The House Edge – A Guaranteed Win for the Casinos

Here’s why it’s important to know the house edge, which is the amount of money the casino expects to win from you over time when you play the games. The bigger the edge, the more they win. The smaller the casino advantage the longer your money may last. You are at risk for a quicker loss on any type of bet within a game that has a house edge of more than 2%.

Here is the house edge, AKA casino advantage, for some of the most popular gambling games in casinos today:

Roulette

There are 38 numbered positions that players can wager on in a number of ways. Betting a single number and winning will net you a payoff of 35 to 1. Therefore the casino makes a 2 unit profit for each win. 2/38 = 5.26% advantage for the house. Your expected loss over time is $5.26 for every $100 wagered. on a single number.

Craps

Type of bet Edge

Pass Line 1.4%

Place 6, 8 1.5%

Any Seven (one roll wager) 14.36%

Baccarat

Bet Bank. 1.06%

Bet Player 1.24%

Bet Tie 14.38%

Basic Blackjack

By far the best table game as long as the player uses correct basic strategy and the house offers favorable rules such as:

Blackjack pays 3 to 2

Dealer stands on soft seventeen

Double after splitting pairs

Double on any 2 cards

Re-split pairs

Surrender allowed

Look for these rules and you’ll enjoy a house edge of about 0.5%.

It’s worth noting that many casinos have switched to hitting soft 17. This increases the edge to 0.7% but it’s still a good game. Be aware of games that pay only 6 to 5 for a player blackjack instead of the customary 3 to 2. Simply put, a 3/2 game nets a player $15 for a $10 bet, whereas a 6/5 game only pays $12. That’s a -$3 loss for every blackjack! Not good. Unfortunately, the Vegas strip is converting to 6/5 games.

Blackjack Variants

Two low edge blackjack variants are:

Spanish 21. 0.7%

Blackjack Switch 0.6%

Carnival Games

Remember the infamous words of the carnival showman P.T. Barnum? ” There’s a sucker born every minute”. A number of games are dubbed carnival games because of a higher house edge than the traditional offerings of blackjack and baccarat. They are:

Texas Holdem Bonus 2.0%

Three Card Poker 2.3%

Ultimate Texas Holdem 2.5%

Four Card Poker 2.8%

Casino War 2.9%

Crazy 4 Poker 3.4%

Let it Ride 3.5%

Mississippi Stud Poker 4.9%

Caribbean Stud Poker 5.2%

Also, be mindful of the optional bonus or side bets at the tables. Most games have them, including those with a low edge.The winning payout amounts look very attractive and players can win even if the original wager is lost to the house. However the house edge jumps to double digits on most of these wagers.

Sports Gambling

When betting on sports games, the house takes a “vig”, slang for vigorish, when bettors make an even money wager. For example, a $10 bet on the Buffalo Bills, vs. the Miami Dolphins will cost $11. Player wins $10, the house keeps $1.

Slot Machines

It seems the everybody loves the penny slots these days. Multi-coin, multi-line with striking themes, graphics and bonus features. Players can wager as little as fifteen cents up to three or four dollars per spin. the edge on the pennies ranges between 10 & 15%! The hold on dollar and higher machines is much lower, ranging from 2 to 5%. If you’re going to bet max on the pennies, you’re better off playing the bucks.

If you like machines study up on video poker. Learn how to read the pay tables that are posted on each machine. There is a skill element to video poker. Choosing the right game can drop the house edge to less than 1%. Good Luck!

Wisconsin Casinos, The Top Three

I have been gambling in Wisconsin since I was 16 years old! I snuck in for two years straight. After legally gambling at the age of 18 for a few months they moved the age limit up to 21. So I was forced to sneak in for a few more years. I only played blackjack. I hate slots and it would be my luck to hit a jackpot and not be able to claim it because I was under age. So, since the age of 16 I have played at nearly every casino in Wisconsin. I am a diehard gambler and many times when I was just 16 I would drive 2 hrs to Ho Chunk casino. All the time at risk of not getting in as I was only 16!

So lets start with my favorite and move down.

1. Oneida Bingo and Casino in Greenbay WI.

Oneida is like Las Vegas in Wisconsin. Well not quite, but they do have nearly all the games Vegas offers. Blackjack, Craps, Let it Ride, Roulette, Caribbean Stud, Bingo, POKER! And a sports book. Poker and the Sports book are just down the road at their Mason St casino and you can take a shuttle back and forth. Oneida is one of the only casinos in Wisconsin to offer all of these games.

2. Potowotomi Bingo and Casino

The “Pot” has Blackjack and Craps, Let it Ride, Roulette and POKER. They are however always packed. Located near downtown Milwaukee and being a newer casino they are always busy. It can be difficult to get on a table. They do have a nice little poker room. They also have some great food at the “Firepit” sporstbar and grill.

3. HoChunk Bingo and Casino in Wisconsin Dells

“The Chunk” was great for a while. At one time they had the first poker room in Wisconsin. And they had a variety of games for a while. When it came time to pay Uncle Sam they decided it wasn’t worth it. So they lost the poker room and variety of table games. Now they just have Blackjack, Slots and Bingo. It is a great casino to visit when vacationing in the Dells, but if driving from Milwaukee I would choose the 2-hour drive to Oneida over “The Chunk”.

Enjoy

Aspects of Playing For Complimentary Gifts (Comps) From Casinos – Enhancing Player Expected Value

Casinos compete for gambler’s time and money by compensating them with complimentary gifts (comps). These comps involve free drinks, meals, free or reduced rate rooms, show tickets and extend to RFB (all costs for room,food,and beverage), airfare reimbursement or flyback certificates, and Super Bowl tickets. Comp programs are inherently designed to build customer loyalty and to foster return visits with the patron’s wallets and/or purses in hand. Customers do not have to be high-rollers to receive these incentives; many low-midlevel gamblers can and do receive a surprising amount of freebies and discounts. This is particularly relevant presently in part due to the current state of our general economy; in Las Vegas, visitor counts and gambling bankrolls have dipped significantly and this has increased comp offers from gaming properties in their attempt to encourage gamblers to enter their doors. On a recent (late October,2008) nine day stay in Vegas, my wife and I didn’t have to pay for a single night’s stay (all comped rooms) and we are absolutely not upper crust gamblers. Our gambling efforts involve blackjack at 10 – 25 dollar minimum bet tables and penny or nickel denomination slots and video poker with bets ranging from 40 cents to $ 2.00 per spin.

Comp awards are generally determined by average bet x hours played x bets per hour x expected house edge x % casino comp return to players (generally ranges 25 – 40% of expected win by the casino). For example, let’s assume you play a decent blackjack game (player favorable rule set and you play accurate basic strategy) and your average bet is 10 dollars per hand. If you play an “average ” 6-deck shoe game you can expect to see 60 – 80 hands per hour if the table involves 3 or 4 other players. Many casinos use 60 hands per hour and a house edge of 2% when figuring their expected dollar returns from players and resultant comp calculations. Most casinos will return approximately 40% of their expected win back to a player in the form of comps. For the above game, let’s assume you play 5 hours (hopefully at more than one table); a reasonable comp calculation would be $10 (average bet) X 5 (hours played) X 60 (hands/hr.) X .02 (house edge) X .40 (proportionate casino return to players). This means cumulatively you wagered approximately $ 3000.00 (surprised?) X .02 = $60.00 X .40 = $24.00 in earned comps.

A key tip to remember about comps while in Las Vegas or elsewhere…ASK for them..in a courteous manner. At some Vegas properties, you might be required to wager $15 or $25 per hand to even get rated for table game comps. Some off-strip Las Vegas casinos are more liberal with their meal comps than many of the Strip locales; on several different trips I’ve played for 2-3 hours at the Orleans with a 10 -20 dollar average bet and have never had a problem obtaining buffet comps for two when asked for appropriately. There is a huge variation in comp programs between casinos and corporate gaming entities. Players should determine where they like to play and avail themselves of comp program specifics at a given locale. Don’t be surprised if a player’s club representative / host is vague about precisely how they calculate earned comps; awarded comps can vary with season and any factor that increases patronage (weekends vs weekday, holidays, major events / conventions). Low to midlevel players will find it more difficult to get comped during these high traffic situations at times. It’s suggested that gamblers familiarize themselves with a slots / table games host that they are comfortable with; generally speaking, it’s a good idea to solicit a host of the opposite gender. Communicating with a host can lead to real dollar value for future visits (minimize losses / enhance winnings); part of a host’s job is to enhance the player’s experience while gambling. At many properties, pit bosses can award meal comps. Key elements for playing an enhanced-value comp game are to gamble within your prescribed bankroll, playing games with lower house advantage, know the property comp program, and ASK. On the other hand, “chasing” comps (ie playing too long just to obtain a meal) can lead to increased overall gambling losses, particularly if you’re losing hand after hand, dice roll after dice roll, or slot pull after slot pull. Common sense applies.

Blackjack is an excellent game to acquire comps due to generally lower house odds when compared to all other casino games provided players select games with player-favorable rules and learn accurate basic strategy for the specific game played. If a player avails themselves of these conditions and employs tactics that decrease the speed of the game (fewer hands played per hour), they have employed some basic tactics to enhance their comp accrual. Factors that can slow down a game include playing at crowded tables, talking with other players regularly while the game is in progress, extending decision times on hand plays, and taking frequent bathroom breaks or cell phone call breaks. Another tactic to enhance comp accrual at blackjack involves increased bet levels when pit bosses and / or table hosts are observing specific play; these should enhance your table play ratings and accrued comp levels. Bet levels can be reduced if desired when one is not being scrutinized by casino staff members.

Slot / video poker (VP) play tracking for comps requires that players have their player’s club cards inserted and inserted properly to accumulate points; always determine that this is the case and periodically check during sessions at a given machine. Video poker generally offers higher payback return percentages vs slot machines but comps for VP play are generally less for the same wagers / time played as compared to slots. It’s a standard casino tradeoff mechanism. If you find a casino that you like to play in, you enjoy the slots, and you have ample time, I believe it’s possible to identify some particular machines that exhibit a higher payback percentage than others (we know this is fact; the key is in identifying them). Generally speaking, the higher denomination machines have higher payback percentages (ie $1 slots vs penny machines); your ability to play these will depend on your bankroll and a money management scheme that involves common sense. There are wide variations in payback percentages even among penny slots; observation, common sense, and a willingness to play these games can lead to identifying some of the better paying machines. The key is to not get soaked for a huge loss expecting that next pull..and the next one..to result in a big payout. Regarding slot machines, we suggest a stop-loss approach. We always stop playing a given machine if we’ve reached 40 – 50% of the original buy-in amount (ie $20 -25 dollars credit remaining following a $50.00 original buy-in). Admittedly, the average slot machine will drain your bankroll but if players can identify the higher payback machines (by observation and actual play) these are reasonable alternatives for accumulating comps. Video poker with solid paytables (minimally 9/6 Jacks Or Better or Double Bonus; this paytable means the machine offers a 9 for 1 payout on a full house and 6 for 1 on a flush) is an excellent means to accrue comps (albeit slower relative to most slot machines at the same wager levels). It’s important to realize that the key factor is identifying the machines with greater payback percentages (ie “full-pay” machines or those with close to 100% payback over time, though individual sessions can and do still result in losses, of course).

While seeking out individual casinos to play any game, always seek out player’s club promotions (eg point multiplier days, blackjack enhancements) and use gambling coupons (blackjack match play and first -card ace coupons); use of these will enhance player expectation through increased returns / minimized losses while playing the comp game. The current economic climate in Las Vegas specifically, though generally down, is conducive to comp offer acquisition.

Good cards…

Chuck60 @ Frugally Vegas