Small Changes Make Biggest Impacts For Great Table Games At Atlantic City Casinos

Written By Cole Rush on June 30, 2023
ocean casino resort blackjack table

Stroll any casino floor, and you’re likely to find a smattering of table games: blackjack, roulette, craps, Three Card Poker, and a handful of others.

You might find a unique side bet here or a slight variation there, but the games will largely be the same.

It’s been that way for years, and only rarely does a table game break the mold to become a mainstay at Atlantic City casinos. Unlike slots, where flashy new themes and mechanics regularly uproot the industry, table games thrive on a secret ingredient: iteration.

Iteration as micro-innovation for table games at AC casinos

Whenever the buzzword “innovation” comes up, it’s easy to imagine the “next big thing,” an invention that shakes up the casino floor in an unprecedented manner. The evolution of table games, however, is more akin to human evolution. Small changes over time lead to the long-term survival of popular games.

Iteration, then, is the goal. Most table games are the offspring of other games with something relatively small tweaked to change the game.

Caribbean Stud took 5-card poker and slotted it into a table format so players could play against a dealer. Three Card Poker? Caribbean Stud pared down to three cards.

The popularity of variants with minor tweaks suggests that players like what they know. Learning a brand new format with its own rules can be daunting. Instead, table game developers are encouraged to inject fresh elements into existing games without upending the core play experience.

How much change can players tolerate?

Look at Ultimate Texas Hold’em. The format took Texas Hold’em bonus and allowed players to check. The DNA isn’t much different, maybe a 20% change in the game. These percentages are abstractions, of course, and near-impossible to quantify in reality. But they serve as a good measure when considering what can make or break a new table game.

Mississippi Stud and Let It Ride share almost identical DNA. In Mississippi Stud, players receive two cards and can place a 1x to 3x wager for each community card. In Let It Ride, players get three cards and can withdraw one-third of their wager before each of the two community cards is revealed. One is a mirror image of the other.

EZ Baccarat removes the commission from traditional baccarat. Instead, bets push when the banker hand wins with a three-card total of 7. EZ Baccarat is less an invention or creation and more an alteration. It eliminates the commission and makes the game more enticing as a result.

These examples (among many others) paint an interesting picture. Players can and do tolerate change in table games. They’ll tell you exactly what they like with their dollars and time. Changing a table game format is not so much about upheaval. It’s about making small changes, which, in turn, make the biggest impact.

Blackjack has one of the smallest changes with the biggest effect – the 6:5 payout. Virtually nothing else about the game changed.

New table games find it hard to break through

Countless wacky and whimsical game ideas have surfaced in the past decades and soon failed. Player connection begets staying power in the casino industry. And players have spoken by favoring games with fun and small variations on the games they already love.

Over the years, few game variants have stood the test of time enough to earn spots among the most popular of all time. We’ve already listed a few, and others include 21+3, Buster Blackjack, Fortune Pai Gow Poker and Dragon Bonus Baccarat.

Next time you’re at an Atlantic City casino and enjoying a particular table game, stop to ask yourself why. Chances are the game is fundamentally similar to its predecessor with a minor shift making all the difference.

Photo by Wayne Parry / AP Photo
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Cole Rush

Cole Rush writes words. A lot of them. Most of those words can be found in gambling publications such as PlayNJ, PlayIllinois, Gaming Today, and Cole also covers pop culture and books for and Cole has more than eight years of experience writing about gambling and entertainment.

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