Everybody knows that casino games have a built-in advantage for the house. This is how the big resorts in Detroit, Atlantic City and Vegas were built. When you start to look into how odds of different casino games work, you will find there are strategies you can employ to keep the house edge to a minimum.
This page looks at the most popular casino games in depth. You will see the odds of these games compared below. More importantly, the key factors to look out for in each game to keep that house edge to a minimum are covered.
After the detailed coverage of each game, a more general casino strategy is covered. This is headed ‘the 3 Bs’. It combines basic strategy, bonuses, and bankroll management to optimize your play.
Which casino games have the best odds?
There is a huge gap between the best odds in the casino and the worst. The best games have 99.5% returns. The worst games have returned closer to 90%. Add inside bets for table games, and you will find returns as bad as 80%.
Below is a league table, starting with the casino games with the best odds. Keep in mind that small changes in rules (for example with blackjack) can make a significant difference:
- Online blackjack: 0.46% and up (0.28 with single deck / optimal rules)
- Video Poker: 0.5% and up
- Baccarat: 1.2% (avoiding tie bets)
- Craps: 1.4% (pass line)
- Ultimate Texas Hold’em: 2.2%
- Pai Gow poker: 2.5%
- Real Mondy Slots: 3% up to 10% or worse
- 3-Card Poker: 3.4%
- Caribbean Stud: 5.2%
- Roulette odds: 5.27% / 2.76% (US / European)
- Mississippi Stud: 4.9%
10 of the worst bets you can make in a casino
- Keno in land-based casinos (25% to 35% house edge): Some machines in land-based casinos carry around a 10% house advantage, while online keno typically is in the 5% to 8% range. You could face anywhere from a 25% to 35% house advantage when playing this game in brick-and-mortar casinos.
- Specific number combinations in sic bo (29.2% house edge): Sic bo has plenty of bad bets, but specific single- and double-number combinations are the absolute worst. It initially looks attractive due to its 50:1 payout, but it also has just a 1.4% chance of winning.
- Big Six (up to a 24.07% house edge): The logo bet looks especially attractive due to its 40:1 payout, but it also carries a 24.07% house edge.
- Tie bet in Casino War (18.65% house edge): You merely bet on whether your card will be higher than the dealer’s card. You can also wager on both cards tying, which carries an 18.65% house edge. You’re better off sticking with the basic bet.
- Any 7 bet in craps (16.67% house edge): You win if a 7 is rolled. This bet pays 4:1 and has 5:1 odds of winning. The result is a 16.67% house edge, making it the worst craps bet.
- Tie bet in baccarat (14.36% house edge): The banker (1.06% house edge) and player (1.24%) wagers are two of the best in casino gambling. The tie bet, however, has a 14.36% house advantage. It can improve to a 4.84% house edge, though, if the payout is 9:1 instead of 8:1.
- Craps bets on 2 and 12 (13.89% house edge): The 2 and 12 wagers have the longest odds in craps at 35:1. However, both of these wagers are attractive due to their 30:1 payouts. The 30:1 payoff looks much less attractive, though, when considering the 13.89% house advantage for each bet.
- “Whirl” bet in craps (13.33% house edge): “Whirl” is a craps wager that can win through several dice combinations. This bet is intriguing due to the fact that four numbers can win. But the drawback is that whirl carries a 13.33% house edge.
- Progressive slots (anywhere from 10% to 13% house edge): Excluding the jackpot, progressive slots typically have between a 10% and 13% house edge.
- Blackjack insurance: As we said, blackjack insurance doesn’t insure anything. It’s merely a side bet that becomes available when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. You win 2:1 when the dealer’s hole card is 10, thus completing the natural blackjack. This occurrence only happens 30.7% of the time, though, leading to a 7.4% house advantage.
Things to consider when reviewing the house edge on casino games
There are other factors to consider along with the raw odds of each game. Here are some of the things to keep in mind:
- Difficulty: Some games have a complex strategy which makes it difficult to make optimal decisions. This gives the casino an extra edge.
- Volatility: Some games give you single unit wins and losses. Others have a bigger variance in how often you win and the size of those wins.
- Speed: Slots and video poker is fast, especially when you compare them with the multi-round casino poker games.
What are the odds on casino side bets?
Both live and online casinos in Michigan offer optional side bets with their table games. These are popular in games where you can only win small multiples of your bet. For example, blackjack gives you some double/split opportunities, though for most hands you will either win or lose 1 bet. This makes side bets like Perfect Pairs popular. They give you a shot at winning hundreds of bets. Casino poker games often have side bets with progressive jackpots in Michigan casinos.
Keep in mind that side bets have bad odds compared to the main game. In some games, these can be as bad as 20% of your stake going to the house each time.
Side bets will add some interest/excitement to many games. Knowing that they have terrible odds will not discourage everyone. Knowing the math can at least allow you to make an informed choice.
What are the odds in blackjack games?
A significant variation in the odds, depending on the specific rules of each game. Returns will vary from 99.5% for single-deck games with the best rules – down to 95% for 6:5 games with restrictive rules.
Here are the factors to look out for:
- Blackjack payout: 3:2 used to be the standard, with the less favorable 6:5 now growing for lower buy-in games.
- Dealer action on Soft 17: If the dealer hits on soft-17, you can instantly add 0.2% in favor of the casino.
- Number of decks: Single deck blackjack games have the best odds. Odds get worse as you add decks, up to the maximum 8.
- Splitting/Doubling rules: The more flexibility you have to double, split, and double after split rules, the better the odds for the player.
- Surrender option: Games that allow you to surrender your hand for half of your bet are better for the player.
Casinos make a lot of money from player mistakes at blackjack tables. You can learn how to maximize blackjack odds and learn strategies for the right way to play each combination of your cards. You can even play blackjack online for free to sharpen your skills before jumping into real money play.
Insurance against dealer blackjack is also a bad bet in terms of the odds. This wager costs you approximately 7.5% every time you make it. Nobody likes to lose when the dealer turns up with 21 – however, insuring against this will cost you more money than declining over time.
Side bets including Perfect Pairs, Super 7’s, and 21+3 are popular among blackjack players. These bets can give you huge payouts. They also have bad odds – between 7% and 18% is common. That can be 10x the odds of the main game.
Card counting is used to switch the odds of blackjack games in favor of the player. This is legal, though casinos in Michigan are experienced in spotting it (this is easy, as you need to massively increase your bets when the count is positive). Card counting will not work with online blackjack games.
What are the odds in roulette games?
In roulette, the odds are determined by the number of ‘zero’ segments on the wheel. It does not matter how you layout your bets, the math is built in. One advantage is that you cannot make strategy mistakes – the ball will either land in a segment you bet on or it will not.
Here are the base odds:
- US Roulette Wheel (two zeros): 5.27%
- European Roulette Wheel (single zero): 2.76%
That extra ‘double zero’ makes a huge difference to your long-term returns. If you do find single-zero wheels in Michigan casinos, you should always choose these over the double-zero wheels. Typically, table minimums will be higher for single-zero games.
French roulette uses the European wheel. This variation has the best odds of any roulette game – thanks to different rules. Outside bets on 50-50 chances get a 50% refund if the ball lands on zero, rather than losing. The exact odds depend on what proportion of your bets you place on the inside (number) bets and the outside ones. If you only place outside bets, the house edge for French roulette is 1.35%.
Keep in mind that no betting system will overcome the house edge of roulette over the long term. Stake doubling and other betting sequence strategies can reduce variance over short time frames. In the long run, the odds are baked into the format. Keep in mind that casinos go out of their way to ban card counters – yet welcome players that use betting strategies at the roulette table.
What are the odds in casino poker games?
Casino table games that use poker hand rankings are popular in casinos around Michigan. The odds of these games are favorable – if you know the correct strategy. What makes this complex is that some games have a lot of possible scenarios/combinations to remember. To achieve the best returns, you need to practice and memorize these.
Poker themed games have volatile returns compared to blackjack and baccarat. Hitting a top-ranked poker hand can win you 50 or more times your bet. This is balanced by less frequent smaller wins. You should also be aware that bet sizes will rise as hands progress in many variations. For example, Caribbean Stud needs you to bet 2x your ante to continue in a hand. Ultimate Texas Hold’em needs 4 betting units to raise before the flop.
Side bets in New Jersey casinos are frequently linked to progressive jackpots. Hitting a royal flush can scoop you a big prize – with smaller prizes for a flush or better. As with many side bets in casinos, these wagers have universally bad odds. Enjoy them for the excitement, though keep in mind that the odds are not on your side when you play them.
What are the odds on slot machines?
Slots have a higher house edge than casino table games. They also have a wide range of odds. The worst slots will take 10% (on average) of every bet. The best slot games can be at 97%+ returns. Keep in mind that slots are fast. While you might bet 40 times an hour in a casino poker table game, you can spin this many times in just a couple of minutes playing slots.
Slot machine odds depend on the denomination. Keep in mind that this is a general trend, each slot will have its built-in house edge:
- Penny slots: Worst odds from 90% returns and up
- Nickels/Dimes/Quarters: 92% and up
- Dollar and higher per line: 95% to 97%+
Variance is a big factor when it comes to your returns from slots. Progressive jackpots demonstrate this. Returns over the long run that include a $1 million+ progressive compared to one that does not have a jackpot might be identical. When you exclude the lucky jackpot winners, returns from the jackpot slot for most players are small. Returns for the ‘average’ player of the non-jackpot slot will be more evenly spread on average.
What are the odds of video poker and keno games?
Video poker has excellent odds. This can be over 99% at some casinos. As with the table games, you need to know the correct strategy to get the best returns. Mistakes, for example splitting a pair at the wrong time to draw to a stronger hand, will give extra money to the house.
Pay tables matter for video poker games. Bonus Poker variations give you more money for 4 of a kind hands with aces or small cards. To balance this, the prizes for more common hands are reduced. While this does not affect the odds over the long term, it does make the games more volatile. Multi-hand games draw up to 100 hands based on your initial held cards; this means you bet less per hand – though have a lot more chances to hit a big score.
Whether you play Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, or any of the Ultimate x (multiplier) style games – video poker has great odds – that is, if you learn the perfect video poker strategy.
Keno has terrible odds. Each game can cost anywhere from 5% to 15%+ of your bet. Make sure you are getting the entertainment you paid for, plus a shot at a big prize before playing Keno in Michigan’s casinos.
Three simple ways to tip the casino house edge in your favor
There are ways to reduce the effects of the casino house edge. Following the tips below will make your bankroll last longer – giving you some extra opportunities to go on a hot streak or hit a big win.
- Basic strategy: Whatever game you play, it pays to take time to learn a solid strategy. For some games, this is as simple as knowing when you play and when to fold. For example, in 3-card poker, you raise Q-6-4 and up, and fold everything else. Other games including video poker and blackjack require you to memorize multiple outcomes. Keep in mind that making even small mistakes at the tables can double (or worse) the house edge in many games.
- Bonuses: Retail and online casinos in PA offer player rewards, promotions, and bonuses. At online casinos, you can get no deposit bonuses to check out the games for free. Live casinos have player cards, which track your play, giving you comps, discounts, and free play reward. These types of bonuses make a big difference over the long run. If you play online, it can pay to keep part of your casino bankroll ready to move (for example in an electronic wallet), so you can take advantage of promotions and bonuses as and when they occur.
- Bankroll management: Casino games vary in their volatility. Games like blackjack are less volatile, you will win and lose in single units on most hands. Slots have bigger swings, with casino table games somewhere in between. If you bet too large a proportion of your overall bankroll in a single session, you risk the volatility of the games wiping you out. Conversely, betting too small can reduce the enjoyment of your casino session. Splitting your bankroll into parts – based on the volatility of the games you play – is the optimal strategy.
Final thoughts on the casino house edge and your odds
Casinos would not exist without a house edge built into their games. This is a small percentage that is built into the math of each game. You can win or lose in the short run. Over the long run (millions of hands or spins) then results will revert to this percentage score.
Choosing the right game is the first step to boosting your shot at a winning session. This applies to which game you choose, and also to the variation within games – for example, the specific rules at a blackjack table.
This is not the end of the process. You need to know the optimal strategy for your chosen game – as any errors will result in paying more to the house. With the help of casino bonuses and promotions, plus some basic bankroll management – you will have done everything possible to keep the odds the casino enjoys in their favor to a minimum.