May 19, 2023
A Guide for Beginners

House edge of Casino Games Explained

Welcome to the exciting world of casino games, where chance and skill intertwine, and understanding the underlying probabilities can make all the difference. Before we delve into the intricacies of individual games, it's crucial to grasp a fundamental concept of popular casino games and gambling: the House Edge.

Definition of House Edge

The House Edge refers to the statistical advantage that the casino, often referred to as "the house," has in any given game. It's a mathematical expectation of how much money the casino expects to win over the long run from each bet placed by players. The house edge is usually expressed as a percentage.

For example, if a game has a house edge of 5%, this means that, on average, the casino expects to win $5 for every $100 bet by the player. It's important to remember that this is an average figure calculated over thousands of games, and it doesn't predict the outcome of any single game or session.

House Edge of Casino Games Table

Game/Bet House Edge
Baccarat - Banker 1.06%
Baccarat - Player 1.24%
Baccarat - Tie 14.36%
Big Six - $1 11.11%
Big Six - $2 16.67%
Big Six - $5 22.22%
Big Six - $10 18.52%
Big Six - $20 22.22%
Big Six - Joker/Logo 24.07%
Bonus Six - No insurance 10.42%
Bonus Six - With insurance 23.83%
Blackjack (Liberal Vegas rules) 0.28%
Caribbean Stud Poker 5.22%
Casino War - Go to war on ties 2.88%
Casino War - Surrender on ties 3.70%
Casino War - Bet on tie 18.65%
Craps - Pass/Come 1.41%
Craps - Don't pass/don't come 1.36%
Craps - Odds — 4 or 10 0.00%
Craps - Odds — 5 or 9 0.00%
Craps - Odds — 6 or 8 0.00%
Craps - Field (2:1 on 12) 5.56%
Craps - Field (3:1 on 12) 2.78%
Craps - Any craps 11.11%
Craps - Big 6,8 9.09%
Craps - Hard 4,10 11.11%
Craps - Hard 6,8 9.09%
Craps - Place 6,8 1.52%
Craps - Place 5,9 4.00%
Craps - Place 4,10 6.67%
Craps - Place (to lose) 4,10 3.03%
Craps - 2, 12, & all hard hops 13.89%
Craps - 3, 11, & all easy hops 11.11%
Craps - Any seven 16.67%
Crazy 4 Poker - Ante 3.42%
Double Down Stud 2.67%
Heads Up Hold 'Em - Blind pay table #1 (500-50-10-8-5) 2.36%
Keno 25%-29%
Let it Ride 3.51%
Pai Gow 1.50%
Pai Gow Poker 1.46%
Pick ’em Poker 0% - 10%
Red Dog - Six decks 2.80%
Roulette - Single Zero 2.70%
Roulette - Double Zero 5.26%
Sic-Bo 2.78%-33.33%
Slot Machines 2%-15%
Spanish 21 - Dealer hits soft 17 0.76%
Spanish 21 - Dealer stands on soft 17 0.40%

Importance of Understanding the House Edge

Understanding the house edge is crucial for any casino-goer. It provides insight into the probabilities of the games you're playing, helping you make informed decisions about where to put your money. Some games have a high house edge, meaning the odds are heavily stacked in the casino's favor. Others have a lower house edge, offering players a better chance of winning in the long run.

Knowledge of the house edge also allows players to manage their bankroll more effectively. If you know that a game has a high house edge, you might decide to play it less frequently or bet smaller amounts to preserve your bankroll. On the other hand, you might feel more comfortable betting larger amounts on games with a lower house edge.

Understanding the Concept of House Edge

Now that we have a basic grasp of what the house edge is, let's dive a bit deeper into this concept. Understanding the house edge in detail can give you a significant edge (no pun intended!) when it comes to maximizing your potential winnings and enjoyment at the casino.

Detailed Explanation of House Edge

As we established earlier, the house edge is the mathematical advantage that the casino has over players in the long run. This advantage is built into the rules and structure of each game, ensuring that the casino always has a slight edge over the players.

One way to understand the house edge is through the concept of expected value. In probability theory, the expected value is the average result of a large number of trials. It's what you expect to happen on average if you played the game many, many times.

In the context of casino games, the expected value is always slightly negative for the player (and positive for the casino) due to the house edge. In a game with a house edge of 5%, for example, you could expect to lose an average of $5 for every $100 you bet if you played a large number of games with same house edge.

How it Impacts a Player's Probability of Winning

The house edge directly impacts a player's probability of winning in a casino game. The higher the house edge, the lower the player's chances of winning. Conversely, a lower house edge means better odds for the player.

It's important to remember that the house edge represents a long-term expectation. In the short term, anything can happen. You might get lucky and win a big jackpot, or you might have a losing streak. But over the long run, the house edge ensures that the casino will always come out ahead.

The Role of Randomness and Skill in Games with a House Edge

Casino games can be divided into two main categories based on the balance between randomness (or luck) perfect strategy and skill:

  1. Games of Pure Chance: These are games like roulette, slots, and most lotteries where the outcome is entirely determined by chance. In these games, the house edge is unalterable and is entirely determined by the game's rules.

  2. Games of Skill: These are games like blackjack and poker where players' decisions can influence the outcome. In these games, a skilled player can reduce the house edge, while a less skilled player might increase it.

It's important to understand where the game you're playing falls on this spectrum. If it's a game of pure chance, the best you can do is understand the house edge and make your betting decisions accordingly. If it's a game of skill, learning the game's strategy can help you reduce the house edge and increase your chances of winning.

The House Edge in Different Casino Games

Now that we've gained a deeper understanding of the house edge, let's take a look at how it manifests in different casino games. We will be looking at five popular games: Blackjack, Roulette, Slots, Craps, and Poker.

House Edge Blackjack

Basic Rules of the Game

Blackjack, also known as 21, is a card game where the player competes against the dealer. The goal of the game is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealers without exceeding 21. Players can hit (draw more cards), stand (stick with their current hand), double down (double their bet and take one more card), or split (separate two identical cards into two hands) to try to reach a better hand.

Typical House Edge and What Influences It

The house edge in blackjack is generally quite low compared to other casino games. With basic strategy, the overall house edge amount can be reduced to about 0.5%. However, this assumes that the player is following the blackjack optimal strategy for the given rules. Factors that can increase the house edge include playing with more decks, restrictive doubling-down rules, and the dealer hitting on a soft 17.

House edge Roulette

Basic Rules of the Game

In roulette, players place bets on where a ball will land on a spinning roulette wheel. The wheel is divided into 37 or 38 numbered slots (depending on the version). Players can bet on individual numbers, ranges of numbers, the color of the slot (red or black), or whether the number will be odd or even.

Typical House Edge and What Influences It

The house edge in roulette depends on the version of the game. In American roulette, which has a 0 and a 00, the house edge is 5.26%. In European roulette, which only has a 0, the roulette house edge is reduced to 2.7%. These percentages hold true for all bets as the payouts are adjusted to include the house edge.

House edge Slot Machines

Basic Rules of the Game

Slot machines are simple and mostly luck-based. Players insert money, play slots, spin the reels, and hope for a winning combination of symbols. The combinations and their corresponding payouts are listed on the machine.

Typical House Edge and What Influences It

The house edge for slots can vary widely depending on the specific slot machine used and its settings, but it is typically between 2% and 15%. The house edge in slots is determined by the payout table, which is set by the casino or the manufacturer, and the random number generator in the machine.

House edge Craps

Basic Rules of the Game

Craps is a dice game where players make wagers on the outcome of the roll, or a series of rolls, of a pair of dice. Bets can be based on a single roll or the total outcome of a series of rolls, adding complexity to the game.

Typical House Edge and What Influences It

The house edge in craps varies significantly based on the type of bet. The most basic bet, the pass line bet, has a house edge of 1.41%. However, some of the more exotic bets have a house edge as high as 16.67%. Understanding the different types of bets and their respective house edges is crucial to a successful craps strategy.

House Edge Poker

Basic Rules of the Game

Poker is a family of card games where players wager over which hand is the best according to that specific game's rules. The most popular variant, Texas Hold'em, involves each player receiving two private cards and then five community cards being dealt face-up on the "board." Players then use their own two cards in combination with the community cards to form the best five-card poker hand.

Typical House Edge and What Influences It

Poker is unique among casino games in that players compete against each other, not the house. The casino makes money by taking a small percentage of each pot, known as the rake. The house edge is therefore not a factor in the same way as it is in other games. However, in variants like Casino Hold'em or Caribbean Stud Poker, where players play against the house, the house edge applies and can be around 3% depending on the specific rules and the player's skill level.

Factors Influencing the House Edge

While the house edge is a built-in component of most popular casino games now, certain factors can influence its magnitude. These factors can either be inherent to the games themselves, such as the rules and variations, or dependent on the players, such as their skill level and chosen betting systems. Let's explore these elements in more detail.

Game Rules and Variations

The specific rules and variations of a game can significantly affect the house edge. For instance:

  • Blackjack: Variations in rules, such as the number of decks used, whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17, and whether doubling after splitting is allowed, can all impact the house edge. A single-deck game that allows doubling after splits and where the dealer stands on soft 17 has a much lower house edge compared to a game with opposite rules.

  • Roulette: The type of roulette wheel used can affect the house edge. American roulette, with its additional double-zero pocket, carries a higher house edge than European roulette, which has only one zero pockets.

Understanding these nuances can help players choose games that offer the most favorable conditions, thus reducing the house edge.

Player Skill and Strategy

In certain games, the player's skill level and understanding of game strategy can influence the house edge. Games of skill like blackjack and poker require a certain level of knowledge and strategic play to reduce the house edge:

  • Blackjack: By understanding and applying basic strategy—a standardized set of actions for every possible hand against any dealer's up-card—players can significantly reduce the house edge.

  • Poker: Skilled poker players who understand the probabilities, hand rankings, and the psychology of other players can often overcome the rake (the casino's take) and consistently turn a profit over time.

Remember, in games of chance like roulette and slots, player skill does not affect the house edge.

Betting Systems

Betting systems, or betting strategies, are methods used by players to try to gain an advantage over the casino. They involve adjusting the size of your bets based on previous results. However, it's crucial to understand that no betting system can overcome the house edge in the long run.

  • Positive progression systems like the Paroli system involve increasing your bets after a win, with the idea of taking advantage of winning streaks.

  • Negative progression systems like the Martingale system involve increasing your bets after a loss, with the idea of recouping previous losses with a future win.

While these systems might alter your short-term betting patterns and could lead to short-term gains, they don't change the house edge or the casino's statistical advantage over the long run. It's also essential to remember that these systems can lead to significant losses if a player hits a losing streak.

Strategies for Reducing the House Edge

Though the house edge is a constant factor in casino games, there are strategies and techniques players can employ to minimize its impact over the long run. This section will delve into the importance of learning game strategies, provide examples of effective strategies in various games, and discuss the role of discipline and money management.

Importance of Learning Game Strategies

Learning the optimal strategies for different games is crucial for reducing the house advantage or edge. In games of skill, understanding the probabilities and the best decision for any given situation can significantly increase your chances of winning. Even in games of chance, knowing the best bets can lower the house edge.

Moreover, understanding the strategy for a game can enhance your enjoyment of it. It can turn what might seem like a game of pure luck into a more nuanced and interesting challenge.

Examples of Effective Strategies in Various Games

  • Blackjack: The most effective strategy for reducing the house edge in blackjack is to use a basic strategy. This strategy provides the best action (hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender) for every possible combination of your hand and the dealer's up card.

  • Roulette: In roulette, the best strategy is simply to choose the bets with the lowest house edge. In European roulette, this means sticking to even money bets (red/black, even/odd, high/low). Furthermore, playing European roulette instead of American roulette (if available) can reduce the house edge.

  • Craps: In craps, the pass line and don't pass line bets have the lowest house edge. You can further reduce the house edge by taking maximum odds on these bets.

  • Poker: In poker, the strategy can be complex and depends on the variant being played. However, understanding hand rankings, probabilities, and player psychology are key to improving your results.

Remember, no strategy guarantees a win every time, but these strategies can improve your chances over the long run.

The Role of Discipline and Money Management

Beyond specific game strategies, discipline and good money management are essential for reducing the house edge and ensuring a sustainable and enjoyable casino gaming experience.

Discipline involves sticking to your game plan, not chasing losses, and knowing when to stop. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the casino, but disciplined players know that making informed, rational decisions is the key to long-term success.

Money management involves setting a budget for your gambling activities and sticking to it. It can also involve strategies like setting win goals and loss limits, and only betting a certain percentage of your bankroll on any single bet.

Proper money management won't change the house edge, but it can help ensure that you play within your means and make the best decisions to maximize your chances of ending up ahead. It's an essential part of responsible gambling.

The House Edge and Responsible Gambling

The house edge is an integral part of understanding responsible gambling. Recognizing that the casino always has an edge can help players approach gambling activities with a healthy perspective. This section discusses the importance of understanding the house edge for responsible gambling, the illusion of control, and the gambler's fallacy, and provides resources for help with problem gambling.

Importance of Understanding the House Edge for Responsible Gambling

Understanding the house edge is fundamental to responsible gambling. By acknowledging that the casino always has a statistical advantage, players can approach gambling as a form of entertainment rather than a reliable way to make money.

Knowing the house edge for different games and bets can also help players make informed decisions about where to play and what bets to make. By choosing games with a lower house edge and making bets that offer the best odds, players can enjoy their gambling activities while minimizing potential losses.

The Illusion of Control and the Gambler's Fallacy

It's crucial to recognize and avoid common cognitive biases that can lead to irresponsible gambling:

  • The Illusion of Control: This is the belief that one can influence the outcome of an event that is actually determined by chance. In the context of gambling, this can lead to overconfidence and risky betting behavior.

  • The Gambler's Fallacy: This is the belief that past events can influence future events when they are, in fact, independent. For example, after a series of red outcomes on a roulette wheel, a player might believe that black is "due" to come up next, even though the odds for each spin remain the same.

These biases can lead players to make poor betting decisions and chase losses, both of which can contribute to problem gambling.

Resources for Help with Problem Gambling

If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, there are many resources available to help. Organizations like the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and Gamblers Anonymous provide support and services to individuals dealing with this issue.

  • National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG): The NCPG offers a variety of resources, including a 24-hour confidential helpline, chat services, and a directory of treatment and support services.

  • Gamblers Anonymous: This is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other to solve their common problem and help others recover from a gambling problem.

Understanding the house edge of table game and practicing responsible gambling strategies can help ensure that your casino gaming experience is fun and safe. Remember, the goal of playing casino games should be entertainment, not making money.


In this article, we've delved into the concept of the house edge, its impact on various casino games, and the importance of understanding it for responsible gambling. Now, let's recap and consider some final thoughts.

Recap of Key Points About the House Edge

The house edge is a statistical advantage that ensures casinos make a profit over the long run. It's a percentage that represents the expected loss from each bet, relative to the original bet:

  • Different casino games have different house edges, influenced by game rules and variations. Blackjack, roulette, slots, craps, and poker each have their unique house edges and influencing factors.

  • The house edge doesn't guarantee that the house will win every bet; instead, it ensures that the odds are stacked in the house's favor over a large number of bets.

  • Understanding the house edge is crucial for players to make informed decisions about where to play and what bets to make. It is also a fundamental concept in responsible gambling.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Understanding the House Edge in Casino Games

Understanding the how house edge works is more than just a strategy for minimizing potential losses—it's a tool for fostering responsible gambling habits. By grasping the concept of the house edge, players can set realistic expectations, make informed decisions, and ultimately enjoy a more sustainable and enjoyable gaming experience.

Remember, the primary purpose of playing casino games should always be entertainment, not making money. With the right understanding and approach, casino gaming can be a fun and exciting pastime. And as always, if you or someone you know is struggling with gambling-related issues, don't hesitate to reach out to the many resources available for help.

By understanding the house edge, you're not only taking a step towards a more enjoyable gaming experience but also towards safer and more responsible gambling.

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