Knowing the odds of the bets you make when playing casino games is incredibly important because will help you to become a successful gambler. In our guide, we’ll cover: probability and odds in different casino games, the house edge, how to minimize it & more.
What is the House Edge?
The house edge is the advantage that the casino has in any given game.
Whether you play at a land-based casino or online, the house will almost always have an edge. The advantage is often built into the games themselves, and so tends not to vary from casino to casino. It acts as an insurance policy to make sure that the casinos (in the long term) take in more money than they pay out.
The house edge is usually shown as a percentage. For example, the house edge for American roulette is 5.26%. This means that over the long-term lifespan of the game, the casino will win 5.26% of the money bet on it.
That’s not to say that you can’t make money from casino games though. Plenty of people do! The key is knowing about the house edge, playing smartly and managing your bankroll. Understanding the house edge can help you avoid games which are unfavorable to players, and make better bets overall.
Odds and Casino Games
The house edge in baccarat depends on which bets you make. Here is the house edge in the different bet types:
In a standard game of baccarat, the banker would win just over 50% of the non-tied bets. The most commonly played baccarat rules have the house at a 1.06% edge on a banker bet. This is fairly low for a casino game. Banker bets are therefore the safest ones to make, but remember, the casino often take a commission when the banker bet wins, which depending on the size, ups the edge.
On player bets, the odds are slightly less good. The house edge is 1.24%.
The house edge for a tie bet jumps up to 14.36%, and the casino will often offer high payouts to entice you to make the bet (usually around 8:1 or 9:1). We recommend never making a tie bet – the odds just aren’t in your favor.
If played with basic strategy, most blackjack games on the web have a tiny 0.5% house edge. That said, the conditions and rules in which the game is played have a huge effect.
As well as adopting good strategy, you’ll want to play blackjack games with the lowest possible edge. Here are a few of the conditions which will lower the house edge.
- Play at casinos offering a 3 to 2 payout, never a 6 to 5.
- Play with the lowest number of decks possible.
- Play games where the dealer stands on a soft 17.
- Play games where you can double down on the first two cards dealt.
- Play games where you can double down after a split.
For more tips on lowering the house edge in blackjack, read our full guide.
It’s difficult to put a figure on the house edge in craps, because it depends on how you play and which bets you make.
- Single-roll bets: House edge varies from 5.56% – 16.67%.
- Multi-roll bets: House edge varies from below 1%, to more than 11%.
To find out more about craps strategy, see our full craps guide.
Poker has no house edge – players play against themselves, and so the house has no vested interest in who wins. That said, the casino still earns money from poker games as they take a fee for hosting.
In some poker variations, where the player competes against the house, there is a house edge. Here is the house edge in various poker variations:
- Caribbean Stud, 5.22%
- Pai Gow, 2.5%
- Three Card Poker, 1.5%
The house edge in roulette is 2.7% in European roulette and 5.26% in American roulette. In French roulette, the house edge is 1.35%. The payouts for all three variations are usually the same, and for this reason, many seasoned players choose to play French roulette games.
If you stumble upon a ‘no-zero’ roulette game, the house edge will be 0%. Be aware that casinos charge commission on the winnings from no-zero games, and the maximum bet is usually very small. Therefore, while they’re lots of fun, they are not necessarily the most profitable in the long-term.
The odds of each individual bet that you make in roulette vary widely. Check out our roulette guide to learn more.
The house edge in slots varies massively. Some games sit at around 1% and some at a whopping 23%.
Because slots are purely a game of luck, rather than discuss the house edge in slots, we tend to talk about the Return-to-Player rate (RTP). This works under the same principles, but is instead the % of money the slot game returns to the players over the lifespan of the game.
Note that a high return to player rate doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win more often! To know how often you’ll win, you’d have to look at the volatility rate of the game. Volatile slot games pay out large sums of money infrequently.
We recommend never playing at slots with less than a 97% RTP.
Under standard rules, the edge for Texas Holdem is 2.18% in terms of the ante bet. The house edge for the ante and the blind bet is 1.09%.
However, if you don’t use a strategy when playing, the house edge in Texas Holdem can go up as high as 10%. If you play with perfect strategy, this edge can be cut down to just 0.53%.
The house edge for bonus bets is between 8-9% (depending on which rules are in place).
What is Probability?
Probability (also known as odds) is a numeric indication of how likely a certain outcome is to happen. In a casino setting, odds are usually shown as a percentage.
For example, if playing a game of European roulette and betting on the green slot, there is a 1/37 chance of the ball landing there. The odds of this are therefore 2.7%. This means that theoretically and in the long term, for every 100 spins of the roulette wheel, the ball would land in the green slot 2.7 times.
Knowing the probability of a given outcome in casino games is hugely advantageous as it can guide the size of your bet. For example, the above bet is far riskier than say, betting on black which has a 48.65% probability. For that reason, you might want to bet more on black, and less on green.
The payouts a casino offers is also an indication of probability. Generally speaking, casinos offer higher payouts for bets which are less likely to happen to try and entice you to take the riskier wagers. That said, payouts are not always directly correlated to the probability – that’s why you’ll find different casinos offering different payouts!
For more information on the probability and payouts involved in each game, check out our casino game guides.
How to Minimize the House Edge
Play the Best Games
Some games are simply more favorable to gamblers than others. While Keno is lots of fun, it often comes with a house edge of around 35%. Your bankroll will go further if you bet the same amount on games like blackjack.
Find Favorable Odds
It’s worth taking the time to find games which have a low house edge. In blackjack, this means hunting for 3:2 payouts. In roulette, it means sticking to the French or European version.
Play with a Strategy
Playing with even a basic strategy cuts down the house edge. If you’re looking to brush up on your game strategy, be sure to check out the expert tips in our games guides.