Casino Games House Edge

Casino Games House Edge

All players know that the relative advantage rests with the casinos, but an understanding of the house edge can greatly assist players in making intelligent bets.

Whether you're playing at a real-life Las Vegas casino or an online gaming paradise, chances are you've heard the term 'house edge' before. To many players the house edge is the reason they either partake in certain types of games or refrain from gambling entirely. But the concept itself requires further clarification.

A correct description of the house edge is one that defines it as the ratio of the average loss to the initial money wagered. These figures are certainly not uniform across gaming variants, but they are fixed among identical games playing by the same rules. These points are crucial to understanding the house edge.

How the house edge differs from game to game

Recall that the house edge is certainly not the amount of money lost to the total money wagered. That would be grossly inaccurate for definitional purposes and certainly heavily biased against the casino. Let's take a rather simplistic example to clarify what this means:

  • If a player places a $50 bet at the blackjack table, this is the initial bet. If the house edge at a game of blackjack is listed as 0.5% (an arbitrary figure) then we can assume - by deduction of statistical probability ratios - that the player can expect to lose $0.25 on every $50 initial bet he places.

The reason we do not include secondary bets as part of the calculation is that they have their own probability ratios. In games like blackjack and various poker games, players are able to raise at will. When the house edge is determined, it works off the first bet placed only. And to be frank, this method of calculating the house edge makes it easier for the player to theoretically figure out how much will be lost per bet.

It's certainly tough guesstimating the average bets per game, because those are determined by the fall of the cards and strategic game play.

It is worthy of mentioning that across gaming varieties, the definition of house edge may lead to some misunderstanding. For example the game of Caribbean Stud Poker lists as its house edge a figure of 5.22%. This would lead a player to believe that for every $10 wagered, he/she should expect to forfeit $0.522. However, the ratio of average money that is lost by players vs. the average bets wagered is only 2.56% - significantly lower. This is why for example, in terms of money lost/won, roulette is a far riskier proposition than Caribbean Stud Poker. In most cases the option of a tie is excluded for calculations purposes.

Examples of games and house edges

  • Roulette Single zero - 2.70%
  • Roulette Double zero - 5.26%
  • Blackjack (Liberal Vegas Rules) - 0.28%
  • Baccarat (Banker) - 1.06%
  • Baccarat (Player) - 1.24%
  • Baccarat (Tie) - 14.36%
  • Video Poker (Jacks or Better) - 0.46%

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