Find the Best Online Casino Games
When you play an online casino game, it’s important to consider the house advantage. When that advantage is too great, it’s harder to win. Use these tips to find the best, most winnable online casino games.
Playing online casino games is fun. But if you don’t win often enough, you won’t have fun. To boost your odds of winning, find the best online casino games. Start by considering the house advantage. To win more, you’ve got to do the math.
Online Slot Machines
Online slot games are essentially computers, programmed to pay back a certain amount of the money you deposit. A little device known as the random number generator determines when the jackpots hit, how often they hit, and how much you can win.
No one can tell when a jackpot will happen, and that’s just what keeps you playing. Maybe the next spin will be the one that makes you a millionaire.
Online casinos usually have a minimum payback percentage on slots in the state where they’re licensed. The minimum can range anywhere from 70% to 85%. Most of the time it’s higher—in the high 80s or low 90s. But even then, you’re still giving 10 percent of your money to the house. Not a good bet.
Sure, you can win at slot machines—they all hit jackpots sometimes. But the law of averages has no loopholes. When you play slot games, odds are the house will prevail.
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Video poker is different. If you know what machines to look for and how to play them, you can reduce the house advantage to as little as 2% or even less.
But to beat that house advantage, you have to get your fair share of the jackpots—Royal flushes, four-of-a-kind, and so on. That factor depends on our old friend, the random number generator, but a skilled video poker player, who knows which cards to discard and which ones to hold, has a better chance of winning.
The house advantage is built into all casino games, but you always have a better chance of winning when you have some control over the outcome. Let’s look at games you can win, games that have a better edge, and games to avoid.
Online Casino Games You Can Win
- Blackjack is the only game where you can have an edge over the casino—if you’re a skilled card-counter. Card counters use strategies devised by a long line of blackjack experts, starting in the 1960s with the book Beat the Dealer by Ed Thorp. These strategies are difficult to master, and only give you a slight edge under ideal conditions. Plus, casinos are constantly adjusting their rules to combat card-counters, and in some states, can ban them. Online casinos deal from one continuous shoe, so card-counting doesn’t work online. Unskilled blackjack players—who make decisions by the seat of their pants—face a house advantage between 5% and 10%. There’s no set house advantage, because different rules affect the overall house edge. The number of decks, the dealing style, and betting restrictions all add to the house edge. Without counting cards, there’s a way to cut the house edge to its absolute minimum. By applying basic strategy—a style of playing that takes advantage of the rules relating to the dealer’s cards—you can reduce the house edge. But how much you reduce it depends on the rule variations. In an online casino, you can refer to a basic strategy chart to make your decisions. While you’re also permitted to do this in a real-life casino too, it may aggravate other players, so it’s not advisable. In an online casino, it’s just you against the dealer. So take your time.
- In poker, the house has no advantage, and the casino traditionally takes a rake—a percentage of total wagers—to make its money. The rake is usually 5% or 10% of the pot.In poker, you play against other players, not the casino, so if you’re a good poker player, you can win your share of pots. Poker is a game of skill, so your decisions are all-important. Unfortunately, poker is also the most intimidating of all casino games—a mind game. The other players want you to mis-play hands. They’ll will use every trick in the book to force you to make mistakes, including intimidation. Luckily, these tricks don’t work as well in online poker, but be sure you can handle the pressure before you play.There are many different types of poker games, but concentrate on the two most popular games: 7-card stud and Texas hold ’em.
- Sports Betting. In 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports betting, it started a tidal wave of states that legalized the wagers. And that’s a good thing. Your decisions matter when you bet on sports. Unlike casino games like blackjack or craps, sporting events are rarely played under ideal conditions. Weather, injuries and freak plays all affect the outcome of games. But the big reason you can profit from sports betting is that the oddsmakers set the line based on how they believe the public will bet on a sporting event—not on which team or player should win.Sportsbook want to make the maximum amount of money without taking unreasonable risks. For example, in most sportsbooks, you’ll lay $11 to win $10. That odd dollar is called the “vigorish,” or “vig.” The vig is the bookmakers’ cushion, like the rake at a poker game. In most states, you can find multiple mobile sports betting apps. Some of them are more aggressive than others in pricing the games. It pays to shop around.
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Online Casino Games with a Better Edge
Some games have a healthy house advantage and always favor the casino—no surprise there. But intelligent, disciplined betting strategies increase your odds of winning. Here are online casino games that have a better edge.
- Statistically, the second-best bet in the casino is on the craps table. The bettor is only backing a 1.4% disadvantage when playing the pass or don’t-pass lines. When you add the odds bet, the casino edge can be reduced to less than 0.2%. To get such advantages, however, you must risk a lot of money. If your bankroll can survive a loss when your big bet is on the table, craps can be a dangerous game.
- Baccarat is the most glamorous table game, and one of the casino’s most advantageous bets. With a house edge of only 1.17%, baccarat offers one of the best chances to win. The player bet is only slightly worse, at 1.24%.You can find other online baccarat bets, but it’s best to avoid them, as they aren’t very good wagers. Most of all, avoid the tie, as it has a hefty 14.1% disadvantage. EZ Baccarat eliminates the cumbersome commission payment. It’s a slightly higher house edge, but a smooth game. Baccarat was once surrounded by ritual, and attracted high rollers to the exclusion of average players. But no more. Particularly in online casinos, you can play many variations of baccarat. Once again, avoid the “bonus” bets if you want to get the best of the game. Playing baccarat online, you can wager as little as $1 a hand, fully enjoying the game without putting a pile of money on the table. The rules for winning are confusing, but they have no bearing on how you play. Baccarat is deceptively simple. Once you get into the flow of the game, you might never return to your other favorite table games.
- Let’s start by saying the American version of roulette is one of the worst bets in the casino. With the 00 roulette game—the American version—you face a formidable 5.26% disadvantage.The French or European version—single 0 wheels—cuts that house advantage in half to 2.7%, for a much more player-friendly game. But at all costs, avoid the newer version of the game—a 000 wheel—which raises the house edge to a usurious 7.69%! The reason it’s so bad is that it adds another number to the table and doesn’t boost the payouts in return.
Online Casino Games to Avoid
Some online casino games are almost impossible to win because of the house advantage. But sometimes, in exchange for that house advantage, you could win a huge payoff. The chance may be worth your risk.
- As mentioned earlier, most slot machines have a house edge in the neighborhood of 10%. The penny games are the worst offenders, even though you’re often wagering much more than a penny when you play. The higher the denomination, the likelier the payback percentage will also be higher. Once you get into games that require bets of $1 or more, it’s more likely the house edge will drop to below 5%—still not great, but not too bad, considering. The one exception is linked progressives. Many slot jackpots in excess of $100,000 are linked to games offered by the online casino or casinos. The tradeoff in such a high-denomination, low-payout game is that the huge jackpot is a large portion of the payout. Unless you hit that jackpot, you might as well mail in your money.
- Keno/Lottery. Many online casinos are run by state lotteries. If the game is simply a virtual scratch-off lottery ticket, it’s got the same odds as one you’d buy in your neighborhood convenience store—50% or more house edge.Some lottery casinos offer slot games, like video lottery terminals, which have better payoffs, but they’re nothing like you’d see in a real casino. If your state offers both a lottery casino and an online commercial casino, and you just want to play slots, avoid the lottery site. While it’s not a “table game” per se, keno is a numbers game similar to a lottery. You pick a set of numbers from one to 80, and see if the balls drop in your favor. The overall house edge is pretty bad—upwards of 25%—but there are savvy keno players who can calculate odds depending upon the buy-in and possible jackpots. But if you’re just interested in playing your lucky numbers, just pass on this.
- Big Wheel/Big Six/Wheel of Fortune/Money Wheel. These are the carnival games of the casinos. The wheel generally has six bets. Pick one, and you can win anywhere up to 45-1 on the big payout. There are also some online wheels with progressive jackpots.The problem is, the house edge on the wheel is anywhere from 11% to 22%. And you don’t even win a big fluffy animal.
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THE CASINOS BEST BETS
GAME BET HOUSE EDGE
Baccarat Bank 1.17%
Baccarat Player 1.24%
Craps Pass Line 1.46%
Craps Pass Line (2x Odds) 0.61%
Craps Pass Line (10x Odds) 0.18%
Roulette Single 0 2.7%
Blackjack Basic Strategy* 2%
Video Poker Favorable Games* 0.5%
*For blackjack, rule variations play a big part in the house edge. In video poker, the kind of game and the pay tables are key to finding a better game.