The best and worst bets in a casino

Whether you enjoy the buzz and vibe of a land-based casino or the relative more personal space of the online casino there are certain games that give you a better chance of walking away with some cash. Or just the opportunity to play for just a little bit longer before the casino inevitably takes your bankroll. The CasinoPlay crew have taken a look at the games that give you, the South African gambler, the best odds of having a rewarding gaming session.

We are looking at the figures behind the games, the numbers that determine your odds of winning, because casino games are not only about winning – they are also about having fun. So, a game that gives you a very low chance of winning may still be one of the best games to play just because it’s thrilling and hugely entertaining (Megaways™ slots are definitely an example of these: great fun to play even though they are slots games and thus have a massive house edge).

The games on our list are those that have the statistical best and worse odds of winning and have nothing to do with how much fun they are.

What makes a casino game the best or worst?

As mentioned, we will be focusing on the numbers that are so important to those players looking to have a winning visit to the casino. These numbers (odds or house edges) give you an accurate indication of your chances of making a WINNING bet – something that every gambler strives for.

Eve within these odds there could be aspects of a game that you should avoid. Blackjack for example has one of the lowest house edges in the casino but it also has the ‘Insurance’ option that is a sure-fire sucker’s bet and should be avoided at all costs.

We will lay out the best and worst of the bets but also give you some tips on what to avoid or how to maximise your experience where possible.

What are odds or the house edge?

Odds are the measure of the likelihood of a particular outcome. In casino you will often hear or see the term house edge. The house edge is pretty much the same as odds. The higher the house edge, the less likely you are to win consistently. The lower the house edge, the more likely you are to hit a win.

Remember though, luck plays a huge part of casino gambling. The odds and house edge are merely statistical probabilities and certainly not guarantees. A progressive slot with a 10% house edge can still pay out a huge jackpot and a blackjack game with a paltry 1% house edge can still have a run where you don’t win a single hand.

Table games like blackjack and roulette have much better odds than slots. For those who may be a little scared of the card games and the card sharks that are waiting to fleece them, don’t worry. When you play at a casino you are playing against the dealer so other players won’t try to rip you off. You can also use quiet times in some casinos to get some tips and practice against the dealers if you ask nicely.

Best casino games – blackjack

Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges in any casino. Most casinos have a 1% house edge on the blackjack table and the game is easy to learn. There are skills and techniques that will make your blackjack game even better but, for newbies, it really is a fun and fast-paced game that you can pick up quickly and that gives you a great opportunity to get winning hands.

Even though it has the lowest house edge, there are certain things you should avoid at the blackjack table. Chief among these is the ‘Insurance’ bet. The Insurance bet is a bet you can make if the dealer is showing an Ace and you think they might hit a Blackjack and it comes with a house edge of 7.47% (comparable to many slot games). Don’t do it. Avoid this legal scam. The Insurance bet is one of the biggest wastes of money you can find in a casino.

Similarly, avoid the side bets (bets on getting trip 7s for example). They are just another way the casino gets to take your money for no effort.

Blackjack

Best casino games – baccarat

Baccarat may have an air of elite players only but it’s actually pretty easy to understand and play. And it has great odds of winning, with a house edge of slightly over 1% in general.

The biggest choices in baccarat are whether to bet on player, banker, or tie.

Betting on banker comes with a house edge of a low 1.06% but you will need to pay a commission on your win.

Betting on player has a slightly higher house edge of 1.24%.

But, as with blackjack, there is a small trap in the low house edge stakes on the baccarat table and it’s called the tie bet. The tie bet has a house edge of 14.36% (higher than a lot of slot games) and should be avoided.

Guide to Baccarat by Casino Play

Best casino games – roulette

Roulette is a fascinating and fast game that, surprisingly, offers great odds – if you play conservatively.

The odds on a roulette game can be almost 50:50 if you bet on red/black or odds/evens. There is an almost 50% chance that your chosen colour or odds/evens will come up. Almost. Because there is that pesky little 0 pocket (or even 0 and 00 if you’re playing American roulette) and this gives the house a tiny extra edge.

As you start going through the outside and inside bets, your odds start dropping and the house edge starts rising. Betting on a single lucky number for instance will drop your odds from almost 50:50 to 36:1 (the house has 36 chances to win, you have 1). But your winnings will rise from double your stake to a payout of 36 to 1 (R36 for every R1 you’ve staked).

Guide to roulette by Casino Play

Best casino games – craps

Craps are another game with surprisingly good odds if you know how to bet. While this isn’t a craps guide (you can find a comprehensive one in our Casino Games Guide tab) there are basic plays that will give you better house edges:

Pass line bet – 1.41% house edge.

Odds bet – 0% house edge but be aware that not all casinos allow this bet, and you will have to have already placed a pass line bet.

6/8 bet – 1.52% house edge.

Bets to avoid at the craps table are the ‘prop’ bets, the bets in the middle of the table. These offer a house edge of between 5% and 17% – not great for the gambler.

craps
guide to video slots

Worst casino games – slots

Slots games – online or in a brick-and-mortar casino – have shocking odds. The house edge on slot machines and games (often related to the RTP) can vary between 3% (not great) and 17% (very definitely not great at all!).

Add in the fast pace of slots games and you can understand why slots are the biggest money spinners for casinos.

And the worst odds come with the biggest casino drawcard: the progressive slots. Progressive slots offer the biggest jackpots in the casino world, jackpots that offer life-changing sums in the multi-millions. But they are almost impossible to hit.

We must point out that slots can offer some truly thrilling and unique gameplay and should be played just for their total entertainment offering and not as a way to make money. They truly do offer the latest in the tech and innovation that casino games bring.

the best and worst bets

Worst casino games – Wheel of Fortune

These popular spinning wheel casino games have always had a big following in land-based casinos and, with the growth of Live Play and Live Dealer games, is gaining an audience online as well.

But it has a very high house edge of 11% which puts it right up there with the slots.

best and worst bets in a casino

Worst casino games –Keno

Keno is one of the oldest gambling games known with a history that goes all the way back at least 2,000 years.

In all that time you would think that gamblers would have realised that, with a house edge of a ridiculous 25% to 40%, keno has the worst odds on offer in a casino – odds that are almost as impossible as the progressive jackpots or the National Lottery!

 

The very, VERY best game to play

According to all our CasinoPlay research (which included asking other crew players around the microwave over our lunch break!) the very, very best game for South African casino fans to play in an online or land-based casino is the one that makes you happy!

As long as you play to have FUN, and not because you think you’re going to get rich – and as long as you play responsibly, and pay attention to your budget, your bankroll, and your playing time – then any game that you enjoy, that gives you the chance to unwind and relax, is the bestest of all casino games!

Play responsibly. Play for fun!