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Casino House Edge Explained

Have you ever heard of the term house edge or wondered how casino operators make a profit from the services they provide? Many people believe that this all boils down to players losing bets but this is not necessarily the case. All casino games, regardless of the genre, have a built-in advantage towards the operator. This advantage is called the house edge and in this gude, our CasinoTop experts are going to explain how it works, how it affects you and how you could possibly beat it.

The House Edge Explained

Simply put, house edge is the term that we use to describe the advantage that the casino has over every game, slot or lotto gaming title that it provides, both online and offline. Understanding the house edge will allow you to:

Calculate how much each game can pay out during its lifespan
The games that offer the best returns from bets

The house edge, or casino advantage, is a product of how the games were created and is not set by individual gaming operators. This means that you can expect the house edge to work the same way regardless of which site you’re choosing to play at or which games you enjoy.

Using Your Knowledge of the House Edge

From a player's perspective, the house edge is useful since it can be used as a guide to determine which games are the most profitable and would return more for each bet.

When compared to games with a lower house edge, games with a higher house edge will naturally pay players out less on average over a period of time. So, by using this easily available information, you may avoid being disappointed by games that provide the casino a significant advantage over the player.

Recommendations and Game Comparison

If you’re keen to gain a better understanding of the house edge and use your knowledge to work with the edge instead of against it, you’ll need to know what the house edge is for each casino game. Below, we have provided a table with all of the data you’ll require:

Type Of Casino Game House Edge
American Roulette5.26%
Baccarat1.01% - 15.75%
Blackjack0.5%
Craps0 - 16.67%
Keno20 - 40%
Slots2 - 15%
Video Poker0.46%
Caribbean Stud5.22%
Hold'em2.36%
Sic Bo2.78 - 33.33%
You might have noticed that some edge percentages are variable. Once again, this is not decided by the casino but rather by the rules and conditions of how the game is played. Let’s take a look at how the house edge will affect the results of each game below:
Card Games
Casino Games
Caribbean Stud
The house edge for this game is variable and depends on the independent actions and choices made by all of the players participating in the hand.
Baccarat
The house edge in baccarat will either increase or decrease based on whether you bet on a tie, the banker or the player.
Hold’em Poker
The house edge will either increase or decrease in increments based on the strategy you use, the card checks and folds and raises for a series of poker hands.
Blackjack
The house edge that we have provided is for the classic variation of blackjack, which is played with 52 cards. The variant that you choose will affect the house edge.
Slots
The house edge for slots varies based on the number of paylines and reels that a slot has. In addition, some games allow for players to choose how many paylines they would like to activate.
Keno
The casino’s advantage over Keno will change depending on the rules in play and how many participants there are.
American Roulette
The house edge for American roulette is affected by the addition of a 00 slot on the wheel that is not included in the French or European Roulette wheel.
Sic Bo
The edge for Sic Bo changes based on the table layout and odds you’re playing under and how many bets you place.
Craps
The Craps house edge is determined by the betting possibilities available, such as come/don’t come, pass/don’t pass, place, odds and field bets.
Video Poker
Side bets and paytables affect the edge the house has over players based on the machine that you choose.

Slots

Unlike a handful of casino games, where experience, expertise and skill can be leveraged to improve your odds of winning, online slots provide a very inclusive and fair opportunity for players to rely solely on luck, without increasing or decreasing the odds. All players need to do is choose how many paylines they would like to activate, hit spin and hope the reels return something positive.

RTP Explained

RTP is a shorter version of Return to Player for slot games. In slots, this RTP represents how much a specific machine can pay out during its lifespan based on how much money players have put in. If you're looking at the RTP, the percentage amount required to reach 100% is the casino’s edge. This means that if a slot has an RTP of 96%, the house edge is then 4%.

House Edge and Paylines

Have you ever pondered why there are so many slot games in both offline and virtual casinos? It's because slots have a low RTP and is where the casino operator stands to gain the most money - or, in other words, where the house edge is the highest.

Players win creditors, or coins, by matching reels across active payline in slot machines. While today's new video slots, which have anywhere from 20 to 100 paylines, appear to be fantastic since they provide players more opportunities to win, they are not. This is due to the fact that the higher the number of paylines in a game is, the greater the impact on the house edge.

Let’s take, for example, a slot gaming title with 20 paylines. When you activate all 20 paylines at once, your odds of winning are greatly increased. However, if you just play 10 paylines, you've basically reduced your odds by 50%. By raising your chances of losing, you're essentially increasing the casino's chances of making a profit on you exponentially.

Our Recommendations

If you’re not deterred and would still like to try your luck by playing slots, here are some things to consider and apply:

Play Bonus Games

Bonus games are notorious for being where many players make money. We recommend that you seek out games that boast bonus levels and rewards, such as free spins. Microgaming's Immortal Romance is a great example.

Choose High RTP Slots

Choose slots that have a higher RTP as this will give you a better chance of winning big. There are a few games that have RTPs as high as 99%, such as Ocean Princess, Goblin’s Cave and other Playtech titles.

Play the Max Paylines

Activating the maximum number of paylines will increase your odds of landing on a winning combination.

Progressive Jackpot Slot Games

For the most part, progressive jackpot slots operate similarly to ordinary slot machines. The main distinction is that, in addition to the minor wins you can get by landing symbols that match across the reels, you are also playing against a network of other slot enthusiasts for a chance to win a large jackpot.

This can be more than millions of dollars in the best online progressive games, so we're referring to truly life-changing wins. Just be aware that certain progressives demand players to wager the maximum amount on the maximum number of paylines on each spin in order to qualify.

Our Recommendations

Again, when it comes to progressive jackpot slots, it pays to go for titles with the highest RTP, which in 2021 include NetEnt's Mega Fortune (96.6 percent), Playtech's Gold Rally (97.01 percent), and NetEnt's Hall of Gods (95.5 percent).

The RTP of a progressive slot game is affected by whether the jackpot game is local to the casino or has been distributed across a network. In the instance of NetEnt's Arabian Nights, the RTP is 95.60 percent for local play and 95.2 percent for shared play. If you don't want to play for the jackpot, you should avoid progressive slots, since this can drastically reduce the RTP - in the case of Arabian Nights, it was 90.6 percent.

Blackjack

Players from all over the world can now enjoy several variants of blackjack at online and live casino venues. However, the number of decks you choose to play with, or the rules you prefer, could play a role in how high, or low, the house edge is,

Basic House Edge

Blackjack is a game in which a player's understanding of what it takes to win is as important as the luck of the cards drawn. As a result, the 0.5 percent house edge is regarded as a rough estimate based on faultless play at blackjack tables that utilize set rules and basic techniques.

If you have no prior knowledge of blackjack, it is reasonable to assume that the house edge will increase slightly. As a result of your inexperience with the game, you are more prone to make poor decisions that result in you blowing your bankroll

Blackjack Strategy

Similar to poker, playing blackjack does require some experience and knowledge about how to make smart decisions. To help players learn these skills over time, expert players have shared several techniques that promise to keep players’ bankrolls safe and decrease the house edge.

Blackjack Charts

Downloading or memorizing a blackjack chart is one of the most popular blackjack tactics for success. If you do a simple Google search on blackjack strategy, you'll discover plenty of free resources. These graphs show you all of the possible outcomes for the cards you and the dealer are holding. advising you on a course of action to pursue based on the cards on the table

Composition Strategies

Composition strategies are more complicated than simple blackjack charts, however you must first understand the charts before implementing this strategy. The method is based on using the card values that have been removed from the deck as a pointer to what cards may be left in the deck. If done correctly, it can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.18 percent. On paper, this is the same as 0.

Card Counting

In blackjack, card counting entails assigning a numerical value to each card in the deck and keeping track of the cards as they are dealt. The hi-lo method is the most frequently used card counting strategy, in which 2-6 cards have a value of +1, 7-9 cards have a value of 0 and 10, and Ace and faces have a value of -1. When the running count goes up, players know they have an advantage, but when it goes down, the casino has an advantage.

Roulette

The house edge in roulette varies based on the type of game you're playing. When it comes to roulette, American roulette has the worst long-term results, whereas French and European roulette have a reduced house edge. Players have even devised a number of roulette techniques in an attempt to outsmart the casinos at this popular game.

American Roulette

In the American variant of Roulette, the wheel will have 38 pockets, a 0 pocket and a 00 pocket. Take a look at the table below to understand the house edge for each betting types as well as possible payouts:

Your Bet The Payout House Edge
Red or Black1:15.26%
Odd or Even1:15.26%
1-181:15.26%
19-361:15.26%
1-122:15.26%
13-242:15.26%
25-362:15.26%
6 line5:15.26%
1st 5 (0-00-1-2-3)6:17.89%
4 numbers8:15.26%
3 numbers11:15.26%
2 numbers17:15.26%
Single number35:15.26%

Calculating the House Edge

If you would like to calculate what the house edge is, you will first need to determine what the true odds are for a specific outcome and then compare it to what the house will pay for it. Below, we have shared an example:

  • American roulette wheels have 38 pockets in total, made up of pockets 1-36, a 0 pocket and a double 00 pocket.
  • This means that the true odds of correctly guessing a single number is 38:1. However, the house only pays at odds of 35:1
  • If the player bet $1 dollar, they would then get a payout of $36. This is $2 fewer than true odds would have paid out.
  • These $2 dollars can be seen as the house edge, which is calculated by multiplying the true odds by 2 to get a 5,26% house edge.

This same basic principle can be used to calculate the house edge on all American Roulette bets.

The only exception is the five number bet, which is unique to this variant. This bet is also known as the sucker bet by avid roulette players because the house edge increased to 7,89% as opposed to the 5,26% of normal wagers. As a result, we don’t recommend that you try this bet unless you’re willing to lose out on some of your bankroll to satisfy your curiosity.

French Roulette

French roulette is not as easily available as other variants and is the preferred variant for many players. This is because the wheel has a similar design to that of European Roulette, with 1-36 pockets and only one 0 pocket, but this version has two rules that reduce the house edge significantly.

Your Bet The Payout House Edge
Red or Black1:12.7%
Odd or Even1:12.7%
1-181:12.7%
19-361:12.7%
1-122:12.7%
13-242:12.7%
25-362:12.7%
6 line5:12.7%
1st 5 (0-00-1-2-3)N/AN/A
4 numbers8:12.7%
3 numbers11:12.7%
2 numbers17:12.7%
Single number35:12.7%

French roulette’s rules and wheel can reduce the house edge to 1,35%, making it the most sought after version to play.

The reason that the house edge can be so drastically reduced is the two rules that we’ve outlined below:

La Partage

When the ball lands on zero in La Partage, any bets on even payouts are split 50/50 between the bettor and the house, just like in prison. As a result, you'll get half of your original stake returned.

En Prison

When the ball lands on zero in even money bets, a jail of sorts is triggered. To stand for the next round, you can freeze your bet on the table. If it wins, you will receive a complete refund of your initial investment.

The addition of these two unique betting rules and the absence of a 00 pocket on the wheel makes French Roulette the most attractive variant for players who are looking to seriously contend with the house edge.

European Roulette

The rules of European roulette are similar to those of American roulette, with the exception that there is no 00 pocket on the wheel. The absence of this one pocket may not appear to be significant, yet it has a substantial impact on the house's advantage over players.

Take a look at the house edge offered on different bets in European Roulette, for example:

Your Bet The Payout House Edge
Red or Black1:12.7%
Odd or Even1:12.7%
1-181:12.7%
19-361:12.7%
1-122:12.7%
13-242:12.7%
25-362:12.7%
6 line5:12.7%
1st 5 (0-00-1-2-3)N/AN/A
4 numbers8:12.7%
3 numbers11:12.7%
2 numbers17:12.7%
Single number35:12.7%

As you can see, the same bets in European roulette have a house edge of only 2.7 percent. In other words, if you play European roulette instead of American roulette, you'll make more money in the long run.

If we look at the house edge as a percentage of every dollar invested in a casino, European roulette loses 0.027 cents for every dollar spent, whereas American roulette loses 0.0526 cents for every dollar spent.

The elimination of the American 00 pocket from the European wheel accounts for about half of the decline in the house edge. By removing this pocket, the true odd chances for single number bets drop to 37:1, while European roulette still pays out 35:1. The gap between genuine odds and casino odds is now only one unit. We may calculate the edge using our house edge formula as 1 x (1/37) = 0.027 or 2.7 percent.

Video Poker

Video poker is a casino game that can be played on a land-based machine or virtually at online casinos. Instead of competing against other players at a table, you'll be pitted against the machine. There are hundreds of distinct video poker versions available today, including progressive and multi-hand games, all with their own pay tables and house edges to consider.

Perfect Strategy

Knowledge of poker play can help you make better decisions and judgements in video poker games, enhancing your player edge over the house, just like it can in conventional poker. Played well enough, Video Poker can offer players the potential to receive decent returns, and in some circumstances, the perfect strategy could even see you taking some of the advantage away from the house.

Deuces Wild Video Poker

Deuces Wild

If you can build a royal or natural flush with one of two wild cards, you could see the largest payouts for this game. If played correctly, the RTP will be 100.71 percent.

Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better

Only pays out if you have a pair of Jacks or cards higher. Players should expect a 99.46 percent RTP when using basic strategies.

Joker Poker

Joker Poker

With the Joker acting as a wild card, this game pays out on a pair of Kings or higher. The projected RTP of 100.64 percent can be achieved with flawless strategy.

Bonus Poker

Bonus Poker

Bonus poker is one of the most successful variations of video poker. Payouts are available for four-card combos while the RTP is around 99.17 percent.

Double Bonus Video Poker

Double Bonus Poker

Wins are paid out on Jacks and higher, as well as four-card combinations. You'll get a 100.17 percent profit if you use the right gaming strategy.

Our Recommendations

While strategy is a vital part of increasing your chances of walking away with a decent payout, players can also maximize their earning by sticking to the following rules:

Bet Max

Not only will betting the maximum amount provide you a bigger return when you win, but in some poker variants, betting the maximum amount will actually give you better chances than betting a lower amount.

Look at Pay Tables

Video poker machines, like slot machines, include pay tables that display how much you can earn for each winning hand. Even for the same game, not every paytable pays out the same amount. We recommend that you compare and browse around for the best possible yields.

No-risk Practice

There are a plethora of free video poker games available on the internet. While it is true that you won't get any money from the experience, this is a great opportunity to practice a strategy that will help you win in real money games later on.

In conclusion, video poker can be an extremely profitable casino game but you’ll need to shop around for the best RTPs to ensure that you stand a better chance.

Baccarat

Baccarat isn't as well-known as other casino games, and its larger bets may deter some low-limit players. However, the game is actually quite easy, and if you play it correctly, the house edge might be as little as 1.01 percent. As a result, players have a decent possibility of receiving nearly 100% RTP on their bets.

Here you can compare the house edge in different deck games, based on your bet:

No of Decks Player Wins Banker Wins Tie
11.29%1.01%15.75%
61.24%1.06%14.44%
81.24%1.06%14.36%

As can be seen with the statistics above, a tie bet is where casinos have the most advantage over players regardless of the number of decks in play, whereas the lowest house edge is on a banker bet to win.

Side Bets

As games have advanced and more variants have become commonplace, operators have looked for ways to attract players to baccarat. To do this, casinos began to offer side bets that can be placed over and above the standard baccarat wagers. These side bets include:

Pair Bets

This side bet pays out when either the banker or the player is given a natural pair as their first two cards in an 8-deck game. The biggest payout is 25:1 for a perfect pair of the same suit and rank.

Tie Bets

Since the advantage gap is significantly reduced and the potential RTP is higher, some online casinos provide higher odds on tie bets, lowering the house edge and making this bet more appealing to players.

Big or Small Bets

This wager is based on the total number of cards in play, which in baccarat can be as high as six. Small bets win if only two cards are dealt to each player, but big bets win if five or six cards are presented to the table.

Minimizing the House Edge

When you’re playing baccarat, you’re basically placing blind bets on whose hand you believe will reveal a total closer to nine. This means that whether you win or lose will depend entirely on luck and how the cards are drawn. However, there are a few things that players can do that will help their chances and minimize several bankroll knocks along the way.

Don’t Choose the Tie Bet

Even if you find a casino with superior odds on the tie bet, the house edge on this wager still means you'll be handing over a larger share of your winnings to the house altogether.

Back the Banker

Because this bet has the lowest house edge of the three betting options, it makes sense to back the banker because you'll get the best return for your bet if you guess correctly.

Choose Fewer Decks

With 1 deck, the house edge on banker bets is lower than it would be with 8 or 6 decks. Having more cards in play increases the odds of a tie outcome, giving the house a larger edge.

Another thing to keep in mind with baccarat is that on winning banker bets, players often pay a commission, although this is because the odds are stacked in the player's favour. Even after accounting for this, betting on the banker to win is still the best choice for any baccarat player.

Craps

There is little doubt that Craps tables are a cause for lots of excitement on the casino floor at live gaming venues as spectators and players alike anticipate the roll of the craps dice. While the game seems simple enough, the multitude of betting options available has led to this classic and beloved game having a larger House edge range than most others.

House Edge on Craps Bets

As we’ve noted, the house edge when playing craps has a wide range and can go from almost nothing to a staggering 13,9% based purely on the bets you choose to place.

Take a look below to see how bets influence the house edge:

Bet Payout House Edge
Pass1:11.41%
Don't Pass1:11.36%
Pass OddsVaries0%
Don't Pass OddsVaries0%
Come1:11.41%
Don't Come1:11.36%
Come OddsVaries0%
Don't Come OddsVaries0%
Buy BetsVaries4.76%
Hardways7:1 or 9:111.1 or 9.09%
Big 6 or 81:19.09%
Any 74:116.9%
Craps7:111.1%

Considering the data provided in the table, it’s likely that the odds bets with 0% house edge are attractive to players. However, you should keep in mind that this kind of bet can only be made after a come/don’t come or pass/don’t pass bet. This means that the actual house edge for this bet is actually a combination of the house edge on the pair of bets.

Multi Roll Wagers

In craps, the betting process begins with a come out roll of the dice and slowly evolves from there. Some craps games can span several rolls of the dice, while others can be done after just one.

Mult-roll bets are wagers placed in craps that can only be settled by multiple rolls of the dice. These multi-bets include:

Easyway

An easyway bet is the polar opposite of a hardway bet: it is a wager on both dice having different faces. A 1 plus a 5 could be used to make an easyway 6.

Hardway

When both dice display the same number, the game is over (for example, a hard 6 is achieved on rolls which end in both dice showing a 3).

Place/buy Bets

You're wagering on a specific number being rolled before a 7, within the come area of the game. Payouts do not represent genuine odds, and winnings are frequently subject to a commission paid to the casino.

Big 6 and 8 Bets

This gamble is known among experienced craps players as the sucker bet. The payoff is 1:1, although in a place/buy bet, betting on a 6 or an 8 pays more. Some casinos do not provide large 6 or 8 wagers at all.

Lay Bets

A lay bet is the polar opposite of a buy/place bet. You're betting on a 7 to come up first before the number you've chosen. True odds are paid on lay bets, although there is still a house commission.

When it comes to multi-roll bets, keep in mind that the allure of bigger rewards may make the bet appear more appealing on the surface. In actuality, the house edge indicates that you will lose money over time on these wagers. You'd perform better with those that pay out even money and have a lower house edge.

Responsible Gambling

It's not only a matter of following local regulations when it comes to gambling safely and legally, no matter where you are in the world. However, staying within the confines of the law in your state or jurisdiction is a major consideration that should be taken seriously.

Responsible gambling also entails properly managing your cash and never wagering more than you can comfortably afford to lose. You should also gamble with a clear head and show respect for fellow players and casino employees.

No one should feel intimidated while doing their job or engaging in a leisure activity they participate in to unwind. Keeping this in mind when playing for real money at a casino, please ensure that you’re making smart decisions, treating others with respect, and are engaging responsibly. For additional information, see our guide to problem gambling.

Gambler’s Fallacy

Even the most level-headed gamblers are susceptible to the gambler's fallacy. Even if you try to keep logic and reason in mind, it's easy to get caught up in the moment when you're on a roll. You may believe that luck is on your side and that losing is impossible.

The gambler's fallacy is defined by this method of thinking. It's the belief that something other than skill or chance is at work, and that winning or losing is determined by something other than skill or chance. The fact of the matter is that casino odds are what they are. There's no way a pair of lucky rabbit's feet can help you.

We implore our players to be cautious of feeling that they can’t lose. In the world of gambling, there is always a winner and a loser and even professional gamblers lose from time to time. Lady luck is a tricky mistress and yours can change very quickly or take a very quick turn if you’re not playing carefully.

Learn More

If you liked our House edge guide and would like to learn more about a wider variety of topics from our CasinoTop experts, check out our full range of guides and gambling resources to ensure you know all there is to know about your favourite games.

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