Almost everyone has played the card game War – the one where you flip cards and win if you have a higher card than your opponent. Casino War follows the same basic rules as this simple children’s game, making it one of the easiest casino games to play. Surprisingly, despite how simple it is, the house edge is not particularly big. This makes it a pretty good game for players intimidated by games that require complex strategies, or those who are new to casino gambling in general.
The game of Casino War is very simple to play. The player makes a bet, and then the dealer turns over two cards – one for the player, and one for the dealer. If the dealer’s card is higher, the player loses the bet. If the player’s card is higher, the player wins even money. If the two cards tie, then the player has the option of surrendering or going to war.
Going to War
The only place where Casino War strategy comes into play is in the decision between surrendering and going to war. If the player surrenders, they forfeit half of their bet. If they choose to go to war instead, they must make a second bet of the same size as their original bet. The dealer will then burn three cards for both the player and dealer, and flip over a new card for each. If the player wins or ties on this second card, the player wins – but only the amount of the original bet. If the dealer wins, the player loses both bets.
This is where the house advantage comes from in Casino War. Even though the player and dealer will both win half of the hands (technically, the player will win slightly more, since they win when they tie after going to war), the house wins two bets after going to war, while the player still only wins one.
It may seem like surrendering and going to war should result in the same house edge, since in both cases, the player will lose half a bet on average. However, proper Casino War strategy is to always go to war! This is because the player also wins on a tie after going to war, making it slightly better than a 50/50 gamble. Depending on the number of decks, the house edge using the “surrender” strategy is usually around 3.7%, while going to war cuts that down to about 2.9%. Some online casino sites offer bonuses when the player ties after going to war, which cuts the house edge down even further.
The Tie Bet in Casino War
There’s one last bit of Casino War strategy to keep in mind while you play the game. Most tables offer a tie bet that pays 10-1 should the dealer and player tie on the first two cards dealt. This is a sucker bet that should always be ignored; depending on the number of decks, this bet carries a house edge of between 18-35%, making it one of the worst bets in any table game.