How to Evaluate New Casino Games

Casinos are always looking for new games to add to their existing inventory and to replace ones that aren't earning enough money. New games are introduced all of the time while old ones are phased out.

Every game, whether it's a table game, a variation of blackjack, a new slot machine or a video poker game has a correct strategy to reduce the house edge as much as possible. The casinos know this and many players know this, even if most of them don't always use the optimum strategy.

The problem for those of us that want to play the best strategy for every game we play is new games require development of new strategies.

It usually doesn't take long for a new game to have mathematical strategies derived for it online, but what if you don't want to wait until that happens? You can use some of the following tips to help you play close to the optimum strategy until you learn a better one.

General New Casino Game Advice

The most important advice you can follow before playing any new casino game is to make sure you completely understand the rules and how the game is played. This is good advice for any casino game whether it is new or not, but never play a game unless you completely understand it.

Slot Machines

Slot machines usually don't have much of a strategy. You need to make sure you are playing enough coins or lines to be eligible for the top prizes, but most machines don't have any limitations. I always try to play with a small enough coin denomination that I can activate all of the pay lines. Even if I have to play a penny per line I don't want to miss a big combination because I didn't have the pay line activated.

Video Poker

Rarely are new video poker games introduced that can compete with the popularity and low house edge of Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye out for the latest and best offerings.

If you know the best strategy for a similar game you can use it to help you play a new video poker game. For example, if you know the best strategy for Jacks or Better you can use it to play Tens or Better (even though it isn't a new game) and you can probably use it when someone introduces Queens or Better.

When you play new video poker games that have wild cards you can often use Deuces Wild strategy to make playing decisions.

You need to be careful playing too many hands using strategies designed for other games. Just like most of the games listed on this page, short playing sessions probably won't cost you too much in the way of expected return but extended playing sessions without optimum strategy can start adding up quickly.

Make sure you are playing the maximum coins per hand whenever you play video poker because most machines only unlock the highest payouts (which often include a bonus amount) with maximum wagers. You can always play for less per coin if you need to bet less per hand. For example, you can move down from 1.00 per coin to .25 per coin or .05 per coin.

Table Games

Many times you can play close to optimum strategy on new table games by using common sense. Some games are easier to do this with than others, but just making a few minor mistakes in a single playing session usually won't cost you too much in the way of expected return.

I remember the first time I played Mississippi Stud poker was before I looked up the best strategy. After I finished at the casino and went home to look at the best strategy I found that I was playing close enough to it that I wasn't costing myself too much money.

If a game has a dealer way to play a hand like Pai Gow Poker or Baccarat, if you have a choice on how to play your hand you can usually just follow the same rules the dealer uses. This might not get you the maximum possible return but it should get you close.

Consider blackjack basic strategy and how the dealer plays her hand. The dealer rules aren't the best basic strategy but if you had never played before it will keep you from making any terrible mistakes that will kill you in a short playing session.

Other Games

When casinos introduce games that don't fit into one of the above categories (slots, video poker or table games) it can be difficult to figure out optimum strategy. Other games tend to have some of the highest house edges so I generally avoid them until I learn the true house edge. Consider how high the house edge is on Keno and other games that don't fit into normal casino games categories. The edge on Keno is often 25% or more. You might as well buy a lottery ticket if you are going to play most of these types of games.

Side Bets

More and more casino games have side bets. It seems that every new game has at least one side bet available, and some have multiple options. As a general rule side bets tend to be poor wagers. They usually have higher house edges than the main games they are attached to.

I don't play any side bets until I see the mathematical workings letting me know the expected returns.


Don't let the fact that you don't know the best strategy keep you from checking out a new casino game. Use the tips above to give yourself the best chance and don't play with more money than you're prepared to lose.

Once you understand how a new game is played there's no reason to wait to try it out. Just use your common sense, what you already know and smart bankroll management.