Every Odds Check You Need to Make Before You Play Casino Games
Odds are pretty simple. Or at least they seem so to hardened casino players and online gambling fans, who rattle them off with ease. But this is actually quite a complex area, and the way odds and probability intersect is one the key mathematical factors in how a casino works.
Getting a decent understanding of odds, how they work, and the game odds you need to know is a great first step towards a safer and more rewarding online gambling experience.
What’s Going to Happen?
Odds are a couple of things: they are the probability that something will happen, and they are the pay-out on a bet. It’s in the difference between the two that the casino makes its profits.
If you have an evenly weighted die with no external influences on it then each number on it has a 6 to 1 chance of landing face-up on each throw. If a casino offered a 6 to 1 bet on this die throw it would lose money. Winning bets return the stake remember, and – in the long term – the probability of the die landing on each number would be matched by the numbers of winning bets.
These two sets of odds are sometimes called the “true odds”, which is the actual probability, and it contrasts with the odds paid by a casino. That difference is the “house edge”.
Frankly, you cannot find a way around this. The truth is that the casino industry is very profitable, and it is very profitable because it is designed to be so, by, for example, paying 35 to 1 odds in roulette for an event that has a 37 to 1 chance of happening.
Good House Edge
You should be able to see the house edge of most of the games you play at an online casino. Slots and other electronic games should publish a theoretical return to player (RTP) that records the proportion of money that should be returned to players over a game’s lifetime. The inverse of this figure is the house edge.
If you play games with a higher RTP and a lower house edge you will lose your money more slowly. You can’t argue with the maths!
Let’s have a look at some odds in casino games.
Baccarat has long had an image as a game for high-rollers, but in truth, that’s more a matter of its ambience than any actual mathematical facts. Anyone can play and enjoy baccarat, which comes in a variety of forms, of which punto banco is the most common, with just a few minutes reading the rules or on a demo game.
You bet on whether the banker or the player will win or whether there will be a tie. There is a commission on banker bets.
These are the odds:
- Betting on the player pays out at 1:1 and the house edge is 1.24%.
- Betting on the banker pays out at 1:1 with a house edge of 1.06% that includes the commission.
- Betting on the tie pays out at 8:1, which is a huge house edge of 14.36%.
Hitting 21! It’s one of the simplest games to understand, and one of the few casino games that can have a genuine skill factor. Rule variants and game styles make it hard to predict every game (and you should always know what game you’re getting into), but the fundamental odds remain.
Betting pay-outs are usually:
- Player win – 1:1
- Blackjack – 3:2
- Insurance bets – 2:2
And in various variants, this is the standard house edge.
Classic: 0.13%; Vegas with a single deck: 0.35%; Atlantic City: 0.36%; Spanish: 0.38%; Vegas Downtown: 0.39%; European: 0.42%; Big Five: 0.47%; Double Exposure: 0.69%; Super Fun 21: 0.94%.
That should make a number of decisions for you. It’s also worth studying a beginner’s guide to blackjack strategy to have a plan for what you’re going to do in certain situations rather than relying on your gambler’s instinct.
Craps scares the crap out of some people. Although it’s a game that is commonly played on the streets it’s as sophisticated and complex as any gambling game, with a ton of bets to pick from. If there’s any game you need to know the rules of, it’s craps.
Here are some common bets with their house edge:
- Pass Line (Come) has a house edge of 1.41% on a 1:1 pay-out.
- Don’t Pass (Don’t Come) has a 1.36% house edge on a 1:1 pay-out.
- Odds 4 or 10 has no house edge and pays 2 to 1.
- Odds 5 or 9 has no house edge and pays 3 to 2.
- Odds 6 or 8 has no house edge and pays 6 to 5.
- Odds against 4 or 10 has no house edge and pays 1 to 2.
- Odds against 5 or 9 has no house edge and pays 2 to 3.
- Odds against 6 or 8 has no house edge and pays 5 to 6.
- A bet on 6 or 8 has a house edge of 1.52% and pays 7 to 6.
No house edge looks good, but all those bets come with size limits, and can only be made in a part of the game by players who already have a house-edge bet placed elsewhere. There is still good value to be found in this complex game.
The archetypal roulette game comes in two common varieties, European and American. European tables have a better return because they have fewer slots in the wheel. The difference is big, with American wheels promising a 5.16% house edge against the 2.7% of European tables.
These are European odds:
- Single number 35 to 1 pay.
- Two numbers split pays 17 to 1.
- Three numbers, a street, pays 11 to 1.
- A Corner, which is 4 numbers, pays 8 to 1.
- Six numbers pays 5 to 1.
- A column, or dozen, pays 2 to 1.
- The 50/1 chances odds or even, red/black, low numbers or high numbers pay 1 to 1.
Simple mathematics shows you that these bets are all paying out less than the odds of the event that is the subject of the bet happening.
French roulette has a couple of saving rules that returns part of a lost bet to players, and that’s another way to save money.