The house edge is a figure that expresses the casino’s advantage on a given bet. This number is normally expressed as a percentage. For instance, if the house edge is 5%, this means that the house expects to win 5% of every bet made by the player.
Of course, it is rare that the house will win exactly 5% of any one bet during play. Instead, the house edge tells us how much the house will win on average over the long run. For example, let’s say that a player made 1,000 bets for $1 each – or a total of $1,000 in bets. If that bet had a 5% house edge, the casino would expect to be ahead by about $50 after all of those bets were made.
The gambler’s fallacy is the mistaken belief that a result can be “due” even when the results of each hand, spin, or roll of the dice are independent and random. This belief is often applied to games like roulette, where some players believe that after a long run of red numbers, a black number will now be due.
There are several reasons why this fallacy exists among many gamblers. For example, take something as simple as flipping a coin. Most players know that a fair coin should land on heads and tails equally over the long run, with the results coming in at about 50% on each side. Thus, if a long run of tails occurs, many believe that some heads have to come in order to even the results out.
However, this is not the case. The probability of heads and tails only applies to future coin flips, not to those that have taken place in the past. The coin does not have a “memory” of what side it landed on recently, and will not change its future results to account for this. In the long run, the coin will come close to landing on each side 50% of the time simply due to math; after hundreds or thousands of flips, the streaks of heads or tails will end up having only a tiny influence on this number.
While the exact odds of each game will depend on the rules used in a given casino or on a player’s knowledge of the rules and strategies necessary for optimal play, there are a number of games that tend to offer the best odds to players in most cases. Games that fall into this category include blackjack, craps, and video poker (especially if the video poker machines are using the best possible paytables).
On the other end of the spectrum, keno is known as a game that offers bad odds to the player – though this is much less true with online keno, where the odds tend to be similar to pokies and many table games. See casino games with the best odds for more information.
While this is certainly a generalization, online casinos tend to offer better odds on most games than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. This is likely due to the fact that it is less expensive to operate an online casino, meaning that casino sites can afford to give better odds to players while still staying in business.
This is especially true on pokies and in keno, where live venues will often have huge profit margins, but where online casinos can give often you the same kinds of odds you’ll find on table games like roulette.
In poker, there is no house edge, as the casino does not play against the players. Instead, players must instead compete against each other – and since poker is a game of skill where no player ever knows all the cards in play, the odds are constantly shifting.
That’s why serious poker players often talk about “expected value” when talking about poker odds. The expected value of any bet (in any game) is the amount you expect to win or lose on average in the long run by making that bet. In poker, these calculations often require a bit of guesswork, as players must attempt to determine what hands their opponents might have, or how likely they might be to fold rather than to call a bet. Professional players make a profit in poker by making bets that have a positive expectation and avoiding those with a negative expectation.
In a live casino or club, the odds on pokies can vary tremendously, with higher-stakes pokies generally giving better odds than low-cost machines. However, a good rule of thumb is that players can expect somewhere between 85% and 95%, depending on the machine. The odds in online pokies are somewhat better, as it is rare that a game will return less than 90% to a player, with most online pokies offering around 95% (sometimes higher when a progressive jackpot is available). See our page about how to win at pokies for more information. You might also be interested in our page about roulette odds and probability.
If you look around the Internet, you’ll find plenty of different systems offered that claim to be able to beat the odds and give you the advantage against the casino. While we don’t have the time to fully analyse every system out there, it’s safe to say that these systems can’t change the odds. And while some of these systems are harmless and free, others are outright scams that charge you money for “advice” that won’t help you at all.
In most casino games, all of the bets you make will come with a negative expectation. It is impossible to combine bets that have a negative expectation and come out with an advantage at the end. While some systems may be fun to play (and in most cases, they won’t make your odds of winning any worse), don’t expect them to turn you into a winner. You make your own luck.
There are two main ways in which you can help improve your chances at any casino you choose to play in. First, you can stick to games that generally offer good odds to players, such as the ones we’ve already mentioned. By avoiding games with especially high house edges, you’ll give yourself a better chance to win during each session you play.
Secondly, many casino games include a strategic component. If you plan to play in casinos, it is well worth your time to learn the strategies for these games inside and out. This will ensure that you get the best possible odds each time you play, cutting the casino’s edge down to a minimum.