***Updated: August 18, 2019***
The games we encounter in a casino like blackjack, roulette, and craps, feel as if they have always existed, but are actually relatively modern. Walk into an original 1660s casino in Venice, Italy and none of these would be found. Visit an Old West saloon mid-1800s and the cards being dealt would be for a hand of 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 pre-1970s and you would find no video poker, progressive slots, or 3D titles. In short, plenty has changed.
Casino games are typically grouped into three categories: table games using dice, cards, and wheels; electronic gaming machines, such as slots and video poker; and, random number ticket alternatives like keno and bingo. Some places also offer sports betting on events, including acceptance of horse racing wagers. Bets taken are usually determined by random outcomes, with the obvious exception of poker, which is played amongst a group of individuals.
Sometimes, certain forms of gambling become unpopular and stop being offered, never to be seen again. Those profiled on this site are considered the most popular, enjoyed around the world. Some are reminiscent of earlier games of chance, whereas others have no clear ancestral ties whatsoever. However, a characteristic they share is odds advantage for the House – this is something you can safely bet on for every future gambling release.
A casino stays in business by offering payouts that are not quite equal to “true odds”. For example, when tossing a die, the true probability that any of the six numbers will be rolled are 1 in 6, but instead of paying 5-1, the House only pays 4-1. Consequently, it’s vitally important one understands the House Edge: the return a player can expect over one sitting of play. Best returns to the player result from activities requiring an element of skill and strategy, as with blackjack. Anything easily learnt or subject to pure luck, such as roulette, usually reaps lower rewards.
All games of chance feature variance, enabling customers to beat the House, over the short term. Slots offer the highest variance, providing the most single event payouts and earn the lion’s share for the House during longer sessions.
Operators also make money by facilitating hands between players, as with dealing poker. When people compete against each other the House will take a percentage, or rake, from every hand, generating revenue regardless of stake in the game.
There’s a very good reason why we’ve all heard the expression, “The House always wins.”