Skill Games

Skill games have been around for centuries, but with the legalization of online gambling in the US, players can now play games of skill for money and a chance at big prizes.

All legal online casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks in the US offer games that require varying degrees of skill, including video poker and blackjack. Players can also compete for money on video games as well as daily fantasy sports and more. Below, we highlight all the games of skill you can play for real money below.

Types of Skill Games for Real Money

Online Poker

Online poker is truly a game of skill. While players can certainly get lucky, winning long-term means having the best strategy, playing smart, and having sharp math skills. Skilled players are probability mathematicians who must learn the many combinations and probabilities based on their cards.

Also, the masters of both in-person and online poker games have learned the tells (involuntary reactions) of other players and know when to call, raise, and bluff based on the situation.

Video Poker

Video poker is a popular hybrid skill game and one of the most popular casino games in general. To be successful at video poker, any player needs to know the basic rules, but skilled players will know the best pay tables and which variants to play.

They’ll also need to employ strategy around the biggest dilemma of video poker: which cards to hold and which to discard. Practice and develop that strategy to increase your chance of winning.

Casino Poker

Poker, writ large, is considered a hybrid skill game, as strategy gives players an advantage. Texas Hold’em is the most-played multiplayer poker game, and other popular poker games of skill include Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, and Five-Card Draw.

Whichever type of poker you play, luck will dictate the cards you’re dealt, but having a skill and strategy will set you apart and increase your chances of winning. The best poker players develop instincts of situational play, knowing that every table, game, and situation is different.

Sports Betting

Sports betting legalization across the US opened the door for legal online gambling, including online casinos. Many loyal sports bettors would argue that wagering on sports is one of the best games of skill for money.

According to sports-betting devotees, there is less chance involved here than in casino games, and the outcome is more dependent on the bettor’s knowledge of the particular sport.

Successful sports bettors have immense knowledge of the sport overall but also must consider injuries, trends, head-to-head records, weather, hot or cold streaks, and much more to help improve the odds of a winning bet.

But don’t be fooled, bad beats (a seemingly sure thing that ends up losing) can always happen, no matter how unlikely. In fact, bad beats are much more common than long-shot wins.

Blackjack

Blackjack is another one of the most popular skill games across casino floors and online. As with other table games, luck dictates the cards you receive in blackjack, but what you do with them is all skill.

One of the first things skill players look for is the payouts. Blackjack can be the casino game with the best odds if you choose the right variant. Once at a suitable table, players must know the basic rules and strategies to reduce the amount of chance. We suggest practicing and playing for free before you play for money, as well as becoming familiar with blackjack strategy charts. You might see online advice to count cards, but it’s not as rewarding as you might think. Moreover, card counting at online casinos is impossible, as virtual decks are shuffled after every game.

Skill Based Slot Machines

Possibly the most well-known “skill game” slot machine is the Pace-O-Matic, which was legalized in Virginia in March 2024. That makes five states, along with Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming, that allow Pace-O-Matic skill games.

Players in Nebraska and Wyoming can also play skill games from Pace-O-Matic’s competitor, Banilla Games.

What makes these skill-based is the strategy involved, including quick decision-making and mini-games that require hand-eye coordination. Real money slots, on the other hand, are strictly luck-based, and the best slot strategy involves preparation rather than skill.

FanDuel Faceoff

FanDuel Faceoff pits player against player, and the one who wins the skill game walks away with the prize. This relatively new online gaming option is exclusive to FanDuel Casino and utilizes head-to-head games like Swish Showdown (basketball game, learn more here), Jordan Spieth’s Fairway Frenzy (golf game), Field Goal Faceoff (football game), and Gronk Spike Cornhole.

Video Games

Also among the non-casino games, video games are another great example of skill games. Much like board games, they run the gamut from mostly skill-based to mostly luck-based and everything between. The skill to win at video games may require fast reactions or intelligence in various situations.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Calling Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) a game of skill is relatively controversial, but it’s also a matter of established law. In most US states, it’s either considered a skill game or it falls outside of gambling, so it’s pretty universally considered a non-casino game. Still, players risk money for a chance to win money, making it a game of chance to some degree. But because players compete against one another, and skill and experience can make a huge difference, it’s definitely a solid argument to say DFS is a skill game.

Stock Market

Day traders definitely consider what they do a skill. But sound, smart, long-term investing is also a practiced talent. Resisting huge profit potential for safe bets or having the guts to go for a long shot and watching it pay off (or accepting the loss) are both skillsets that require study, practice, and strategic thinking, making playing the stock market a game of skill for real money.

Board Games

To solidify your understanding of a skill game, let’s briefly move away from the casino and gambling world to other examples of skill games. Everybody knows board-game classics such as Monopoly and Scrabble, but not everyone realizes that these games are very similar to casino games such as poker and blackjack. That’s because these games are also hybrid skill games—mixing luck with strategy.

Board games range in variety and level of difficulty. Some options, such as Catan, stretch far beyond the level of skill and knowledge required to play simpler options. Of course, we must mention board game-casino game crossovers, such as MONOPOLY slots, which take some skill-based aspects of the board game and bring them into your gambling experience.

What Are Skill Games?

As the name suggests, skill games involve skill from the player to increase their chances of winning. The better the player’s strategy and knowledge, the higher the chances of winning. This element separates skill games from many other casino games that rely strictly on random number generators to determine outcomes, with no skill or strategy involved.

One of the best examples of a skill game is chess. The best chess players have mastered the game by learning patterns and strategies. You might’ve noticed that you won’t find these games in online casinos. That’s because casinos offer hybrid skill games for money. These games, which we’ll cover in detail below, require a lot of skill but also leave some of the results up to chance. Each player has to establish their strategy based on the random cards they are dealt.

Skill Games vs. Games of Chance

At their core, skill games require some level of ability and player decision-making, while games of chance are entirely random. For example, slots and lottery rely strictly on random number generators to determine outcomes, while poker and blackjack require utilizing strategy to increase the chance of winning. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Skill GamesGames of Chance
⚔️ With sound strategy and experience, players have some level of control over the outcome.🎰 Strategy might be important, but players rely almost entirely on luck to win.
⚔️ Can't rely on luck. Strategies and rules must be learned and studied for a good chance to win.🎰 Players can usually dive right in and start playing, no study required.
⚔️ Increased chance of winning through strategy.🎰 No matter the approach, the odds don't change.
⚔️ Usually more geared toward experienced gamblers.🎰 Accessible to both brand-new and highly experienced gamblers
⚔️ Outcomes may not be as exciting as those in luck-based games because you may know what to expect.🎰 Huge, random jackpots are largely considered the best outcome at the casino, not to mention the size of online lottery jackpots.
⚔️ The majority of skill games are table games, which hold high RTP percentages.🎰 Games based purely on chance range from table games to slots, keno, lottery, and beyond.

Skill Games Strategy – # Tips for Playing Games of Skill Online

1

Become an expert.

Being better than your opponent means knowing more from study, experience, and practice. The more you’ve played, the variety of opponents you’ve played, and the different strategies you nail down, the better your odds of winning.

2

Practice in free mode first.

Whether you’re playing sweepstakes poker with Gold Coins or playing free blackjack in demo mode, practice the game before you risk real money against a real opponent.

3

Compete small before going big.

While you may enter the skill game fray with unmatched confidence, it’s best to risk small amounts and build your way up to the big stuff. If you find yourself struggling to beat the lower-stakes players, you’ll want to stay at that level and continue getting better before stepping it up. Worst case scenario, you smoke all the competition early on and race your way to the big dogs.

4

Consider all competitions (tournament, one-on-one, etc.)

There’s never just one way to play a skill game for money. Try the different versions of the game, compete in prize pool tournaments, and, in general, diversify your competition. Even if that competition is the casino, joining more than one can have several advantages.

5

Supplement your gameplay.

Consider branching out into other areas that highlight your expertise. Many gamers stream their gameplay, tons of gamblers have channels, and influencers can make a good amount of money. Why limit yourself?

6

Utilize signup bonuses.

Whether an online poker site, sportsbook, or an online casino, you have tons of signup bonuses to choose from. Bonus money is a great way to get a leg up on the competition, and to play more for less of your own money. Check out some of the best offers below.

Skill Games Online for Real Money

At Bonus.com, our casino experts have found the top online casino bonuses to play online skill games for money. Below, you can find our skill-game recommendations, as well as bonuses to jumpstart your journey into skill games.

Your state doesn’t have access to the best online casinos for real money. But that’s OK! You can play skill games at the social and sweepstakes casinos listed below. Players can use Sweeps Coins to redeem for cash prizes and more. The best part? You can use our links to play for free:

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Gambling is for entertainment purposes only. Stay safe and ensure success when you gamble responsibly. Gambling problem? Call or text 1-800-GAMBLER for confidential support. Visit SAMHSA’s National Helpline website for resources that include a treatment center locator, anonymous chat, and more.

Steps To Playing Skill Games

1

Find a casino with skill games.

Firstly, you must find a casino that offers skill games. Luckily, all online casinos offer some games of skill for money, so you won’t need to look hard. Take time here to consider other aspects of the online casino you’re looking at, such as the overall game catalog, bonuses for both new and existing players, and overall quality.

2

Choose a game that piques your interest.

Once you’ve found an online casino you like, you should next find a skill game that captures your interest. If you’re unfamiliar with the game options, we recommend watching some YouTube videos or playing demos to find one that you enjoy. We also offer many free casino games for you to peruse and test right here on Bonus.com.

3

Learn the game’s rules and strategies.

Before you do anything else, you should learn the rules and strategies of the game you’ve chosen to maximize your chances of winning. This not only includes how to play but also how to play strategically. Make sure you fully understand the rules and the best strategies by trying free casino games before playing with real money. If you feel that you’re ready, move to the next step.

4

Take advantage of any bonuses and make your deposit.

Before making a deposit, check for bonuses that might boost your initial bankroll. Every online casino offers bonuses for both new and existing players, some of which we review in the next section.

5

Play!

That’s it! You’ve found your game, familiarized yourself with the rules and strategies, and you’re ready to play. Enjoy yourself, and always remember to practice responsible gambling to keep your play fun and comfortable.

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About the Author

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels is a lead writer and gambling expert for Bonus.com. He has been involved in the online gambling industry since 2013. Previously, he worked for Gamesys and Bally's Interactive as a copywriter and social media strategist for multiple North American online casinos.
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