Meaning of House edge

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In casino and gambling games, the term “house edge” refers to the statistical advantage that the casino has over me and you, the players. It represents the percentage of each bet that the casino expects to retain in the long run as profit. Essentially, it’s the built-in advantage that ensures the casino will make money over time.

Here’s an example to illustrate (table with all games below, too):

Let’s say you’re playing a game of roulette, where you bet on the outcome of a spinning wheel with numbered slots. In American roulette, there are 38 slots (numbers 1-36 plus 0 and 00). If you bet on a single number and win, the payout is typically 35 to 1. However, the actual odds of winning are 37 to 1 because there are 38 possible outcomes. The difference between the payout odds and the actual odds represents the house edge.

So, if you bet $1 on a single number in American roulette and win, you’ll receive $35, but the true odds would dictate that you should receive $37. The house edge in this case would be:

(37 – 35) / 37 ≈ 0.054 or 5.4%

This means that, on average, the casino expects to keep about 5.4 cents of every dollar bet on this type of wager in the long run.

Another example is in blackjack. While the exact house edge can vary based on the specific rules of the game and the player’s strategy, casinos typically have a small advantage over players in blackjack. This advantage might range from around 0.5% to 1% or even more, depending on the specific conditions of the game.

Understanding the house edge is important for players because it helps them make informed decisions about which games to play and how to manage their bankroll effectively. Games with lower house edges generally offer better odds for the player, while those with higher house edges are more profitable for the casino in the long term and thus we’re less likely to take home the big bucks, if that’s your aim.

Knowing what your odds of winning per each game in a casino is vitally important.

Based on typical Las Vegas Casino rules, I’ve created a quick reference table below. Note: variations will occur depending on individual House rules and various promotions or special situations. I’ve defined true House Edge as the ratio of the average loss to the initial bet.

GameBet/RulesHouse Edge
CrapsPass + 100X Odds0.02%
CrapsPass + 10X Odds0.18%
CrapsPass + 5X Odds0.32%
BlackjackSingle Deck0.20%
BlackjackDouble Deck0.35%
BlackjackFour Decks0.51%
BlackjackSix Decks0.60%
BlackjackEight Decks0.63%
CrapsPass + 2X Odds0.61%
Three Card PokerAnte & Play1.46%
CrapsPass + 1X Odds0.85%
Spanish 210.82%
Pai Gow Poker2.50%
Three Card PokerPair Plus2.32%
CrapsPlace (to win) 6,81.52%
CrapsField (3:1 on 12)2.78%
Red DogSix decks2.69%
WarSurrender on Ties3.70%
Let it Ride3.51%
Roulette (Single Zero)2.70%
Video Poker6/9/8000.46%
Video Poker6/9/1000-0.07%
Double Down Stud2.67%
Three Card Poker1.46%
Roulette (Double Zero)5.26%
Slot Machines$1003.90%
Slot Machines$255.30%
Slot Machines$55.50%
Slot Machines$.509.10%
Slot Machines$.2510.20%
Slot Machines$.0515.20%
CrapsProposition 716.67%
CrapsBig 6,89.09%
CrapsHard 6,89.09%
CrapsAny craps11.11%
CrapsPlace (to lose) 4,103.03%
CrapsPlace (to lose) 5,92.50%
CrapsPlace (to lose) 6,81.82%
CrapsProposition 3,1111.11%
CrapsProposition 2,1213.89%
CrapsField (2:1 on 12)5.56%
CrapsHard 4,1011.11%
Big Six$111.11%
Big Six$1018.52%
WarGo to war on Ties2.88%
CrapsPlace (to win) 5,94.00%
BaccaratTie (pays 8:1)14.12%
CrapsPlace (to win) 4,106.67%
Big SixJoker/Logo24.07%
CrapsDon’t Pass/Don’t Come1.40%
House edge, from lowest to highest, for typical casino games.
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