Recreational Math

Card and Dice Games

What is the casino’s or house edge?

A casino is a gambling facility that normally includes all or a combination of the following: slot machines, video games, card games, and other games such as keno, craps, and bingo. In order to make the casino the major money-maker—not the gambler—there are certain “rules” of the casino, including the casino’s edge, otherwise known as the house edge.

The house edge is the ratio of the expected player loss to the initial amount bet; it is an exact measurement, usually expressed as a percent, of the casino’s advantage in a game. A casino earns money by paying winners at “house odds,” an amount that is slightly less than the true odds of winning the game. There are definitely exceptions to this rule, which is why there are professional gamblers, but the majority of the time, the casino has the advantage.

For example, if the house edge for blackjack or slots is 5 percent, then for every $100 bet initially made, the player can expect to lose $5. This not only helps the casino, but it is sometimes a way for patrons to compare one game to another, and even estimate how much they may lose.

Of course, this is not always so straightforward. Some people win and others lose in the short run, but the casino always wins in the long run. There are also exceptions because of the way a game is played, such as in craps (see below). The best scenario would be to have no house edge, or an edge against the house.


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