Casino Games | The Best Games to Play | House Edge Explained

Casino Games: House Edge and the Best Games to Play

Casino games are plentiful, especially when you play at online casinos. But which games should you focus on if you want to win? The short answer is those that give the casino the lowest advantage over the player. That advantage is known as the ‘house edge’, and in this article, we’ll explain what the house edge is and how it works. Then, with that understanding in place, we’ll highlight the games that give the casino the smallest advantage so that you can give yourself the best chance of winning!

What is House Edge?

The casino house edge is a percentage figure. It represents how much profit the casino will make, on average, from every dollar that is placed in bets. For example, an online slot game might have a Return to Player (RTP) figure of 96%. The other 4% would be the house edge. This means that, for every $100 bet on that slot, the casino can expect to keep $4. This is a long-term figure, of course. However, it is an accurate and reliable one because it is based on the mathematics of the game being offered.

In casino games where different kinds of bets can be placed, the house edge can also vary from bet to bet. A player who wants to give him or herself the best chance of winning should therefore be aware of those differences, and not just the overall house edge.

Because the house edge determines how much the casino can expect to keep for every dollar bet, it is a good guide for anyone who wants to choose a game to play. Casino games and bets with a low house edge will be best for players. At the same time, casino games and bets with a high house edge will be worst for players.

With that key understanding of the house edge and how it works in mind, let's now take a look at some typical house edge figures for the most popular casino games around.

Casino Games House Edge

Casino GameHouse Edge
Video Poker0.46%
Blackjack0.15-1.5%
Texas Hold'em2.19% (ante)
Baccarat1-14.3%
Craps1.4-16.6%
Pai Gow Poker1.50%
Roulette2.7-5.2%
Slots1-10%
Caribbean Stud Poker3-5%
Keno25%
Casino Game House Edge Figures

Casino Games with a Low House Edge

We all have two main objectives when we bet on casino games, and those are to have fun and hopefully win some money at the same time. In those games that involve an element of skill, we can obviously improve our chances of winning by playing strategically. However, the simplest way to give ourselves the best chance of winning is by focusing on those games that have the lowest house edge. That being the case, we will now highlight the casino games with the lowest house edge so that you can focus on them the next time you visit your favorite operator.

Slots

The outcome of any spin of an online slots game is determined by Random Number Generator or RNG. This makes such outcomes unpredictable, and not something that can be influenced by either the casino or the player, which makes them fair for all. It also means that slots are pure casino games of chance, and skill cannot improve your chances of winning by even a small amount.

All slots have a stated RTP figure, which is the average percentage of money that is returned to the player. To determine the house edge for a slot, simply take 100 and deduct the RTP figure. A slot with an RTP of 97% would therefore give the casino a house edge of 3% (100 - 97 = 3).

Most online slots have an RTP of 90% or greater, which means that the house edge will be 10% or lower, with the majority having a house edge of 5% or less. This makes slot games pretty good for players, and while most slot payouts aren't life-changing, their maximum payouts can be very impressive. For a more detailed look at this type of game - and at the important topic of volatility - see our separate article on How to Play Slots.

Roulette

Roulette is one of the most popular casino games at both land-based and online venues, and it is also one of the most traditional. It comes in two main versions: American Roulette and European Roulette (which is sometimes referred to as French Roulette).

The key thing to remember about this game is that the American version is worse for players than its European counterpart. To be more specific, American Roulette has a house edge of 5.26%, while European Roulette has a house edge of just 2.7%.

If you're wondering why the house edge is almost twice as big for American Roulette, the answer is because the American Roulette wheel has two zeros on it. A European Roulette wheel has just one zero. And because the zero causes all other bets to lose, American Roulette gives the casino more chance of winning.

While you might think that European Roulette is only available in Europe, that isn't the case. The good news for players is that European Roulette can be played at almost all online casinos, so if you want to keep the house edge low when playing this popular game, be sure to choose the European version. For more information, see How to Play Roulette.

Blackjack

Generally speaking, Blackjack is one of the best games in the casino as far as the house edge is concerned. However, the actual house edge will depend on the number of decks that are used in the game. The more decks that are in play, the better it is for the casino. That's because more decks mean that there are more chances of drawing a high-value card, and that is something that, over the long term, helps the casino more than the player.

For the reason just given, single-deck games that pay 3 to 2 for a Blackjack are best for players, having a house edge of just 0.15%. These are harder to find than multi-deck games, but they can be found at online casinos if you look around for them. Also look for a game that forces a dealer to hit a soft 17, as that will also help your chances of success.

It should be noted that the Insurance bet that is offered in Blackjack is never worth taking. That's because it has a house edge of 5.8% in a single-deck game and even more in multi-deck games. See How to Play Blackjack for more information.

Craps

Craps is another casino game that has one of the lowest house edges around. It is as low as 1.4% for pass, don't pass, and come and don't come bets. These are far and away the most common wagers in the game, most likely because they are simple to understand and accessible to play. You can read more about them at How to Play Craps.

Players are even able to reduce this advantage by opting for the free odds bet, which does not carry an edge at all. Know that if you do exactly that, the game offers 2x the odds you can get, allowing you to cut the edge to around 0.83% and give you the best possible chance of winning.

Baccarat

In the game of Baccarat, bettors choose whether to bet on who has the highest score out of either the Player or the Banker. Here, the word Player does not refer to you; rather, it is the designated opposition to the Banker. If that sounds confusing then take a look at How to Play Baccarat and all will become clear.

You can also bet on the rarer outcome of a Tie before both sides draw cards. Whoever has a total that is closer to 9 will win the hand. Despite the fact that all bets on the Banker come with a commission fee attached, the smart move is still to bet on the Banker. This is because there are stringent rules applied to the drawing of extra cards, most of which are designed to raise the house edge and be advantageous for the Banker's hand.

The house edge for both Player and Banker bets are low, but avoid betting on the Tie at all costs. Like the insurance bet in Blackjack, the Tie bet in Baccarat has a much higher house edge than any other, and will only harm your performance over the long term.

Video Poker

Video Poker games come in a variety of versions, including the ever-popular Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. As you'll already know if you've read our guide on How to Play Video Poker, skill plays a role in this game, so the more skillfully you play, the lower the already low house edge will be.

Like online slots, video poker games usually have a Return to Player figure associated with them. Those figures will be based on you making the best possible decisions at all times, so don't be surprised to see RTPs of 99.5% or even higher. In some cases, the RTP can actually exceed 100%, which means that you'd be expected to make a profit over the long term if you play according to proper strategy.

Of course, as we said earlier, you have to remember that RTP and house edge figures are averages that apply over the long term. Having a video poker machine with an RTP of 100% doesn't automatically mean that you'll break even in any particular session. It only means that you could expect to break even after a few million hands. In the short term, you could win or lose money, as in any other game.

Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is a casino game played against the dealer rather than other players. As explained in How to Play Pai Gow Poker, this game gives players two chances to win. That's because the aim is to make two winning hands (a five-card hand and a two-card hand) out of the seven cards that are dealt to you.

To win, both hands must beat the two hands to the dealer. If they don't you will either lose or tie. These ties are fairly commonplace, which gives Pai Gow Poker a lower house edge (2.84%) than many other casino games and perhaps the best of the poker variants.

Three Card Poker

As the name suggests, hands in this game consist of just three cards. Three cards will be dealt to you, and three to the dealer. The dealer's cards are face-down until players place a play bet equal to the initial ante. 

There is no further drawing in the game and no more betting rounds; just a good old-fashioned three-card hand comparison. However, the dealer can only qualify with a Queen high card or better, which increases the odds for the player. If the dealer doesn't qualify, there is an even money payout on the ante alone. Returns are far more likely than in regular poker, although standard poker strategies should serve you well. 

The house edge in Three Card Poker depends on how well you play. It could be lower than 2.5% if you play carefully, or it could be higher than 7% if you don't. That being the case, this is a game that you'll want to study and play strategically to give yourself the best chance of winning.

Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean Stud Poker is an online casino game that plays a lot like regular stud poker, from which it actually derives. However, you play against the house rather than other players, so there's no bluffing involved.

To play, just place an ante bet and you'll be dealt five cards. The dealer will also take five and leave one showing face up. Once you have taken a look at the visible dealer card, you then need to decide if it's worth playing on, folding or forfeiting the ante. Because dealers require an Ace-King to qualify, players get good odds even when they are only holding high carded hands.

Like Three Card Poker, this is a game in which you can reduce the house edge by playing skillfully. Play well and it could be lower than 5%. Play badly and it could be much higher. See our guide on How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker for further information.

Play Low House Edge Casino Games Today!

The key takeaway from all of this is that the best way of maximizing your chances of winning is to focus on casino games that have a low house edge.

There are many thousands of games that can be played at online casinos, but don't assume that they will all give you the same chance of success. Instead, check the RTP and/or house edge figures and concentrate on those that give the casino the least advantage.

This approach doesn't guarantee that you will win, of course. But it will minimize the odds of you losing, and that's just as important!

Casino Games: House Edge and the Best Games to Play FAQ

What is the casino house edge?
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The casino house edge is the mathematical advantage that the casino has over those who play its games. It effectively ensures that the odds of success are on the side of the casino, and makes it possible for casinos to stay in business for the long term.

Do all casino games have the same house edge?
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No. Every game has its own rules and betting opportunities, so the math of each game is different.

How do I find out what the house edge is?
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At online casinos, the house edge is normally published on the rules page relating to the game you are playing.

Does skill make a difference to the house edge?
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In games where skill plays a role (such as Blackjack and Video Poker) the house edge will vary according to the skill of the player. In these games, the advertised house edge is normally based on them being played with a high level of skill. Play less skillfully and the house edge will be higher.

Does house edge vary as different casinos?
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The house edge is determined by the rules of the game and the odds paid for winning certain bets. If the exact same game is played at several casinos then the house edge will also be the same. However, if there are rule variations between casinos, those can result in house edge variations.

Does the house edge mean that I will always lose?
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No. The house edge is a percentage figure that tells you how much a casino can expect to keep from every dollar bet over the long term. In the short term there can be plenty of variation. This makes it possible to win money from high house edge games and also to lose money from low house edge games.

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