While some argue that casino bonuses are the most important part of the online casino experience, we disagree. With no casino games to play, players wouldn't visit an online casino. Whether you're playing for free or at a real money casino, online slots and table games are central to the experience.
What casino games can you expect to find at an online casino, and what are the differences between playing for free and real money?
Your Guide to Online Casino Games
Players will encounter many casino games when they play online. Though not every gaming site will have each of the games below, the majority of online casinos should have at least one version of the games listed below.
Online baccarat is a classic card game with origins going back to the 1400s or even earlier. The most common variant of baccarat in online casinos is Punto Banco. Players bet on whether the player's hand or the dealer's hand will have a higher value, or if there will be a tie.
The goal of baccarat is to get closer to nine than your opponent, with only the single-number digit being counted – tens and face cards have no value ("baccara" is Italian for zero in some dialects).
If you want to play casino games online, you can't go wrong with online blackjack. A dealer deals a two-card hand to themselves and the player. The goal is to beat the value of the dealer's hand without exceeding 21.
Players have several options: take an additional card, take no additional cards, double their bet and take one additional card, split their hand into two hands if they have two cards that are the same value, or surrender and forfeit half their bet. Once the player's turn occurs, the dealer hits until they have a total of at least 17. Sportsbooks and losers are identified based on the final value of the dealer's hand, though if they bust, all players win.
Based on five-card stud poker, Caribbean stud poker is unique in that it is only played against the house. It is also one of the few online casino games to offer a progressive jackpot.
Players ante up, and then they and the dealer receive five cards face-down. The dealer reveals one of their cards, at which point the player can look at their hand and decide if they'd like to play. To do so, players must raise the bet, submitting a bet double that of their initial ante wager. The dealer then reveals their remaining cards, and the game continues if the dealer's hand has an ace, a king, or a pair. The hand is compared against the hands of other players, with individual Sportsbooks and losers being decided and payments made accordingly.
Craps online is a thrilling dice game that may seem complicated due to its fast pace, a high number of betting options, and complex terminology. However, craps is easy to learn and has no strategy requirement.
Players take turns rolling two dice – the player currently throwing the dice is known as the "shooter" – and bets are made based on what a player believes the value of the dice will be. The two basic wagers are "pass" and "don't pass", which are bets on the result of shooter's first throw. If this "come-out" roll produces a 2, 3, or 12, it is called "craps" and anyone with a "pass" wager loses. "Pass" wagers win only on 7 and 11; otherwise, the number rolled establishes the "point". To win the round, the point number must be rolled again before a 7.
Online keno is one of the most popular online casino games, with at least one version of it appearing in most online casinos. Its exact history is unknown, but in the 19th Century, Chinese immigrants brought keno to the United States, where it became popular by the mid-1860s.
As a lottery game, players select up to 20 numbers on a card that typically features 1 through 80, and a random number generator selects the winning numbers. The amount a player wins depends on the number of numbers initially chosen (spots), the number of matches (catches), and the wager.
Pai Gow Poker
While the traditional version of Pai Gow is played with dominoes, it was adapted in 1985 to make use of playing cards.
In Pai Gow Poker, players are given seven cards, with the goal of creating both a five-card hand and a two-card hand to beat the hands created by the banker. The only two-card hands in Pai Gow poker are one pair and high cards, while the five-card hand follows normal poker hand rankings. To win, the player must win both hands; winning only one hand counts as a tie. A tie between two hands favors the banker, so they have a small advantage.
While the structure of the game is the same, online casinos might feature regional variants. Some casinos offer players the opportunity to make an additional bet to play with the "dragon hand", a separate set of cards, effectively allowing them to play twice.
While it's not as popular at land-based casinos as it used to be, Red Dog is found in many US online casinos. Two cards are dealt, and players bet whether the rank of a third card will be between the ranks of the two dealt cards.
If the two dealt cards are sequential, such as a 3 and a 4, player wagers are returned. If the two cards have the same value, a third card is dealt. If this card also has the same value, the payout is 11:1. Otherwise, the wager is returned.
Normally, though, a "spread" is announced of the values between the two dealt cards. If the value of the third card falls between them, the payout is dictated by the size of the spread. Smaller spreads have higher payouts.
First created in France in the 1600s, roulelete is a spinning wheel game in which bets are placed as to where the ball will stop. Online roulette players can bet on individual numbers or groups of numbers, such as whether the ball will land on a red or black space. How many spaces the wheel has depends on which variant you're playing, with European roulette featuring 37 pockets and American roulette having 38.
Similar to craps, the sheer number of potential bets may make roulette seem complex to some. However, roulette is much more straightforward to play, given that you only need to be concerned with one outcome: where the ball stops.
Like keno and Pai Gow, Sic Bo online is Chinese in origin -- its name meaning "precious dice".
Similar to craps, Sic Bo has a number of betting options, though the game is easier to follow. Players place wagers on the table depending on what they think the result of the dice roll will be. The dealer shakes the box containing the three dice before revealing them to the table.
The most common bets are "Big" (the dice rolling any value between 11 and 17) and "Small" (any value between 4 and 10). Players can also bet on what they think the specific value of the rolled dice will be, as well as which numbers appear on the dice. The most unlikely outcome – rolling three fours, fives, or sixes – pays the largest amount in the game, 180:1.
Online slots are the most popular games on casino sites. Dozens of suppliers produce thousands of different slots every year. The majority of any online casino is dedicated to its slots selection, and it's not hard to see why.
Slot machines are simple games, but they offer a surprising variety of gaming experiences. You'll find three-reel slots, five-reel slots, progressive jackpot slots, and hot drop jackpot slots. Each has self-contained bonus features, like free spins and bet multipliers. They also offer countless themes, going all the way from traditional casino symbols to science fiction and fantasy. Cutting-edge slots also feature animations, soundtracks, and 3D graphics.
Slots are also one of the best online casino games for real money, typically offering returns over 90 percent.
Texas Hold'Em is the most popular poker variant, making it one of the most sought-after online casino games. Ultimate Texas Hold'em is a table game based on Texas Holdem rules. Every player is dealt two "hole" cards, and over three stages, five community cards are dealt face-up. The goal of Texas Hold'Em is to create the best five-card poker hand from the seven available cards.
Four betting options are available to players: check (not betting or raising), call (match a bet), raise (increase the size of a bet) and fold (forfeit). Whichever player has the best hand without folding by the end of the betting wins the entire pot, though the pot can be split in the event of a tie.
Video Poker is closely linked with the development of computer technology, with the first version appearing around the same time as the first personal computer. Its popularity exploded in the 1980s because electronics allowed the number of reel symbols and jackpots to increase, thus offering million-dollar prizes.
Most versions of video poker allow players to play 5-Card Draw against the machine. Players are given five cards and the opportunity to discard any of them in exchange for different cards. Afterward, if the hand matches one of the winning combinations, the machine pays out.
The biggest difference between traditional five-card draw poker and video poker is that if a player chooses to do so, they can discard their entire hand for five new cards.
Often thought of as a game for grandparents and children, bingo has made its way into the world of land-based and online casino games. This raffle-style game involves numbers being drawn randomly while players match them to their cards. In bingo halls around the USA, whoever has a full match first is the Sportsbook and gets to yell “Bingo!” at the top of their lungs.
Online bingo breaks this classic game down to its essentials and lets you play it at many online casinos. In online bingo, instead of a caller, all numbers are selected by a random number generator. However, the rules are the same as charitable bingo: numbers are called and, as they are, you mark them off on your card. If you can complete a line or match every number on your card (known as a "blackout" or a "full house"), you win at least a portion of the available jackpot.
Online bingo is unique in payout structure compared to other casino games, because just like in real life, the amount up for grabs can sometimes depend on how many tickets have been sold for that particular game.
Live Dealer Casino Games
One of the most interesting developments in online gambling in recent years has been the emergence of live dealer games. Also known as live casino games, these games copy the experience of playing in a land-based casino from the comfort of your home.
A dealer controls the action from a table in a studio, which is then broadcast over the internet to the participating players. Players can make bets and decisions in real-time, just as they would if they were actually standing in front of the dealer.
Live dealer games may seem like a bit of a novelty, but the format also creates opportunities to play games that you wouldn't typically find at an online casino. One popular live dealer game is a version of the game show Deal or No Deal; another, Dream Catcher, is similar to Wheel of Fortune. They are also the only way that you can play most online casino games with other players, though not every game has a live dealer equivalent.
As opposed to other online casino games, live dealer games can only be played for real money. This is because every player needs to contribute to the total amount that can be won, and it wouldn't be fair if some players didn't have to. However, if only to try, it is an experience that is absolutely worth paying for.
Comparing Table Games at Online Casinos
|Table Game||Common Variants||Type of Player|
|Online Slots||Progressive Slots, 5-Reel Video Slots||Players Who Like Big Jackpots, Don't Like Strategy|
|Online Roulette||European Roulette, Live Roulette||Wide Range of Bets and Payouts, No Strategy Required|
|Online Baccarat||Punto Banco, Live Roulette||Good House Edge, No Strategy Required|
|Online Blackjack||Classic Blackjack, Perfect Pairs, Pontoon||Players Who Like Strategy and the Lowest House Edge|
|Online Craps||Classic Craps, Live Craps||Players Who Like Dice Games, Good House Edge, & No Strategy|
|Online Keno||Classic Keno, Keno Draw||Players Who Like Lottery Games, Big Jackpots, No Strategy|
No-download casinos are any casino that you can play at without needing to download games or software to your computer. In the past, you may have needed to download and install large pieces of software to play casino games. However, the majority of modern casinos will allow you to play right in your internet browser, with no download needed.
Despite the convenience of not needing to download anything in order to play casino games, no-download casinos require a persistent internet connection to play at. If you're playing on mobile, or in an area with poor internet service, playing at a no-download casino may be more difficult than downloading software. That said, no-download casinos allow a wide range of customers to access casino games, and they offer the fastest way to get started.
Free Casino Games
More online casinos feature free casino games these days. When you play in practice mode, you don't make a real money wager or win prize money, but you also don't risk cash.
To play free online casino games, simply click on the game icon, then choose "Practice Mode" when prompted.
In many cases, you don't need to make an account with a casino. Instead, just click on the game and start playing. The demo game offers $1000 to $10,000 in credits for your practice session.
Playing online casino games for free is a promotional tool for casino sites. Many players end up playing the real money version of the game, once they learn the controls and the game rules.
Playing Casino Games For Free vs For Real Money
No wager means no risk, but many players want the thrills of real money casino games. Also, anyone who wants to play live dealer games must make real money bets, because the games use real-life dealers who are on the clock.
Players should remember that they receive welcome bonuses when making a first deposit, so you'll receive free bonus cash that's added to your bankroll. Thus, every player has a chance to collect real money winnings without using their bankroll. Either way, play at a real money casino today and experience the best online casino games.
Licensed and Legal Online Casinos vs Offshore Online Casinos
Players will hear a lot about legal online casinos versus unregulated offshore casino sites. What you might not know is what the differences and similarities between these sites are. Here's a quick primer to help new players understand the differences between licensed and unlicensed online casinos.
|Legal and Licensed Online Casinos||Offshore Online Casinos|
|Licensed by US Regulators||Licensed by Foreign Regulators|
|Legal Protections for US Players||No Legal Protections.|
|Self-Exclusion Options||No Self-Exclusion Option|
|Access to Problem Gambling Hotlines||Bigger Deposit Bonuses|
|Games from World Famous Software Providers||More Limited Software Options|
Casino Games FAQ
What is the hardest game at a casino?
The hardest games to learn are blackjack and video poker, because they have strategy elements. The hardest games to win are slots and Keno, which have a lower house edge.
What casino game has the best odds for a payout?
The game with the best odds for a payout is blackjack, with a house edge of just 1%. Video poker also has a low house edge -- often under 1%.
What is the best time of day to win at a casino?
Some believe that casinos change the payout of games to generate wins during peak hours and encourage more spending. By law, casinos must wait several minutes after changing a game's RTP before allowing someone to play, so odds don't change at random times all day.
Do slots pay more at night?
Slot machines do have a tendency to pay out more at night, but that's because casinos have more visitors at night. More visitors means more players, which means more Sportsbooks. It doesn't matter what time of day you play in an online casino, though.
What are the types of games played in a casino?
Land-based casinos feature slot machines, video poker, table games, and keno. Table games include blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and craps. These sites often feature a bingo hall and poker room.
Online casinos feature all of the same games, plus online scratch cards, Sic Bo, and various table poker games (Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud, Caribbean Holdem, Red Dog).
What are the most popular games to play at a casino?
The most popular game in any casino is a slot machine. Slots generate 70% of the revenues for American land-based casinos and more than 50% of online casino revenues. Table games like blackjack, roulette, and craps are quite popular, too. In Asian casinos, baccarat is the most popular game.
Which casino game is the most fun?
That depends on your personal taste. If you like fun themes, bright lights, cool sounds, and huge jackpots, then slots should appeal to you. If you prefer strategy and skill, you'll prefer blackjack or video poker.
If you prefer no strategy but a low house edge, craps or baccarat is your game. If you prefer no strategy with medium-sized payouts, then you'll like roulette.
What's the best free casino game?
The best free casino game is one that introduces players to a realistic version of the game they intend to play. For instance, if you want to learn about an online slots game, it's best to go to an online casino and play the practice mode version of the game.
Free online slots at casino sites use the same software, game controls, and gameplay as the real money slots game.
Can I play at a casino online for real money?
Yes, but remember that you'll encounter legal and licensed online casinos as well as offshore online casinos. Learn how to spot the regulated casino sites and only play at those licensed by US gambling regulators.
What casino games can I play online for real money?
All casino games are available for real money play online. Any game you'd find in a brick-and-mortar casino is available as a real money online casino game, plus a few others. Sites have hundreds of slots, plus dozens of table games like blackjack, roulette, and craps.
Most have live dealer versions of baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. The specialty games section has games you wouldn't find in many land-based casinos: scratch cards, Keno, Bingo, arcade games, and skill games.
Can I play online slots for real money?
Absolutely. Real money online slots are the most popular and widespread game at online casinos. Many sites partner with multiple software providers so they can offer a wide selection of slot games.
Some have a dozen or more providers, so players can choose from a full list of 5-reel video slots, 3-reel classics, licensed slots, 3D slots, Hot Jackpot slots, and progressive slots.