Skills-based online casino games
It’s the number one rule of gambling, and one that we keep emphasising over and over again – playing casino games is all about luck, chance, and random outcomes. There’s no way to influence games in your favour, and no way to predict a win, so just have fun and don’t ever become too attached to the outcome of a game.
However, there’s an exception to every rule, and here’s the exception for this one. When it comes to skills-based casino games it is possible to reduce the house edge in your favour and gain an advantage. How? Read on and find out.
What are skills-based online casino games?
You’re familiar with slots, right? These action-packed games are the very definition of non-skills-based casino games – essentially games where no skill is required whatsoever. All you need to do is sit down, hit the bet button, and let the reels fall where they may. Yes, you’ll need to decide on a bet size and you’ll need to manage your bankroll responsibly in order to stay in the game, but there are no complex rules or strategies needed in order to play. Which is why slots are so ideal for beginners, and why they’re so endlessly entertaining as well.
By contrast, skills-based games do require more effort and more understanding – however if you’re able to develop your skills and play with strategy in mind, you could soon find your expertise being rewarded as a result. Games like Blackjack, Video Poker and Texas Hold’em can help give you an advantage over the house if you become skilled enough at them, and the more experienced you become, the more you could ultimately win, and win big.
Why are skills-based casino games popular?
Isn’t it obvious? Everyone loves getting one over on the house, and there’s no better feeling than taking on the casino and coming out a winner. It’s sheer exhilaration, and it’s heady stuff.
But it’s not just that feeling of validation that makes skills-based games so exciting – it’s the challenge they present as well. Yes, slots games are hugely engaging and offer all the thrills you could want in a casino game due to their unpredictability. But it’s the sheer excitement of you going head-to-head against the house in a battle of wits that makes skills-based games so appealing. Here the outcome isn’t wholly dependent on luck (although this will always be a factor) – there’s skill involved as well. Which means if you know what you’re doing, you could take down the house and take home a tidy sum for your efforts.
Are skills-based casino games easy to learn?
Obviously that depends – both on how quickly you’re able to pick up the rules, and on the amount of time you’re able to dedicate to playing. Learning the rules is one thing – practising them is another. And while there is an element of aptitude involved, repetition and practice will always contribute significantly to your overall expertise.
So what does that mean? Basically that if you’re interested in learning a skills-based game, and you’re prepared to put in the time, there’s no reason why you can’t excel at it. Yes, skills-based games may take longer to learn and to master than simpler games such as slots, but you’ll get out what you’re willing to put in. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, and while there’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to online casino gambling, the more you know and the more skilled you are, the better your chances of winning.
Which skills-based games should I be learning?
That all depends on which games you like the most – obviously the more you enjoy a certain game, the more likely you are to want to keep playing it and improving your performance. The most popular skills-based casino games include:
1. Poker. While there are many variations of Poker available online, by far the one that’ll see you dominating the most is Texas Hold’em. Learn enough to be able to convince other players that you have the best hand, and you’ll walk away with the pot time and time again. That’s because Poker isn’t just a game of cards, it’s a game of behaviour, and the more you can learn to read other players’ behaviour, and make the most out of the cards you’re dealt, the more you’ll come out on top.
Of course, reading other players is far easier in a real-life environment where you can actually see them, and learn their tells. However, with practice it’s possible to hone these skills in an online environment as well – paying attention to how long players take to make a decision, watching their chat responses for any potential giveaways, and using any behavioural clues you can find to inform your own responses and decision-making.
2. Blackjack. A fascinating blend of chance and skill, Blackjack is by far one of the most popular skills-based games at any online casino – and if you become accomplished enough at it, you could succeed in reducing the house edge to almost zero. Why? Because at its heart, Blackjack is one of the simplest games there is – just you and the dealer playing against each other for a card hand value of 21, without going over. It’s easy enough to learn, however if it’s a game at which you want to excel, that’s where a little higher grade mathematics comes in.
If you’re someone who’s able to keep track of the cards by either counting them or tracking them through the shuffle, this could put you at a significant advantage. Additionally, using basic Blackjack strategy charts could also help further your cause – and even better, you’ll be able to keep your strategy charts with you when you play, to help you out. It’s important to note that card counting and shuffle tracking, while not illegal, are a grey area in most brick and mortar casinos, so discretion is often the wisest course of action. Keep your head down, and you could soon be reaping the rewards!
3. Video Poker. Many players often overlook video poker in favour of slot machines, and it’s a shame as there’s a secret to video poker you may not know: tried and trusted strategies will help you beat the house.
That’s right – video poker could turn out to be one of your biggest money spinners ever, and all thanks to a few simple strategies. That’s because unlike regular Poker, where you’re facing off against the player rather than their hand, your success in video poker is completely dependent on the strength of the hand you’re able to put together.
This is where strategy charts come in. Available in both basic and advanced depending on your skill level, strategy charts lay out the best way to play each individual variety of video poker game – so all you have to do is follow the guidelines laid out, play the right strategy for the right game, and you could have the machines paying out more than 100% to you, making video poker play hugely profitable in the long run.
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is – however you’ll need to stick to the strategy in order to come out on top. Many players become bored with the strategies set out, and deviate from them to their own detriment. Don’t be tempted to try any potentially risky strategies of your own – stay the course, keep to the plan, and your bankroll could soon be reaping the benefits!
4. Baccarat. If it’s ease of play you’re after, there are few games that can match the simplicity of Baccarat. That’s because in this game, the dealer does all the work, dealing two hands of cards known as the ‘Dealer’ (or ‘Banker’) and the ‘Player’ and leaving you with just one decision to make – which hand to bet on.
It’s here where the skill component comes in – not assessing the value of the hand, as in Blackjack, but in knowing which hand to back instead. What’s more, while there are two hands on the table to bet on, there are actually three potential outcomes in every game of Baccarat – whether the Dealer hand will win, whether the Player hand will win, or whether there will be a Tie.
As you may imagine, each possible outcome has its own individual house edge – 1.24% for the Player hand, 1.06% for the Dealer hand (with a 5% commission on winning bets applied), and 14.4% for a Tie. Even with the commission percentage attached, the Banker hand is still your best bet – although a less skilled player or even a less cautious player may try their chances with the riskier Tie. The more experience you gain though, the more you’ll come to know which bet to place, and how to maximize your advantage at the tables. Keep the house edge on your side at all times, and you could soon be going from player to winner!
If you’re thinking about trying your hand at skills-based games there’s no time like the present, because the more practice you get in, the more adept you’ll soon become. Take up the challenge and see how you fare – it could be the best thing you’ve ever done for your bankroll!