The Spectrum of Strategy and Luck in Online Casino Games
In any type of gambling, including playing casino games online, there is a spectrum of strategy and luck in determining how you’ll turn out in the game over time. There are skill elements to virtually every game, but that doesn’t mean they are skill-based in any serious way.
The Issue of Luck and Skill
One of the things that gets brought up a lot in the casino world, online or otherwise, is the relationship between luck and skill. Although it may be better to be lucky than to be skillful, the latter is something we can control while the former is something that we cannot.
The relationship between these two factors is something that strongly informs your overall gameplay experience, and that makes it important to understand with respect to how you like to play.
Some people want a higher level of strategy and skill that can allow them to lower the house advantage if they play well. Others don’t care for all of that and really just want to sit back and enjoy a fun game with chances to win some pretty strong prizes. No matter which type of player you are, or even if you fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, there are titles that can perfectly fit what you’re looking for.
The Pure Luck End of the Spectrum
On the luck end of things, there are a few genres that get the most attention. A few quick mentions are as follows:
Even with these games, there are still elements of strategy that can be found in certain aspects of what’s going on. For example, there are ways to increase your average payout rate in slots between game selection and making sure that you take advantage of certain promotions.
Roulette is largely based on luck, but you still have to select the right type of game to play. If you play European roulette, for example, you’ll have more or less the same experience as someone playing American roulette with a higher payout rate.
While it may seem that keno is completely luck-based, that’s only true to a certain extent. Certain types of wagers will have a higher payout rate than others, and choosing from the best available bets is a level of strategy that’s important to know when playing, albeit not a very deep one.
The Middle of the Spectrum
Some games have a fair amount of skill to some extent while still largely being about the luck end of things. With that said, they still have a more serious degree of choice when it comes to how you handle your betting, and making the wrong decisions can seriously impact your overall payout rate.
A few of the games that fall into this part of the spectrum include the following:
With craps, what you see is that there are ways to play that keep your payout rate as high as 98+ percent, but there are other wagers that will cost you big time with a house edge of more than 10 percent, which is among the worst wagers that you can even find in the industry online.
Baccarat can be largely luck-based if you stick to the player and banker bets, but playing with other side bets like the tie or pair wagers will hurt you with particularly high house advantage rates. Aside from that, you do have opportunities to do niche things like count cards to influence the payout rate to some degree in live dealer games, and some of the side bets are subject to card counting to get an edge as well.
From there, we look at casino poker, which is more of a genre of different types of games than an individual title. There is some variance in these games when it comes to the luck elements and skill elements, but for the most part, learning the strategies involved in any of these games can be done in under half an hour (sometimes as little as five to ten minutes) to the point that you can learn to play perfectly 100 percent of the time.
While it’s clear that these games have important elements that include skill, they’re still largely luck-based as well. That makes these types of games good for players who don’t want something that’s completely luck while still not needing to spend tons of time learning strategies for getting the best payout rates.
The Pure Skill End of the Spectrum
Finally, we get down to the other end of things with the skill and strategy and of the games spectrum. At this end, there are really only two genres with dozens of games under each heading:
If you’re a fan of strategy and needing to put in a bit of work to get the best payout rates that you can, then either of these genres will serve you well. With that said, they do have some general differences that will make one better for some types of players than the other.
The strategy elements of blackjack are all about learning to read a situation based on your cards and your dealer’s card while understanding the intricacies of the specific variation of the game that you’re playing. Adjusting to the specific game at hand is much more of a relevant issue in blackjack than video poker, and the strategies that you have to learn are much more complicated as well.
With that said, there are some forms of blackjack that are pretty easy to learn. Moreover, you can learn a generalized strategy that applies to most forms of the game and start right off playing pretty well (although not perfectly) within 20-30 minutes of study.
The strategic aspects of video poker, other than game selection, center around one decision and one decision only: how to play the discards. There are always 32 options (including standing pat) in any given game, and figuring out which of those is the best for a large number of hands is generally pretty easy. What makes it more difficult is when there are two or three good options for a hand that make sense, and you have to know which one of those is mathematically better than the other.
You aren’t expected to do any type of calculations at the game while you’re playing. Instead, you’re expected to study these situations and know what they are like ahead of time in the general sense so that you can read them and make the correct decision once it’s in front of you.
Video poker strategy is a bit more difficult to get started with than blackjack strategy, but putting in two or three hours of study and practice will have you to the point that you can play most non-wild games with a high level of accuracy. With wild card games, however, the complications expand tremendously, and a lot more strategy is required to know to play well. Moreover, wild card games have a lower tolerance for mistakes, so even small inaccuracies in your play can sometimes result in serious losses of value.
Putting It Together and Making Your Choice
We’ve laid out three major categories of games based on where they fall on the luck-skill spectrum. The vast majority of players have a place on this spectrum that they prefer to stay with the games they pick, and they generally don’t deviate from that so much. A lot of it is simple preference and predisposition about what a player might like the gameplay to be like, and the amount of luck and skill combined is what decides most of that most of the time.
If you’re the kind of player who likes a lot of strategy, then you need to be prepared to put the time in that it takes to learn and perfect those strategies. If you’re not, then you can generally hop right in and enjoy the titles that you want. For many who prefer games that are more strategic, learning and practicing is a big part of the fun, but those things can be absolute torture if they don’t fit what you enjoy as an individual, so it’s clearly important that you pick something that fits who you are as a person.