House Bias

What is House Bias?

House bias is the practice of odds fixing in commercial casinos which allows the house to take a profit from the players. Games in casinos tend to favor the house over the players, thanks to the inclusion of some rule or payout reduction, so that over time the casino can claim money from the bets players make. This is why in the short term, a gambler can beat the casino with a big win – but over time, the house always wins.

House Bias Explained

House bias, often heard as house advantage or house edge, is the casino’s margin of profit on games played at its tables. Casinos are businesses like any other, and they have costs to meet and staff to pay. While some profit is recouped through the bars, restaurants and other services offered, gambling floors and online casinos make their profit directly from the games.

House bias simply means that the odds are weighted slightly in the casino’s favor. The player still has a fair chance of winning the bet, but the odds are not true odds. Instead, the payout from a bet is slightly reduced, i.e. the odds are lowered, so that the casino can take a cut from the bets over time.

Roulette is a good example of house bias in action. The roulette wheel is numbered 1-36 with those numbers split evenly into red and black (and odd and even). Under these conditions, a player betting on red every time could expect to win 50% of the time in the long term, breaking even. There would be no profit in this game for the house. Casino roulette therefore includes an additional element – the zero – which counts as neither red or black, nor odd or even. This means the player only wins their red bet around 47% of the time, and the house retains a 2.7% profit. American roulette extends that house edge to 5.26% by adding an extra double zero to the wheel.

Most casino games are played against the house, and include some form of house bias. Poker is an exception, because it is played against other gamblers. The profit for the house is taken as a percentage of the pot, or as a fee per player. Some casino games also include bets where there is no house bias, such as the free odds bet in craps.

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