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CASINO GAMES

 

The table below lists the house edge and standard deviation of online casino games. House edge is defined as average loss per initial bet. For the purposes of bonus play, a more useful figure is average loss per unit wagered. Both of these house edge values are listed in the table for each game. The two values will only differ for games with raises or doubles, where the final bet size may be larger than the initial bet. The third column, house edge "full range online", is expressed in terms of the traditional definition -- average loss per initial bet.

Standard deviation is a measure of the variation from the house advantage. A higher standard deviation indicates a higher chance of doubling your bankroll or busting while fulfilling a playthrough requirement. Like house edge, standard deviation is listed both per unit wagered and per initial bet. Per unit wagered corresponds to the expected range of return while completing a wagering requirement. Per initial bet corresponds to the expected range of return per hand. With >1 play video poker, standard deviation is the total bet summed over all n hands, rather than the bet per hand.

  Game
House Edge
 Standard Deviation
Per Unit Wagered Per Initial Bet Full Range Online Per Unit Wagered Per Initial Bet
  Casino Solitaire   ~0%   ~0%   <0% to High  ~0.95   ~0.95
  Pick'em Poker   0.05%   0.05%   0.05 to 1.26%   3.87   3.87
  Video Poker: All Aces, 1-play   0.08%   0.08%   0.08%   8.08   8.08
  Blackjack Switch   0.14%   0.16%   0.16 to 0.18%   0.83   1.25
  Pontoon   0.34%   0.38%   0.38 to 0.73%   1.35   1.44
  Craps, Don't Pass   0.34% to 1.36%   1.36%   1.36%   1.67   3.02
  Blackjack  ~0.4%  ~0.45%   -0.07 to 2.5%   1.07   1.14
  Video Poker: JoB, 1-play   0.46%   0.46%   -0.07* to 7.9%   4.42   4.42
  Oasis Poker   0.47%   1.04%  1.04%   1.69   2.50
  Ultimate Texas Hold'em   0.53%   2.19%   2.19%   2.92   4.94
  Texas Hold'em Bonus   0.53%   2.04%   2.04 to 5.59%   1.79   3.50
  Caribbean Draw Poker   ~0.7%  ~2.0%   ~2.0%   1.84   3.15
  Casino Hold'em   0.82%   2.16%   2.16%   1.61   2.61
  3-Card 2nd Chance   1.06%   1.32%   1.32 to 3.74%   1.61   1.80
  Baccarat   1.06%   1.06%   0.03* to 9.3%*   0.93   0.93
  Video Poker: Deuces Wild, 1-play   1.09%   1.09%   -0.76* to 6.7%   5.92   5.92
  Caribbean Hold'em   1.17%   3.09%   2.16%   1.60   2.60
  Hold'em High (optimized multi-hand)   1.20%   2.61%   2.61 to 5.03%   5.93   8.76
  French Roulette     1.35%   1.35%   1.35 to 2.70%   0.99   0.99
  Video Poker: Joker Poker, 1-play   1.40%   1.40%   -0.64* to 7.3%   5.99   5.99
  Triple Action Hold'em (Ante)   1.82%   3.63%   3.63%   1.32   1.87
  3-Card Rummy   1.93%   3.23%   3.23%   1.25   1.61
  3-Card Poker (Ante & Play)   2.01%   3.37%   0.89* to 4.28%   1.27   1.64
  Mulligan Poker   2.17%   3.15%   3.15%   1.34   1.61
  Triple Pocket Hold'em   2.27%   2.27%   2.27%   1.37   1.37
  Hold'em High (single hand)   2.28%   5.03%   5.03%   5.89   8.76
  3-Card Poker (Pair Plus)   2.32%   2.32%   0.89* to 4.58%   2.91   2.91
  Spin A Win   2.50%   2.50%   2.50 to 19%   0.90   0.90
  Spoof   2.50%   2.50%   2.50 to 4.69%   0.73   1.03
  Casino Dice   2.50%   2.50%   2.50 to 3.33%   2.18   2.18
  Stravaganza   2.56%   4.45%   4.45%   1.30   1.71
  Caribbean Stud Poker   2.56%   5.22%   0.99* to 5.22%   1.57   2.24
  Red Dog   2.67%   3.16%   2.75 to 3.16%   1.38   1.50
  Casino War   2.68%   2.88%   1.71 to 2.88%   1.01   1.05
  Single Zero Roulette   2.70%   2.70%   2.70%   1.00   1.00
  Pai Gow Poker   2.73%   2.73%   ~0.7* to 8.5%*   0.75   0.75
  Sic Bo   2.78%   2.78%   2.78 to 19%   1.00   1.00
  Let Them Ride   2.85%   3.51%  0.95 to 3.57%   4.66   5.17
  Triple Action Hold'em (Flop)   2.93%   2.93%   2.93%   4.17   4.17
  Slots   3 to 7%   3 to 7%   0.68 to 15% Varies (High) Varies (High)
  Double Zero Roulette   5.26%   5.26%   0.84* to 7.89%   1.00   1.00
  Hi-Lo   ~6%   ~6%   2.44% to 11%   ~0.6   ~0.6
  Keno   5 to 25%   5 to 25%   2.5 to 35% Varies (High) Varies (High)
*5Dimes Bonus Casino ofters an improved house edge for BJ, VP, and common table games
*Betfair offers ~zero house edge Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, and Jacks or Better
*High house edge relates to rounding commission to nearest $0.25 with $1 bet


What Game to Choose

When all games are have full weighting, choose a game with a low house edge per wager, near the top of the table above. Some common game choices are listed in more detail below. Note that craps and baccarat are not mentioned because they are almost always either restricted or weighted poorly. This relates to the games offering simultaneously bets on winning and losing outcomes. Many casinos weight low house edge games poorly, which often changes best game choices. You may find that under a casino's weighting a higher house edge game offers a better average return on a particular bonus and smaller standard deviation of return. You can compare return and variance data for a variety of games on a particular bonus using the Return & Variance Calc and Return & Variance Simulator.

Blackjack -- Blackjack and blackjack variations are the most desirable games in the casino to play while fulfilling wagering requirements for two reasons -- a low house advantage and an acceptable risk of busting (moderate standard deviation). If blackjack meets wagering requirements with the same playthrough as other games, then choose blackjack. With a ~0.5% house edge, a player could has a positive expected return for a 150x post-wager bonus with an unlimited bankroll. However, bankroll is limited, so you must consider the risk of deviating from the expected return and busting. This risk varies with bet size and becomes quite significant with larger playthroughs. More detailed information on selecting bet size and risk of busting is on the Blackjack page.

Video Poker -- Video poker is the only common game in the casino that often has a lower house edge than blackjack (and variations).  With some video poker pay tables, the player has an advantage over the casino with optimal strategy.   Nevertheless I do not recommend video poker for fulfilling a wagering requirement when blackjack is available due to the high standard deviation of return. There is roughly a 1 in 40,000 of getting a natural royal flush on a particular hand. A player can expect an average of a ~2% decrease in expected return in the other 39,999 hands where the royal flush is not drawn. In this way a player's bankroll decreases until a high ranking hand is drawn. Using 50-100 hand power play with minimum x5 bet size ($2.5 on 50 play and $5 on 100 play) minimizes the variance and risk of busting. See the Video Poker page for strategy information or the Video Poker Strategy Calculator.

Oasis Poker -- Oasis Poker is a low house edge variation of Caribbean Stud Poker. It's house edge per wager is approximately the same as blackjack or full pay Jacks or Better VP. Strategy is fairly simple, so game play is fast. Variance is similar to multi-hand video poker. Unfortunately, Net Entertainment is the only large software that offers the game. See the Oasis Poker page for strategy information or the Oasis Poker Strategy Calculator.

Texas Hold'em Bonus -- Texas Hold'em Bonus is a variation of Texas Hold'em that is available with most of the larger softwares. The game has a house edge per wager that is as low as blackjack or video poker. However, house edge per initial bet (traditional definition of house edge) is much higher. The difference relates to the many raises and large average bet size or nearly 4x the ante bet. If you choose Hold'em Bonus, I recommend a small initial bet size. Game play can be slow due to the complex strategy decisions. See the Hold'em Bonus page for strategy information or the Hold'em Bonus Strategy Calculator.

Casino Hold'em -- Casino Hold'em is a variation of Texas Hold'em that is available with Playtech, RealTime Gaming, Net Ent, Boss Media, Odds On, World Gaming, and Gale Wind casinos. The game has a low house edge per unit wagered of 0.82%. I find that game play is much faster than Texas Hold'em bonus since there is only one strategy decision -- fold or play. See the Casino Hold'em page for strategy information or the Casino Hold'em Strategy Calculator.

Caribbean Draw Poker -- Caribbean Draw Poker is a low house edge variation of Caribbean Stud Poker that is available at Microgaming and RealTime Gaming casinos. Its house edge per wager is ~0.7, which is quite low, but not as low as blackjack or full pay video poker. It is often weighted better than the games listed above, such as blackjack and video poker. Strategy is complex, so game play can be slow. See the Caribbean Draw page for strategy information or the Caribbean Draw Strategy Calculator.

 

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