Casino games are hugely important, as they’re what attracts customers. The range of games at online casinos typically consist of slots, table and even live games, all in one gaming environment. Did you know that you can play casino games both for real money and for free. Learn more about the two different game types and find the best UK casinos to play at.
Difference Between Real Money and Free Casino Games
It’s possible to play both real money and free casino games at online casinos. Playing for free allows you to try out a new game without spending any money, it’s also perfect for someone who is considering getting into gambling as, once again, they don’t need to spend a single penny!
While they mostly play the same, there are some slight differences between them.
Free Casino Games
Free games allow players, existing and new, to try out a game before making a financial commitment. It’s a great way to get a feeling for, e.g., an online slot and decide whether you like it. However, one thing you need to understand about free casino games is that you cannot win any money.
This is because it’s free. The games play out the same as their real money counterparts otherwise, including bonus rounds and spins. In fact, many gamblers play free casino games to understand new gameplay and figure out how certain games work.
One benefit that comes with playing free games is that you aren’t required to provide any of your personal information to the casino. You don’t need to sign up and create an account, and you don’t need to give any card or financial details since you can’t deposit any money.
One common misconception is that free online casino games are easier to play or make it easier for you to win money because game developers want to trick you into signing up and spending money. This is completely wrong. There is absolutely no difference between playing free and real money casino games, except that you don’t use actual money.
You can play a variety of free casino games including slots, card and table games such as blackjack, roulette, and poker, all of which are provided by leading software developers such as IGT, Novomatic, Microgaming, NetEnt, WMS, and Yggdrasil.
Generally, there are two ways of playing free online casino games, though they work the same way:
- Unregistered player: Sites that offer free online casino games don’t require registration and allow you to load up the game and start playing.
- Registered player: Depending on the casino you are registered at, you can demo versions of games if available to try them out with no risk.
Ultimately there’s no difference between the two ways of playing, but it is possible to play free games as a registered casino member.
How do Free Casino Games Work?
Unlike real money casino games, free online casino games do not require a download to play. They’re generally played in-browser on either your smartphone device or on your laptop or PC. To play, it’s as simple as loading up the website, finding the game you want to play and launching the game.
When you start, you’ll notice you’ll have between 1,000 to one million free credits to play with which act as “real money”. Depending on the software provider and casino, the credits will last for an entire session and once used up, you can refresh the game and start playing again.
Sadly, there are some restrictions on free casino games. For example, you may find that you’re unable to play because of the country you’re in. Some games, such as slots or casino card games, are only available to players located in certain countries.
Another restriction you’ll face when playing without money is that you can’t claim or use any promotions or bonuses. For example, you cannot play for real and take advantage of bonus spins, even if you’re a registered casino player.
Also, as a free player, you will not be able to play jackpot slot games, which allow you to win large sums of money. This is because a percentage of each bet made by players on jackpot games are added to the prize pool, effectively making it bigger with each added bet. Since you’re playing free and can’t make real money bets, you are not allowed to enter the progressive jackpot.
Real Money Games
Real money casino games are basically ordinary casino games. To play them, you have to deposit your money into your casino account and set a wager for each spin. These casino games can be played at all online casinos and includes various types of games including slots, table and live casino games.
To play with real money, you have to be registered with a casino. This means you have to set up an account and provide the operator with your name, address, phone number, date of birth and email address. Depending on the payment method chosen when depositing, you’re also required to provide card or other financial details.
One thing to note is that real money casino games play exactly like their free version counterparts. The rules do not magically change because you’re registered at a casino, nor does the game become easier to win. The one major difference between free and real money casino games is that you have to use actual money to play and not free credits.
How do Real Money Casino Games Work?
You can play real games in two main ways, either by playing them in-browser or by downloading a specific casino software to your laptop, smartphone or tablet.
There are several differences between the two. For example, downloading software or an app consumes space on your device’s storage. It also offers a smaller number of casino games and may not be regularly updated with the latest releases, however, it could offer better performance.
In-browser casino games do not consume space on your device’s storage and are regularly updated. However, you may experience lag or glitches when playing through a browser depending on your device but this is very rare. At Casinostoplay.com, we prefer in-browser play over downloads.
The main benefit of playing with real money is that most of the restrictions imposed on free games are lifted. It means that you can claim bonuses or spins and use them when playing.
Another benefit is that casinos will offer you special promotions and bonuses. The most common bonus you’ll come across is a welcome bonus, sometimes referred to as a welcome offer, in which the operator matches your first deposit and sometimes even triples it, also known as a 200% Match Bonus.
Other promotions can include no-deposit bonuses, in which bonus funds or spins are given to you without you needing to deposit any money. These bonuses used to be very common are they are a great incentive for players. However, recent regulatory changes have made it more difficult for casinos to promote such offers because they all come with special wagering requirements.
The UK Gambling Commission is cracking down on confusing bonus offers to protect players and create a better online gambling experience. At Casinostoplay.com, we are in full support of these steps.
Some casinos also run a loyalty programme where users can earn points for every wager made. These points can then be redeemed for cash prizes, bonus spins or something else entirely.
Last but not least, playing for real money enables you to participate in progressive jackpot games where all players’ losses across several online casinos are bundled in one massive prize pool. If you’re the lucky one, you can make some serious cash here but obviously, the chances of hitting the jackpot are slim. However, it has been done before and why shouldn’t you be the next one.
Source of Funds
One major downside about playing with real money is that after you’ve deposited a certain amount of money or have made your first withdrawal, casinos require you to verify your identity. Online casinos are required by law to do this as part of a crackdown on money laundering and fraud.
To verify your identity, many casinos will ask for personal information and documents such as driver’s licenses, passports, utility bills and possibly even paychecks. While this is annoying and always happens when you actually want to withdraw winnings (yes, online casinos choose this point in time on purpose), please be assured that operators have to do this and will approve your withdrawal once your identify is confirmed.
Types of Casino Games
There are many different types of online casino games that you can play. They include slots, dice and card games. Most casinos will offer all three types of games, though the themes, rules, graphics and gameplay can all vary depending on which software provider (game developer) created it.
Online slots are hands down the most popular type of casino game to play. There are three main types of slot games you can play, they are:
- Fruit slots: The traditional, three-reel slot games which feature fruit symbols.
- Video slots: These slots tend to feature around five reels, multiple paylines and are based on different themes such as animals, films, television shows and so on.
- Jackpot slots: These slots play very much like video slots, but a percentage of each bet made is added to the prize pool which is eventually won by a lucky player.
NetEnt and Microgaming are two of the top slots developers. They’ve created some of the most popular games around including Immortal Romance, Piggy Riches, Thunderstruck II, Jumanji, Bridesmaids, Starburst, Game of Thrones, EggOMatic, Gonzo’s Quest and Win Sum Dim Sum. They’ve also created some huge jackpot slot games including Mega Moolah ISIS, Mega Fortune and Mega Moolah.
Other popular slot games from other developers include Volcano Riches, Pink Panther, White King, Treasure Island, Tiger Rush, Sweet Alchemy, Sticky Bandits and much more.
Each slot game follows different rules. You’ll find that most slots will have a different number of reels and paylines and that some slot games offer fun and exciting bonuses or gameplay while others offer basic gameplay. It’s entirely up to you to decide what you prefer and how you want to play.
One thing to remember is that you can demo games you are unfamiliar with if you want to try them out before spending any money. For more information, just scroll up!
How to Play Online Slots
Slots are so popular because they’re the easier casino game to play. You simply have to load up the game you want to play, select how much you want to bet either with credits or real money and then click the ‘Spin’ button. You then watch the spin play out and when it’s done, click the ‘Spin’ button again.
Casino Dice Games
In addition to slot games, you can play casino dice games. There are two main types of casino dice games, they are:
- Sic Bo
Both games are incredibly popular in real-life but can also be played at online casinos. However, they can be hard to find. At the time of writing, Craps and Sic Bo can be played at:
What is Craps?
Craps is actually most commonly featured on television and film. The game involves betting on the total number that will appear on the dice. You either play as a shooter (The person throwing the dice) or simply bet on the outcome of the throw.
Whether you win or not depends entirely on what appeared on the dice and what you wagered on. There are several betting options including:
- Aces: Betting that the next roll with be snake eyes
- Any Craps: Betting that the next roll is a 2, 3 or 12
- Any Seven: Betting that the next roll is a 7
- Hard Way: Betting that the next roll will be a 4, 6, 8 or 10, all which can only be made with pairs
- Hop Bet: Betting that the next roll will result in a unique combination such as 3-5, 2-6 or 4-1
Those are only some of the bets that can be made, but there are many, many more.
What is Sic Bo?
Sic Bo means “Dice Pair” in Chinese and the game is one of the oldest casino games around. It was originally played with wooden blokes like dominoes or mahjong pieces before it became popular in Asia.
Sic Bo uses three dices and players bet on what the combinations that appear on the dice, similarly to Craps. You can bet on ranges of numbers, exact numbers, special combinations or big and small or even and odd numbers.
There are six main types of bets, they are:
- Total: You bet on the total of all three dice ranging from 4 to 17. However, numbers 3 and 18 are covered under bets on Triple rolls.
- Small & Big: You bet that the total number of dice is either small, between 4 and 10, or big, between 11 and 17. Players lose if a triple is rolled.
- Combination: You bet on any specific combination.
- Single: You bet that a particular number will be rolled.
- Double: You bet that a pair will be rolled.
- Triple: You bet that a triple will be rolled.
Casino Card Games
Casino card games are also incredibly popular with many players. There are several types of card games available to play including:
- Blackjack: Including variations such as pontoon, perfect pairs, multi-hand and Spanish 21.
- Poker: Including variations such as Texas Hold’em, Casino Hold’em and Caribbean Stud Poker.
- Baccarat: Including variations such as punto banco, baccarat chemin-de-fer and baccarat banque.
Rules differ depending on the game you’re playing and the casino you’ve registered at, but most games involve playing against other players.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games available. Essentially, it’s a card comparing game between players and a dealer. The aim of the game is to beat the dealer by reaching as close to the value of 21 without passing it. There are three ways you can do this:
- Getting 21 points with your first two cards, referred to as a ‘blackjack’ or ‘natural’.
- Reaching a value closer to 21 than the dealer
- Allowing the dealer to draw additional cards until their hand goes over 21
Players make bets on who they think is going to win before the game starts. Once it does, players will be given a series of choice that can include surrendering, taking another card, doubling their bet or the ability to stop taking additional cards.
At the end of the game, players reveal their cards and compare them with the dealer’s cards and bets are paid out accordingly.
What is Poker?
Poker is one of the most well-known online card games but its origins remain a mystery to this day. Depending on the variation being played, the aim of the game is to have the highest five-card combination at the end of the game.
Before playing, players must learn and follow the hand ranking system, which tells you how strong a specific hand combination is.
The most popular card games include Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Caribbean Stud Poker, Casino Hold’em, Pai Gow Poker and Live Poker. Each game has different rules, but the overall aim of the game remains the same.
What is Baccarat?
Baccarat is a well-known card game regularly played at real casinos. It’s one of the easiest games to learn as it doesn’t involve any particular skills like poker. Similarly to blackjack, the aim of the game is to beat the dealer by getting as close to the number nine.
Players start by making bets on who they think will win the round and are given two cards which are added together for a total value. Most cards are counted at face value except the ace, valued at one, and the king, queen and jack cards which are all valued at either zero or 10.
This is because your total value must always be a single digit under 10. So, if your cards total 13, you take the first digit away for a value of three. For more information on baccarat, including the bets that can be made, click here.
Win Probability at Casino Games
Each online casino game you can play has a probability that you’ll either win or lose. This is known as the RTP (Return to Player), a term used to describe the percentage of all the wagered money a game will play back to the player, or the House Edge, a term used to describe the advantage the casino has over the player.
Most casinos openly publish the RTP rate for their games, but others hide them. If this happens, you can find out the RTP rate by clicking onto the game and reading through their help section or instructions.
Each casino game has a different RTP rate depending on what it is, its gameplay and the rules involved. Looking around, you’ll find that video and fruit slot games have a decent RTP of anything between 95-98%. Progressive jackpots, however, have a much lower RTP because they’re much harder to win.
You’ll also find that table games such as blackjack and baccarat have a higher RTP than slots, this is because it’s not entirely built on chance. Meanwhile, you’ll find that European and French roulette games have a higher RTP than American roulette games, this is because American Roulette has an additional double-zero pocket on the wheel, making it harder for players to win.
While an RTP does show you the expected return you’ll get from a casino game, it’s important you don’t take it too seriously as its calculated over a series of games. However, learning the RTP and House Edge of each game could help you make more wins in the long run.