LONDON – GAMING – A good casino player knows that it isn’t all about winning or losing. Whether you’re enjoying a night out at a bricks and mortar casino or playing at one of the many casino sites online, it’s best to have the attitude that you’re playing for fun, rather than to make money.
At the same time though, it always feels better to win than to lose, and an enjoyable session is one where you can at least maintain the illusion that you’re beating the odds. Those odds are better for some games than for others, and if you’re playing for money, it certainly pays to understand what those odds are, and also what the house edge is on any given game. That isn’t to say that games with a high house edge should always be avoided; after all, you’re playing for fun, so of course, go to the game that you find most enjoyable and appealing. But knowledge is power, and furthermore, it’s often possible to lower the house edge (and to increase your chances of winning) through strategy and technique.
Understanding house edge
The house edge is the slight handicap that is built into every casino game and which gives the casino its profit. That is not a secret nor are the players being cheated; it’s a mathematical calculation representing the amount of every bet made that will go directly to the house on average over time, expressed as a percentage. The house edge can either mean that your chances of winning are slightly worse than the “true odds” of a game, or that the money you win is marginally less than it would be if it were based on the real odds.
For example, the true odds of a coin toss would be 50-50. You would have a 50-50 chance of winning, and if you bet one dollar on heads and heads came up, you would win back two dollars- your original dollar plus a dollar prize (usually from the person who bet on tails). Factor in a house edge and you may only get back $1.95, with 5 cents of the losing bet going to the house.
Of course, a profit margin has to exist as it does in any kind of business and a proportion of that profit is ploughed back into the casino industry. Providing high-tech online games, with exciting graphics and smooth play, does not come cheap. In addition, leading online casinos, such as 888casino, also provide forums where the users can communicate with each other, express opinions and pass on tips. The blog pages at 888casino also feature useful teaching aids for budding poker players, advice on playing online slots, strategies, games guides, and interesting articles about casinos and professional players.
Return to player
The above example is the simplest possible example of how the house edge works; with most games, the variants are more complex, and the amounts vary. What you need to know is that the smaller the house edge on a game is, the better it is for you as a player. The inverse of house edge is the Return to Player percentage or RTP. If the RTP is listed as 97%, then the house edge is 3%. Obviously, in that case, you should look for the game with the highest RTP.
As far as games of chance go, blackjack has one of the lowest house edges, and although this card game is mostly based on luck, there are ways that a skilled player can improve the odds considerably. The basic rules are deceptively simple: playing against the dealer, each player attempts to get as close to 21 by adding up the value of their cards, but without going ‘bust’ by exceeding that figure. However, different games may have different rules that complicate the game (making it more interesting) and that affect your chances of winning.
Another way to greatly increase your chances of winning at blackjack is to use basic strategy. That is basically a set of recommended actions in any situation- whether to hit, stand or double down (if allowed) depending on your current hand and other factors. A more controversial tactic to win at Blackjack is card counting, which while not strictly cheating is often frowned upon if it is detected.
Blackjack usually has a house edge of 3%, however, with some game variants, it can be as low as 1%. Using basic strategy can bring the house edge down as low as 0.2%. Online players have the advantage here, as they take advantage of the wide variety of different games available, choosing to play those that offer the best odds, and that have rules with which they feel most comfortable.
Slots are known to have a high house edge, though this can vary greatly from one machine to the next. Online slots tend to have a lower house edge than physical machines, with the best games having an edge as low as 3%. In many cases, the house edge on slots is 15-20%. The fact that these games remain massively popular (especially online) is down to the huge variety on offer and the sheer enjoyment of playing them. No skill or prior experience is necessary, and sites offer a range of bonuses, promotions, and rewards that make playing more worthwhile. The only way to improve your odds though is to bet more substantial amounts, which does increase the chances of a pay-out- though obviously, you should never bet more than you can afford to lose.
A roulette wheel offers the easiest odds to understand, although these vary according to whether you are playing American or European roulette. The European game, with one ‘0’ slot and 35 numbered slots, has a house edge of 2.7%, whereas the American game adds a second ’00’ slot and increases the edge to 5.26%. If you bet on red or black, odds or evens, high or low then you have a 47.3% chance of winning, against true odds of 50-50. Betting on an individual number (straight up) the odds against you are 36-1 (European) and 37-1 (American), but if you win the house will pay out at 35-1 in both cases.
Unlike most table games, Baccarat offers the best odds in its simplest form, when you can bet either on the player or the banker. Betting on the banker gives the best house edge (1%) but betting on the player is nearly as good (1.2%). Just be sure to avoid betting on a tie (14%) or a pair (10-11%).
These are some of the best casino games to play for enjoyment and a good chance of winning. I haven’t mentioned poker in detail as this is a game of skill where your chances actually depend on how expert you are. For beginners, blackjack, baccarat, and roulette offer some of the best odds and are relatively simple to follow, while slots are great fun and can pay out considerable jackpots if you’re lucky.