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Casino Game Odds
This goal of this section is to educate and inform about the odds
and probabilities of modern casino
games. In our analyses and comparisons, you may learn
which games offer the best odds for players, which ones
offer the worst, and exactly how to arrive at these conclusions.
Hopefully, after studying these articles, you will possess some added knowledge and be well on your way to reducing the house's edge.
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Before going deeper into each casino game, it is important to know
exactly what odds are. Odds refer to mathematics in that they represent
a basic probability of a potential outcome and are usually expressed
in a decimal or fractional format. A well-known example is the traditional
coin toss before a football match. By flipping a two-sided coin, you
know that there are exactly two possible outcomes (unless by a quirk
of fate the coin comes to rest on edge): heads or tails. The probability
of the coin landing heads up is one out of two, expressed 1 to 2 as
a ratio. Another way to express the odds of a coin toss outcome is
in percentages. Ask anybody what the odds are, and they will likely
reply: "fifty-fifty". This refers to the 50% chance that
either head or tails will result.
Just like a coin has two sides, a roulette wheel has 37 or 38 slots,
a standard deck has 52 playing cards, and a die has six sides. These
numbers and the various results of each play represent the probabilities
of the games. It is easy to see how math and odds are very much a
part of casino gambling. While most players are busy having a roll
of the dice at craps tables, or taking their next hit at blackjack, they rarely stop to consider the actual
math behind their wager, and how placing certain bets will either
increase or decrease their overall expectation of winning. Smart gamblers
realise that there are strategic ways to bet and play certain casino games that will make all the difference. They also know that if one's
goal is to walk away a winner, certain games should be avoided. With
that in mind, we will begin to explore which games offer the best odds.
Best Odds, Worst Odds
Most gamblers, from the total beginner on up to the professional,
know that a casino is an entertainment business that generates revenue
from its players. How are new and extravagant casino resorts built? More recently, from hefty borrowing, but historically, from
the combined deficit of the players. Every casino game has an inherent
advantage for the casino known as the 'house edge'. This
percentage represents how much the casino expects to make from every betting unit wagered. For example, the
house edge in double zero roulette is 5.6 percent. So, for every
100 betting units wagered, you can expect to lose 5.60. This may not seem
like a lot, but several important factors must also be considered.
Let's say you're playing blackjack at 25 units a hand, and the
table is averaging 60 hands played per hour. Multiply 25 times 60
hands and you are playing through 1,500 units an hour. Let's say
you play for four hours. That means that you play through about
6,000 credits of which the casino expects to take 0.8 percent - if you're
playing perfect basic strategy. This amounts to a loss of only 48
units - which isn't that bad - making blackjack one of the better
options for players.
Consider how much the house would expect to
gain by your playing roulette for the same amount of time. Roulette
is a slightly slower paced game, with maybe a round every couple
minutes or so, and not many players are quite avid enough to spend
four hours at a table. But, for arguments sake, we will examine
that at a rate of 30 rounds per hour with a flat bet of 25 credits,
playing for four hours, a
casino would expect to make 157.80 from your play. Again you
might say, well that's not an overly exaggerated amount to expect
to lose during a session at a casino, but keep in mind that it's
playing over time that makes it add up. Twenty such sessions a year
would set you back 3,156 credits and multiply that by the number
of years you plan to play, and you'll see that it really does add
Some people gamble at a casino for the fun and excitement that this
unique form of entertainment delivers. That is perfectly fine, as
gambling at a land-based casino or online casino can be a leisurely, enjoyable hobby. Recreational players don't
mind parting with a reasonable amount of money because they can rationalise
the experience in saying it was the price paid for a little fun.
This is fine as long as that person is an occasional player, or
if they hadn't really planned to devote the time to studying
the games or taking steps to improve their chances of winning money during
sessions. However, the truth is that - given the choice - most players prefer to win,
and there are proven ways to dramatically reduce the chances of
losing - namely by not playing games with bad odds - such as keno.
Keno carries one of the highest house advantages of all games, weighing
in at a hefty 25%. This is actually as good as the odds get for
keno, with the odds varying from casino to casino.
The following chart shows the expected house edge for casino table games and also sports betting. For any given session on any given day, these percentages can fluctuate quite a bit, however they represent a fairly accurate expectation of the house's advantage over time. To see how the house edge is playing out for players at online casinos, you may examine a monthly ranking of recent online casino payout percentages, broken down by category such as table games, slots, poker games and overall payouts.
|Craps (double odds)
|Pai Gow Poker
|Roulette (single zero)
|Let It Ride
|Caribbean Stud Poker
|Roulette (double zero)
|Big 6 Wheel
11.1% to 24%
Looking at the chart above, you'll see
that craps, blackjack,
and baccarat offer the smallest house advantage. These are the games upon which
you should focus. Coincidentally, craps and blackjack are two
of the most popular online casino games, and this
makes their study feel less like actual study and more like fun.
If you already know a thing or two about blackjack, then you probably
know that it is one of the only games where a skilled player can
not only eliminate the house edge, but go a step beyond that by creating
a player's edge. How is this possible? Learning basic strategy to
perfection is the first step. Next is becoming a knowledgeable and
accurate card counter. Lastly, adjusting bets and hand decisions
based on the count while masking your expertise to the dealer, pit
personnel, and preferably other players. Unless you are already
a natural genius at math, this will likely take hundreds of hours
of practice. Few ever make it to the level of professional blackjack
player. If you are able to someday acquire this elite status, you
can expect to have an edge over the house at somewhere between 0.5
and 2 percent. Again, you might say this doesn't seem like a lot.
It's time, my friend, time that makes things add up. A professional
player can expect to make in the neighborhood of 30 units per hour
playing blackjack, depending on betting level. This is a lot more
than minimum wage, but it is not a salary by which millionaires
are made either.
This is just an example of one way to make smart play work for you.
Instead of giving up a big advantage to the house playing a game
like keno, try learning basic craps or blackjack strategy and you'll
likely notice a decrease in your losses and an increase in your
winnings right off the bat. Focusing on low house edge games like
blackjack, craps, etc is the smartest play when it comes
to casino gambling.
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