Types of Gambling Games – Games of Chance vs Skills

By on December 22, 2012
gambling games

There are basically two types of gambling games: games of chance and games of chance that also involve skill. All honest gambling games are games of chance, or “equal-opportunity” games, because theoretically, if you played forever, you would have as much chance or likelihood of winning as any other player.

There are, however, some games of chance that also provide the opportunity for skilled players to increase their likelihood of winning by making smart playing decisions. These are the casino skill games, and they’re the ones you should really take the time to learn well if you want to be a serious player.

In this section, we’ll describe the games that involve chance alone and those in which you can improve your chances of winning by investing some time and practice.

[colored_box color=”green”]Gamb-lingo

Your bet is the money that you put up, wager, or risk in a gambling game in hopes of winning a reward. Odds describe the mathematical probability that an event will occur. The amount you collect if your bet wins is your payoff (referred to as payout when referring to slot and video machines).[/colored_box]

All I Need Is a Miracle (Games of Chance)

People are more familiar with and can usually be found playing the obvious games of chance like slot machines, roulette, and keno. That’s not because these are “no-brainers,” but because they often offer the highest payouts and provide the greatest excitement for the least amount of money. As the name implies, there’s little you can do to influence a game of chance, except guess right and pray.


A slight edge in a game of chance isn’t entirely out of the question when you know how the game works and what you’re getting into. You’ll learn what that means when we cover individual games of chance in later articles:


A numbers game used by states to generate money. You can choose from many kinds of lotteries: Pick 3, Pick 4, scratch-offs, and so on. Lottery games are not played in a casino. They are sponsored by state governments and you can purchase lottery tickets in supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines, and other locations.


Another numbers game, played with a field of 75 numbers. Players purchase their own game boards; each game board contains a different, random selection of 25 of the 75 possible numbers. The person running the game calls out the numbers pulled one by one from a rotating bin. The player’s objective is to be the first to fill a designated pattern on his or her board by covering each called number.


A lottery-type numbers game you play as you wait to be served in casino restaurants or in special keno lounges. Players select anywhere from 1 to 20 of the 80 possible numbers on a keno board. If, say, six out of the 10 numbers you picked matches any of the 20 that were randomly selected for that game—you win. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?


A card game de France, in which two hands are dealt and players bet whether the player’s hand or the house’s hand (the banker) will be closer to a total of 9. An elegant no-brainer that requires only one decision based on two choices.


A game played with a spinning wheel of either 37 (European version) or 38 (American version) numbers. Players bet on the outcome of the next spin of the wheel. Fortunately, you don’t have to guess the number all the time. You can just bet the color (red or black) too!

Slot Machines:

Commonly referred to as “one-armed bandits,” these machines literally built Las Vegas and every other gambling mecca of today—and tomorrow. Players bet that each spin of the mechanical reels will result in a jackpot, or at least a payout. Just getting your coins back counts as a win!

When Practice Can ALMOST Make Perfect (Games of Skill)

In games of skill, which include all sports and most card games, a player has meaningful decisions to make. If there are no meaningful decisions, it is not a game of skill. Your knowledge of the game, ability to make the right playing decisions, and consistent use of proven playing and betting strategies can significantly increase your odds of winning a skill game. That’s why most professional gamblers stick to these games, and most casinos strive to limit how they play by imposing very calculated rules, betting limits, and payout schedules, a.k.a. the house edge. 

Here’s a list of the “chancy” games of skill that you’ll learn more about in this website:


A five- or seven-card game in which players bet against each other rather than the house. The objective is to win the pot of money that players bet as they try to achieve a winning hand by buying new cards, or as they raise the stakes to make other players think that they already have one. A winning hand consists of the highest ranking combination of cards. The skill is in knowing how to play your cards; when to bet and when to fold.

Pai gow poker:

A seven-card game played with a deck of 52 cards plus the joker. The game is actually based on the combination of a Chinese domino game called pai gow and good old American poker. The skill comes in knowing how to arrange the seven cards into a five-card poker hand and a two-card hand.


A card game in which players play against a dealer (the house). The objective is to hold a hand that adds up to more than the dealer’s hand, without going over 21. The skill comes in knowing when to hit (take more cards), stand (stop taking cards), double down (double your bet and take only one more card), or split (make two separate hands out of the original cards dealt)—and when to bet more.


A game played with a pair of dice on a special table. Players bet on the outcome of the next roll of the dice. While this is truly a game of chance, knowing how and when to place your bets is a workable skill that can greatly influence how much money you get to take home.

Sports betting:

Betting on the outcome of sporting events, including college and professional football, baseball, basketball, and more. The skill comes in analyzing the information that is available about each team and finding betting situations that can give you an advantage.

Horse racing:

You guessed it — wagering on the outcome of horses racing against each other. The objective, of course, is to pick the winning horse, or at least the top three. The skill is in “reading the sheets,” evaluating the odds, placing your bets, and finding the one horse (and jockey) that’s skillful enough to beat all the others!

Video poker:

Video card games share a lot of similarity to basic slot machines, which makes them somewhat chancy. But knowledge of the underlying card strategy can help you outrun a bad cycle. The skill in video poker is knowing which cards to hold.

[colored_box color=”green”]Gamb-lingo

Regulars fondly call a casino the house — their gaming “home away from home.” You bet against the house in most casino games. The house edge is the small percentage of each bet (win or lose) that the house takes. It’s regarded as income — your payment for playing, like an entertainment tax. The payout schedule is how much a winning hand, roll of the dice, or combination on a slot machine will pay.[/colored_box]

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