My job requires me to visit casinos every week (don’t you envy me?). I like to watch how
people are doing at the slots, blackjack, etc. I find it interesting that the number of
people playing a certain game doesn’t correlate with the odds. In other words, games with high
odds against you can be as popular as ones with low odds. Here’s a rundown of some games and
the average odds in favor of the casino (known as the “house edge”). Keep in mind the odds are set specifically by the casinos and vary from property to property.
- Craps – less than 1%
- Baccarat banker – 1%
- Baccarat player – 1.24%
- Blackjack – between 2% and 3%
- Roulette – 5 % (with one zero), between 2 and 3 % (with two zeros)
- Keno – Between 15% and 25%
Interestingly, although the keno odds seem terrible, they are actually better than those of state lotteries!
Card games such as a poker and pai gow are games of skill where the house earns money by charging a small commission.
And what about slot machines? Each machine is programmed to pay out a certain percentage. In Vegas, it tends to be between 90% and 97% (some machines may be programmed to pay back more than 100%).
There is no way of knowing the odds of a particular slot machine. Once a machine has been programmed, it’s unlikely the casino will change its odds (“loosen” or “tighten”) since it would require replacing the computer chip.