If you want to improve your chances of winning at a casino, you need to choose games that offer you the best odds. However, the truth is that no casino game has particularly ‘good’ odds for players. This is because every casino game is designed to give the house an advantage – i.e. the business model that enables casinos to exist.
That said, some games have more of a house edge than others. The trick is therefore to understand which games are more tilted towards the house, and which ones offer a leg up to players.
Or at least, which games offer a slightly lower probability of losing than their counterparts.
The Concept of House Edge
A casino’s mathematical advantage is called the house edge. For example, many video slots have a house edge of around 4%. Elsewhere, for skilled players, Blackjack has a house edge of only 0.5%.
On that note, blackjack is one of the only gambling activities where it is technically possible to tip the balance in the player’s favour. For those who master the art of card counting – which is exceptionally difficult – it’s possible to benefit from an edge in your direction of around 0.5%.
Enough to give yourself a more level playing field, but certainly not enough to guarantee exceptional profits overnight. Be warned – card counting in the real world isn’t nearly as glamorous or easy to get away with as it is in the movies!
Return to Player (RTP)
RTP is short for Return to Player, and it helps you figure out the house edge. For example, a slot machine with an RTP of 96% returns £96 out of every £100 wagered to players. So in this example, the house collects 4%.
But this does not necessarily mean that every player who pays £100 into said machine will take home £96 in prizes. It could be that dozens (or even hundreds) of players don’t win a penny, only for a much larger collective prize to be paid out to someone at a later date.
Understanding these numbers is crucial to figuring out what game gives you the best odds of winning. Not to mention, which games are most likely to see you walking away with a significant dent in your bankroll.
What Else Affects Casino Game Odds?
Several factors affect your odds of winning, when playing real money casino games. Therefore, you should consider learning all you can about the games you choose to play in these three areas.
- Bets – The bets you make can have different odds of coming good. For example, in European roulette, an even-money wager like red/black pays 48.6% of the time. Betting on a single number will only pay 2.7% of the time. The overall house edge remains the same, but your odds of winning specific bets fluctuate.
- Variants – Not all variants of a game have the same house edge. While the European roulette has a house edge of 2.6%, American roulette’s house edge is 5.26%. Beware of this when you’re choosing a variant in the game lobby.
- Strategy – The strategy you play the game with can impact your odds of winning. If you’re a skilful video poker player with a perfect strategy, you can negatively flip the house edge. However, a beginner without a strategy could never achieve this…except by dumb luck.!
Overall, payouts tend to be bigger on bets where you have smaller odds of winning, and vice versa. For example, straight bets in roulette pay 35:1, whereas even-money bets pay 1:1.
A Breakdown of the Most Popular Casino Games
The house edge is the most important metric to look at when deciding your odds of winning. However, it’s crucial to note that the house edge can be different on various bets within some games. Also, depending on the specific game you choose, there may be several variations. Here’s a look at the house edge of some of the most popular casino games.
|Game||House Edge||Skill or Chance?|
|Roulette||2.6% for European. 5.25% for American.||Chance|
|Blackjack||0.5%+ depending on rules, skill, variant, and strategy.||Skill/Chance|
|Video Poker||Between 5.2% and -0.76% depending on the variant, paytable, skill, and strategy.||Skill/Chance|
|Video Slots||Between 2% and much higher (10%+) depending on the game.||Chance|
|Keno||20%+ depending on the game variant.||Chance|
|Baccarat||1.01% on banker bets, 1.29% on player bets, 15.75% on the tie.||Chance|
What’s important to bear in mind at this point is how no casino game whatsoever is purely skill-based. In fact, the overwhelming majority of everything that takes place is almost exclusively about chance.
Even with all the skill in the world, there’s nothing you can do to predict or influence the outcome. You never know which card is going to be dealt next, or how the dice is going to land.
The role skill plays is limited to knowing when and where to make certain moves, in accordance with what is happening at the time. Statistics and probability can help you determine what kind of position you are in, but it is still ultimately in the lap of the gods as to what happens next.
Precisely why the adage that says ‘the house always wins’ is right – there’s really nothing you can do to consistently or effectively tip the odds in your favour.
As most casino games are all about chance, the best you can do is to bet strategically to minimise risk and maximise your likelihood of pocketing a prize.
You technically have the greatest odds of winning with games like blackjack and video poker, where there is at least a certain degree of skill involved. In these games, the house has the lowest mathematical advantage, which can be lowered further with the right strategy.
However, risk and reward go hand in hand. So unless you make a lucrative blackjack side bet or hit a royal flush on video poker, your payouts probably won’t be as big as they’d be with video slots or keno.
You might also find the following articles interesting:
- 10 Ways Real-life Casinos Differ from Online Gaming
- A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Online Slots
- 8 Things Your Casino Doesn’t Want You to Know