Heading to the casino is always a fun thing to do that those that like to have a flutter, but people that are unprepared for what they’re going to face can soon find that their fun time out becomes an exercise in losing money. Regardless of whether you’re getting all dressed up and heading to your local physical casino or you’re playing online, having information about which games boast the best odds can be crucial in stopping the House from winning more money from you than you’re willing to allow it to do.
It is always worth bearing in mind that ‘the House always wins’ isn’t just an expression, it is a truism. The odds are set up to mean that the casino’s Edge will come into play over time and numbers, meaning that you might win but that’s only because someone else is losing. It is great that you’re on the winning end of things when you are, but don’t forget that that is unlikely to last forever. All you can do is ensure that you’re playing the games with the best odds and avoiding those that are designed to bleed you of money.
Why the Odds Matter
If you were to look at some bets that you could place with a bookmaker, you would soon be informed about the various odds that are in play. In the world of casinos, both online and physical, there are also odds available on games but they are expressed in a different way most of the time. The House Edge is essentially telling you how much money from £100 the casino expects to take. This isn’t quite true, of course, given that some people will win money and some will lose it, but it works out over a period of time.
Look for Games with a Low House Edge
As a result, the best thing that you can do is attempt to play games with a low House Edge. This will mean that you stand more chance of winning more often, even if you’ll lose over time, and that even when you do lose, you should theoretically lose less money. A game with a House Edge of 2%, for example, will see you win £98 back from every £100, whilst one with an Edge of 8% will see you win back just £92. That is a huge drop, which draws attention to the importance of playing games with favourable House Edges.
‘Quit Whilst You’re Ahead’
The key thing to remember, though, is that that Edge plays out over hundreds of hours of play and thousands of punters. In other words, if you literally bet £100 you won’t win back £98 during your time playing. You might win £110, say, but that’s only because other players have lost money during that same period. The likelihood is that the longer you bet for, the more likely it is that you’ll end up being one of the losers. That’s why the phrase ‘quit whilst you’re ahead’ it applicable to gambling more than any other enterprise.
The Games to Look Out For
As you might imagine, there are some games you can play at a casino that have a better Edge for the casino than others. When we say ‘better Edge for the casino’, we mean that the casino is likely to win more money from people playing them than other games. Those that have a good Edge for the bettor are games that have a lower Edge. Interestingly, picking a game alone isn’t always enough, given that how you then choose to play that game will dictate what the House Edge ends up being over a period of time.
The best example of the different ways in which how you play can influence the Edge of a game can be found with blackjack. One of the most simple games in a casino, blackjack asks you to get the highest score possible without getting more than 21. If the casino’s dealer gets more than 21 then you get paid out, providing you’ve stayed below that number, but if they get a higher number than you then you lose. In most casinos, getting the same number as the dealer will result in you getting your money back.
The problem is that not all players know how to play blackjack in the most sensible way. There is a method of playing blackjack known as Basic Strategy. We won’t explain how that works here, but it is very important that you follow Basic Strategy at all times if you want to keep the House Edge as low as possible. Basic Strategy tells you exactly what to do depending on what you’ve got and what the dealer has got, so you can’t follow your instincts if you want to increase your chance of benefitting from following it.
The other thing to know about blackjack is that there are a wealth of different things that can change what the House Edge is. If a single deck of cards is used, for example, then the Edge is much better for the player than if, say, five decks are used. Similarly, whether the dealer has to stand or hit on a soft 17 will change things, as will how much getting blackjack pays out. In essence, the fewer rules that are put in place by a casino, the lower the House Edge will be. All of the rules and side games are put there to increase the House Edge, so avoid them when you can.
House Edge: Around 1% with Basic Strategy
Much more common in American casinos than British ones, craps is a dice game that has a relatively low Edge. For newcomers, craps can appear to be an intimidating game to play, not least because of the number of superstitions that regularly players tend to boast. The reason it can be intimidating is that there are a wealth of different things that you can bet on, with some being resolved with just one roll of the dice and others taking a bit longer before a resolution is found. Another thing that confused the Edge in craps is that bettors can take down their bet at any time.
Given that the majority of bettors leave their wagers in place until they are resolved one way or another, some people count this as the bets being pushed. Others think that, as the bettor could take away their wager at the end of a meaningless roll, the should not be counted. All we can tell you is that the Edge is generally much lower on craps than plenty of other games that you can play in the casino, so it’s very much worth getting to know how to play it. The tricky part is that there is a different edge, depending on what you’ve bet on.
House Edge: Between 1.41% and 16.67%
There will always be a part in most men when they head to the casino where they will want to feel like James Bond, which is why many will head towards the baccarat table. The problem is, the majority of people that do so won’t have a clue what they’re doing and will just want to say ‘carte’ in something approximating a Russian accent. Doing so is great fun, but by playing a game that you don’t understand you’re increasing the House Edge without even knowing you’re doing so. Get it right, however, and that can be good news.
In baccarat, you bet on either the Player, the Banker or the Tie. A bet on the Banker is the one with the best Edge, even after 5% commission has been paid, because it works out as 1.17%. A bet on the Player, meanwhile, comes out at 1.36%. The payout on the Tie is the most appealing aspect of it, given that most casinos offer 9/1, but the Edge is 9.5%, so much more favourable to the casino. Obviously those numbers aren’t the same at every casino, but they do give you an indication of how the Edge favours the Banker bet.
House Edge: 1.17% to 9.5%
There are few games at the casino that appeal as much as roulette. It is one of the simplest games to understand, given that the positions on the wheel are represented by places on the table and all you need to do is put your chips on the corresponding place to the position that you think the ball will end up landing on. On a European roulette wheel, there are typically 37 numbers to choose from, which range from 0 to 36. This should mean that you get paid 37/1 if you bet straight up on a number, but you don’t.
They payout on a European roulette table tends to be 35/1, which incorporates the House Edge. American roulette tables tend to have two zeros, meaning that their Edge is even higher than the European tables. You can calculate what the House Edge is by using the following formula:
- Odds Against Success (36 to 1) –
- House Odds (35 to 1) x
- Probability Of Success (1 in 37) =
The House percentage is the House Edge x 100, so with a House Edge of 0.0270270, that equates to about 2.70%. If you’re playing on a European roulette table then the House Edge will be different to the likes of an American roulette table or the new fad of Treble Zero tables. Avoid making stupid bets and you’ll be well-placed to keep the House Edge as low as possible.
House Edge: 2.70%
The Games to Avoid
Having looked at the games at the casino that boast the best odds, it is only right that we also have a look at the games that you’d do well to avoid playing. These are the ones that have such an outrageously high Edge that you’d be silly to play them, no matter how much fun they look. They often entice players in by offering big payouts if you get it right, but the fact that that is based on luck more than judgement means that it is not going to happen in the majority of instances. These are very much the games to steer clear of.
Wheel of Fortune
Known by a variety of different names depending on the casino that you play it in, the Wheel of Fortune works in much the same way at all time. You are asked to place a bet on whether you think the wheel will stop on a segment that has been assigned a monetary value, usually something along the lines of £1, £5, £10 or £20, with most wheels also having a Joker. If you bet on the £20 segment and that’s where the wheel stops, you’ll receive £20 plus your stake back. If it doesn’t stop on that segment, you lose your stake.
The Joker segment will usually have an appealing payout, but that is because they chances of landing on it are slim. Quite how high the House Edge ends up being will depend on which of the segments you decide to bet on. A bet on the £1 segment, for example, puts the House Edge at about 7.7%, whereas a bet on the Joker symbol can be in the region of 20%. Obviously the Edge is dictated by how many segments there are that you can bet on and the odds of landing on each segment, but this is not a game to play if you want to keep the House Edge low.
House Edge: About 7.7% to around 20%
The House Edge for Keno will differ from casino to casino, depending on the style of game that you end up playing. Pick the wrong game, though, and you could be looking at an Edge as high as 30%. Whilst that is not good, the one thing in Keno’s favour is that you will generally play far fewer games of Keno during the course of an hour than you will something like blackjack or roulette, so you might actually lose less money over a longer period of time than you will playing games with higher House Edges.
House Edge: Around 30%