What Does House Advantage Really Mean?

The gambling world is full of jargon and technical terms. Even experienced players can find it difficult to grasp some of the more complex terms, so newcomers can often feel completely bemused by some of the words and phrases they encounter.

However, to truly enjoy and make the most out of your online gambling experience, it’s vital that you learn about and understand some of these ideas. Not only will this increase your enjoyment of casino games, but it could also see you be more successful. One concept you will likely come across is that of house advantage. What is house advantage, and what does it mean for you as a player? Let’s find out.

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What is House Advantage?

House advantage, also commonly referred to as house edge, is simply the statistical advantage that a casino has over players. The idea of a casino having an edge over players might seem unfair, but it is necessary for casinos to remain financially viable in the long-term. Without house advantage, casinos could soon find themselves going bust as they pay out beyond their means.

House advantage is expressed as a percentage, which represents the average value a casino takes from a player’s wager. For example, if a player places a $10 bet on a game with a house edge of 10%, they can expect to see the casino take $1. Obviously, this doesn’t happen on every bet, but is simply an average used to indicate the advantage of the house.

Is it the same as RTP?

House advantage is actually the opposite of RTP – or ‘Return to Player’. This is also expressed as a percentage, and many online games will have a very high RTP, sometimes upwards of 90%. The percentage represents how much players can expect to see paid back from a game. Put simply, if players put $100 into a game with a RTP of 95%, then the winner can expect around $95 back.

It’s not exact, and is calculated on an ‘all things equal’ basis, but it’s definitely worth distinguishing between RTP and house advantage.

What Games have the Best House Advantage?

Modern casinos online and across the world have a range of different games available for players, including things like virtual table games, slot machines, and live dealer games. Each of these games carries its own unique house advantage, which can be a major influencing factor when players are choosing a game.

One of the world’s most popular casino games is blackjack, which comes as no surprise given its generous house edge. The house advantage of blackjack rarely exceeds 2%, and can even fall below 1% depending on the particular version of the game being played. This, when combined with blackjack’s simple rules, is why it has remained such a popular choice among players around the world.

Can Card Counting Alter House Advantage?

Card counting is a very complex, but potentially very profitable, endeavour. You’ve likely heard before that it’s posed a real problem to casinos – so much so that casinos watch players very closely to identify any signs of card counting. The practice isn’t illegal at a state or federal level, but it’s a great way to get yourself kicked out onto the curb.

So, yes, card counting does combat the house advantage – but not for long, since it’s banned in pretty much any casino you could wander into.

Which Games have the Highest House Advantage?

Calculating which casino games have the highest house edge can be difficult. Games often have numerous variations and optional rules that can be introduced to swing the house advantage one way or another, which can make it tough to figure out which options are best for players.

For example, baccarat can sometimes come with a generous house edge of between 1% and 2%. However, certain versions of the game can increase this to upwards of 30%.

Similarly, the classic European version of roulette offers players a house edge of 2.7%. However, the American version of the game, where an extra zero is added to the wheel, has a significantly higher house advantage of 5.26%.

Don’t give into the gambler’s fallacy!

Looking at house advantage and RTP is a great way of gauging your chances with a particular game. While these numbers are never exact, and are always based on more generalized ‘ideal world’ scenarios, they represent the most scientific approach to understanding the casino.

Still, superstition plays a big role in the casino, and a lot of gamblers – new and experienced – will sometimes give into the old gambler’s fallacy of believing that the longer they stick at a game, the higher the chances that they’re going to get a win.

This is what makes slots so compelling – the idea that the 20th attempt stands a better chance than the 2nd attempt. Still, the gambler’s fallacy is nowhere near as useful as house advantage and RTP, so don’t give into superstition.

Can betting strategies overcome house advantage?

The basic principle underlying betting strategies is subverting the house advantage, and replacing that with a player advantage. In some instances, a bettor may ‘hedge’ their bets, by betting on more than one outcome (say, to a race), but there are many other betting strategies – and some certainly work more than others.


As a player, understanding what house advantage is and how it can affect you is vital. Doing so will vastly improve your online gambling experience.



About Joel Levy 2588 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography