Average: 2% house advantage
Basic Strategy: 0.1-0.7% 
Rules vary from location to location:
Las Vegas downtown single deck .17%
Las Vegas strip 2 deck .20
Las Vegas strip 6 deck .36-.55
Reno single deck .43
Reno 2 decks      .75
Atlantic Cty/Foxwoods
     6-8 decks     .44

There are card counting strategies which will put the odds in your favor.

Spanish 21

According to The Wizard of Odds, Spanish 21 is a variation of blackjack that is one of the best bets in a casino. In locations where the dealer stands on a soft 17 or redoubling is allowed, Spanish 21 is probably a better bet than blackjack, depending on the specific blackjack rules.

The 10's are removed form a Spanish 21 deck (Face cards remain). This puts the odds in favor of the casino, but they make up for it with more liberal rules such as:

  • A player 21 always wins.
  • Player blackjack beats dealer blackjack.
  • Player may double on any number of cards.
  • Player may hit and double down after splitting aces.
  • Player may surrender half of total bet after doubling down (known as "double down rescue.")
  • A five-card 21 pays 3:2, a six-card 21 pays 2:1, a seven or more card 21 pays 3:1.
  • A 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of mixed suits pays 3:2, of the same suit pays 2:1, and of spades pays 3:1.
  • Suited 7-7-7 when the dealer has a seven face up pays $1000 for bets of $5-$24 and $5000 for bets of $25 or over. In addition, all other players receive a $50 "envy bonus." This rule does not apply after splitting.

In some locations there is a side bet available if the either or both of the player's first two cards match the dealer's up card. In a six-deck game a non-suited match pays 4 to 1 and a suited match pays 9 to 1. In an eight-deck game a non-suited match pays 3 to 1 and a suited match pays 12 to 1. The six-deck game side bet has a house edge of 3.06%, with eight decks it is 2.99%.

Pass: 1.4% house edge.    max odds  casino edge
Pass + odds: 0.85%         single   0.85
place bets: 4,10 6.7%      double   0.61
            5, 9 4.0%      triple   0.47
            6, 8 1.5%      5-times  0.33
                           10-times 0.18
Big 6/8, Hard ways, any craps 9-11%
Interactive Craps Table with explanation of bets.

(click for larger image)

House edge for all bets is the same
5.3% (double zero table)
2.6% (single zero table and dbl zero with only 1/2 take on loss)
See the Wizard of Odds for casinos with single zero in Atlantic City and Vegas.
(Note: most U.S. roulette is double zero. In Atlantic City they only take half your your bet on even odds bets (black/red, odd/even) when zero or double zero come up. This lowers the house edge to 2.63% on these bets.)

(click for larger image)
Video Poker
First number payoff for a flush, second number payoff for a full house,
 and third number payoff for a royal flush.
5/6/800 5% 
6/9/800 .46% ("Full pay")
6/9/1000 -0.07%
Odds by game according to Wizard of Odds:
                                 House Edge
       Jacks or better simple strategy: 0.54% 
 Jacks or better intermediate strategy: 0.48%
      Jacks or better optimal strategy: 0.46% 
           Deuces wild simple strategy: -0.71% (odds in your favor) *
          Deuces wild optimal strategy: -0.77 (odds in your favor) *
 * Requires higher odds payouts.  Most casinos only have a few of these machines.
See strategy at the Wizard of Odds
and Poker Odds here.

Caribbean Stud Poker Regular Hands 2.56%. Some books will list the house edge at 5% because they only count the ante and not the raise. Progressive Jackpot for royal or straight flush has a 25% house edge.

Basic Strategy: The player should raise on any pair or better, fold on anything less than ace/king, and should sometimes raise and sometimes fold on ace/king.

Rules for raising on ace/king.

  • Raise if the dealer's card is a 2 through queen and matches one of yours.
  • Raise if the dealer's card is an ace or king and you have a queen or jack in your hand.
  • Raise if the dealer's rank does not match any of yours and you have a queen in your hand and the dealer's card is less than your fourth highest card.
There are more sophisticated rules at the Wizard of Odds.

Pai Gow Poker Pai gow poker is a variation of the Chinese domino game Pai gow. House Advantage: Bet on Player - 2.85%, Banker - 0.08%

See five card stud, draw at poker odds and probabilities.

Pai Gow

The game is played almost strictly by Asians, and the rules and strategy are rather difficult to learn. The game is played on a blackjack-sized table, and is played with dominos, not cards.
To minimize the overall house edge the ratio of money wagered as banker is much more important than the strategy used. Assuming the player banked half of his/her total bets and used the same strategy as the dealer and other players the house edge would be about 1.5%.
See: Pai Gow at

Horse Racing

House Advantages at Internet Gaming Commission
Bad Bets at
Practical Casino Math
Return to Gambling

last updated 12 Dec 2006