Where to Enjoy Online Casino Versions of Popular Casino Carnival Games
Carnival games is a casino term covering a huge range of popular card games. These include 3-card poker, Let it Ride, Casino Holdem and also the ‘fun’ blackjack variations. The term is used to separate them from the main table games, such as Blackjack, Roulette and Craps.
There are new carnival games being introduced all the time – as well as several well established favorites. Most of the best games are already available online, some are also available at live dealer online casino studios, where you can play against a real dealer in real time.
You’ll find a list of the main carnival table games below, followed by an overview of where to find these games to play online for real money for both US and worldwide players.
What Makes a Game a ‘Carnival’ Game?
While most of these games have a poker element (at least in determining the winning hands), this is not actually a requirement. There are two common themes:
These are fun / entertaining games and not necessarily aimed at the more serious types of gamblers
There are side bets, which can give you the chance of a big win or even a progressive jackpot.
Generally, the house edge is a little higher than in Blackjack games, with the main game in the range of 2% to 6% and side-games being higher than this. Stakes vary too, with $5 or $10 minimums bets in most live casinos and 50c / $1 online.
Jackpots often come via side bets and require a royal flush – sometimes a 6-card royal is needed or a particular suit for the main prize. Participation in the jackpot is optional (via a side bet), though this can add a lot to the excitement of the game!
List of the Main Casino Carnival Games
3 Card Poker: This game has many imitations using the same rules and slight variations on the name such as ‘Tri-Card Poker’. The appeal is the simplicity, you simply need to beat the dealer with a 3 card poker hand (and choose whether to bet or fold based on your own cards). Most players choose the ‘pairs plus’ side bet, which adds chances of bigger wins. This article has more on 3-Card Poker.
Let It Ride: This is the only casino table game where you can take bets off of the table as you play. Another poker themed variation, you start off with 3 bets in this carnival game. Instead of adding chips, you decide whether to fold or whether to ‘let it ride’ keeping your chips in play. This is a very popular choice.
Casino Holdem: Texas Holdem variations are always full in the Carnival games pit, and many variations of this one are around (for example ‘Ultimate Texas Holdem’). You get to bet after you see the flop, with the turn and river completing both you hand and the dealer’s hand for a showdown. Side bets will pay out big for royal flushes.
Caribbean Stud: Here you are dealt 5 cards, and decide whether to double your bet to continue or to fold based on your hand and the dealer’s upcard. You’ll get bigger payouts for good poker hands, though only if the dealer qualifies with Ace-King or higher. This was one of the first carnival games, though it is less popular than before, it does still have a loyal following.
Mississippi Stud: This is a slightly more complex variation, having a 3-card and 6-card side-bet in addition to the main game. Depending on your cards and the 3 cards of the dealer, you can choose to bet between 1 and 3 chips on each ‘street’. This gives the advantage that you can back your winners to the maximum while keeping the bad hands small. Find out more on Mississippi Stud in this article.
Other Poker Games: Crazy 4 Poker, Flush Poker and Pai Gow poker can also be included in this list. Oftentimes a casino will have a progressive royal flush jackpot which is shared between several of these games.
Blackjack / 21 Variations: The ‘carnival’ side of blackjack uses the central concept of beating the dealer, though adds some entertaining elements. These games usually have a higher house edge and are avoided by the more serious types of player. Games include Spanish 21, Blackjack Burn, Blackjack Switch (where you can swap cards between hands) and more.
Where to Play Casino Carnival Games Online?
This depends on whether you are in the US or not. My personal picks for the best casinos are below:
Carnival Games for Worldwide Players: PlayTech is my favorite software for table games, and my go-to casino is at NetBet. This huge operator used to be known as Casino770, and has been around for many years. You’ll not only find the carnival games in player vs computer format, there is a live streamed casino which offers Casino Holdem, 3-Card Poker and Caribbean Stud with real dealers handling the cards. I strongly recommend you check out the promotions page at www.netbet.com for some seriously good offers!
Carnival Games for US Players: The Bovada Casino is an easy top pick, not only for their reputation (>10 years of great service as an offshore operator) but for the choice of top quality table games. With 100’s of games powered by RealTime Gaming (and slots from BetSoft and Rival), you can choose from almost all of the variations listed. Bovada also offers the best welcome bonus of any top-tier US casino, with regular special promos for table games fans. See www.bovada.lv for the latest offers.