Understanding the House Edge and How to Beat it 🎰
The house edge is the term used to describe how much money a casino, “the house”, wins from players in the long run. There are ways of dealing with this, though. There are ways to lower the house edge and maximise the payouts.
In this article, we go through the house edge essentials, the most popular online casino games, and how we can apply strategies to lower the house edge.
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What is the House Edge? 🤷♀️
The house edge is generally up to roughly 5% for most games and game variants. Some games come very close to having a 0% house edge though, like Spanish 21 and certain variants of Video Poker.
Others are over 20%, like some Sic Bo games and Keno. We are going to look into the games you can find on most casino sites and not chase the elusive few, golden games.
The house edge is different for each casino game, just like our levels of influence on the games. For games with a high level of influence, the house edge is usually already pretty low.
The games we can’t influence that much usually have a slightly higher house edge. We are, of course, going to focus on the ones we can influence.
Another aspect that will affect the cash-out of a casino game is the game’s volatility. This is basically if a game gives a lot of lower payouts or few higher payouts.
That is a whole subject to dig into, but the important part of it is that if you want to win big, don’t go for the ones with low volatility (low, frequent payouts). Rather bet a smaller sum of money on the games with high volatility.
Another term that we often come across is the RTP. Return to player (RTP) is the exact opposite of the house edge. If the house edge is 5%, the RTP is going to be 95%. It is as simple as that.
The most common questions and answers about the house edge
🤷♀️ What is the house edge?
The long-term profit casinos make of players for each casino game.
☝🏽 Which game has the best house edge?
The Video Poker game Full Pay Deuces Wild has a -0.76% house edge. The payouts are very low, though.
❓ Should I stay away from games with high house edges?
No, that’s usually where we find the jackpots and high volatility games.
💁🏽♀️ Is a low house edge always the best?
No, it just means that the long-term loss is going to be the smallest.
🎡 Is there a casino game without a house edge?
No. There is always a house edge.
⚖ Do all casinos have the same house edge on the same games?
Yes, the house edge is dependent on the game and not the casino.
📈 Can we change the house edge on all games?
No, we can influence the house edge on some games, like Blackjack.
🎯 Do short plays beat the house edge?
No, but it helps to stop playing if you’ve made a profit.
How Does House Edge Apply? ❓
So, first and foremost: the house edge only applies to money you bet, never the money you deposit or withdraw.
Let’s say you walk up to a Roulette table with a million dollars, and you place a single $10 bet every round. Say that the wheel turns 25 times an hour, and you play for 8 hours straight (you have great stamina). Your total amount of bets will be $2,000. The house edge only applies to that sum rather than the million dollars you have in your pocket.
The casinos never target just one single player, though. They get their money from hundreds of players that play their games continuously for a long period of time.
If 50 players join the Roulette table over a period of 24 hours and play the same strategy as you do, the house edge will affect $100,000 over a single day. Multiply that by all the games at the casino, and you can quickly see why they are open 24/7 and how they make their money.
This also explains why they have enough money to cash out big jackpots every once in a while.
What is the House Edge in the Usual Online Casino Games? 🎡
Now, this seems like an easy question to answer. Each game should just have a house edge number, right? As with anything, we wish it could be that easy, but unfortunately, it isn’t.
Most casino games have a rough estimate of the house edge. If you would make the exact same bets for infinity, the house edge would play out perfectly. In any other case, the real outcome will be different.
If you play one hand of Blackjack and bet $1,000, you might have either a 100% win or a 100% loss. If you play 10,000 hands with only a $0.1 bet per hand, you will most likely come very close to the house edge of 2% (or 0.5% with a good plan).
There are more casino games out there today than we could possibly go through, but here is a list of some common casino games and their house edges:
– Blackjack 0.5% – 2%
– Roulette 2.7% – 5.26%
– Baccarat 1.05% – 14.4%
– Slots 0.93% – 12%
– Keno 4% – 40%
– Craps 1.41% – 16.7%
– Video poker -0.76% – 5%
– Sic Bo 2.78% – 16.2%
House Edge in Slots
We don’t have to tell you that slots come in every colour, shape, theme, and with a wide variety of goals and functions. Well, that is matched with the house edge. Each slot game has its own house edge, which often corresponds to the sums they are paying out.
An example of this is Mega Moolah, which holds the record for largest online jackpot ever hit, and which has a house edge of 12%. Mega Moolah rarely pays out to gamblers. At the same time, Ugga Bugga has a house edge of 0.93% and pays out smaller sums more often.
If you would play on Mega Moolah for a very long time, you would lose 12% of your bets, but you might hit a jackpot. This is the embodiment of gambling that we so often forget. Gambling is about facing the risk and living on the hope that you are the next person to get a Mega Moolah Jackpot. You go to work to pay the bills, you gamble money to get the thrills.
Here’s a list of some of our favourite slots and their house edges:
– Ugga Bugga (0.93%) – because it’s always nice to see some money being paid out.
– Mega Joker (1%) – An old classic 3-reel that also holds a progressive jackpot.
– Starburst (3.99%) – One of the most popular slots online.
– Mega Moolah (12%) – When Mondays hit, and we want to get rich.
– Thunderstruck II (3.35%) – A very popular game that offers loads of in-game bonuses.
– Book of Dead (4%) – Nice themes and variable playstyles makes this a really fun slot game.
– Mega Fortune (11%) – A slot game with a fortune wheel twist.
These are just a few examples of slots, their positive features and house edges.
Slots are a perfect example of a casino game with a low house edge, mostly because we can’t apply any real in-game strategies to better our odds. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s the perfect casino game for anyone who rather wants to take it easy and relax.
House Edge in Roulette
We have two main variants of Roulette: American and European. The difference is that the American has two zero pockets, while the European only has one. This changes the overall house edge from 5.26% (American) to 2.7% (European).
There is a myriad of Roulette variants, like Double Ball Roulette (2.7%) French Roulette (1.35%), and No Zero Roulette (0%).
The No Zero Roulette is the obvious choice for anyone who wants to play for a very long time with small stakes. The game will theoretically go on for infinity. European Roulette is the most popular one and the most likely Roulette game to find in most casinos.
It’s a good mix between giving us players a fair chance whilst also making sure the house gets paid enough to keep the casino in business.
House Edge in Blackjack
This is the ultimate game for any player who wants to play on skill and knowledge. You don’t have to be Rain Man or have your buddies scout and count cards at the tables to lower the house edge in this game.
The standard Blackjack game has a house edge of roughly 2% (already not a bad statistic for any inexperienced newcomer). By applying a basic strategy, we can lower that to a meagre 0.5%. That is without counting cards or anything like that, so just keep that in mind.
This is also one of the easiest games to learn to play and get good at quickly. The only knowledge we need is when to hit, split, stay or double down. There is a literal chart for that which players can keep next to them whilst playing online.
House Edge in Baccarat
This is something that varies with what you bet on in the game. Players can bet on the banker (1.06%), the player (1.24%) and a tie (14.36%). These are house edges for the basic Baccarat games. One variant is the house paying 9:1 for a tie rather than 8:1, which lowers the house edge from 14.36% to 4.85%.
Super 6, a.k.a. Punto 2000, has a higher house edge for the banking bet, but it also pays out 1:1 instead of 0.95:1 as in regular Baccarat. However, if the house wins on a 6, it only pays out 50%, so that is a risk we have to take into account.
Can We Beat the House Edge? How? 💵
Honestly, it is impossible to beat the house edge completely without cheating, and we are better than that. There are, however, some strategies that could be employed to lower the house edge and/or maximise our winnings.
Firstly, we need to choose our games. Blackjack is a clear winner when it comes to short-term, effective strategies and betting plans. Roulette is great if we are looking to make smaller, multiple bets for big wins.
In Blackjack, we employ the basic Blackjack strategy and follow the chart on when to hit, split, stand or double down. Counting cards are frowned upon in physical casinos, hard to do in live sessions, and impossible in machine-driven games.
In Roulette, players should put up a limit of 100 or so spins and only bet smaller sums on inner bets. Chances are higher to win larger sums this way. You will lose more often but getting a 36:1 payout will be worth it. The Martingale betting system is for the outer bets and is often stopped by betting caps, so stay clear of that.
Baccarat is best to play if you enjoy gambling with cards and have decent odds. Slots are great if you don’t want to make the effort, but rather enjoy your time with nice graphics and functions.
Lastly: don’t play for too long. Time is not your friend when it comes to any casino game. Rather put some limit on your gambling and enjoy it more frequently. If you gamble for a short burst of time, there is a better chance of you walking out with a win. Gamble for too long, and you will only make sure the house edge rules the game.