Page updated on 22.04.2019
Online Casino Games Guide
If you're new to playing casino games online, we recommend taking a look at our guides that will give you more insight into everything you need to know about online gambling. There are many types of games, strategies, rules and relevant terminology to make yourself familiar with, which will help to ensure that you'll have a good experience when playing the games in an online casino.
Yes, you can usually try out the games for free without having to play for real money. Most casinos give you the chance to try them without having to register, but some operators require you to open a player account before they grant you access to their demo games. In any case, you won't have to deposit money to try the casino games for free. You usually get access to all sorts of free games, including slots, table games or arcade games, but an exception is the live casino. The live games can only be played with real money and you won't be able to participate with play money. However, you can join the table and watch the games.
The best way to find a game that you like is to try out many different types of games. You can do this for free as well, and play the games in demo mode for play money. Of course, you won't be able to win any real money then, but you get the chance to try the games without any obligations. We also recommend that you make yourself familiar with the risk level of the games, for example if you play with a smaller budget you might want play a game with a lower risk level, but if you want get the chance to win a larger amount, you might prefer a game with a higher risk and higher rewards.
In slots, the risk is usually called variance or volatility. The volatility will indicate a lower or higher risk to reward ratio of the game. More about volatility is explained below. When speaking about table games, the risk is usually reflected in the house edge, which is also influenced by the way you play the game. The house edge reflects your probable chances to win against the casino if you follow the lowest risk betting strategy. For slots, the house edge is similar to the RTP (return to player), which indicates how much a slot pays out to the players on average over millions of rounds. However, you cannot influence the probability of a slot win with a strategy. Read more about the RTP here.
Each casino game has its own set of rules, but according to the type of game, most of the rules will be the same. For example, every blackjack game will have the same basic rules, but each variant will have its own additional rules. You can learn about the rules of the game by looking at the help file within the respective game. The button for the in-game help often has a '?'. Reading about the rules is one thing, learning them is another. Every serious casino will give you the option to play the games for free with play money, so that you can make yourself familiar with the rules and see if you like the game. Some casinos will require you to register a player account with them first, before they allow you access to the games. Registering a player account won't mean that you have to deposit money at the casino, this is entirely up to you.
The random number generator (RNG) is a piece of software that determines the outcome of a game round. The software is usually tested to be totally random and millions of game rounds verify the RNG's randomness. Without the RNG the game wouldn't be able to generate a random result for a spin. Every game that you can play online has a random number generator, which will determine the results on the reels of the slot machines, which cards are dealt in blackjack or which number the ball in roulette will land on.
Slot machines and online casino games don't have a house edge per se, as each round is determined by a random result. However, slot machines will always offer the casino an advantage, shown by the overall payout of the game. Each game has a certain volatility, which basically is the correlation between the frequency of winning rounds and the amount of winnings paid to the players. There are three general types of slots, those with low, medium or high volatility, which is also often called variance.
A lower volatility slot will pay players frequent winnings, but these will often be of lower value. These games carry a lower risk, as you can play them with a smaller budget, usually for a longer time, as you win more frequently, and can stake your winnings again if you wish to do so.
A game with a high volatility has a much higher risk level. Winnings in these games are much less frequent, but in turn you get the chance to win a much larger amount in one spin, and with a lower stake. These games are best played with a higher budget, so that you get more chances of landing that higher win. They are not really suitable for players with a small budget, or who want to make the most of their playtime. Progressive jackpot slots usually have a higher volatility, but they give players the chance to win a huge jackpot with a relatively small bet.
Most games have a medium volatility, offering players the best of both worlds at a medium risk. There are also some games that allow you to select the volatility, which means that you can play the game with a risk that suits you best.
RTP stands for Return to Player. The figure is shown as a percent value and normally lower than 100%. It relates to the average theoretical payout that the slot machine pays back to the players over millions of rounds, and it is an indication of how generous this game overall is. However, it is not a guarantee to win back a certain amount of money when you play the game, as you have to keep in mind that this number is representative of millions or billions of spins.
For example: you play a slot machine with an RTP of 96%. This means that the game will pay €96 to the players for every €100 played, but it is relative to millions of rounds played. If you play for €100, it will not mean that you get €96 back from the game. Instead the game might only pay you half of your stake, or it can even double it if you win. This is all determined by the volatility of the game, and of course, pure random luck. However, the slot pays back 96% of all bets placed by players over millions of rounds. The only question remaining is: who will win the big bucks?
The difference of the RTP to 100% is what the casino and the game developers will keep. In the aforementioned example it would be 4% over millions of rounds, that will go to the operators and developers. It can be compared to the house edge of the table game, which ensures a game is viable for the casino. If a game wasn't worth it for the casino, and it would pay out more than it makes, the casino wouldn't offer it.
Each game has a probability of how likely it is that you win the round. The casino will always offer games of chance were they statistically have a higher chance of the player losing and them winning. This means that the casino (the house) has an advantage (edge) over the player. The house edge is usually mentioned in connection with table games, such as roulette or blackjack and indicates how high the casino's chances are to win against your bet.
Some table games can be played with strategies that can lower the house edge of the casino, as compared to playing without any strategy. For example, the basic strategy of blackjack will suggest players the best option with the highest probability of winning. Following the strategy will lower the house edge to only 0.5%, which means that it's an almost even chance of you winning or losing against the casino. However, it also means the lowest possible risk when playing, which in turn won't yield a higher win. If you don't take any risks, you would be playing your money back and forth, although losing it very slowly to the casino.
Roulette is slightly different from blackjack, and the house edge is determined by the 0 on the wheel. A bet on red or black will exclude the 0, as it is green. Therefore, the house edge of the European roulette is 2.7%, as it has one 0 pocket, but when you play American Roulette, the house edge is 5.26%, as it has an additional 00 pocket. The payouts of both games are the same, with a 1:1 payout for even chances bets and 35:1 for a single numbers, but the probability to win is much lower with the American Roulette.
Progressive jackpots are generally very hard to win. These jackpots grow with the bets of the players, and some of them can grow to enormous sizes, for example Mega Fortune or Mega Moolah can be worth many millions of euros. A progressive jackpot can be either local at one casino or a pooled network jackpot. Local jackpots are usually much smaller than network jackpots. This is because local jackpots are only grown with the bets of the players in one casino, whereas network jackpots are grown by the bets of every player in every casino that offers the game. The two aforementioned jackpots are both network jackpots from Netent and Microgaming respectively.
Most jackpot games have a high volatility, which means that it can take a while before you land a decent win. However, while it is not impossible to win some large amounts in the normal base game, hitting the jackpot is very difficult and generally not very likely. There is no sure way of saying what the odds exactly are, as each game is different, but it is safe to say that you have to be very lucky to win a jackpot. Although it does happen quite regularly that players win progressive jackpots, given the number of players and the billions of spins played every day, the chances are very slim.
Some people claim that casino games are rigged and players have no real chance of winning. Well, this is not entirely true or false. It depends on the casino and the license they have, if any. A reputable casino operator that holds a license from a respected regulatory body will have to follow regulations to offer players a fair game. The slot and casino game developers have their random number generators tested for fairness and will get the certificates from trusted testing labs. A reputable casino will only offer tested and certified games.
Usually, casino operators cannot change the RTP of a slot, and it's the same in every casino that offers the game. There has been some controversy about the SkillOnNet software, which allowed operators to change the RTP, which is something that wasn't transparent to the players at all. Generally speaking, the RTP of a slot in a land-based casino can range from 70% - 90%, but in an online casino it's usually higher than 94%, on average around 96%. If the slot developer declares the RTP of a game, you can be certain that it's the same in every casino that offers that game.
In any case, playing at a licensed casino is usually not a rip-off. Of course, there are always some black sheep emerging, who prey on unsuspecting players, but these casinos are usually short-lived, especially when they obtain a UK or Malta license and then don't follow the imposed regulations. Some regulatory bodies are stricter than others when it comes to player protection, self-exclusion or prevention of money laundering. Whether a casino is trustworthy or not also depends on the age or the company operating it. In any case, we recommend not playing in an unlicensed casino. You can check the casino reputation online, and even check the status of the licenses at the regulatory bodies directly.
When you play casino games, it is important that you make yourself familiar with the types of games, their risk and the chances of winning. Generally speaking, a lower risk game will yield a lower reward, and a higher risk game might yield potentially higher rewards. However, it is important that you look at the rules of the game, no matter if it is a slot or a table game, to see if there are special features or rules that might have an influence on the odds.
For example, there are simple slot games without any special features and there are slots with many different features, like for example free spins, bonus games or special symbols. The chance of winning is always the same when you play a game without any special features. But if you play slot with free spins that have a win multiplier or more Joker symbols, then the RTP of the free spins will be higher than the RTP of the base game. This means that the types of games have different odds, depending on the features that can be triggered.
Another example are roulette games and the variants. The probability of winning is much lower with an American Roulette compared to a European or French Roulette, as the American Roulette has an additional 00 (Double Zero) pocket on the wheel which greatly increases the house edge and making it less likely for the players to win. It is important to compare the different types of games and to think about the risk that you would like to take when playing, so that you don't risk disappointment later on. Fortunately, you can play all these games for free and learn the rules and strategies before you play casino games with real money. In the end, it is also important that you choose a game that you like and enjoy, and not simply because you think it has the best odds of winning.
A game malfunction is unfortunately something that happens every now and then. It can be in the form of a bug in the game or an interrupted session where you lost a round. It happened in the past, that a bug in a game resulted in some players getting unusually large winnings many times in a row. However, this is obviously no normal behaviour, and it is often easy to see if the game malfunctioned or if it was really just plain luck of the player. It can also happen that the game interrupts while you are playing. The game usually resumes once you re-connect, but in some cases, for example blackjack, where you needed to make a decision, it can happen that you just loose the round. Game interruptions are often caused by unstable internet connections, for example when you play on a mobile or tablet and use a mobile data connection. When you play, make sure that your internet connection is stable to avoid interruptions. In case you lost money due to a malfunction of a game you can also contact the customer support of the casino, they may be able to help you with the problem, and in the best case, they will give you a refund of the stake lost.