House Edge and How to Win in Casinos

If the payoff on a heads-or-tails wager is 1:1 (one unit paying for each risked unit), then both players are equally likely to earn a profit or lose.

But let’s say the payout goes up or down (1:2, 2:1, etc.). The true odds are still 1:1, but there have been changes in the payout chances, or house odds. The player who gets the extra money has a good advantage over the long term.

This is known as constructive anticipation. There is a negative assumption of the person giving the extra money. The difference could be as little as one penny on a wager for the dollar, but that would do it alone. There is still no way to predict who will win most decisions, but as the flips begin, one side will eventually, inexorably and permanently win more money.

It is a mathematical fact, a universe rule. If the other guy would just keep flipping and betting regularly and easily, the person wagering the positive side could quit her job and retire. That’s how casinos, both land-based and online casinos, make a profit. They don’t always have to win. The majority of the time they don’t even have to win; they just need to have a reasonable attitude. This benefit is often referred to as the edge of the building.

In the case of the coin-flip, a one-penny payout difference converts into a 0.5 per cent house edge and a 99.5 percent payback to the bettor. In other words, after two decisions or one half cent after one decision, a standard bettor will lose once, win once and be down an average one cent.

The flips are spontaneous, of course, so there are patterns here. In a few hundred, or a few thousand flips, anything could happen. But in the long run, the side with the optimistic expectation will eventually win about half of all the wagered money. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s adding up. And casinos get even better. Many people willingly play in a way that gives casinos a 2 to 15 percent advantage. And many games “cover” a huge house edge by charging 1:1 or better while cleverly adjusting the “coin” so the heads are more difficult to hit.

How To Win?

First of all, you must lose less. Wherever possible, this means reducing the edge of the house. Sometimes it’s as simple as choosing a quarter over nickels, or a 3:2 payout over a 6:5 payout for blackjack naturals. As the edge of the casino drops, your potential for profitable luck increases.

Using gambling strategies is the best way to reduce the house edge, and sometimes even shift it to your side. Optimal blackjack strategies tell you when to double down. They tell you which video poker cards to hold, or the line’s advantage over the craps field.

Approximately 90 cents of every dollar a casino wins comes from players that don’t use optimal strategies. Either they do not know there is a game strategy, or they think it’s too much trouble learning. Many players prefer to base themselves on hunches and superstitions. That’s all right but it’s costly! Optimum strategies save you money, give you more time to play and give you more opportunities to walk away with a profit.