Which Games in the Casino Offer the Worst Odds?

Casino Odds

Here’s the thing about casino games:

They’re all rigged.

But not in the way you think they are.

I had an interesting argument with a friend of mine the other night. He’s a conspiracy theorist, through and through. I mean, he believes the earth is flat (for real).

He’s absolutely convinced that the results of casino games aren’t random at all. He thinks all the games are rigged so that you can’t win. The only exception, according to him, is craps. He said that it’s impossible to rig a pair of dice.

I tried to explain to him that the casinos don’t need to cheat on the outcomes because they’ve set the payout odds up in such a way that they have a mathematical edge that no one can beat in the long run. They do this by offering payout odds that aren’t as good as the odds of winning.

For example, if you were playing roulette and betting on black, and that bet paid off at even money, you’d break even in the long run if you had a 50% chance of winning.

But you don’t have a 50% chance of winning that bet. You only have a 47.37% probability of winning that bet, because there are 38 numbers on the wheel, and only 18 of them are black—not 19.

The House Edge in Casino Games

Casinos, gamblers, and writers quantify this advantage that the house experiences with a percentage called “the house edge.”

It’s the long-term average percentage of each bet that the casino expects to win because of this discrepancy between the odds of winning and the payout odds.

For example, if I say that the house edge in roulette is 5.26%, it means that you can expect to lose an average of $5.26 every time you place a $100 bet on a roulette spin.

The higher the house edge is for a game, the worse the odds are for the player. The lower the house edge is, the better the odds are for the player.

And to make things even more confusing, many games offer multiple bets, each of which has a different house edge. Craps is a good example of this. Some of the bets at the craps table are among the best odds in the casino, but many of them have some of the worst odds in the casino.

This post focuses exclusively on the worst odds in the casino. Please don’t place these bets unless you just hate money and love casinos.

Also, don’t worry about whether the outcomes to the games are rigged. They’re not, for the simple reason that they don’t need to be. The casinos make more money by offering honest games. If the games’ outcomes were rigged, no one would play them.

1- Keno Has a House Edge Close to 30%

Keno is a simple game of number-picking that closely resembles the lottery. It is, in fact, a privately run lottery hosted by the casino with drawings every few minutes. You choose between 9 and 15 numbers from 80 potential numbers.

The casino draws 20 balls from that same pool of 80 numbers. If enough of your numbers match the numbers that the casino drew, you win a prize. The more matches you have, the more your payout is.

If you know anything about the lottery, you know that the house edge is close to 50%. Keno, being a similar game, has a similar house edge. But it’s actually a better game than the lottery, with a house edge that can vary between 20% and 40%. The average seems to hover around 30%.

Players like keno because they can stay in action relatively constantly without risking much money. They also enjoy the possibility of winning a huge cash prize. The only other games in the casino which offer such a potentially big return on your bet are the slot machines.

But that roughly 30% house edge makes keno the game with the worst odds in the casino. Most of the other bets on most of the other games don’t even come close.

2- The Logo or Joker Bet on the Big Six Wheel Has a House Edge of about 24%

The Big Six Wheel is such an old-fashioned casino game that it’s not even available in most casinos anymore. It resembles a carnival game more than anything else. All the bets on the Big Six Wheel are lousy, but a bet on the logo/joker is usually the worst bet.

Here’s how the Big Six Wheel works:

You have a vertical “wheel of fortune” with various dollar amounts on the wheel. Usually, you can bet on the following dollar amounts:

  • $1
  • $2
  • $5
  • $10
  • $20
  • The Joker

You bet a dollar on any of these amounts, and if the wheel lands on that amount, you win the prize. The probabilities of winning are, of course, determined by how many total stops are on the wheel and how many of those are the prize you bet on.

You might have 54 total stops on the wheel. If only one of those is the joker, then the probability of winning a bet on the joker is 1/54, or 53 to 1.

The payoff for that bet is usually 40 to 1.

That’s a huge discrepancy between your odds of winning and the payout for the bet, but what does it mean in terms of an average.

That’s easy to calculate, too.

Assume you bet $100 on 54 spins of the wheel, and assume you get statistically perfect results. You lose 53 times, for a total loss of $5300. You win once, for a total win of $4000. Your net loss is $1300.

Since you want an average loss per spin, you divide that net loss of $1300 by the 54 spins, and you find that you’ve lost an average of $24.07 per spin.

Since you were betting $100 per spin, you can say that the average loss is 24.07% of your bet.

That’s a huge house edge, making this bet an example of the 2nd worst odds in the casino.

The $5 bet and the $20 bet are almost as bad. The house edge on each of those is 22.22%.

Of course, some casinos have different versions of the Big Six Wheel with different prizes and different odds.

3- The 2-Face Domino Bet in Sic Bo Has a House Edge of 18.52%

Sic Bo is an Asian-themed dice game where you bet on the outcome of a roll of 3 dice. You can bet on various outcomes, like the total of the 3 dice, or whether the total is high or low. The house edge is high on almost all these bets, but the 2-face domino bet is usually the Sic Bo bet with the worst odds.

The 2-face domino bet is a wager on 2 specific numbers coming up on the dice. For example, you might place a 1-6 2-face domino bet. If one of the dice has a 1, while another has a 6, you win this bet.

If you place a 1-6 bet, any of the following outcomes would be winners:

  1. 1-6-1
  2. 1-6-2
  3. 1-6-3
  4. 1-6-4
  5. 1-6-5
  6. 1-6-6

It’s a horrible bet in the middle of a table full of mediocre and worse bets. The small and big bets are really the only Sic Bo bets worth making, and the house edge on those is 2.78%. That’s far from the worst in the casino, but that’s far and away the best bet on the Sic Bo table.

4- The Tie Bet in Casino War Has a House Edge of 18.65%

Casino War is one of the dumbest games in the casino. It’s literally just a gambling version of the kids’ game where you compare one card from each of you to see which one is higher. It’s also a lightning fast game, which means that you’ll lose more money faster because of the number of bets you’ll place per hour.

Most people just place a standard bet, which wins if the player’s card is higher than the dealer’s. It loses if the dealer’s card is higher. If there’s a tie, the player can surrender half his bet or go to war. If he goes to war, he places a 2nd bet, the dealer burns 3 cards, and then deals another card to both the player and herself. If the player then wins, he gets paid off, but only on that 2nd bet. The first bet is considered a push. If the player loses, he loses both bets.

It’s obvious where the house gets its edge in that situation, since the game would be 50/50 if the player didn’t have to place a 2nd bet for a chance to only win one unit.

But you also have the option to bet that the first 2 cards will tie. If you win that bet, the payoff is 10 to 1. The odds of a tie vary based on how many decks are in use. In a 6-deck game, the odds of a tie are about 12.5 to 1.

It’s silly to play Casino War to begin with.

But since the tie bet offers some of the worst odds in the casino, it’s even sillier to place that bet.

5- The “Any 7” Bet in Craps Has a House Edge of 16.67%

Some bets in craps are one-roll bets. The outcome of the next roll determines whether the bet wins or loses. The any 7 bet is one of these. It’s just a bet that the next roll of the dice will wind up with a total of 7.

This doesn’t sound like the worst bet in the world at first. After all, a 7 is the most likely total in craps. The odds of winning this bet are 5 to 1.

The problem is that the payoff for this bet is only 4 to 1.

Using the $100 bets on 6 perfect rolls of the dice method for calculating the house edge, you get the following results:

You lose $100 on 5 bets, for a total loss of $500. You win $400 on one bet, for a net loss of $100.

Divide $100 by 6 spins to get the average amount lost per roll, and you get $16.67.

Some of the bets at the craps table offer a house edge as low as 1.41%,

Why would you feel the need to place a bet where your average losses will be more than 10 times that?

Ignorance is the only excuse I can imagine.

6- Slot Machines Might Have a House Edge as High as 25%

Slot machines, unlike other casino games, make their house edge opaque. To calculate the house edge of a casino game, you need 2 pieces of information:

  1. The prize amount
  2. The probability of winning

On a slot machine, you have a list of prize amounts for the various reel combinations. It’s called the pay table.

What you lack are the probabilities of winning these prizes. It depends on the probability of getting any given symbol on the pay line, and that probability can be anything. The results on a slot machine spin are determined by a computer program called a random number generator (RNG).

It can be programmed to give one symbol a 1/10 probability, another symbol a 1/20 probability, and all the other symbols 1/8 probabilities. Or you could have an entirely different set of probabilities.

You can even have 2 slot machines with the same symbols and the same themes with entirely different probabilities attached to them. In other words, the machines might be identical on the surface, but one might have a house edge of 5% while the other has a house edge of 25%.

Most slot machines don’t have a house edge this high.

But it’s impossible for you to tell which slots have which house edge figures behind them.

Also, no other game in the casino plays as fast as slots. Remember how I said Casino War plays really fast? I was talking about 200 bets per hour, maybe.

But it’s not unusual to make 600 bets per hour on a slot machine.

My advice to savvy gamblers who like their money is to avoid slot machines as much as possible.

7- The 5-Number Bet in American Roulette Has a House Edge of 7.89%

Roulette odds are some of the most mediocre in the house. A standard bet on an American roulette wheel has a house edge of 5.26%.

But one bet on the American roulette wheel has the distinction of offering a house edge even worse than that.

This is the 5-number bet.

It’s a bet that the ball will land on any of the following results:

  • 0
  • 00
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

The probability of winning that bet is 5/38.

If you placed $100 bets on that bet for 38 spins, you’d win 5 times, and you’d lose 33 times. That’s a loss of $3300.

The payoff is 6 to 1, so you’ll win $600 on 5 of those bets, for winnings of $3000.

Your net loss is $300.

Averaged out over 38 spins, that’s $7.89 lost per spin or 7.89%.

Most people shouldn’t bet on any of the bets at the American roulette table, but placing this bet is just silly. You might as well give the casino your money and let them kick you in the stomach while you’re at it.


It’s always interesting to look at subjects like the worst odds in the casino. It’s also important to remember that from a certain perspective, it doesn’t really matter how good or bad the odds are. If the house has any edge, no matter how small, the casino will eventually win all your money. You just need to play long enough, and they’ve got you.

But from the perspective of getting value for your money, which bets offer the worst odds versus which bets offer the best odds is a crucial question. It helps you decide where to put your money to get the best chance for a lot of entertainment in the casino for your money.

If you’re losing $230/hour instead of $8/hour, you’re probably not getting as much entertainment for your money. Understanding which bets offer the worst odds is the first step in getting to that smaller hourly loss amount.

Petko Stoyanov
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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.