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Casino War

Introduction

Casino War is the most straight-forward card game to be found in any casino. It is normally played with 6 standard decks of 52 cards, though there are a couple of casino softwares that are running their Casino War game with a single deck. Aces are ranked as high (from 2 up to Ace).

We are aware of Casino War being offered by the following software providers – Amaya, BetSoft, Boss Media, Cryptologic, Microgaming, PlayNGo, Playtech,  Realtime Gaming, Rival, SkillOnNet, TopGame and Vuetec

Play Structure

The player places a bet and the dealer deals out one card to the player and one to themselves. The cards are then compared, ignoring suit, and the party with the highest card is considered the winner. Where both the player and the dealer hold a card of the same rank the player is offered the option to either ‘Surrender’ or ‘Go to War’. If the player chooses to Surrender, half their bet is returned and the round is over. If the player chooses to Go to War they have to place an additional wager equal to their initial wager then the dealer will discard (Burn) 3 cards then deal a further card to both the player and themselves. The results are decided as before with the party with the highest card winning. In the event of a tie the player wins.

Payouts

Where the dealer wins, the player loses their whole bet. Where the player wins their bet is paid out at 1 to 1. Where a tie occurs, if the dealer wins the player loses both bets and if the player wins the dealer will payout the initial bet at 1 to 1 while the additional bet is considered a push.

Some casinos offer a bonus payout for a second tie result.

* We do NOT recommend playing with any SkillOnNet casinos due to software fairness issues that were previously detected on their Video Poker games. The House Edge figures are only accurate if the game operates fairly.
Tie Bet

Most Casino War games offer an additional side bet called the ‘Tie’ bet. This is a wager on the result of the round of play being a tie. In the situation where this occurs the player is paid at 10 to 1.

House Edge

Below you can find the House Edge based on number of decks in uses, bonuses offered in the event of 2 ties, the Tie bet and the choice of the player whether to Surrender or Go to War;

SoftwareCryptologic, Playtech, Rival, Betsoft*, SkillOnNet*, TopGame*, VuetecAmaya (Chartwell), RealTime GamingMicrogaming/PlayNGo*/Boss Media*
Decks616
Second Tie Payout1 to 11 to 12 to 1
House Edge (Player 'Goes to War')2.68%2.28%2.17%
House Edge (Player 'Surrenders')3.70%2.94%3.7%
House Edge (Tie Bet)18.65%35.29%18.65%

*We do not recommend playing with any casino using TopGame software.
* Rival Casino War is called ‘Casino Battle’
* Betsoft Casino War is called ‘Top Card Trumps’
*PlayNGo Casino War is called ‘Beat Me’.
* Called ‘War’ at SkillOnNet casinos. We do NOT recommend playing with any SkillOnNet casinos due to software fairness issues that were previously detected on their Video Poker games. The House Edge figures are only accurate if the game operates fairly.
* Boss Media are part of the GTech group of companies. This group was found to be running unfair card games in 2012 and as such we would not recommend playing with any casino using this software.

Optimal Strategy

The optimal strategy for Casino War is very straightforward;  as the table above shows the player should always Go to War and should never take the Tie bet.

Fairness Calculator

Below you can find a calculator to allow you to check the fairness of your wins/losses when playing Casino War.

*This fairness calculator will assume that you’ve been playing with the optimal strategy detailed above. If you have not then the calculator will NOT return accurate results.

Alternative Names

We have also seen Casino War referred to simply as War, Casino Battle, Beat Me and Top Card Trumps.

Winning Strategies

Offline

Despite the similarity to Blackjack in that offline Casino War is dealt from a multi-deck shoe and as such the composition of the remaining cards is dependent on the cards that have already been dealt (the game has a ‘memory’) the asymmetrical nature of Casino War prevents Card Counting being a viable method of gaining an edge over the main bet.

While it is possible to count the Tie bet, the complicated nature of the necessary count and the high penetration that’s required make this an opportunity that’s unlikely to either be encountered or be the best game available.

Next card information which could be gleaned through a variety of legal methods including edge sorting (if casino procedures allowed for this), naturally occurring defects in the cards or catching the bottom card after the shuffle and cutting it to a specific position could provide a significant advantage for the player.

Beyond the basic outline above the best source of information on how best to play with additional information can be found in James Grosjean’s ‘Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting’. This book is widely considered the Bible for the professional player and as such is not a worthwhile investment for anyone other than a full time professional Advantage Player (not to mention it requires a professional reference to obtain).

Online

There are several methods of legitimately gaining an advantage over the online Casino War games. By and large these involve the use of promotions, bonuses and comp point systems as the games by themselves – assuming the game is functioning in a correct fashion – will not provide any additional information about the cards and shuffle after every hand.

It should be noted that online advantage play is not specific to Casino War and in recent years the wagering requirements for player’s choosing to play any table game has inflated to the point that Casino War is now often a sub-optimal choice for the player. For more information on beating online casinos see BeatingBonuses.com.

References

James Grosjean ‘Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting’

* All ‘House Edge’ figures in this article are based on the ‘loss per unit wagered’ rather than ‘loss per initial bet’.