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Casino Games: An Introduction 

One of the first things which surprises many of those who are new to online casinos is the sheer number of games that are available to be played. Some online casinos offer hundreds and sometimes even thousands of titles, and even many of the very smallest venues offer a choice of dozens.

This vast range is rather less surprising when you consider that the online casino industry has been creating games for over two decades, and is committed to continue producing new titles on a regular basis in order to push the boundaries of gaming even further. If there is one thing that online casinos understand, it is the need to innovate and evolve, and the number of games available to players increases month after month as a natural consequence.

The good news for online gaming fans is that this wide selection of titles means that there really is something for everyone. Whether you are someone who enjoys a quiet game of blackjack, a loud and frenetic session chasing a progressive slots jackpot, or something in-between, there are plenty of online casinos games that you will love. This article explores the three most popular gaming categories (slots, table games and live casino games) and explains what each has to offer.

Slots Games

Slot machines were originally mechanical games which involved inserting a coin into a slot, pulling a handle on the side of the machine and watching as three vertical reels of various symbols spun for a while before coming to rest. If the combination of symbols matched a winning combination, as displayed on a pay table on the front of the machine, the player won a cash prize. 

Originally, people used to lose far more often than they won, and so these early machines were sometimes referred to as ‘one-armed bandits’. The use of various fruits as symbols on the reels also led to these early games being described as fruit machines.

Slot machines slowly evolved to become both more complex and entertaining, with the addition of more reels (five is most common these days) and various special features, such as the ability to nudge reels down a step or two, or to hold one or more symbols in the hope of achieving a winning combination on the next spin. Some manufacturers also started creating video slot machines which employed virtual reels displayed on a video screen rather than mechanical reels.

Online Slots

When slots games first appeared at online casinos, they were generally based on their offline counterparts, retaining the familiarity of the spinning reels and sometimes even a virtual handle which could be pulled. The term ‘slot machine’ continued to be used even though any slot which appeared in a game was only there for aesthetic purposes, and the term ‘online slot’ was coined (if you will excuse the pun) to differentiate between the offline and virtual games.

It wasn’t long before online slots creators began taking full advantage of the fact that they could do much more in a virtual environment than simply replicate offline games. Video and audio began to play a much greater role in delivering an immersive gaming experience, and a number of officially-licensed movie tie-in titles started including sequences from the films that they were based on. Some of the most popular movie-based online slots games of the last decade include Rocky, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter.

As the processing capabilities of home computers has increased over the last two decades, so have the features of online slots games. Today’s online casino player can choose from an incredible variety of games, with almost any theme you can think of having inspired at least one slots title. Online slots also tend to be far more interactive and immersive than they were originally, with many boasting multiple pay lines, multiple staking options and even full orchestral soundtracks.

Slots are Games of Chance

Like their offline predecessors, online slots are games of chance, and so players needn’t learn any rules or develop any kind of skill to enjoy them. This straightforward opportunity to ‘pay and play’ has helped slots to become enormously popular, and gives first-time players just as much chance of winning as someone who has been playing for years.

Of course, when anyone settles down to play a game of chance they want to be confident that the game is fair, and online slot machines ensure this by relying on a random number generator (RNG) to determine the outcome of each spin. In simple terms, the RNG is a computer program which generates a vast sequence of random numbers, and pressing the ‘play’ button or similar instructs the game to deliver the outcome determined by the most recently generated number. 

Progressive Jackpots

As if all of the previously discussed features weren’t enough to ensure the continued popularity of online slots, many titles offer progressive jackpots which give players the chance to win life-changing sums of money for minimal stakes. To prove that point, the biggest online slot jackpot pay-out to date, which was worth over €17 million, was won by a British player in 2015 with a stake of just 25p!

Table Games 

Table games are those that were originally played on table layouts in offline casinos, such as roulette, craps and various card games. The table layouts made it easy for several people to play the game simultaneously, as bets were placed directly on the layout under the supervision of a croupier or dealer.

Because the layout of these table games was essential to how bets were placed, online versions of these games retained the same traditional layouts even though no physical table was necessary. The big difference between online table games and their offline equivalents is that the online game never gets too crowded to play at, and you are always treated to the very best virtual seat.

All traditional table games can be played at online casinos, but a handful are consistently popular and therefore provide a good introduction to table gaming. The most popular table games are detailed below.


This is a card game in which the player opposes the dealer. Picture cards are given a numerical value of 10, the cards 2 to 10 have face value and the Ace can be counted as 1 or 11. The aim of the game is to get a hand total which is as close to 21 as possible without going over that total. The best possible hand is a blackjack, which is achieved by getting a two-card starting hand of an Ace and a picture card.

Should you not get a blackjack with your first two cards, you can – assuming that the dealer does not have a blackjack – ‘hit’ to receive additional cards, one at a time, until you choose to ‘stand’ on your total or you accidentally ‘bust’ by exceeding a hand total of 21. When you have stood on your total, the dealer will either stand or hit for additional cards before standing. If the dealer busts then you win automatically, otherwise the two hands are compared and the highest hand wins. A straightforward win pays odds of 1:1, whilst a blackjack usually pays odds of 3:2.


Roulette is perhaps the most iconic of all casino games, and focuses on a horizontal wheel of numbered wells. In American Roulette, the numbers 1 to 36 are colored red or black in equal proportion, and the numbers 0 and 00 are colored green. In European Roulette, there is only one 0. The game is played by the croupier spinning the wheel and releasing a steel ball into it, and the numbered well which is occupied by the ball when the wheel comes to rest is declared the winner.

Players must try and predict the outcome of the next spin of the wheel, and there are plenty of betting opportunities to choose from. You can bet that the winning number will be red or black, odd or even, that it will belong to a particular row or column on the table layout, and so on. The odds paid for a winning bet depend on the type of bet that is placed, with the biggest odds of 35:1 being paid to anyone who successfully makes a ‘straight-up’ bet on a single number.


Also known as Punto Banco, this is a card game in which the player can actually choose to act as Player or Dealer. The cards 2 to 9 have their face value, an Ace counts as one point and all other cards are worth zero points. The aim of the game is to bet on whether the Player or the Banker will have the best hand, and the Player is initially dealt two cards. Should the total of the cards reach double digits, only the second digit counts. A hand of 6 and 8, which totals 14, would therefore count as 4. If the Player’s hand total is 0 to 5 then a third card may be drawn, otherwise the Player must stand.

The Banker also draws two cards, and if his hand total is 0 to 2 then he may draw a third card. The hand with the highest total wins. If you bet on the Player and win, you will be paid at odds of 1:1. The odds for a winning bet on the Banker are 19:20 (because the Banker has a slightly better chance of success) and the odds for the Tie are usually 8:1.

Return to Player

When playing slots or table games, you may come across a Return to Player or RTP figure. This is the amount of money, stated as a percentage, that the casino will return to players over the long term. For example, if you play a game which has a 95% RTP figure, the casino expects to hand $95 back to players for every $100 that it takes in bets. This is an average figure, of course, but knowing what the RTP figure means will help you to understand how much of an advantage the house has over you. The higher the RTP, the lower the advantage is to the casino.

Live Casino

Live casino games are those which allow you to play at a genuine casino table, with a human croupier or dealer, from the comfort of your own home. The game essentially takes place in a special casino studio, with the action being broadcast to you live using video streaming technology. There are several games that can be played via live casino, with blackjack, baccarat and roulette being the most common. 

Bets are placed in much the same way as when playing simulated online casino games, but the mechanics of the game itself are exactly as you would experience in an offline casino. In other words, if you are playing blackjack, the dealer will deal real cards from a real shoe, and if you are playing roulette, the croupier will spin a real wheel which you will watch come to rest in real time. When the game has concluded, the dealer will announce the result and any winnings due to you will be credited to your account automatically.

The main advantage of playing live casino games is that you will get the most realistic gaming experience possible, because you will essentially be playing a real game rather than a simulated one. You will also be able to interact with the croupier or dealer, as well as other players, via a text chat window, so the social aspect which is sometimes missing from the online casino experience is very much present when playing live casino games.

As far as disadvantages are concerned, there is only one, and that is the fact that live casino games tend to take longer to complete than simulated games, simply because playing cards need to be gathered, bets processed and so on. Of course, that is a small price to pay for a genuinely immersive and realistic gaming session, and if you find that live casino games are too slow for your taste you can always go back to playing regular online casino games at any time.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or

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