If you’re a big fan of casino games then you’ve probably heard of the expression “the house always wins.” But, if you’ve ever cashed your chips in after a big win then you know that’s not strictly true. Or is it?
In fact, in the long run, the house edge (sometimes called the house advantage) ensures that the casino does eventually come out on top. The house edge is similar to the RTP% and will combine together to work out how much money the casino typically makes per game.
Imagine a game like roulette. The roulette wheel has 37 numbers, including the green zero. That means if you bet on any single number, you will have a one-in-thirty-seven chance of winning. These definitive probabilities are known as true odds. However, if you were to bet £1 on the winning number, you would only receive a payout of £36. Are you being cheated out of a pound, or is there a good reason for this?
The house edge is usually calculated as a percentage. For instance, European roulette with a single zero (0) is 2.7%, whereas American roulette, which has two zeros (0, 00) is 5.6%.
Is the House Edge Really Necessary?
If you’re learning about this for the first time, you may think casinos are being very sneaky and trying to scam you out of money. This is not true and the house edge is essential for any casino. It’s what makes gambling possible and keeps the industry going.
What’s important is that you have a fair chance of winning. That’s why there’s a gambling commission that licenses and regulates casinos and all gambling practices. If you’re playing online then you want to know that the house edge is set where it’s supposed to be. For this reason, random number generators are used. Practices like this will ensure that for every spin of the wheel, roll of the dice, or shuffle of the deck, the outcome will be sufficiently random to make sure your game is always fair.
Keeping Casinos in Business
Imagine you wanted to start your own casino. You buy some tables, start paying the bills and employ a team of croupiers and dealers. Before you welcome in the punters you need a way to stay in business, right? That’s why the house edge exists. Some customers win, some lose and some break even. But, at the end of the night, it’s the house edge that will ensure your casino continues to make money in the long run. It will allow you to pay your bills, feed your family and welcome in the punters.
The same goes for any casino, whether it’s The Bellagio in Las Vegas or your favourite online casino.
Is There Any Way Around the House Edge?
Before you start Googling the best ways to avoid the house edge, there is some bad news. Unfortunately, there is no way to get around it. It exists and has always existed. The best thing to do is simply accept it and instead, place your attention on enjoying your gambling.
This hasn’t stopped people from trying to overcome it. A common basic strategy, popular in 18th century France involved doubling the stake of a bet again and again after each loss to recuperate the money lost and make an additional profit on winnings. The big flaw with this strategy is that a player needs infinite funds to be successful and, as some statistical analysis can prove, eventually the player loses (and can become bankrupt in the process).
Even though each game comes with a different house edge, when it comes to online gambling, the most important thing to think about is the kind of experience you want to have. Always try to maximize your enjoyment when choosing what game to play.
House Edge for Popular Games
If your idea of fun is logging into an online casino and trying to maximize your playing time then stick to the games with the lowest house edge. These include single deck blackjack (0.5% using the basic strategy), certain bets in craps (1%), baccarat (1.24%), and European roulette (2.7%). Another game with a higher, but varying house edge, is Pai Gow Poker. This is an adaption of the popular Chinese game Pai Gow and, due to the slow nature of the game, you can usually enjoy a nice, long run.
Be aware that some other popular casino games like Caribbean Stud has a pretty high house edge of 5.2% and American roulette (with its double zero) has an even higher house edge of 5.6%. If you’re looking for a big, one-off payout in the short term then you may find yourself attracted to a slot with a big jackpot. In this case, expect the house advantage to be relatively high.
With a traditional table game like roulette, it’s quite easy to figure out what the house edge is. When it comes to playing a slot machine, the house advantage can vary. Some may be lower than 2% and some may be as high as 12 – 15%. Another feature with most slot machines is that the standard deviation tends to be high. This is shown as the size of a potential payout increases and winnings move way over the average payout.
Verdict on the House Edge
Of course, if luck is on your side, it can seem like you’re overcoming the house edge. If you beat the dealer during the first several hands of blackjack you may feel like you’re beating the casino. But, the longer the game goes on for, the more the odds will be in favour of the dealer getting your money back.