Play Skill Games For Money
Explore the different types of games that pay real money where skill determines whether you win or lose
Table Of Contents
How & Where To Play Online Skill Games For Real Money Prizes
There are plenty of ways of playing skill games for money. Players need ability and a good level of expertise to be successful at skill cash games, and if you’re one of those people who has talent in any game it will often shine through.
Even if you can play online to win money and display a decent level of competence, luck will often take a part in outcomes – if maybe only a small one – but generally if you’re more highly skilled at playing certain cash games online than your opponents then the chances are you can use your abilities to win by playing real money skill games in the long term.
There’s no doubt that playing with skills can be great fun, but playing a game for cash prizes makes the experience even better.
On this page we’ll take a detailed look at the different types of skill based games you can play for real money plus a number of other aspects which are equally important. We’ll aim to identify:
- a fairly exhaustive list of skill games websites where you can play them online
- the best real money skill game site and which one will give you the best skill cash winning opportunities
- how easy it is to play and how you can improve your winning chances
- whether playing skill games for real money is legal and if they are fair
- some additional resources that will help increase your understanding of how playing in skill-based contests and competitions might (if you’re strong enough) build up a nice sized bankroll.
By the end you’ll have a clear guide to the techniques to use, and the skill gaming opportunities where careful planning and skillful application will work for you.
Of course, you may know all this stuff already and just want to test your skills.
If that’s the case, two skill games websites in particular are worth looking into. Known as Gamersaloon and Gameduell, they’re trustworthy operators that have both been running both head to head contests and cash prize tournaments for a number of years. They both offer a wide game selection with a variety of puzzle game options too, many ready to be played for a modest entry fee.
If the type of game of skill you want to play is more focused on intellect, then it’s probably trivia you’ll want to be considering. Or you could decide to focus on arcade games of skill, word games, or opt for some forms of puzzle games instead.
Playing at an online casino is traditionally associated with chance or luck, but as we’ll see there are also opportunities to enjoy casino skill games too.
We should also mention the option of playing with skills in a game based on a game show. These are wildly popular for a number of reasons.
So you can see that gaming with skills comes in many forms. For example you can argue that some casino games you can play – although generally purely luck-based – do require some mastery from a strategic perspective in order to have any chance at all of winning over time.
Also there are options for betting on games which include all types of sports for example tennis, soccer, and basketball and a raft of others. You can even bet on Esports and virtual sports. Each of these offers skillful players or bettors some good prospects of using their capability to come out ahead.
How To Play
Don’t forget the options for how to play as well. There are plenty, ranging from tablet, laptops or PCs through to Apple iOS driven devices such as an iPad or iPhone, and Android platform devices where you’ll be getting the games from the Google Play Store.
Be aware of the risks.
Before we move on to some detail…… Remember that wagering to make money on the outcome of an event – be it betting or as a stake in a contest – often involves the risk of losing that money.
The potential of losing money is obviously higher in games of chance, but is still there when skills are involved. If that worries you, there’s an alternative – some of the social casino websites where the games include some based on skill. These social sites ways you can play for free where quite often you’re playing for virtual cash, though some do offer ways to win real money too.
Whatever you decide to do, always be cautious and read the RealMoney.Games responsible gambling page before you take any risk.
Where To Play
If you’re keen to use your type of skill and see exactly what’s available you’re going to want a full list of cash skill games websites, but as a quick starter here are some of the most popular:
For any India-based players the mobile app Ewar Games is worth a look. Free play, head to head matches, and tournaments are all available to any user.
GameGully is another app for Indian game fans where you can play a game with cash prizes going to winners.
The latest operator to launch a skill-gaming platform is GetMega. With a social app delivering a range of skill-based games to Indian players, GetMega is looking to grow an already 5 million registered users to 50 million globally by the end of 2021.
What Are Real Money Skill Games
A few summers ago, I developed a serious problem. I became addicted to Bejeweled. It was bad. I could not wait to get home and play online. Whether it was in front of a PC, laptop, or on a smartphone, Bejeweled was my chosen game of skill.
It’s not hard to see why. Bejeweled is a hugely popular example of a puzzle game of skill, and is highly addictive. It became my major source of excitement and fun. I got to be real good at the game. It does take a certain level of ability to play well.
One day, after having played for what must have been hours, I came to an important realization: “There could be money in this somewhere, maybe I could use my flair to win money playing Bejeweled or any other type of games”.
That single thought introduced me to a world I never knew existed: the world of skill gaming websites. Or more to the point, the world of playing games to make money online using my skills.
I had to find out more. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who wished they could win money playing games. It turns out there are a number of websites where you can play skill based games for money prizes – from a game show title right through to arcade, word, and puzzle games.
At these skill game websites, people can play games like Backgammon, Rummy, Dominoes, Virtual Darts, Chess, Freecell, board games, and of course the amazing game of Bejeweled.
On top of all that, you can also play console video games in cash contests against others too, and a whole range of arcade games and even titles based on a game show where games include such examples as The Price Is Right.
All can be played either in tournaments or against single opponents – and all with for cash or other prizes on offer too.
So now I knew that there were many options for playing skill games competitively against opponents in contests or competitions – some that require speed and fast reactions or reflexes ,ability to predict what’s going to happen, intelligence and experience, cognitive ability, or good hand-eye co-ordination….and other types that require a strong understanding of strategy, where a strong strategic approach is the main factor in consistent success and the chances of ending up winning a cash prize.
As good examples, one game may test your dexterity skills under a timing situation. Another game may test your accuracy, finesse, or technique under some form of distraction. You can see the point. They will always involve you being good at something, or at least better than your opponent(s).
Skillgames are a world away from those random games of chance where you’d be hoping to make extra cash, such as playing bingo or any one of a number of gambling games in a casino. Those of course will fall under the category of gambling, as you’ll be wagering money on the outcomes and it’ll all be down to luck whether you win.
But of course it’s not as easy as just knowing the opportunity exists, is it? If you want to use your specific abilities to craft positive outcomes playing a game of skill to make money or win other prizes, you’re going to need to know exactly what you can play and where to find the opportunities.
So that’s what we’ll cover now…..
We’ve noted before that any game of skill falls into the classification of those that either need varying degrees of manual or mental aptitude (or both). Certainly in order to be successful enough to win playing them, as opposed to the gambling games of chance where luck has to be smiling.
They require good concentration ability too, and fortunately these can all be practiced at free sites where you can hone those essential skills. You’ll need to be able to use brain power and maybe even some physical skill.
That brings a whole raft of different game types into the equation, so if we want to break them down they’re going to fall roughly into one of 8 categories:
Lets take a look at each of these categories in turn. It’s worth noting that there may be some crossover between one or two:
Console Video Games
There are a number of sites available where you can make money playing competitive video games. There are options to get involved playing many of the popular video game titles, either in head to head contests or multi-player tournament style competitions.
Those based on sports are particularly popular – football, pool, snooker, basketball, and golf. Skill based soccer games like FIFA are well represented in the list of those you can play for money.
But the real jewel in the crown here – and those that will appeal to the widest range of players – are the popular console titles which focus on warfare and battles.
To be successful at strategy games calls for a clear head and a deep understanding of the game along with the experience (or instructions) on what to do for the best results in specific circumstances.
Many of these approaches are required in card games, with poker being the most well known. 3 Card Poker is an ideal example, where there’s plenty of luck at play in what cards you’re dealt but what you decide to do with them can mean the difference between winning and losing. Note though that even though there is an element of skill, these are still classified as gambling games.
You’ll also find strategies useful in other game types too such as those based around navigation of virtual worlds (covered further below).
Ah. Card Games! We’ve all played them right? As kids, as teenagers in the loft with illicit-style betting, with grandparents, and as parents and adults. This subject is an immense one, as can be seen on the excellent website Pagat.com….and unsurprisingly a number of them can be played either for fun or real money.
Many players will consider a card game to be a game of chance, but that’s not totally true. While luck does have a say, if you use the right strategies you can definitely improve winning chances.
Games include favorites such as poker, backgammon, and solitaire. Let’s look at a few that sit in the ‘real money’ bracket…..
Perhaps the most obvious example of a game of strategic skill is poker, and – as we’ll see further below – it sits firmly as one of the best you can play for making money. Poker is a game where strategy plays a huge part in successful play, though of course you do need some good helpings of luck in the cards you’re dealt. It’s possible to play your way through many hands of poker and make perfect decisions but still lose, but overall in the long run you’ll come out on top.
When we talk about poker as a skill game, we are of course referring to the variants such as Texas Holdem, Omaha, and others where you’re playing against opponents. There are a number of casino-type variants – with 3 card poker being a good example – where strategy can help your winning chances but luck does play a much bigger part in the eventual outcomes.
So, poker is a game of chance that gives possibilities to play for fun, for excitement, or for money. Many players play for fun using low stakes. Some like to win a little money occasionally. Only a small percentage actually play for additional income or as full time poker professionals.
Whether you win or lose, you can enjoy the thrill. There are three things you want to be asking yourself first before playing anything for cash prizes – am I going to enjoy it, how much is it going to cost me, and can I win or make money from it.
With poker it’s a fair bet you’re going to get the entertainment value! As far as cost goes, as long as you don’t get carried away you can control how much you could possibly lose.
Your chances of winning though heavily depend on your approach ; your own personal discipline and skill level, and how much practice you’re prepared to put in to hone your skills. Plus of course the skill level of your opponents, how they play, and whether they have any advantages which you don’t such as access to some form of software. Playing against poker software (or a bot as it’s sometimes known) can decrease your odds because it’s essentially a computer program that’s making playing decisions.
It’s possible to play poker off the bat with minimal instruction and get some winning hands…and maybe even come out of a session ahead. But in the long run you’ll need to put the effort in to get a positive return.
So the chances of winning? They’re good, provided you can put in the focused effort that playing well consistently calls for. Of all the different ways to win money playing games online, anyone who can play poker well stands a very good chance of being successful…and of having a great time doing it.
The second most popular skill-based card game after poker is rummy. With a number of different formats available to play, it’s especially popular in countries like India.
Different types of rummy games are all based on the same basic concept – that of collecting melds.
A meld is a run of cards, which can be either sets of three or four cards of the same rank, or three or more sequential cards in the same suit.
So where does the skill come in to play?
You’ll be using your memory and anticipation skills in a rummy game by remembering which cards have been discarded and using that to estimate the probability of getting useful cards from the deck or the recent discard.
Other Card Games
Include such favourites as solitaire, spades, and a double handful of others you’ll find in an online casino. These call for a combination of skills, mental agility, strategic approach, and a fairly hefty dose of luck too!
Arcade – Puzzle – Word
Each of these could take up a category of their own. You’ll often find variations of them on various cash-gaming websites. Clearly arcade games, word games, and most forms of puzzle games call for a mix of skills, with the arcade type options often requiring manual dexterity and experience, and puzzle, quiz, or word games requiring mental strength.
Arcade games involve critical thinking capabilities and fast reflexes. In fact generally you’ll need good hand-eye coordination. Some examples are Collapse and Mini-Golf. Shooting and racing games also fall into this category, as do others such as Bejeweled and Tetris Burst.
Arcade games can be also be likened to the different types of popular video games we all know and love. You can read more about these on the ‘play video games for money‘ page..
Utilize a player’s ability to apply logic – sometimes combined with manual dexterity – and require a gamer to solve puzzles under a time limit. Some examples include Bejeweled and HexTwist.
Word games are based on solving word problems, with a good example being any word game where you need to rearrange letters to form a word or sentence. Popular options include Bookworm, Alphabet Soup, and Word Mojo. Plus of course the globally-known game of Scrabble.
Many of these types are played under tournament conditions where all participants will pay an entry fee and the winner will get a percentage of the overall pot. If you don’t fancy playing tournaments there are other options to play some word games where the aim is to build up a points balance that can be used to exchange for prizes like raffle tickets, electrical goods, holidays etc.
Trivia & Quiz
Trivia games are a clear case of a game of skill. They test your level of knowledge in specific categories, or across a broad range of general knowledge type subjects. They’re question and answer contests, normally played singly.
Playing in free to enter trivia contests can net you some nice cash prizes. The best known example is probably HQ Trivia, although there are a number of other real money trivia competitions to enter in the list of trivia websites. Many of these offer a skilled contestant good chances to win some money or other prizes.
Fantasy Real Money Games
Here there are two key types available – fantasy sports and fantasy worlds.
Fantasy Sports Games
These let you focus on your ability to assemble a team composed of great players and build up points based on their performances. In fantasy sports games, you’ll use your knowledgeable about various sports and the teams to pick effective team members and hold an edge against anyone who just guesses their lineups.
Sports which offer great fantasy contests include football, cricket, basketball, and the game of Kabbadi which is particularly well known in India and followed by Indian sports fans.
Falling firmly into the bracket of popular video gaming, virtual world games are wildly popular.
If cleverly done they can let you play out deep fantasies based on the running of economies to the conquering of nations, and pretty much everything you can think of in between.
You know what I’m talking about here. It’s those games like SecondLife and similar others that basically offer you virtual world environments in which you can carry out normal life or fantasy type activities. Those might include the pursuit of building elements in the virtual world or otherwise enhancing your standing in them.
The list of real money board games includes such old favourites as chess, draughts, backgammon, and monopoly. These are generally board games where strategy and your effective use of it determines if you’ll get to win.
All players normally have relatively equal knowledge of playing rules and optimum strategies, hence luck of course plays a part too.
Game Show Games
Many other skill based games you can play include popular television games based on game shows such as Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, The Price Is Right or Jeopardy. These game show options are considered to be skill based because they test your general knowledge of popular culture and trivia.
Note that even though you can play skill games involving the board-based or card-based games you might find in some game shows, these are exactly the types that some people would categorize as games of chance because they are based on the roll of the dice (Monopoly, for example) or the luck of the draw (the card games).
Even Scrabble, which tests skills in vocabulary and spelling, is based on which letters you draw to play with.
And always remember that luck is often playing some part in the outcome of any game or contest. You won’t win every time, but on balance it’s person using skills who will win overall even on some game shows.
Online Poker – The King Of Cash Prize Skill Gaming
There’s little doubt that poker sits high up on the list of any games that require skill in order to win some cash. Imagine a game with a multitude of possible outcomes, that’s poker – and poker players need to learn faster than their opponents to keep ahead of the pack.
There are an untold number of aspects to playing successfully which place it as one of the most psychologically demanding of all real money skill games. And make no mistake, playing poker calls for a range of skills which include the ability to outwit your opponents, disguise your hands, and use a number of strategies to best effect.
Skilled poker players always have a long term advantage over the lucky ones, and the game deserves its place at the head of any skill games list where you can win cash. You can play in one off cash ring games or in different types of poker tournaments with sometimes huge prizes.
Fortunately if you want to find out how to play poker there’s no shortage of information to help………………………
……..and one of the best places to go is PokerStrategy.com.
These guys have been providing poker strategy instruction for many years, and are one of the best known in the business. Plus the great news is that anyone can join and start earning, from pretty much any country in the world (as long as you’re over legal age of course).
With more than 7 million members – including a number of the world’s most successful players – PokerStrategy.com provides high quality articles, videos, coaching, and discussions that can be tailored to your own skill level.
Beginner information is accessed via a free registration. In order to gain access to strategy content for a higher status, you can either earn points by playing at partner poker rooms (unfortunately not available to anyone from the US), or buy a subscription in the points shop.
Who Can Play
As long as you’re of the specified legal age, and living in a country or region where online skill-based gaming is allowed, then you’re legally able to play games of skill to try and win money.
You will need enough money as a starting deposit, and be able to use a deposit method like a credit card that allows you to transfer money to the site you want to play at. This should never be a problem unless you are in a jurisdiction where online betting is frowned upon or illegal, and there are plenty of different deposit options.
The Difference Between Cash Skill Games & Gambling Chance Games
There are some important differences to take into account when you’re playing skill games vs a game of chance, with the most relevant being that with skill gaming you’ve often got a better chance of winning.
That’s if you know what you’re doing of course. Provided you do, then the power of control has shifted to you rather than sitting with casino software that determines outcomes.
It’s worth noting though – even if your abilities are determining outcomes – there is often an element of luck involved as well. When you’re in head to head competition (such as in games like chess or draughts) that’s not the case, but you can see it would be those similar to poker where your playing actions can determine an outcome but you need some good hands at some point (and the luck to be dealt them).
The other main difference is in how regulatory bodies view legality, and the legal constraints they put around the games. Playing games for cash prizes using skill often falls into a bracket which is considered to be legal wherever you are (although you should check to make sure before you play).
Where To Play
If you enter the term “skill games” into a search engine, you will find that there are dozens of websites that offer them. Hundreds in fact, ranging from those that offer the full suite of opportunities to those with a dedicated focus on games with a similar gameplay to Rummy, Backgammon, or Poker. It’s probably not going to be a surprise to find that many of them focus on real cash video gaming.
So there are plenty of places to play, as you’d expect from the availability of such a wide range of different game types.
Essentially skillgames websites can be broken down into two main types – those that actually provide games to play, and those that explain the different operators and give an overview of the sites and the options.
This next section on where to play falls into the first category. It’s an easy to follow directory of some of the most popular skill games websites. This includes specific sites that cover general collections of different games, and those that focus on one area in particular such as chess, backgammon, rummy, or others.
The popularity of some skillgames – and especially those played for money – is often in no part due to the way they’re based on well know TV shows. GSN cash games, also known as Worldwinner, cornered the market in these by gaining exclusive rights to the skillgame versions based on shows such as The Price Is Right, Deal Or No Deal, and The Wheel Of Fortune.
This ensures that GSN sit on top of the leaderboard of online skill games for money websites. Being able to offer exclusive titles in any market, as long as they’re good, definitely helps with player acquisition and retention.
StarGames is one of the more popular hybrid casino/poker/bingo websites that also offers a range of skillgaming options. Games can be played for free or for cash prizes. Unfortunately play is restricted from some countries, most notably the UK.
Built specifically for Backgammon players, Dice Arena is the place to go for good quality backgammon gaming software and instant play games.
You can practice or play for fun or take part in contests for real money, and the site design makes it easy to find the type you want, be it a single heads up game, a full match, or a tournament.
…and if it’s Backgammon you’re after you can do a lot worse than visit Play65, probably the best backgammon gaming site online. With thousands of active members from all over the world, this well designed site delivers opportunities for fun or for real money 24 hours a day, and there is a definite level of skill required to play Backgammon well.
Here you’ll find downloadable and instant play games, with a tournament schedule that includes Sit & Go’s, Satellites, Knockouts, and Swing contests.
More Cash Skill Gaming Sites
- www.spadester.com – The Spades card game where spades is always trumps.
- www.kickback.com – competitive 1 against 1 contests for cash and skins.
- www.royalgames.com – compete for prizes or just for fun. Player with highest score wins.
At Skillz you use your gaming skills to play for real money prizes or Skillz Z credits in head to head matches and 4 player tournaments against other players around the world.
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For cash prize tournaments based on classic games like backgammon, GameColony is a long standing site you’ll want to check out. The site has been online since 1999, and promises ”tournaments of skill in a secure online environment and a thriving online community where competitors from all over the world are engaged in healthy skill-based competitions”.
Tournament participants are rewarded for displaying their skills in organised online competitions. You’ll enrol in online tournaments by buying entry tickets from GameColony.com, with the winners collecting prizes based on a percentage of the overall tournament prize pot.
Gametaco is a platform that offers ‘cash-powered tournaments.’
Currently in beta test, when it’s fully launched you’ll be able to play free and real money skill-based tournaments across a range of games and with different devices including PC, Mac, iOS, Android as well as the popular consoles Xbox and PlayStation.
The platform is aiming to take pole position in our list of real money opportunities to play online, and ultimately become known as ‘the number one destination for cash skill-based tournaments’.
Sitago position themselves as a ”the most secure online skill games money site on the internet”.
So if it’s security you want, they’ll be a good place to start.
Certainly Sitago will give you options for competing against others for real money, and in games where you can use skills like being able to spot patterns or learn combinations in order to be the best.
If you were to look up “best online casinos”, William Hill would without a doubt be near the top of the list. They are the standard to which all other online casinos aspire. With a large variety of games and world renowned customer service, it is no wonder they are held in such high regard.
But William Hill are not just about casino gaming and sports betting, they have an entire section devoted to playing skill games, and even some casino skill games.
They arrange them by different categories and have everything from card games to dice and table. If that’s not enough, they also have instant win, backgammon, dominoes, gin rummy, and poker dice. They also offer weekly Pennyroll tournaments.
William Hill offer great bonuses to kick off your bankroll. They are currently running a £20 New Play Bonus simply for registering. Also, if you play £20 in skill games, they will give you £20 free.
For more information about the William Hill’s lineup, you can visit them at WilliamHill.
Arguably the leader in competitive esports contests for cash prizes, Worldgaming was born out of the old Virgin Gaming and offers a good alternative to sites like Gamersaloon.
At Worldgaming you can enjoy ”Competitive daily video game tournaments and head-to-head challenges for gamers of every skill level on Playstation, Xbox and PC”.
That means playing against opponents in titles like Madden 17, FIFA 17, NBA2K 17, and NHL 17.
With a strap line that simply states ‘ Play Games, Win Money’ the new operation at Eazegames offers its contestants ways to enter daily competitions using freely given EazeCoins and win real money prizes (currently the top 3 players daily can win €30).
EazeGames is in beta test phase, hence there are a limited number of skill-based games to play.
When the test phase is finished we may see this provider rise to the top.
Not a gaming provider in its own right, but still worth knowing about. Tournament Seeker does pretty much what it says on the tin….’bridging the gap’ between esports tournaments and the competitors that want to play in them. In other words it profers to list out available tournaments in an easily searchable way.
A search facility on the website allows you to seek events both online and in live environments – a great entry point to the world of video gaming for money.
Link to Tournament Seeker Youtube Video
How Easy Is It To Play?
The answer to this question varies of course, depending on the what’s involved.
Getting set up to play is easy. Just pick the website you want to play at and follow the registration process. The vast majority of skillgames websites make this process as easy as possible to follow.
Most games themselves are generally straightforward to understand and involve just learning a few simple rules, though when you start getting into more complex strategic card-based ones – such as poker – things do get a little tougher. Even poker itself though is easy to learn from a ‘how to play’ perspective. It’s the strategy elements that involve a lot of extra skill-based learning and experience.
How To Win
If all this reading about skill games has whet your appetite, one of the first things you may want to do is dive straight in try to win some cash. Normally – with any type of attempt to win at anything by using skill – this is going to be a bad idea. Skill is generally not something that everyone has right from the start. It needs to be nurtured and grown with experience and practice.
So what is the best way to approach the task?
First, you need to how to identify online skill games which you’re interested in playing. Next, you need to know where to find them. And last, you need to know which ones you qualify for.
Then you need to spend some time honing your skills, especially where you’re going to be risking your own money trying to win someone else’s.
It’s a good idea to join a few different websites to find the best one that suits your needs. Start out with small stakes to get a good feeling for how the software works, and the skill levels of your opponents.
The best part is that, unlike a game of chance, the possibility of winning depends on your talent (or skill), so the longer you play, the better you get (unless of course the game involved is just not for you). With games of chance, the probability of you winning money decreases over time. We’ve all been there when the house starts getting luckier and luckier and our wallets become emptier and emptier.
What Skills Do You Need To Be Successful?
To win using skill you’ll need a set of personal attributes that would look good on a well-honed CV…….not least a cool head, ability to perform under pressure, manual dexterity and aptitude, and agility.
You’ll need to gain competence and experience, demonstrate a level of flair, and be able to use your expertise to overcome opponents or beat the gaming software.
In some games, using ingenuity and cunning will be important. In others it’ll be pure mental strength or technique.
All of this may call for some specialization, and it’s worthwhile choosing one specifically and focusing on it.
How Easy Is It To Win?
With any form of gaming where money is involved, you can be pretty sure you’re going to win at some point. The trick is in winning consistently, such as to end up with a profit over a period of time. Playing with skill gives you the best chance of achieving this, as opposed to many other forms of betting.
So winning at skill games depends to a large extent on your skill level, how much effort and practice you put in increasing your skill levels, and of course on the strength of your opponents.
Of these, the first two are entirely within your control. Where it gets tricky is in knowing the skill levels of opponents. Fortunately some sites offer a solution for this by offering graded contests where you’re matched against opponents at the same general skill level as you. Royalgames.com is a good site for this, Worldwinner (also known as GSNGames) is another.
Playing in tournaments with plenty of entrants -where a higher number of players can finish in the money – also gives you increased chances to win (as long as you can hold your own and reach the latter stages of the tournament, of course).
Are Cash Skill Games Legal?
In the US, you need to be careful with any form of gaming for real money prizes. Skill-games websites that are owned by US-based companies are subject to US federal laws and the laws of the particular state the website owner is registered in as a business.
In the casino and poker world, there are specific regulations that outlaw casino and poker outside of the five states which so far have made them legal (as of writing in December 2020 these are Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia ). But this generally doesn’t apply to skill-gaming.
In general, that means that anyone playing must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old to play skill games for money.
Throughout the rest of the world, laws and regulations vary from country to country. Generally the regulations around gambling are much more tolerant when it’s known that there is an element of skill involved.
Wherever you are, before playing you should check any website’s Terms and Conditions page for specific details and be aware of the regulations of the country that you reside in. Some websites may accept players from countries that other sites don’t, especially where the regulations are not fully clear.
Other than that, anyone who has a method of depositing – like a credit card, Paypal, or Moneybookers – can enjoy playing skillgames, and of course there are no limitations on playing at sites that offer free games.
For further reading there’s a valuable article on the legal questions around skill gaming for money at Pocketgamer.biz.
Are The Games Fair?
It’s one of the perennial questions…..”If I’m going to be risking my own money playing games of skill against opponents, how do I now it’s going to be fair?”
The operators have this covered, and they do it by ensuring that contestants are always matched on ability. That’s to say you should always be playing against an opponent with a similar general level of skill. There are algorithms built into the software platforms that make this aspect work.
As far as trusting the operators goes, the sites I’ve listed on this page should give you no problems. They’re all big, long running firms that can’t take a risk of being labelled as untrustworthy.
Is It Gambling?
Gambling is a far reaching term that can be applied to any form of contest where you’re wagering money to win more of it. Based on this definition, you’d have to say that playing skill games for cash prizes does fit into the category of gambling.
However it’s not quite that simple to place the gambling label on games of skill. In the eyes of most countries where real money skill gaming is legal, the fact is that it is legal pretty much rests on making the key distinction between games of luck and games of skill…and the one key item that differentiates them is that winning where skills are involved calls on a competitor’s proficiency to influence the outcome.
We already touched on poker, which is widely recognised as being the best real money skill game, but whenever you want to find out the best of anything you’ll need to look at the subject from different perspectives.
In the case of skillgames for money, looking for the best could mean:
the best of those that are right for your skill level
the best from a perspective of how easy they are to play
the best from an entertainment and gameplay point of view
or the best for getting a winning return from your playing time.
Let’s take a look at some examples to see how these elements are approached and get an idea of the level of skill required to win the money pots. This list covers some of the most popular skill games you’ll come across, but there are hundreds more which are more obscure or lesser known.
Wheel Of Fortune
This works on a tournament basis, with participants matched against each other in front of a puzzle. In reality they’re working against a timer. The game works by spinning the wheel and guessing letters one by one in an attempt to solve the puzzle. If either player solves the puzzle they’re awarded a predetermined score plus the chance to play in a bonus round worth up to 1000 points depending on how much time was left to run.
Deal Or No Deal
With Deal Or No Deal it gets a little more complicated. Guessing a box and seeing what value prize is hidden in it would appear to be clearly a game of chance, yes?
Not so, with a few adaptations it’s cleverly been turned into a skill based contest.
If you’ve watched it on TV, you’ll know the starting format where you choose a box from 1 to 26, each of which contains a card showing a different value from 1 cent (or 1€/p for European/UK residents) up to $1million (€/£250k). You then select six further boxes, after which the banker makes an offer of the amount of money you can win (obviously this varies depending on the six amounts shown and effectively removed).
This is where the skill element comes into play. To carry on and select more boxes, you’ll have to get through a word game where you’ll need to unscramble jumbled up letters to form new three or four letter new ones. The score obtained from these is what actually counts towards whether you’ll ultimately triumph in the game or not.
In effect this means that what’s in the boxes is pretty much irrelevant to the outcome, but players still love it just as much as the TV audiences do in the TV version.
Aside from these two well known examples, you can also play skill based versions for money of popular video puzzle contests on Bejeweled, solitaire, and many others.
Dollar Candy holds the title of being known as the world’s fastest real-money skill game. You get the chance to make money in games lasting a speedy and intense 60 seconds. Great for playing on your mobile while on the bus or train, or waiting in a queue somewhere.
It’s played on a board of coloured tiles against up to three opponents with the aim of matching as many as you can in as quick a time as possible. It calls for a good degree of skill, with the amount of money you can win depending on the entry fee paid and the game level selected. The higher the entry fee and level, the higher the money payout.
As with all the skillgames, Dollar Candy is 100% legal in the US states that allow it legally and in a number of other countries globally. It can be played for fun or for cash prizes.
One of the biggest benefits of Dollar Candy is that with a low number of opponents the chances of winning are that much higher, plus it’s designed to be played on virtually any type of device from desktop to mobile.
Solitaire is one of those timeless card games that virtually everyone has played at some point. Anyone with a computer will recognise it as one of the free games that always came with the software. But you may not know that it’s possible to play solitaire with cash prizes on offer.
For those who don’t know, the objective is to build four stacks of cards, one for each suit in a standard cards deck, and get them in ascending order from ace to king.
Solitaire can be played at many skillgame sites, as well as in the mini games sections of some big sportsbetting operators like 5Dimes.
Players can enjoy 5Dimes Solitaire on a number of devices including iPhone, iPad and anything that runs on Android.
For anyone who loves shooters and wants to try and make some money from their skills, Kwari is one to note and remember.
Sign up and play, and every time you hit another player you’ll win some cash. But get shot yourself, and you’ll lose some. Play for higher stakes and win more, or stick to the lower levels and win less but risk losing less.
Added interest comes from the ‘pill’. In each contest the player that holds the pill for the longest time gets a cash award at the end of each contest. Complete additional challenges and increase your winning chances still further.
It’s interesting that all of the cash staked goes back to the players, Kwari take none of it, though they do make money from purchases of ammo by players.
Bonuses & Promotions
Some skill game sites offer an array of attractive promotions designed to bring in new players and reward existing ones.
These range from the types of welcome bonus you see when signing up to play in an online casino through to VIP schemes where you’ll earn points based on how much you play which can be redeemed for goods, gift certificates, and occasionally cash.
Those players who get involved can even get weekly bonus offers, while even just logging in to some websites can earn you VIP points.
Pros & Cons
Aside from the fact that there is a possibility of losing money, there are not too many negatives around the playing of skill games for real money. Losing money can of course be painful, but as long as you’re cautious and play responsibly you can keep losses to a minimum and still get some great entertainment.
On the plus side the good points are numerous:
- Many websites offering skill games for money will also provide options for free or practice play, as well as for real cash. Though it’s worth remembering that in free play your opponents may not be playing to the best of their ability. With no money at stake, some can play recklessly.
- The fact that they are skill based does let them fall outside of some local regulations around gambling in some parts of the world. However before playing where money prizes are involved, you should check local laws and restrictions yourself to be sure.
- The wonderful thing about the internet of course is that the opponents you’ll face in any skill based tournaments could be from anywhere in the world, and at any personal skill level. The downside can be that you don’t know who exactly you’re playing, but some of the skill game websites cover this by ensuring you only get pitched against players of similar ability.
- There can be a strong social and community aspect. Many sites offer chat and forum facilities where you can interact with other players.
In a highly competitive industry one thing that the operator websites and the software developers cannot do is sit on their hands and just lap up the profits. They need to be constantly on the lookout for the next big thing.
Development of new games is hard to envisage, so it’s likely to be developments or improvements in technology that point the way to the future.
Real Money Skill Games In The Casino
One of the big ways that playing games of skill where money prizes are on offer to the winners might develop in future is in the casino games industry, which traditionally has always been associated with games of chance or luck.
There are very few options for playing in a casino where even a small element of skill is involved in the outcome, and in those where it is that skill level is limited to either playing strategically in card games or at video poker. That’s to say playing hands with the correct strategic approach to put the odds in your favour as far as possible. 3 card poker is a good example.
So it’ll be surprising to learn that potential developments in slot machines could be a development that will see casino skill games appearing more in the lists of opportunities.
Slots are one of the worst ways to play online, although conversely one of the most enjoyable to play. Their whole reason to be is for the casino to make money, and they do that exceptionally well. I’ve explained elsewhere on the site that playing in slot tournaments is the best way to enjoy them. They present great entertainment value though, which explains their popularity.
So how can slots be associated with playing using skills?
The answer is that there are developments under way to introduce an element of skill into them – a way to make the player capable of determining the outcome of a spin by using ability, knowledge, and practice….if only to at least improve their chances of success over the standard payout percentage.
All that said, these new types of skill-based slots have not made as early a breakthrough in player acceptance as was initially believed they’d do. The first models introduced into land-based casinos in late 2016 and the early parts of 2017 have reportedly not been attracting new players in the numbers expected, resulting in at least one big name casino considering removing them from the floor.
Still, there is some big potential, and even if the early models don’t cut it for the long term, you can be sure the game developers will be looking at what improvements they need to make.
Real Money Skill Games In Virtual Reality
VR is sitting on the cusp of a breakthrough into global acceptance as an entertainment medium. The only thing holding it back is the high current cost of investment in the higher end headsets.
When these come down in price and/or someone gets a headset to market that’s ultra high quality at an affordable price – and doesn’t need high spec PC equipment to drive it – VR is very likely to explode.
Already some casino operators have recognized the potential value and there are a few VR casinos you can already visit and play with the touch and feel of being in a real live environment.
It’s easy to see what may come next, right?
You’re right – the floodgates could open and we’ll be seeing all types of real money games being played in virtual reality, and when I say all that includes the different types of skill-based examples we’ve covered above. That gives rise to some interesting possibilities, and we may even see board games played in VR, for example.
Take each one, imagine how it might look or play out in VR with a headset strapped on, and it’s easy to see how the cash prize element could work in a virtual environment which makes you feel as if you’re really in it.
Interest in competitive games of skill is rising. More and more companies are holding cash prize tournaments for players, and this opens up plenty of opportunities for anyone with the ideal mix of fast reactions, dexterity, and agility.
So if you have ever thought that you have what it takes to use your gamer abilities to make a little cash, then playing at one of the skill games for money websites could turn out to be a great idea.
There are plenty of examples of where to play – see the list of cash gaming sites on this page. But for extra info you can visit skillgames.net or go to Casinocity for a full list of money skillgames sites.