The Surprisingly Peaceful History of Casino War

Hailey Campbell

Casino expert

The Surprisingly Peaceful History of Casino War

The history of casino war is rich and surprisingly has nothing to do with actual war. Stick with us as we detail the peaceful rise and development of war into casino war and reveal how the card game remains a table favourite to this very day.

What Is Casino War?

Casino war sign at a casino

Casino war is a simple card-comparing game in which players attempt to win by having the most valuable hand. Players make an ante bet and then the dealer deals a single card out to each player, including themselves.

Cards are ranked from lowest to highest with Ace being the best card and 2 being the lowest-valued card. If the player ties with the dealer, win or lose, then the player has the option to surrender or go to war. Going to war is where things get interesting – another round of betting ensures and whoever has the highest card wins.

We’ve deep-dived into the various ways to win in our casino war strategy guide.

A Simple Game: Early History of Casino War

friends playing cards

The true history of casino war dates back to some time around the 18th century when numerous games with similar rules appeared around Europe. For example, the game appears as Tod Und Leben and Bettelmann in Germany, Bataille in France, Battle in England and the Russians were playing a variation called Durak around 1900.

This card game was known as war and it is one of the earliest known card-comparison games. Comparisons are often drawn to other games like three-card poker, baccarat, and Hi-Lo. Unfortunately, we can’t really determine the exact origin of war and the history of casino war has largely been pieced together from old pieces of literature.

But Is War Even a Game?

Famously, when game theory expert Greg Costikyan decided to take a look at determining the fundamental qualities of a “game”, he determined war didn’t qualify. He identified six components that are required and determined that war did not contain one – decision-making. Since the game is essentially players receive a blind card, Costikyan argues that there is no element of decision-making.

However, we disagree with this assessment when applied to casino war, because it does revolve around a very important decision – choosing whether to surrender or go to war. Lovers of casino war know this is where the most money is won and where the lowest house edge is. Undoubtedly, casino war is very much a game.

Comparing Casino War with Baccarat

How to play Baccarat and win

If you know how to play baccarat, you’ll be able pick up casino war pretty quickly. Both games are played against the dealer and both games require the winner to have the better hand. However, differences can be found in the ability to “go to war” in casino war and the fact you can bet on the dealer to win in Baccarat.

  Casino war Baccarat


Roughly 18th Century as a European card game.

15th-century card game believed to have been created by an Italian man named Felix Falguiere.

Object of the game

To score the highest hand

To score a hand closest to 9 and/or bet on the correct winner

House edge

Typically around 2.8%

Typically around 1.24%

Player strategy

Always go to war as the house edge is lower and do not place a tie bet as the odds of being successful are very low.

There are numerous popular strategies but the Martingale strategy that sees you doubling your bet with every loss is one of the most popular.

The Modern Table Game of Casino War

The history of casino war as a modern table game really began in the 1990s. A US company based in Reno, Nevada patented and turned war into a table game fit for a casino. By the mid-1990s, you could play casino war in Las Vegas and to this day, you can still find casino war in Canadian casinos in the VLT machines.

Bet Technology was eventually acquired by Shuffle Master who now owns the patent for the table game. Many variations of online casino war games are usually titled something else to avoid having to pay Shuffle Master for the right to license the game.

Table setup

a croupier deals cards in a casino

Throughout history, casino war has been played at any old table, but at a casino, you’ll play on a table similar to a blackjack game. Players sit opposite the dealer while the deck is located at one corner of the table. Online casino war games follow this same layout, just digitally of course.

The dealer will deal a card in front of each player and one in front of the dealer themselves.

Betting Options

There are only very few betting options when you play casino war. These bet types are very simple and new players will feel comfortable wagering after only a few hands.

  • Tie bet: Often paying 10:1, this is a bet that your initial hand will tie with the dealers’ hand.
  • Ante bet: This is the first bet that must be made to play ahead of the initial deal.
  • Raise bet: If you tie and choose to go to war, your next bet that matches the initial ante bet is known as the Raise bet.

Playing Casino War Online

What Is Online Casino Addiction

Casino war was quickly adapted as a Java and later HTML5 game for online casinos. This was made possible due to the advent of Random Number Generators (RNG). RNG technology allows every single hand to be entirely fair because the computer program ensures each dealt card is entirely random – every single time.

This has also allowed developers to create subtle variations of the game with more and fewer decks, and different themes. Furthermore, games were also developed to be played with a real dealer and live streamed as a live casino game.

Both table RNG and live dealer games feature intuitive controls and simple mechanics that make it easy to play casino war online.

Popular online variants

  • War: Provided by Nucleus Gaming, this is a fairly standard online casino war game that allows three players to compete. You can bet up to C$100 and place the tie bet which pays out at 10 to 1. This version is played with six decks.
  • Multihand Casino War: A visually simplistic game offered by Flipluck, you can play up to five hands at one time and place a tie bet for each hand. Like most other casino war games, the tie bet pays out 10 to 1. The game has an RTP of 95.72%.
  • Cricket War: This Ezugi live dealer game lets you play casino war against a real dealer while talking about cricket. The game is cricket-themed and very fast-paced. You can place a tie bet and a round can even end in the rare Suited Tie.

Unlocking Casino War Bonuses Online

One of the best ways to take your new-found knowledge of the history of casino war and try out some new strategies is to take advantage of a no deposit bonus. These require no real cash to claim, and you’ll be able to play for free. We’ve got a great list of the best no deposit bonuses in Canada.

Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the bonus. The low house edge of casino war has seen some online casinos exempt the game from bonus wagering requirements. This is due to how easy it can be to clear the bonus terms. This is not the case for all bonuses though and you’ll certainly be able to play casino war with a no deposit bonus at some online casinos in Canada.