Various Types of Gambling / Online Games

Casino games

"Beatable" casino games

With proper strategy, a smart player can create a positive mathematical expectation.

"Unbeatable" casino games

These have a negative expectation, players as a group will lose in the long run (unless they cheat).

Non-casino gambling games

Some of these are played recreationally without stakes

  • Bingo (US and UK)
  • Lottery
  • Mahjong
  • Dead pool
  • Dice-based
    • Backgammon
    • Liar's dice
    • Passe-dix
    • Hazard
    • Threes
    • Pig
    • Mexico
  • Card games
    • Liar's poker
    • Bridge
    • Basset
    • Lansquenet
    • Piquet
    • Put
  • Coin-tossing
    • Head and Tail
    • Two-up (Australian casinos offer versions of two-up)
  • Confidence tricks
    • Three-card Monte
    • Shell game
  • Carnival Games
    • The Razzle
    • Hanky Pank
    • Penny Falls
    • Six-Cat
    • The Swinger
    • The Push-up Bottle
    • The Nail Joint
  • Con Games (in bars)
    • Put and Take
    • The Smack
    • The Drunken Mitt

Fixed-odds gambling

Fixed-odds gambling and Parimutuel betting frequently occur at or on the following kinds of events:

  • Horse racing
  • Greyhound racing
  • Jai alai
  • Football matches (particularly on Association and American football)
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Cricket
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Ice hockey
  • Rugby (League and Union)
  • Snooker
  • Motor sports
  • Boxing
  • Darts
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Biathlon

In addition many bookmakers offer fixed odds on a number of non-sports related outcomes, for example the direction and extent of movement of various financial indices, whether snow will fall on Christmas Day in a given area, the winner of television competitions such as Big Brother, election results, and so forth. Interactive prediction markets also offer trading on these outcomes, with "shares" of results trading on an open market.

Gambling on horse races

One of the most widespread forms of gambling involves betting on horse races, most commonly on races between thoroughbreds or between standardbreds.

Wagering may take place through parimutuel pools; or bookmakers may take bets personally. Parimutuel wagers pay off at prices determined by support in the wagering pools, while bookmakers pay off either at the odds offered at the time of accepting the bet; or at the median odds offered by track bookmakers at the time the race started.

In Canada and the United States, the most common types of bet on horse races include:
  • Win - to succeed the bettor must pick the horse which wins the race.
  • Place - the bettor must pick a horse which finishes either first or second.
  • Show - the bettor must pick a horse which finishes first, second, or third.
  • Exacta, perfecta, or exactor - the bettor must pick the two horses which finish first and second and specify which will finish first
  • Quinella or quiniela - the bettor must pick the two horses which finish first and second, but need not specify which will finish first.
  • Trifecta or triactor - the bettor must pick the three horses which finish first, second, and third and specify which will finish first, second and third.
  • Superfecta - the bettor must pick the four horses which finish first, second, third and fourth, and specify which will finish first, second, third and fourth.
  • Double - the bettor must pick the winners of two successive races; most race tracks in Canada and the United States take double wagers on the first two races on the program (the daily double) and on the last two (the late double).
  • Triple - the bettor must pick the winners of three successive races; many tracks offer rolling triples, or triples on any three successive races on the program. Also called pick three or more commonly, a treble
  • Sweep - the bettor must pick the winners of four or more successive races. In the US, this is usually called pick four and pick six, with the latter paying out a consolation return to bettors correctly selecting five winners out of six races, and with "rollover" jackpots accumulating each day until one or more bettors correctly picks all six winners.

Win, place and show wagers class as straight bets, and the remaining wagers as exotic bets. Bettors usually make multiple wagers on exotic bets. A box consists of a multiple wager in which punters bet all possible combinations of a group of horses in the same race. A key involves making a multiple wager with a single horse in one race bet in one position with all possible combinations of other selected horses in a single race. A wheel consists of betting all horses in one race of a bet involving two or more races. For example a 1-all daily double wheel bets the 1-horse in the first race with every horse in the second.

People making straight bets commonly employ the strategy of an 'each way' bet. Here the bettor picks a horse and bets it will win, and makes an additional bet that it will show, so that theoretically if the horse runs third it will at least pay back the two bets. The Canadian and American equivalent is the bet across (short for across the board): the bettor bets equal sums on the horse to win, place, and show.

In Canada and the United States punters make exotic wagers on horses running at the same track on the same program. In the United Kingdom bookmakers offer exotic wagers on horses at different tracks. Probably the Yankee occurs most commonly: in this the bettor tries to pick the winner of four races. This bet also includes subsidiary wagers on smaller combinations of the chosen horses; for example, if only two of the four horses win, the bettor still collects for their double. A Trixie requires trying to pick three winners, and a Canadian or Super Yankee trying to pick five; these also include subsidiary bets. The term nap identifies the best bet of the day.

A parlay (US) or accumulator (UK) consists of a series of bets in which bettors stake the winnings from one race on the next in order until either the bettor loses or the series completes successfully.

(Similarly, greyhound racing offers a popular betting alternative to horse racing in many countries.)

Sports betting

Betting on team sports has become an important service industry in many countries. For example, millions of Britons play the football pools every week. At sports betting, players may beat the bank.

Most jurisdictions in Canada and the United States regard sports betting as illegal (Nevada offers full sports betting and the Canadian provinces offer Sport Select - government-run sports parlay betting). However, millions engage in sports betting despite its illegality.

In Canada and the United States the most popular sports bets include:

  • Against the spread - the bettor wagers either that the favoured team will win by a specified number of points or that it will not. Giving the points involves betting the favourite, and taking the points means betting the underdog. A team covers the spread if it wins the game with the score modified by the spread. If Dallas and Washington are playing and the spread is (Dallas -7), then Dallas has to win by at least 8 points to cover. Half-point spreads are also possible and the spread may change.
  • Against odds - the most popular types of bets against odds comprise simple bets that a team will win and over-under (bets on the total points, runs, or goals scored by both teams). In making an over-under bet, the bettor wagers that the total will exceed or fall short of a total specified by the bookmaker.
  • against a combination of odds and spread

In sports betting, a parlay involves a bet that two or more teams will win. In the United States gamblers have made the parlay card one of the most common forms of sports betting: here bettors wager on the outcomes of two or more games. If all their picks win, they collect. Most such betting occurs in workplaces. A teaser is one type of parlay where the bettor can alter the point spreads on the two games in the bet.

Events like the Super Bowl, and the Kentucky Derby are famous for bringing in sports betting.


A scratchcard is a small piece of card where an area has been covered by a substance that cannot be seen through, but can be scratched off. Under this area are concealed the items/pictures that must be 'found' in order to win.

The generic scratchcard requires the player to match three of the same prize amounts. If this is accomplished, they win that amount. Other scratchcards involve matching symbols, pictures or words.

Scratchcards are a very popular form of gambling due to their low cost. However, the low cost to buy a scratchcard is offset by the smaller prizes, compared to casino jackpots or lottery wins.

Other types of betting

One can also bet with another person that a statement is true or false, or that a specified event will happen (a "back bet") or will not happen (a "lay bet") within a specified time. This occurs in particular when two people have opposing but strongly-held views on truth or events. Not only do the parties hope to gain from the bet, they place the bet also to demonstrate their certainty about the issue. Some means of determining the issue at stake must exist. Sometimes the amount bet remains nominal, demonstrating the outcome as one of principle rather than of financial importance.

Betting Exchanges allow consumers to both back and lay at odds of their choice. Similar in someways to a stock exchange, a better may want to back a horse (hoping it to win) or lay a horse (hoping it to lose, effectively acting as bookmaker)

Arbitrage betting

Arbitrage betting is a theoretically risk-free betting system in which every outcome of an event is bet upon so that a known profit will be made by the bettor upon completion of the event, regardless of the outcome. Arbitrage Betting, as the name implies, is a combination of the ancient art of arbitrage trading and gambling which has been made possible by the recent explosion in online bookmakers. The large numbers of bookmakers create the marketplace within which, theoretically, this form of Arbitrage can be practiced.

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