Casino War is played at a table with seats for seven players. Six or eight decks of playing cards are stacked in a dealer shoe controlled by a house dealer.
The objective is for the player to beat the dealer with a higher ranking card. All cards are ranked as in poker where the lowest rank is a deuce (2). The ace is always high while suits are irrelevant when playing Casino War.
Players must first make an ante wager prior to being dealt one card face up. The dealer also receives one card up. If the player’s card ranks higher than the dealers, the player wins even money. If not, the house takes the wager. If both the player and dealer cards are the same rank, the player has (2) options:
Go to war by placing an additional wager equal to the original bet on top of the card. The dealer will then burn (discard) three cards before dealing a second card face up to the player. Dealer repeats the same for his or herself. If the player wins s/he will be paid 2 to 1 on the war wager only. The ante goes to the house. A tie with the dealer on the second card is a bonus for the player with a 4 to 1 payout.
Surrender by not making a War wager. The player must then forfeit ½ of the original ante. During my play I saw no one surrender. Surrender is not the recommended strategy as this option is always a loss for the player and a win for the house.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term house edge, it’s a built in advantage for the casino.The above % amount simply means that the casino expects to win $2.88 for every $100 you wager at the game over time. Now that doesn’t mean that your going to walk away with $97.12 every time you’ve wagered $100. This is over the long term. With luck and smart play in any game. you can win over the short term.
A side bet is available where a player can wager that their first card will tie the dealer’s card. The winning payout is an attractive 10 to 1 but this choice has a huge house edge of about 18 %. Rules may vary slightly between jurisdictions for all winning payouts and side bets.
The simple strategy for this game occurs when the option to go to war. If you choose to go to war, the house edge is 2.88%. If you choose to surrender, the edge jumps to 3.7%. Better to go to war than surrender.