to improve your skill levels. Blackjack players can make use of strategy charts which will tell them exactly when to hit, stand or double, video poker players can find out exactly which combinations of cards they should hold at any one time and the various poker games you’ll find online at the casinos will all have their own individual optimum strategies. If playing any of these skill games, you’ll want to ensure you are indeed playing to the optimum strategy, as anything else is simply throwing money away.
You’ll even find skill games in unexpected places at times. For example, you might find a slot with an arcade style bonus round. These might be ideal for some nimble fingered players, but if these aren’t your specialty, shy away from them, as once again, you’ll be leaving money at the table.
Another skill that often gets overlooked is managing your casino bankroll. To put an extreme example out there, if you bet your entire bankroll on one hand (or spin), then you do not give chance or luck the chance to even out - while splitting that bankroll into 30 or 50 bets at least gets you some entertainment for your money even those times that the fall of cards does not go your way. You can find out more here: Casino Bankroll Management
Picking a Legit Casino - The Biggest Skill of All
Imagine that the combination of skill and luck helped you build up a big bankroll - and then you faced issue after issue trying to get your money from the casino. This does happen, and is the reason that I state over and over that you should make sure you pick the biggest and best brands available with trusted track records. There are some amazing casinos around (my top 3 are featured in the table below), make sure that you do not get burned!.
Luck at Online Casinos
Now obviously being skilled at a game can lower the house edge, but you’ll still be at the mercy of Lady Luck when playing any online casino game. You can play the perfect strategy, but if every time you hit at blackjack with a score of 12 and draw a picture card, you’re not going to do very well! This is where variance comes in. In mathematical terms, variance is a measure of how the data distributes itself about the mean or expected value, which when translated into casino talk is how much your bankroll can fluctuate from the normal. For example, you could play 100 hands of blackjack at $1 a hand and over these 100 hands you might expect to lose $1 on average if playing perfect strategy. Good variance here however could mean that you’ll actually win $20, while a run of bad variance could see your bankroll diminish by $25.
A number of casino games are actually subject to variance alone, as there is no skill involved. Good examples would include the majority of slots and games such as bingo or scratch cards. These games are still very entertaining to play, and the chance of a huge win or even a jackpot adds to this.
Factoring in Bonuses, Promotions and Offers
Of course, one way to lower the negative variance affecting your bankroll is to take advantage of the promotions offered by the casino sites. The best of these are usually the initial deposit bonuses offered by the sites, while existing customers can enjoy a range of offers such as free spins, loyalty points, leaderboards and indeed more bonus offers. All of these can do a fine job of giving your bankroll a timely boost and will actually have the effect of negating the house edge. There will be times when playing a skill game perfectly that the house edge is almost negligible when you are clearing a bonus alongside it.
Skill v Luck – The Verdict
So what is more important at the casino? Skill or Luck? I’m going to answer this from two points of view.
I’ll start with the player’s point of view. The player can only control their own game, so the onus is on the player to play each casino game as well as possible. If that is blackjack or video poker, it’s highly possible that a player could play these very badly and give the house an edge that even with a great amount of good luck, might still mean that the player loses. So, from the player’s point of view, I would have to say skill.
Next is from the entertainment point of view. Luck is actually what makes the games entertaining. In the above blackjack example, how boring would the games be if you did indeed lose $1 every 100 hands you played? Luck gives the games their unpredictability and therefore adds the highs and lows you will experience when playing - and this is exactly the reason we all play!
So in conclusion, the combination of luck and skill together make for the perfect mix!
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