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There are some excellent bets in the casinos, though even the best bets have house edges

By Frank Scoblete


Take your pick, my friends. Casinos are good places to play games. Casinos are the worst places to play games. There are some excellent bets in the casinos. There are some horrible bets in the casinos.

Those above sentences are absolutely true.

There are some excellent bets in the casinos, though even the best bets have house edges attached to them—small ones. The worst bets? Yuck! House edge is too polite a word to use to describe such crummy bets. There are good games and there are bad games. No doubt about that.

“An amazing percentage of casino players (for some reason) often make awful bets. I am guessing many of these players actually don’t know they are making awful bets.”

Yet, an amazing percentage of casino players (for some reason) often make awful bets. I am guessing many of these players actually don’t know they are making awful bets. Why do they make them, then? I think they make bets that have a big payout and their thought is that the bigger the payout, the better the bet.

So let me delineate the best bets in the casino. These won’t be every best bet but the ones that many people can make at the more favored games in the house.

Blackjack is a great game if played properly according to the computer- derived basic strategy that tells players what to do with every hand they have against the dealer’s up-card. The house edge on blackjack games is about one-half percent for players who use basic strategy, meaning an expected loss of about 50 cents per $100 wagered.

The good blackjack games have a three-to-two payout for a blackjack and these games will allow doubling down on any first two cards, splits and resplits on pairs with the dealer standing on all 17s. Games with a 6:5 payout on blackjacks and poorer rules are not as good. These can be three times worse than the best games.

However, even a crummy blackjack game is often better than most other games in the casino. That is something to consider.

Craps is the most exciting game in the casino and craps players are devoted to the game. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are only about a half dozen bets that are any good. Yet, the game has scores of awful bets that many (many, many) players love to make. The bad bets have the bigger payouts as a rule; a very bad rule at that.

The best bets are the don’t pass line with a 1.36 percent house edge and the pass line bet with a

1.41 percent house edge. In terms of money? Per $100 wagered on the don’t pass the expected loss is $1.36, and the expected loss on the pass line bet of $100 will be $1.41. (Remember that the bets can be as low as $10 but it reads better when you explain that a total of $100 wagered costs this or that amount.)

Those who make the don’t pass or pass line bet have the option of putting up even more money when the point is established. This new bet is called the “odds” bet and comes in with no house edge on it! Some casinos allow 2X odds (two times the line bet) all the way up to 100X odds.

You can place-bet the 6 and 8 in multiples of $6. The house edge on these two place numbers is 1.52 percent—an expected loss of $1.52 per $100 wagered. The payoff for the $6 bet is seven dollars.

The don’t player can bet against the 6 or 8 as a place bet too. The house edge is 1.8 percent. Remember that a don’t bet means you are betting against the number and rooting for the 7 during the point cycle of the game.

[Please note: The “don’t bettors” are not well liked at the tables and there are not many of them, just in case popularity means anything to you as a player. Don’t players are often called darksiders. That name gives you an idea of what craps players think of them.]

Roulette could be the oldest casino game. The house edge is a whopping 5.26 percent edge on the American game (the 0 and 00 game), while it is 2.70 percent on the European/French game (just one 0). The good news is that the game is somewhat leisurely, especially at crowded tables where paying bets can take some time.

However, on the even-money bets of red/black, high/low and odd/even, if the house only takes half the bet when a 0 or 00 is the decision the player is getting a really good deal. That option (called surrender on the American game and en prison on the European/French game) makes the American game have an edge of 2.63 percent and the European game have an edge of 1.35 percent.

[Please note: The even-money bets are not a 50/50 proposition between player and casino. The casino will win 20 decisions against a player’s win of 18 decisions, while the European/French game has the casino winning 19 decisions with the player winning 18 decisions. They are called even-money bets because they pay even money.]

Next month I’ll take a look at some more good bets. All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete’s website is His books are available from, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and bookstores.

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