Plenty of modern-day casino table games were born in Europe. Baccarat, blackjack, and roulette all got their start on this continent.
If you visit the average European casino, you’ll notice that it has a classic feel. Therefore, European gamblers tend to be into the classic table games.
But what are the most-popular table games here? You can find out as I cover what fills the most casino seats in Europe.
1 – Roulette
Roulette’s beginnings can be traced all the way back to Ancient Rome, when soldiers used to bet on sections of spinning wagon wheels. However, the version that’s actually played in casinos today harkens back to Parisian casinos in the eighteenth century.
The first modern roulette wheel debuted in a Paris casino in 1796. The game instantly became a hit and spread throughout the continent.
Its rapid rise to popularity is surprising when considering that casinos back then used what is now known as the American wheel. An American roulette wheel features 38 numbers, including a zero and double-zero pocket.
When you divide these house-friendly pockets by the total number of pockets on the wheel, you arrive at a 5.26% house edge. The latter is actually one of the largest house advantages of any casino game.
Fortunately, brothers Louis and Francois Blanc created a more-favorable variation. They dropped the double zero from the wheel and developed what is now known as European roulette. When you divide the single house-friendly pocket by the 37 total numbers, you arrive at a more-favorable 2.70% house edge.
The Blanc brothers first ran European roulette tables in Bad Homburg, Germany in the mid-nineteenth century. After Frankfurt outlawed gambling in the region, the Blancs took their act to Monte Carlo. Their success continued here as European roulette again proved to be a huge hit.
Things haven’t changed in this regard today. Roulette is still extremely popular in Europe, and you won’t experience much trouble finding an available game.
2 – Blackjack
Blackjack is an offshoot of a French card game called “31.” The latter was first introduced in French gambling houses in the mid-sixteenth century and quickly became a hit.
Today, blackjack is easily one of the most-popular casino games in Europe and beyond. It offers a nice mixture of the right odds and in-depth strategy.
You use basic blackjack strategy to lower the house edge. Depending upon the game rules, you could face as low as a 0.5% house advantage.
Speaking of the game rules, you want to look for specific rules that go in your favor. Here are some of the most important ones to search for when you’re in European casinos:
- 3:2 natural blackjack payout– Lowers house edge by 1.39% compared to a 6:5 payout.
- Number of decks – A single deck lowers the house advantage by 0.59% compared to eight decks.
- Dealer hits on a soft 17 – Lowers house advantage by 0.22% compared to the dealer standing.
- Double down on any total – Reduces house edge by 0.18% compared to being restricted to doubling down on 10 and 11 only.
Of course, not every casino in Europe offers the best blackjack rules. In some cases, you could be facing upwards of a 2% house edge even when playing perfectly.
But you can find some great games in prominent European gambling destinations, such as Monte Carlo, London, Berlin, Paris, and Prague.
Blackjack also presents an opportunity to win guaranteed profits. You can count cards and swing the odds in your favor.
The key is to find a casino that’s not so hasty when it comes to kicking out card counters. Assuming you do so, then you stand a solid chance to make money with this strategy.
3 – Mini Baccarat
Baccarat used to be characterized by its high roller play, which involves well-dressed gamblers risking €100 or more per hand. These days, it has become much more accessible to the average player.
Mini baccarat has popularized the game throughout Europe. Now, you can sit down to a €5 or €10 table to enjoy the game.
The big reason why baccarat has become such a hit in Europe is due to the Asian gamblers who enjoy it. Many wealthy Asian high rollers who visit Europe and other destinations expect to see baccarat.
Gambling establishments are more than willing to provide lots of tables. They also still feature VIP baccarat with €100 stakes or more.
Asian high-stakes players—or any high rollers for that matter—love baccarat due to its simple strategy and low house edge. Assuming you wager on the banker hand every time, you’ll only face a 1.06% house advantage.
The player bet and its 1.24% house edge are also reasonable. However, you don’t really need to deviate from wagering on the banker if you want the best chance of winning.
One more reason why real money baccarat is so popular in Europe is because it was invented here. Italian gambler Felix Falguierein created a rudimentary version of baccarat that used Tarot cards. The game eventually became a hit in France around 1490.
4 – Poker (e.g. Texas Holdem)
Poker has been around in some form or another since the mid-nineteenth century, when gamblers played this game on Mississippi riverboats. However, its popularity really exploded in the early and mid-2000‘s.
Several aspects caused poker, specifically Texas holdem, to gain widespread popularity:
- More televised tournaments
- The hole card cam
- Amateur player Chris Moneymaker winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event
- The emergence of online poker
- Online poker bonuses
The Texas hold’em bug first swept America at the start of 2003. Just a few years later, poker started becoming highly popular in Europe as well.
But unlike Americans, Europeans quickly began to enjoy a variety of poker games. In addition to hold’em, they also started playing Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo at a higher rate.
Today, poker hysteria isn’t at an all-time high like it was 10 to 15 years ago. Nevertheless, you can still find plenty of poker rooms throughout Europe.
Some of the prominent poker destinations include King’s Casino Rozvadov (Czech Republic), Casino Gran Madrid (Barcelona), and the Hippodrome (London). These poker rooms regularly host high-profile tournaments and offer plenty of cash games.
5 – Three Card Poker
Three-card poker is the youngest game on this list. It was patented by Derek Webb in 1997 as a fun way to play poker against the house.
Webb marketed the game to both American and UK casinos. The latter helped three-card poker spread throughout Europe.
This game sees you compete against the dealer to win hands and also go for large side payouts. Every round starts with placing an ante bet.
After laying down the ante, you receive three face-down cards. You can either fold, or place the play bet (equal to ante).
If you make the play wager, then you’ll compare cards with the dealer to determine the winner. The croupier must hold at least queen-high to qualify.
You win 1:1 payouts on the ante and play if you have a better hand than the dealer (if they qualify). You’ll also collect an ante bonus when holding a straight or better.
Here are the available payouts:
- Winning ante bet = 1:1 payout
- Winning play bet = 1:1 payout (pushes if dealer doesn’t have queen-high)
- Ante Bonus = 1:1 for a straight; 4:1 for a three of a kind; 5:1 for a straight flush
You can also place optional Pair Plus and jackpot bets. Pair Plus pays 4:1 for a flush; 5:1 for a straight; 30:1 for a three of a kind; and 40:1 for a straight flush.
Here’s a common pay table for the jackpot side bet:
- AKQ of spades = 100% of progressive jackpot
- AKQ of clubs, diamonds, or hearts = 10% of progressive jackpot
- Straight flush = 70:1 payout
- Three of a kind = 60:1 payout
- Straight = 6:1 payout
As you can see, three-card poker combines the classic elements of poker with big win potential. You have a chance at earning thousands of dollars through a progressive jackpot when it’s available.
Europe is definitely one of the best places in the world to visit when you’re looking for table game action. If you do ever visit this continent, you’ll find an abundance of the games covered above.
Europeans love the games that that they created above all. Roulette, blackjack, and baccarat all fall into this category.
However, they’ve also embraced newer options like Texas hold’em, Omaha, and three-card poker. These games may not date back to the 1400s and 1500s, but they’re still beloved in Europe all the same.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …