Luck and Skill in Online Casino Games

Published on: December 11, 2009 

All online casino games have an element of luck. This arises from the unpredictability of the outcome. Before the reels come to rest players do not know what combinations will appear on the paylines. Similarly the number on the roulette wheel all the numbers on the dice in craps cannot be determined beforehand. The same is true of the cards dealt in the numerous card games played at online casinos. But there are some online casino games that are entirely based on luck and there are other online casino games that have varying degrees of skill.

The entirely luck based games can be described as follows. After the player places the wager and initiates the game he has no decision to make. The online casino software compares the game outcome with the wager and makes the payouts if required. The popular online casino games that fall in this category are slots, roulette, craps and baccarat. In some of these games the player is required to exercise his knowledge of the game while choosing the wager. For example craps offers a number of wagers of which many have ridiculously high house edges and should be avoided. Good players will avoid these wagers while bad players will fall into the trap of these sucker bets. However, this knowledge is slightly different from the skills involved in playing a casino game.

The games that are based to some degree on skill can be described as those games in which the player has to make decisions after the game has been activated and before the final outcome is reached. Therefore the outcome is contingent on the decision that the player makes. Most online casino games falling in this category require the player to make a single decision. In video poker the player has to decide which cards to hold and in which to discard from his dealt hand. In Caribbean Stud Poker the player has to decide whether fold or to bet. In Pai Gow Poker the player has to split the seven cards dealt into two hands. The poker games require relatively much simpler strategies and therefore less skill. Video poker games have complex strategies making them one of the most skill based games in online casinos. Some online casino poker games like Hold'em poker and Let It Ride involved the bet or fold type of decisions to be made a number of times. However the skill levels required are not that high.

By far the most skill based game in online casinos is blackjack. Not only does the player have to make decisions several times but there are a wide range of moves to choose from. Blackjack skill is fairly difficult to master but players who can do that can expect high returns because most blackjack games have house edges of less than 1% based on optimum play.

With the developments in online casino software the skill involved in some of the games is being built into the software. In video poker this takes the form of winning combinations being put on auto hold so that the player does not discard the relevant cards by mistake. In many casino poker games the software issues text warnings when the player is making a wrong move. In Pai Gow Poker the splitting of the hand can be done by the software completely eliminating the skill required. Even in the most complex of all online casino games, blackjack, the strategy has been built into the software. So much so that a strategy card is available based on which blackjack games can be played on Auto Play without the player having to make a single move himself.

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