Is the house edge better online?

While all pokies, lotteries and table games favour the casino to some degree, certain variants give players better bang for their buck than others. The big question is, where does the best value lie: in land-based gambling venues, or at real money casino sites?

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House edge in real money blackjack

Blackjack has always been synonymous with player-friendly odds. Compared to other forms of casino gambling, the 21 tables hardly tilt the advantage towards the dealer at all – or at least that used to be the case.

Unfortunately for we, the punters, land-based Australian blackjack games are nowhere near as attractive as they once were. The introduction of quirky new rules – some of which have no place in a game of 21, in our view – have seen the average house edge on Aussie blackjack tables soar in recent years.

In particular, we direct your attention to the Blackjack Plus format at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. On the surface, there are some good rules; player 21 and five-card Charlie are paid out straight away, the dealer stands on soft 17, and you can double down on any two or three cards. However, all that is ruined by the fact the house can push with 22. This bizarre rule raises the house edge by a massive 6.9%, making Crown Blackjack Plus one of the very worst variants you will ever come across.

Not all land-based 21 games are quite that bad, though. Most Australian casinos run low-to-medium limit blackjack tables with a dealer edge of around 0.55% or higher. Pontoon games are usually better value, with some versions giving up as little as 0.38%. But how do these numbers compare to online blackjack?

One glance at the chart below will show you that Internet casinos offer way better blackjack odds than the vast majority of brick-and-mortar gaming establishments. You also get much more variety on the Web, with single-deck and full-shoe games, American and European variants, and a few unique versions you won’t find on land. Keep an eye out for the Microgaming Gold Series titles – especially Classic Blackjack Gold, which produces an expected return of some 99.87% with basic strategy.

Best online blackjack games

Game House Edge Developer
Classic Blackjack Gold 0.13% Microgaming
Vegas Strip Blackjack 0.35% Microgaming
Atlantic City Blackjack 0.36% Microgaming
Single Deck Blackjack 0.37% BetSoft
Spanish Blackjack Gold 0.38% Microgaming
Vegas Downtown Blackjack 0.39% Microgaming
Pro Series Blackjack 0.40% Net Entertainment
Pro Series Pontoon 0.41% Net Entertainment
European Blackjack Gold 0.42% Microgaming
Super 7 Blackjack 0.46% BetSoft

Online pokies vs slot machines

While blackjack is a game of skill where you can improve your chances with smart play, the pokies are all about luck. As such, the average slot player doesn’t really care too much about things like house edge, variance and projected return rates. If you want the best chance of coming out a winner, however, that’s exactly the kind of info you need to know.

Let’s not beat around the bush here – most of the pokie machines at pubs, clubs and b&m casinos are rip offs. The theoretical returns on many land-based games are so low, you would have better odds of success if you simply threw all your coins into a wishing well. This is especially the case at Australian pokies pubs, where laxer gaming regulations mean operators can set the house edge as high as 15% in some parts of the country.

Internet pokies, by contrast, are renowned for delivering regular payouts. Many of the most popular titles from Microgaming, NetEnt and BetSoft boast projected return rates (PRRs) of over 97%. That’s a house edge of less than 3%, which is better than a lot of table games at Aussie casinos.

What about progressive pokies? The odds on hitting the big jackpot are always going to be slim, whether playing via the Net or on a land-based poker machine. That’s just the nature of the beast, as those prize pools wouldn’t be so huge if they were easy to win.

But while traditional progressives tend to offer little value beyond the main prize, Web-based jackpot pokies can produce consistent returns at all bet levels. For example, the Mega Fortune progressive jackpot holds the world record for online pokies payouts (over AUD $25 million), yet it maintains a PRR of well above 96%.

Video poker house edge

Electronic poker games are, more often than not, better value than anything else on the casino floor – including blackjack. In fact, when played with perfect strategy, some Jacks or Better variants have even been known to award the player a slight mathematical advantage. For example, certain versions of the Deuces Wild pay chart can give up a 0.8% edge over the casino when you bet five coins per hand.

While those kinds of odds are hard to come by these days, Australian video poker players will find plenty to like about playing online. One big advantage is that you don’t have to memorise the ideal strategy for each game, as the absence of casino management and security means you can just use a cheat sheet instead. Doing so greatly decreases the likelihood of making any strategic errors, thus keeping the house edge as low as possible.

For the best online video poker odds, we highly recommend Microgaming casinos such as RoyalVegasCasino.com. Choose from over a dozen classic poker variants, as well as the multi-hand Power Poker series and the Jackpot Deuces progressive. Take special note of the return stats on MG’s All Aces video poker release, for we have yet to find an online casino game with a lower house edge.

Best real money video poker by Microgaming

Game Projected return House Edge
All Aces 99.92% 0.08%
Jacks or Better 99.54% 0.46%
All American 99.38% 0.62%
Deuces Wild Power Poker 99.37% 0.63%
Aces and Faces 99.26% 0.74%
Bonus Poker 99.17% 0.83%
Tens or Betters 99.14% 0.86%
Double Bonus Poker 99.11% 0.89%
Deuces and Joker 99.07% 0.93%
Double Double Bonus 98.98% 1.02%

Roulette odds at Internet casinos

The devil’s wheel is one of those rarities where the rules and payouts are pretty much set in stone, no matter if you’re playing at a Web casino or a live gambling venue. There are a couple of standard varieties, but the even money bets (black/red, odds/evens, etc.) always carry the same house edge: 2.70% for European roulette with a single-zero layout, and 5.26% for American roulette with a double-zero wheel.

Nevertheless, there is one obvious advantage to playing roulette online. As with the decreasing quality of traditional blackjack, many of Australia’s casinos have begun swapping out the more favourable Euro roulette tables for the much less desirable double-zero US roulette. This is especially prevalent on the main gaming floors, where it is becoming harder and harder to find low-limit roulette games worth playing.

At real money online casinos, on the other hand, you never have to settle for American rules. All the best Australian roulette sites carry top-shelf games like Microgaming European Roulette Gold, which can cater for all kinds of bettors with a flexible $1/$200 table limit. There are plenty of options for VIPs, too, including live dealer roulette tables which accept outside bets up to $2k.

There is one other potential bonus to Web roulette; one which many Aussies won’t know much about. If you see French roulette available at any digital or live dealer casino, find out whether it offers either la partage or en prison. These old-school rules limit the damage on outside wagers whenever the ball lands on zero, taking the house edge down to just 1.35%.

More payouts for online casino games

Below we’ve compared the house edge for online and live versions of some other common casino games. The best odds for digital variants are derived from all the leading software brands found at our trusted AUD casino sites. As you can see, while some of the table poker varieties are similar or better value in land-based venues, the more popular games – baccarat and craps, for instance – have a lower house edge when played on the Web.

Game Standard House Edge Best online returns
Baccarat 1.06% 1.01% (Microgaming)
Caribbean Stud 2.56% 2.46% (Microgaming)
Craps 0.40% 0.36% (NetEnt)
Let It Ride (Poker Pursuit) 2.85% 2.90% (Microgaming)
Oasis Poker 1.04% 1.04% (NetEnt)
Red Dog 2.67% 2.67% (Microgaming)
Sic Bo 2.78% 2.78% (Microgaming)
Three Card Poker 2.32% 2.32% (Microgaming)

Sign up for an account at G’day Casino and enjoy the benefit of the lower house edge provided by online casino games. New players will get a 100% matched deposit bonus when funding their account with real money for the first time.