Why Beginners Need To Know About House Edge

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BetMGM Oct 23, 2023, 5:49 AM

One of the most important things to know when visiting a casino, either online or in person, is the house edge, also known as casino advantage or house take. With this information, you can select the online casino table games and slots that suit you best, plan your betting strategy, optimize your bankroll management, and play responsibly. In short, the casino house edge is a golden key to raising your gaming experience to another level. Keep reading to discover what casino advantage is all about and why it makes such a difference.

Casino House Edge 101

The easiest way to get to grips with the essence of house edge is to see it as the flip side of the return to player (RTP) percentage. Also known as the theoretical payout percentage, RTP helps you to understand how much of your casino spend you can expect to get back over a long period of play. Suppose you’re playing the popular Bloodsuckers slot, which has an RTP of 2%. On average, the game should return $98 of every $100 you deposit.

And the leftover $2? That’s the profit the casino can expect to make over the same period, commonly known as house edge.

These figures are calculated over millions of spins, so you shouldn’t expect your returns to correspond exactly over shorter periods. However, they do provide a reliable estimate of how profitable a specific game is to the casino.

Five Ways To Use the House Edge to Your Advantage

Now that you know what the casino house edge is all about, you can put it to use in multiple ways. At the end of the day, a good understanding of the concept should help you to have a better online casino gaming experience.

1. Game Selection

Casino advantage is key when it comes to selecting online casino games. If you’re looking to play for as long as possible at the lowest expense, a simple rule of thumb is to select games with the lowest house edge. Bloodsuckers is one of the most popular online slots for that very reason.

Of course, there are other factors to consider when it comes to online slot selection, including gameplay and volatility, but the casino’s edge is what counts most in terms of affordability. Beyond slots, the casino advantage of casino table games such as blackjack, pontoon, roulette, craps, and baccarat can be as low as 0.5%, 0.4%, 1.35%, 1.41%, and 1.01%.

2. Bet Selection

Casino advantage also plays an important role when it comes to bet selection. For some games, it varies according to the bet. Craps is a good example. This classic dice-based game has a fascinating range of potential bets with the house take (how much bang you get for your buck from a specific game) ranging from as little as 0% per bet (for the taking odds and laying odds bets) to a maximum of 2.78% (for the big 6 and 8, hard 6 and 8, and hard 4 and 10 bets).

In baccarat, the casino advantage is 1.06% on a banker bet and 1.24% on a player bet. As a result, most casinos take a commission on winning banker bets.

Sometimes, the casino advantage can seem counter-intuitive. Roulette, for instance, has a great variety of bets to choose from, ranging from straight-up bets with payout odds of +1,700 to outside bets (red or black, odd or even, high or low) with payout odds of ±100, and multiple options in between. Given all this variety, you’d expect the house take to vary too, but it doesn’t. This has important implications for strategy and bankroll management.

3. Variant Selection

Most casino games come with different variants that have different house rules. These, in turn, can affect the house advantage. Roulette is a prime example. There are two main roulette variants, European and American. They have almost identical rules, except for one important difference: European roulette wheels have a single zero pocket while American roulette wheels have two zero pockets. Since you lose your bet if the ball lands in a zero pocket, you have a better chance of winning on a European wheel than on an American one. This is why the house take for European roulette is 2.70%, while it’s 5.26% for American roulette.

Some European roulette wheels also have special rules: En Prison and La Partage. These apply to even-money bets only. Say you place a bet on red to win. If the ball lands on zero and the En Prison rule is in play, you don’t lose your stake. Instead, it gets pushed to the next spin. If La Partage is in place, you simply get half your stake back. La Partage decreases the casino advantage from 2.6–1.3%, but only for even-money bets.

Another game where the casino house edge can vary from one variant to another is blackjack. Factors affecting the casino advantage in this classic card game include the number of decks of cards used, whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17, whether the player can double after a split, whether the player can split or resplit, whether there’s a surrender rule, and how much blackjack pays.

As you can see, it pays to do your research.

4. Bankroll Management

Your bankroll is the money that you set aside to create a balance for recreational gambling purposes. There are different bankroll management strategies, but as a general rule, it involves setting a number that you can afford to bet (and potentially lose) each time. Betting in units of 1–2% of your total bankroll is a common approach.

House take and bankroll management are both important for strategy. For example, you read earlier that all roulette bets have the same house advantage. That means, if your bankroll is deep enough to cope with the variance, you can expect the same percentage returns over time from high-risk and low-risk bets. Advanced players use this knowledge to spread their bets strategically.

5. Responsible Gaming

Casino advantage also reminds players that, in the long run, the house always wins. Recreational players should never expect to make money from their gambling activities. Think of the casino advantage as the price you pay to play the game and enjoy yourself. Taking this knowledge on board is the key to a more rewarding experience.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.