When asked about playing online skill games for real money, most people immediately think about poker or blackjack. However, there’s a growing number of sites that allow you to compete against other players in popular games of skill that don’t fall into the same category as the above-mentioned two.
Those games might require fast reactions, mental skills, or even trivia knowledge, but the common denominator here is that all of them rely on your abilities instead of chance. In fact, some skill game sites have modified the rules of classic casual games like Sudoku or Solitaire in order to reduce the luck factor as much as possible. As a result, playing games of skill for money is closer to taking part in a sporting competition than betting against the dealer or even against a live opponent in an online casino game.
When discussing games of skill, you should remember that it’s simply a blanket term used for a wide variety of different games which, in the end, have only one thing in common: they allow you to challenge other players and compete against them on an even field. For example, many sites offer as many as 40 games or even more in a single category, so it’s fairly hard to make broad statements concerning issues that have to do with the whole lot of them. What we can do is describe each category and provide a few examples, as well as explain how exactly skill game sites work.
Online skill game sites are very similar to online poker sites when it comes to earning money. Basically, each site collects a fee for every real money match you play. An average fee would equal about 20% or 25% of the entry ticket for a cash tournament – this is the money that ends up in the pockets of the operators and covers the cost of actually hosting the game.
The rest of the money is used to fund the prize pool, which is then distributed between the winners of the games. Another, less popular method is to incur a small withdrawal fee – each time you make a cash-out request, the skill game site will subtract around $3 to $5 from your account to cover the costs of processing your payment.
Finally, a few sites that have a separate mobile account will charge a small fee for making a mobile deposit, but don’t worry as the specific amount will be stated each time you decide to make your payment.
Just like online poker rooms, skill game sites will allow you to play their games for free. However, there’s a crucial difference between the two – with games of skill, you wager on the outcome of the game, while in poker the bets you place during the game have a massive impact on the outcome. Consequently, advancing your poker skills becomes virtually impossible after a certain point if you decide to stick to play money tables, as other players won’t really care about their stacks and will make ridiculous raises and calls.
With other online skill games, however, most players will do their best to win whether there’s real money on the line or not, so it is quite possible to become a great player by honing your skills during free practice sessions.
Another important difference is that skill game sites tend to focus more on the social aspect of the games, which means that playing for free will allow you to win virtual prizes such as new statuses and ways to customize your on-site profile and avatar.
Whether you decide to play for real money or for free, most matchmaking systems will pit you against players of the same skill level as you. This means that regardless of your skill level and the amount you wagered, the games will almost always be entertaining and will allow you to grow as a player.
Fairness and security are treated very seriously in the real money gambling industry, and skill game sites are no different in this regard:
Most sites have a zero-tolerance policy towards cheating, which means that doing things like manipulating the outcome of the tournament by match-fixing is usually a surefire way to get your account suspended. What’s more, whenever there’s money or a personal information transfer involved, the data will be protected using the latest encryption technologies, which means that reputable gaming sites are even safer than the best poker and casino sites.
Quite obviously, skill game sites will handle your personal data with utmost care and confidentiality, as any scandal having to do with trading or leaking this kind of information would be disastrous to their reputation. As is almost always the case with online gaming, the bigger the site and the larger the community, the safer it is.
Most skill game sites won’t allow you to play for high stakes, at least when compared to poker and casino sites. What’s more, the specific amount of money you can wager on a particular match may depend on the game, the number of rounds you and your opponent will have to play to conclude the duel, and other game-specific variables. Cash games usually allow you to bet between $0.20 and $100, but on rare occasions, you’ll be able to wager as much as $1,000 on a single match.
As mentioned above, online games of skill are incredibly varied, so it’s very hard to come up with a list of typical games as each site tends to specialize in something else and has its own library of titles. Nevertheless, it’s possible to group those games into several categories, based on the type of skills they require.
Generally speaking, arcade games require fast reflexes in order to be a successful player, but that doesn’t mean all of them are dexterity-based. In fact, many games will test your ability to solve logical problems extremely quickly, which makes them very similar to sped-up puzzle games. A good example of an arcade skill game would be Collapse, Bubble Saga, or Mini-Golf.
Puzzle games won’t really test your reflexes as much as arcade games, but for practical reasons, most skill game sites require you to make your move within a pre-determined time limit each time it’s your turn to act. Puzzle games include titles like Bejeweled or HexTwist.
Word games are very similar to puzzle games, but they require you to solve word problems instead of abstract visual puzzles. In most cases, your goal will be to rearrange letters to create words, but some games might spice things up a little by requiring you to work with a board and by allowing your opponent to foil your plans in one way or another. Some of the most popular word games include Bookworm, Alphabet Soup or Scrabble.
Unlike the aforementioned types of skill games, trivia games will test your knowledge instead of reflexes or the ability to solve logical problems, which makes them very similar to television game shows. Most trivia games won’t be restricted to a single field of knowledge, but a few focus on a specific category of trivia, which makes it somewhat easier for players willing to specialize in one or two games.
Strategy games differ from puzzle games in that they require you to play against an active opponent instead of working to solve a logical puzzle. As a result, they test your ability to adapt to changing circumstances, your situational awareness, and your ability to come up with well-designed game plans. Some of the most popular strategy games include Mahjong and Chess.
Card games are probably among some of the most luck-based games available on skill game sites, and as such, they tend to come with high variance, so you should keep that in mind if you plan on keeping your win ratio high without playing a massive amount of matches. Nevertheless, many players thoroughly enjoy them, which secured games like Poker, Gin Rummy, and Solitaire a strong foothold in the online skill games market.
Unlike online sports betting where you bet on the outcomes of sporting events, sports games at skill game sites aren’t all that different from puzzle or arcade games, but their defining characteristic is the fact that they are all based on a popular sport of some kind. Consequently, most sport-based skill games are based on sports that rely on precision and sound judgment instead of athletic prowess, such as Pool, Darts, Bowling, or Snooker.
While there are dozens of sites that give you a chance to play real money skill games, many of them suffer from low traffic or a rather uninteresting game selection. Below, you will find a list of four reliable sites that allow you to test your skills against other players without risking getting scammed or feeling bored due to a lack of any serious action.
WorldWinner is yet another veteran of the industry. Founded in 1999, the site gives you access to numerous card games, arcade games, word games, strategy games, game show games, and sports games. This makes it a perfect choice for both social-oriented and real money players.
While playing any of the titles available on skill game sites is very simple as long as you stick to practice matches and refrain from putting any real money on the line, the moment you decide to get serious and place some real wagers, things might start to get a little complicated. Nevertheless, there are no reasons to worry, as the legal issues and money handling are far less complicated than in the case of straight-up gambling sites.
The legality of playing online skill games tends to differ from country to country and even from region to region, as there are many cases of gambling laws refusing to make the distinction between games of skill and hardcore gambling. Generally speaking, the laws concerning skill games are fairly lax in Europe and Australia. The United States on the other hand is a mixed bag, and the legal status of online skill games is hard to determine in many states.
While no players have been persecuted so far, most sites prefer to stay on the safe side and refuse to offer their services to residents of states like Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mayland, or Tennessee. Unlike in the case of online poker or casino gaming, the number of sites that downright refuse to accept any American players is rather limited, so finding a reputable site is way easier with skill games than it is with any other online real money games.
Most online skill game sites allow you to use a wide range of methods of funding your account. Usually, using your credit cards like Visa, MasterCard or American Express will be the fastest and most reliable way of making a deposit, but using an e-wallet service like PayPal, Neteller or Moneybookers is also a great way of making your payment.
Other than that, a few sites will allow you to deposit via a MoneyGram or Western Union money orders and even bank wire transfers, though most skill game providers prefer their customers to use a credit card or an e-wallet. Most kinds of deposits are usually processed instantly, though in certain cases you may have to wait a few business days before you can start wagering.
Withdrawals on the other hand are usually handled via e-wallets and bank wire transfers, depending on the site. Furthermore, some sites might allow you to cash out via a couriered check, but this is usually dependent on the country you’re playing from. Last, but definitely not least, the sites that allow you to deposit via MoneyGram/Western Union will generally allow you to withdraw using this method. However, this option is almost always reserved for customers who used MoneyGram/Western Union to make one of their payments before.
The bonuses available on dedicated skill game sites are usually significantly lower than the ones offered on poker and casino sites, which shouldn’t be all that surprising if you consider the fact that those site generally earn far less and cater to a predominantly gameplay-oriented audience. As a results, the matched deposit bonuses usually don’t exceed $100 – if you find a $200 bonus with a 100% match you should consider it a rather unique offer, as the standard is something along the lines of a $100 or $50 bonus with a 50% or 25% match. What’s more, a few sites offer a small no deposit bonus, which is usually no larger than $20, but allows you to check out real money play without being forced to make a real money investment.
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