|Roulette and the House Edge
The single goal of every casino gambler out there – live or online – is to beat the house edge. The house edge is the biggest enemy of the gambler and it’s present pretty much everywhere, where people play games for money.
In online poker, where players win money from and lose money to other players, there is no house edge. Poker rooms do collect rake though, which is pretty much the equivalent of the house edge.
In order to be truly profitable, players need to play well enough to beat the rake or they have to sign up for a rakeback deal to make their task easier.
In sports betting, there’s the vigorish. The bookie takes the vig as payment for the services he offers. In casino gambling, there’s the house edge.
What exactly is the house edge though? It is the difference the casino takes from a player in the shape of a stake and what it pays out in the shape of winnings.
In roulette, the house edge is extremely easy to comprehend because it basically stares players in the face in the shape of the green 0 (and possibly 00) pocket on the wheel. That little pocket is responsible for inducing a mathematical house edge, because the house always wins when the ball lands in that pocket if players bet on odds/even or red/black.
Here’s a simple example to illustrate how the house edge works: you and a friend of yours bet on a coin-flip. You wager $2 against his $1 on every flip though, which is an excellent setup for him, because it will leave him with a $0.5 expected value on each and every coin-flip, even as the flip remains a 50-50 affair.
If you were both betting $1, none of you would have an edge. One can also induce an edge by tampering with the actual outcome of the event rather than with the stakes involved.
In roulette, the house edge isn’t nearly that spectacular, but make no mistake it’s there and it should be there indeed. If it weren’t for the house edge, the casino wouldn’t be able to offer players roulette at all, after all, there’s no point in building a business around a $0 EV setup.
The house edge isn’t the same on all bet-types in roulette. Savvy gamblers know which bets carry the smallest edges and they never stray from those bets.
The issue one has to understand when playing roulette though is that the house edge, modest in appearance and un-intruding in nature, is not the big bad enemy of the gambler. The house edge – like the green pockets on the wheel – merely serves as a precursor for bigger things. It is a mathematical trigger that sparks the system to life. It is the ignition, whereas the house drop is the true motor of casino incomes and player losses.
The house edge is relatively easy to understand, and because of its much more subtle nature, the house drop isn’t. Suffice to say that while the house edge in roulette is around 4-5%, the house drop on just about any casino game has an average value of 30%.
Now we’re talking business. What this translates to is that on account of that 4% house edge, you will leave behind around 30% of the money you walk into the casino with, and that’s just the beginning. The house drop literally feeds on the amount of time players spend at the tables, for one simple reason: provided players stick around long enough, the house drop is guaranteed to reach 100%, fleecing them of every penny they have.