Playing poker against other people is a great past-time activity. There’s nothing quite like watching someone squirm when you are running a massive bluff, and they fold the winning hand.
It is also one of the few games in the casino where your skill overweighs your luck in the long-term.
However, we have all made the mistake of jumping into a tournament when we are not in the mood to play and thus get bored within an hour of registering. Doing this definitely does not qualify as one of the best poker tips, since games can last several hours and some tournaments, even several days, so better be prepared if you are sitting down to play.
Contrary to this, you can choose to try online casino poker games, which offer a nice change of pace when you are not in the mood for a serious session.
These games do have some advantages. You can make these games last as long as you want, and there is no need to wait until the tournament begins, so you can start playing with a few clicks of your mouse whenever you want.
On top of that, you can always call it a day when you have run up your winnings to a level where you are satisfied, or you lost some cash and do not want to continue, which is not an option if you are playing MTTs.
The disparity between online poker and online casino poker is that you are playing against the house rather than actual players.
This means the house will have the edge over you, but you can always research and develop some strategies to reduce it. If you want to increase your chance of success, you should always look to be playing optimally any game that you choose.
Here I’ll explain some of the most popular casino poker formats so that you could have a good idea of what to expect.
Pai Gow Poker
Commonly found in land-based and online casinos, Pai Gow Poker is great if you’re a fan of playing games that are lower in variance.
You are dealt your set of cards an have to form two different hands. To win in this game, you must beat the dealer’s two hands with both of yours.
Pai Gow Poker Rules
You are dealt seven cards in which you need to make two hands, a “front” hand, and a “back” hand.
Your front hand consists of two cards, and the remaining five cards you are holding make up your back hand.
Your back hand must always beat your front hand.
The dealer does the same, but they have their own specific rules that they have to follow.
If both of your hands beat the dealer’s, then you win, and the payout you receive will be 1 to 1. You only lose when the dealer beat both of your hands.
If you only beat one of the dealer’s hands and the dealer beats one of yours, it is a push. This is basically a tie, and your wager is returned to you.
Interestingly, different variations of Pai Gai Poker use the Joker card too. This can be used to replace any card in a flush or a straight. You can also use it as an Ace if you are not looking to make a straight or a flush as your back hand.
In Bonus Pai Gai Poker, it is exactly the same game as explained, except you have the options to make side bets which have different sized pay outs.
You only win the side bet if you are dealt a certain combination. As ever, side bets are -EV, but they can spice up a session and make things more entertaining.
There are many places where you can practice this game, and you can always check Casinotalk.com to find the best option for you.
Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean Stud is the online casino poker game version of 5-Card Stud. If you are already well versed in this poker variant, then you can skip on ahead as there is no explanation necessary.
The only subtle difference is that you are playing the dealer and not other players.
Caribbean Stud Rules
Before you even get any hole cards, all players must place an ante bet. You and whoever else is playing virtually with you will get dealt five cards.
The dealer also receives five cards with one of the cards being face up.
You then have one of two options to make a bet or fold. After the first betting round is over, the dealer then flips over all their cards and compares them to yours and the other player's hands.
Like in most online casino games, the dealer needs to make a qualifying hand for you to win. In this instance, the dealer needs at least AK high.
Even if the dealer does not qualify, you can still win. Each player will get paid 1 to 1 on their initial ante bet, and then their main bet is a push.
If the dealer does qualify and you are still ahead, you will get paid 2 to 1 on your ante bet, and your main bet payout is dependent on the strength of your hand. If the dealer beats you, you lose your bet.
Ultimate Texas Hold’Em
One of the more popular online casino poker games, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, has grown quite rapidly in recent times.
The difference between Ultimate Texas Hold’Em and regular Texas Hold’Em is that players can make three different types of bets. An “ante and blind” bet, “play” bet, and “trips” bet.
Ultimate Texas Hold’Em Rules
You make you ante bet before seeing the flop, and your blind bet is always the same as your ante bet.
If you think you have a strong hand, you can also make a play bet of 3x or 4x your ante.
As a tip, you should always make a 4x play bet if you choose one of these options since making 3x play bets accomplishes very little.
Once you have placed your play bet, the dealer will then deal the flop, turn, and river, and then the dealer will turn all the cards over to see who wins.
You do not have to make a play bet pre-flop, you can also bet on the turn or the river, but these bets are capped at 2x and 1x, respectively.
As always, the dealer needs to make a qualifying hand. In this game, it is at least a pair.
If there is no qualifying hand, the ante bet is a pushed back. A player who beats the dealer wins 1 to 1 on their ante and play bet. You can find the blind bet payout below.
- Royal Flush 500 to 1
- Straight Flush 50 to 1
- Four of a Kind 10 to 1
- Full House 3 to 1
- Flush 3 to 2
- Straight 1 to 1
- All Other Push
The trips bet is similar to a side bet in that it is optional and only pays out if you make three of a kind or higher. Because of this, the payouts are smaller than that of the blind bet you made at the beginning of the hand.
Another game that is hugely popular in land-based and online casinos. In 3-Card Poker, you are dealt your hole cards and must try and make the best three-card combination.
As there are only three cards, the poker hands ranking differentiates slightly from the Texas Hold’Em poker that we love to play.
As always, to win, you need to beat the dealer, but you can always place a pair plus side bet, which allows you to win if you are dealt certain hand types.
The hand ranks for 3-Card Poker are as followed:
- Straight Flush (strongest hand)
- Three of a Kind
- High Card
To play, you need to make an ante bet, a pair plus bet, or both before you get dealt your cards.
The ante bet is a wager on whether you will beat the dealer’s hand. Happy with your hole cards? You can make a play bet that is the same as your ante.
The pair plus bet is paid out if you get dealt a hand that includes a pair or better.
Even if the dealer has a better hand than you, if you have qualified for this bet, then you still win. The payouts for this wager are:
- Straight Flush 40 to 1
- Three of a Kind 30 to 1
- Straight 5 to 1
- Flush 4 to 1
- Pair 1 to 1
There is also another way to win when playing 3-Card Poker, you can be rewarded with the ante bonus.
This is another optional bet and still pays out even if the dealer beats you. This bet pays 1 to 1 on a straight, 4x the ante on three of a kind, and 5x the ante on a straight flush.
Once the betting is finished, the cards are exposed and are compared to see who wins.
The dealer needs at least queen-high to qualify. If the dealer does not meet this, then the casino pays out 1 to 1 for both the ante and the play bet.
While this might sound complicated, it is quite easy to get a hold of this game when you try it.
Russian poker is another game where players are looking to beat the dealer to score a payout.
As is the norm for these online casino poker games, you start the hand by placing an ante bet, and players also do have the option to make an additional side bet in the Jackpot area.
The dealer then deals everyone 5 cards, including themselves, and the dealer's fifth card is turned face up.
After seeing your cards, you can choose to continue playing by placing a bet in the “raise” area or fold your hand.
The raise bet is double the amount of your ante bet.
Players can then also replace one to five cards or buy a sixth by paying a small replacement penalty. You can then again decide if you want to continue with the hand or fold.
The dealer’s qualifying hand in this game is AK high again, and should your 5 card hand beat the dealer’s qualified hand, then you will receive a payout based on the below table:
- 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 Pairs 2 to 1
- A Pair 1 to 1
- Ace King 1 to 1
If your hand, for example, is 7-7-7-A-K, you will receive a payout for both AK high and Three of a Kind. That’s if, of course, Three of a Kind beats the dealer’s hand.
You can also make insurance bets in Russian Poker in an online casino. If you have Three of a Kind or better, you make an insurance bet equivalent to your ante bet and up to 50% of your raise bet.
If the dealer’s hand does not qualify, you will receive a 1 to 1 payout on the insurance bet.
Final Thoughts – Trying Out Online Casino Poker Games
The game of poker is far more than the Texas Hold’Em you would have seen on TV, there is an entire world of different variants for you to explore and poker rules to learn.
So, on your next casino session, why not be the Christopher Columbus of poker and try out any of the variants that you have never heard of before.
They’re a great avenue to explore if you are not in the mood for the grind that traditional poker brings, and with sound enough strategy, you can reduce the edge of the house, which can help you win more often.