CASINO BEGINNERS

A Brief Guide to Traditional Casino Table Games for Beginners

Gambling is rooted in the history of humankind. Since the beginning of civilization, gambling has been around and served multiple purposes. In ancient Greece, when wealthy people were about to make a difficult decision they would have gone to the Oracle for guidance. Priests would have tossed a die and the result would have interpreted as a sign from gods. Later, ancient Romans used to bet on fights between gladiators or between Christians and lions.

From those days, a lot water has gone under the bridge and gambling changed dramatically and refashioned itself from being a distraction for the aristocracy to a widespread entertainment experience accessible to most of the population.

In today's world, if you get into a casino - either land-based or internet-based - most of the space is populated by slots and video-poker machines, as they are easy to play and offer an affordable and contemporary gaming experience for any type of player, from the most polished to the beginner.

But traditional games are still there and if you want to get a flavour of how the wealthy used to amuse themselves back in past, you will find below a "gambling for dummies" guide, that lets you familiarize with the rules of some of the most traditional casino games.  We hope you will enjoy this and, of course, do not hesitate to let us know your thoughts or suggestions.

ROULETTE

Roulette is a simple game to play: players merely try to guess which number will occur as the outcome of the spin of a ball around a numbered wheel. There are two types of wheels: the double-zero, common in the United States; and the single-zero, favored in Europe.

 

The double-zero wheel contains 38 pockets, numbered 1 through 36, 0 and 00. Of those numbered 1-36, 18 are red and 18 are black. The 0 and 00 are green. The single-zero wheel lacks the 00, and so has only 37 numbers. The game is played the same regardless of which wheel is used, the only difference is that in the single-zero wheel players have greater chances to win. To play the game, players wager on a number, color, parity, or a combination of numbers.

Normally, the dealer spins the wheel counterclockwise and releases a small ball clockwise on a track on the upper portion of the wheel. When the ball loses its momentum, it drops, bounces, and settles into one of the numbered pockets. Players win or lose depending on whether the winning number was among those that they selected with their wagers. 

Below you will find the pay-off table summarizing the different pay-off players may get from their winning-wagers:

Type of Bet                            Pay-off

Straight up (1 number)                     35 to 1

Split (2 numbers)                               17 to 1

Street (3 numbers)                            11 to 1

Corner (4 numbers)                            8 to 1

Five number bets (5 numbers)         6 to 1

Double street or line (6 numbers)   5 to 1

Dozens/Columns (12 numbers)       2 to 1

Red/Black/Odd/Even/High/Low       1 to 1

CRAPS

Craps is played by betting on the outcome of a roll of a pair of dice. The roll is determined as the sum of the values of the two dice thrown except for certain bets such as hardways, which depend on the particular value of the individual die.

There is a myriad of possible wagers that can be made, each with different odds and pay-off.  Some of the most popular are reported below:

The Pass Line: When a game or new round of play begins, the roll is called the "come-out" roll. A bet on the pass line wins even money if the come-out roll is a 7 or a 11 and loses if it is a 2, 3, or 12. If any other number is rolled, this number becomes the "point". Once a point is established, the pass wager is not resolved until the point is rolled again or a 7 is rolled. If the point is rolled a second time before a 7, the pass line wager wins even money. If a 7 occurs before the point is rolled a second time, the pass line wager loses. After a point is established, a bet on the pass line cannot be removed or reduced, although it may be increased. This latter move is unfavourable to the player, since the advantage on the pass line bet is on the come-out roll, and the odds are against the pass line bet once a point is established. 

Come Bet: The come bet gives the player the opportunity to make what is essentially a pass line bet on any roll after a point is established. A come bet turns the next roll of the dice into a come-out roll after a point is established. A come bet turns the next roll of the dice into a come-out roll that wins on a 7 or 11, loses on a 2, 3, or 12; and otherwise establishes a point that will win if the point number is rolled again before a 7 and will lose if a 7 is rolled before the point. Multiple bets can be made, each establishing its own point and each paying off according to whether or not the point is made.

Field Bet: The field is a bet that the next roll will be a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. The payoff is typically 2 to 1 for 2 or 12, and even money for 3, 4, 9, 10, or 11.

Big 6 and Big 8: The Big 6 is a bet that the 6 will roll before a 7; the big 8 is that the 8 will roll before the 7.

 

Place and Don't Place Bets: A place bet on one of the point numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is a bet that the number will roll before a 7. A don't place bet is the opposite of a place bet - it's a bet that a 7 will roll before the number.

 

Hardways: There are four hardway wagers: hard 4, hard 6, hard 8, and hard 10. A hardway is a wager that the selected number will roll with doubles (both die the same) before the number is rolled any other way or a 7 is rolled. For example, a hard 6 wins if 3-3 comes up before an easy 6 (1-5, 5-1, 2-4, or 4-2) or a 7. Pay-offs are 7 to 1 for hard 4 and hard 10, and 9 to 1 for hard 6 and hard 8.  

An example of dice of dice table is reported below for illustrative purposes:

BLACKJACK

Blackjack, or "21", is the most popular casino game. Blackjack popularity stems from its simple play, the fact that the player to some extent can guide his or her own destiny, the correct perception that the game can be beaten, and the camaraderie among players in a friendly competition against the casino. The objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer by having a total higher than the dealer's without exceeding 21. The object is not, as some people think, to get as close to 21 as possible.

 

Cards 2 through 10 are worth their face value, face cards (jacks, queens, and kings) are worth 10, and aces can be counted as either 1 or 11. Card suits are meaningless.

 

The value of hand is the total of the values  of the individual cards making up the hand. The name of the game is derived from the best possible hand, an ace-ten combination on the first two cards. The combination, called a blackjack or natural, totls 21 and is unbeatable. A dealer blackjack beats all player hands, even those with three or more cards totalling 21, except a player who also received a natural on the first two cards.

A "hard hand" is one that either does not contain an ace or if it does, the ace counts as 1. A "soft hand" is one that contains an ace counted as 11. For instance, A-6 is a soft 17, A-2-3 is a soft 16, A-6-8 is a hard 15, and 9-7 is a hard 16. When a hand value exceeds 21, it is busted. Hands with hard totals of 12 through 16 are known as "stiff hands", because these hands can be busted by drawing an additional card. Hands totalling 17 though 21 are called "pat hands" - generally players will stand pat with these totals.

To begin the game each player makes a bet, the dealer then deals each player, starting with the player on the dealer's left and one card to him- or herself. This is repeated so that each player and the dealer have two cards. One of the dealer's cards is face up (up card) and the other is face down (hole card). 

If the dealer's up card is and ace, he or she may offer the players insurance, an optional side bet on whether the dealer has a natural. Players may wager up to one-half their original bet. If the dealer has a natural (hole card is ten), insurance bets are paid 2 to 1 and then the oridinal hands are settled. If the dealer does not have a natural, insurance bets are lost and play of the hands proceeds as usual.

 

If the dealer's up card is a ten, he/she will check the hole card to see if he or she has a natural before proceeding. If the dealer has a natural, all players' hands lose, except if a player also has a natural, in which case it's a push (tie) and that player neither wins nor loses. If the dealer does not have a natural, play then proceeds as usual.

If the dealer does not have a natural, then beginning with the player in the dealer's left, each player completes his hand by excercising one of the following options: stand, hit, double down, split, or surrender.

A player may stand if satisfied with the original two-card total or may choose to hit by taking an additional card to try to improve the total. The player can take as many cards as he likes until the total exceeds 21 (called busting or breaking), or the player is satisfied with the total and stands. If the players has a natural (blackjack), he is immediately paid 3 to 2 on the initial bet. If the player busts, he automatically loses the wager.

 

The double down option allows the player to double the original wager in favorable situations. When the option is excercised, the player receives one, and only one, additional card. The hand is settled in the usual way with pay-outs or losses based on the new total wager. Most casinos allow the player to double down on any first two cards, although this can vary. Most double downs are played when the player has 9, 10, or 11. Restrictions on doubling down decrease the advantage the player may get in terms of chances to win.

 

If the players' first two cards are equal in value, he may elect to split the pair and play two independent hands, each starting with one of the original two cards. The player will place an amount equal the original wager to cover the second hand. Each hand is played as usualm exceot that split aces receive only one card each (and if this card is a ten, the total is 21 but it is not a natural).

 

Surrender is an option that allows the player, after seeing the first two cards and before taking any other action, to forfeit half the original wager, rather than playing-out the hand.

 

Once all players have finished their hands, the dealer plays his own hand. The dealer has no options in playing the hand and must adhere to a fixed set of rules. These rules usually require the dealer to hit all hard totals of 16 or less and to stand on totals of 17 or more. If the dealer does not bust, the dealer's hand is compared with each of the remaining players' hands to resolve their bets. If the player's total exceeds the dealer's total, the player wins - the pay-off is even money for all hands except naturals. If the dealer's total is higher than the player's total, the player's wager is lost. If the totals are equal, the hand is a push (tie).

 

Once all bets are resolved, the cards are cleared, new wagers are made, and the process begins again. 

 

  

BACCARAT

Although the results of consecutive hands in baccarat are mathematically dependent as in blackjack, it is not possible for the player to take advantage of this dependency, and baccarat us for all practical purposes a game of pure chance, unlike blackjack. In addition, it is a relatively easy-game to play since hitting and drawing rules are fixed and no decisions are required (or even possible) once the play beings. Players need only decide whether to bet on the banker or the player (there is also a tie bet).

Play proceeds as follows. After bets are made, two cards are dealt to each side (player and banker). All cards are community cards - there are no individual hands. Face cards and tens are worth zero, aces count as one, and all other cards are worth face value. The total for a hand is the sum of the values of the individual cards in the hand. If the hand totals more than 9, the left digit of the sum is disregarded.

A total of 8 or 9 is called a natural. If either side has a natural, the hand is over and wagers are resolved. If neither side has a natural, a fixed set of rules is applied to determine if either side takes a third card. Once the hands are complete, the side with the higher total wins. If the two sides have equal totals, player and banker bets are a push. The payoff on winning player and banker bets are even money, but a 5 % commission is charged to banker wins. A winning tie bet pays 8 to 1.

 

Baccarat's hitting and standing rules are presented a little below. But as mentioned earlier, since the drawing rules are fixed, baccarat offers no opportunity for strategic decisions as blackjack does. 

 

CARIBBEAN STUD POKER 

Caribbean stud poker is played with a single standard deck of 52 cards and uses the usual five-card hand ranking in poker. players make an ante bet before the cards are dealt and may also make an optional 1$ progressive jackpot side bet. Each player is then dealt five cards face down. The dealer is also dealt five cards, one of which is face up.

Players evaluate their own cards and then either fold and forfeit the ante bet or call the dealer by placing an additional call bet equal to exactly twice the ante. The dealer then turns over his or her other four cards to make a five card poker hand. If the dealer's hand is an ace-king or better, the dealer is said to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify, any player who made the call bet is paid even money on only his ante. If the dealer qualifies, the value of his or her is compared to that of each player who made the call bet. If the dealer wins, the player loses both the call bet and the ante bet. If the player wins, he is paid even money on the ante bet, and the call bet is paid as shown in the list below:

 

HAND                       CALL BET PAYS

 

Royal Flush                       100 to 1

Straight Flush                    50  to 1

Four of a kind                    20 to 1

Full house                           7 to 1

Flush                                    5 to 1

Straight                               4 to 1

Three of a kind                  3 to 1

Two pair                             2 to 1

One pair or less                1 to 1            

 

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