How Play Rate in Casino Games Affects Your Losses

casino table and stopwatch

Most gamblers play casino games at a speed that feels natural to them. For example, the average slots player doesn’t stop and think about how quickly or slowly they’re spinning the reels — they just play.

In other cases, you have no control over the game speed. You must move relatively in sync with the dealer’s speed. A blackjack dealer may become agitated if you take 30 seconds or more to make every single decision.

Whether it be slots or blackjack, play rate is one of the most-overlooked factors in gaming. Few gamblers stop to think about how their playing speed can affect their losses.

Most games feature a house edge, meaning the casino stands to beat the average player. Therefore, you should always consider how quickly you’re playing games to avoid giving casinos extra chances to win your money.

I’m going to discuss more on playing speed and what it means for your bankroll. I’ll also look at how play rates differ across various casino games.

What Is Play Rate?

In casino gambling, play rate refers to how many rounds you play per hour. This rate can be influenced by your individual playing speed or the dealer’s speed.

Here’s an example:

  • You play slot machines at an average speed of 700 spins per hour.
  • Your friend plays slots at an average speed of 500 spins an hour.
  • 700 / 500 = 1.4
  • You’re performing 1.4 spins for every one spin that your buddy is playing.

Here’s another example:

  • You sit down to a baccarat table with only one other player.
  • The croupier deals 200 hands per hour.
  • You sit down to another table with six other players.
  • The dealer only deals 100 hands per hour.
  • 200 / 100 = 2
  • You played 2x the amount of hands at the first table.

You don’t have to get so technical with play rate from a mathematical standpoint. But it’s good to have a vague understanding on how you may play more rounds in certain situations.

Why Should You Worry About Your Playing Speed?

Play rate isn’t just some arbitrary concept that should be overlooked. Instead, playing speed has a huge role in your theoretical losses.

Obviously you want to win money from casino games. But you also have to consider that the house has an edge in almost every case. Understanding your playing speed helps you minimize losses and make your bankroll last longer.

Here’s an example of using play rate to your advantage:

  • You have a favorite slot machine that carries a 5% house edge.
  • Your average bet size is $1 per spin.
  • You track your number of spins per hour for a single session.
  • You figure out that you’re spinning the reels 700 times per hour.
  • 700 x 1 x 0.05 = $35 in theoretical losses per hour
  • You’re not completely happy with these losses.
  • You decide to take a couple more breaks each hour to slow your play down.

Again, this example is pretty technical. You may not love the idea of tracking your spins each hour and running calculations to figure out how quickly you’re playing.

But you can always keep play rate in the back of your mind when considering how to best manage your bankroll. Take an extra break or two if you feel that you’re playing overly fast and exposing yourself too much to the house edge.

You can also gamble with your friends and spend more time socializing with them, so that you’re not fixating on the games.

How Different Casino Games Compare in Terms of Play Rate

How fast you play a casino game isn’t always up to you or the dealer. Instead, playing speed differs based on specific games.

Slots and video poker are the speediest options, while roulette and Texas Hold’em are the slowest. You can take a closer look at how various games compare to each other in terms of speed below.

Slot Machines

Slots are among the simplest games in the casino. You merely need to insert/deposit your money and push the spin button to get started.

Slot machines typically take a few seconds to display your spin results. Assuming you trigger a bonus feature, the round will take longer because you need to play the bonus through.

Generally speaking, you’ll average around 10 spins per minute at a normal pace. This rate adds up to 600 spins an hour.

Speed for slot machines can vary slightly, though, based on the following factors:

  • The individual game.
  • How quickly you play.
  • The number of bonus features triggered.
  • How many breaks you take.

Weighing all of these factors, you’re likely play anywhere from 500 to 700 spins each hour. Of course, this play rate doesn’t seem so significant when considering that slot machines allow you to bet less than the average casino game.

You can play online slots for as little as a penny per spin, and certain land-based games for as little as a quarter per round. But your losses can be significant when considering that slots often have higher house edges than other games.

Most online slots feature between a 3% and 5% house advantage, while land-based machines have between a 4% and 10% edge.

You can obviously see some discrepancy between your chances of winning with online and land-based slots. But in both cases, you want to be mindful of your play rate so as to minimize losses.

Here’s a look at how much you can expect to lose with the average online and land-based slot machine based on the play rate:

Online Slot

  • You bet $1 per spin.
  • You perform 600 spins an hour.
  • The game’s house edge is 4%.
  • 600 x 1 x 0.04 = $24 in theoretical losses per hour

Land-Based Slot

  • You wager $1 per spin.
  • You perform 600 spins an hour.
  • The game’s house advantage is 7%.
  • 600 x 1 x 0.07 = $42 in theoretical losses per hour


Blackjack is one of the slower casino games for two reasons.

  • It’s normally dealt by a human dealer.
  • It’s a popular game.

No croupier moves as fast as a slot or video poker machine. You’ll find some really fast dealers, but nobody who can beat the speed of a machine.

The high popularity means that blackjack often features full or near-full tables. More players at a table of means that the games will move slower.

You also have to consider that this is a strategical game, meaning decisions aren’t automatic. Most gamblers take a few seconds on average to decide what they want to do in each situation.

The average blackjack game sees between 60 and 100 hands based on the table size and the dealer speed. Therefore, you’ll be looking at an average of 80 hands an hour at a land-based table.

The blackjack house edge is based on the game rules and your skill level. Brick-and-mortar casinos usually have unfair rules that push the house advantage to between 1.5% and 2%.

Online blackjack games, on the other hand, offer better rules and usually have a house edge ranging from 0.5% and 1%. Of course, you need to use good strategy in either case to lower the casino’s advantage.

Here’s how much you’d expect to lose on average in online and land-based blackjack:

Online Blackjack

  • You bet $1 per hand.
  • The house edge is 1% (based on rules & your skill).
  • You play 250 hands per hour.
  • 250 x 1 x 0.01 = $2.50 in theoretical losses per hour

Land-Based Blackjack

  • You wager $10 per hand.
  • The house edge is 2%.
  • The table sees 80 hands per hour.
  • 80 x 10 x 0.02 = $16 in theoretical losses per hour


Craps isn’t like most casino games with regard to how results play out. If you make a multi-roll bet, it can take several rolls for the results to be decided.

Therefore, the playing speed of craps isn’t necessarily based on each roll. It’s instead based on how many of your bets are decided each hour.

Of course, you can make multiple wagers simultaneously. Assuming you have five bets on the table at once, then you’ll be playing a fast rate.

The average craps player makes about two bets per hour, with a round referring to how long the shooter rolls before sevening out.

House edges can vary greatly from one craps wager to the next. Pass line (1.41% house edge) and don’t pass line (1.36%) are on the lower end of the spectrum, while some prop bets feature up to a 16.67% house advantage.

Assuming you understand crap strategy well, you’ll know to avoid the ugly prop bets with high house advantages.

Here’s how much you’d stand to lose per hour in a standard craps situation:

  • You bet $10 on pass line (1.41% house edge).
  • You wager $10 on place 6 (1.52% house edge).
  • You see 20 bets resolved per hour for both pass line and place 6.
  • 20 x 10 x 0.0141 = $2.82 in theoretical losses each hour
  • 20 x 10 x 0.0152 = $3.04 in theoretical losses each hour
  • 04 + 2.82 = $5.86 in total losses an hour

Mini Baccarat

Mini baccarat is the fastest table game in the casino. Depending upon how many players are sitting down, a croupier can deal up to 200 hands per hour.

Assuming the table is full, though, the dealer will likely be closer to around 100 hands an hour. That said, you should choose tables based on how quickly you want the game to move.

Luckily, mini baccarat features one of the lowest house edges in the casino. If you make the banker bet every time, then you’re only be facing a 1.06% house edge.

But even with the small house edge, you need to be aware of the fast baccarat play rate. Below you can see how much you’d stand to lose with the average game:

  • You bet $10 per hand.
  • You make the banker bet every time (1.06% house edge).
  • The table sees 150 hands per hour.
  • 150 x 10 x 0.0106 = $15.90 in theoretical losses per hour


Roulette is typically one of the slowest casino games. The dealer has to spin the wheel and collect and pay out bets afterward.

The game speed varies based on how many players are involved. But on average, a roulette game will see between 40 and 50 spins per hour.

The house edge varies based on if the wheel is American or European. The American wheel has 38 numbers, including a house-friendly zero and double zero. Given that these two pockets favor the house on even-money bets (2/38), American roulette carries a 5.26% house advantage.

The European wheel features 37 numbers, including a single 0. Considering that only has one zero pocket (1/37), this game carries a 2.70% house edge.


Poker games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the slowest games on this list. They move at a snail’s pace due to a variety of factors.

First off, this is another hand-dealt game. Secondly, most poker hands feature multiple rounds as long as at least two or more players stay in a pot.

The biggest reason of all behind poker’s slow movement is because of the strategic element. Some players will ponder moves for multiple minutes before making a decision.

The speed of a poker game often depends upon the players involved and how long they take when making moves. On average, a land-based poker table sees between 20 and 30 hands an hour.

Online poker moves faster, because the software deals chips and takes/pays out chips. Furthermore, players are given a time limit to make decisions. Even still, it only sees between 60 and 80 hands per hour.

Poker is different from the other games on this list, because it doesn’t have a house edge. It’s instead played between players, with the casino only taking a small cut from each game or tournament.

You could win big profits or lose a lot of money based on your skill level. Therefore, it’s difficult to say what kind of theoretical win or losses that you’ll be facing.

Online Casino Games (In General)

I haven’t spent much time specifying between land-based and online casino games too much in the above comparisons. Instead, I’d like to discuss internet casino games entirely on their own.

Online gaming is much like a slot machine in that you control the speed of the action. Games are dealt within milliseconds by faceless software-generated dealers.

If you click the deal button on baccarat, for example, your cards will be available within a fraction of a second. That said, you’re in complete control over the play rate.

Considering how quickly online casino software runs, you can even play hundreds of rounds per hour with table games.

This scenario sounds like it would cause you big losses and games like Blackjack, craps, and roulette. However, the low stakes featured at internet casinos still allow you to play cheaply.

Natural Ways to Slow Down Your Playing Speed

The hope is that you get lucky and win money in your gambling sessions. However, you always have to consider the possibility that you won’t get lucky and will succumb to the house edge.

Perhaps you have a huge bankroll and don’t mind risking more money per hour. But you can use the following tips just in case do want to minimize potential losses.

Take Frequent Breaks

The easiest way to slow down your play rate is to take breaks on a regular basis. If you’re playing slot machines, for example, you could get up at least once every half hour and walk around for a few moments.

Of course, you may not want to give up your favorite slot or your seat at a blackjack table. In these situations, you can look for times when the casino isn’t so busy and then start taking more-frequent breaks.

Online gaming is perfect for taking breathers whenever you want. Nobody can steal your slot or table-game seats.

Taking breaks from internet casino games is especially important when considering how quickly they move. I recommend at least one short break every 15 to 30 minutes.

You can do laundry, wash dishes, make food, or do any other household chores. Using these tasks as intermissions allows you to get things done during your gambling sessions.

Of course, you don’t have to do household work for your breathers. But the key is that you find something to do away from your smartphone or PC screen during breaks.

Choose Full or Near Full Tables

As discussed before, the number of players at tables influences the play rate of different games. You’ll see fewer hands at a blackjack table if six people are sitting down, versus only one or two.

You should therefore pick tables that are full or nearly full. This accomplishes two goals, with one being that the game moves slower and the other being that there’s a bigger social aspect at hand.

Additional players means more personalities to chat with. That said, you’ll especially want to sit down to full tables if you’re a social gambler.

Keep Yourself from Falling Into Trances

Slot machines combine a number of elements to hold your attention and keep you spinning the reals. These games feature animations, exciting sound effects, quality graphics, and bonuses that make you forget your surroundings.

Assuming you fall into a slots trance, you’ll be more likely to keep spinning the reels without any awareness of your speed. Moreover, you’re going to lose a lot more money over time.

One good way to break yourself out of trances is to set your phone alarm for different intervals. If you’re going to play slots for a few hours, you can set your alarm to go off every half hour. A ringing alarm will break your concentration from the reels and force you to turn it off.

Another trick you can do is to simply put your phone on the betting panel of a slot machine. You’ll then see any notifications or calls that come up, which is another way to briefly draw your attention from the game.

Don’t Drink — Or At Least Minimize Your Drinking

Drinking and gambling are sometimes considered synonymous. After all, cocktail waitresses bring gamblers drinks if they play long enough.

You don’t necessarily have to turn down the cocktail waitress every time. But you should have some self-restraint when playing casino games.

Drinking alcohol can cause you to forget about things including the time. Being buzzed in the casino is even more dangerous, because you can also forget how much money you’re betting.

The best-case scenario is to avoid drinking at all when you’re playing slot machines. The next best is to only have 1-2 drinks over the course of your session.


Play rate probably isn’t the first thing on your mind when you walk into a casino. However, this factor should definitely be considered when you’re gambling.

Playing speed determines how many times you’re going up against the house edge each hour. Taking more risks means that you have a higher chance of losing money.

Of course, the key reason to gamble in the first place is to have fun. Therefore, you don’t want to be constantly worried about how quickly you’re playing.

But being mindful of your play rate at least gives you a solid idea on what to expect regarding losses. You can then use this info to better manage your gambling funds.

Note that the type of game will heavily impact your playing speed. Video poker and slot machines play much faster than games like roulette and poker.

You can always switch up games if you’re taking on heavy losses due to a quick play rate. You can also use a number of other techniques, including taking more breaks, choosing fuller tables, and not drinking.

The goal of casino gambling is to hopefully win money and overcome the house edge. But you also have to be realistic and realize that playing too quickly can lead to more theoretical losses.

Petko Stoyanov
Get in touch with Petko
About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.