If you’ve ever played a game of chance, then you know that there’s a certain amount of luck involved. You might also have noticed that the odds are stacked against you—the casinos win more often than not.
But why? What is it about casinos that allow them to win so often?
The answer lies in something called the house edge. The house edge is the percentage of money lost by players over time on average—it’s the difference between how much money goes into the casino and how much money comes out.
Today, we will talk about the house edge and how it works to help you understand why casinos have such an advantage over their players.
What is the House in Gambling?
The casino, or the house, is an establishment that offers games of chance. It’s a place where people go to have fun and enjoy themselves while also making money. The casino has its own rules and regulations that players must follow to play at their establishment.
In short, it is where gambling takes place: a land-based casino in Las Vegas, a mobile betting app, a racecourse that takes bets for horse racing, or a gambling website.
A house edge, on the other hand, is derived from the two formative terms:
- The House, which means the casino or place of gambling, and
- The Edge, which means an advantage, head start, lead, or dominance
As such, the house edge refers to the casino’s mathematical advantage over the player. It is the probability that the casino will win against the player. This probability is usually presented in the form of the ratio or percentage of money expected the player to lose to the casino to the original amount wagered by the player.
So, the formula for the house edge is as follows:
House edge = expected player loss/initial player stake
For instance, a 5% house edge means the player is expected to lose $5 for every $100 he or she bets at the casino. A high house edge means the player has a higher probability of losing.
The house edge usually varies from casino game to casino game. This is why it’s important that you know the house edge of every game you want to play at a casino. If better games are available, it may be worth taking your money elsewhere.
Games with the highest player odds have the lowest house edge. For example, blackjack has one of the highest odds in the world of casinos because its house edge is low at around 0.5%. Meanwhile, some slot games can have a house edge of up to 25% or even higher.
Some players might not mind losing some of their money and are willing to take the risk. But if you don’t want any of your money to go down the drain, then it’s always a good idea to play at casinos with a table game that has low house edges.
How Do You Find the House Edge?
The easiest way to find out the house edge is by looking at a table in the casino. Some casinos will have these tables posted throughout their premises so you can compare different games and see how much they cost you. However, if you don’t see any tables or signs with that information, then it’s best to ask an employee for help.
For online casinos, the best way to find the house edge is by looking at the game’s description. This will tell you how much the casino takes from each bet and what odds it offers.
Generally, here are the places where you can find out the house edge:
- On a table in the casino, usually near where people are playing the game so they can compare different casinos and games.
- In the casino’s brochure, which will have information on all their games and how much they take from each bet.
- On a game’s description online. Some online casinos will include this information on their websites.
- On the game’s rules and regulations. This will tell you everything from how many decks are used to how much the casino takes from each bet.
In most cases, the game developer will mention both the RTP and house edge of its games. This is usually seen in slot games, video poker, and specialty games.
How Does the House Edge Work?
Since the house edge is a measure of how much the casino will make on average per bet, it’s easy to see how much you stand to lose. This percentage, reflecting the house advantage, is directly related to the odds of a particular casino game. The edge gives a mathematical advantage to the casino over the gambler.
For instance, if a particular slot like Starburst has a 4% house edge, it means that the casino has the advantage of winning 4 cents for every $10 you wager on the game.
Similarly, if a baccarat bet has a house edge of 0.46%, the player can expect an average return of $99.54 for every $100 they bet on the game over a prolonged period.
Note that the house edge is also related to the player payout percentage (also known as RTP). The higher the house edge, the lower the RTP, meaning the player is more likely to lose in that particular game.
Therefore, players can use the house edge concept to determine the overall profitability of any given casino game. But it’s important to note that it doesn’t necessarily tell you how much money you can expect to win or lose on average.
If you’re a savvy player who knows how to play casino games and has a good grasp on the probabilities of each outcome, then you can use this information to your advantage.
How is EDGE Calculated?
Although casinos reveal their house edge in the fine print of every game, it can be difficult to determine exactly how they’re calculating it. After all, not all casinos use the same formula to determine their RTP and average player loss.
Don’t worry. You can calculate it yourself. In fact, there are many ways to calculate the house edge, but they all rely on knowledge of basic probability theory.
You can also calculate the house EDGE on your own, using various formulas, such as:
House Edge = Probability of success * (Odds against success – house odds). In this case, the probability of success is the ratio of ways to win to the sum of ways to lose and ways to win. The odds against success is the ratio of ways to lose to ways to win.
House Edge = 100% – Return to Player (RTP) percentage. This works if you already know the RTP of the game.
Another means of calculating the house edge is to multiply the difference between the house odds and the actual odds that the player will lose by the probability of success.
What Does EDGE Mean on Slots?
EDGE means the difference between a machine’s payout percentage and the theoretical return on investment. This is calculated by using a player’s expected winnings on a particular game, factoring in how much that player would have to bet to get those winnings.
Edge on slots refers to the percentage of money or bets the slot machine will retain in its lifespan. The EDGE on slots usually ranges between 4% and 25%. That means the casino takes an average of between four and 25% of all bets you place on the slot.
Some slots have lower house edge. In some cases, the casino’s favor is less than four percent, though. Don’t forget the EDGE is just a mathematical or theoretical number. In reality, you may win or lose more than predicted by the house edge.
On slots, the EDGE should tell you:
- Which slot games offer you the best odds
- The average payout percentage of a particular slot game
- The best and worst slot games to play on the casino floor
The EDGE tells you what percentage of your money the casino will keep. But it does not tell you whether a particular slot machine is a good bet for you.
The reason for this is that there are many factors that affect whether or not you win, including:
- The amount of money in play on the machine when you’re playing.
- Your skill level and luck at playing slots.
- How much time has elapsed since someone last won on the machine
What is the EDGE Percentage?
The EDGE percentage is the house edge expressed as a percentage. It is calculated by subtracting the return to player (RTP) percentage from 100%.
EDGE percentage = House Edge * 100%
For example, blackjack has an average house edge of 0.005. So, the edge percentage is 0.5% (i.e., 0.005*100%).
The house edge is a casino’s best friend. It helps them make money and keep their customers happy.
Casinos are based on the principle of risk and reward. The gambler takes risks on games, then has to accept that there’s a chance they won’t win (or even break even). But at the same time, they can be rewarded handsomely if they’re lucky enough—and smart enough—to make the right choices.
But when it comes down to it, casinos don’t care about giving you a fair shot at winning. They just want you to keep coming back for more. That’s why they’ll always have the edge over you as long as you play their games.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a house edge?
A house edge is also called the casino advantage. It is the mathematical advantage the casino has over you (aka the player) in a given game, such as slot machine, lottery, blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold’em, or even 3 Card Draw.
The house edge shows you the average amount a casino game is expected to pay throughout its lifetime. As such, it tells the gambler the percentage of bet amount they should expect to get back in the long run. For example, a slot game with a 7% house edge is expected to pay back 93% of all the money you bet in the long term.
The house edge is an advantage incorporated into the game itself and not determined by the casinos. This built-in advantage is set by the developers of the games (also known as software providers), such as BetSoft, Microgaming, NetEnt, Evolution Gaming, Yggdrasil Gaming, and Elk Studios.
So, the house edge of NetEnt’s slot Mega Fortune is 3.4%, no matter which casino you choose to play at.
What is the average house edge?
The average house edge varies from one casino game to the next. It is neither set by the casinos themselves nor fixed. Here are the average house edges of the most popular casino games:
#1. Slot games – The average ranges from 2% to 15%
#2. Blackjack – 0.5%
#3. Baccarat – The average house edge ranges from 1.01% to 15.75%, depending on the bet. Betting, on the Banker’s hand, has the lowest house edge of 1.01%.
#4. Roulette – The average Roulette house edge depends on the roulette variant. The American roulette wheel has an average house edge of 5.26%, while that for European roulette is 2.76%. Meanwhile, French roulette has an average house edge of 2.63%.
#5. Video poker – The average is 0.46%
#6. Keno – The average house edge of keno ranges from 20% to 40%. The game has one of the worst odds in the casino world.
#7. Craps – The average house edge of Craps is 8.34%
#8. Sic Bo – The average house edge of Sic Bo ranges from 2.78% to 33.33%
#9. Hold’em – The average house edge for Hold’em poker games is 2.36%.
#10. Caribbean Stud – 5.22%
Which casino game has the lowest house edge?
Blackjack is the casino game that has the lowest house edge. If you use a good betting strategy, the average RTP for blackjack is 99.5%, meaning the house edge is 0.5%.
Other casino games with the lowest house edges include…
- Craps (house edge = 0.8%)
- Baccarat (house edge = 1.06%)
- 9/6 Jacks or Better (house edge = 0.46%)
- 3 Card Draw (house edge = 1.5%)
- Video poker (house edge = 0.5-5%)
Why are casinos called the house?
Casinos are called The House because the casino is derived from the Italian word casa, which means a house. The Italian word also translates to a small social club, summer house, or country villa.
Why do bookies always win?
Bookies always win because they take a small cut, commission, or charge from both the losing and winning sides. This commission for keeping the sportsbook is called the vig, which is much like the house edge for casinos.
Unlike the house edge, which is designed into the game itself, the vig is worked into the odds of a sports bet.
For instance, a sports bet that would otherwise pay 1 to 1, such as Odd/Even, usually has odds lower than 2.00.
For instance, the odds for the game between Liverpool and Watford ending in an Odd score is 0.85, while that for an Even score is also 0.85. That means the bookies take a vig of 0.15 from both sides, bringing the total vig to 0.30.
There are many other different reasons why bookies always win:
- Bookies change the odds as new information is known, such as player injuries, poor weather, and so forth.
- Bookmarkers usually set very small odds for strong teams, such as Manchester City, PSG, New England Patriots, and Golden State Warriors.
- They limit bet sizes for bettors who are known to win frequently.
- Bookies encourage bettors to make bad bets like accumulators, parlays, and long-short wagers.
- Perhaps the best reason for bookies winning is that they take a small cut from the losing side.