Given the history of some games starting in China around 2000 B.C., the question naturally arises as to what makes any game popular. The first games to achieve success were based on dice. It probably all started around the fire in the cave when, having stuffed themselves with dinosaur rib at the bar-b-q, they moved on to a little action with a few carved bones. But, as time progressed and money was developed, the idea of money changing hands based on a throw of the dice caught on. In this, you see all the key elements making any game popular. The concept of gambling is seductive. You place a small wager on the outcome of an event outside your ability to control. If you win, there’s a big profit and this is a compelling reason to carry on playing because you believe you will win again. The second feature is the sociable nature of the playing environment. There’s a crowd watching. Sometimes it’s only other players but, more often, gambling is a spectator sport. This creates a community and it supports and encourages the players. Rich backers appear and bankroll the best players for a share of the expected profits. Add in good customer service from whoever provides the playing environment, and the honey pot nature of the exercise is complete. As to the game itself, it must be fun to play. It must be easy to understand the rules. Everyone must be able to see the skill or luck of the winners. And, the organizers must make realistic attempts to prevent or control cheating.

So where does this leave us? In the modern casino, both online and real world, the most popular games are probably blackjack and poker on the card tables, craps and roulette on the other tables. All four are simple to understand. The cards must add up to 21 or a limited number of card combinations makes you the winner. Or you bet on the throw of dice or the spin of wheel. It takes only a few minutes to explain. You watch for a while and then you feel confident enough to play. It’s almost immediately exciting. You handle the dice and throw. You finger the chips and play the cards. All with money riding on the outcome. If your luck is in, you end up a winner and most are hooked. The problem with more complicated games is people do not want to put in the effort to learn. They must see it, see others win and feel confident they can start winning immediately. Any game where it looks easy to win big money is popular.

Now when you transfer the experience on to the small screen of a computer and strip away everything about the experience of being in a casino, the true popularity of casino games is revealed. Slots are slots. You click on “play”, the animated reels spin, and you win or lose. It has a hypnotic quality. Click, spin, win. It’s the same with blackjack, craps and roulette where you are betting on the results produced by the random number generator. Poker remains interactive where you bet on the cards and your skill in playing them. In all, it’s the belief you will win big that makes casino games popular.

By Elizabeth Tudor
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