***Updated: November 14, 2018***
The games we encounter in a casino like blackjack, roulette, and craps, all feel as if they have always been there but they are only products of the times in which we are living. Walk into one of the original casinos in Venice, Italy in the 1600s and none of these games would have been seen. Visit an Old West saloon in the middle of the 1800s and the game being dealt would be Faro. Sit down at a poker table in the 1960s and the antes would be Stud, not Texas Hold’em. Stroll over to the slot machines before the 1970s and there will be no video poker, no progressive slot machines, and no 3D titles. In short, a lot has changed.
Casino games are typically grouped into three categories – table games played with dice, cards, and wheels, and then electronic gaming machines such as slots and video poker, and finally random number ticket games like keno and bingo. Some places will also offer sports betting on events and accept wagers on horse races. All bets taken in will be on games determined by random outcomes, with the obvious exception of poker that is played between other players seated at the table.
Some gambling games become unpopular and are then pulled from the rotation, never to be seen again. The ones we play today and profile on this site are all of the most popular that players from around the world enjoy, regardless of their personal background. They may be based on games of chance that came before them, or perhaps have no clear ties to an ancestor whatsoever. However, a characteristic that every single one of them share is that all carry an odds advantage for the House, and that is something that you can safely bet on for every new gambling release of the future.
A casino stays in business by offering payouts that are not quite equal to “true odds”. For example, when tossing a single die the true odds that any of the six numbers will come up are 1 in 6, but instead of paying 5-1 on that occurrence the House pays 4-1. So when selecting what to play in a casino it’s vitally important for players to understand the House Edge in each game: this is the return expected to the player over a long session of gambling. The best returns to the player are always going to come from games that have an element of skill and strategy, such as blackjack or something similar. Anything that is easy to learn and subject to pure chance, such as roulette, will usually be much friendlier to the House.
All games of chance feature a variance that enables players to beat the House in the short term. The ones with the highest variance are the slot machines, which have the most single event payouts and will also earn the most for the House over a long session of play.
Operators can also make money by facilitating games between players, such as dealing poker. When people compete against one another the House will of course take a percentage, or rake, of every hand played, generating revenue even when not in the game.
There’s a very good reason why we’ve all heard the expression, “The House always wins.”