reduce the house edgereduce the house edge

Introduction: How to Reduce the House Edge

First things first. Before we discuss ways to reduce the house edge, it’s important that you face the facts when going to the casino. Whether you’re playing in bricks and mortar casino, or online, you have to understand that the games are already fixed. They all have a house edge and there’s no getting away from the fact that this gives them an unbeatable theoretical return.

There are really only two ways that you can reduce the house edge. One is luck. And the other is to play a perfect game. Keep in mind that there are two house edges. One is the difference between the theoretical return to the layer vs the actual return due to poor gaming. And the other, secondary edge is down to the choices that happen during a game. For example, should you play blackjack at 6:5 or 3:2? Of course, this is a no-brainer for anyone with the slightest ability at math. But we can often see, that when faced with a couple of options, many will still choose the one that’s going to be detrimental to their bankroll.

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It drives us bonkers. In all casinos, the table rules are posted and you can compare variations of the games. So why wouldn’t you check what version is going to pay out more? Are people that lazy? If you were playing online, then you have to find the best casino sites to play. Always make a habit of checking all the information before entering a game. Work out precisely your payout possibilities first. By knowing this, you’ll have a number to aim for when you need to reduce the house edge. It’ll certainly save a lot of grief after watching your bankroll disappear in a few rounds. In casino chat rooms and forums, you’ll come across talk of “Zero Lounges” where the house edge is either nonexistent or really small. Whether they actually exist is a moot point. In reality, you should try and be your own zero lounges.

reduce the house edge
Blackjack is your best chance to beat the house edge

What the House Edge Is and Why It’s Acceptable

If you think about it, then you’ll realize that your winnings are nothing more than the money you and other gamblers have spent at the casino where you’re playing. The staff and casino running costs come out of a commission that’s a percentage of the money that’s been wagered. If we take a look at roulette, for example, we’ll see how this works.

A single number win with roulette and the casino will pay you out at 35 to 1 odds. Yeah, that sounds very generous. But hold on…there are three types of roulette wheels to play on. And each gives different odds. So the American wheel gives odds of 38:1, the European wheel 37:1 and the Triple wheel (Sand’s Roulette) 39:1. So in reality, the probability of the ball landing in any single number slot is less than 1 in 35. Now you can see, that even without the green slots on the wheel, the house is always going to pay you out less than even money on a single number bet. Having those green slots gives the house a statistical advantage.

Choose Your Wheel

The European wheel, also known as the “single-zero wheel” offers a house edge of 2.7%. Now if the table uses the French system called “Partage” rules when half your wager can be refunded to the player, then the house edge drops to 1.35%. One thing to watch out for is that the American wheel has a house edge of 5.26%, which is almost double the best edge on the European wheel. Sand’s roulette enjoys a bonkers house edge of 7.69%, so there’s absolutely no reason to play on that table!

You should always be aware of the house edge of the jackpot games you’re going to be playing. As a profit player, you’re going to be wanting to give the casino as little money as possible. So you’ll need to reduce the house edge. Of course, the casino has significant running costs. They need to make money by running games that retain a percentage of the players’ wagers. But you should try and gravitate towards those games with the lowest house edge. These will probably be either blackjack or poker, though you’ll need to see the rules as they can be quite different between different casinos.

reduce the house edge
The different roulette variations have a different house edge

As we can’t change these rules ourselves, then how can we possibly lower the house edge? Good question. Let’s have a look. Essentially we have to work on the “hidden edge” and the “secondary edge” that we mentioned earlier.

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Memorize the Basic or Standard Rules of the Game

All casino table games will have what we call a “basic strategy”. This is the optimum way of playing. If you don’t know the basic strategy for the game you’re playing, then you’re going to fail horribly. The simplest strategy can be found in Baccarat, which is to bet on the banker for the lowest house edge. With Blackjack strategy, things are slightly more complicated due to the possible combinations of cards. obviously when you have a better understanding of the gameplay then you’re going to be making fewer mistakes. And this in turn will help towards reducing the hidden house edge.

Knowing the basic rules is helpful in another way. Often, the casino will change the table rules on a weekly basis, depending on its financials. You’ll be in the position to recognize any changes instantly and be able to decide if you really want to play that table.

On the whole, any deviation from the standard rules by a casino is there is help make them more, and you less. Yes, it does seem strange to change the table games rules when a casino makes the lion’s share of its profits from slot machines. But, it really doesn’t matter whether they change the payout odds or limits or minimums, it’s not for your benefit. We point this out, as choosing to play basic games over any house versions will either reduce or completely eliminate the secondary house edge.

Play the Odds in Craps

Of all the bets possible at casinos table games, there’s only one truly even money bet. And that’s playing the odds at craps. Having said that, there is a minor fly in the ointment. In order to play the odds in craps, you’ll e needing to make a Pass or Don’t Pass bet. So your overall odds are limited by the actual amount placed on your Pass/Don’t Pass wager. Now, the house has an edge on the first bet, Taking or Laying Out the Odds will help flatten the odds a little. Every little bit helps. Most expert players will recommend playing the Odds for that very reason.

reduce the house edge
Mastering craps is rewarding – Image source: Flickr

Many players will start the game with a Pass bet. These are made on the Come Out Roll, when the black marker on the table reads, “Off”. You’ll win even money when the Pass roll is a 7 or 11. If the Come Out roll is a 2, 3 or a 12, then you lose your bet. Any other result will have the Stickman flip the black marker to say “On”. Of course, you can always make a Pass bet after the Come Out roll, but we would not recommend it as the payout will be tiny.

Don’t Pass is the Better Bet

Once you’re past the Come Out roll, you can take the Odds. This is an even-money bet that the point will be rolled before the 7 comes up. The payout odds for this match the probability of getting any winning number. There are some casinos that pay very handsomely on an Odds bet. For the basic game, the bets can be figured as follows: Pass + Odds > Pass. Now if you make a Don’t pass bet on the Come Out roll, then you’ll win if the dice total is a 2 or a 3. You should push if the shooter rolls a 12. In fact, you’ll lose if any other number is rolled. Some casinos do like to push on the 2 instead of the 12. Now, if you bet Don’t Pass on the Come Out roll, then you Lay the Odds.

This means that you’re betting that the shooter will roll a 7 before rolling the point.

The house edge is slightly better for the Don’t Pass than for the Pass. That means that you reduce the house edge by playing it. Just be aware that most gamblers don’t like being bet against. On the other hand, this is the reason everyone shouts “come on 7!” when playing craps in the movies and on television. We guess that they’re betting the Don’t Pass and Lay the Odds.

Leverage the Dealer Disadvantage in Blackjack

If you really think about it, then the casino has a built in house edge simply because the player goes first. That’s right, if you bust, then the dealer doesn’t need to show his cards. That’s the major reason why profit players always advise against taking out insurance and making any progressive bets. Both of these options are like putting money straight into the casino’s pockets. Thinking a little deeper, and you’ll come to realize that the whole game of blackjack is designed to make your payout before the dealer has to.

reduce the house edge
Beating the house will never be an easy thing…

The Dealer Still has To Stand

This seems very unfair (bro tip: it is!). In reality, blackjack players hurt themselves by helping the house’s hidden edge. There is one opportunity which offers you a slight advantage. That’s when the dealer must stand on a soft 17. Having said that, we see that many casinos are now replacing this rule with it’s opposite; the dealer must hit on his soft 17. Now the dealer has slightly better odds if he hits his soft 17. Though the percentage difference isn’t going to fire up tomorrow’s headlines, if you have a choice between the dealer standing on a soft 17 or conversely hitting it, always consider the former.

Though make sure there are no other house rules that might nullify that decision.

Conclusion: Reduce the House Edge

In truth, the games are already stacked in the casino’s favor. But there are some things you can do to mitigate the damage and reduce the house edge. We tend to think that the casinos make most of their profits from the “hidden edge”. They create a modern and relaxing environment, with no way to see the time passing and a steady flow of alcohol, for a reason. Once you start getting sleepy, then all the basic strategies in the world will not be able to help you stop making mistakes.