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Casino War is a simple variation of the children's card game War. The game can be a useful alternative when blackjack and video poker are not available.


Rules and Play

The player and dealer are each dealt a single card. If the player has a higher card than the dealer, he wins the bet. If the player has a lower card than the dealer, he loses the bet. If the player and dealer tie, things become more interesting. The player has the option to surrender and lose half of his bet or "have a war" and double his bet. Having a war results in a lower house edge than surrendering.

When the player and dealer have a war, they are each dealt a second card. If the player wins the war, he only gains 1x his initial bet, rather than 1x the doubled bet. If the player loses the war, he loses the full doubled bet. A second tie is treated as a player win. Microgaming and Boss Media softwares give a bonus for a second tie, such that the player gains 1x the full doubled bet.



The house edge is ~1% lower, if the player goes to war on ties. Optimal strategy is simply to always go to war on ties.


House Edge

Playtech, Cryptologic, and Rival softwares use the standard rules listed below, resulting in a 2.88% house edge. RealTime Gaming, Chartwell, and Odds On use a single deck, which decreases the house edge to 2.42%. Microgaming and Boss Media give a bonus for two sequential ties, which decreases the house edge to 2.33%. World Gaming calls the game "Battle Royal" and has only a 1.71% house edge. B3W gives a "Trafalgar" bonus for an A/2 of the same suite, resulting in a 2.58% house edge. "Wagerworks, Net Entertainment, and Grand Virtual softwares do not offer Casino War.

Rules World Gaming: Battle Royal Microgaming, Boss Media RTG, Chartwell, Odds On B3W Standard
Number of Decks 1 6 1 6 6
Second Tie Bonus 3:1 2:1 No A/2 Bonus No
House Edge (in terms of Initial Bet) 1.71% 2.33% 2.42% 2.58% 2.88%
House Edge per Unit Wagered 1.61% 2.17% 2.28% 2.40% 2.68%


Variance and Bet Size

The standard deviation per initial bet of Casino War is 1.04 for 1 deck and 1.05 for 6 decks. The standard deviation per unit wagered is 1.01, nearly the same as a coin flip or 1:1 roulette bet. The latter value of 1.01 is more appropriate for estimating range of return while completing a wagering requirement.

The table below shows the chance of ending above the deposit balance with unlimited bankroll, after completing a wagering requirement with 4 bet sizes. Standard rules and a 2.88% house edge are assumed. See the return & variance calculator for more specific estimates.

Bet Size Playthrough Requirement
5xB 10xB 15xB 20xB 25xB 30xB
B/100 100% 99% 94% 85% 74% 64%
B/50 99.7% 95% 86% 76% 68% 60%
B/20 96% 85% 75% 68% 62% 56%
B/10 89% 77% 69% 63% 58% 54%


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