We’ve all heard the stories of gamblers winning millions of dollars using secret tricks, not having to work afterward and enjoying luxury vacations and sipping margaritas, and languishing on beautiful sunny beaches.
Most of these stories are fake! Indeed, the math behind casino games always favors the casinos, so we can conclude that there is no guarantee of winning for players.
Even if you were lucky in the beginning and won, if you keep playing for the long term, sooner or later the math will turn against you and you will lose your money. Let me show you how the math of all casino games works and why the casino will always be the big winner.
Money games such as online roulette, blackjack, or even slot machines are called games of chance (or luck) because their results depend on luck. In these different cases, you play against the casino and not against other players. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself talented, the result will always be the same: The casino will always have an advantage!
Let’s take a closer look to see how it works. All casino games are certified as random, i.e. the results depend only on chance but remember, the random factor does not make the game fair.
Here is an example: “Imagine a game of heads or tails, if it lands on heads, I give you 1 euro however if it lands on heads, you owe me two dollars.”
Although the random factor is fair to both parties, the game clearly isn’t, your chances of winning and losing are the same however the amount you stand to lose is twice the amount you can win.
“ So does that mean you can’t make money? ”
Well, you can but it will only be for the short term! Even in our imaginary game, you can be very lucky and win the first rolls giving you a few euros in profit. However, luck will always catch up with you very quickly. Real games in real casinos (whether online or not) have better odds, which won’t cause you to lose as quickly as our imaginary game (heads or tails), but you can be sure that you have a great chance of losing in the long run.
Now that you know that not all casino games are fair to players, let’s take a look at how to tell which are unfair and which are less so.
This is where the term “return to player” (RTP) makes its appearance. It is the long-term percentage of the money wagered that the player gets back from the casino in the form of wins. This tells you how many of your bets you can expect to get back from the casino by playing a specific game.
Let’s go back to our heads or tails. In this game, you have a 50 percent chance of winning $1 and a 50 percent chance of losing $2. This means that you will lose an average of 0.5 dollar.
Let’s rephrase this a bit to better illustrate the principle of RTP.
“You bet 2 dollars and flip the coin. If you win, you get your 2 dollars and another dollar back, which makes a total of 3 dollars in total. In other words, you pay $2 for a 50% chance of winning $3. You end up with 1.5 dollars in revenue on average, which gives a result of 75% on the 2 dollars bet.”
So the RTP of the game is 75%.
This means that you will only get back 75% on each bet over the long term. Which is bad compared to most games. Indeed, the average RTP of the majority of casino games is between 95% to 99%. The remaining percentages represent the casino advantage: the mathematical advantage the casino has over the players, allowing them to have an extremely profitable business.
For example, roulette has a 2.7% edge :
“Does this mean you will lose 2.7% of your money playing roulette?”
The answer to this question is yes and no. It depends on how you play.
If you bet your money in one go at your best paying online casino, you will lose an average of 2.7% of what you bet. However, if you bet multiple times, you will lose an average of 2.7% for each bet, which ends up being a lot depending on the playing time.
This is why we need to differentiate the RTP of a game and the expected return of a betting strategy. The expected return of a strategy describes how much money you can expect in return at the end of the game session on average when you follow a certain pattern (pattern).
This is never as high as the RTP of the game you are playing but it can be lower. The best online casinos offer higher RTP rates than fraudulent casinos! This is why we advise you to turn to online casinos certified by authorities such as Cresus Casino for example.
2 people are playing European roulette with an RTP of 97.3% and a casino advantage of 2.7%.
☑️ In the first case, your strategy is to place a bet of 100 euros with the hope of winning. If you win you take your money and leave the table and if you lose you admit defeat and move on. In this case, the expected return of your betting strategy is the same as the RTP of the game because you only bet once. The stats want you to lose 2.7% because the casino advantage is only applied once.
☑️ In the second case: let’s say you walk into a casino and start placing bets of 10 euros on the color red or black. You play until the 100 round or until you have lost everything. In this case, you lose 22 euros on average because you have bet much more in total and you have lost 2.7% on average on each bet you have made.
Alright, now you know how much money you’ve lost, but just as important is how you lose it over time, as well as your chances of hitting the jackpot.
This is where the term volatility comes in.
“So does volatility really matter? And if it really matters, which games are the best? Games with high volatility or with low volatility?”
Well, volatility is important and much more than what you think.
Although player preferences differ, games with high volatility are much better mathematically.
Here are some examples to show you:
☑️ In the first example, you start with a bankroll of 100 euros and you only bet 5 euros on the color red or black of the roulette until your hundredth game or until your bankroll is lost. By playing like this you have a 36.5% chance of ending up with more money than you started with, however, you will only make small gains in most wins.
Your chances of ending up with more than 200 euros are only 1.5%. On the plus side, you will lose everything before reaching the hundredth round in only 4.3% of cases. On average, you will lose 13.2 euros.
☑️ Now let’s increase volatility by keeping the same bet size and placing bets on a specific number instead of just placing on colors. When betting on colors you are very likely to double your bet, while with numbers you have a slighter chance of multiplying your original bet by 36 times.
It is therefore rather clear that volatility is much more important. In this example, your chance of profiting is much lower. It is 24.6% to be exact, which is 11% lower than the previous example. However, if you win, you will earn much more on average. Surprisingly, you are more likely to earn between 500 to 1000 euros rather than 100 to 200 euros. In total, you will lose 6.5 euros on average.
On the negative side, your chances of reaching the hundredth round are below 25%. This is a warning sign that we may have gone too far in terms of volatility, but that’s not really a problem because higher volatility allows you to place smaller bets and get the same (see even more significant) chance of hitting the jackpot.
Let’s take a look at the same strategy with bets at 2 euros: as you can see in the table, this strategy is superior to the first in almost all aspects, with a chance of winning money at 46 %, as well as more than 13% chance of winning between 200 to 500 euros and even a very slight chance of winning more than 500 euros.
The only thing worse is the possibility of reaching the hundredth round. You are guaranteed to play at least 50 games, however, you need to win at least one to have enough money for another 36 rounds. And if you win at least two, you will reach the 100-game mark. Taking all of this into account, the chance of playing all 100 rounds is 61.4%. In exchange for the higher risk of running out of money prematurely,
Before you ask, to get all these stats, we ran a simulation of 1 million players for each betting strategy to get reliable results.