Anyone who has tried their luck with standard casino games should understand that they are primarily for entertainment rather than providing a way to earn a living. Of course, there are professional gamblers, but such people tend to make their livings playing each other in games of poker rather than the traditional table games offered at most casinos where you bet against the house. The reason for this – which is equally true when you play casino games online – is that there is a house advantage for table games. In other words, the casino has a built-in mathematical advantage that means over time it will come out ahead. Even if an individual player walks away with a big prize, the house should still win in the long run. That’s why bricks and mortar casinos encourage players to keep playing. The more gambling that goes on, the less volatile the business is for the casino company.
That said, different games offer different house advantages. Indeed, some have been looked at closely by mathematicians to see how betting in certain ways can minimize – or even reverse – this house advantage. At any good online casino you play casino games with similar advantages, so the same mathematical techniques can be deployed. Which table games have the lowest house advantages and which ones are mathematically beatable?
To begin with, there is no known mathematical model for betting on roulette that will overcome the house edge or advantage. That said, it is a table game that affords one of the best chances of winning of all the available games. Of course, if you bet on a particular number coming up following a spin, then the chances are that you will lose your stake unless you cover it with other bets on the same turn. Many people avoid this high risk, high reward betting method and instead opt for the evens bets which offer a theoretical 50:50 chance of doubling your money. A bet on evens, odds, red or black would fall into this category.
However, there is no true 50:50 evens bet in roulette due to the house advantage. This edge is maintained by the green zero section of the roulette wheel. If the ball ends up in there, then no player will win following a spin no matter how they arranged their bets. In European casinos, this means the house edge is approximately 2.7 percent. Since American casinos have roulette wheels with two zeroes, the house advantage with such games is effectively doubled.
An extremely popular table game in North America, craps put some players off because it looks very complicated. In fact, craps is an extremely simple dice rolling game that you can pick up within a few minutes. What’s even more appealing to mathematically minded players is that the game offers extremely favourable odds with a very low house advantage. Indeed, players can get closer to a true evens bet which has a genuine 50:50 outcome than they can playing roulette.
The big problem with betting on craps with the least mathematical advantage for the house is that the edge changes for the sort of bet being made and whether you are talking about a single die roll – or proposition bet – or not. Multi-roll bets have to be calculated individually, too, in order to work out the house advantage. However, the ‘pass bet’ or ‘don’t pass bet’ that most players like to make have the lowest house edges of all so these are the best ones to learn about if you want to maximize your chances of winning at craps.
The most popular card-based table game in casinos around the world, blackjack means several players will frequently play against the house at the same time. Croupiers will often play to strict rules about when to twist or hit, and when to stick rather than playing by instinct as many gamblers will. If dealers stick to the rules, then there is a house advantage, just like every other casino game. However, by a method known as card counting, players are able to turn this advantage around. To be clear, blackjack is a mathematically beatable casino game if you use card counting methods. The trouble is that it is quite hard to do.
When you card count, you are making a mental note of each revealed card to keep a ‘score’ for the remaining unknown cards in the deck. When the score moves away from zero, it either means it is advantageous to make a large bet or, conversely, to play with more caution. Card counting won’t ever tell you when to make a larger bet and be guaranteed of winning. It can still lead to losses because it is a game of chance, after all. However, it can overcome the in-built house advantage if you are skilled enough to count properly.
Casinos know all about card counting, of course. Gamblers are monitored for erratic betting patterns which is a sure sign of the technique being used. You may be asked to leave if the casino thinks you are ‘cheating’ in this manner. Equally, card counting is made harder if the casino uses multiple decks of cards in a shoe and shuffles them more often, something they will do if they think a player might be counting at one of their tables.