The rise of the variants — turning classic games on their head

If you’re new to playing casino games, you might think that all blackjack games are the same. To an outsider, every roulette table has all of the same constituent parts — a spinning wheel and a piece of felt to place chips on. 

But these uninitiated people could not be further from the truth. If you’ve played casino games online, you’ve likely come across a dozen or more different versions of popular classics like blackjack, baccarat, and roulette.

They sometimes have exciting names like “ultimate”, “quantum”, or “instant”, but this doesn’t always help to explain what exactly they are. 

So what are all these variants and why do they exist?

Variety is the Spice of Life

Online casinos are always extending their catalogues with new slots and also offer multiple versions of their most popular table games for a variety of reasons. 

Firstly, advancements in technology have made this possible. Live games, which involve human dealers controlling the game through a video feed, are the result of improvements to streaming technology. This has opened up an entirely new realm of games for casinos to offer to their players. Competition is also a big factor. Casinos need to find ways to stand out in a busy market, so having plenty of new and exciting games for their customers to get stuck into is a great way of achieving this. 

Additionally, players are always expecting more from casinos. With the precedent set that they will always be developing new games for players to try out, it’s hard to get away from this expectation. 

Casinos also understand that not all players are the same. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, so it is a good idea for them to develop a library of titles that cater to these different wants and needs. 

Overall, having more choice helps to improve the experience for casino players as they get a much larger catalogue of games to enjoy. It also helps the casinos as they can attract more customers through this variety. 

Side Bets

The most common way of spicing up a casino game is to introduce side bets. They add additional mechanics for players to consider and provide the opportunity for them to experiment with new strategies that wouldn’t have been possible before. 

One of the earliest implementations of a side bet was in blackjack. In fact, the name “blackjack” comes from a common side bet offered in Vegas casinos that paid out extra if players had a black jack in their winning hand. Before that, it was often called “pontoon” or simply “21”

Many other side bets exist in the game today, the most common of these is insurance. There isn’t one single variant where you can find its inclusion as it’s actually used in many different versions of the game. These side bets aren’t usually complicated, for example, the blackjack insurance rules are pretty simple and they work in a similar way to an insurance policy you’d take out on your house or your car. They allow you to protect yourself against a loss if you see that the dealer has an ace as their upcard, paying 2:1 if they reveal blackjack. 

Other popular side bets include 21+3, Perfect Pairs, and Royal Match. Each one adds an additional wagering opportunity to the standard game.

Changing the Rules

While side bets add to the existing game, some variants change the rules entirely. Doing so still changes the dynamic of the game, but the alteration is more fundamental than a side bet. 

There are plenty of examples of this, such as a two-ball version of roulette and video poker games that require you to have at least two kings in your hand. 

American roulette is one of the oldest examples of this happening. It changes the rules to add a second green pocket on the wheel, increasing the house edge and changing the strategies some players take. 


Another common approach for creating casino game variants is to add a theme. This is most common with slot games, though you can also find plenty of example of table games being given a theme. 

By creating many different slot games, each with a different aesthetic, soundtrack, and story, casinos can have an entire library of titles that appeal to just about every possible taste. It also provides variety so regular players will always have something to enjoy. 

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