The traditional way to measure how good or bad a bet in a casino is by looking at the house edge. That’s just a statistical estimate of how much you’ll lose on average over the long run when making that wager.
For example, if the house edge is 5%, if you play for a long time, you’ll probably lose $5 for every $100 you bet.
Generally, the higher the house edge is, the faster you’ll go broke.
It’s not the most critical factor, but it’s high on the list.
Below, I’ve listed what I think are the seven best bets in the casino in descending order of how good they are, house edge-wise.
I’ve also explained what these numbers mean.
Blackjack If You’re Counting Cards
The best bet you can make in a casino under normal circumstances is at the blackjack table when you’re counting cards. If you’re good at it and find a game with decent gameplay conditions, the house edge is actually negative for the casino and positive for you.
Good card counters can get an edge of 1%, meaning that if they’ll win $1 on average for every $100 they bet.
That $100 is a total on the action the player brings to the table, by the way. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single bet of $100 or 20 bets of $5 each. The expectation is the same $1 either way.
Card counters, in fact, don’t flat bet often. They vary their bets based on the count, which is an indicator of how favorable the game conditions are.
Full Pay Deuces Wild If You Play With Perfect Basic Strategy
Deuces Wild is a video poker game where the 2s act as wild cards. As with any video poker game, the payback percentage is dependent on two things:
- The paytable
- How well you play the game
When a video poker game is called “full pay,” it means that it’s the best possible pay table you’ll be able to find for the game.
In the case of Deuces Wild, full-pay games are rarer than hen’s teeth.
But if you can find one, and if you can play the game with optimal strategy, you’ll have almost as big an edge over the casino as you would have if you were counting cards in blackjack.
Your expected return for full-pay Deuces Wild video poker is 100.76%, which means that you have a mathematical edge over the house of 0.76%.
For every $100 you put into action, the mathematical expectation is for you to win 76 cents.
As before, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing for $100 a hand, $20 a hand, $5 a hand, or $1.25 per hand. It’s about the total amount of action you’re engaged in.
10/7 Double Bonus Poker
Double Bonus Poker is another variation of real money video poker. Instead of wild cards, this version of video poker is just like Jacks or Better, but you get bonus payouts on hands with 4 of a kind. The ranking of the cards making up the 4 of a kind determines the size of the bonus payout.
This paytable for Double Bonus Poker is unusual, but it’s not as rare as the full pay Deuces Wild game I mentioned earlier.
It’s also not as generous.
The payback percentage – when played with optimal strategy – is 100.17%, which means you’re expecting to win 17 cents for every $100 you put into action on such a machine.
The Don’t Pass Bet in Craps If You Lay 100X Odds
The don’t pass bet by itself has a house edge of 1.36%, which means that you can expect to lose $1.36 for every $100 you put into action on that bet.
But when you make a don’t pass bet in craps, and the shooter sets a point on the come-out roll, you have the opportunity to take a bet called the odds bet.
This is one of the rare bets in the casino that pays out at true odds and has no house edge. If you could do nothing but make odds bets all day, you’d probably break even.
But you can only take or lay odds if you first place the don’t pass bet.
And casinos limit the size of your odds bet because they have a vested interest in making sure you face a higher rather than a lower house edge.
So the maximum amount you can bet on odds is expressed as a multiple of what you bet on the don’t pass line.
If you can find a casino that allows you to bet 100X on odds, you’re looking at a total house edge on all the money you have in action of 0.01%.
This means that for every $100 you bet, your expected loss, in the long run, is only a penny.
But you need to be well-bankrolled to afford that kind of bet.
You also need to find a casino that allows you to bet that much on odds.
Obviously, casinos are more likely to have lower limits on the odds bets than that.
Also, the don’t come bet has the same house edge.
The Pass Line Bet With 100X Odds
The pass line bet is the opposite of the don’t pass bet, but if you’re allowed to take 100X odds on this bet, the house edge is similarly low. It’s 0.02% instead of 0.01%, but that’s still only two cents on every $100 you wager. It’s hard to find a much better deal than that anywhere.
To place these kinds of bets playing real money craps, you do need a substantial bankroll.
For example, if you’re betting $5 on pass or don’t pass, if you want to put 100X that on the odds bet, you need to be able to comfortably afford $500 wagers regularly.
And, just like the don’t pass bet has its sister bet, don’t come, the pass line bet has a twin sister – the come bet. The house edge is the same for it.
Pass and Don’t Pass With 20X Odds
I’m going to cheat a little here and lump these together even though they have different numbers. The don’t pass bet with 20X odds has a house edge of 0.07%, and the pass bet with 20X odds has a house edge of 0.10%.
Losing 7 cents or 10 cents on average for every $100 you put into action isn’t a bad deal at all.
In fact, as the list goes on, the maximum amount you can take odds makes craps the game that comes next during the list, as follows:
- Don’t pass with 10X odds – 0.12%
- Pass with 10X odds – 0.18%
- Don’t pass with 5X odds – 0.23%
- Pass with 5X odds – 0.33%
- Don’t pass with 3X odds – 0.34%
- Don’t pass with 2X odds – 0.46%
Full Pay Jacks or Better Video Poker
The house edge on a 9/6 Jacks or Better game is 0.46%. As with the Double Bonus game I mentioned earlier, the 9/6 represents the payouts for the full house and the flush. The full house pays off at 9 for 1, and the flush pays off at 6 for 1.
The big difference is the bankroll required.
Even with the don’t pass with 2X odds, you’re looking at having to put $15 per bet into action regularly — $5 on the don’t pass along with the $10 in odds bets.
With Jacks or Better video poker, you can find full pay games where you can play for $5 per hand.
Both games are pretty volatile, too, so keep that mind, also.
The best bets in the casino are those with the lowest house edge. As you can see, the lowest house edge games all fall into a handful of categories:
- Video poker
I think those are good candidates for the best games in the casino anyway. Blackjack and video poker are great because they include a skill element. And craps is just plain exciting.