Casual casino visitors will play games that look the “most fun.” They may gravitate toward a lively craps table or a roulette table that is four players deep. Serious gamblers, on the other hand, know to play the games that have a low “house edge,” i.e. the most even (or “fair”) game the player can enjoy in a casino that wants to have the advantage.
Easy to find at most land-based and online casinos, Blackjack enthusiasts feel an almost religious fervor when sitting down the game. Every player has his or her “angle.” Some will risk a hit on 18, while others always hold at 15.
One reason for Blackjack’s universal popularity is that it has one of the lowest house edges. This means that the “house,” or casino, has only a small advantage over you, the player.
Everyone knows the house always has a slightly higher likelihood of winning in the long run than an individual gambler, but with blackjack, that house edge is minimal—less than 2%, according to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research.
Pai Gow is a casino table game, but it is played with poker hands. You will often see Asian players at the Pai Gow table, but very few Westerners. This is because the game is still an exotic commodity to players familiar with Blackjack, Seven Card Stud, and Roulette.
Pai Gow was originally played with Chinese dominoes, but in Vegas casinos, the game is played with a deck of cards. The player is dealt seven cards, and from those cards, one must choose the best five-card poker hand and the best two-card remainder.
The house edge for Pai Gow hovers around 3% to 5%.
Single Zero Roulette
Some Roulette wheels have a zero slot for the ball (0) and a double zero slot (00), in addition to all of the other numbers that decorate the edge of the wheel.
A single zero Roulette wheel has 37 numbers, whereas a double zero roulette wheel has 38. A player in a game of single zero roulette has a slightly (1/36) higher chance of having the ball land on his or her lucky number. Thus, this alters the odds.
The house edge in single zero Roulette is around 2.5%, while the house edge in double zero Roulette is around 5%. This is a significant difference for a serious player.
With a house edge between 1.5% to 2%, it almost seems like winning at Baccarat is a no-brainer, right? You play until you win, then you walk away, pockets full.
The reality is a bit more nail-biting. First, Baccarat buy-ins tend to be high, as it is considered a bit of an “elite” game, not often found among the lower-stakes casino tables. Thus, if you have a limited gambling budget you may run out of funds before any big win.
Furthermore, there are only three options open to you when you deal in: beat the banker, lose to the banker or tie. The person who plays “banker” changes with each hand. The house edge for Baccarat is estimated at close to 2% for every player that is not the banker, and closer to 1.3% for the banker.
A Final Word
Before heading to the casino, ask yourself what your goal is for the evening. Is it to have the best time possible? To interact with an exuberant craps crowd? To try out your newest Blackjack strategy?
Decide on your mission and work it, using the information provided above to give you your own edge.