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Gary Trask – Top 10 highest house edge casino bets

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The casino floor of the Atlantis Casino Resort.

The casino floor of the Atlantis Casino Resort. (photo by Jim G. on Flickr)

One of the biggest advantages a gambler has when walking into a casino is the number of options available to put his or her hard-earned money into play.

Yes, it’s true that you will be at a mathematical disadvantage no matter what game you decide to play, thanks to the inescapable and almighty house edge, which represents the “long run percentage of the wagered money that will be retained by the casino.” But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some options that are much more player-friendly than others.

So, since we’ve already covered the 10 lowest house edge casino bets available, today let’s delve into the game that offer wagers that will, quite frankly, drain your bankroll if you play them with regularity, with a tip of the hat to WizardofOdds.com for providing the all-important data.

10. Craps (3, 11 and all easy hops; hard 4, 10; any craps) — House edge of 11.11%
If you’re not a craps player, but have walked by a table and seen the number of chips in play and the excitement surrounding it, it’s no surprise that the game has an array of different betting options. In fact, of the hundred or so bets you can make on the craps table, two of them are included in our previously mentioned article that lists the 10 lowest house edge casino bets.

But there are certain bets a craps player should try to avoid, and these are three of them. Stay tuned for a few more that are even more lethal.

9. Craps (2, 12 and all hard hops) — House edge of 13.89%
OK, now that we’ve got all of the non-craps players out there intrigued, we should follow through and mention that Casino City is fortunate enough to have one of the game’s most notable authorities, Frank Scoblete, as a regular Gaming Guru contributor. And, coincidentally, Frank’s most recent column touches on why craps is so exciting. Be sure to check it out.

8. Baccarat (tie) — House edge of 14.36%
The volatile card game was first introduced in Europe over 500 years ago and is played between two hands— one by the “player” and one by the “banker.” It gained fame as the favorite game of the early James Bond movies, and more recently as a game that poker pro Phil Ivey was accused of “edge sorting,” and it’s popular with high rollers.

Baccarat wagers on the player and the bank found their way onto our list of our 10 lowest house edge casino bets at 1.24%, but when you bet on a “tie,” that number soars.

7. Slot machines — House edge can be as high as 15%
Slot machines generate the most revenue for a casino, and with such wide array of games available, the house edges vary and can be as low as 3%. But there are plenty of games out there that carry a house edge in the range of 15%. Combine that with the hyper-fast rate of play, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

6. Big Six — House edge between 16%-24%
There’s not a casino game much simpler — or more dangerous to your bankroll — as Big Six, often called Wheel of Fortune, Money Wheel or Big Wheel.

There are a number of variants, but the most common features a big wheel (see, it’s even got a real clever name) with $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 bill symbols, as well as a joker and some other “wildcard” symbol, like a casino logo. You bet on which symbol the wheel will land on with the payout odds match the dollar amounts (2-to-1 on $2, 5-to-1 on $5, etc.) while the other non-numerical symbols cashing in at as much as 45-to-1.

The lowest house edge bet you can make is on $1 (11.11%), while the $5 and $20 bets come in with a whopping 22.22% with wager on the joker/logo bets increasing to 24.07%.

In other words, if you see the big wheel on the horizon in the casino, run the other way . . . fast!

5. Craps (any seven) — House edge between 16.67%
Craps rears its ugly head once again on the list. When the shooter rolls a seven at the craps table it can be a pivotal moment, and while betting any seven will be thrown pays a tidy 5-to-1, it’s one of the worst wagers you can make.

4. Casino War (tie) — House edge of 18.651%
If you’re like me, War was one of the first card games you played as a kid. But when I was flipping cards with my cousins on my living room floor 40 years ago, I never envisioned playing it in a casino. And judging from the house edge numbers, if I ever do, betting the tie is not recommended.

The typical Casino War game is played with six decks, and that’s when the house edge is 18.65%. The fewer cards used in the game, the higher that number goes. For instance, when using one deck, the house edge on a tie is 35.29%. The lesson? Keep your memories of playing War to when you were a child, not an adult in a casino.

Slot machines at the Bellagio.

Slot machines at the Bellagio. (photo by Antoine Taveneaux)

3. Bonus Six (with insurance) — House edge of 23.83%
Bonus Six is a five-card stud-based game in which a player can buy insurance and then get the option to buy a sixth card.

The problem with doing that is that the house edge more than doubles, rising from 10.42% without insurance to almost 24%. No thanks.

2. Keno — House edge of between 25% to 29%
You don’t have to be inside the walls of a casino to play keno. Heck, Massachusetts, the home of Casino City, is far from Nevada or Pennsylvania when it comes to number of casinos, but we’re the proud Keno capital of the world. With terminals and screens with bouncing balls in what seems to be every convenience store or bar you go into, the Bay State generated $900 million in Keno sales last fiscal year, which accounts for an eye-popping one quarter of all sales in the U.S.

That $900 million number isn’t so surprising when you consider the house – which in Massachusetts’ case is the government – edge is nearly 30%.

1. Sic Bo — House edge of 33.3%
Another game where the house edge varies wildly depending on the bet, Sic Bo, which means “dice pair,” can get quite expensive on certain wagers.

While the safest bet on the table is Small/Big, which carries a house edge of 2.78%, there are numerous others than run into the range of over 30%, a number so frighteningly high they should come with a Surgeon General’s warning.

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