Written by David Newstead
All gambling games can be mathematically modelled. The best odds on offer to the player can easily be calculated using probability theory. With most casino games the house or casino will have an edge on the player, but some titles deliver better returns than others. We look at the most popular skill games available at today’s casinos and ask what strategies achieve optimal outcomes?
Skill games are massively popular on today’s online casino stage. Whilst many players prefer the brainless button mashing of slot machines, there’s something to be said about the timeless elegance of the green baize classics like Roulette, Blackjack and Craps, and even Video Poker offers the decision based challenge.
In this article we explore the best odds available from these skill games and ask how they compare against one another, helping you decide which of these popular titles you should try next.
One of the oldest games you’ll find in any casino, Roulette is synonymous with high roller gambling. Descended from traditional Wheel of Fortune type games such as Ace of Hearts and Roly-Poly, the format we now know and enjoy has existed for at least two centuries. The earliest recorded instances of the game are unsurprisingly in French casinos from 1796, where the original versions used two zero markers to create a house edge. Over time, for reasons unknown this double zero variant has become known as American Roulette, delivering a house edge of 5.26%. These returns actually mark out this game as possibly the least lucrative of all the entries on this list.
However casinos are nothing but competitive, and in the rush to secure player’s bets there is another more slim-line version of the game known as European Roulette. With only one appearance of the green zero on the wheel, this variant offers a house edge of 2.70%, delivering considerably more attractive Roulette odds to the player. Therefore if you have a choice between American and European Roulette is should be a no brainer to stay well clear of the stateside game.
Various bets on the table offer different Roulette odds, with the most attractive available for single number wagers, delivering a 35-1 return on your money. Different bets cover different portions and percentages of the wheel, with the odds shortening as the coverage increases, up to a 1:1 return for the odd or even bet and the famous red or black wager.
Perhaps the best-known system of playing Roulette is the so-called Martingale Progression, often referred to as the Monte Carlo Method in common parlance. To achieve the best Roulette odds this should always be played on a European Roulette table. Players bet on red or black and simply double their stake on losing or resetting to the original stake on winning. More advanced systems do not work on such an exponential basis. The D’Alembert variation of this is perhaps the most lucrative, again requiring players to bet on red or black only this time increasing their stake by one unit on a loss and decreasing their stake by one unit on winning.
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Blackjack is one of the most popular games in Las Vegas casinos. It has its roots in the British game of Pontoon, where players would try to hit 21 by twisting cards. Over time it has evolved into many different variants, making it difficult for us to give you one overall guide to Blackjack odds and the game’s house edge. Calculators are available that allow you to input your game’s unique variables, such as the number of decks in use, the returns on hitting Blackjack, and many other parameters.
Without giving you detailed figures, it is safe for us to say that Blackjack odds offer some of the most lucrative returns of any game you’ll find in the casino. It operates on such fine margins that practices such as card counting can actually tip the odds in favour of the player. This is how famous mathematician Ed Thorp made some huge money with his legendary team of MIT graduates.
When you study the returns on offer from Blackjack it may have one unexpected side effect. If you then go and take a look at slot return tables, which often deliver returns in the low 90% range the chances are you’ll probably never spin another set of reels again in your life. Playing this two card classic puts the odds of many of the other casino titles in perspective.
So how do you play the perfect game of Blackjack? The key is to understand that there is a perfect decision to make in every single situation on the card table. Even without card counting you can nullify the house edge to achieve almost completely fair Blackjack odds. Many sites offer specialist tables that tell you the optimal course of action for each situation. All you have to do is stick to the right decision and you can make a considerable amount of cash over any playing session.
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If you want to know the game that broke computer based slot machines on the Las Vegas strip, then look no further than Video Poker. These hugely popular machines were originally created by SIRCOMA, the company that would one day evolve into gaming supergiant IGT. They changed the widely held belief at the time that no one would trust computer based gaming terminals to offer players fair returns. Stories at the time purport that the Federal Reserve had to mint more coins in Nevada to cope with the demand for plays on these machines.
Like Blackjack, go to any casino and you’ll find many different types of Video Poker. This means that it is very difficult to evaluate Video Poker odds as they differ greatly from variant to variant. In some cases there may even be similar types of game, such as Jacks or Better that offer a range of odds depending on the producer. However one thing is for sure, which is that most of these titles offer returns that are in the same range as those that can be enjoyed from Craps and Blackjack and better than the single zero European Roulette.
However unlike Blackjack there are some versions of this game where it is actually possible to use decision tables to twist Video Poker odds to your favour. Most notably this is on the very popular title Deuces Wild, which pays out prizes for hitting three of a kind or better. With an optimal strategy players can enjoy consistent returns that will put them in the money.
One question this brings to the gaming table is why don’t more people try their hand at Video Poker? One school of thought suggests that in these days of fast paced computer games and ever more spectacular slots these games can look a little dated. The truth of the matter is that players should look beyond good looks and invest in the returns on offer from these titles, as Video Poker is up there with the best.
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Rolling dice is one of the oldest forms of gambling known to man.
Craps evolved from the old English game of Hazard into the casino game of hitting point that is well known and respected today. Although this title perhaps saw its hey-day in the 1950s as it only requires a pair of dice to play, it is still massively popular as a street game and features in many impromptu gambling sessions.
One of the biggest challenges stopping many players from trying craps is that it almost seems a little too complex at first glance. Fortunately you can find a cool craps guide for beginners at the Titanbet casino to help you get started with this popular game, which even lists most Craps odds.
Craps odds are much more attractive than those on offer from Roulette and only a whisker away from the returns of Video Poker and Blackjack. Betting against the pass or the active player is the most lucrative way to play this fast paced game with a house edge of only 1.38%. Certain bets on the Craps table such as the odds bet offer fair returns with no margin in the house’s favour whatsoever. These are the wagers that are the key to making good money on this game.
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If you are hunting down the best odds for skill based games then you should always do a little research in the first instance. It is not enough to simply know which of the numerous casino titles out there have the possibility to deliver the greatest returns – you need to have a little look at the strategy too. With careful analysis of Blackjack and Video Poker tables, Roulette systems and Craps bets you might not be able to completely over turn the house edge, but you can certainly force the odds into your favour.