Learn about the house edge in online gambling. Does the casino always win or can you beat the house at its own game?

House Edge of Casino Games

You've probably heard the saying, "The house always wins" which is a reference to the house edge the casino has for the games that it offers players. A simple way to view it is that the casino will always hold the long-term advantage, but players still have the possibility of winning in the short-term, and in some instances, these wins can be rather substantial.

In this article, we examine the house in fine detail. We'll show you what games offer the lowest advantage to the casino and also explore if there are any strategies that you can use to overcome the house edge, so you can win more often.

House Edge & RTP - What is the connection?

As a new player, when you are looking around the casino for a game to play, you won't come across any mention of the house edge. All you see is a percentage related to the RTP (return to player). The RTP is essentially the opposite of the house edge.

It informs the player of the theoretical returns they can expect over a prolonged period of play. Therefore, you could say the house edge is how much (on average) you will lose over a prolonged period of play.

If a casino game has an RTP of 98%. It means the casino has a 2% house edge.

So, a high RTP is good news for the player as it relates to a lower edge for the casino. Alternatively, a game or a particular bet such as the insurance side bet in Blackjack, with a high edge is bad news for players.

Knowledge of the house edge, which is also called the casino's advantage, is beneficial as it can help you select the games which are more favourable to you.

House Edge of Casino Games

Individual casinos don't set their own house edge, so the games should rightfully be standardised regardless of where you play.

It's important to note the overall value proposition of the games in question as well. You will encounter games with a high edge (low RTP) but potentially the payouts are far greater. So, it's not always a straight forward black and white decision you're faced with.

SLOTS

In our opinion, slot games get a bad rap when discussing the casino's advantage. It stems from cabinet slot machines and traditional fruit machines found in clubs and bars. These are quite expensive pieces of equipment and labour intensive to construct, so most of them had a low RTP so the games would turn a profit in a shorter period of time.

However, it's a whole different ball game with online slots. A software developer can create a game and it can be played millions of times and from all corners of the globe. This has led to vastly improved RTP percentages in this category. However, there are still slots that are rather low.

Slot Title RTP (%) House Edge (%)
Mega Moolah 88.1 11.9
Dead or Alive II 96.8 3.2
Gonzo's Quest 96.0 4.0
Mega Joker 99.0 1.0

These four slots are among the most popular games played online, today. It's generally accepted that the average RTP for modern video slots ranges from 94% - 97%. Both Dead or Alive II and Gonzo's Quest fit perfectly into the upper half of that range. However, the casino holds a massive advantage on Mega Moolah. The reason for this is because this video slot offers one of the biggest progressive jackpots on the internet.

A small portion of your stake is taken and added to the progressive feature, which accounts for the low RTP. With a world record payout of more than €18,000,000 you can understand why players still adore this game regardless of the casino's mighty advantage.

ROULETTE

Away from slots, Roulette is one of the most popular games on the casino floor. There are three main variants of this game: American, European and French. Below the Odds of online Roulette:

Roulette Variant RTP (%) House Edge (%)
American 94.74 5.26
European 97.3 2.7
French 98.65 1.35*

*on outside bets only

American roulette is the one you want to stay away from. This version of the game is played using a double '0' wheel which gives the casino a rather large advantage.

French roulette is the best one to play. It uses a standard European wheel but there are a couple of changes to the rules which favour the player. La Partage is one of them. This returns half of your stake if you place an outside bet and the ball lands on zero (0).

BLACKJACK

Both slots and roulette are games of chance. The player has no control over the outcome.

Blackjack is different in that you have to make a decision each hand you play. It can be a very rewarding game if you play according to the right Blackjack strategy, but the house edge will increase if you merely play randomly. Furthermore, there are many variations of blackjack with slight tweaks to the rules. Also, the number of decks used is a factor in the house edge.

Blackjack Variant RTP (%) House Edge (%)
Single Deck 99.42 0.58
Double Exposure 99.33 0.67
Spanish 21 99.57 0.43
Switch 99.42 0.58
Insurance bet (8 decks) 92.53 7.47

This is why Blackjack still remains one of the great casino games. It offers players a near-even chance of winning. However, taking the insurance bet is a bad idea. This will hurt your bankroll over the long term, so don't be tempted by it.

OTHER POPULAR GAMES

Keno is one of the casino's favourite games as it has a house edge of 25% on average. The payouts are quite large if you match all your numbers, but still, it certainly is not a game we recommend you play for too long.

Here are a few more games and their respective RTP and house edge figures.

Game RTP (%) House Edge (%)
Baccarat (Banker) 98.94 1.06
Baccarat (Player) 98.76 1.24
Caribbean Stud 94.78 5.22
Craps (Pass) 98.59 1.41
Craps (Don't pass) 98.64 1.36
Pai Gow Poker 98.54 1.46
Three Card Poker 96.63 3.37
Video Poker (Jacks or Better) 99.54 0.46

Strategies To Beat The House Edge

There are many people who claim to have a strategy to beat the game of roulette or always win at baccarat. Put bluntly, these are outright lies. The mathematics of each casino game (as shown in the tables above) is always in favour of the house.

While this fact will always be true, there are a couple of tips we want to share so you stand a better chance of winning a little more often.

  • Never American: Avoid the American roulette wheel or any other roulette game which uses the double '0' wheel. This will make a big difference to your bankroll over the lifetime of your play
  • No Side bets: Certain card games, particularly blackjack, can have an abundance of side bets such as perfect pairs and 21 +3. These only help to give more of your money to the casino, so ignore them
  • Learn playing strategies: Games like blackjack, video poker, pai gow, etc that involve you making a decision will have a basic playing strategy for you to follow. This will keep the house edge as low as possible, which is positive for your bankroll in the long-term
  • Overdue jackpots: If you like playing progressive jackpot slots, check back on the game's history to find out when its jackpot usually drops. If you can find games that are overdue, you might ever so slightly narrow down your chances of winning
  • Bonuses and Promotions: There are many stellar casino bonuses and promotions available to new and existing players. These can help to nudge the odds a little in your favour, and with some games that is all you need

Conclusion

Now that you fully understand what house edge means and its relationship with RTP, you can assess casino games more effectively.

As highlighted, it's not simply a case of playing the high RTP games. You must weight up factors such as how much you could win, and then you'll be able to decide if the game is worth playing.

The casino will always maintain the advantage, so gamble responsibly and enjoy the days when you do come out on top.

Last update: 06-01-2020