Do Some Casino Games Have Better Odds Than Others?

 Do Some Casino Games Have Better Odds Than Others?

When players ask me what game they should play, I ask them what they enjoy playing. I’m happy to explain that blackjack, craps, baccarat and certain video poker games give you a much better shot to win than you get on slot machines, but if slots are what you find fun, I’m not going to tell you to play a game you dislike.

Even on two games with similar house edges, what the player wants from the game has to be weighed.

A reader wrote to ask, “If I’m in a casino that has $10 blackjack tables with a half-percent house edge, and $1 9-6 Jacks or Better, which also has a half-percent house edge, which should I play?”

I told him that depends on a number of factors, including what you want out of the play experience. Video poker is a more volatile game, with a portion of its payback tied up in big jackpot hands. Bet $10 at blackjack, and the most you’ll win with a single-bet is $15 on a two-card 21. Bet $5 on video poker, and you could draw a royal flush for $4,000.

The tradeoff is more frequent losing hands at video poker. Video poker gives you a better chance to win big, but also will drain your bankroll faster. Blackjack gives you more small wins and a better chance to extend your play.

So if you want a long shot at a big jackpot hand, the video poker game offers that. If you want extended playing time and more frequent small winning sessions, blackjack is your game.

Another way to look at it is that you wager more money per hour on the $1 video poker game than at the $10 blackjack table. If you play 50 hands per hour at a full seven-player blackjack table, your $10 wagers mean a $500 risk per hour. At $1 video poker, the maximum bet is $5, so at a relaxed pace of 500 hands per hour, you risk $2,500.

In the games mentioned by the reader, the house edges are equivalent, so the faster game means average losses per hour will be five times as high for the video poker player as for the blackjack player. If you like both games, that could be a deciding factor.

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