Not all casino games are created equal.
You probably already know that the casino has a mathematical edge over the player on every game.
You might even already know that this house edge varies from game to game. Heck, it even varies from bet to bet in some games.
That’s one critical factor to look at when ranking casino games into a list of which ones are better for the smart gambler than the others.
Other factors include how many bets per hour you’ll make on average and how much fun the game is for the gambler. That’s the only subjective part of the analysis.
This post offers recommendations for the five best casino games you can play.
Blackjack is well-known for offering the best odds to the player of any game in the casino.
But you need to keep in mind a couple of facts about those great odds.
The first of those is that the odds are contingent upon you making the correct decisions. The correct decision in every situation in blackjack is called basic strategy, and most people memorize it using a table or chart. You can buy one in the gift shop, but it’s a good idea to memorize it.
The second thing to remember is that even though the house’s edge is small, it’s still the house’s edge, not yours.
You can get around this by putting some kind of advantage play strategy into place. This means learning how to count cards or spot dealer tells. Honestly, though, the effort required to get an edge over the casino is too much for most casual gamblers.
The house edge for blackjack is also dependent on the game conditions. A really good blackjack game might only have the edge over the player of 0.28% — this means that if you make all the correct decisions all the time, the casino expects to win 28 cents out of every $100 you bet.
In terms of fun, well…
You can’t beat blackjack.
Baccarat is an intimidating game, especially if you try to read the Wikipedia article that explains how to play.
The truth is, though, that baccarat has no skill element at all other than choosing the bet which has the better house edge.
You only have three bets to choose from:
The banker bet has the lowest house edge, and it’s only 1.06%. That sounds high compared to blackjack, but since you don’t have any meaningful decisions to make, it’s a fair trade.
The player bet is only slightly worse than that. It’s only 1.24%. It’s still not worth making, though, as the better bet is the banker bet. Variety isn’t worth 0.18% in expectation, which is the difference between the two bets.
The tie bet, though, offers a much higher house edge. The 8 to 1 payout isn’t worth it, because you’ll lose so many more times than 8 out of 9. The house edge for this bet is 14.36%, making it one of the biggest sucker bets in the casino.
People don’t play baccarat as much as they used to, but aficionados of the game love it.
Did I say baccarat is intimidating?
Let’s talk about craps.
Craps has an entire language all its own, with nicknames for every possible total on the dice and for every possible bet you can make – of which there is a bewildering number.
But at its heart, the basics of craps is simple enough:
Someone shoots dice and tries to roll a 7 on his first roll. If he does, then the shooter wins. If he rolls a 2, 3, or 12, he loses.
Any other number becomes a point. If that happens, the shooter keeps rolling until he rolls the point again or a 7, whichever comes first.
If the rolls the point first, he wins. If he rolls a 7 first, he loses.
If you’re betting on the shooter to win, you’re placing a pass line bet. The house edge on that bet is only 1.41%.
The amount you can bet on this is a multiple of the amount you bet on pass or come. Sometimes it’s 1x, 3x, 4x, 5x, 10x, or even 100x – the maximum varies by casino.
Mathematically, the best strategy is to bet the pass line and take odds as much as you can.
You can bet the other way – for the shooter to lose – by placing a don’t pass or don’t come bet. You can lay odds on this option, too.
The house edge is only slightly better when doing this – 1.36% instead of 1.41%.
To me, it’s not worth it to root against most everyone else at the table to get 0.05% in return.
Your mileage may vary, but you should learn to play craps.
Roulette has the virtue of being a leisurely game, which helps to defray the 5.26% house edge.
You might see 120 rolls of the dice at the craps table per hour – or 120 hands of blackjack per hour – but it’s rare to see more than 40 or 50 spins of the wheel per hour at the roulette table.
Of course, in the long run, roulette is a lousy game compared to the other four games on this list.
But it does offer one advantage over those other games:
It’s peculiarly suited for use of the Martingale System, which is a way to double your bets after each loss and make up for your previous losses.
The Martingale doesn’t work in the long run, but in the short run, it often does.
Try it the next time you’re playing roulette and see what you think.
5- Video Poker
Video poker pay tables vary from game to game, but if you can find the right pay table, you can face a house edge that’s just as low as you’d find in blackjack.
There are a bewildering number of video poker games available, though, and you need to make the right decisions on every hand to achieve these low house edge numbers.
But if you can do it, you can play a game that LOOKS like a slot machine but has the house edge of blackjack.
Those are my five picks for the best casino games to play.
Do you agree or disagree with my choices?
Let me know in the comments which games you’d add and which games you’d remove from the list.