Casino Games With The Lowest House Edge

Blaise PascalFrench novelist, Jules Verne Famously Said: “be it understood, you are never rich when you get no advantage from it”.

Over a century later and the creation of an entire money-spinning industry, dependent on having an advantage to make huge profits and it seems the adage has been proved right.

Perhaps fittingly, the game that made this all possible, shares its heritage with the philosophising wordsmith; roulette, hailing from Paris and an invention of a fellow Frenchman, a scientist by the name of Blaise Pascal.

An accidental invention, he was actually attempting to defy the laws of physics and produce perpetual motion machine focused on operating without drawing energy from an external source. An experiment that failed, though which subsequently gave birth to one of the most popular casino games of all time.

Roulette brings with it a minefield of speculation, opinion and conjecture especially associated with strategy which makes the house edge factor even more intriguing, especially among the most ardent of players.

What is the House Edge?

number crunchingA house edge is basically a term that refers to giving the casino an advantage over the player, though there can be a number of interpretations made of this. It is perfectly obvious to those who pay attention.

In a game like roulette that is so clearly game of chance, where the only strategy is to stand there playing for hours and hope that the law of averages finally tips in your balance.

Though, why would anyone do that? Well, clearly they wouldn’t, unless they were bored, had cash to burn or were just, slightly deluded.

There is a double-edged sword though. Compared with some games, where players rely more on skill; poker in particular and in some regard, blackjack, roulette is as big a game of chance as predicting the lottery numbers. ‘Touché’, as Verne might say.

It is a reason to suggest why the house edge for roulette is generally, particularly low; usually somewhere between one and 16 percent.

The fact is, that in roulette you could literally land on anything and while you can improve your chances of winning by choosing more options on the wheel, the house still retains an obvious edge, especially with a minimum stake required for each bet.

French and American Roulette differentials

roulette tablesIn the 19th century, roulette moved to America and in the decades that followed, the game tweaked and adapted quite considerably from the European version, though it nevertheless continued to rise in popularity.

Wherever possible, playing European roulette significantly increases your chances of winning, based on the fact that the house edge is particularly lower - in fact around half of its American cousin, which features one extra tile on its wheel; double zero.

Should you do play American roulette, it is always worth avoiding the ‘top line bet’, because this features the figures 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 paying out at 6/1 odds. Although all of the other bets at the table have a house edge that is the same, this one offers a return that is much less attractive, with almost an eight percent casino edge.

So what about Blackjack?

lady winning blackjackBlackjack is another hugely popular casino table game which has one of the lowest house edges in the industry. It is often wondered why it is even offered to players, because if you are playing for a short period of time (less than an hour), you will be losing a tiny amount.

Where it really kicks in is for serious players (high rollers) who will generally spend at least three hours at a blackjack table, gambling big each time, though in the grand scheme of things, if they do win more than they wager, the hit on the house edge won’t be too noticeable.

For example, if a player spends 60 minutes wagering on blackjack at £10 per time, they can be expected to lose 50p to the house. If they average 30 bets per hour at this stake, a guaranteed £15 will make up losses in house edge value, regardless of winnings. That is based on a house edge of five percent.

There is every chance though, that the house edge in blackjack could be as low as one percent, which turns into a very different game and for those high rollers who understand, could invite much larger bets on each hand.

Baccarat Breakdown

Baccarat tableA game which has as complicated a house edge to understand as its rules. Particularly popular in China, especially among high rollers and also known as Punto Banco, baccarat has three main components with each one carrying separate house edges. The banker, player and the tie bet; only the elite mathematicians could likely figure out the house edge percentage of each at any one time during a game.

Below is a breakdown of player and banker return figures and the tie figures based on a one deck analysis of cards.

Banker Bet — 1 Deck

EventPaysCombinationsProbailityReturn
Banker wins 0.95 6737232640 0.459624 0.436643
Player wins -1 6548674432 0.44676 -0.44676
Tie 0 1372227328 0.093615 0
Total   14658134400 1 -0.010117

Player Bet — 1 Deck

EventPaysCombinationsProbabilityReturn
Banker wins -1 6737232640 0.459624 -0.459624
Player wins/td> 1 6548674432 0.44676 0.44676
Tie 0 1372227328 0.093615 0
Total   14658134400 1 -0.012864

Tie Bet — 1 Deck

EventPaysCombinationsProbabilityReturn
Banker wins -1 6737232640 0.459624 -0.459624
Player wins -1 6548674432 0.44676 -0.44676
Tie 8 1372227328 0.093615 0.748923
Total   14658134400 1 -0.157461

Pair Bets — 1 Deck

EventPaysCombinationsProbabilityReturn
Pair 11 78 0.058824 0.647059
No pair -1 1248 0.941176 -0.941176
Total   1326 1 -0.294118

Infinite Decks

There are a number of online casinos which say they use infinite decks in this game and the tables below give a breakdown of the banker, player, tie and pair bets in baccarat based on this assumption.

Banker — Infinite Decks

EventPaysCombinationsProbabilityReturn
Win 0.95 2,212,744 0.458428 0.435507
Tie 0 460,601 0.095426 0.000000
Loss -1 2,153,464 0.446147 -0.446147
Total   4,826,809 1.000000 -0.010640

Player — Infinite Decks

EventPaysCombinationsProbabilityReturn
Win 1 2,153,464 0.446147 0.446147
Tie 0 460,601 0.095426 0.000000
Loss -1 2,212,744 0.458428 -0.458428
Total   4,826,809 1.000000 -0.012281

Tie — Infinite Decks

EventPaysCombinationsProbabilityReturn
Win 8 460,601 0.095426 0.763405
Loss -1 4,366,208 0.904574 -0.904574
Total   4,826,809 1.000000 -0.141170

While baccarat is clearly a thinking game, where strategy is applied with calculated measure, the possibilities certainly appear endless. Compared with blackjack and roulette, which are much simpler and where the house edge invariably doesn’t fluctuate too much, it is easy to see why this appeals to the elite high roller. Perhaps Verne should have coined the phrase: “the rich get richer”, he would be right whichever way you think about it.