By Ethan Parker - November 8, 2023

Looking to maximize your chances of winning at the casino? It’s all about understanding the house edge and RTP. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the ins and outs of these crucial gambling concepts, highlighting different game rules and variations, betting strategies, and other factors affecting your odds. You’ll even discover specific house edges and RTPs for popular table games, slot machines, video poker, and specialty games, along with strategies to help you maximize your gambling experience and minimize the casino’s advantage. Keep reading to become a savvy, informed player who knows where the best chances of winning lie.

As a passionate casino player, I’ve spent many hours at the tables and slots over the years. I’ve had hot streaks, cold streaks, and everything in between. Through all the ups and downs, I’ve learned that, in the end, the house always wins. However, understanding how the odds work for different games gives you an added advantage.

The house edge and return to player (RTP) percentage are two key metrics that determine how much of an advantage the casino has in any given game. The house edge refers to the average profit the casino can expect to make from bets placed on a game. The RTP is the percentage of money bet returned to players over the long run. The lower the house edge and higher the RTP, the better the odds are for the player.

In this article, I have written an overview of the house edge and RTP for some of the most popular casino games, so you can decide which games give you the best shot at beating the house. 

House edge is a term used in gambling to express a casino’s mathematical advantage over the player. It represents the long-term profit a casino expects to make from a particular game, based on the difference between the odds of winning and the payout ratios. In other words, the built-in advantage allows a casino to make money on games and ensure its sustainability. House edge is usually expressed as a percentage of the player’s wager.

It is important to note that House Edge does not guarantee that a casino will always win. Instead, it ensures that, over time, the casino will make money on average. The longer a player continues to play, the higher the likelihood that the house edge will catch up to them, leading to an eventual loss.

RTP, or Return to Player, is the opposite of the house edge concept. It refers to the percentage of wagered money a player can expect to win back from a specific game over time. RTP is also expressed as a percentage, indicating how favorable a particular game is for the player. For instance, if a game has an RTP of 97%, it means that, on average, a player can expect to win back 97% of their bets in the long run.

Like House Edge, RTP does not guarantee a win or loss per session, but rather, it’s an indicator of a game’s potential profitability over a larger number of plays. Some games, such as slots, have a more volatile RTP than others, like table games. It means the potential return on a slot machine may vary more widely than that on a Blackjack game.

House Edge and RTP are two sides of the same coin. They both represent the same concept – the statistical advantage a casino holds over the player but viewed from different perspectives. In most cases, to calculate RTP, you subtract the house edge from 100% to calculate RTP. For example, if a game has a house edge of 2%, its RTP would be 98%. It means that, on average, the player can expect to win back 98% of their wagers over time.

A game with a high RTP is more favorable to the player, while a game with a high house edge is more profitable for the casino.

Game Rules and Variations

Different rules and game variations can significantly impact House Edge and RTP. For example, in blackjack, the number of decks used, the ability to double down, and the rules for dealers standing on soft 17 can significantly affect the house edge. Therefore, understanding the rules and variations of a game can help a player choose games with a lower house edge and higher RTP.

Betting Strategies

Although betting strategies cannot change the inherent house edge of a game, they can influence how effectively a player manages their bankroll. For example, a progressive betting system like the Martingale or Fibonacci system can help a player recover losses more quickly, leading to significant losses if they hit a losing streak. On the other hand, flat betting – wagering the same amount on each bet – can reduce the risk of significant losses but may also limit potential gains.

Payout Rates and Odds

The payout rate of a game is the amount of money a casino pays out to players relative to the total amount wagered. Games with higher payout rates usually have lower house edges and higher RTPs. Additionally, a game with better odds for the player – such as European roulette compared to American roulette – will have a lower house edge and higher RTP.

Game Volatility and Variance

Volatility and variance measure how frequently and much a game pays out. High-volatility games have larger, less frequent payouts, while low-volatility games have smaller, more frequent payouts. Generally, high-volatility games have a higher house edge and a lower RTP, while low-volatility games have a lower house edge and a higher RTP. However, a player’s preferences and risk tolerance can influence the type of game they enjoy and their strategies to maximize their chances of success.

Understanding the House Edge and Return to Player (RTP) for casino table games is crucial for any gambler looking to maximize their chances of winning. These two concepts help indicate how profitable a game might be for the player and the casino. Here, we will discuss the House Edge and RTP for popular casino table games such as Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Craps, and Three Card Poker.

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games due to its simplicity and low house edge. Played with one or multiple decks of cards, this game aims to achieve a hand value higher than the dealer without exceeding 21.

The house edge in blackjack varies based on numerous factors, including the number of decks, specific game rules, and the player’s skill level. However, with optimal strategy, the house edge can be reduced to as low as 0.5%, making it one of the most player-friendly games in the casino.

RTP, or Return to Player, refers to the estimated percentage of wagers a player can expect to win back over time. In blackjack, the RTP is closely related to the house edge, and with a house edge as low as 0.5%, the RTP can be as high as 99.5%.

Roulette is another classic casino game with a spinning wheel with numbered pockets. Players place their bets on the outcome, such as the pocket where the ball will land, the color, or whether it will be an odd or even number.

The two main variants are European Roulette and American Roulette. The key difference is that the American Roulette wheel has an extra pocket marked with “00” and the standard “0” pocket, doubling the house edge.

European Roulette has a relatively low house edge of 2.7% due to having only one zero pocket. As a result, the RTP for European Roulette is around 97.3%. On the other hand, American Roulette has a house edge of 5.26%, thanks to the additional “00” pocket. Consequently, the RTP for American Roulette stands at a lower rate of about 94.74%.

calculating house edge for casino game type - blackjack
casino game's house edge and RTP

Baccarat is a popular casino card game that involves comparing the hands of the “player” and the “banker.” There are three possible outcomes: player wins, banker wins, or a tie. Participants can bet on any of these outcomes.

The game has a relatively low house edge, with 1.06% on banker bets and 1.24% on player bets. However, tie bets carry a much higher house edge of around 14.36%. Accordingly, players should avoid making tie bets to minimize the house edge.

The RTP for baccarat is typically around 98.94% for banker bets and 98.76% for player bets. However, the RTP for tie bets significantly drops to approximately 85.64%.

baccarat card game's house edge and RTP calculation
knowing craps game's house edge and RTP

Craps is a dice game in which players place bets on the outcome of a roll or series of rolls. It can be more complex than other table games, but offers several betting options with low house edges.

The house edge in craps ranges from 0% to around 16.67%, depending on the type of bet placed. Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets have some of the lowest house edges, at 1.41% and 1.36%, respectively. Prop bets like “Any Seven” have a considerably higher house edge.

RTP in craps varies with the different types of bets. For Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets, the RTP is typically around 98.59% and 98.64%, respectively.

three card poker's house edge and RTP

Three-Card Poker is a simpler version of poker played with a single deck of cards. Players are dealt three cards each and must decide whether to fold or continue playing based on the strength of their hand.

The house edge in Three Card Poker varies between 3.37% and 7.28%, depending on the type of bet. The Ante bet has a house edge of around 3.37%, while the additional Pair Plus bet has a higher house edge of around 7.28%.

RTP in Three Card Poker is also dependent on the specific bet. The RTP is about 96.63% for Ante bets, while the RTP for Pair Plus bets stands at approximately 92.72%.

The casino industry thrives on players’ understanding of the odds and returns for various games. House edge and return to player (RTP) are key factors influencing a player’s likelihood of winning. They both apply to all slot machines, including classic slots, progressive jackpot slots, and video slots. Here is the analysis of the house edge and RTP for these slot machines and a discussion of how they impact players’ experiences and outcomes.

Classic Slots

Classic slots are traditional slot machines with a simple design with three or five reels and a fixed number of paylines. Symbols, like fruits, bars, and sevens, reflect the nostalgic look of old-school slot machines. The payouts from these slots are generally lower and less frequent than with other types but can still provide an enjoyable gaming experience.

The house edge for classic slots can vary significantly depending on the specific machine, the casino, and the game developer. However, classic slots have a general house edge range between 10% and 20%. It implies that the casino will keep an average of $0.10 to $0.20 for every dollar bet on average. This relatively high house edge makes classic slots less profitable for players than other slot machines.

The RTP for classic slots is often inversely proportional to the house edge. If the house edge is 10%, the RTP would be 90%. It means the machine will return 90% of the bets placed on it over the long term. Generally, classic slots’ RTP ranges between 80% and 95%. While these percentages can still result in respectable winnings for players, they are generally lower than for other slot machines.

Progressive Jackpot Slots

Progressive jackpot slots are popular among players because they offer the potential for huge payouts. These slots have a jackpot pool that increases incrementally each time a player bets on the game. Several machines are often linked to create a larger, shared jackpot pool.

Since progressive jackpots are difficult to hit, the house edge for these slot machines can be quite high. Typically, it ranges between 12% and 20%. Similarly to classic slots, the higher house edge makes progressive jackpot slots less favorable to players than other slot machines.

The RTP for progressive jackpot slots can vary greatly, especially considering the wide range of games available. In general, progressive slots have an 85% to 98% RTP. However, the RTP for the base game (excluding the progressive jackpot component) is generally lower than that of non-progressive slots. These percentage figures mean that although players can potentially win massive jackpots, the overall odds of walking away with a profit are lower.

classic slot machine's house edge and RTP
progressive slot machine's house edge and RTP
calculating video slot's house edge and RTP
calculating the house edge of classic slot machine

Video Slots

Video Slots are modern slot machines with advanced graphics, themes, animations, and various bonus features. They often include multiple paylines and various ways to win, thoroughly incorporating technology and innovation to create a more engaging player experience than classic or progressive slots.

The house edge for video slots tends to be lower than that of classic and progressive jackpot slots, ranging between 2% and 10%. As a result, these slot machines are generally more profitable for players, offering them better chances of winning over time.

The RTP for video slots is also higher, often between 92% and 98%. It makes video slots more appealing to players who prioritize a higher likelihood of winning over the allure of potential massive payouts offered by progressive jackpot slots. Some video slots even boast RTP percentages above 98%, granting players an even greater return on their bets.

Ultimately, players need to understand the house edge and RTP for different types of slot machines before they choose to play. While classic and progressive jackpot slots can be exciting and offer the chance for sizable wins, they generally come with a higher house edge and a lower RTP. On the other hand, video slots offer a more engaging experience, lower house edge, and higher RTP, making them a preferred choice for players who prioritize their odds of winning.

Video poker is an increasingly popular casino game due to its relatively low house edge compared to other games at brick-and-mortar casinos and online casinos alike. Different video poker variants offer different return-to-player (RTP) percentages and house edges, which can greatly affect a player’s chances of winning in the long term. Here are the house edge and RTP for some of the most popular video poker games: Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, and Double Bonus Poker.

calculating house edge for bonus poker
getting to know the RTP and house edge for poker

Deuces Wild is a popular video poker variant known for its unique feature of using deuces (2s) as wild cards. 2s can substitute for any other cards to complete a winning hand. By including this element, Deuces Wild significantly increases the number of ways to create winning hands, directly impacting the game’s RTP and house edge.

The RTP for Deuces Wild varies according to the specific paytable used, but a full-pay Deuces Wild game with optimal strategy will typically have an RTP of around 100.76%. On average, players can expect to win back $100.76 for every $100 they bet over the long term. Consequently, the house edge for full-pay Deuces Wild is slightly negative, estimated at -0.76%. This means that players have a slight advantage over the casino.

However, it’s important to note that achieving this RTP requires playing with an optimal strategy and finding a full-pay Deuces Wild machine, which may only sometimes be the case. Different casinos may offer varying payouts for specific hands, lowering the RTP and increasing the house edge.

Jacks or Better is the most well-known and widely played video poker variant. As its name implies, players must hold at least a pair of jacks to qualify for a winning hand. It is often considered one of the best video poker games for beginners due to its comparatively simple strategy and favorable odds.

A full-pay Jacks or Better game that follows a 9/6 paytable (where a full house pays 9 times the bet, and a flush pays 6 times the bet) offers an RTP of approximately 99.54% when played with optimal strategy. It translates to a house edge of 0.46%. Again, achieving these percentages relies on the availability of a full-pay machine and the proper implementation of strategy.

As with Deuces Wild, different paytables and varying payouts for certain hands can affect the RTP and house edge for Jacks or Better. As such, players need to familiarize themselves with the paytable of their chosen game and seek out the best possible odds.

Double Bonus Poker is a variation of Jacks or Better that provides bonus payouts for certain four-of-a-kind hands. Many players are drawn to this game due to its increased payouts for these rare hands and the excitement they bring.

A full-pay Double Bonus Poker game that follows a 10/7 paytable offers an RTP of approximately 100.17% when played with optimal strategy, resulting in a negative house edge of roughly -0.17%. At the same time, this may seem advantageous for players, but locating a full-pay Double Bonus Poker machine may prove difficult. Additionally, playing with the optimal strategy needed to achieve this RTP can be more complex than in other video poker variants.

As always, different paytables will affect the RTP and house edge, so players must familiarize themselves with the payouts of the specific game they are playing and seek out the best possible odds.

Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, and Double Bonus Poker offer some of the best RTP percentages and lowest house edges for video poker games, especially when played with optimal strategy and on full-pay machines. The variations in paytables at different casinos can significantly impact these figures, so players should always be mindful of the specific payouts and odds for each game they choose to play. Video poker offers a great mixture of skill, strategy, and favorable odds for players seeking an entertaining and potentially profitable gaming experience.

When it comes to casino games, the house edge and the return to player (RTP) are two critical factors that help gamblers make informed decisions about where to invest their money. House edge is the percentage of a casino’s profit from a game, while RTP represents the amount a player can expect to win over time. Specialty games refer to those casino games that do not fit neatly into the typical casino-game categories, such as table games and slot machines. Here are the four types of specialty games – Keno, Bingo, Sic Bo, and Scratch Cards – and their associated house edge and RTP values.

calculating keno's house edge and RTP
Casino game type - bingo - calculating house edge and RTP
knowing the RTP and house edge for Specialty games
calculating RTP and house edge for scratch cards

Keno

Keno is a lottery-style game that originated in ancient China. Players choose a set of numbers from 1 to 80, and the casino will draw 20 random numbers. The player’s winnings depend on the amount of correct numbers they chose and the size of their bets. In most cases, Keno has a fairly high house edge, typically between 25% and 30%, but sometimes up to 40% in some casinos.

Due to the sizable house edge, the corresponding RTP for Keno is relatively low, usually between 60% and 75%. The exact RTP depends on factors like the specific rules of the casino and the number of correct numbers chosen by the player. Because of the low RTP and high house edge, Keno is generally not recommended as a long-term strategy for winning in casinos. However, players looking to try their luck with Keno can sometimes access games with better odds by shopping around for better paytables and playing online.

Bingo

Bingo is another popular specialty game found in casinos, as well as in standalone bingo halls. The game aims to be the first player to complete a predetermined pattern on a card by matching randomly drawn numbers. Some variations include speed bingo, horse racing bingo, and electronic bingo, but the principle remains the same.

The house edge of bingo usually varies depending on the number of players and the rules of the specific game. An average of 5% to 10% house edge can be expected on average, up to 30% for some versions. It would put the RTP for Bingo in the range of 70% to 95% range. One advantage of Bingo for players is that it is a social game, minimizing the focus on house edge and RTP, and increasing the enjoyment of the experience.

Sic Bo

Sic Bo, a game of Chinese origin, is a popular option in casinos that involves rolling three dice. Players place wagers predicting the outcome of the dice, with multiple bet options available. The house edge for Sic Bo varies greatly depending on specific bet types, ranging from 2.78% up to an exceptionally high 33.33% for the high-risk, high-reward triple bets.

The RTP for Sic Bo also varies depending on the type of bet placed, with the range typically falling between 66.67% and 97.22%. Given these figures, strategizing in terms of bet selection is vital for players seeking better odds.

Scratch Cards

Scratch cards are popular options for players seeking instant wins. Players buy cards with symbols hidden beneath a scratch-off surface, and upon scratching, matching symbols determine a win. The house edge for scratch cards depends on factors such as the cost of the card, the prize distribution, and the number of cards printed. Typically, the house edge for scratch cards falls from 25% to 30%.

Because of the sizable house edge, scratch cards’ RTP is generally between 70% and 75%, making it relatively low among casino games. Despite not being a strategic game with a high RTP, scratch cards appeal to those looking for a quick and fun playing experience with the possibility of instant winnings.

One of the essential aspects of gambling with the highest possible returns is to maximize the return to player (RTP) percentage and minimize the house edge. Gambling strategies focusing on these two elements can significantly improve your chances of winning and minimize potential losses. Here are the various strategies to achieve this, including understanding game rules and mechanics, choosing the right games and bets, managing your bankroll, and benefiting from casino bonuses and promotions.

The first step in maximizing your RTP and minimizing the house edge is understanding the rules and mechanics of the games you play. Different games have different rules and payout structures, directly impacting the RTP and house edge. Learning the ins and outs of each game you plan to play is crucial, ensuring you understand the best tactics and strategies.

Some games, like blackjack and video poker, have specific strategies and rulesets that can significantly reduce the house edge. Researching and using these strategies when playing can drastically improve your chances of winning. In addition, studying the ideal tactic, which may be based on math, probabilities, and game theory, will help you optimize your decisions and make the best choices based on the situation.

Not all casino games offer equal odds, so selecting the right game is essential. Games with a high RTP and low house edge offer better chances of winning and should be prioritized over others. Table games like blackjack, craps, and baccarat generally provide more favorable odds than slot machines and other random number games. Furthermore, games with skill-based strategies, such as video poker and blackjack, have a better RTP when played optimally than games purely based on luck.

Besides choosing the right game, it’s also crucial to consider the different bets you can place within the game. There is usually a diverse range of betting options with varying odds and payouts. Even if they have lower payouts, Wagering on better odds can lower the house edge and help maintain your bankroll. Understanding the odds and payouts of each bet type will help you make informed decisions and effectively manage your money.

Proper bankroll management is crucial to maximize RTP and minimize the house edge. It involves setting limits on how much you can afford to bet and lose, as well as when to quit. It’s essential always to play within your means and never chase losses, as this can quickly lead to financial issues.

Determining a bankroll for each gambling session helps minimize potential damage to your overall finances. Divide your bankroll into smaller units based on the games you will play, which can help manage your money and prevent overspending.

Additionally, using a stop-loss or stop-win limit can help enforce responsible gambling. These limits are predetermined amounts at which you will stop playing, either when you have lost or won a specific value. By sticking to these limits, you can avoid losing more than you can afford and prevent throwing away winnings through greed.

Taking advantage of casino bonuses and promotions is another effective way to maximize your RTP and minimize the house edge. Many online and land-based casinos offer various incentives, such as deposit bonuses, free spins, cashback, and loyalty programs, to attract and retain players.

By carefully selecting and taking advantage of these offers, you can increase your bankroll and playtime, ultimately improving your chances of winning. However, it’s important to read and understand the terms and conditions associated with these bonuses, as some may have wagering requirements or game restrictions that could impact your overall odds. Always ensure you understand any limitations and carefully weigh the benefits of each offer before participating.

Several strategies can be employed to maximize your RTP and minimize the house edge. These include understanding game rules and mechanics, choosing the right games and bets, managing your bankroll, and benefiting from casino bonuses and promotions. By implementing these strategies and maintaining responsible gambling habits, you can improve your chances of winning while minimizing potential losses.

FAQ

What is the House Edge in casino games?

The House Edge refers to a casino’s mathematical advantage over the players in any game, usually expressed as a percentage of each bet the player makes. It ensures that casinos generate a consistent profit over time, despite occasional payouts to players.

Why is Return to Player (RTP) significant in understanding gambling games?

Return to Player (RTP) is a term used to describe the percentage of total bets placed on a game that will be returned to players over the long run. Calculated as a percentage, RTP indicates the fairness of a game and helps players make informed decisions about which games to play, based on their potential profitability.

How do the House Edge and RTP relate to each other?

The House Edge and RTP are inversely related – when one increases, the other decreases. They help provide a clearer understanding of the game’s expected outcomes. Typically, the House Edge + RTP equals 100%, meaning that, over time, the casino retains the percentage represented by the House Edge while the RTP gets returned to players.

Do all casino games have the same House Edge?

No, different games have different House Edges. Factors like game rules, player skill, and winning odds contribute to variations in the House Edge. Generally, table games like Blackjack or Baccarat have a lower House Edge than slot machines or games like Keno, which typically have higher House Edges.

Can I improve my chances of winning despite the House Edge?

While the House Edge cannot be eliminated, improving your skills, understanding game rules, and employing effective strategies can help minimize its impact and potentially increase your chances of winning. Additionally, choosing games with a low House Edge and high RTP can be beneficial.

How can I determine a game's RTP before playing?

Many online casinos and game developers disclose their games’ RTP either on their website or in the game’s “help” section. If unable to find it directly, searching for information on reputable websites, forums, or expert game reviews can also prove helpful in determining a game’s RTP.

What is the difference between RTP and house edge?

The difference between RTP and house edge lies in the way payouts are calculated. RTP, or Return to Player percentage, indicates the percentage of wagers returned to the player, while house edge refers to the remaining percentage kept by the casino. For example, in our Michigan online casinos, a slot with a 95% RTP ensures that 95 cents are returned to the player for every dollar wagered. This allows players to understand their winning potential and the advantage the house holds.

Which casino game has the highest house edge?

Keno has the highest house edge among casino games. The longer you play, the greater the odds become for your results to align with the house edge and lead to financial losses. It’s important to be aware of the varying house edges in different casino games, with blackjack having the lowest.

What gambling game has the lowest house edge?

The gambling game with the lowest house edge is blackjack. With proper strategy, players can minimize the casino advantage and increase their chances of winning. By using basic blackjack strategy and making strategic decisions based on the dealer’s up card, players can lower the house edge to as little as 0.5%.

What is a good RTP for slots?

A good RTP (Return to Player) for slots is typically around 96%, but any rate above 96.5% is considered more appealing. Games like Blood Suckers are known for their high payout percentage, offering rates that exceed the average. Enjoy better chances of winning with online slots boasting higher RTP percentages.