Casino wagers vary in terms of their likelihood of paying off. Slot machines may be popular games, but in terms of game odds, they’re not a good choice. That’s because the casino’s built-in advantage gives them as much as a fifteen or twenty percent edge against you.
Yes, some table games and even some machine games have decent odds and can be a lot of fun. But avoiding bad wagers could save you a ton of money on your next trip to the casino.
Here are details on four of the worst bets available on the casino floor.
1. Caribbean Stud’s Progressive Side Wager
Caribbean Stud Poker is a popular casino table game based on the rules of traditional stud poker. Players have the choice of laying a $1 side bet on each round. These wagers go into a pool, represented by a jackpot meter. Payouts start for hands of a flush or better.
Payout tables vary from casino to casino, but they’re always progressive. Another common feature – 100% of the progressive total is paid out for a royal flush. Another common payout – 10% of the jackpot meter for a straight flush.
The expected return for each game varies depending on the size of the progressive jackpot, but it is almost always a sucker bet. The average house edge is 26.46%, according to Wizard of Odds.
We know that a flush turns up an average of once for every 509 hands. At fifty hands an hour in the casino, a player could easily play ten hours straight without being dealt a flush. And that’s the least-valuable payout in the side bet pay table.
Why you might want to place this wager: Most people who play Caribbean Stud place the $1 side bet. The progressive payouts are a big reason people play this particular game. If it makes the game more fun for you, go ahead and place it. Just do so knowing it’s a bad wager.
2. Keno (Any Bet)
Keno is partly based on classic lottery drawings. If that’s not enough to scare you away from this risky game, read on.
In keno, players pick between one and fifteen numbers from a sheet of eighty. Twenty winning numbers from that list are then selected at random. Depending on how many correct numbers you picked, you win a payout as described in the game’s pay table. Keno payouts vary based on how many numbers you originally select.
When Michael Shackelford of Wizard of Odds surveyed live keno games in Las Vegas, he found that the house edge ranged anywhere from 20-35%.
Why you might want to place this wager: If you enjoy the game, you’re killing time on the casino floor, or if you’ve found a video keno game that you like. Video keno gives the house a much smaller edge but moves at a faster pace.
3. Craps Propositions
Craps prop bets are tempting because they offer large payouts.
These are the bets located in the middle of the layout – hardways bets, which require the shooter rolls a specific pair of numbers, and one-roll bets, that lose if the shooter doesn’t roll a specific number in the next round.
Here’s a chart of craps prop bets, the conditions for winning, and their payouts.
|Any Seven||The next roll is any 7.||4 to 1|
|Any Craps||The next roll is 2, 3, or 12.||7 to 1|
|Craps 2||The next roll is 2.||30 to 1|
|Craps 3||The next roll is 3.||15 to 1|
|Craps 12||The next is any 12.||30 to 1|
|Yo 11||The next roll is 11.||15 to 1|
|Hard 4||The next roll is double 2s.||7 to 1|
|Hard 6||The next roll is double 3s.||9 to 1|
|Hard 8||The next roll is double 4s.||9 to 1|
|Hard 10||The next roll is double 10s.||7 to 1|
These are sucker bets because the payouts offered by the casino are significantly lower than the odds of winning the wager. That difference between the odds of the event and your payout for it mean the casino has a big edge.
With so many good wagers available on a craps layout, some as low as 1.36%, it doesn’t make sense to risk an Any Seven bet, which gives the casino an advantage of more than 16% for a payout of just 4:1.
Why you might want to place this wager: Maybe you’re a hardcore gambler with a big bankroll, or just a player that likes to take risks. Since craps outcomes are completely based on luck, prop bets are normally the domain of the thrill-seeker.
4. Blackjack Insurance
Buying insurance against a dealer blackjack is a classic example of a sucker bet.
When the dealer shows an ace, and is in position to hold a natural blackjack, all players have the option of buying “insurance” for half their original wager. If the dealer does in fact have a natural blackjack, the insurance bet pays off 2 to 1, turning what would have been a losing hand into a push.
What happens if the dealer doesn’t have a natural? You lose your insurance bet, but you are still eligible to win based on your original wager.
This is a terrible bet to place because the odds of a dealer turning an ace into a natural blackjack are slim. When the dealer is showing an ace (using a six-deck game as an example), about 30% of the remaining cards in the shoe are worth ten points. That means insurance only makes sense 30% of the time.
In simple financial terms: if you placed a $5 insurance wager 100 times, you’d stand to win thirty of them. That’s $300 in winnings. It sounds nice until you realize that the seventy losing insurance bets cost you $350. You’d be $50 in the hole.
Why you might want to place this wager: If you are a skilled card-counter, you can recognize game situations in which taking insurance against a dealer blackjack makes sense.
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