Online Casino Odds – How to Read the House Edge and Why It’s So Important

When it comes to odds, not all casino games are created equal. In fact, some are so heavily stacked in favour of the house (the casino) that it’s surprising players choose to play them at all. Whether you love to gamble at bricks and mortar, online or mobile casinos, you can rest assured that each and every casino has its own set of games odds or house edge.

As such, if you’re serious about maximising your chances of winning you’ll be better off picking games with the lowest house edge. Of course, just because you choose a casino game that offers you better odds of winning doesn’t necessarily mean that you will win. It just means that you’ll have a greater chance of coming out ahead in the long term.

With that in mind, on this page we’ll discuss everything related to online casino odds, and why understanding them and using them to your advantage may help you to become a more successful player. We’ll also provide a list of premier South African online casino sites with the most competitive and worthwhile odds, and the lowest possible house edge.

Rand Online Casinos with the Best Game Odds

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What are Casino Game Odds?

Casino game odds are in effect a measurement of the likelihood or probability of a particular outcome which are calculated mathematically and expressed as a percentage, ratio, decimal or fraction. You can use these odds to determine your chances of winning.

For instance, odds can best be demonstrated with a simple coin flip. A coin has two sides meaning there are only two possible outcomes – heads or tails. Thus, the odds of flipping either heads or tails is 50% or 50/50 (and are some of the best you’ll find).

The table game of European Roulette on the other hand has 37 possible numbered slots for the little white ball, which means that the odds of choosing the correct number are just 2.7% or a mere 2.63% in American Roulette on account of it having 38 numbers.

The good news, however, is that although the odds of the above roulette do not favour your chances, if you do win a single number bet you’ll be paid out a whopping 35:1. This means that on a R10 bet you’ll win R350 plus you’ll get your original R10 bet back.
If you’re wondering why the pay-out is not 37:1 since European roulette has 37 numbers (1 to 36, plus 0), it’s to further increase the house edge. It’s important to remember that all casinos – land or virtual – are in business to make money, not give it away.

What is a House Edge?

The house edge is the thing that ensures casinos always have an advantage over players. All casino games have a built-in house edge to ensure they generate money for the casino over time. For example, consider a casino game with a house edge of 5% .

This means that over time an average of 5% of every Rand bet on the game is retained by the casino while the remaining 95% is paid out to players as winnings. Bear in mind this is an average so it doesn’t mean you’ll win back 95c of every R1 you play with.

The house edge is a necessary evil at casinos because it allows them to be profitable and remain in business. Without a house edge casinos would be under constant risk of going bust in the event a group of players each won a fortune at the same time.

The real trick is to seek out casino games at premier South African online casinos with the lowest house edges so you can best capitalise on your bets or wagers. The reality, however, is that some of the most popular casino games have the worst house edge.

This is why it’s so important to research the online casinos games you want to play so you’re aware of your odds of winning and how much the casino stands to win from every Rand you play over time. Having this knowledge can improve your odds of winning.

The Importance of Understanding the House Edge

Seeking out and understanding the house edge is important because it can directly influence the types of casino games you decide to play, how much you choose to bet and how much you ultimately win.

Here are some useful tips to remember about house edge:

  • The smaller the house edge, the greater your chances of winning.
  • Playing casino games with a lower house edge can make your playing funds last longer and improve your chances of winning.
  • Playing games with a smaller house edge coupled with knowledge of the respective game’s basic strategy can help you win more.
  • Always pick games where you can make fewer bets over time in order to help reduce the ‘grinding away’ effects of the house edge.
  • Regardless of a game’s house edge, if on a losing streak stop and return another day. If on a winning streak, quit while you’re ahead.
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Casino Games with the Lowest House Edge

Although there are plenty of South African online casino fans who play games simply for the fun and excitement of them, for others it’s about increasing their odds of winning by picking games with the lowest house edge.

If you classify yourself as the latter, here’s a list of casino games with the lowest house edge you should consider:

Blackjack – 0.28%

Blackjack – 0.28%

The globally popular card game of Blackjack has the lowest house edge of any casino game of just 0.28%. Note this is only applicable in Blackjack variants that permit late surrender, where the dealer must stand on soft 17, and if you use Blackjack basic strategy. With such a low house edge, Blackjack has loads of fans across South Africa.

Spanish 21 – 0.4%

Spanish 21 – 0.4%

Spanish 21 is a casino card game similar to Blackjack, but is played with two decks of 48 cards (after all the 10s have been left out). With more rules than Blackjack, Spanish21 is slightly more complicated than the former, as is its basic strategy. However, master its basic strategy and you’ll manage to keep the house edge as low as 0.4%.

Jack or Better Video Poker – 0.46%

Jack or Better Video Poker – 0.46%

Of all the many video poker variants to choose from, Jacks or Better (that pays 9 to 1 for a Full House and 6 to 1 for a Flush) is the one with the best odds to help you beat the casino with a house edge of just 0.46%. As such it’s probably no coincidence that Jacks or Better is one of the more preferred video poker titles at South African casinos.

Baccarat – 1.06% (Banker) / 1.24% (Player)

Baccarat – 1.06% (Banker) / 1.24% (Player)

The elegant casino card game of Baccarat made famous by James Bond also has a low house edge of just 1.06% when you bet on the Banker, or a slightly higher 1.24% when you bet on the Player. Although Baccarat gives you the option to bet on a Tie, don’t ever be tempted considering that the house edge of a Tie bet is a staggering 14.36%.

Craps – 1.36% (Don’t Pass/Don’t Come bets) / 1.41% (Pass/Come bets)

Craps – 1.36% (Don’t Pass/Don’t Come bets) / 1.41% (Pass/Come bets)

The dice game of Craps may be a little more complex than most casino games, but once you master its various bets you can look forward to hours of fun as well as a low house edge depending on the type of Craps bets you make. For instance, if you stick to Don’t Pass and Don’t Come Bets, the house edge is just 1.36%. Or, if you’re a great fan of Pass or Come bets, the house edge only increases very nominally to just 1.41%.

Pai Gow Poker – 1.46%

Pai Gow Poker – 1.46%

Based on the ancient Chinese domino game of Pai Gow, Pai Gow Poker is a popular land and online casino card game where you’re dealt 7 cards that you must split into a high-ranked 5-card hand and a low-ranked 2-card hand. This must beat the dealer’s hand to win, and with a house edge of just 1.46%, this game has fans all over the world.

Casino Games with the Highest House Edge

Now that we’ve revealed the casino games with the lowest house edge, it’s time to reveal those with the highest.

Although these games can be enormously entertaining and yield some impressive pay-outs, be aware that they can be the most profitable for casinos:

Sic Bo – 33.3%

The popular Asian dice game of Sic Bo is hugely fun to play but has some bets (Total of 4 and 17) with a house edge of 33.3%. This means the casino stands to retain up to a third of your bet. If you really want to play Sic Bo, however, we would always recommend that you stick to Small/Big bets which have a relatively low house edge of 2.78%.

Spanish 21 – 0.4%

As entertaining as the number-choosing bingo/lotto-inspired game of Keno is, it’s house edge leaves a lot to be desired at between 25% and 29%. This means that at the upper end almost 30c of every Rand you wager will end up in the casino’s coffers. On the plus side, the more numbers you match on Keno, the higher the pay-outs are.

Slots – up to 15%

Despite being arguably the most popular and varied gambling game at online, mobile and land casinos, slot games have a house edge of up to 15%. Add to that the fast rate of play and you have game that rapidly lines the pockets of casinos. That said, slots are great fun and can yield highly worthwhile pay-outs, particularly progressives.

Published on: 2018/05/02
Mia Fontane

About the Author

Hi there, nice to meet you!

I’m Mia, Site Editor here at Zebra Casino. Together with a passionate team of industry professionals, I make sure we bring you the latest bonuses and news about South African online casinos.