Casinos make their money by building a mathematical profit into their games. This is called the house edge. Over a single hand, or spin of a slot, you can win big — or lose your stake. Over millions of hands, the results will always match that built-in house edge.
You will find that some casino games have much better odds than others. For example, the best blackjack games have an edge in favour of the house of just 0.5%. Bets with the worst odds are often side bets in table games. For example, betting any-7 in craps has an edge of 16.67% to the house.
This page covers finding games with the best odds in both live and online casinos in Canada. This includes the games and bets to avoid, plus specifics on the odds of slots, table games, video poker, and keno.
Your chances of winning at the casino will immediately improve when you know which bets to avoid.
There is a huge spread when it comes to the best bets and sucker bets. The lists below show how wide the spread between the best and worst odds are:
Most casino games have odds of between 93% and 98% over the long term. This range covers casino poker games, roulette, and slot machines. Getting the best odds from each type of casino game is covered in more depth below.
Smart casino fans will already know that you should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Instead, the key goal is to make your casino bankroll last — while giving yourself a shot at a meaningful win.
Choosing the casino games with the lowest house edge (best odds) is only part of the equation. The speed of a game also comes into play. For example, a slot can have great odds of 97%. If you are spinning once every 7 seconds on average, your money is turning over very quickly. Compare this to a blackjack game with the same odds. With 1 hand every 2 minutes, the casino is taking their cut at a slower pace.
The volatility of casino games also needs to be factored in. In games like baccarat, you win and lose in single-bet units. Other games have ‘lumpy’ wins. Examples include casino poker-themed table games, where the occasional flush or full house will pay multiple units — making up for a series of losses. This is known as volatility. A combination of bad odds, fast play, and high volatility can be dangerous — you could see your casino bankroll disappearing fast.
Some games have good odds, though the strategy is difficult to master. An example here is Ultimate Texas Hold’em. This casino poker game has an edge of 2.2%, though the strategy is challenging — meaning most players will pay slightly more than this.
Table games have extra, optional bets alongside the main game. Known as side bets, they give you the chance to win progressive jackpots or big prizes for specific combinations of cards. Examples include side bets in casino poker games like Caribbean Stud or 3 Card Poker. You can win jackpots for royal flush hands, or big prizes for a straight flush.
Blackjack has multiple side bets. Casinos around Canada offer Blazing 777 blackjack and Perfect Pairs. These bets can also pay jackpots — with suited 7’s or aces. You will often pay 10% or more to enjoy these bets. The exact odds change based on the size of progressive jackpots.
Many casino games advise you to avoid this type of bet completely. The counterargument to this is that side bets give you a shot at a huge win. For many players, they add an element of excitement to games where wins are in single units most of the time.
Being aware that side bets have bad odds is important. That said, if your bankroll is big enough, these bets can increase your enjoyment of the games — and that is the reason most of us gamble in the first place.
Slots have a wide range of odds. The worst games can have an edge of more than 10% in favour of the house. The best slots games are around 3%. If you’re trying to figure out how to win at slots, keep in mind that the games are extremely volatile. Those big wins or jackpots will make up for dry spells. If you miss out on a bigger win, your personal experience might well be of a huge edge in favour of the house.
House edge for slot games decreases as the denomination goes up. Slots where you bet a penny per line (often over 50 or 100 lines) have the worst returns. You can track this linearly, with 2c, 5c, 10c, 25c, and $1+ denominations having better and better odds.
When it comes to $1 per line slots, the 30+ line video slots are often too expensive. Mechanical 3-reel slots have the best returns. These might not have the same appeal as branded games with TV or movie tie-ins and multiple bonus features.
If you are not sure what the returns are for an individual slot, check the ‘Information’ page before you play. This will often show the long-term returns, after the paytable and bonus game rules.
Keep in mind that jackpots will significantly increase the variance of slot games. The odds listed will include occasional giant wins. If you don’t get lucky, then your experience of playing will be at much worse odds – that money to pay the jackpots needs to come from somewhere.
Casino table games come in multiple formats – and have a wide range of odds. For many games, understanding the correct strategy is key to getting the best available returns. If you make mistakes in blackjack, casino poker games, or choose the worst bets in craps, you will be paying for it by getting worse odds than the other players. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and guides here at PlayCanada.com to bring you up to speed with gameplay and strategy.
Blackjack odds vary depending on what rules each casino uses. The best odds are found in high-limit gaming areas in big casinos around Canada. Here ‘Whales’ can bet thousands of dollars per hand on single-deck games with liberal doubling, splitting, and surrender rules. The best possible combination of rules can see blackjack games with odds of just 0.24%.
Out on the casino floor, $5 games will have a bigger house edge. With the correct strategy, this can be as low as 2.5%. Avoid games that pay 6:5 for a natural blackjack, where the dealer hits on soft-17, and where splitting/doubling is restricted.
Side bets in blackjack such as Blazing 777, or Perfect Pairs, are expensive over the long run. Blackjack variations like Spanish 21, Free Bet Blackjack, and Blackjack Switch have a low house edge. You will need to learn the strategy for each game individually to realize those returns.
The appeal of roulette for new players is that there is no complex strategy to learn. You bet on a combination of individual numbers or groups of them – and hope to get lucky.
Casinos have 3 different types of roulette wheels. The odds of the best wheel are significantly better than for the worst. Here are the house edge scores:
If you want a better chance at winning roulette, you should choose the European wheel with a single green zero. Larger casinos will offer US wheels at the lowest bet sizes, saving the best casino odds for players with bigger bankrolls. Online casinos offer additional roulette options, including games with bonus features or even jackpots. These will naturally have higher volatility than the regular game — and will often have a high house edge too.
If you can find it, then French Roulette has the best odds of all. This game returns half of your bet on even-money chances if the ball lands in the (single) green zero. That makes the odds of outside bets just 1.35%. Your overall odds will depend on how you balance outside bets with bets on individual numbers.
Craps games give you a huge choice of bets — some of them have excellent odds compared to other casino games, others are terrible.
The main betting takes place over two rounds. The Come Out roll offers Pass Line and Don’t Pass bets, with odds from just 1.4%. The Point Round lets you bet on numbers at true odds, with the multiplier of your pass line bet varying between games.
Compare those low odds with the any-7 bet at 16.67%, and the Horn Bet at 13.89%, and the range of long-term returns becomes instantly clear.
Craps games can also have side bets. Fire Bet games are common in live casinos around Canada. This bet pays large sums if all the points are hit before a 7 is rolled. Like all side bets, the odds are heavily in favour of the house. In this case, the edge is a staggering 21.27%.
Table games themed on poker hand ranks are hugely popular. After blackjack and roulette, games like 3 Card poker are the next most popular around Canada. At the biggest casinos in Ontario, Quebec, and BC, you will find niche variations like Mississippi Stud, Let It Ride, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
The base casino odds for these games are relatively low. Inexperienced players will pay more to the casinos – by making minor strategy mistakes as they play. Games with easy strategy are 3 Card Poker and Caribbean Stud. While the house edge is lower for the other variants, getting the optimal strategy right for every situation is more difficult.
Here is the base house edge for popular casino poker variations:
As with the other games, side bets are a lot more expensive over the long-term than the main game. In many games (for example 3 Card poker) the side bet is considered by players as a vital part of enjoying the game.
With the best odds for players of all games other than optimized blackjack, baccarat is popular with high-rollers. Most Canadian casinos offering baccarat on the main casino floor spread either mini-baccarat or Punto Banco rules. This is a simplified version of the ‘banked’ multi-player games found in high-limit rooms.
Of the three regular bets, one should be avoided at all costs. Here are the odds:
Even though the tie-bet has a bigger return, this is handing money straight to the house compared to the other wagers. Side bets should be avoided at baccarat tables for similar reasons.
You will find video poker on bar top consoles and VLTs around Canada. There are multiple variations of these games — ranging from classics like Joker Poker to novelty games with bonus features.
Video Poker has a naturally low house edge. To get the best odds you need to learn the strategy. Every variation from the mathematically correct hold and draw strategy will cost money. Even what looks like a tiny error can be expensive over time.
Getting the best odds from video poker also means playing the maximum of 5 coins on every hand. This will boost the prize for a royal flush. Even though this is a rare hand, missing out on the biggest prize when it does appear will hand money to the casino in the long run.
Larger casinos around Canada have poker rooms, where you can play Texas Hold’em and other poker variants against other players. These games have a large skill element, if you are better at poker than your opponents, you will win money over time.
Instead of a mathematical edge built into the game, the house makes money through rake and tournament fees.
Rake involves taking chips from cash game pots. The amount varies based on the size of the pot, and will typically have a maximum of $5 or $7, for example. Poker tournaments charge entry fees. For example, a $220 weekly tournament will typically see $200 in the prize pool, with $20 going to the casino.
Casinos offer free play bonuses, comp point schemes, and promotions, all of which can help boost your bankroll and reduce the effects of the house edge. While these promotions won’t take away the advantage of the house completely, they will make sure your bankroll lasts longer — giving you extra shots at hitting that big win.
Live casinos offer loyalty schemes. You get free play at the casino around Canada simply for joining. You will also collect points as you gamble, which can be turned into extra free play as you hit milestones. Add in discounts at stores, bars, and restaurants, plus access to drawings and other promotions.
Online casinos also offer free play. This applies to the casinos run by individual provinces and to legal sweepstakes casinos operating in Canada. If you don’t get lucky with your free spins, matched welcome bonuses will give you double the chances of hitting with your first deposits.
Like live casinos, online brands will reward players for their loyalty. Point collection schemes have tiers — with better benefits as you climb. Look out for promotions including double-point deals, reload bonuses, free spins, or free chips for trying out new games — and one-off/special deals too.
As you will see, choosing the games with the lowest house edge is a great starting point. This will make your bankroll last longer — giving you extra chances to hit a lucky streak or a big win.
Games including blackjack and baccarat have a low house edge. Players need to be smart about which tables to choose, and which side bets to avoid – and the correct strategy to realize this house edge.
Slots and roulette have fixed odds. For roulette, this is determined by the number of zero slots on the wheel. Slots have their edge baked into the setup. The volatility of your results means it can be hard for individual players to get close to the ‘real’ odds playing slots. Jackpot games give you the chance of getting lucky, though do increase the volatility of your results.
Picking the best games, learning the right strategy, and taking advantage of casino bonus deals will go a long way to keeping the odds as low as possible. Enjoying the games, and giving yourself a shot at a big win, will make sure your trip to a casino is memorable.