Casinos are a place where adults can have as much fun as kids do at amusement parks. This could not be any more of an apt description because amusement parks and casinos are exactly the same—they both take as much money as they can from you and still manage to send you home happy. While casinos are all about having fun, it is important to keep in mind that, at the end of the day, casinos are in the business of making money. Though you may not understand how these establishments make money, rest-assured they are doing it every time players make wagers.
Some people think that casinos make their money by cheating players, but nothing could be further from the truth. Money is made thanks to guaranteed profit being built into every bet that is placed. This is known as the house edge.
House Edge Explained
Before we go any further, it is important to point out that two games—video poker and blackjack—do not have any house edge built into them.
The best way to simplify house edge is to explain things in terms of a simple coin toss. If, for example, you and a friend were to be placing wagers on a coin toss, you know that the odds of the coin landing on either one of the sides is an even 50%. If you wager $2 and are playing at true odds (50%=1:1), a winning bet on your part would see you win an even $2. If this same coin toss played out on the floor of a casino, you might see something like a winning bet pay out only $1.90 as opposed to an even $2. The $0.10 difference between true odds and what you are actually paid is known as the house edge. No matter how many times a player wins, they will, with each and every winning bet, be paying the casino 5%. In this hypothetical example, the coin-toss game’s house edge would be 2.5%.
You may be wondering why you have never really taken note of house edge before, and that is because casinos do well to avoid advertising just how much they are making with each turn of a card, roll of the dice, or spin of the wheel. Just like taxes, house edge is a cost you will be forced to pay whether you like it or not. After all, casinos have bills to pay too, and without house edge they would all surely go bankrupt in a hurry.
Varieties of House Edge
In the example above, the house edge is pretty cut and dry and is easy to understand. As you begin playing games that are more complex, the house edge can be a bit more confusing to understand. When it comes to the game of baccarat, for example, the house edge depends on the position upon which you are wagering. A bet on the bank has a very small house edge, but a bet on the tie sees the house have a very large edge.
Even now you may think that understanding what house edge is and how it is applied to your favorite games is a waste of time, but that is patently not true. Once you gain a better understanding of how house edge is applied to games you may also change your casino play to give yourself a better edge.
House Edge FAQs
Are there any casinos that do not host games with a built-in house edge?
The short answer to this question is no. House edge is the way in which casinos make their money. If a casino—online or brick and mortar—did not boast house edge, they would quickly run out of money and be forced out of business.
If a game has a high house edge should I not play it?
This is something that you must decide for yourself. Now that you know more about what house edge is and how it works, you may want to stay away from games with high casino commissions, but at the same time it is important to remember that some of the most profitable bets (if you are able to win them) also have some of the highest house edges.
Do different casinos have different house edges for identical games?
Sometimes you will find that a casino is raking in more per bet than standard house edge. Though this isn’t entirely common, there are some casinos who look to get one over on their players by utilizing a higher house edge. For this reason, doing your due diligence and finding out everything there is to know about a site prior to playing there is incredibly important. Through very minimal amounts of research you will be able to differentiate casinos with unfair edges and those that align with industry standards.