In the last couple of years, playing casino games online has become one of the most popular leisure activities with the global gaming audience. By 2026, iGaming is predicted to be worth $160 billion, and in the UK alone there were over 30 million gamers with active profiles in 2019.
While many consumers choose to play online casino games casually, winding down with their favourite online slots game after a hard day at work, if you want to treat casino play as a real-money activity, it makes sense to adopt a more strategic approach during your sessions.
Not every online casino player has aspirations of becoming a high roller, but the nature of iGaming means that it is possible to maximise the opportunities to win more frequently, provided you know what to focus on.
Why Strategies are beneficial for online casino games
Some popular casino games like roulette and slots are games of chance, unlike poker and blackjack, which are games of skill. This means it’s just not possible to win every game of chance that you play, even theoretically.
While a strategy for card games will be much more methodical, a strategy for playing slots or roulette will focus on the things you can do to increase your chances of winning, avoiding the wrong bets, and setting the game up right before you play.
There’s also the unfortunate matter of the house edge. Yes, the house edge exists in online casino platforms as much as it does brick and mortar casinos. It doesn’t matter if the games in question are blackjack, slots, or video poker, the platform will always maintain this distinct advantage.
Beating the House Edge
While there is no way of overcoming a casino platform’s house edge, there are certain things that you can do to minimise its impact. This is another reason why creating and following an effective strategy is important when playing casino games.
A well thought out strategy will reduce the rate at which you lose and improve your overall chances of a successful outcome. At the very least, you can maximise value for money in the online casino by only playing games with the lowest listed house edge and taking advantage of rewards and bonuses, such as free spins and plays or cashback offers.
You also need to keep in mind that the house edge of a casino platform will vary between the different games on offer, ranging from very low to very high. By playing only those games with the lowest house edge, you’ll keep the inherent advantage that the casino has to a minimum and ensure that your deposits last longer.
Although the house edge will vary between casino operators, in general, it’s safe to assume that games like blackjack, video poker, and baccarat will typically feature the lowest percentage.
Foundational Strategies for Popular Casino Games
Taking all this into consideration, let’s break down some effective foundational strategies for the most popular games on offer on online platforms.
While there is no strategy in existence that will ever guarantee big wins at the blackjack table, else we’d all be billionaires, adopting a foundational strategy such as this one suggested by PokerNews will improve your results.
The strategy is based on the premise of increasing your chances of winning, reaching “optimal play (by) giving yourself the best chances to win”. On a simple level, it’s a list of the dos and don’ts at the blackjack table, and it will give you a formula for how to play every hand that you’re dealt.
The first and perhaps most essential stage of a foundational blackjack strategy is effective bankroll management – knowing when and how much to bet, as well as selecting the right games based on the information that a casino operator provides.
Instead of thinking of the wagers, you place during a game of blackjack as bets, think of them as investments. This will teach you to be more conservative in the amount you wager and leave you less susceptible to emotionally driven wagering.
Once you’ve got the basics covered, you can move onto more specific elements, such as memorising exactly when to stand, hit, or split to reduce the house edge even further. According to renowned blackjack expert John Marchell, you can cut the house edge down to as low as 0.5% by adopting the following strategic plays:
- Stand when your hand is 12-16, and the dealer has 2-6
- Hit when your hand is 12-16 and the dealer has 7-Ace
- Double 11 against the dealer’s 2-10
- Split Aces and 8s
- Hit or Double Aces-6
A more specific approach can be taken with a foundational roulette strategy. The important thing to remember when starting a strategy for online roulette games is that it should follow a positive betting system. That’s why the Paroli system is consistently adopted as an effective roulette strategy by novice and experienced players alike.
The Paroli system assumes that if a player has won in the immediate past, more wins will follow in the future. It is, in essence, a parley system and involves increasing wagers as wins increase. Following this strategy, a player will make three decisions before decreasing their wager to the original amount and beginning again with a new set of wagers (e.g. $5 wager then a win, $15 wager, and a win, $25 wager). The winning wagers are added to the bankroll, and the original $5 wager is used to start a new series.
Of course, the Paroli strategy can be employed at any stage of the gaming session. Some players prefer to begin once the game’s bankroll has increased, so the second wager is the same amount as the first. Then, following the second win, the third bet will mean going full Paroli bore and any subsequent losses will ensure that the player can return to their original wager at the very least. While it’s only recommended to use this strategy on even-money wagers, it is nevertheless a safe and effective foundational strategy for online roulette.
Online Slots Strategy
Online Slots are an entirely different animal than roulette or blackjack. In blackjack, for example, it’s possible to keep track of the cards that have already been dealt and adjust your strategy accordingly through card counting, but the randomised nature of an online slot makes any tracking impossible. An effective foundational strategy, then, should focus on preparing to play.
No two online slots games will ever be the same, even two that have been developed by the same company, so you’ll need to do your research before you start playing a game for real money. You should look for games that offer a range of stakes and include the highest Return to Player rate possible. A reputable casino operator will list the RTP percent of each of its games directly on their gaming website.
Mind the paytables too, as these will also differ from game to game. The paytable will show you the value of each symbol, as well as wilds and scatters, and is a good way to find out which ones are the most lucrative.
It’s also a sensible idea to practice with free games before laying down any money. Most platforms will offer new customers anywhere from 10 to 50 free spins, providing a great opportunity to get to know different games.
It also goes without saying that when you do start to play for real money on a slots game, set a budget and stick to it. Online slots are fast-paced games, so take your time and monitor how much you’re spending in a gaming session.