House Edge Explained: How The Casino Gains An Edge

Every online casino game has a house edge. You may have heard this term, but you may not know what it means – especially when you’re playing different games.

This guide will explain what the house edge means, how to calculate it, and how to reduce it as much as possible.

What is the house edge?

Every online casino game has an inherent house edge, which skews the odds slightly in the casino’s favor. This difference allows the casino to earn a profit margin. The casino can then cover its operational costs and run a viable business.

In this way, the house edge is a fact of life. You’ll see it (in one way or another) on every casino game on US online casinos. That said, the house edge can vary significantly from one game to the next, so this guide highlights some of the games with the lowest edge.

What are the house edges on online casino games?

This chart highlights the house edge on some of the most popular online casino games. Just bear in mind that you often need to apply the correct strategy or place the right bets to benefit from the lowest possible house edge.

Casino GameHouse Edge
SlotsRoughly 4% on average, but can be just 1% on certain games
American roulette5.26%
European roulette2.7%
French roulette1.35%
Classic blackjackRoughly 0.4%, although it depends on the number of decks and other rules
Baccarat1.06% on the banker’s hand, 1.24% on the player’s hand, 14.16% on the tie
CrapsCan range from 0.19% to 16.67%, but depends on how much you can wager at true odds behind an existing pass/don’t pass or come/don’t come bet
Video poker0.46% to 2.31% on average
Ultimate Texas Hold’em0.53% for the main bet
Let It Ride3.51%
Mississippi Stud1.37% if you play with the correct strategy

The house edge can vary significantly depending on which online slots you choose. For example, it is just 1% on Mega Joker and 2% on Blood Suckers.

By contrast, the house edge on Cash Eruption is 5.88%, and the house edge on Tiki Wonders is 6.8%.

The average house edge on an online slot is roughly 4%. Anything lower than 3% is considered attractive.

To be clear, though, slot results are totally random. They are determined by a random number generator, which is tested independently to ensure fairness.

That means some players will win, and other players will lose, but choosing a slot with a low house edge can, in theory, enhance your prospects of success. Also, bear in mind that activating the buy bonus feature on an online slot can change the house edge.

Blackjack is renowned for having a low house edge. It is typically around 0.4% on a classic blackjack game played with a six-deck shoe.

However, it can be even lower for certain games. For example, one of the live dealer blackjack games at Golden Nugget Casino has a house edge of just 0.29%.

You will need to play perfect blackjack if you want to ensure the house edge stays as low as possible. That means you must learn when it is best to hit, stand, double down, and split cards in blackjack.

The house edge on European roulette is 2.7%. You are paid out at 1:1 if you bet on black, but only 18 of the 37 pockets are black. The green zero pocket is what gives the house its 2.7% edge.

Meanwhile, American roulette features a single zero and a double zero, which increases the house edge to a less attractive 5.26%.

The best option is French roulette. It only has a single zero, but a rule called la partage will earn you a 50% rebate if the ball lands on that pocket, cutting the house edge down to just 1.35%.

Most French roulette games feature the la partage rule, but you may occasionally find that it is replaced by a rule called en prison. That gives you the chance to win back your lost bet on the next spin if the ball lands on zero, and it also results in a 1.35% house edge.

You can follow various betting systems when playing roulette, such as the Martingale or the Paroli, but they will not change the inherent house edge built into the roulette wheel.

In craps, the house edge will depend on which bet you place. Some options have a very high edge, including Any 7 (16.67%), Snake Eyes (13.89%), Boxcars (13.89%) and Yo (11.11%).

It is best to avoid those single roll bets and focus on the wagers that carry the lowest house edge: pass/don’t pass or come/don’t come bets.

A pass/come bet has a 1.41% edge, and a don’t pass/don’t come bet has a 1.36% edge. You can then back up your existing pass/come or don’t pass/don’t come bets at “true odds,” with no house edge.

For example, let’s say you have wagered $25 on don’t pass, which has a 1.36% house edge. You may then be permitted to bet 6x that amount at true odds, meaning you can wager $150 with a 0% edge. That takes the total wager to $175 at a house edge of just 0.19%.

There are three main betting options when you play baccarat. You can bet on the banker’s hand to win, the player’s hand to win, or a tie.

The banker’s hand has the lowest house edge (1.06%), followed closely by the player’s hand (1.24%). The tie bet is best avoided, as it carries a 14.16% house edge.

The house edge will depend upon which video poker game you play. For example, a typical Jacks or Better video poker game has a house edge of 0.46%, whereas the house edge on Deuces Wild can range from 2.31% to 1.09%.

Video poker is similar to blackjack, as you will only benefit from the lowest house edge if you make the correct strategic decisions.

Online sportsbooks also build a house edge into their betting lines. For example, you will normally find odds of -110 on either team covering the point spread on a football or basketball game.

That means you need to risk $110 to earn a $100 profit. If there were no house edge, you would only need to risk $100 to win $100.

The house edge on sports betting lines is also known as the juice, or the vigorish. The standard juice is 4.55%, which applies to odds of -110 on either side of a betting line.

Some sportsbooks take a lower house edge than average, which is known as reduced juice. For example, a betting site may offer -105 on either team to cover the spread. If you only need to risk $105 on either team to win $100, the house edge is just 2.46%.

It is important to shop around for the best odds when betting on sports, as that will boost your long-term chances of earning a profit.

You may also find some significant discrepancies in the odds offered by different sportsbooks on the same game. In some circumstances, you can cover one side of the bet at a certain sportsbook and the other side of the bet at a rival sportsbook, ensuring a profit irrespective of who wins. That is known as arbitrage.

How to calculate the house edge

The easiest way to calculate the house edge on a casino game is to find out its Return to Player (RTP) rate. You can then subtract the RTP from 100 to arrive at the house edge.

For example, European roulette has a 97.3% RTP rate. You simply deduct that from 100, leaving you with a house edge of 2.7%.

By contrast, American roulette has a 94.74% RTP rate, resulting in a higher house edge of 5.26%.

Managing the house edge

There are certain steps you can take to ensure the house edge remains as low as possible:

  • Choose the games that have the highest RTP rates. For example, try to play French roulette instead of American roulette and seek out single deck blackjack instead of Zappit Blackjack.
  • Place bets that carry the lowest house edge, such as the banker bet when playing baccarat or don’t pass when playing craps.
  • Avoid sucker bets like Big 6 and Big 8 on a craps table or the tie bet when playing baccarat.
  • Master the optimal strategy when playing games like blackjack.
  • Consider activating the buy bonus feature when playing an online slot if it will reduce the house edge.

The importance of strategy

The house edge will not change when you play simple casino games, such as classic slots and scratchcards. You simply need to press play and hope for the best without the need to make any strategic decisions.

However, some games require you to follow the correct strategy if you want to benefit from the highest RTP rate and, thus, the lowest house edge.

For instance, you will only unlock the true RTP on blackjack if you always split aces and 8s, always double down on a hard 11, stand with a pair of 9s if the dealer is showing a 7, and so on.

You can play games like blackjack for free in demo mode while you master the strategy and then switch to real money play when you’re ready.

House edge FAQ

No, it simply means that the casino holds a slight advantage over its customers. All games at licensed online casinos are independently tested to ensure they are not rigged, and the results they deliver will always be totally random. House edge is just the price of admission.

No, the house edge simply means that the casino can expect to earn a profit over the long term. All results are random, so some players win and others lose. On certain games, your chances of success are almost 50-50.

RTP stands for the theoretical Return to Player rate on a casino game. For example, if an online slot has a 96.5% RTP rate, the average player can theoretically expect to receive a return of $96.50 from $100 wagered.

Yes, all online casino games have an inherent house edge. It may be just 0.1% on certain games, but the odds are always weighted slightly in favor of the casino. If there was no house edge, the online casino would be unable to cover its operational costs or run a viable business.

House edge doesn’t doom you to lose. There is no guarantee that you will win or lose when you play an online casino game. The results are random, so some players win and others lose. You simply need to play games with a low house edge, gamble responsibly, and be prepared to walk away if you are ahead.

Online poker cash games and tournaments do not have a house edge, as you are competing against fellow players. However, the house will typically charge a fee for hosting the game or tournament, which is known as the rake.

Some venues allow you to play poker-style games, such as Mississippi Stud, Let It Ride, or Three Card Poker. Those games do have a house edge, as do video poker terminals.

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