A standard game of Casino War is played with 6 decks of cards.
Each player at the table places a bet for each hand depending on table limits.
The dealer then gives one card face up to all players followed by one face up to themselves.
All cards are ranked the same as Poker with the exception that Aces are always high. Unlike in games such as Blackjack, picture cards are treated differently, so a King is higher than a Queen, a Queen higher than a Jack and all picture cards beat a 10.
Once everyone has a card, the Dealer compares the card of each player to their own.
If the player’s card is higher, they win the bet at even money.
If the dealer’s card is higher than the players, the player loses the bet.
Should both the dealer and players card be of the same value, the player has a choice to make.
They can Surrender their hand or ‘Go to War’.
Should the player decide to Surrender, they will forfeit half of their bet and get half back. The hand for that player then ends.
Should the player decide to Go to War, they need to make a further bet equal to their initial bet.
The dealer then burns 3 cards and deals the player and then themselves one further card face up.
Should the card of the player be higher or equal to the dealer, the player wins even money on the increased bet and the original bet pushes – they effectively win 3 times the initial bet.
It is worth pointing out that on the 2nd bet, should the cards be the same value again, the player would win as opposed to going to war for the 2nd time.
Should the 2nd card of the dealer be higher than the players, the player loses all their bets.
Some casinos may allow you to place an initial bet on the Tie as a side-bet, this kind of bet normally pays out 10 to 1. This only pays out on the initial 2 cards and not on the 2nd bet as well if the player Goes to War.
Casino War Strategy
At first glance, it isn’t always clear to see where the house edge for this game is.
The bet pays even money on a win and the player has an equal chance of getting a higher card than the dealer.
On closer inspection, when a player and dealer tie and the player Goes to War, they either get to win one unit or lose two. This is where the house edge comes from.
As an example, a €10 bet which is tied would mean a further €10 bet is needed giving a total outlay of €20. If the player wins after Going to War, their 2nd bet will pay at even money whilst the original bet pushes, therefore you would get a return of €30 from a €20 bet – equal to 1 unit.
Should the player Go to War and then lose, 2 bets – in the above example €20 in total – would be lost.
In terms of strategy, as the only decision to make is whether to Go to War or Surrender in the rare instances that both the dealer and player have the same value card, there is no real strategy to learn.
There is a slightly higher house edge when a player Surrenders rather than Go to War, so wherever the funds allow, Go to War would be the best course of action.
As the player wins with a tie after Going to War, it makes the extra bet worth the risk in the long run.
However, like any casino game, the casino always has an edge over the player.