When it comes to casino players, you can broadly split them into two camps; those that play occasionally and mainly for fun, and those who do it backed by research, practice, and strategies, designed to win them as much as possible.
Of course those that take their gambling more seriously and put in extra homework may also enjoy what they are doing, but the hobbyist is unlikely to study the game that they play and practice their skills.
However, both types of player will benefit from playing a game that already leans in the player’s favour. While the online casino industry is ultimately designed to look after its bottom line and create as wide a margin as possible, there are also instances where the savvy can create an advantage for themselves if they know what they are doing.
One of the most common adages in the gambling world is that ‘the casino always wins’, and does ring true in the vast majority of cases, though not in every instance as you shall see.
Let’s take a look at some of the casino games that a player can participate in that may give them some kind of advantage, or at least the smallest disadvantage possible.
Which Casino Games Favour Players?
Believe it or not there are a couple, although only theoretically and you have to know what you are doing to take advantage.
Many slots players opt for progressive jackpot slots, because the amount they have a chance of winning is so much higher than with a regular slot but they can still potentially win it betting small amounts. This is due to the way the random number generator (RNG) has been programmed.
One phrase that is often coined with progressive jackpots is the EV+, or expected value, which is something savvy casino players work in their favour as the game progresses. What they take into account is the theoretical edge that you have when playing progressive jackpots. This is explained below:
- You play a slot which has a 96 percent RTP.
- The jackpot increases in size from £10,000 to £1 million.
- The game now has a 105% RTP due to the growth of the jackpot.
- You are betting £1 per spin.
- 1 x 0.05 = £0.05
- This means that in theory, you are earning £0.05 for every spin.
But only in theory. It is true that progressive jackpot slots can be favourable towards the player in theory in terms of your chances of winning it, however, only one person can win the big prize.
So even though the player might have a considerable theoretical edge at times, they are highly unlikely to win the pot due to the sheer number of players taking part, so all of that ‘edge’ goes to a single player.
This is another example of a game which can particularly favour the player, although you need to be playing the right variation of the game and with a perfect strategy to achieve this. What is also advantageous about video poker is that it keeps things simple for the player since they just have to make the best hand out of the five cards they are dealt. This makes games quick, and getting through many hands in important when trying to beat the game.
The house edge on the most popular video poker game, Jacks or better, is 0.46 percent which means that a player has a payback percentage rate of 99.54 percent. This is pretty good, but it doesn’t yet favour the player.
A game like Deuces Wild, on the other hand, when played optimally can kick out an RTP of 100.67%, which puts it firmly in ‘player favouring’ territory. It’s not by much and this is why playing lots of hands is important, but turning those four 2 cards into wilds resets the odds in your favour.
Other video poker variations that give players the edge include the similarly named Double Double Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker, with 100.67% and 100.71% respectively, and way out in front is the equally confusingly named Triple Double Bonus Poker, at 102.56%. This last variation will, in theory, give you £102.56 back for every £100 you play.
Casino Games With a Low House Edge
While not technically favouring the player, there are other games with very low house edges where the player stands a decent chance of winning some money or, if nothing else, not losing so much.
While this may seem like a simple and straightforward game on the face of it, there is a considerable element of skill involved if you want to play properly.
The house edge in blackjack for a single deck game is only 1.5% for a non-professional player, which is fairly low anyway, but for a player who knows what they are doing and can play to a basic strategy this edge can be knocked back to around 0.5%.
Winning at blackjack is essentially down to luck for the hobbyist player, but there are many elements to factor in for those looking to increase their advantage (or should we say minimise their disadvantage).
These might include:
- Number of decks being used
- Rules on dealer 17
- Rules on splitting and doubling
- Playing perfect strategy
- Blackjack payout
- Card counting
That last one is only really applicable in real casinos and cannot be utilised online, however, it is not permitted in the casino’s rules (although it is not illegal) and if you are caught counting cards you will probably be asked to leave.
It is actually possible to reduce the house edge further with blackjack and even gain a very slight advantage, but this is only usually possible for high rollers who can negotiate their own terms with the casino in question and then play with 100% effectiveness.
Arguably one of the most popular games in the casino industry as a whole, roulette is a game based entirely on luck; there is nothing that anyone can do to improve their odds or influence the game, other than cheat of course.
A standard European roulette game with a single zero carries a house edge of 2.7% regardless of the number of bets or the bet type that you make. This is still fairly low, enough to qualify as a game with a low house edge in our eyes anyway, but if you play American roulette the house edge jumps dramatically.
This is because there is an extra zero creating 38 possible tiles on the American roulette wheel that the ball can land on, instead of the European wheel’s 37, yet the payouts do not improve. So your bet has less chance of winning and if it does your payout remains the same – more risk, the same reward. American roulette has a house edge of 5.2%, taking it out of the ‘low’ category entirely.
Some people believe that certain betting patterns will improve their chances, or that they can calculate an advantage by betting on a mixture of inside and outside bets to get optimal number coverage, but in reality the house edge remains the same whatever they do.
The only way to get an advantage with roulette is by choosing the right version of the game to play in the first place, and the one you want is French roulette – if you can find it. This is the same as European roulette but includes the En Prison or La Partage rule, which allow outside bets that lose to zero to either stay active for an extra spin or to have half of the stake returned.
The French roulette tables are a rarer site precisely because of these extra rules which erode the casino’s edge, knocking it down to just 1.35%.
This is a particularly iconic table game that is played with dice. The main ‘protagonist’ in craps is the ‘shooter’, who rolls the dice with the other players around the table making bets on the result of then roll.
With the first roll, which is called ‘coming out’, the shooter can win on either a seven or an 11, while if the shooter rolls any other number, this number becomes ‘the point’. The shooter is then required to hit this point before they roll a seven in order to achieve a win.
Even this simple explanation might seem complicated, and there are many more bets that can be made on top of those mentioned, so there is a lot of variation here. That means that the house edge in craps can vary from anywhere between 1.4% and 5% depending on your bet, which is a huge range.
Probably the simplest bet that can be made is whether the shooter will win or lose their roll, and this is also the bet with the lowest house edge; however, there are other bets that the participating players around the table can make, and while they may increase the enjoyment and excitement of the game they do reduce the player’s house edge.
It is also possible to place more than one bet on a game of craps and at different points in the game too, making keeping track of your edge at any one time virtually impossible unless you only ever make one bet at a time.
It’s not really possible to strategize to give yourself an advantage either, Unlike cards, for example, where you can accurately calculate the odds of getting a particular card based on those that have gone before and how many decks are in play, craps is based on a dice role so it’s all down to chance and probability – the probability never changes so it’s impossible to accurately predict the outcome.
Odds of Winning
The table below represents the upper and lower end of the house edge for each game mentioned in this article, apart from progressive jackpots since although statistically correct, the edge doesn’t reflect reality in the same way as the other games on the list.
|0.5% – 1.5%
|1.35% – 5.2%
|1.4% – 5.0%
|-2.6% – 0.46
Remember though, the lowest house edge is always achieved by choosing either the right version of the game, the right bet for that game, the right strategy, or a combination of all three.