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What Vegas casino games have the best (and worst) odds?

The bad old days of 2020 are long forgotten in Nevada. In fact, every month since the beginning of 2021, the state’s casinos have cleared more than $1 billion in gross gaming revenue. Economic crisis? What economic crisis?  

Of course, what that’s really telling us is something we can already intuit. The only way to make money out of casino gaming is to run a casino. That’s true if you want to take the Raymond Babbit approach, but it is also true that some games are going to fleece you in minutes while others give you a fighting chance of taking on the law of averages.  

Best odds:  Video poker

For the lowest possible house edge, you can’t beat video poker. The house edge of Jacks or Better is 0.46 percent while for deuces wild and one or two other variants, it can actually drop below zero. Of course, this assumes you play the perfect strategy, making the right decision every time. If you do, you actually have a chance to win in the long term. Casinos can afford to let this happen to a handful of top players, as the vast majority will not play the “perfect game.” 

Video poker is a very civilized game to play in Vegas, too. Grab a terminal at a bar in one of the big casinos, and as long as you keep playing, you’ll find the complimentary drinks will keep flowing. 

Good odds: Blackjack

Not far behind video poker, blackjack is another game in which a little strategy can be the difference between winning and losing. Everyone knows the absolute basics, and if you play vaguely sensibly and don’t do anything stupid like hitting on 18, the house edge is about two percent.  

Take some time to learn basic strategy though, and you can reduce that to less than one percent. Blackjack looks simple but has hidden depths. That’s probably why it is consistently voted the most popular game, both for those who gamble online casino games and who play out on the Strip in Vegas.   

Worst odds – Keno

Some people love keno. They enjoy the excitement of the game and the social aspects of shared adventure between players. If that’s you, then carry on playing and enjoying – it is what casino gaming is all about after all.  

 However, from a gambling perspective, Keno is an absolute disaster zone. The game has a history going back thousands of years as Keno games were set up to finance major infrastructure projects – even the Great Wall of China. From that perspective, the 30 percent house edge starts to make sense.    

Poor odds – Wheel of Fortune

Wheel of Fortune has that wonderful cosy Saturday night at home watching TV feel. If that’s what you enjoy, then treasure it. Otherwise, there are other games with spinning wheels that offer better returns that the paltry 11 percent here, and are probably more entertaining, too. Monopoly Live is a good example of this principle in action, and has an average house edge of less than five percent.