You’ll Feel ‘Flush’ With this ‘Full House’ of the Best Casino Poker Variations
There are two main categories of poker. First the player-v-player type, which is a skill game on many levels and split further into tournaments, cash games and so on (this is the subject of the other part of Sit N Go Planet - see it here). This article focuses on the second category – which is the player-v-house casino games that use poker play and hand rankings.
I have counted at least 14 distinct games which fall into this category, though some of them are a little too niche! Instead I have collected 7 of the most popular casino poker table games below – briefly explaining how each one works and (where it is simple) how to win.
You will find plenty of more detailed casino strategy guides here at Sit N Go Planet – several of these are linked next to the games below.
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Top 6 Casino Poker Games (In Order of Popularity)
#1 – 3 Card Poker
This game has several small variations in the name, things like tri-card poker or sometimes ‘trey-card’. This is due to copyright issues on the original, though the games are essentially the same. As you might expect, you get dealt 3 cards in this variation, and need to decide whether to play or fold – adding a bet of the same size as your initial stake if you decide to play.
The strategy is very easy, you play with Q-6-X or better, and fold worse hands.
It is the side-bets which add more interest to this game. All games have a ‘Pair+’ bet, which pays out if you are dealt a pair or better (up to 100-to-1 depending on how good your 3-card hand is). The 6 card bet pays up to 1000-to-1 (for a royal flush) and is based on the best 5 cards out of your hand and the dealer’s hand combined. Both of these side-bets have a high house edge, though many players consider the Pairs+ to be a vital part of enjoying the game.
You can play 3 card poker both virtually and for non-US players there is also a live dealer 3 card poker game available.
#2 – Casino Hold'em
With Texas Hold'em being such a popular multi-player game, it is no surprise to see the casino poker equivalent becoming one of the most popular variants. This game has a flop, turn and river and involves making a better hand than the dealer with your hole-cards. Choosing whether to play (by betting 2x your initial stake) or fold is simple enough to learn, and also comes with a ‘bonus’ side bet which will pay 7:1 on a pair of aces or better.
What I like about this game is that you get to see the flop before you make your decision. When you do flop a monster poker hand, you’ll wish you could bet more than the 2x the initial bet you are allowed. Folding is the best option sometimes – though the way the game works you will play more often than you fold.
Again, you can find Casino Holdem at Live Dealer casinos – most online casinos have a virtual version of this game.
#3 – Caribbean Stud Poker
This is one of my personal favorites, though I do have to admit it is getting some very stiff competition from Casino Hold'em and Mississippi Stud in live casinos these days. Caribbean Stud involves you and the dealer each getting dealt 5 cards. You see one of the dealers cards, and make your decision whether to raise (2x your initial bet) or fold based on how strong your hand is.
Basic strategy is to play Ace-King high or better, and to fold everything else. There are some variations of playing Ace-Queen high depending on the dealer’s upcard.
What I like about this game is the chance of some bigger payouts for good poker hand from the regular game.
Caribbean Stud often comes with side-bets, and is a popular game for including a progressive jackpot (at some casinos this can reach the potentially life-changing money level). The jackpot side-bet does have a high house edge, though it certainly adds interest the game. Check out this strategy guide for more.
#4 – Pai Gow Poker
If you have ever watched a hand of Pai Gow poker played, it can appear a little confusing. Players need to sort 7 cards into 2 separate hands (a high hand and a low hand), which stick within certain rules. These are then compared to the dealer’s hand.
This game is very popular live, and works well online due to a ‘House Way’ button. This sorts the cards into the best possible combinations for you. In fact you can play without knowing how to do this and then work out the rules as you do. An advantage of Pai Gow is that many hands are chopped. You will beat the dealer on one part and lose on the other. This keeps the volatility down.
#5 – Let It Ride
Another variation which has gained in popularity over recent years. This casino poker game has a very unique factor in the game-play – you get to remove chips from the table. You start off with 3 bets, and based on your hand and the dealer’s cards you decide whether to take bets away or to ‘Let it Ride’ and see out the full hand.
What I like about this one is that you can start off strong and bet for 3 units, while bad hands will only cost you a single chip (assuming you give up early). I recommend you try this one in demo mode while you get used to the game-play – it is very entertaining once you tune in to the flow of the game.
#6 – Video Poker Variations
This is a separate area all of its own. If you added up the machines in casinos and bars around the world, more people play this variation than those listed above. It is popular online, though with so many slot games to compete with – it does not hit the heights of the table games listed here.
Some of the old school games like Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better and Joker Poker can be found at just about all online casinos. Where things differ is with the variations. There are multi-hand games (up to 100 hands at once), games based on different poker types (7 card stud for example) and many colorful and quirky variations too.
Simple game-play (you hold some cards and then redraw the rest) and a very low house edge keep smart gamblers coming back for more.
Mark’s Pick of the Poker Variations
My personal favorite is Casino Hold'em, and in particular the live dealer variation of it.
What I like about this casino poker game is that you can get decent windfalls for good hands, while the decision on whether to play or fold is more complex than some of the other simple games. The live dealer (especially when winning alongside other players) adds a nice social dimension to the game.
You'll find this game in both virtual (player v computer) and live-dealer formats in the following places:
For Non-US Casino Poker Fans
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For US Based Players
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More Great Articles for Table Games Fans
- Real Money Casino Table Games (Main page with links to many more guides and articles)