However, casino poker doesn’t just refer to one game; it’s a game category. There are several different casino poker games you can choose from, and some even come with a progressive jackpot. In this casino poker guide from GoodLuckMate, we’ll explain all of the most popular games, we’ll guide you through how to play casino poker, and of course, we’ll also tell you the best strategies for maximizing your chances of winning.
Casino Poker – Playing poker against a dealer
The big difference between casino and regular poker is that with casino poker, you’re not playing against other players, you’re playing against the dealer. If you play live casino poker, you may be playing at the same table as other players, but what they have in their hands won’t impact your chances of winning because everyone's battle is against the dealer. This means there can be several winners at the table, and there’s no communal pot to win. Your winnings are based only on your own bets.
As in any other casino card game where the player plays against the dealer, like blackjack, the dealer plays according to the house rules. There’s no option for the dealers to choose how to play their hands since they simply play by the rules set down in the game and by the casino. This also means that many of the strategies you’ll normally use in “real” poker, such as bluffing and adjusting your bets based on the way you read other players, don’t apply here. In this sense, casino poker is much more a game of luck than a game of skill when compared to playing poker against other players.
Whenever you play a card game, the cards you have are referred to as a hand. This doesn’t necessarily only mean the cards that are dealt to you; it can also include communal cards, if these cards are used in the game you’re playing. For instance, if you play Texas Hold’em Poker, each player has two cards that are unique to their own hand and all of the players share five communal cards, from which they can choose three to make up the rest of their hand. One of the most common questions new poker players have is how poker hands are ranked and which poker hand is the best. The answers to these questions can vary a bit based on the type of poker you play, especially when it comes to casino poker.
A “normal” poker hand consists of five cards, but in some versions of the game, such as 3-Card Poker, your poker hand will only have three cards. However, the rankings of the hands are usually more or less the same, even though not all hands can be achieved in all games.
Standard poker hand rankings
In poker, the card suits usually aren’t ranked, so it makes no difference whether you have diamonds, hearts, spades or clubs. If the game you’re playing includes an added ranking for the suits, this will be clearly stated in the game rules, and it will usually also be visible on the table felt. The standard poker hand rankings are as follows:
#1: Royal Flush
A, K, Q, J, and 10, all from the same suit.
#2: Straight Flush
Five consecutive cards from the same suit, such as 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of hearts.
#3: Four of a kind
Four of the same card value, such as Aces from all four suits.
#4: Full House
Three cards of the same value and two cards of the same value, such as 6, 6, 6 and 8, 8.
Five cards from the same suit, such as 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, and Q of hearts.
Five consecutive cards, such as 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 from any suit.
#7: Three of a kind
Three cards of the same value, such as Aces from three different suits.
#8: Two Pair
Two sets of pairs (cards of the same value), such as A, A and 9, 9.
Two cards of the same value, such as two Aces.
#10: High Card
If no other poker hands are obtained, the highest card will win, starting with the Ace as the highest.
Casino Hold’em is basically where you play Texas Hold’em Poker against the dealer. All players and the dealer start off with two cards each. The rest of the cards you need to make up a poker hand of five cards are communal cards.
You start the game round by placing an Ante bet, which is the bet for participating in the game round. You are dealt two cards facedown, and three communal cards, known as the Flop, are dealt faceup on the table. At this point, you can choose to also place a Call bet, which is double the Ante bet. If you, or any other player, chooses to place a Call bet, the dealer will add two more cards to the communal cards, the Turn and River card.
Once all of the cards are on the table, the dealer must qualify for the game to continue. The dealer qualifies by having a poker hand of one Pair made up of fours or better. If the dealer does not qualify, the Ante bet pays according to the paytable. Any Call bet you’ve placed is considered a push, which means the bet is returned to you. If the dealer qualifies and has the best hand between you, the dealer wins. Payouts are made for the game according to the paytable for both Ante and Call bets.
Payouts for a winning hand in Casino Hold’em aren’t made for just winning the round; the size of the payout is determined according to the hand you have when you win. The better the hand, the higher the payout you’ll receive. You can always check the game’s paytable in the game or on the table felt.
Progressive poker jackpot
Texas Hold’em Poker is the most popular of the poker games, which makes Casino Hold’em a natural player favorite. But, this isn’t the only thing that makes this version of casino poker so popular since you can also find games with an extra feature: a side bet for a jackpot.
The side bet for the progressive jackpot is placed at the same time as the Ante bet, meaning before any cards are dealt. This bet is added in its entirety to the progressive jackpot. To win the jackpot, you’ll need to get a Royal Flush in a hand where you’ve chosen to place this side bet. Since getting a Royal Flush is no easy task, the jackpot can become massive, and Evolution Gaming, a game provider that offers Casino Hold’em Poker with just this type of jackpot, has estimated that it can get as big as 30 million euros! This means you could win even more from this poker jackpot than from the big global progressive jackpots found in online slots.
Caribbean Stud Hold’em
Another casino poker game that features a progressive jackpot is Caribbean Stud Poker. It’s common to find this as an automated poker game where you play against a machine, the way you do with slots. However, it’s also among the three most common games you can find as a live table game, along with Casino Hold’em and 3 Card Poker. The difference between Casino Hold’em Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker, or Casino Stud Poker as the game is also known, is that Casino Hold’em is based on Texas Hold’em Poker while Caribbean Stud Poker is based on Five Card Stud.
As in Five Card Stud Poker, there are no communal cards since both the dealer and the players get five cards each, and these cards are the only ones that can be used to create a poker hand. The game starts with all players placing an Ante bet, after which the cards are dealt. The dealer will then reveal one of their cards. An additional bet can be placed by the players, and once they’ve done this the dealer will reveal all of his or her cards to see if they qualify for the game round or not. To qualify, the dealer has to have a poker hand with a Pair, both an Ace and a King, or better. If the dealer fails to qualify, the player is paid 1:1 for the Ante bet, and all other bets are simply returned.
If the dealer qualifies, the dealer's hand is compared to the player’s hand, and the best hand wins. If you beat the dealer, you’ll be paid according to the paytable. The better your hand, the bigger your payout. The maximum payout you can normally get is for a Royal Flush, which usually pays 100:1.
Casino Jackpot Five-Card Stud Poker
While you can find variations on Caribbean Stud Poker without a jackpot, a jackpot is normally part of this game. To differentiate between games that offer a progressive jackpot and ones that don’t, some casinos call the jackpot version Casino Jackpot Five Card Stud Poker, but at online casinos, they usually just call it Caribbean Stud Poker and mark it with Jackpot so it’s easily recognizable. To play for the jackpot, you’ll have to place a side bet during the round you’re playing. This is an optional bet you can choose to add when you place your Ante bet. The side bet won’t have any impact on the winnings you’ll get from beating the dealer; it’s only valid for betting on the jackpot.
To win the big progressive jackpot, which can reach millions of euros, you’ll need to get a Royal Flush. If you manage to get one, and you’ve chosen to place a bet on the jackpot, you’ll get the whole jackpot. Some tables may also offer a 10% payout from the jackpot if you get a Straight Flush as your poker hand.
Since the side bet you make on the jackpot has nothing to do with the game you have going against the dealer, you’ll have a chance to win the jackpot even if the dealer doesn’t qualify. Normally, the player’s cards won’t be revealed unless the dealer qualifies, but if the dealer doesn’t qualify and you’ve bet on the Caribbean Stud Poker jackpot, your cards will be revealed anyway to check if you have either a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush. That way, whether or not you win the jackpot isn’t dependent on the dealer's hand at all.
3 Card Poker
The online game 3 Card Poker is, perhaps more than any other version of casino poker, a game of chance. The game is based on normal Five Card Poker, but your hand only consists of three cards. This, of course, means the 3 Card Poker rules are a bit different than they are in most other versions of casino poker since the best hands can’t be achieved. Here is a ranked list of the poker hands that you can get in this poker card game:
#1: Straight Flush
Three consecutive cards from the same suit, such as 4, 5, and 6 of hearts.
#2: Three of a kind
Three cards with the same value, such as Aces from three different suits.
Three consecutive cards, such as 6, 7, and 8, from any suit.
Three cards from the same suit, such as 2, 5, and 10 of hearts.
Two cards of the same value, such as two Aces.
#6: High Card
If no other poker hands are obtained, the highest card will win, starting with Ace as the highest.
How to play 3 Card Poker
The first thing that happens when you start a game round is that you place your Ante bet. Once this is done, you’ll be dealt three cards, and the dealer will get three cards. Once you’ve checked your cards, you can either fold or call. If you fold, you forfeit your ante bet, and the game round is over. If you choose to call, you’ll have to place a new bet, also called a play bet, and this bet is double the amount of the ante. Once you’ve done this, all of the cards on the table will be revealed, but before the cards are compared, the dealer must see if they qualify for the game round or not.
To qualify, the dealer needs to have a queen high card or a better hand. If the dealer does not qualify, your ante will pay 1:1, but no winnings from the call bet will be paid out. If the dealer does qualify, the hands are compared. If you lose, you lose your bets, and if you win you’ll get paid 1:1 for both your ante and call bets. The fact that there’s no paytable in this game means that it doesn’t matter what you have in your hand when you win as long as it’s better than the dealer’s hand.
There aren’t really any 3 Card Poker strategies that are worth mentioning since luck is your best bet in this game. However, if you want to make things a bit more exciting, you can also place side bets. At least this is something offered at most tables. The most common bet is the Pair Plus bet, which means you’re betting that you’ll get a pair or better.
Mississippi Stud Poker
What sets Mississippi Stud Poker apart from most other casino poker games is that you don’t play against a dealer. It is still a house-banked game, meaning your opponent is the casino and not other players. But you won’t have to beat the dealer to win. The only thing that matters is how good your poker hand is, since you’re basically playing against a paytable. When you play Mississippi Stud online, it’s almost like playing video poker. Actually, you might find digital versions like this at online casinos as well. These machines can also be a great way to learn the game because, in video poker, you can play Mississippi Stud for free, as long as you choose the demo version of the video poker slot.
How to play Mississippi Stud
As in many other types of poker, each player in Mississippi Stud Poker gets two cards, and the rest of the cards that you’ll need to make up a hand are communal cards that are dealt on the table. The communal cards are dealt face down and revealed one by one. You place an ante bet before you get any cards, and if you choose to continue playing the round after your cards are dealt, and the first communal card is revealed, you can place additional bets. The player may choose to bet more before each new card is revealed. Once all the three communal cards are face-up, your hand is compared to a paytable, which determines whether or not you win, and how much.
Not all hands will generate a win because none of the lower valued poker hands pay out. Some hands may give you a push (meaning you’ll get your bet back), while others pay 1:1. The best hand is, of course, a Royal Flush, and this pays 500:1! However, getting a Royal Flush is not something most poker players experience often, at least not when they’ve only got 5 cards to make up a hand.
Pai Gow Poker
For new players, the rules of Pai Gow Poker might seem a bit daunting. Compared to normal casino card games like Stud Poker, the rules are a bit complicated because they contain so many different elements. The first thing you should know about how to play Pai Gow is that you play with two hands, but they’re not two different hands. Instead, they’re two hands you need to use to make up one winning poker hand.
In total, you’ll have seven cards, which you’ll have to combine to get one hand with five cards and another hand with two cards. The hand with five cards has to be better than the one with two cards. The two combinations in your hands will then have to be good enough to beat the dealer, which is who you’re trying to beat when you play the normal version of Pai Gow Poker online. However, you might also find tables where one of the players acts as the banker, or co-banker alongside the dealer. The only exception to the standard poker hand rankings in Pai Gow is that there’s also a joker, and this joker can be used in place of any card to make up a straight or a flush, or it can act as an ace.
The game itself can be played simply using the rules mentioned above, but this is not a true version of the game. Since this game is based on a Chinese dominoes game, there are, of course, other elements that need to be in place in the real version of Pai Gow.
The dragon and the dice
The dice in Pai Gow Poker are used to determine the order in which the cards are being dealt. When you play at an online casino, there may be a random number generator determining this order instead of dice. However, the real version uses three dice, and the positions are found by counting the table spots counter-clockwise to find the position of where the cards will start being dealt from on the table.
Some casinos operate using a Dragon Hand. This is an extra hand consisting of seven cards that will be used to make the two hands of five and two cards, according to the house rules. To have a dragon hand, there needs to be a free spot at the table because the cards are taken from the pile of cards dealt to the free spot or spots. Choosing to play the dragon cards, of course, requires you to place additional bets on this hand.
If you’re still not satisfied with the complexity of this game, at some tables you may also be able to place extra side bets. These can be bets about which hand you’ll get or bets for all seven cards as a poker hand. Some versions even have a progressive jackpot you can play for.
Since this game is quite complicated compared to other casino poker games, we recommend that new and inexperienced players start by playing free Pai Gow Poker. You can normally do this by playing a digital game that allows you to play a free Pai Gow demo game. By playing a demo game, you can learn all the rules and try out the side bets without the risk of losing any of your own money.
Video Poker at online casinos
When you play video poker, you’re basically playing casino poker on a digital machine. At online casinos, these games can sometimes be found in a separate category in the game lobby, but they can also be found either combined with the table games or slots. However, the most correct grouping for these games, in our opinion, would be to include them with the table games.
In reality, there’s no difference between casino poker and video poker, except that normal casino poker can be played against a real dealer in a live casino while video poker is always a fully digital game. That being said, you might find quite a few additional versions of video poker. Even though the full version of casino poker can be played on a machine, you can also find other games. Often you’ll play with fewer cards, simpler rules, or less advanced betting options.
There are, in fact, some video poker games where all you need to have is a better high card than the machine pulls up for the “dealer” in the game. Guessing whether the next card will be higher or lower is another option built into some of the games you’ll find, although, in reality, this has little to do with poker. If we were to generalize about what distinguishes poker, casino poker and video poker, we would say that in the video versions, you play against a paytable, which means your cards are the only thing that matters, and basically, there’s no opponent that you need to beat.
Some of the most popular video poker games you can find at most online casinos are Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, Aces and Faces and All American.