- Are any casino games beatable, or does the house always win?
- How can you increase your chances of success?
If you ask a new casino player whether they have any questions, most will ask which game they should play in order to win. The chance of a profit is the biggest draw for most, and everyone wants to maximize the possible outcome when they play.
Does the house always win?
Let’s get this out of the way first.
No casino game is ‘beatable’ in the strictest sense of the word. Over a prolonged amount of time, the house is always going to make a profit from the player, thanks to the in-built advantage conferred to the house in each game – called the house edge.
Casino games are set up to be profitable for the operator: it keeps the lights on, the staff paid, the directors in limousines and private jets and more.
This house edge comes into play in a number of ways across many games, but roulette is perhaps the simplest form of the house edge in practice.
Assume a roulette wheel has 36 numbers which are split equally into red and black groups. If a player bets on red or black (or on odd or even), they can expect 50-50 odds and they should break even over time.
So to tip the balance in the casino’s favor, roulette wheels have an extra number (0) or two extra numbers (0 and 00), which alter the odds for all numbers on the wheel. This gives a 2.7% (on single zero European roulette) or 5.26% payback rate for the house (on double zero American roulette).
That doesn’t mean a player is guaranteed to come out with a loss, of course. The house edge only pays over a long period of time. A player could spend relatively little on a few games, get lucky with a big win, and walk away with some serious profit.
In this sense, the player has certainly beaten the game – and the house! The longer a player spends on a game, the more they generally pay to the casino in the long run.
Which games have the lowest edge?
If you want a game that is ‘beatable’, or rather as close as possible, look for table games with a very narrow house edge.
Blackjack is a good place to start – especially when played with a single deck. Some casino blackjack games have an edge as low as 1%. The more decks are added to the game, the higher the house advantage creeps. It also becomes harder to predict how the next hand will go when more cards are involved, so players have to take more risks during the game.
Playing on a blackjack table that pays 3 to 2 instead of 6 to 5 is also essential.
Read our guide to blackjack to help get you started and find where best to play.
The dice game craps also has the potential for getting one over on the house, thanks to the free odds bet which can be made during the game.
The free odds bet offers no house advantage. Odds in craps vary greatly, but an experienced player will know how to balance different types of bet to improve their chances against the house.
Read our guide to craps if you fancy getting started.
Indeed, baccarat is often the game of choice for high rollers.
Never played baccarat? Read our guide to get you started, including the best places to play.
Video poker also offers a good chance for a return to the player.
Some machines bring the house edge down less than 0.5% over multiple hands, while an average rate for a single hand draw is around 5%.
To get that house edge, you need to play optimally, meaning taking the right decisions for each hand – and that takes practice.
Casinos often offer a variety of video poker games, but look for the standard Jacks or Better game if you want the highest chance of a smart win.
Video poker is more complicated than most table games, so read our guide before you get started.
Which games are hardest to beat?
Typically, the highest house advantage is found in slot games.
The variance between wins and losses tends to be highest on electronic slots – though these are where the biggest wins can usually be found.
Video slots can take as much as 20% from a player, though the best tend to offer a return to player rate of between 95% and even 99%.
Read our slots guide to help get you started.
Some online casinos offer backgammon for gamblers as well, but this is probably the hardest game to profit from. The lowest edge found in the game is 4.82%, and bets on doubles can run to 6.39% against the player’s chance of winning.
Skill over luck improves chance of success
Of course, players can improve their chances of winning at the casino by opting to play skill-based games.
Poker is the classic skill-based gambling game, and it is the one game in a casino which does not include a house edge.
Instead, players take on other players and all competitors have the chance to win money from each other. If the house wants to make a profit from offering the game, it needs to take a cut from the pot or charge a fee. Players who are skilled at the game may well walk away with a profit.
Skill-based video gambling is a relatively new concept where players take on arcade-style video games, and rack up points or complete levels to unlock cash rewards. This form of gambling is still in its infancy, but there is a growing demand for games in casinos that are not purely based on luck.
Whether these games offer a chance to be beaten or not remains to be seen.
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