All casino games stack the odds in favor of the casino. That’s obvious. The casinos wouldn’t stay in business if they didn’t.
But people play casino games anyway.
They find them entertaining.
But what one casino gambler finds entertaining varies from what another casino gambler might find entertaining.
This post looks at what pros and cons each of the various casino games offer players.
The Pros and Cons of Blackjack
The biggest pro that blackjack offers is that it offers some of the best odds in the house. The house edge for blackjack, when played with perfect basic strategy, is less than 1%.
The house edge is the statistically predicted amount you’ll lose on each bet. The lower the house edge is, the better your chances are (generally speaking) of walking away from the game a winner.
But in blackjack, you get to make decisions that either improve your odds or make them worse.
This is also the biggest con of the game. Some gamblers don’t want to play a game where they have any decisions to make. It’s too much pressure.
The other big con to blackjack is that it’s impossible to win any kind of big prize at the blackjack table. If you bet $10, you’ll win $10 or $15 if you get a blackjack. Some people prefer bigger payouts even if it means they get paid off less often.
The Pros and Cons of Slot Machines
The biggest pro for playing real money slots is that you can win a large enough amount of money on a single bet to really make a difference in your life. Even the lower ranges of flat-top machines average a top prizes of 1000 coins. I don’t know many people playing dollar slots who wouldn’t get excited about a $1000 win.
Of course, this ignores the progressive jackpots that are available, too. These are games where you can literally win a life-changing amount of money. Megabucks has a starting jackpot of $10 million and gets bigger every time someone in Nevada spins the wheel.
Also, slot machines don’t involve any skill at all. For some gamblers, this is a great perk. They’d rather not have the pressure of making decisions. Other gamblers, though, might find the lack of agency disturbing or boring.
The biggest con for playing slot machines is that they’re a huge drain on your bankroll over time. You calculate your expected hourly loss by multiplying the house edge by your hourly action. Most people make 500+ spins per hour at a slot machine, which drives their hourly action through the roof.
Think about it this way:
If you’re risking $3 per spin on a slot machine, you’re probably putting at least $1500 per hour into action.
If the house edge on the slot machine is only 6% — which would make it one of the best-paying slot machines out there – you hourly expected loss on that machine is $90.
Compare that to a game like blackjack, where the best you can hope for is 200 hands per hour (and that’s if you’re heads-up with the dealer). If you’re betting $5 per hand, you’re only putting $1000 per hour into action. Since the house edge for blackjack is around 1% or as bad as 2% if you play poorly, your hourly loss is likely to be in the $10 to $20 range.
I prefer my gambling games to be transparent about the odds they’re offering, and that’s just not the case with slot machines. You could play 2 identical slot machines sitting right next to each other on the casino floor, and one might have a house edge of 6%, while the other might have a house edge of 12%.
The Pros and Cons of Craps
The biggest pro of craps is that it’s more fun than any other game in the casino. It’s an adrenaline rush, and it’s a streaky game. You can start off with very little money on the table and find yourself up several times that in minutes.
You can also see all those winnings washed away with a single throw of the dice that goes badly.
The other pro of craps is that it offers some of the best odds in the casino – if you stick with the right bets. I always suggest sticking with games where the house edge is 1.5% or less. Craps makes the cut if you stick with the pass or come bets. You can also play don’t pass and don’t come bets. Taking or laying odds has a house edge of 0%.
You should skip all the other bets at the craps table. This is one of the cons of the game – a huge number of bets with a high house edge that the casino staff is going to pressure you to make every time the dice are thrown.
Being a reader of my blog, though, you’ll be immune to the casinos’ sales techniques.
The other con is that the game seems complicated to newcomers, and it can be intimidating to learn how craps betting works. Don’t worry about it, though. It’s less complicated than you think, and most craps players are more welcoming to newcomers than you might think.
The Pros and Cons of Roulette
The biggest pro for roulette is that it’s easy to understand. I was able to pick up how to play in a couple of bets, and most gamblers are smart enough to do the same. You don’t have to stress out about learning a lot of jargon or looking foolish at the roulette table.
The other big pro for roulette is that you have some flexibility with how volatile you want your bets to be. If you want to experience lots of small wins, you can place even money bets which win half the time. If you prefer to see larger wins that happen less often, you can place bets on single numbers and see a payoff of 35 to 1 when you win.
You can place bets with payouts in between, too.
In American roulette, the default house edge is 5.26%, which is far outside of my usual recommendation. If you can find a European roulette game, though – one with a single zero instead of a 0 and a 00, you can get a lower house edge of 2.70%.
In most Vegas casinos, the European roulette games have a higher minimum bet than the standard American roulette tables.
Some people fall for some terrible casino betting systems related to roulette, like the Martingale. If you’re a sucker for those kinds of things, roulette might be a game you’d be better off avoiding.
The Pros and Cons of Video Poker
If you like having some influence over the outcome of your gambling games, video poker might be ideal for you – especially if you’re an introvert. I usually recommend blackjack to casino players who want to make decisions that matter.
But introverts often dislike blackjack because of the necessity of sitting with other players at the table.
Another pro to video poker is the low house edge. You can find video poker games with a house edge of between 0.3% and 0.5%. You must be able to use close-to-optimal video poker strategy to see those numbers, though.
Video poker doesn’t lack cons, though. It’s as fast-paced a game as slot machines, so you’ll be putting a lot of money into action per hour when you play video poker. Just like slots, you’ll probably make 500 bets per hour when playing video poker games.
It’s also more volatile than some of the games with a low house edge. Even though the house edge is low, part of why it’s low is because of the payout for a royal flush, which only comes up once every 40,000 hands. That means you’ll only see a royal flush on average once every 80 hours or so.
The other con to video poker is that the house edge varies based on the pay table. If you’re not familiar with how the various pay tables work, you might easily find yourself at a video poker game where the house edge is 6% or 7% instead of the 0.3% to 0.5% I was touting earlier.
All gambling games in a casino have their pros and cons. Much of the decision about what you should and shouldn’t bet on in the casino boils down to your personal preferences.
There are no right or wrong answers, although I think you should stick with games where the house edge is lower than 1.5%.