How is the house edge calculated?

You have possibly heard of the house edge in connection with casino games but are not sure what exactly it is and how it affects you as you play. Thankfully, it is a relatively easy subject to explain.

The chance you have of winning or losing

The house edge is a percentage that shows the advantage that the casino has over the player. The lower this number, the greater the chance there is of players walking away with a profit. 

If we look at the example of roulette, there are 36 numbered slots, and the player gets a return of 35 to 1 if they choose one correctly. If this were all there is to the game, players would have an equal chance of winning or losing.

However, the presence of a zero pocket in European games gives the casino a house edge of 2.70%. With two zero pockets in American variants, the house increases to 5.26%. 

The law of large numbers means that the more you play, the closer you should get to this figure, theoretically. Yet, the truth is that the figure is calculated on all of the bets placed by every player, so it is impossible to know how close to it you will end up.  

The different figures on each game

Each game has its house edge, and each operator may modify its rules to change this slightly. A good example comes from blackjack, where the dealer’s rules for asking for another card significantly affect a player’s chances of winning.

Some of the games with the lowest house edge include blackjack and baccarat, where it can be below 2% provided that you stick to a solid strategy. In baccarat, the house edge varies by the type of bet, meaning that you don’t have the same chance of winning on each of them.

In blackjack, you need to choose whether to ask for another card or not to make sure that the house edge doesn’t increase. Every mistake that you make increases the possibility of losing, which is why blackjack strategy tables are so important for serious players to give themselves every chance of winning.

Slots games vary greatly in terms of house edge, as it depends upon factors such as the size of different wins, the number of reels, and more. 

How it differs from the RTP

You may see the return to player (RTP) figure mentioned in online casinos. If we look at one of the best NJ online casinos, we can see slots on many different themes, each of which has the details of the RTP on it. That is typically over 90%, but what does it mean? 

The truth that this is just the opposite way of looking at the house edge. If a game has a house edge of 3%, then the RTP is 97%.

Picking the games with the lowest house edge gives you the best possible chance of winning, in theory. But if you are just playing for fun, you can decide whether to pick games that appeal to you without worrying about this issue too much.