The Most Influential Casino Card Games

min read
A group of friends playing card games around a table.
BetMGM Nov 17, 2023, 11:26 AM

Playing card games is a hobby that has stood the test of time. Every generation has embraced card games, whether they enjoy them with family or against their friends online and in casinos. Online casino games may be cutting-edge and innovative, but they are also the continuation of an old tradition with the added convenience of playing online on a mobile or desktop device. 

Explore the history of some of the best card games played in casinos and their appeal, and learn more about three of the most influential card games you can play on the internet. 

The History of Casino Card Games

Casino card games are loved the world over. So, it’s no surprise that multiple regions claim to have been the first to play them. The origin of card games has three different versions.

The first begins in Central Asia. Before 1000 AD in the 10th century, Chinese people used a kind of paper to play games like dominoes. These paper symbols — or cards — could have been an ancient precursor to the modern card deck. 

Perhaps card games were instead invented by the Mamluks, a group of ethnically diverse slave soldiers who served the Arab dynasties in the Muslim world. The soldiers created a game using a particular set of cards known as Mulûk Wa-Nawwâb (meaning “kings and deputies”). The slave soldiers are believed to have come up with the original idea and pattern of a card deck. 

Another version of the story attributes the invention to the Europeans. When the Europeans invented the card deck, instead of having diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades as their suits, they used sticks, swords, coins, and cups. However, it’s unlikely that these cards were the first playing cards to be used. 

You might be wondering where casinos fit into the history of card games. Gambling predates the invention of card games and can be traced as far back as 600 BCE. The two worlds collided when casinos were legalized in the 1930s and were no longer confined to backstreets and shady saloons. This freedom allowed people to choose gambling games with cards as the casino game to play to earn the winnings they were after. 

Why Are Cards So Appealing?

One thing is indisputable: card games are here to stay. They are a staple hobby and continue to evolve and adapt to changing times and technology. But what makes them so appealing and universal?

Portability

A deck of cards can easily fit into your pocket or bag, ready to be whipped out at the first available opportunity. This portability explains why card games were played in trenches during the war, at schools, or even by prisoners and slaves in the past. 

Adaptability

There are set casino card game rules for certain games, but games can easily be modified to suit different age groups, regions, or types of players. Players can even modify some games to make them more challenging and exciting for their circle of friends. With multiple variations for every game, it’s easy to find one that works for you. And if you think you’ve already played the most obvious ones, check out these obscure card games you may never have heard of.

Combination of Luck and Skill

Luck-based games are great because everyone gets a chance to play. But if you’re dedicating a lot of time to your favorite game, you’ll want to start using strategy to win. Card games in casinos are perfect because most of them combine luck with skill in varying proportions, which can increase your chances of winning if you become good at playing. 

The Element of Mystery and Surprise

In board games, it’s easy for players to predict your next move since they can always see your position on the board. By contrast, card games add an element of mystery and surprise because opponents can’t see each other’s cards and easily predict upcoming moves. And you get to enjoy the thrill of the “big reveal,” too.

Building Relationships

Card games are the perfect way to bond with other people. And because they’re easy to set up and the rules take a minute or two to explain, there’s always room for one more. Everyone is welcome. So why not include your long-distance friends and invite them to play some casino table games online with you?

The Oldest and Most Influential Casino Card Games

When you play card games at the casino, you get to enjoy the authentic gambling atmosphere, stellar service, and in-person enjoyment that traditional brick-and-mortar casinos provide. But online casinos aren’t just more convenient and accessible. They offer a longer list of casino card games (as well as online slots and other popular table games) for you to choose from, often with many variations. And the gameplay doesn’t have to be fully automated by a random number generator or feel impersonal because now you can interact with real dealers in live dealer casino games

Here are three of the oldest and most popular casino games available to play at the BetMGM live casino online. 

Blackjack

As one of the oldest casino games in history, blackjack is believed to have been first played by the French in the 17th century. By the 1800s, the game had made its way into the U.S., quickly becoming one of the most-played games in casinos. Today, hundreds of years later, it is still the most popular card game to play in casinos, not least because its house edge is relatively small. In fact, blackjack is widely regarded as the casino game with the best return to player (RTP) percentage. It is also extremely simple to learn blackjack; mastering it, however, will take practice, skill, and a well-thought-out blackjack strategy

The game’s influence is evident in the fact that in 1985, blackjack accounted for 77% of all casino activity. Times have changed, but in 2018, blackjack still dominated with a 49.15% share.

Today, you can find many variations of blackjack online, including live dealer blackjack titles such as Infinite Blackjack, Lightning Blackjack, and Unlimited Blackjack, as well as regular (non-live) versions based on random number generators such as Blackjack Millionaire Pro. Many fans take their chances against the house and play the title favorite, Premium Blackjack Pro, at BetMGM. 

Poker

Poker is one of the most widely recognized types of casino card games, and its history is believed to date back almost a millennium, spanning several cultures and continents. Some historians have tied poker’s origins to the Persian card game “As-Nas,” which originated in the 16th century. In contrast, others believe its origins date back as far as the 10th century, linking it to a domino-card game played by the Chinese emperor of the time. 

Today, there are an estimated 60 million poker players in the U.S. alone. As widely loved as poker is, it was only developed in the 19th century by the Americans. Poque, its closest European predecessor, gained popularity in France in the 17th century. It was based on the 16th-century Spanish game primero and brought into North America in the early 1800s. Here, the name was anglicized from poque to poker, and more of the modern game features were adopted. In this early variation, players would get five cards from a deck of 20. The game was popular with boat workers and inside saloons, as it included betting against the other players at the table.

The game gained more acceptance in Europe after World War I, and even though it was a late starter, poker has developed more than any other casino game to become the fan-favorite it is today. It’s even branched out into many exciting variations that dominate both land-based and online casinos. There are high-level tournaments such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) with eye-watering buy-ins at one end of the spectrum and friendly home games between friends at the other. 

The reason it’s so popular is that there’s always a chance to improve your game if you apply enough time, effort, and practice. After all, poker isn’t just about your luck and whether you win. Every aspect matters, including how you bet, when you choose to play, how to read players’ tells, and how you adapt your actions to your position around the table. 

Why not play this old-school classic in a modern poker powerhouse? BetMGM offers a wide selection of poker games and variations, including four-card poker, Texas Hold’em, and many more. You can even sign up to join one of 70 daily poker tournaments. 

Baccarat

Baccarat (also known as punto banco) is the earliest recorded card game that you can still play at casinos today. The Italians described a version of the game in the 1400s before it moved to France. It was there that it became a popular game to play among noblemen in private gambling rooms. Its prestige didn’t end with the nobility, however. Today, baccarat is still a favorite among high-rollers (poker legend Phil Ivey included), and some casinos even offer luxury VIP lounges with extremely high-stakes baccarat games. Given it’s one of the more underappreciated casino card games out there, it’s certainly one that’s worth a go because it might just become your next favorite.

Baccarat is like blackjack in that you play just against the dealer (as opposed to other players). But that’s where the similarity ends because in baccarat, you can bet on either your own hand winning or the dealer’s. Baccarat is also a great casino game for beginners to try because it is heavily reliant on luck, so you don’t need to learn any complex strategies to stand a chance of winning.

You can play Baccarat Live, First Person Baccarat, and First Person Lightning Baccarat on the BetMGM app, among other titles. You could even switch things up with unique side bet options in Baccarat Dragon Bonus.

Experience the Fantastic Digitization of Card Games With BetMGM

Cutting-edge technology available at BetMGM is enhancing the casino card game experience, so it’s almost as if you’re playing at a brick-and-mortar casino. As well as playing traditional casino table games online, you can also play mobile-optimized games with real live dealers. With us, you’re spoiled for choice with a huge and ever-growing selection of games and variations. Register at BetMGM to take part in the casino gaming revolution.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.