Not all casino games are created equal. The odds on all of them favor the house, but the odds favor the house more with some games than others. Your job, besides only gambling with money you can afford to lose, is to find the games with the best odds and avoid the games with the worst odds. Your other job is to find a casino game that suits your temperament and provides you with your money’s worth, entertainment-wise. This post starts by distinguishing casino games from other kinds of gambling games. Then I explain what a game’s payout is.
I follow that up with a list off the casino games offering the best payouts. Feel free to learn more about online casinos offering the best payouts, which we already covered in a previous article.
What Is a Casino Game? And What Does “Payout” Measure, Exactly?
All casino games are gambling games, but not all gambling games are casino games. Here’s the difference:
When I use the expression “casino game,” I’m referring specifically to games where the house is banking the game. They take your bets and pay off your winnings. Other gambling games, like bingo or poker, for example, involve competing against the other gamblers for your payout. They’re the subject of another post.
What all casino games also have in common is a mathematical edge for the casino. If you’re playing a game with an even-money payout – one where you bet $100 and have the opportunity to win $100 – you always have a less than 50% probability of winning. The difference between the probability of winning and the payout odds is where the house gets its edge. You can express this edge in two different ways:
The house edge
Is the mathematically expected average amount that you’ll lose on each bet. For example, if you’re betting $100 per hand at online blackjack, and the house has a 1% edge, you’re expected to lose $1 per hand on average in the long run.
I should point out that this only applies in the long run – over hundreds or thousands of hands. In the short run – a single hand, or even a dozen hands – anything can happen.
In fact, these short term lucky streaks for the player are the reason the casinos stay in business. If people couldn’t win, they wouldn’t play.
The payback percentage
… On the other hand, is the amount of each bet that’s mathematically expected to be returned to the player on average over the long run. If a game has a house edge of 1%, the casino expects to pay out 99% of that bet on average over time. You can describe the payout for a game using either or both measures, but house edge is used more commonly to describe table games. The payback percentage is used more commonly to describe gambling machines (like slots and video poker).
Below, I’ve listed the 6 best payout casino games available along with both the house edge and the payback percentage for each. They’re organized by which are the best bets, and I’ve included tips for getting the best payout for each game.
1- Video Poker
The best payback percentage game in the casino is video poker, but you’ll need to find the right game with the right pay table. Here you can find the best online casinos to play videopoker.
In the case of video poker, the best game is Deuces Wild with the best possible pay table. The payback percentage for this game is 100.76%. This means the house edge is actually negative 0.76%, which is practically unheard of.
Not only will you need to find the right pay table (1-2-2-3-5-9-15-25-200-800), you’ll need to play with the optimal strategy for the game. Even if you can’t find this specific game with this specific pay table, many video poker games offer a payback percentage of over 99%.
The most common of these is probably Jacks or Better with the 99.54% payback percentage. The pay table for that version looks like this: 1-2-3-4-6-9-25-50-800.
The house edge for the best combination of bets in craps is 0.014%, that means the payback for the game is 99.986%. That’s as close to 100% as you’ll see in a casino.
How do you achieve that payback?
The first trick is to find a casino that allows you to lay 100X odds. The next trick is to take the don’t pass bet, and when the point is set, lay the 100X odds. This requires a bit of a bankroll, too. For example, if you bet $5 on don’t pass, you’ll need $500 to place the maximum possible bet on the odds bet.
But even if you can only find a casino that allows an odds bet of 5X, you can face a house edge of 0.227%, which is the equivalent of a payback percentage of 99.773%.
Here you can also find a guide with tips to become a online craps pro.
With the most liberal set of rules, you can find blackjack games where the house edge is only 0.19% or 0.26%. This makes the payback for the game 99.81% or 99.74%.
When I say you’re looking for liberal rules, I mean you’re looking for games where you can double down after splitting, where you’re allowed to re-split aces, and where the dealer is required to stand on a soft total of 17. Also, to achieve this payback percentage, you MUST use blackjack basic strategy on every hand. It’s better to find the basic strategy for the exact game conditions you’re facing and memorize it.
Here you can find the top 5 recommended online casinos for blackjack.
4- Spanish 21
Spanish 21 is a variation of blackjack, but it has so many rules variations that most writers and experts consider it a different game.
If you can find a Spanish 21 game where the dealer must stand on a soft 17, the house edge is 0.40%, which means the payback is 99.60%. Just like with blackjack, to achieve that payback percentage, you must master basic strategy and use it every time.
Baccarat has a house edge of 1.06%, which makes the payback percentage 98.94%. And unlike blackjack and video poker, baccarat doesn’t require you to memorize any strategy decisions. You do need to remember one thing, though: Always place the “banker” bet. Don’t bet on “player” or “tie.”
The house edge for the player bet is 1.24%, which is only marginally higher, but you shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best payback you can get. The house edge for the tie bet is 14.36%, which makes it a huge sucker bet that no one should ever take.
6- Pai Gow Poker
The house edge for Pai Gow Poker is 1.46%, giving it a payback percentage of 98.54%. To achieve this payback percentage, you will need to learn the appropriate strategy for the game.
In Pai Gow Poker, you get seven cards, which you “set” into two hands – a five-card hand and a two-card hand. The skill in this game is deciding how to set those hands. You can find simple, intermediate, and advanced strategies for the game with a simple internet search. The easier the strategy, though, the higher the house edge will be.
The best payout online slots were covered in a previous article.