Casino War Guide

We can’t imagine an easier game to explain. Casino War is so simple, anybody including kids can play. While children may be restricted to only playing at the kitchen table, most physical and online casinos will offer Casino War to their customers. A game so easy that with self-explanatory rules is a great option to have for newer gamblers.

History

Keno BallsUnfortunately, there is no groundbreaking or lightbulb moment when Casino War was suddenly invented.

Most of us can remember playing with family members at home at an early age, but it wasn’t until 1993 when Bet Technology issued their patent on the game. It was less than a year later when the game was offered at five casinos in the northern Nevada area. Harrah’s Tahoe in 1994 was the first casino to officially offer the “childhood game” to patrons.

It didn’t take long for casinos in Las Vegas and other regions to catch on to the trend. This was a game that didn’t have to be explained to new customers. People could simply walk up to the table and start playing immediately, and this was a great thing for the casinos.

Rules Breakdown

“The rules to Casino War are long and difficult.”- said no one ever. There is no need to grab a notebook and a pen to take notes. All we do is just turn over two cards and see which one is higher. The cards are ranked in the same order as in poker. The suits do not come in to play, just the numerical value attached to each card.

For those of you not familiar with the worth of each card, the list below shows the order of the card’s value from lowest to highest.

  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • J
  • Q
  • K
  • A

For example, a 4 beats a 3, a King beats a Queen, and so forth. Where things get fun is when our card matches the dealer’s card. In the event of a tie, the process is repeated and the next two new cards are flipped over. This continues until the dealer or the player has a higher card flipped over.

We can play War at home with friends, under the bright lights of a Vegas casino, or at home on our couch on our favorite betting sites. It’s only fair to talk about the nuances of each version.

War at Home

The main difference between playing war at the kitchen table vs. online or at a casino is the ability to keep playing until someone has all the cards. The two players split the deck in half, taking 26 cards each. They flip cards over simultaneously to see who has the higher card. That’s it, nothing fancy here folks.

We can, of course, play War at home just like they do at the casino and place bets each and every time the cards are flipped. Keeping track that way can be done for fun, for money, or even for who has to take out the trash on Tuesday nights.

However, at home, we can also play until one person has all 52 cards. This could end up taking a while, but hey- that’s why we do it at home at the kitchen table!

Live

Don’t be afraid of playing War live at the casino for the first time. The rules and card values remain the same. Don’t be scared when the dealer asks you to place an ante bet before flipping any cards over. The difference playing War here in the casino is how the betting is structured- in other words, “how the score is kept.”

Ante Bet

The ante bet is the amount of money we choose to wager on a specific hand- before any cards are flipped over. Depending on the casino venue we are at, this amount can and will range vastly. Some casinos may offer tables with minimum bets as low as $5. Other high-limit areas at the luxurious hotels will allow bets of $1,000 or more per hand. Find an amount that is comfortable for you.

Once you place your ante bet forward, the dealer will then flip over two cards, one for you and one for him or her. If your card is higher, the dealer will pay you however much you wagered with your ante bet. If your ante was $10 and your card is higher, you will receive $20 (your original $10 ante plus the $10 you won).

If your card is lower than the dealer’s card, the dealer simply collects your ante bet and you move on to the next hand.

When you tie the dealer, unlike War at home when a second card is immediately flipped over, the casino gives you two options. The first option is going to battle with the dealer.

Go to War

Just like at home, we can simply go to war with the dealer and have a second card flipped over. If we tie again, a third card is flipped over. This is repeated until someone has a higher card. An added twist is that each new card represents a new bet.

Say we bet $10 as our ante and both of us flip over a Jack. If we choose to go to war, we must place an additional bet matching our ante, in this case, $10. This additional bet matching the original ante is required to have another card flipped over.

If we win on the second card, we only win the second bet, while pushing on the original $10 ante bet. While this seems unfair, this, unfortunately, is part of the “juice” we must pay the house for playing at their casino. More details on what makes up the rest of the house edge in War will be talked about in the House Edge section of this page.

On the bright side, we can win a chunky pot when we go to war and win on the third or fourth card as you can imagine. The second option isn’t as flashy.

Surrender

The second option when your first card ties the dealer is to “surrender the hand.” Should you choose to surrender instead of going to war, the dealer will give you half of your ante back and the hand is over.

When we bet $10 and tie the dealer, choosing to surrender simply means the dealer pays us $5, keeps the other $5, and we move on to the next hand.

Check out our strategy section below to find out if going to war or choosing to surrender is the more profitable play.

Tie Bet

A fun way to win a big hand at the Casino War table is through the “tie bet” option the players are given before each hand is flipped. At the start of each hand, the player places their ante bet. They can also place an amount on the tie bet. In the event that the cards are a tie, the dealer will pay you 10x your bet.

If you place $10 on the tie bet and the cards match, the dealer awards you $110 ($100 plus your initial $10 bet placed on tie). If the cards are not a tie, the dealer simply collects your tie bet. Our section covering the strategy tips will let you know how we feel about this proposition and if it is a lucrative one for the gambler.

That may seem like a lot of information, but we promise you this game can’t be any easier to learn and fun to play.

Online

Forget about putting on a fancy outfit and combing your hair. Disregard filling the tank with gas and having to pay the ridiculous parking fees at the casinos. You can play war from the luxury of our own living room recliner or even in some cases your mobile phones at work. Just don’t tell your boss we suggested this.

Why spend the extra time getting ready and driving, let alone waiting on the dealer to flip the cards? When playing war at an online casino, that all goes out the window. The game remains the same as it does when playing at the casino, it just speeds up entire process thus allowing us to see more hands and flip more cards in less time.

You don’t have to worry about the transition from playing war at home or at the casino to playing it on online via one of the many sites that offer the game. There really is none. All the card values and general rules remain the same. The biggest difference is how many more hands we can play from the comfort of our own home.

Everything is sounding great and we’re sure you are probably clicking on an online site trying to start flipping cards now. We want to make sure you are fully aware of the house edge that the casino or online site holds over the player. Relax, as this edge is far less than the majority of offerings you will encounter while gambling.

House Edge

Playing War at the casino or online is still gambling. It wouldn’t be offered on the casino floor or on the sites if there was an easy way to beat the game. On the plus side, the advantage the house holds over the player isn’t nearly as significant as it is in some other casino games such as Keno.

In fact, on the first card dealt, the casino has no edge whatsoever. The player and dealer equally have a 46.3% chance of flipping a higher card. So how does the casino make money?

The casino’s edge comes into play once cards are tied….

The casino only pays out 10:1 on a tie. They are more than happy to do this as they immediately gain an enormous edge of 18.6% every time a player decides to place a wager on the tie bet. This is purely because the odds of the cards tying are much greater than 10:1.

In terms of deciding on whether to go to war with the dealer or surrender, the casino is happy either way as they have the edge. Because of the payout structure, going to war with the dealer gives the house a smallish 2.88% edge on us. Electing to surrender however balloons that house edge to nearly 4%. Now you know why the casino will offer the surrender bet. They are hoping to sucker you in.

Recommended Strategy

This is the basic advice we want you to have. We want you to give yourself the best chance to win money while playing war. As noted with the house edges, remember the following two items:

1. Do not place wagers on the “tie bet.”

2. Never surrender, always go to war.

By just following those two simple rules, you are already ahead of the game. Making sure you are having a good time is important as well. Casino War is meant to be an easy and engaging game. Keep it light and have fun.

Conclusion

If you are looking for more strategical games, perhaps where you aren’t competing against the house- we suggest trying poker. If you just want to have a drink and flip some cards over, go for Casino War. The ease and simplicity of the game make it a popular choice for the casual gambler looking for pure entertainment. There’s a neat element attached to playing a childhood game you used to play at slumber parties with friends to now playing it at a casino for real money.

Just make sure to understand it is just a game designed for entertainment. There is no real way of improving or getting better for next time. You just have to hope your card is higher than the dealer’s card. That’s all there is to this silly yet pleasurable game.

Join a site now and start playing. You might end up winning a few bucks while you’re at it!