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What Is The Casino House Edge?

Imagine a world where we could go to the casino to gamble on our favourite games and the casino didn't have an edge - unfortunately this world is unlikely to ever exist. Like any other business providing a service for the public, there has to be something in it for them and the house edge is where the casino generates a decent amount of their revenue. Understanding this allows you to maintain a realistic approach when gambling and should keep you level headed when things are going badly.

Why Do Casinos Have An Edge?

The main reason why casinos have a house edge is simply just to make money on the service they are providing. Giving the public an opportunity to gamble and make money off the casino is never going to be that straight forward, otherwise casinos wouldn't exist.

The house edge essentially keeps the casino functioning over a significant period of time, without it, there wouldn't be casinos. Although this edge does exist, it only comes into affect over the long-term which gives customers the opportunity to win money in the short-term, which is what attracts people to play.

Taking a serious approach in gambling requires you to study the specific games and try to create an edge for yourself, which can be dangerous as casinos will look out for people who are trying to exploit them. Remember, whilst anything can happen in the short term even if the odds are against you, casinos having a slight edge is better than casinos not existing.

Which Games Have The Biggest Edge?

The edge differs between the different games available at the casino, some relatively high and some the complete opposite. The following table shows the house edge for some of the popular games at casinos.

House Edge Maximum Payout Per Unit Bet
Roulette 5.26% 35-to-1
Blackjack 0.5% 1.5-to-1
Craps 0.8% 2-to-1
Slot Machines(Progessive) 5-17% x-to-1
Baccarat 1.06% 1-to-1

As you can see from the table above, the house edge differs game-to-game and doesn't damage the customer's potential winnings by that much.

For example; if you were to play Roulette and bet $1 every spin, then the casino will make 5¢ as a profit on that bet. It might seem like a large amount for one bet but over a huge sample, this edge isn't that significant. Additionally, the casino isn't going to make money all of the time in one night, they won't necessarily take a 5.26% cut off your bets if you are winning at the table, as you will be making money off them. But the casino knows that they are guaranteed to make that 5.26% in the long term. At first it may seem like you are being treated unfairly but they only take a few percent on each bet on average which is acceptable for the services they provide to their customers.

However, some casino games are different to Roulette when it comes to house edge. As you can see above, the house edge for Blackjack is set at a default of 0.5%. Although, this can be even higher if you are playing without knowledge of the game or a specific strategy, something that catches out novice gamblers.

Therefore, researching the game and figuring out a basic strategy will guarantee that the edge stays at 0.5% and doesn't increase. This doesn't apply to games such as Roulette, as the game doesn't have a strategy and will have the same odds on every spin. If you want to play at the casino against a low house edge, then learning the more difficult games is the best way to utilise that.

Is There A Difference Between Online And Offline?

In general, there seems to be a perception that online casino games have a bigger house edge than offline games. Maybe the lack of human element magnifies a losing streak and can convince people that the online games are played with a huge disadvantage against the house.

But this isn't the case, online and offline games have the same house edge and the games are exactly the same. The advantage with online games is that you don't have to try and squeeze past people to place a bet or wait for a new table to open. The games are available at the click of a button and you can play for as long as you please, but the house edge will always remain the same.

Find out more about the house edge at About.com