Live Casino House Edge
Gambling operators are not just offering gaming products from the good of their hearts. Casinos are business entities designed to earn money. “The house always wins” is a popular saying describing the built-in advantage that ensures casinos’ profits. Many people cannot understand how the system works, as players not only lose money, but they also win during their gambling sessions. Others prefer to avoid gambling as they think games are rigged.
Cheating is not the thing that gives an advantage to the house, at least not to the reputable casinos (be that land-based gambling venues or gambling websites). If you are a person who is interested in gambling, you have most probably heard about the so-called house edge at least once. This term is used to describe the mathematical advantage of the house over the players.
There is an unwritten rule that states the longer you play, the bigger chance you have to lose. The house edge represents the average loss of the wagered money in the long run and it is expressed as a certain percentage. Needless to say, the casino does not always beat the players. The house advantage is inherent not only to games played at land-based casinos, but also to live dealer and virtual casino games.
The house edge in the live format of the game comes from the fact that blackjack mavens play their hands before the dealer. The house edge varies from game to game and from casino to casino. What is important here is that the house edge is affected by a number of factors, such as game rules, bets, and additional specifications of the game.
Live Blackjack House Edge
Blackjack is a popular card game that is highly-appreciated by live casino enthusiasts for its low house edge – less than 1%. If you decide to play blackjack, you should be informed that if you use a perfect basic strategy, you can significantly reduce the game’s house edge. Several factors affect the size of the house edge in blackjack, including rule variations and the number of decks.
The standard live blackjack is mostly played with 8 decks, each containing the customary 52 cards. However, some software providers such as Visionary iGaming offer 6-deck variations of Live Blackjack. The game can be played also with one, two, or four decks of cards.
But the more decks there are in the shoe at a time, the less player-friendly the house edge is. And there is a good explanation for that – more decks bring more cards into play. In that sense, players have fewer chances to hit a blackjack.
Single deck blackjack games are like paradise for blackjack players as these bring a meager house edge of 0.16%. Unfortunately, there are no software providers that offer a blackjack variation that is played with 1 deck. Live Blackjack that is played with 6 decks comes with a 0.64% house edge. And the most widespread 8-deck Live Blackjack has the least player-friendly house edge of 0.66%.
How Rules Affect the House Edge in Live Blackjack?
Generally speaking, blackjack is a game that features not so complicated rules. Aside from knowing the objective of the game and its betting options, it is important to have some information regarding the game’s specific rules that influence the size of the house edge.
- Dealer hits or stands on soft 17 – a hand that consists of an Ace counted as 11 or 1 and is worth 17 is referred to as a soft hand. When the dealer holds soft 17, he/she can either hit or stand (depending on the casino’s rules). In many casinos the hit soft 17 rule is applicable as the house edge favours the casino, increasing it by 0.2%.
- Players are allowed to hit split Aces – if you are dealt a pair of Aces, you can split them and play them as two different hands. The croupier will deal one more card to each Ace, but most probably you will not be allowed to hit split Aces as the odds will be stacked in your favour, lowering the house edge by 0.19%.
- Players are allowed to double split Aces – another restriction that will decrease the house edge by 0.08% is the ability to double down on split Aces.
- Players are allowed to double on any two cards – many live casino operators allow players to double only on a total of 9, 10, or 11. This restriction again stacks the odds in favour of the casino.
- Players are allowed to double on any number of cards – allowing players to double on any number of cards is not a common practice among live dealer casino operators as such a liberal rule favours the players, instead of the house.
- Surrender – there are two types of “Surrender”, and more precisely Early and Late Surrender. Early Surrender allows players to give up on their cards before the dealer checks for blackjack. Late Surrender allows players to opt out of the hand after the dealer checks his/her hole card for blackjack.Early Surrender is a rule that is rarely offered by live dealer casinos as it is quite favourable for the players. On the other hand, the Late Surrender rule is more common at live blackjack tables. It is still advantageous to the players, but it does not reduce the profits of the house significantly.
- Blackjack Payouts – if you are dealt an Ace valued at 11 and a 10, you add up straight away to 21, and this hand is called “Natural Blackjack”. The standard payout for such hands is set at 3:2. However, you might also see that some casinos offer a 6:5 payout for this hand. This seriously affects the house edge, increasing it by 1.4%.
Even if a live blackjack table offers some player-friendly rules, you should not forget to always look around for other subtleties that the casino embraced to compensate for the losses associated with the lower house edge.
Live Roulette House Edge
There is barely any casino that does not offer roulette. Over the years, roulette has been a preferred table game for many players as it has simple rules and a plethora of betting options. Nowadays, roulette still attracts thousands of players all over the world. It is one of the first games to go live at many web-based casinos. The objective of the game is clear – players need to predict which pocket the ball will land in after it is tossed in the spinning wheel by a live croupier.
Essentially, there are two different wheel layouts that correspond to the European/French and the American variation of the game. At first glance, the difference is not big – there is a wheel with numbered pockets alternately coloured in red and black. However, there is a major difference between the two variations of the game, and it affects the house edge in roulette.
The European roulette wheel has 37 pockets that are numbered from 1 to 36 plus one 0 pocket. The American-style roulette wheel has 38 pockets with numbers from 1 through 36 and two green pockets marked with 0 and 00.
In roulette, it is the zero pocket(s) that builds up the house advantage. Hence, the American variation of roulette comes with a higher house edge set at 5.26%, while the European variation of the game comes with a significantly lower house edge pegged at 2.70%. It is extremely easy to calculate roulette’s house edge – you just need to divide the number of the zero pocket(s) by all the compartments on the wheel, and then multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage.
American Roulette: 2 (the number of zero pockets) ÷ 38 (all pockets)= 0.526 x 100 = 5.26%
European Roulette: 1 (one zero pocket) ÷ 37 (all pockets) = 0.027 x 100 = 2.70%
Players should be informed that in double-zero roulette, all First Five bets come with a higher house edge of 7.89%.
Additional Specifications Cutting Down Roulette House Edge
Apart from the European and the American variation of the game, there is also French Roulette. It uses the same design of the wheel as the European variation of the game, but French roulette comes with two additional gameplay rules, and more precisely the “En Prison” and the “La Partage” rules, that reduce the house edge to 1.35%. Under these rules, players who placed even-money bets (Red/Black, Even/Odd, 1-18/19-36) receive either the full amount (“En Prison” rule) or half of their stake (“La Partage” rule) back in case the ball comes to rest in the zero pocket.
Live Casino Hold’em House Edge
Casino Hold’em is the most common poker variation to be found at live dealer casinos. Unlike other poker variations, in Casino Hold’em, players pit wits against the dealer, and that is exactly where the house edge comes from. Assuming that you are playing at a standard Live Casino Hold’em table, the house edge in terms of initial bet is 2.16%. Players should be informed that they can reduce the house edge to 1.96% when they use an optimal strategy while playing Live Blackjack and its variations.
The House Edge for the AA Bonus
The AA Bonus is an optional side bet that players can place at the beginning of the game round. This bonus pays out in case the player’s two cards and the first three flop cards construct a hand that contains a Pair of Aces or better. If you decide to wager on the AA Bonus bet, you should keep in mind that the house edge is 6.26% and it varies between software providers and casino operators.
Live Baccarat House Edge
Even though baccarat’s origin is shrouded in mystery, the game attracts a great number of casino enthusiasts. Baccarat has been associated with the nobility for a long time, but things have changed drastically with the advent of technologies. Nowadays, baccarat is available at a good-enough number of live dealer casinos. Before you start playing Live Baccarat, it pays to get some knowledge regarding the game’s built-in house edge.
Most of the software providers offer Live Baccarat that is played with 8 decks of cards. However, the number of decks may vary between the different software providers and the different variations of the game. You might encounter Live Baccarat tables that use 6 decks of 52 playing cards. When it comes to the number of decks affecting the house edge of the game, there is one general rule – fewer decks give you better odds.
Other Factors Affecting Live Baccarat House Edge
Apart from the number of decks, other factors affect the house edge tied to Live Baccarat. When playing Live Baccarat, players have 3 main betting options, including bet on the Banker’s hand, on the Player’s hand, and on a Tie (it occurs when the Player’s and the Banker’s hands are of equal value).
These betting options come with a different house edge. If you are playing on a standard Live Baccarat table that uses 8 decks, the house edge imposed on bets posted on the Player’s hand is set at 1.24%. The bets on the Banker’s hand are considered the most favourable to players as the house edge is just 1.06%. It is important to mention that winning bets on the Banker’s hand are charged with a 5% commission (it might vary between operators). Bets on a Tie come with a head-spinning house edge of 14.36%.
Some variations of live baccarat offer side bets that usually come with lucrative payouts, but the house edge associated with them is also quite high. Moreover, the chance of winning a side bet is relatively small. Therefore, in the long run, live baccarat’s side bets are not that profitable.
Live Dice Games House Edge
The number of dice games offered at live casinos is far from prolific. There are two main variations of live dice games that can be found at web-based casinos, and more precisely Sic Bo and Live Lightning Dice. Both of them are played with three dice and offer multiple betting options. The objective of the two games is to predict the outcome of the dice roll.
Live Sic Bo House Edge
The Live Sic Bo layout is packed with betting spots, allowing players to wager on a specific number, combination of numbers, or the total value of the dice. Knowing the house edge that is levered to each betting option will not influence the outcome of the game, but it will give you an idea about the bets that are more favourable to your bankroll.
The size of the house edge is affected by the size of the payouts. A general rule when it comes to Sic Bo is that the lower the payout is, the more the house edge increases.
- Small/Big Bets – these bets come with a house edge pegged at 2.78%.
- Total of 4 and 17 – the house edge tied to this bet ranges between 8.33% to 29.17%.
- Total of 5 and 16 – a house edge that ranges between 8.33% to 47.22% is imposed on this bet.
- Total of 6 and 15 – the house edge associated with this bet ranges between 7.41% to 30.56%.
- Total of 7 and 14 – a house edge that ranges between 9.72% to 23.61% is applied to this bet.
- Total of 8 and 13 – the particular bet is associated with a house edge that ranges between 12.50% to 22.22%.
- Total of 9 and 12 – this bet comes with a house edge that ranges between 7.41% to 18.98%.
- Total of 10 and 11 – the house edge associated with this bet is set at 12.50%.
- Specific Triple – this bet has a house edge that ranges between 11.57% to 30.09%
- Any Triple – a house edge that ranges between 8.33% to 30.56% is applied to this bet.
- Any Number Bet – players should be informed that house edge associated with this bet ranges between 7.87% to 3.7%.
- Odd/Even – if you place such a bet, you should know that its house edge is pegged at 2.78%.
Live Lightning House Edge
Live Lightning is a gaming product created by the first-class software provider Evolution Gaming. Only bets on the total sum of the 3 dice are allowed. Live Lightning Dice comes with a built-in house edge of 3.97% on all bets, except bets placed on 3 and 18 that are levied a house edge of 3.79%.
Live Game Shows House Edge
Live game shows are new products on the iGaming market. As for now, just two software providers offer live game shows, including Evolution Gaming and Playtech. The number of titles listed under this category is still tight, but we expect that this will change soon.
At the moment of writing this article, players can choose between Live Monopoly, Dream Catcher, Deal or No Deal, Spin a Win, and Crazy Time if they wish to try their luck at live game shows. Each game comes with a house edge as described below:
- Evolution’s Dream Catcher comes with a house edge that ranges between 4.66% (for bets on 1) to 9.19% (for bets on 40) depending on which segment of the wheel you choose to place your bet.
- Live Monopoly comes with a house edge that ranges between 3.77% and 8.7% depending on the bet you placed.
- Deal or No Deal comes with a house edge of 4.58%, but this number might vary between casino operators.
- Spin a Win comes with a house edge of 2.5% to 8.34% depending on your bet.
- Crazy Time’s house edge is pegged at 4.5%.
When all is said and done, we can conclude that the house edge is determined by several factors. Even though some games have a lower built-in advantage than others, you should always check the specific rules and other factors that might affect the size of the house edge.
The element of risk is also of crucial importance when calculating the odds stacked in your favour and the house edge. We would recommend our readers to play the game they would like to, but to choose a reliable live dealer casino with advantageous game rules and transparent payout schemes.
Assuming that you play at standard live tables, the three games that have a relatively lower house edge than the others include Live Blackjack, Live Roulette (with a single zero wheel), and Live Baccarat (bets on the Banker’s hand).