Blackjack, craps, baccarat, Pai gow (pictured above)and roulette get all of the attention. These are the casino games that tend to draw the most players. They’re consistent favorites among both novice and experienced gamblers.
Having said that, they represent only a smattering of the games offered by popular online casinos like Bovada and Slots.lv. If you spend all of your time playing them, you’ll miss out on others that are just as much fun.
Below, we’ll cover five such games. Each one has probably escaped your notice. But once you learn how to play them and get a little experience under your belt, you’ll find them to be just as exciting as the perennial favorites.
All five of the following casino games are available at Bovada Casino and Slots.lv. Even better, you can play them for free while you learn the ropes. It’s worth noting that both Bovada and Slots.lv have occupied the top of my “Best In Class” list of online casinos for years.
Vegas Three Card Rummy
The object of Vegas Three Card Rummy is to make a hand that has a lower point value than the dealer’s hand.
Each round begins with an ante. Once you bet the ante, you’re dealt three cards face up; the dealer is dealt three cards face down.
You then have a choice to make: either raise or fold.
There are two ways to win your ante. The first is by making a lower hand than the dealer. The second is if the dealer’s hand fails to qualify (its point value exceeds 20). Of course, you won’t know what the dealer is holding until you decide to raise or fold.
If you raise your bet and the dealer’s hand qualifies and exceeds your own in terms of points, you’ll win both your ante and raise. If the dealer’s hand fails to qualify, you’ll win your ante and your raise will be returned to you.
Vegas Three Card Rummy also comes with a bonus bet. If you’re dealt a hand with a point value of 12 or less, you win.
One final note: while individual cards, from 2 through 10, carry their face value and face cards carry a value of ten, the following cards in the same hand are scored as zero:
- any pair
- any triple
- two-card suited run
- three-card suited run
For example, a 6-6-7 has a value of 7, not 19 (the pair of sixes equal zero). A 4(hearts)-5(hearts)-9(spades) has a value of 9, not 18.
Caribbean Stud Poker
Like Three Card Rummy, Caribbean Stud Poker is played with an ante and raise. The raise, if you choose to make it, is always twice the amount of your ante.
The object is to beat the dealer’s hand according to traditional poker hand rankings. For example, a full house beats a pair. A straight flush beats a full house. And so on.
The round begins when you post the ante. You’re then dealt five cards facing up. The dealer is also dealt five cards, with all but one facing down. Next, you decide whether to raise your bet or fold.
There are two ways to win.
- You’ll win if you raise and the dealer’s hand fails to qualify (has an Ace and King or better). In that case, you’ll be paid even money (1:1) on your ante and your raise will be pushed back to you.
- You’ll win if the dealer’s hand qualifies and your hand outranks it. In that case, you’ll be paid even money on your ante and receive a payout on your raise based on your hand. For example, you’ll receive 2:1 for two pairs; 3:1 for a three of a kind; and 4:1 for a straight.
You can also make a $1 bet on a progressive jackpot in Caribbean Stud Poker. Five hands will result in a payout:
- flush = $75
- full house = $100
- four of a kind = $500
- straight flush = 10% of the jackpot
- royal flush = 100% of the jackpot
Joker Poker is a type of video poker. You’ll find several variants at Bovada and Slots.lv. They’re distinguished by the number of hands used (e.g. 1 hand, 3 hands, 10 hands, and 52 hands).
The object of Joker Poker is to make a hand that contains Kings or better. The amount of the payout you receive is based on two factors: your hand’s ranking and the number of coins you bet on the round. In that way, it’s similar to slots.
For example, a full house pays 6:1. If you bet a single coin equal to $1, you’d receive a $6 payout. If you bet the maximum five coins for a total value of $5, you’d receive a $30 payout.
Betting the maximum number of coins is always a good idea, even if you need to lower the amount wagered per coin (you can lower it to $0.05). Why? Because you’ll receive a disproportionately large payout in the event you make a royal flush, with or without a Joker.
Each round of Joker Poker plays out like a round of draw poker. You start by deciding the amount of your wager (the coin value and the number of coins). You’re then dealt five cards, all of them facing up. You select the ones you wish to hold and click the “Draw” button, which replaces your other cards with new ones. Your new hand is then graded according to the pay table.
If you bet $1 per coin or less and win, you’re given the option to wager “double or nothing” (you can decline it). Here, the dealer receives a single card and you’re asked to pick one card from a selection of four that are facing down to beat it. If the card you pick ties or ranks higher than the dealer’s card, you win double the amount of your previous winnings. If the card you pick ranks lower, you lose.
If you win the “double or nothing” wager, you’re given the option to roll your winnings over by repeating the process. This continues until you decline the opportunity or lose the bet.
Joker Poker is a simple game that’s a lot of fun. You may be surprised at how much time can pass while you’re playing it.
You already know how to play traditional blackjack. European blackjack is very similar. But a few twists affect how the game is played.
The object remains the same: you want to make a hand that gets as close to 21 as possible without going over (i.e. busting).
In classic blackjack, the dealer receives two cards, one of which faces up and the other facing down. In European blackjack, the dealer only receives one card (facing up) until you decide what to do with your hand (stand, hit, etc.).
Another difference is in the ability to surrender. In the classic game, you can choose this option if you think the dealer’s hand will beat your own. Doing so saves half of your bet, the amount of which is returned to you. In European blackjack, you don’t have this option (although strangely, there’s a small area on the table labeled “surrender”).
Also, the standard game allows you to double your bet regardless of your hand. You can only do so in the European variant if you’re holding a hand with a point value of 9, 10, or 11.
The last difference involves whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17 (Ace/6, Ace/3/3, etc.). In traditional blackjack, the dealer is required to hit. In European blackjack, the dealer is required to stand.
The above feature affects the odds. When the dealer is required to hit a soft 17, there’s a greater likelihood he’ll bust. But if he doesn’t bust, there’s a greater likelihood he’ll end up with a winning hand. Thus, the requirement to hit a soft 17 is a net advantage for the casino. Conversely, the requirement for the dealer to stand, the rule imposed in European blackjack, is a net advantage to the player.
Let It Ride Poker
Let It Ride Poker is one of those casino games that everyone has heard of, but few actually play. Some are intimidated by its fast pace (although you control the pace when you play online). Others find the game to be confusing. There’s an ante bet and two rounds of raises, a feature that’s unlike other casino games.
Once you play Let It Ride Poker and get accustomed to its quirks, you’ll no doubt enjoy it. If you’re like me, you’ll develop a real connection, or rapport, with the game.
The object is to land a pair of 10s or better. Payouts are determined by hand rankings. For example, a pair of 10s pays out even money while a straight flush pays out 200:1. Your final hand is composed of three cards that you’re dealt at the beginning of the round combined with two community cards.
To start the round, you need to post the ante. Three cards are dealt to you facing up and two community cards are dealt facing down.
You then have to decide whether to “continue” or “raise.”
- Doing the former allows to you stay in the hand without risking additional cash, and see one of the community cards revealed.
- Doing the latter allows you to increase your stake in the event you believe you can make a winning hand (10s or better).
There are two rounds during which you make this decision. If after seeing the first community card, you’re confident that you can make a winning hand, you can increase your stake with another raise. Or if you had decided against raising your bet on the first round, you can now make that raise on the second round.
The amount of your raises are the same as your ante.
Should You Play These Five Casino Games?
My intent isn’t to pull you away from your favorite games. On the contrary, if you enjoy playing craps and roulette, you should definitely continue doing so. Likewise with blackjack, baccarat, or any other game you have a soft spot for.
Having said that, there’s a fair chance you haven’t played the five casino games profiled above. If that’s the case, you’re missing out on a fun experience you’ll probably enjoy.
The good news is that you can play all of them for free at Bovada Casino and Slots.lv. You can get a feel for them without risking your money. There’s no better way to find out whether you enjoy the experience. In fact, one or more of these games might make it onto your list of favorites.