When you play online slots or any table/card game against the dealer such as Blackjack, Tequila poker or Craps, then you are playing against the casino ‘house edge’ or as some call it; the ‘casino advantage’.
This is simply the term used to describe the mathematical advantage the casino holds in relation to the game you are playing.
Here’s an example of the casino house edge when playing European Roulette with one zero on the wheel (usually a white-coloured slot) and 36 numbers numbers (18 of which are coloured black and the other 18 coloured red.
A player bets $1 on red. The chances of winning are 18/37 (total number of red slots/total number of slots on the whole table), so 18/37 = 0.486 (X 100 gives us the percentage) = 48.6%
The flip side, the chances of losing are 19/37 (18 blacks and 1 zero/total number of slots on the whole table), so 19/37 = 0.513 (X 100 gives us the percentage) = 51.3%
Losing percentage – winning percentage (51.3% – 48.6%) = 2.7% house edge
Putting it another way, based on the maths above, which over the long haul will stand the test of time, if you had $10,000 is your skyrocket (pocket) and you bet $1 a time on each spin of the roulette wheel for 10,000 spins, you would end up walking away with $9,730 (10k – 2.7%).
And that my dear fellows is the casino’s house edge!
Why Does the House Edge Matter?
Okay, we’ve established that the odds are in the casino’s favour (no medals for guessing that one) but the reason why it is important to know the house edge is so you, the player, can choose which games you play more wisely.
The American form of roulette is played using two zero slots so the above bet of betting on red is 18/38 (win) and 20/38 (lose). This doesn’t sound like too much but it actually increases the house edge up to 5.26%. So, from your $10k you would walk away with $9,474.
Therefore, next time you login into your favourite online casino for a few spins on the roulette wheel, it’s probably best to opt for the wheel holding one zero as that carries a lower house edge.
Games which require a ‘skill’ element, such as Blackjack and the wide variants of poker available, the house edge is often referred to as the ‘house advantage’, in some of these games the house’s advantage can be reduced if the correct strategy for the game is used. Very knowledgeable and skillful Blackjack players can reduce the house edge to around 0.5% which makes in very nearly a level playing field.
Summing up, one may ask, ‘Why the heck bother to gamble with the odds are against us?’ and it is a very valid question. Gambling should be a form of personal entertainment, just as you would pay to go and watch a football match or take your better half to the cinema, if you keep it in perspective and bet only what you can afford to lose, then all’s good. However, if you don’t, then you might have some 7ft tall debt collectors knocking on your mother’s door to come and repo the TV, and no one wants that, do they?