Are you brand new to gambling? I can remember the first time I ever walked into a casino—which was a land-based one—and how giddy and overwhelmed I felt. I was surrounded by so many sights and colors and sounds, and the bustle of activity on the floor filled me with excitement.
But looking around, I was flustered and didn’t know what game to try first. I had very little knowledge of gambling, and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing in terms of techniques, money management, and so on. I didn’t even know the rules of most of the games. I was most daunted by the roped-off baccarat table in the back, and eventually ended up playing slots and roulette on my first day.
Needless to say, I fell in love with gambling that day. But it still took me a long time to try baccarat and some of the other more intimidating games around the casino.
With online gambling, I think that newbies probably find many games both more and less intimidating than I did when I started. At least the virtual baccarat tables are not roped off, and seem more inviting—at the same time, there is no one to talk to and ask your questions, and you cannot just stand and watch what other players are doing.
Originally I thought of writing about the easiest and hardest online casino games to learn, but I think it is easier to focus on which games are the most and least intimidating, because that is probably what you are focused on right now.
Plus, more daunting does not necessarily equal “hard”.
This seems like a great way to clear up some misconceptions that newbies have about certain games.
So let’s start by looking at the most newbie-friendly games at the casino which at a glance are also the most simple and accessible.
Least Intimidating Games to Learn
1. Slot Machines
Chances are good that the first time you log into an online casino after registering an account, you will do exactly what I did on my first day at a casino, and head straight to the slot machines.
Slot machines really are as easy as they appear to learn to play. After selecting a coin size, you take a spin and see if the symbols line up on the payline(s). If you get a winning combination, you receive a payout.
- Be selective when you look for slots to play. Because you have no control over the outcome of your spins, you really only can exercise control over two decisions: which slot games you play, and what coin size you play (see below). There is a ton of variation in terms of paylines, multipliers, bonus rounds, frequencies, and other aspects of slot machines, so your choice of game will have a big impact on your outcomes.
- Manage your money carefully when you select your coin size. Because you cannot use any effective strategies when playing slot machines, setting your stake sizes is really all you can do to extend your play. You cannot determine with your coin size whether you will win or lose, but you can determine how many rounds you can potentially play through before you go broke, and you also can make sure you are not opting out of any possible jackpots by playing a coin size which is too small.
- Participate in slot tournaments. Slot tournaments are very different in terms of value than just playing slot machines on your own. The prize pool usually is widely distributed, and the entry stake may be very low or nonexistent. So you have a significant chance of winning something, and little or nothing to lose. Take advantage of these opportunities whenever you stumble across them!
The Bottom Line: Slot machines are incredibly easy to play, but you cannot control whether you win or lose. You can however get more out of playing slots by participating in tournaments and being selective about the games you play and the coin sizes you choose.
Do you enjoy playing the lottery? Keno offers you lottery-style fun which you can enjoy anytime. When you open a keno game at the online casino, you only have two things you have to do. First of all, pick a coin size you are comfortable with. Second, choose a few lucky numbers between 1 and 80.
Then wait for the game to select a few numbers at random. The numbers will be displayed, and you will see if any of them match the ones you picked. If a minimum amount of them do match, you win!
- First of all, acknowledge that winning or losing keno is entirely a matter of luck. You cannot control the outcome in any way. You can only manage your money wisely.
- You are allowed to pick how many numbers you bet on. The more numbers you pick, the higher your odds are of getting a match on one or more of them. Pay close attention to the pay tables though. Naturally if you take a less risky bet, the payout if you win will generally be less.
- Be aware that the house edge of keno is one of the worst in the entire casino. Keno is easy to play, but not easy to win. And you certainly cannot expect to win reliably from it. If you play a lot of keno, you need to be ready and willing to log it as an ongoing expense, because it is going to be one.
The Bottom Line: Keno, like slot machines, is incredibly easy to learn. But it also has an absurdly high house edge. Play it for fun, not for profit.
Roulette is a table game, but it is the easiest table game around when it comes to learning the ropes. While there are several types of roulette in existence, I recommend that you play European roulette. Watch roulette being played for a while and you will quickly grasp how it works.
There are a bunch of different ways to bet on roulette.
All of the bets you place have one thing in common, and that is that their outcomes are determined wholly by luck. Offline, physics plays a part, but online, the outcome is determined the same way it is with keno and slot machines, and that is through the use of a random number generator.
- Stay away from American roulette. American roulette has a 00 and not just a 0, which tilts the house edge significantly further in the casino’s favor. If you play American roulette a lot, over time, it will probably take more of a toll on your bankroll than European roulette. Newbies often struggle to grasp how mathematically the addition of the 00 can have such a huge effect, but suffice to say that it does.
- Place simple outside bets if you want to win regularly. Most of the super complex bets are inside bets, while the outside bets are simple and straightforward, like betting on red or black. Even though these simplistic bets might seem less exciting, you are far more likely to win them on a regular basis.
- Set a strict limit before you start playing. Roulette is arguably one of the most “addictive” games in the casino. The reason is that it plays off of the gambler’s fallacy very well. It makes you feel like you are “so close” to winning, and tricks you into believing that if you lost your last round, surely a win is “on the way” soon. But the roulette wheel does not share your memory of wins and losses. The random number generator is random. The past has no influence on the future. Each spin of the wheel is an independent event.
The Bottom Line: Even though roulette is a table game, that should not fool you into thinking it is complicated. It may take some time to learn all the bet types, but on the whole, the game is very easy to understand and play. Just remember, you can only win through luck, not skill or strategy.
4. Video Poker
Poker is a game which is daunting to many newcomers to the casino, but video poker is much more accessible. Despite the name, it actually arguably has more in common with a slot machine than it does with poker. It is a kind of perfect hybrid.
Just as you would typically begin a round at a slot machine by pulling a lever, with video poker, you press a button which says “deal.” As a slot machine would then display symbols (perhaps five of them, if you were using a five reel machine), the video poker game displays five cards.
If you know the basics of five-card draw, you should know what you are doing at this point. If you do not, this is a great way to start getting familiar with it.
You may now choose whether to discard or hold each of the cards which have come up. If you do not like any of them, you can opt to discard every one of them.
You are then dealt new cards to replace the ones that you chose to part with. The game then determines whether you have a winning hand or not. If you do, you are given a payout (check the pay table to find out in advance which hands pay what). Lower-ranking hands which are more common pay less, while higher-ranking hands which are less common pay out more (sometimes quite a bit).
- Video poker is a game which is actually quite reliably winnable if you figure out what you are doing. In theory, you can even make a living with it, though very few gamblers succeed at this because it requires that you play through a ridiculously high number of hands hour after hour. So if you try, just know what you are getting yourself into.
- Get a strategy. There are a lot of existing strategies you can look up and learn online or in books on video poker. Make sure that the type of strategy you pick is a match for the type of video poker game you plan to play (as variations do exist).
- If you can afford the maximum coins, it is usually smart to play them. You may not qualify for all bonuses if you do not.
- If you have a selection of video poker games available to you, ignore the better odds of multi-hand games. Somewhat counter-intuitively, single-hand games tend to pay more over time.
- If you have a game which offers “double up,” think hard about whether or not you want to use it. It increases returns, but it also increases volatility.
- As with slots, shop around for games with high return rates. Also look at the pay tables each and every time since some games may offer very different payouts for the exact same hands.
The Bottom Line: Video poker is based on five-card draw, but it plays a lot like a slot machine. It is a great game to learn if you want something which is simple, but still involves strategy. After you start playing video poker, you may even be ready to try your hand at real poker.
5. Casino War
War is a card game that a lot of us grew up playing. War is absurdly easy. One player is dealt a card, then the other is, and the player with the highest card is declared the winner.
This is not a two-player game at the online casino. It is played in more or less the same fashion, but it is the house which is on the other side. Both you and the house are dealt one card each. If your card has a higher value, you are the winner. If the house has the higher value card, you are the loser.
The difference in play comes down to what happens if there is a tie between you and the house.
The game will offer you the following two options:
1. Forfeit half of your stake.
2. Make a second bet equal to the amount of your first bet (double up).
Two more cards are then drawn. If you lose, you end up losing twice the amount you originally staked. If you win, your first stake comes back to you, and you get the winnings on the second bet.
- You probably are wondering at this point whether you should double up or not in the case of a tie. The answer is that yes, you ought to do so. Doing so will help to reduce the house edge—but not eliminate it.
- This is a game of chance, so do not bet everything you have on it. If you do, you will go broke. This is a game you should be playing solely for entertainment. So keep your stakes modest.
The Bottom Line:
Casino War is swiftly becoming a popular game online. It is a lot like the version you remember from your childhood, except where ties are concerned. The only important strategy to remember is that you should always double up when there is a tie. Never give up—this just gives the house a higher edge.
Blackjack certainly is not as easy to learn to play as games of sheer chance like slot machines or casino war. But it is a game of strategy which is pretty straightforward, and as a result, it may be one of the more approachable ones if you are a newcomer who is easily daunted by more complex games.
Conceptually, you can grasp what blackjack is all about in a matter of minutes. You are playing directly against the house. Both of you are dealt cards, and both of you are trying to close in on a value of 21. But if you go over 21, you lose. So you want to try and get the highest possible hand without that happening. If you do, you are the winner.
There is literally an optimal way to play blackjack, and if you have good memorization skills, you can learn it and employ it time and again for success. Some people will struggle with this, but others will be naturals.
- Look for games which pay out 6:5, not 3:2. Games which include fewer decks have better odds. There are a lot of different blackjack games available online, so take advantage of the big selection.
- Never, ever take insurance when it is offered to you.
- Stick with your strategies and never violate the rules of your system. There is always an optimal play. You should not arbitrarily do something different because of emotion.
- There are a ton of different blackjack systems and strategies out there, but all you need is a simple mathematically-optimized strategy in order to succeed. Do not over-complicate this game unnecessarily.
- Do not wager huge stakes, and do not use systems like Martingale. This applies across the board, but for some reason, newbie blackjack players seem particularly susceptible to bad stake sizing strategies. Just keep it small and consistent.
- Play a demo version of blackjack to practice first. That way you can get used to using your strategies without risking real money.
- You cannot count cards online, so do not even try.
The Bottom Line: Blackjack is probably the least intimidating strategic casino game. So if you are ready to play a game which involves some thinking and planning, start with blackjack. You can try when you start winning consistently because of your strategies, you will see that the extra effort really pays off! Then you may be ready to start trying some of the more intimidating games listed below.
- Bovada Casino - Our #1 pick. Offers single deck online blackjack.
- Slots.LV - If you like blackjack and slots then this is the site for you.
- BetOnline Casino - Live dealer casino. Watch real dealers deal blackjack via webcam.
Most Intimidating Games to Learn
This is widely considered one of the most intimidating games at the casino, to the point where it is almost expected that if you bring it up in conversation with a group of other gamblers, at least one person will mention that they have always been interested in the game but are too daunted to give it a try.
Craps is not necessarily as daunting as it appears, but there is no denying that it is one of the more elaborate games, so it may take you some extra time and effort to learn. Even advanced craps players may sometimes have questions about the game. A lot of slang terms are bandied about by craps players, and all that terminology can also take time to pick up. But eventually, you will get it, and once you do, you will see that craps doesn’t entirely deserve its daunting reputation.
A full discussion on how to play craps is outside the scope of this article, so here instead are a few tips for newbies:
- You may have heard that craps is a game which is only suitable for high rollers. This is not the case! Online in particular, you will find many craps games you can play with a low buy-in.
- Learning to play craps online can actually make life a lot easier. At a brick-and-mortar casino, a craps table is a noisy, chaotic place, and that means a lot of distractions. Online, you do not need to deal with this, and you may also feel like there is less pressure on you to make your play.
- Do not get pulled off track by the numerous types of craps bets you can place. Most of these do not have great odds. Only a few are really worth it. So stick with those and you will keep the house edge to a minimum, increasing your chances of winning.
The Bottom Line: Craps is a game which on the surface looks very complicated. A big part of this is just that there are so many different types of craps bets, and so many slang terms you may not be familiar with. Tables offline are also very chaotic. But online, you can take your time learning in a quiet environment, and you will eventually discover that craps is not as hard as it looks.
2. Certain Variations on Poker
Some people find poker very approachable, while others find it bafflingly complicated. Whether or not you are daunted by poker will depend a lot on your disposition.
Regardless, some varieties of poker are certainly more daunting than others, if only because at first glance they seem so unusual. A couple of good examples are Omaha Poker and Let It Ride. Any form of Omaha Poker may be intimidating, but Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo in particular seems to garner a lot of votes for “most difficult form of poker.” Many players also are intimidated by Limit 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo and Razz.
Getting into elaborate detail here would again be beyond the scope of this writing, but suffice to say there are many subjective reasons why some types of poker might be considered more difficult than others. With certain formats like 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, there is a lot going on, and those who are challenged with executive function may have a hard time following all the action. Pot Limit its known for its difficult betting structure, and so on.
- Take your time learning different poker variants. There is no rush to learn how to play every form of poker simultaneously. Just try learning one type at a time. That way you will not mix up the rules between different variations.
- Start simple. You do not need to begin learning Omaha Poker right from the get-go. Stick with the most basic forms of poker when you are just starting out so you can at least grasp the fundamentals.
- Speaking of fundamentals, do not get so caught up in the technical details that you forget to learn the other aspects of poker, like how to read people. And yes, you can learn to read people to some extent online (by tracking their betting patterns for example—using an app for this really helps out). If you can learn to handle both the technical aspects of poker and these more human aspects well, you can succeed.
The Bottom Line: Some types of poker really are more complex and difficult to learn than other types. While it is a somewhat subjective matter, varieties like Omaha Poker are challenging for many players, even those who are already skilled at other forms of poker.
3. Pai-Gow Poker
Pai-Gow Poker was invented in 1985, so it has only been around for a few decades now, but it has become very popular. It is a hybrid game combining aspects of poker with the original Pai Gow dominoes game from China.
Feelings about Pai-Gow Poker are varied and subjective. Some players find it very daunting, while others do not. In any case, it is a game which is not as hard as it may seem—so if you are thinking about learning it, you should consider giving it a try.
Pai Gow uses a standard deck with 52 cards, including a wild card and joker. At the beginning of play, you are dealt seven cards. You have to use them to create a two-card hand and a five-card hand. For the most part, the card rankings are just like those you use in regular poker, but there is a special kind of straight called a “wheel” which runs from ace to five. In every case, you also have to make sure that your five card hand is ranked higher than your two card hand.
Instead of competing against other poker players, you play against the house, which tries to outdo your hand using a set of formulas. You play through two hands. You have to win them both to get a payout; if you only win one, your receive your stake back (known as a “push”). If you lose both, you lose your wager.
Pai-Gow Poker has a low house edge, so it is well worth learning. Once you do, you will discover it is fun and fast-paced.
- Do not ignore the five-card hand or the two-card hand. It is easy to get caught up on one (usually the five-card hand) and neglect the other—but both are important if you want to succeed.
- Learn the House Way. Remember, the house is playing against you using a prescribed set of rules. Those rules were established to help the house win. Since the house is playing with the same hand goal as you, you can use those same rules to guide your decisions.
- Weirdly enough, if you have a full house, you should split it. While it gives you good chances of winning one of your hands, it reduces your chances of winning two, which could lead to a push.
- Play a lot of free Pai-Gow Poker before you stake cash. This is really the best way to figure out all the patterns and come up with methods which work.
The Bottom Line: Pai-Gow Poker is daunting to a lot of players, but it shouldn’t be—it is not really all that complicated when you come down to it. And with a low house edge, it makes for a great game.
In a land-based casino, baccarat is probably the single most daunting game to most new players. And no wonder—it is typically roped off from the rest of the casino, and seems to attract high rollers.
Ironically, however, baccarat does not really deserve this intimidating reputation. It has a low house edge, and it is not all that hard to learn. Indeed, it is so simple that Ian Fleming managed to write an entire primer for it into Casino Royale (in the book, Bond played baccarat, not Texas Hold’em as the film depicts).
The reason that baccarat is quite simple is that none of your actions impact the outcomes. All you are doing is observing and interpreting and placing bets on the player or the banker. Player, Banker and Tie are the only bets you can place, so you do not need to worry so much about complicated rules with baccarat—just concentrate on your strategy.
Online baccarat is easier to learn in some ways because you do not have so many distractions getting in your way. There is no roped-off table, no players shouting, and no pressure to make your bet quickly. If you have been too intimidated to approach the roped-off table at your local casino, you may very well feel more comfortable learning baccarat online.
- Know the odds with each type of bet. The banker bet is 1.06% and the player bet is 1.24%. So the house edge is lower on the banker bet, but still quite low with the player bet.
- You do have the option to bet on a tie, but in general, this should be avoided. Ties are not likely at all, and the house edge is ridiculous: 14.36%. It simply does not make sense to take this wager.
- As with other online casino games where strategy comes into play, look for patterns and play free before you play with real money. This will help you develop methods to win.
- Know that baccarat is not a game only for high rollers. Especially online, you will find many baccarat games which you can play with low stakes.
The Bottom Line: You might think that baccarat is a difficult or complicated game because the table is roped off at your local casino. But this is not the case; it is actually quite simple. You can learn the basics fast, so do not let it daunt you.
Conclusion: You Now Know More About the Most and Least Intimidating Casino Games
You now know a lot more about both the most and least daunting games in the casino. Hopefully that means you now find quite a few of these games approachable—even some of those like baccarat or Pai-Gow Poker which you may have believed in the past to be quite intimidating. Some games like Omaha Poker do deserve their daunting reputations, but many more are much more simple than they appear. So if you have been holding back, dive on it—the online environment is perfect for learning without distractions, and you should soon master the basics of all of these great games!
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