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All gambling games have what's referred to as the edge - the advantage that the House (The person or company offering the bet) has over the players. This varies from game to game, and to some degree, from place to place. It is expressed as a percentage. A 5% house edge means that, on average, you will receive back 95% of the money you bet over a period of time. For example, if you were to bet $100 (20 bets of $5 each), you would, on average, have $95 left when you finished the run. Nevada Gaming Regulations limit the house edge to no more than 25%; other gaming locations may or may not have such a restriction.

Here are a list of some games, and the house edge on them. All figures are approximate.

  • Blackjack: 1% (or less) for skilled players, 10% for most people, 20% or more for stupid players.
  • Craps: 1.4% for Pass, Don't Pass, Come, and Don't Come, less if you take odds. Higher for other bets.
  • Roulette: 5.26% for all bets except one (5-spot), which is 8%. European Roulette wheels are different, and have a lower edge.
  • Baccarat: 1.27%
  • Pai Gow Poker: 2.8%
  • Slot Machines: Can vary from under 1% all the way up to 25% (Or more, in some unscrupulous Houses). There is no way to tell what any given machine's edge is unless the House chooses to post that information.
  • Video Poker: Like Slot Machines, the edge can vary wildly by rules and payout. However, the edge on video poker machines can be calculated by the payout figures... if you know your math.
  • Chuck-A-Luck: 8-22%
  • Big 6 Wheel: 18.6%
  • California State Lottery: 48-51% depending on game. No, that's not a typo. The California State Lottery takes approximately half of the money that is paid by players and keeps it. The rest goes back out as prize money - and most of that is low-end prizes, like free tickets, $2 winners, and so on. The big jackpot actually accounts for a fairly small amount of prize funds.

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