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House Edge – What is it?

While we primarily focus on fun when selecting games to add to our ever growing range here at Mr Gamez, the fact that we utilise the very same gaming software as some of the largest online casinos means that our games are also ideal for players that want to get used to a game or test out staking plans and strategies without risking their bankroll. After all, mistakes are much easier to take in online gambling when there is no money at stake! For this reason, we occasionally blog about some of the most common strategic indicators at online casinos, for the benefit of those looking to calculate odds on games and for beginners that may be experiencing online casino games for the first time.

Before understanding the house edge itself and its relevance to specific games, it is important to understand why it is in place and what the whole point of it is. As with many aspects of the online casino industry, it was carried over from the land based betting area and basically involves games being designed to be fair, but to give a slight percentage edge in the odds to the house. It only needs to be relatively slight because, as with all percentages, it balances out over time. Most established casinos will still be there long after the player has left, and so they are in the perfect position to take advantage of these long term statistical certainties.

Basically, every game you could play at a land based casino is built in such a way as to be fair to the player, while having specific functionality built into certain games to make sure that the house wins more often than it loses – more on that later. Those waitresses bringing round free drinks for players, and those free rooms in Las Vegas need to be paid for somehow! Over time, for every $1 or $100 or even $1,000 staked on a game, the casino will statistically end up with a certain percentage. The rest of the money is known as the return to player percentage – the amount that players will get back out of that original $100 or other amount. The rest goes to the casino, and pays for comps, bills, taxes and all of the other costs associated with running the operation.

As you can imagine, these costs can become somewhat high for land based casinos. They use enough electricity in one night to light a small village for a start. This meant that the house edge had to be larger. Some games have little room for movement in terms of house edges – in roulette for example, the edge is based on there being 36 possible numbers and a pay-out rate of 35 to one. As this has been built in to the gameplay, there are few differences between different forms of roulette, whether land based or online. Of course, the principle can be extended to other games such as American roulette, where an additional double zero is added, increasing the house edge at the same time by adding an additional guaranteed losing number – even if the player covered every number on the board, they would lose at least one chip and, in the case of American Roulette, two. On standard roulette, in practice the player is expected to lose 2.7% of their bet – one divided by 37, giving a house edge of 2.7%. Over time, every $100 staked on roulette results in a $2.70 profit for the casino. You can see this in action on our free French Roulette pro series game that, thankfully, uses only a single zero.

There are various other means of improving or changing the house edge on table games. You will see on our free Classic Blackjack game, for example, that cards are drawn from multiple virtual decks. The more decks in play, the more the edge favours the house. Conversely, some factors, such as allowing the player to double after a split, improve their own odds.

Slot games are a whole different ballgame when it comes to the house edge and it would be remiss for us not to cover them when dealing with the house edge as titles from the likes of Aristocrat, IGT and Novomatic are among our most popular free casino games here at Mr Gamez, and no doubt where a lot of the strategizing takes place. Rather than being built into gameplay, the house edge is determined manually on slots, and usually published in the form of a return to player percentage as mentioned above. This works in the same way as before, with the casino statistically likely to scoop a certain amount of all bets. Bonus features, progressive jackpots and all other unique slots mechanics are designed to take the programmed house edge into account.

Generally speaking, online casino games have a much lower house edge than land based casinos, simply because it is one of the easiest ways to make them more attractive to players. In spite of noticeably different business models, online casinos have far fewer expenses than the land based versions and do not actually need to take as large a cut. This means that players already have a better chance of winning online from a purely mathematical perspective.

Basically, if you are here at Mr Gamez to practice your gameplay and attempt to improve your chances, then you are in the right place. Each of our games are based on similar platforms to what you can enjoy at online casinos – the only difference is that they are absolutely free to play. We of course take absolutely no house edge as only virtual credits are used, but the games still work with predetermined edges to give players the most realistic experience possible.