Why You’ll Love Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker & More if You Like Blackjack

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A person holding up a hand of cards. They are holding four 10s and an ace.
BetMGM Feb 07, 2024, 8:16 AM

Of all the different online casino games, blackjack is certainly one of the most popular choices. Many players are drawn to it due to the strategy and skill involved, which can turn the game into a profitable one. Blackjack is also attractive as it can be played with friends

Even if you’re a pro blackjack player, it’s still worth trying other casino games from time to time. It’s always good to mix things up, take a break, and refresh the mind. You never know, you might even find one that’s even more appealing than blackjack.

Reasons To Introduce New Games

Blackjack is popular for a reason, but there are a number of games that provide equal amounts of entertainment and opportunities to win. Although many players enjoy the strategy involved, it can be tiring. Trying new games can offer a fresh challenge, allowing you to escape the routine of blackjack.

Variety games, which rely more on luck than complex strategy, can offer a welcome break. Alternatively, games like pai gow poker and pontoon are quite similar to blackjack, but they each have a unique twist to keep things interesting.

Here are some of the best games to try if you’re looking to mix things up and take a rest from playing blackjack. 

Baccarat

There are several variants of baccarat you could try. Chemin de fer and baccarat banque are two common games, but the most popular variant is punto banco. That is what people usually mean when they talk about “baccarat.”

Just like blackjack, players sit around the dealer, but they aren’t exactly competing against the house. Instead, players can bet on one of two boxes, marked “player” and “banker,” or a tie between the two. Each box is dealt two cards, with a third being drawn in certain circumstances.

Betting takes place before the cards are dealt, but there isn’t a lot of room for a strategy. The winner is simply determined by which hand is closest to 9. If you bet on that hand, you win and, if not, you lose. 

Cards 2–9 are worth their face value. Aces are worth one point, while 10s, jacks, queens, and kings are worth zero. If the total hand exceeds 9, only the last digit of the number is used. So, a hand consisting of 6 and 5 would be worth only one, not 11.

Winning bets on the player box have payout odds of +100, while bets on the dealer are usually subject to a 5% commission. That means payout odds of +95 instead. The highest rewards are for a tie, as the payout odds are usually +800 and sometimes even +900. 

Pai Gow Poker

This game is perfect for those interested in playing something that’s more relaxing and less intense than blackjack. Originally played with Chinese dominoes, pai gow poker is a combination of classic American poker and the Chinese game pai gow. 

Just like blackjack, the game uses a deck of 52 cards, but there’s also a joker. It’s played by a dealer and up to six players. One similarity with blackjack is that players are competing against the dealer, or the “house,” instead of other players. 

Each player receives seven cards, which they must rearrange into two hands. One hand consists of five cards and is referred to as the “high hand.” The other is just two cards and is called the “low hand.” 

To win, both of your hands must beat the dealer’s. If one of them is weaker, then the player’s bet is returned. If both of them are weaker, the player loses. In the rare case of an exact match between a player’s hand and the dealer’s hand, called a “copy,” the dealer wins.

Pontoon

There are many games like blackjack, but pontoon has the most similarities. The winner in both games is the player with the hand closest to 21. However, the best hand in pontoon is referred to as “pontoon” instead of “blackjack.” 

Another unique rule of this game is that there are no 10s in the deck. Jacks, queens, and kings are still worth 10 points, but all the 10s are removed. Further, look out for the “five-card trick,” which is any five-card hand worth less than 21. This is the second-best possible hand.

The terms used in pontoon are “twist,” “stick,” and “buy,” which are the same as “hit,” “stand,” and “double” in blackjack. 

Texas Hold’Em Poker

The games listed in this article so far are usually more relaxing choices than blackjack. However, hold’em poker goes in the opposite direction. If the sophisticated strategy of blackjack is what attracts you the most, you’ll likely find hold’em equally enjoyable.

For those who choose to play live dealer poker or blackjack, there’s an interesting social element to both. However, while blackjack is played against the dealer, poker is played against other players. As such, you’ll need to read through the behaviors and patterns of other players, to work out whether they’re bluffing.

In Texas hold’em, each player is dealt two cards. There are two players at the table that must bet automatically. These are called small and big blinds, which rotate with every hand. After these blinds are posted, the game consists of multiple stages in which the dealer lays out cards. These are called “community cards,” which everyone can use. 

The first stage is called the “flop,” which includes three cards. After the flop, there are two further rounds, each containing just one card, called the “turn” and “river,” respectively. 

During each stage, players have the option to fold, check, raise, or call. The winner is the one who has the highest hand ranking at the showdown. However, if you can force everyone else to fold first, you’ll also claim the pot.

Play Exciting New Games at BetMGM Casino

Even if you’re the most hardcore live dealer blackjack player, it’s good to take a break now and then. Luckily, there are numerous casino games online that one can enjoy to mix things up. 

Some of these require skills and a lot of practice, while others are based on pure luck. If you really do love blackjack, you should certainly consider checking out baccarat, pontoon, and pai gow poker. You can now find live dealer versions of these, thanks to the growth in popularity of live dealer casino games across the country. 

If you’re interested in trying out any of the games mentioned in this article, be sure to register with BetMGM Casino today.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.