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Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Top-10 table games
 

By Ryan McLane and Vin Narayanan

Slot machines may dominate casino floors, but from social atmosphere to sheer excitement, it's hard to beat the fun you get at table games. Here's a list of Top-10 games, and why we like them so much:

10. Baccarat

This game is on the list for three reasons:

A. James Bond plays it.
B. Most casinos separate the baccarat room from the rest of the table games with a different room and velvet ropes. How cool is that.
C. Players get to deal cards. How cool is that.

How to play: This game is real easy. Number cards are worth face vaule. Face cards are worth zero. Aces are worth 1. Before the cards are dealt, you bet on the player, banker, or a tie. Two hands of two cards each are dealt. One to the player, one to the banker. High point total wins. Note: You can't bust in bacarat. If you are dealt and 9 and a 6 for a total of 15, you take the second digit as your score (5). After the cards are dealt, game play is fairly automatic. If the player or banker has and 8 or 9, they stand. If the player has 5 or less, he hits and gets a third card. If the player hits and banker has 5 or less, then the banker has to hit. Otherwise, the banker only hits according to a chart you can find at the table. That's it. Top point total wins. It's an easy game. And you feel like James Bond while you're playing it. -- VN

9. Casino War

Yes, this is the game you grew up playing. It's insanely easy. And weird things can happen at the table -- like a complete stranger chatting you up, bankrolling your Casino War session and offering you a job to run his factory. I'm not kidding. This actually happened to me. So the next time you wander past a Casino War table, don't roll your eyes and walk away. Sit down, play for a bit and see what happens.

How to play: This is the easiset table game imaginable. The first thing you do is place your bet. Then the dealer deals two cards face up. One for you, one for the dealer. The high card wins. If it's a tie, you "go to war." The dealer then discards three cards, and gives one card to the player and one card to the dealer. Once again, the high card wins. It's mindless fun. And good way to catch up with friends because you don't have to focus on the game. -- VN

8. Three-card poker

This is good way to get your poker fix in without having to win any money from your friends. It's you, and the rest of the table, vs. the dealer. And the rules are very simple.

How to play: Before the cards are dealt, you have to bet the ante and/or the Pairplus wager. The dealer then gives each player (and himself) three cards. If the player bet the ante, he now has two choices -- raise or fold. If you fold, you lose your ante. If you raise, you have to make an additional bet, equal to the ante. Then the dealer flips his cards over. If the dealer qualifies with queen or better, the best poker hand wins. If the dealer doesn't qualify, then the player can only win on the ante bet. The second "play" bet is a push. If you made a Pairplus (pair or better) bet, then you get paid out according the Pairplus pay table. -- VN

7. Spanish 21

I walk right up to the dealer and say hola when playing this game. It usually results in me getting involved in an intense staring match and eventually finding another table, but c'mon, it's Spanish baby y esta bueno! This infuriating game of 21 differs from blackjack in two ways…there are no Ten cards and you can double down at anytime. Thus, you have the ability to win or lose twice as much on EVERY hand. Plus, if you hit 21, you get paid upfront and different combinations of 21 pay more than 1:1 odds. It's a game of streaks and math, but I normally chose the former and usually leave the table mumbling oy! Alas, the gambling fervor in this game is great and I am reluctant to say it's one of my favorites.

How to play: It's like blackjack, where a tries to make a hand as close to 21 as possible without going over. A player is dealt two cards face up and is competing against the dealer's hand. The dealer only has on card showing. Depending on the strength of the player's hand, he or she can choose to hit or stand. If they player goes over 21, he or she busts. If she stands, the dealer reveals his or her cards and must hit until he or she hits a certain number (usually 17) or busts. If the dealer busts, the player wins. If not, the highest point total wins. -- RM

6. Let It Ride

This is the ultimate sucker's game, but the power of its social atmosphere and the pull of its "what hand might I see next" possibilities makes it one or my favorite table games. The great part about this game is when you're dealt a pat hand to start (Tens or better). Of course, you let all the bets ride and gleefully trash talk the dealer about their bad choice to let you in the game. This game is a great option for when a player first arrives at the casino. I like to let a couple of hands ride before moving on to play my normal poker. Sometimes, it's possible to catch lightning in a bottle.

How to play: This is one of the few games where you don't play against the dealer. A player places three equal sized bets to start a hand and is dealt three cards face down. There are two cards dealt to the dealer, but they represent community cards that every player at the table can use to make their best five-card hand. A pair of Tens or higher makes the player a winner and multiple payouts are granted to better hands like two-pair, trips, flushes and the mighty royal straight flush. Players have the option to pull back his or her third bet after seeing the first three cards. After the first community card is revealed, players again have the option to pull back a bet. The last bet is binding. -- RM

5. Pai Gow (poker)

This game is a ton of fun and much more low-key than poker. If you buy in for a small amount, you can last a long time. And the game is easy enough to play that you can spend plenty of time socializing.

How to play: You're dealt seven cards. With those cards, you have to make a five-card hand and a two-card hand. Your two-card hand can't be better than your five-card hand. If both your hands beat the banker's hand, you win. If you split, it's a push. And if you lose both hands, you lose. This is a great way to pass a lot of time and hold onto your money. And that's a great combination in a casino!! -- VN

4. Craps

This is easily the most exciting table game of the bunch. It usually features lots of gamblers yelling, cheering, jumping up and down and generally having a good time. If you've never played it, make it a point to try the game at least once. It's worth the experience.

How to play: Here are the basics. One player rolls the dice to establish the "point." Before he rolls, almost everyone places a bet on the pass line. If the shooter rolls a 7 or 11 before establishing the point, you win. If he rolls a 2,3 or 12, you lose. Any other number is established as the point. If the shooter hits that number again before rolling a 7, you win. Once the point is established, then you can bet on a bunch of dice combinations. But the bottom line is with everyone rooting for the shooter, craps is simply a fun game to play. -- VN

3. Caribbean Stud

It's not real poker, but I like it anyways. And yes, the blinking jackpots lights do entice me. Imagine winning six figures for a sucker wager of a dollar. Can you picture yourself counting the money? Don't because imagination time is nice, but reality says you have a better chance of making Britney Spears normal. I like Caribbean Stud because it's a very social game, one where you and your buddies can sit down and enjoy the casino's free booze. It's true, Caribbean Stud will slowly drain your money, but with reasonable wagers and the right attitude, it can make for an enjoyable night. For added fun, pretend you're playing heads-up against the dealer and be wicked obnoxious when your monster hand defeats their lowly Ace high.

How to play: An ante is required to start the action. Players are dealt five cards face down and the best poker combination players. The dealer is dealt the same amount of cards. If a player chooses to continue playing after seeing their hand, they must double the ante in the betting box. If a player folds, they forfeit their ante. Once the bets are made, the dealer reveals his or her hand. Best hand wins! Warning: The dealer must qualify for a player to win their bet amount. If the dealer doesn't qualify, the player only gets paid for their original ante. This can really suck when you're sitting on a full house. Dealer's usually need a K-Q high or better to qualify. -- RM

2. Poker

There is only one way to head to the casino to play the king of all table games. Throw in the movie Rounders, play a little home-game sit-n-go while obnoxiously repeating every quote in the movie, then jump in the car with your buddies and find the table with all the grouchy guys playing low-limit Stud games. All you have to do is simply be in a good mood and these guys will hate you for it. Use their anger to your advantage and you can win some good coin while sipping on those free drinks - you know - the ones with the fruit and umbrella on top.

How to play: I won't insult your intelligence…unless we're at the same table. -- RM

1. Blackjack

This is the king of all table games. It's so simple anyone can play it. If you can play basic strategy and get a little lucky, you can walk away a winner -- or a modest loser. Because you're playing against the dealer, players are rooting for each other. And the game promotes social activity. Players talk to each other. They talk to the dealer. And they're generally having fun. You can't ask for much more out of a table game.

How to play: It's probably not necessary, but here are the basic rule. Each players is dealt two cards face up. The dealer is dealt one card up, one card down. Aces are worth 1 or 11. Face cards are worth 10. Number cards are worth face value. The goal is to get as close as possible to 21 without going over. If you're dealt 21, you win automatically. If not, you have a chance to draw cards to get as close to 21 as possible. If you go over (bust), you lose automatically. Once all the players have played, the dealer reveals his hole card. The dealer generally has to hit until het gets a hand of 17 or better. Then he has to stand. There are more rules and specials bets, but those are the basics. So get yourself to a casino and try playing the game. And if your lucky, you'll get a dealer who will teach you the finer points of the game. That's what happened to me (hey, I was the only person at the table that spoke English!!), and I've been doing well at the game ever since. -- VN

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