Can card-games survive in this technological era?
The first thing that many people think of when they picture the inside of a casino are the long rows of slot machines, simply because slots are by far the most popular casino games and they do tend to take up almost all of the space.
But, before any slots – or their ancestors, the one-armed bandits – made their way into casinos, card games were the main attraction of casinos. Card Games have been portrayed in many movies as the main culprit of intense firefights between the early settlers of the Americas.
But how can card-games survive in this technological era?
From the fast-paced Blackjack to the slow-paged Texas Hold’em, card games are still loved by avid casino players. One must however admit that the impressive number of Poker variants has led to a Poker Frenzy that keeps card games interesting, especially with so many international poker tournaments organised across the world.
Baccarat (Punto Banco)
Although Baccarat is said to have originated in Italy during the 15th century, it is a later version developed in Havana, Cuba in the 1940s that is still played in casinos today. Punto Banco, as it was called in Cuba, offers bets on both the dealer’s hand as well as the player’s, which was a clever adaptation that is still cherished today.
Baccarat has simple rules. When playing Baccarat, you can bet on either the player’s hand, the dealer’s hand, a tie or even bet on all three.
Two or three cards are then dealt to both player and dealer hands. If you end up backing the best hand or correctly predicting a tie, you win.
The best hand will be the one closest to nine, with the aces valued at one and face cards worth zero. If a hand reaches a number higher than 9, its value is subtracted by 10. For example, a hand of 7+8 would have the value of five.
Regarded as one of the most popular high-stakes casino table games, baccarat is often played in a room separate from the rest of the casino floor.
Poker Variants: Texas hold’em
The Poker variant Texas hold’em is by far the most popular of all poker variations. Many of the most prominent Poker tournaments around the world (the World Series of Poker, the World Poker Tour, the European Poker Tour) feature Texas hold’em, in particular no-limit hold’em.
In fact, Texas hold’em has become so popular that those who aren’t familiar with poker in general do not realize there are other ways to play the game.
Texas Hold’em Rules
In Texas hold’em, players still follow traditional poker rankings as they try to obtain the best five-card poker hand. However, it is the way that players construct their hands in Texas hold’em that differs from draw poker.
In hold’em, every player is given two cards face down (the “hole cards”), then over the course of subsequent rounds, five more cards are eventually dealt face up in the middle of the table by the dealer. These face up cards are called the “community cards” because each player can use them to build his a five-card poker hand.
The five “community cards” are dealt in three stages:
- The first three community cards are called the “flop.”
- Another card is then dealt – this is called the “turn.”
- Finally one more card, the fifth and final community card is dealt — the “river.”
Players can construct their five-card poker hands using the best available five cards out of the seven total cards (the two hole cards they have in hand and the five community cards).
This can be done by using both of the hole cards in combination with three community cards, one hole card in combination with four community cards or no hole cards and playing all five community cards –
whatever works to make the best five-card hand.
When betting causes all but one player to fold, the remaining player wins the pot without having to reveal any cards. This means that players who don’t have the best hand can still win the pot. It is always possible for a player to “bluff” and convince others to fold better hands. If two or more players make it all the way to the showdown after the last community card is dealt and all betting is complete, then the only way to win the pot is to reveal the highest-ranking five-card poker hand.
Omaha Poker is one of the most popular poker variants. For many players who start off their Poker with Texas hold’em, Omaha is often the next game they learn to play – also because Omaha poker is quite similar to hold’em in the way the game is played.
There are different types of Omaha poker games, the two most popular being “Pot-Limit Omaha” and “Omaha hi-lo”.
Like Texas hold’em, Pot-limit Omaha is a “flop” game that uses community cards. Just like in hold’em, players are dealt their own hands face down — their “hole cards” — and use those cards in combination with the five community cards (the flop, turn, and river) to make five-card poker hands.
However, there is one very big difference between Omaha and hold’em.
- Texas Hold’em players are each dealt two hole cards
- They can use any of their hole cards and community cards to create their five-card poker hand
- Omaha players are dealt four hole cards
- They have to discard two hole cards and must use the remaining hole cards to construct their five-card poker hand
Another difference between pot-limit Omaha and no-limit hold’em is inscribed in their names – the limit one can bet!
Like in hold’em, the minimum bet allowed in Omaha is always the equivalent of the big blind. For example, if the game is $1/$2 PLO, the minimum a player can bet would be $2. However, while in no-limit hold’em a player can always bet all of his or her chips at any point, in Omaha the maximum bet allowed is the size of the pot.
In pot-limit Omaha, the hand rankings are just the same as in Texas hold’em, which means the hands go (from best to worst):
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two pairs
- One pair
Just like when playing hold’em or pot-limit Omaha, if a player bets and everyone folds before the showdown, the player wins the pot without having to show a hand.
However, if the final bet of a Poker Omaha hi-lo game results in a showdown, hands are examined to see who has the best “high” hand and who has the best “low” hand, with each winning one-half of the pot.
Three Card Poker
Three Card Poker is an immensely popular casino table game because it lets you have a great influence over the game’s final outcome. Three Card Poker also comes with great odds and several potentially profitable side bets. This poker variant was invented in the 1990s and while it seems pretty low key, it is in fact one of the best casino card games.
Playing against the Card Dealer, you can place an ante bet and be dealt three cards. After getting a chance to look at your hand you can decide whether to play or fold. You can either fold and forfeit the ante bet or match it with a play bet for a chance at the odds.
The hand rankings in 3-card poker are similar to Texas Hold’em Poker but this is still a simpler poker variant. Dealers can’t play if they don’t have a Queen-high or better hand. When this happens, the play bet will be a push (tie) and your ante bet will pay even money.
Blackjack is believed to have originated in the casinos of 18th century France, where the game was simply called “twenty-one”. Due to its very simple rules and a fast pace of play, Blackjack soon won a place among the top table games around the world.
When playing blackjack, players can compete with the dealer and maybe other players as well to form a hand that’s equal or closest to 21 (blackjack). Each player is dealt two cards and gets the choice to either hit (be dealt another card), or stand (end their turn without taking another card).
There are a couple of ways to boost winning. You may “choose a double” to double your stake. Here the player receives one more card before stacking up against the dealer. Another way to possibly win more on a hand is to split certain pairs, giving you two hands to play against the dealer.
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