Where to Start in Strategic Casino Games

While most people play casino games that don’t involve much strategy, more of them are switching over away from purely luck-based titles. However, it can be tricky to know where to start because of the wide disparity of difficulty in all of the strategy-focused games, so here we’ll show you how to figure out where to begin.

An Introduction to Getting Started in Strategic Casino Games

All titles in the casino world, and all forms of gambling, fall on a certain spectrum. That is the spectrum of luck and strategy because all games have a mix of both. However, most players stay way down on the luck end of things most of the time.

When you decide to move up the spectrum toward more strategic titles, you have to be careful.

The reason for this is simple. Some games have very tough strategies and will punish you a lot for playing incorrectly. This punishment comes in the form of lower payout rates and a higher house advantage.

You also have to deal with the fact that the level of strategy involved in different games varies a lot. Even within a single casino game, you can have certain aspects that are pretty simple and others that are very complex.

What we want to do here is show you how to figure out where to get started while navigating this. You have to know which games will be more forgiving or more punishing for strategic mistakes. However, you also need to know the degree of strategy involved in these titles. This includes having an idea of how much work you’ll need to put in to become proficient.

The Concept of Strategic Punishment

If you’re familiar with the game of blackjack, you’ll know that certain situations are pretty easy to play. However, others are more difficult. What makes these situations easy or difficult is how close the two options are to each other. For example, if one way to play is obviously terrible, it leads to a simple decision.

However, if both seem about even, you have a tricky choice to make. What’s so interesting about this dynamic is that, if they are truly about even in value, then you can’t really make a big mistake. At the worst, you’ll choose something that’s only marginally worse than the optimal choice.

Now imagine that your understanding of the game is mistaken in some area. This can lead to a situation where you think two options are about even in value, but they’re really not. As you can see, this can lead to a situation where you make the wrong decision when it can actually be very costly to do so.

This is the crux of the idea of strategic punishment. We want to give you an idea of how strategically forgiving different titles are before you get started. We believe this is important because of how it can impact the level of knowledge you need in a game to avoid big traps.

Comparing Strategic Depth to Strategic Punishment

When we talk about strategic depth, this is a separate idea from strategic punishment. The depth of a game is what we refer to when we talk about how much there is to learn. You can have games with a lot to learn that are pretty forgiving. However, you can also have games where there isn’t a lot to learn, but making a simple mistake can hurt.

A simple example of this is roulette. If you don’t know any better and play 12-spot mini roulette, the house edge will be almost 10 percent.

The best case scenario is for newer players to start with a game with a low to moderate strategic depth. That makes it easy for them to jump in and get in on the action. Additionally, it also prevents situations where they can feel like they need to study for dozens of hours before playing.

However, it’s also best for players to start with games that aren’t super punishing. This helps you to ease into the genre and feel out if it’s right for you without as much pressure.

In the following, we’re going to walk players through a simple progression of game recommendations that keep these two concepts in mind.

Our Suggested Game Progression

Perhaps you’re starting out in strategic casino games and just want to get your feet wet, so to speak. Alternatively, you could have played some strategic titles before but just felt out of place or like you started with the wrong games that don’t match up with what you’re looking for. No matter the case, the progression we’re recommending here will solve a lot of problems.

First, it’ll solve the problem of strategic depth. We’ll achieve this by starting things out slowly with titles that are easy to learn. Second, it’ll solve the problem of strategic punishment and forgiveness by letting you know what you need to do to avoid big trap situations.

Starting Out: Low Depth and Low Punishment

For anyone trying to transition over to strategic table games, we have three starting recommendations. We believe these are especially important if you want to get an understanding of the genre from the ground up.

The first thing to note about these games is that they will make you think when you first start out. However, they’re pretty easy games to figure out with strategies that aren’t complicated. Caribbean Stud is the most strategically deep of the three, but you can still learn how to play 95 percent or more of hands perfectly within one or two study sessions.

Additionally, and what we think is actually more important for new players, is that they’re super strategically forgiving. It’s really difficult to make decisions in these games that will absolutely kill your payout rate. Due to the nature of the rules and strategies, the only close decisions you’ll have after just a small amount of study are between two options that both have relatively low house advantages.

Moving Along: Medium Depth and Low Punishment

While the above three games are great to start with, most players will be ready to move past them pretty quickly. This leads us to games that require a bit more strategic depth. Here are our three recommendations for this stage:

For Oasis Poker, it requires a base knowledge of Caribbean Stud Poker since it’s basically the latter with extra decisions added on. With Pai Gow Poker, you have a style of play that’s pretty easy to learn the basics of but that gets a bit deeper for certain types of hands. Finally, Let It Ride is probably the easiest to learn of the three, but it forces you to focus and not go on “auto pilot” to make the right decisions over and over.

However, for all three of these games, the strategic punishment levels are mostly low with few exceptions. With that said, these exceptions are easy to avoid with even a small introductory level of strategic knowledge. This is why we believe they’re the best options for the intermediate level.

Higher Levels of Play: High Depth and Medium Punishment

As the strategic depth of a game increases, the level of punishment for making strategic errors generally increases. However, we’ve tried to keep the latter as low as possible relative to the depth of strategy found in these recommendations.

The two genres that fit the bill here are blackjack and video poker.

While video poker isn’t a table game, strictly speaking, it’s lumped in with table games because it could just as easily be played on a table with a deck of cards. In fact, the Let It Ride recommendation above plays very similarly to a video poker game.

With both of these genres, you run into the same situation where you need to learn a lot to get started. In this way, blackjack is easier to get started with some basic strategies than video poker. However, both of them have plenty of trap situations that new players can fall into to make sizable mistakes multiple times per session.

The good news, however, is that both of these situations ease up quite a bit when you learn some strategy. Once you have an idea of what you’re doing, both types of games become much more forgiving.

Games to Avoid: Medium Depth and High Punishment

The worst combination to have in a strategic casino game for a newer player is a high level of punishment without a super high level of depth.

The main games that fall into this category are craps and variations of casino solitaire (ie: Casino Patience. When you play these games without knowing a lot about how to play them, it’s easy to get into a situation where you’re giving up a two-digit house advantage.

That’s obviously not a good recipe for having a fun time as a newer player. As a result, we have to recommend you avoid these particular titles from a strategic perspective.


We ourselves are very partial to games that have a lot of strategy. However, it can be really tough to make the transition over to these types of games. That’s especially the case if you’re used to fun but straightforward types of games like online slots. In any case, if you follow the game progression that we have offered here, you’ll have no problem easing yourself into things.