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Beating the House: Understanding the Odds in Casino Games


You’ve no doubt heard the saying “The house always wins”. But did you know there’s actually a mathematical reason why casinos have a built-in edge over players?

It all comes down to the odds and probabilities underlying the games. Knowing these can help you make smarter bets and get more entertainment value for your money in the top  2024 casinos Canada has to offer. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular casino games and break down the odds against you.


There are some variations, but in the American roulette, the wheel features 38 pockets — 18 black, 18 red, and 2 green (0 and 00). For any single number bet, the odds of hitting that number are 37 to 1 against you. That’s where the house gets its edge, paying out at only 35 to 1 on winning bets. Over time, this 5.26% house advantage leads to profits for the casino.

But roulette also offers some of the best odds you’ll find. Bets on red/black, odd/even, or one of the other even-money outside bets carry just a 2.7% house edge when playing European roulette (with just one 0 pocket).


In blackjack, a game with relatively good odds for players, the house edge is around 1% when you use perfect basic strategy.


But slight deviations from optimal play increase the casino’s advantage. Factors like rules on dealers hitting soft 17, the number of decks used, and more influence the exact house edge percentage.

Card counting techniques can swing the odds in your favor, though casinos understandably frown upon this and may back you off the tables if caught. For most players, however, blackjack offers some of the best odds in the casino.


Craps offers some of the best bets on odds alone. With these secondary bets, after a point is established, there is actually no house edge — the casino makes money only on the flat bets settled at less than true odds. Pass/Don’t Pass bets with maximum probabilities behind also reduce the house advantage to under 1%.

But watch out for other sucker bets like Big Red, Hard Way, and propositions that give the house a massive 16%+ advantage. Many of the center bets have terrible probabilities that smart players should avoid.


Slot machine odds are notoriously difficult to calculate due to the random number generators and virtual reel mappings used. But generally, the more money you bet per spin, the higher the expected payouts and lower the house edge — though slots still heavily favor the casino. Slot game designers can pick whatever odds they want within legal limits.


With slot games often having numerous bonus rounds, free spin modes, and progressive jackpots, the overall return percentages can vary greatly. But for a typical reel slot, the return to player (RTP) is around 90-98%, depending on the specific game math and your bet levels.

The Bottom Line

Behind every casino game are complicated mathematical models and quantifiable house advantages. Understanding the probabilities involved can help you approach gambling more rationally and have fun playing within your bankroll limits. While the numbers inevitably favor the casino in the long run, armed with this knowledge, you can make smarter decisions at the tables or machines.