The first card game learned by most children in America is undoubtedly war. All you need to play war is the ability to count, and the game is simply a game of chance based on who’ll draw the highest card on a random deal.
War is traditionally played between two people with nothing on the line but pride, but at some point enterprising casino managers decided to turn the kitchen table game into a casino table game. The result of their innovation is casino war, which is by far the easiest game to play in any gaming establishment.
Casino war pits you against a house dealer but the objective of the game remains the same: hope your card is higher than theirs. That’s really all there is to it. While the sight of a casino war table in a brick and mortar casino usually sets the scene for some carefree gambling, the game has made a successful transition to the online casino industry. Today casino war holds its own alongside competing table games across most prominent online casino venues.
Because casino war offers a relatively low house edge, along with a game that requires very little mental gymnastics from the player. People love to pass the time with a few hands of this age old classic. And after all, there aren’t many card game situations more exciting than the revelation of matching cards, prompting you and your opponent to declare war before letting the deck decide your fate.
How to Play
Playing a hand of casino war is simple and stress-free, making it a favorite for newcomers trying to get a little gamble in during their first trip to the casino. To begin, you’ll place a mandatory ante bet in any amount you prefer. Most players begin with a $5 bet to get the ball rolling, before seeing what the deck has in store for them and altering the amount accordingly.
After you ante up the dealer will toss out one card to each player at the table (or just you during online play), before dealing themselves a single card as well. All cards are dealt face up.
In casino war, standard hand rankings are applied. Aces are always high and suits are irrelevant. With the cards dealt out, the dealer compares each player card to their own, and the highest card wins. Winning bets are paid out at 1-to-1 while losing bets are claimed by the house.
The excitement of casino war comes when your card happens to tie the dealer’s card. When this scenario occurs, players are given the option to surrender and forfeit half of their ante bet, or to declare war by placing an additional wager equal to the ante. You won’t receive additional information to tilt your decision one way or another, so there are no strategic implications at play, and most players simply go to war and hope for the best. And besides, why play casino war if you’re not prepared to do battle?
When war is declared and the additional bet is placed, the dealer will burn three cards face down before delivering the player a second card face up. This process is repeated so that the dealer receives a second card, and these are compared to determine the winner.
One thing to keep in mind when playing casino war is that going to war and winning does not result in the payout you might expect. Let’s say you’ve wagered $10, your card matches the dealer’s, and you’d like to go to war. This will cost you an additional $10 wager, but when you win the war your payout is only $10. That’s because the rules of casino war state that only the additional bet is paid out when you win a war, while the ante bet is only pushed.
This is a crucial difference because the house derives its edge based solely on this payout discrepancy. Anytime you need to risk $20 to win $10 in a game of chance, you’re taking the short end of probability’s stick.
Many casinos both live and online, do pay out both wagers when your second war card winds up tying the dealer’s war card. Make sure to check the rules for the room you’re playing to be sure whether or not this provision is in place.
Finally, you may also see a small betting circle marked tie near the primary ante space. This is used for a special side bet, one which pays out at 10 to 1 in the event your first card ties the dealer’s first card.
Real wars involve intricate strategic considerations if victory is to be accomplished. Casino war? Not so much.
The game is essentially predicated on pure chance, so you’ll be left hoping to see high cards while the dealer is sunk by a long run of lows. Other than hope though, there’s not much you can do to influence the outcome of an individual hand.
One thing you can do when trying to turn a profit during a session of casino war involves savvy game selection. Casino war games that utilize house friendly rules, such as not paying out a bonus equal to your ante when you tie the dealer during a war, clearly put the player at a disadvantage. Conversely, if you can find casino war tables that do pay out the bonus when you tie at war, these games reduce the house edge while increasing your expected value over the long run.
The other strategy is you should always go to war on a tie.
In the end though, casino war should be approached as a source of entertainment, and not a battlefield on which strategy plays an essential war. Bring a few bucks you can bear to part with, sit down and square off against the dealer, and relive a surprisingly nostalgic part of your childhood. And if you happen to turn a profit by the time the last hand is dealt, that’s all the better.