There is an unprecedented need for new table games in the market. These new table games are often called “carnival games.” These games are not for the serious player — the backbone of traditional table games consists of blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, Spanish 21, Super Fun 21, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em – so many table games, so little time & money. The variations of poker based “carnival” table games continue to grow.
“Carnival games” simply means games “other than the common and standard casino games, “novelty side game” that aren’t part of the standard casino offering. Three-card poker is not listed below because it has reached a level of play and expectancy to the standard games of craps, blackjack and roulette.
Since it’s the time when the Global Gaming Expo, or G2E, is opening (this week) for its annual conference and show in Las Vegas, there will be many a table game inventor showing the next best table game, hoping for a company try it in the casinos.
So, what are the games that have made it to the casino floor? You see them as you walk around, but look closely and you will see many variations, side bets, rules and progressives added to the old favorites. This list will just concentrate on games based on poker. Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette and Craps are not listed here. See if you’ve seen, played or wish to play the following “carnival” games.
Caribbean Stud Poker – Caribbean Stud Poker Progressive is a five-card poker game played head-to-head against the dealer, in which the dealer must have an ace-king or better to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify your ante bet automatically pays even money. If the dealer qualifies, the best five-card hand wins. The house edge, with US game rules, is 5.224%.* Other hybrids include Caribbean Stud Poker and Caribbean Hold’Em
Four Card Poker – The game is similar to Three Card Poker but as the title suggests, four cards are used instead of three. Also, there is no dealer qualifying hand and the player can raise up to three times his ante. However, the dealer gets one extra card to form his best hand. Four Card Poker uses a standard 52-card deck. There are three ways to play. The game allows the player to wager against the dealer, to wager only on the value of his own hand against a pay table, or to wager both against the dealer and on the value of his own hand. Four Poker is a new poker variation marketed by Shufflemaster.
Let It Ride – Yes, you can still find this early poker variation – and people still play it! Let It Ride is one of the most unique games in the casino because players do not play against the dealer or any other player. It’s based on the five-card stud poker game. The house edge is close to 3%*
Pai Gow Poker – An American derivative of the Chinese domino game of Pai Gow, It is believed that the game originated in the late 1800s when the Chinese helped build the U.S. railroads. The game is known for a slow rate of play and lots of pushes, resulting in low risk game. While a game of skill, most hands are obvious how to play, and it is not difficult to learn proper strategy for the rest of them. Every player plays against the same dealer hand, which causes the table to often win and lose together, resulting in a fun and social game.
Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus – Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus Poker is a community card poker game with an objective to make the best five-card hand using any combination from the person’s two-card hand and the five community cards. Players are strictly playing against the Dealer, not other Players. At the start of the game, Players have the opportunity to participate in an optional bonus wager which may be placed against a posted pay table. The outcome of the bonus wager has no bearing on any other wages placed by the Player. Other variations include Texas Hold’Em Bonus, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, and Texas Choose’Em.
Mississippi Stud – Mississippi Stud Progressive is a five-card poker game where you compete against a pay table, not against the dealer, and you win if your hand is a pair of jacks or better. The top payout is 500 to 1 for a royal flush and it pays on all bets! Mississippi Stud Progressive also features a progressive bet that pays up to 100% of the jackpot. The game is simple to play. Wins are based only on the player’s final five card hand. The skill is in deciding how much to raise, or fold, as the cards are revealed.
Other games not covered but gaining popularity include EZ Pai Gow Poker, Super Fun 21, and Crazy 4 Card poker.
* All house odds Come from the Wizard of Odds and Michael Shackelford.
I hope this was useful, if only very superficial. The key is to know the rules BEFORE you go play these games. And always check the Wizard of Odds for the best strategy.