Expanding Your Horizons: Five Lesser-Known Casino Games to Try

Brianna Zigler


Expanding Your Horizons: Five Lesser-Known Casino Games to Try

Fancy trying something new next time you head out to the casino? We all know the classics such as blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, but what about the lesser-known casino games? From dice games with ancient tradition to some French fancies, we’ve picked out five alternative casino games that we recommend if you want to expand your horizons.

Why It’s Good to Try New Things in the Casino

Blackjack and roulette are a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s good to venture away from the staples to find some more unusual casino games. For starters, you’re going to find far fewer players at the Sic Bo table than at the craps table.

This brings several advantages, including shorter waiting times to get on the table and less competition once you’re playing. Moreover, in the games listed below, you will find different rules and variables from what you’re used to. This can mean better odds and larger potential wins in some cases.

On top of all that, sometimes it’s good to break out of your comfort zone and try something new. Learning new games and strategies is always going to help improve your gambling mind in the long run.

Additionally, many of the games we have covered below are steeped in ancient histories and traditions, so you might learn a thing or two about other cultures along the way.

Mining the Fringes: How We Chose Which Games to Recommend

Royal flush hearts, and magnifying glass

We have chosen five lesser-known casino games to recommend, and have provided you with three key metrics to compare them. Below is a short explanation of the three main factors that we will consider for each game:

  • Equipment: The materials are needed to play the game, such as dice, cards, and more. In addition, the table layout is also included within this metric.
  • Similar games: To give you a point of reference for each game, we have provided you with some better-known games that are similar in some aspects.
  • RTP: Return to Player (RTP) is a percentage that shows how much of every unit you will get back on average. You can subtract this figure from 100% to get the house edge – e.g. 98.45% RTP = 1.55% house edge. In most casino games, the house edge is variable. For instance, here are some strategies to reduce the house edge in blackjack.

Our Top 5 Lesser-Known Casino Games

1.     Sic Bo: A fast-paced dice game with ancient origins

Sic Bo dice

  • Equipment: Three dice, chest, Sic Bo table
  • Similar games: Craps, chuck-a-luck, Grand Hazard
  • RTP: 22%

First on our list of unusual casino games is this simple three-dice game whose history stretches back to Ancient China. It first became a popular casino staple in Macau and Hong Kong, before it was brought to US casinos by Chinese immigrants in the early 20th century.

The basic rules of this game are very easy to learn and it is simple to play. First, you and all other players place your bets on the table, which contains sections for all possible bets. Big, Small, Odds and Evens are your low-payout and high-probability options (1/1 odds and 48.61% probability). Meanwhile, longer bets include Specific Doubles and Three Dice Total.

Once all bets have been placed, the dealer rolls the dice inside the chest, before opening it to reveal the score.

While it may be a simple game, there are many Sic Bo strategies that you can implement if you wish to dive deeper.

2.     Baccarat Chemin de Fer: A chance to be the banker

player and banker buttons

  • Equipment: Six decks of cards, chips, and a table
  • Similar games: Baccarat
  • RTP: 98%

As you have probably guessed from the name, Chemin de Fer originated in 19th-century France and quickly spread throughout Europe. Despite being commonly touted as a Baccarat variant, Chemin de Fer (or “Chemmy” for short) is actually the older of the two card games.

The name translates to “train” which references the speed of the game. Where it differs from baccarat is that every player takes turns being the banker, and you cannot bet on the banker’s hand while you are a player.

The goal is to get your points total as close to nine without going bust, and each player is dealt a two-card hand face-down by the banker. Once your two cards have been dealt, the banker will offer each player the chance to “Stand” or “Draw” (take a third card). To win, the player must have a better hand than the banker at the end of the round.

3.     Fan Tan: Intriguingly simple, surprisingly strategic

coloured beads

  • Equipment: Beads, table, stick, and metal cup
  • Similar games: Sevens
  • RTP: 75%

This is the second of the lesser-known casino games on our list with Chinese origins. However, Fan Tan’s history doesn’t stretch quite as far back as Sic Bo’s. Rather than being an ancient traditional game, it is estimated to have arisen sometime around the 3rd century. Although the name “Fan Tan” has only been used since the 1800s.

In the game, the croupier will take a random number of beads from the pile using a metal cup before sorting them into lines of equal size. Once there are one, two, three, or four beads remaining, they will be pushed to the center of the table which gives you the final score.

The basic bets include predicting the exact number (1, 2, 3, or 4), Big (1-2), Small (3-4), and Odds or Evens. Additionally, some advanced tables allow for more specific bets, which is where some complex strategies come in.

In Western casinos, a card version of the game is often played instead, sometimes known as “Sevens”.

4.     Pai Gow Poker: A blend of Eastern and Western casino tradition

Royal flush clubs

  • Equipment: Cards (standard 52 deck + one Joker), chips, and table
  • Similar games: Blackjack, Poker, and Pai Gow
  • RTP: 47%

“Pai Gow” is a traditional Chinese game that is played using 32 dominoes. Pai Gow Poker, on the other hand, is a card variant of said game that was invented in the US in the mid-1980s. Like many other unusual casino games, Pai Gow Poker combines Eastern and Western gambling traditions.

The banker deals seven cards face-down to each player, and the object is to form two poker hands – a five-card and a two-card hand. The Joker acts as a wild card and can be used as an ace or to complete a straight or a flush in a five-card hand.

The scoring is the same as poker and your bet wins if your five-card and two-card hands beat the banker’s.

As you can see in our Pai Gow Poker strategy guide, the “house way” approach can bring the house edge down as low as 2.72%.

5.     Let it Ride: Enjoy more control over your stakes

3 card poker

  • Equipment: Two or more decks of cards and a Shuffle Master
  • Similar games: Poker, Caribbean Stud, and five-card stud
  • RTP: 49%

The last on our list of lesser-known casino games has a fittingly unusual origin story to match. Let it Ride was invented in the US by John Breeding in 1993 as a means of demonstrating the effectiveness of his Shuffle Master machine. However, the game itself went on to become as popular as the Shuffle Master, and both are now mainstays in US casinos.

The game is based on standard poker, and your goal is to form a five-card hand using three of your own cards and two community cards. The two community cards are initially dealt face down, with each one being overturned after the first two rounds of betting. This gives you two opportunities to fold or reduce your wager based on your hand.

Effectively it is a variation of five-card stud and therefore also bears strong similarities to Caribbean Stud and other variants.

Therefore, you will find that many of the most common Let it Ride strategies can also help you with most forms of five-card poker.

In Conclusion: Experiment to Find Your Next Favourite Game

woman thinking with mobile phone

Hopefully, our list of unusual casino games has encouraged you to get out there and try something new. Speaking of new things, there are always new and exciting online casino bonuses to be found here at CasinoBonusCA.

For example, why not check out some of these no-wagering bonuses that allow you to keep your winnings without having to play through real money? You might even want to use these offers to try out some of our lesser-known game recommendations.