It seems that there’s nothing in the world that can really surprise anymore. With social media channels like TikTok seemingly upping the ante on odd with their challenges, the weird people that post conspiracy theories on Facebook, and that crazy cat lady Beryl who lives down the road from our offices, the CasinoPlay crew often get the feeling that humanity is becoming a parody of itself. It seems that everybody and their hamster has a ‘voice’ and an ‘opinion’ and is hell bent on getting their fifteen seconds of fame.
Unfortunately, most of the fame doesn’t come from being unique or special in a society-building or humanity-advancing or even world-changing way, it’s all just … odd.
We thank the gods of chance and Lady Luck that we are able to immerse ourselves in a world that is actually quite solid, that has vagaries of chance sure, but is, if you delve deep, based on facts and figures, statistics, and mathematics, a black/white (or should that be black/red?) world where everything comes down to win or lose. It’s almost binary in its simplicity.
Or is it?
Because we recently heard about a weird casino game from Belgium that led us, again, into the rabbit hole of what people will do for entertainment – even with our great gambling games.
To be clear, we are not talking about weird bets – because that would take up a LOT of article space. Weird bets (and the Darwin Awards that often come with them) are an everyday occurrence, especially amongst the post-pubescent males of our society and their “I dare you to…”. Although there are a fair whack of adults that really should know better too, like Brian Zembic, a high stakes gambler from California who won $100,000 in 1996 after betting that he could have breast implants done and then keep them for a year. Which he did. And then decided to keep them anyway because “…he became accustomed to them.”
No, we are talking about actual casino games that you can go to an actual casino to actually play.
Look, we know that America has some odd ideas. A baseball “World Series” where the teams are only from USA. Big money competitions where contestants have to eat the most hot dogs, or chilis, or pies, or whatever. Whatever the hell WWE is (seriously, is it a sport? A soap opera? A telenovela?).
But, for us, the pinnacle of American sports betting has got to be the annual USA Rock Paper Scissors tournament. This ‘sports’ event was first held in (obviously) Las Vegas which is why we have included it as a casino game. Spectators are able to bet on the outcome of a rock-paper-scissors game with over 250 contestants vying for the title of USARPS League champion after months of knockout games.
And, just in case you thought this was just a sideshow, the winner walks away with $50,000 in prize money!
War is a childhood game on a par with Snap in terms of difficulty and challenge. And yet, it is a legit casino game.
For those who don’t know this kiddie’s game, War is played with a standard 52-card deck. The objective is to win the entire deck. How do you win? Well, the deck is shuffled and the player is dealt one card. The dealer takes a card and if your card is higher than the dealer’s – you win. If your card is the same as the dealer’s you can either surrender and get half your wager back or you can go to ‘War’ where you double your wager and you and the dealer draw a new card.
It’s about as challenging as a coin-flip, but it is actually a weirdly popular game at casino around the world and can be found in a bunch of South African online casinos. PlayLive Casino even offers a Live Dealer version called Live Casinowar.
Another family-friendly card game that has been monetised in the casino. UNO is about as frustrating and relationship-ending as Monopoly So why a game that brings in Draw 4, Reverse, and Skip would seem like a good idea at a casino where players are playing for real money and the drinks are possibly flowing is anyone’s guess.
Still, for those players who think bluffing is a week strategy and who would rather go all at screwing over other players, UNO for real may just be your vibe!
Picture the world’s most famous example of an elegant casino game enjoyed by the upper crust – and then add rats.
Roulette is a storied and famous casino game popular around the world and often associated with the higher echelons of society. What isn’t quite so ‘elite’ are rodents. But, if there’s a chance to make a bet and possibly get some quick cash, you can bet a player will try anything once.
Rodent roulette was a short-lived casino game that involved a large box with 50 numbered holes. Players would make their bet and a rodent (a rat or a hamster or a gerbil) would be released. Players would wait and watch in anticipation until the rodent chose a hole and scurried into it. Whoever had bet on that hole was the winner.
While certainly less of a bloodsport than dog- or cock-fighting, rodent roulette began falling out of favour when punters realised they could make a loud by clapping and chase the rodent towards the hole they had bet on. Added to that, a lot of rodents tend to follow a scent track laid down by the animals that have gone before it, so it became a bit of a gyp when the rats or whatever kept running to the same place.
We are ending our “Stories of the Bizarre Bets” list with TWO entries because they both have to do with our feathered friends and also because we can do whatever we want.
Our first feathery fable comes from Belgium, a country not widely known as the epicentre of deviant behaviour or truly odd goings-on.
Belgian Birdsong is a casino game that is hugely popular in the land of waffles and Jacques Brel (and chocolate?). It comes as no surprise that a land that has revitalised the chanson with artists like Jacques Brel and Stromae would have a melodic twist to their casino games and Belgian Birdsong is just that: a group of birds are put into separate cages where they sing for the gamblers. The gamblers place wagers on which bird they think will sing the loudest or which bird will sing the longest.
And, just to make sure there are no flights of fancy going on, you can even inspect the birds before you make your bet?
And our final ode to the oddest odds-on comes from our favourite exporter of the weird – the USA.
It’s called the Chicken Challenge and hopeful gamblers take on Ginger the chicken (yes, an actual real live chicken) in a game of noughts and crosses or tic-tac-toe. The Chicken Challenge can be played at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City and, from what we can gather, is actually quite a challenge as Ginger apparently has learned some tricks over the course of her gambling career. If you do win, you walk away with $10,000 so the payout isn’t chicken feed at least.
The South African online casinos may not offer us such weird and wacky fare but that’s not to say that we don’t have some really unusual games to play. Online and mobile casinos that are targeting South Africans and our ZARs, like PlayLive, Jackpot.co.za, and Africasino, are not content with just offering us standard fare like slots and a few table games. They know the South African gambler’s appetite for new and challenging opportunities and are bringing some quite spectacular games to our digital shores. Casino Patience has been quite a hit in the office, as has Live Monopoly.
Get out of your comfort zone and explore your favourite online casino for games that you may not know or would like to try – but remember, always play responsibly, and watch your budget and your time.