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Gambling information essays

What Casino Games offer the Best Odds?

From Alessandra Giovarusscio
March 2016

During your first walk through the din and excitement of the casino floor, it can be easy to become captivated by the endless rush of action taking place all around you. With winners celebrating as piles of chips are pushed their way, players on the losing end loudly lamenting their luck after a particularly brutal bad beat, and passersby soaking in the scene from afar, a casino can easily leave the uninitiated with their heads swirling.

Even when firing up an online casino client for the first time, this sort of sensory overload can easily occur, as new players scroll through game menus which easily span several hundred games and variants.

Blackjack specialists have to wade through dozens of variations on the standard game of twenty-one, including offshoots like Double Exposure, Pontoon, and Spanish 21, along with regional variants like Atlantic City, Vegas Strip, and European. If you prefer spinning the wheel in a pure game of chance, you'll find variants like American, European, French, and Mini roulette to complicate matters.

This confusion is no accident, however, as both land-based and online casinos continuously expand on their offerings to cater to wider audiences and niche markets. It's good to familiarize yourself with all this. After all, for every minute you spend simply trying to assess the lay of the land, you're not assessing game probabilities, house edges, and other factors which help players identify the casino games which offer the best odds.


Some casinos rely on the fact that the overwhelming majority of casino players, weather rank novices or seasoned veterans, will invariably waste a few wagers on the most unfavorable games in the house. As the player, you have a choice in determining where your hard earned bankroll will be best allocated, and in this respect, knowledge truly is power. By learning the ins and outs of casino game odds, you can ensure that your next trip to the casino holds true potential for profit, rather than simply letting the cards fall and relying on luck.

Below you'll find a list of the most popular casino games available live and online which offer player friendly odds, along with a refresher course on the house edge associated with each game:



Even the most casual of gamblers has been taught that blackjack represents the best bet in the house. The game can be broken down into a simple set of mathematical rules known as basic strategy, which allows players to make the most optimal decision when faced with every possible in-game scenario. The fact that blackjack is pure math didn't go unnoticed by mathematicians, the most prominent of which was Edward O. Thorp, a professor at MIT, who published the bestselling blackjack book "Beat the Dealer" in 1962.

By consulting a basic blackjack strategy chart, like the one devised by Peter Howard of Texas A&M University, you can easily determine whether hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting represents your best option given your two-card hand and the dealer's lone up card.

Playing the game according to strict basic strategy isn't easy of course, and you'll need to commit the rules to memory at some point, but doing so lowers the house edge against you to under 0.5 percent. The term "house edge" simply describes the average profit over the infinite long run which casinos can expect to derive on each game. During a blackjack game with a player using basic strategy, a casino can expect to earn just one-half of one penny per every dollar wagered. As you'll discover below, this pales in comparison to most other casino games, many of which offer house edges which are 10 times as high or more.

But even if your memory isn't a strong suit, and you play blackjack according to instinct or feel more than math, the house edge still sits at a generous 2 percent.

For players looking to get a leg up on the casino, the blackjack tables offer a tried and true venue through which you can compete on a nearly level playing field. But, remember: as poker icon Phil Hellmuth once said: "If you can't quit the best hand, you can't play."


Generally underestimated as an easy game designed to distract the tourists, roulette can admittedly be a bit basic at first glance. Choose either red or black, or maybe an individual number if you're feeling adventurous, and hope the ball lands there after the wheel stops spinning. Nothing to it, right?

First of all, let's not forget that roulette is the most intricate casino game to actually physically make, as roulette manufacturers like Cammegh have to battle it out with physics, ensuring the table is perfectly level, sockets perfectly equal and so on. This may sound quite easy with today's modern technology, but considering that the roulette first appeared in the late 17th century it used to be a much more complicated task. Its betting system is equally simple yet complex.

In reality, the rules of roulette offer players a multitude of additional bets which serve as supplements to the standard color and number wagers. You can bet that the ball will land on an odd or even number, divide the board and bet on 1-18, or 19-36, or split it up further by betting on 1-12, 13-24, or 25-36. Then you have "six-line," "first-five," "corner," "street," or "split" bets, each of which describes a particular placement on the table covering between six and two numbers, respectively. The various types of roulette bets are visually represented in the image below:


Overall, the most important thing to keep in mind when assessing the odds offered by a roulette table is the number of green "0" pockets on the wheel. In so-called American roulette, the wheel will include both a "0" and "00" pocket, and this extra pocket favoring the house creates a house edge of 5.26 percent. The alternative European roulette wheel, on the other hand, only includes an "0" pocket, and thus the house edge reduced to only 2.70 percent.

Finally, when playing roulette, the house edge will remain the same for each of the bets listed above (except for the first five bet, which is slightly worse). In other words, when betting on just the color, you'll have a 47.37% shot to win, but the payout is low at even money. Bet on the exact number, and the chances of winning drop to 2.6%, but you'll be rewarded with a 35 to 1 payout on your wager. In both cases though, the maths work out to the same house edge, so players can feel free to experiment with their betting without fear of making the proverbial "sucker bet."



A deceptively simple game, baccarat involves nothing more than guessing which of two hands, the "player" or the "banker" hand, will result in the higher total.

In this game, players enjoy a house edge of only 1.06% when betting on the banker hand, and 1.24 percent when betting on the player hand. Although regular baccarat players will swear by their "system" for guessing correctly, usually based on tracking previous results and searching for patterns, sharp players know better.

Every hand of baccarat represents an independent event, so the proper strategy for this classic card game is to do nothing more than bet on the banker. By doing so, you'll enjoy one of the most favorable games on any casino floor, losing just one penny per one dollar wagered over the long run, and generating decent profits when you catch a fortunate run of hands.



The classic game of dice rolling known as craps offers a seemingly endless array of wagering options, to the point that players unfamiliar with the game are usually intimidated when passing by the craps table.

And indeed, craps includes one of the more complicated betting setups on the casino floor. Splashing chips around on various longshot craps bets can be quite entertaining, especially with a hot roller making magic happen, but you'll be up against stiff house edges of between 4 and 13.9 percent.

However, by sticking to the most basic bet on the table, known as the "Pass Line," you can reduce the house edge against you to just 1.41 percent. Simply put, you'll be betting with the shooter rather than against them. When the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11 on the first roll, also known as the "come out roll," you'll win even money on the pass line bet. If they roll a 2, 3, or 12, the shooter "craps out" and you lose the pass line bet. Any other number sets the "point," and pass line bets win if the shooter rolls the point number a second time before evening out.

You can even reduce the house edge a little further, down to 1.36 percent, by betting the "Don't Pass Line." This bet goes against the shooter though, and thus it's generally frowned upon by fellow players. Savvy players still bet on the don't pass line of course, so feel free to do the same. Just don't be surprised to see other players scowling while you do.

Whether you are an absolute casino newbie or already seasoned in some casino games, it's worth it to study house edge for a number of reasons. It can make gambling more pleasant. It will brush up on your math skills. And last but not least, it will give you a great advantage and increase your likelihood of winning.

References & Sources for Further Reading:

Texas A&M, Mathematics: Understanding Optimal Blackjack Strategy

Cammegh: Producers of the World's Finest Roulette

PokerStars Casino: Roulette Rules

How Stuff Works: Beginners Guide to Playing Craps



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