Most poker players stick with poker when they gamble. But if you find that you can’t play poker right now, or you’re simply looking for poker alternatives, you need to know what your best options are.
I’ve put together a list of the top 11 alternatives for poker players looking for another gambling game or activity to do. Each item on this list includes a quick explanation of the plusses and minuses, so you can find s gambling activity that fits what you’re looking for.
1 – Blackjack – The Best of All Poker Alternatives
Blackjack is a good choice for poker players because if you use the right strategies you can make a profit, just like when you play poker. The strategies aren’t the same, but if you’re good enough to be a winning poker player you’re smart enough to learn how to be a winning blackjack player.
Pick up a blackjack strategy card so you can start learning the best strategy plays for every hand you play. Then start learning how card counting works. Once you learn how to count cards and practice until you’re good at it, you can use your skills to play for the rest of your life.
2 – Betting on Sports – Also One of the Best Poker Alternatives
One of the best choices for poker players looking for a change of pace is to bet on sports. You can get an edge betting on sports, but it takes as much work as learning how to be a winning poker player.
If you watch a lot of sporting events you already have some good ideas about which teams are better than others. But this alone isn’t enough to make money betting on sports.
You have to find lines offered by the sportsbooks that are profitable when combined with your knowledge of the best teams. Learn how to evaluate teams and players and compare what you learn to the available lines to try to find ways to make a profit.
3 – Three Card Poker
Three card poker is a popular table game variation of poker found in most casinos. Instead of using a five card hand like in most variations of poker, you play with a three card hand.
You don’t play against the other players at the table like when you play Texas holdem or Omaha. Instead, you play against the dealer. Three card poker is fun to play, but it doesn’t offer the same opportunities for long term profit as the poker games you’re used to playing.
In order to play three card poker you have to make something called and ante. And then you make another bet called a play bet of equal size to stay in the game. The house edge on the ante and play bet is almost 3.4%, so you can’t beat the game in the long run. An optional bet, called the pairplus bet, carries a house edge of almost 7.3%, making it one of the worst wagers in the casino.
You can use some strategy with three card poker, but the house edge numbers listed above are based on playing the best strategy. You can’t do anything to make the edge lower when you play three card poker.
4 – Mississippi Stud Poker
Mississippi Stud is a poker variation table game offered in many casinos. It’s fun to play, but the house edge is almost 5%, so it’s not usually your best option.
The nice thing about playing Mississippi Stud is you can bet up to 10 times your original wager when you start with a good hand. You make an initial wager, and then have three opportunities during the hand to bet up to three times your original bet.
Mississippi Stud is basically a five card stud game. You start with two cards and there are three board cards. You can make a bet or fold after you receive your two cards, and after the first and second face down cards are turned over.
5 – Four Card Poker
Four card poker is another casino table game played against the dealer. It’s a lot like three card poker, and has a house edge of around 2.8% when you use good strategy.
You place an ante to start, and you can bet up to three times your ante when you have a hand good enough to stay in. The dealer gets an extra card to make a hand, and you have to beat the dealer’s hand to win.
A simple strategy to use when you play four card poker is to bet three times your ante when you have a pair of tens or higher, bet the same as your ante when you have a pair of twos to a pair of nines, and fold anything below a pair of twos. You can find more advanced strategy for four card poker is you want to play it with the lowest house edge.
Another bet option, called aces up is offered when you play four card poker. It has a higher edge than the ante and play bets, so you shouldn’t make this bet. Like three card poker, you can’t beat four card poker in the long run.
6 – Video Poker
Most video poker games are based on five card draw, so they’re a natural game to consider if you’re looking for an alternative to your regular poker games. You can use strategy when you play video poker to lower the house edge, but there aren’t many opportunities for long term profit.
Learn how to play Jacks or Better video poker and get a strategy card for the game. Find a machine that pays six for flush and nine for a full house and use your strategy card. This gives you a house edge just under .5% when you bet five coins.
7 – Betting on Horses
Horse racing has been popular around the world for centuries, and people have been betting on it almost as long. It requires a different skill set than poker, but there are some smart people who can make money betting on horses.
Start with small bets and learn how to handicap horse races. Look at the horses with the best speed and look at the jockeys and trainers that have the best track record. As you watch more horse races your handicapping skills are going to improve.
8 – Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow poker is a table game offered in casinos, but it’s not one of the most popular ones. You get seven cards and split them into a five card hand and a two card hand.
The dealer also gets seven cards, and both of your hands have to beat the dealer’s hands to win. If one hand wins and the other loses your bet pushes.
The only qualification is that your five card hand has to be higher than your two card hand.
9 – Midi or Mini Baccarat
Midi or mini baccarat is a good choice if you’re looking for a game with a low house edge that doesn’t require much brain power. The house edge on the only bet you should make is just over 1%, and you don’t have to make any playing decisions.
The only bet to use when you play baccarat is on the banker hand. Once you make your bet, the dealer takes care of everything else.
10 – Roulette
Roulette is a simple game that has the same house edge on every bet on the felt. You can place bets on single numbers or on bets that you win almost half the time like red or black.
The only thing you need to do is play on a wheel that only has a single zero space. Wheels with a double zero space have a house edge much higher than single zero wheels, and you should avoid them.
11 – Craps
Craps is one of the most fun poker alternatives, but you need to play a certain way to avoid bets with a high house edge. You can make a wide range of bets when you play craps, but there are only two worth making.
Start with a pass line bet and when a point is set make an odds bet. All of the other bets, except the don’t pass line, have a higher house edge.
The Final Word on Poker Alternatives
When you can’t play poker there are plenty of other options. If you’re looking for a casino based poker game to fill your needs, consider Pai Gow poker, Mississippi Stud poker, three card poker, four card poker, or video poker.
If you’re more interested in finding an edge than playing a poker variation, sports betting, blackjack, and betting on horses is the way to go. And if you’re simply looking for an easy game that you don’t have to concentrate on while you play, baccarat, craps, and roulette are all good options.