The Odds of Gambling

The PBS network devoted one of its Frontline episodes to the subject of odds in horse gambling. The recreational gambler might be surprised to have discovered some of the secrets of how casinos make money with the house edge. There are some games which are definitely better than others.

The Odds of Gambling Frontline episode offered many takeaways about casino games. Here is a list of the 10 most relevant things to know about the odds of gambling.

1 – Some Games Are Better Than Others

When you visit a live or online casino the sheer number of games can be overwhelming. Slots machines are dinging, people are shouting over craps. Everywhere you look a colored wheel is spinning.

Many people just pick a game at random if they are new to the casino. This is a mistake. There are some games which are more in your favor than others. It is important to know which games give the player the best chance to win.

2 – The Vig and Even Money Bets

When you are thinking about your chance to win, you will probably be swayed by the even money bets and games. Your mind reasons that a 50-50 chance is about the best that you’ll get. You will soon find out that a 50-50 chance in the casino is impossible unless you are playing a game where strategy factors in.

The reason for this is something called vig or vigorish. This is an amount of money or premium you could pay for being allowed to make an even money wager. You will see vigorish most often in gambling games like sports betting, but it can also be applied in games like baccarat.

A lot of people are also mislead about even money bets when it comes to games like roulette. They look at a roulette table and think, it’s red or black, odd or even. 50-50. That would be true except for those two little green squares labeled 0 and 00. Just two slots on the roulette wheel are enough to skyrocket the house edge.

3 – Blackjack is Still the Best Table Game

For many years the best overall game in the casino has been blackjack. This has not changed. The most likely reason for this is that the rules of blackjack allow for an element of player strategy. Over time players have also mastered card counting, a way to assess the deck and its favor to the player.

The downside is that you need to put in a little bit of time to master the principles of card counting and basic blackjack strategy. But the effort is worth it. Many professional gamblers have made a nice living at blackjack. It is now easier than ever to play no matter where you are thanks to online casinos.

4 – Craps is Second to Blackjack

Right behind blackjack when it comes to the odds of gambling is the dice game of craps. Many people wouldn’t think this is the case because of the nature of the game. After all, everything hinges on the random outcome of the dice.

Yes and no. What makes craps a good bet for the player are the number of wagers that are offered. Some of these like 10X odds have a 0% house edge. The trick is that craps is a fast game to play, and many players are intimidated by the pace.


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You can actually control the pace of the game when you choose to play craps online. You decide when to make a dice throw. You can learn about all of the bets on the craps table without the pressure of a live game.

5 – Keno Has the Highest House Edge

Do you think you know which game in the casino is the worst of all? Some of you may have correctly guessed that keno has the highest house edge at a whopping 29.5%. Keno is the casino version of the lottery. You pick a series of numbers, and if your numbers come up you win. Simple, right?

Nope. You are pretty much throwing your money away when you play keno. The good news is that you can probably play a keno ticket for $1 or $0.50. It should be considered more a form of entertainment than a serious gambling enterprise.

6 – Slot Machines Offer Poor Odds

It should not come as a huge surprise that slot machines are a poor choice if you are serious about beating the online or live casino. The house edge on slots can range from about 2% to 35% depending on which game you choose.

Yes, there are some slot machines that are considered to be loose or hot. These change according to the whim of the casino. This means that you have to play a guessing game, and most of the time you will be guessing wrong. It is especially hard to pinpoint loose slots if you are playing the games online.

If slots are your thing, we would suggest that you explore video poker. The game plays like a slot machine but uses the principles of draw poker. You get to make decisions in the effort to improve your hand. Those decisions can impact the house edge. Many video poker games have a house edge of less than 5%.

7 – What About Horse Racing Betting Odds?

There are many online gamblers who prefer to stick with horse racing when it comes to betting. There is good news and bad. Horse racing is a difficult gambling game to beat for many reasons. It is also an intellectual endeavor that some people really love. You might be one of those people who appreciates the challenge of picking horse racing winners.

Just be prepared that there is a lot of things about the odds of gambling on horse racing that you will need to overcome. One of these is the takeout and breakage that the horse racing track removes from each pool to support itself. You’ll also have to stay vigilant when it comes to things like the odds you are receiving on each horse that you bet.

8 – Roulette Isn’t as Bad as You Think

There are many online casino players who think roulette is the worst game in the house for the player. It isn’t great, for sure, but it is far from the worst game there is. The house edge in roulette remains at about 5.26%, much better than some other games in the casino.

What makes roulette a dangerous game to play are all the side bets. Some of these bets are so hard to hit. Yes, the reward is great but the risk is crazy high. Some players like that they can bet roulette with a smaller bankroll by using something like the Martingale system. A system like this can be effective in some cases, but it can also offer risks of its own.

9 – Blackjack Without Strategy is Dangerous

We mentioned earlier that blackjack is a game you can beat when you apply the proper strategy and card counting. You should also be aware than the reverse is true. When you play blackjack without any type of basic strategy, you are doomed to fail by a house edge of about 20%. You might as well be spinning a roulette wheel.

There are players who just want to have fun with blackjack when they play, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you regularly make bad decisions when you play, you are doomed to failure. Take some time to learn the game with a free app for your phone, or you can find an online casino that also offers free games.

10 – Sports Betting is a Gamble

Sports betting has gained popularity in recent years as many US states have legalized it. Many others are considering it. Why wouldn’t they? Sports betting is a billion-dollar enterprise throughout most of the world.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always the best bet. On average the house has a 4.54% edge, but it can be as high as 30% on some wagers. You also have to consider that sports betting requires a hefty knowledge of sports and those who play the games. Most successful sports bettors are devoted exclusively to this type of gambling.

Now that you know more about the odds of gambling, all you need is an account with one of our recommended online casinos. You can get free bonus money when you sign up and make your first deposit.

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