Other casino games Gaming

Let’s go to war

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of World Gaming magazine.

The casino table game, “casino war” is simple and fast. The dealer gets a card, the player gets a card and whoever has the bigger card wins. It really is that simple.

Legend has it that the game of war was invented by King Arthur and Merlin who wanted a simple game that could be played by knights.

Considering that King Arthur’s existence is far from certain this is a very unlikely story. What is certain is that this game was played during the Middle Ages particularly during outbreaks of the plague.

With nothing else to do people were stuck in their dwellings and the game took no time to learn. The game spread quickly and there are reports of it being played in Africa, China and North America.

The game is still popular today and is played between two players with the object being to win all the cards.

You divide the deck into two halves and each player turns over one card at a time. The player with the higher card wins both cards and puts them on the bottom of their pile.

If both players turn over the same value card then they ‘go to war’. Both players turn three cards face down and then turn another card face up.

The player with the highest value card picks up all 10 cards on offer. If they tie they repeat the “go to war” process.

The game continues until one player ends up with all the cards.

The casino version popped up in Las Vegas casinos sometime during the 1970s. The game’s popularity is due to its simplicity and fast pace.

Here are the basics of casino war:

  1. Cards are ranked in the standard order with aces highest and 2s lowest. The suits do not matter.
  2. After the players have placed their bets each player and the dealer are dealt one card.
  3. Each player plays directly against the dealer. If the player’s card is higher than the dealer’s he wins and is paid out at even money. If the dealer’s card is higher than the player’s the player loses his bet.
  4. In the event of a tie the player has two choices: either surrender and forfeit half the bet, or “go to war”.
  5. If the player elects to “go to war” he must raise his bet by an amount equal to his original wager. The dealer will then deal another card to both the player and the dealer. If the player’s card is lower than the dealer’s then the player will lose both his initial wager and his raise, otherwise the player will be paid even money on his original wager.
  6. A tie bet is also available, which pays 10 to 1 if the first two cards tie.
  7. These are the standard rules of the games but some casinos, mostly in Las Vegas, have slightly different versions of the game.

There are two simple rules to follow when playing this game:

  • Don’t surrender your bet. Always “go to war”.
  • Unless you are feeling very lucky don’t bet on the tie bet as the odds are not in your favor.

You will find that many casinos around the world offer this game, including some in Macau. It’s a great game if you don’t want to think too much and are looking for a fun and fast-paced gambling experience.