Expectation in online casino games

Published on: May 26, 2010 

Expectation is a very important concept in online casino games.  It is defined as the amount that a player can expect to win based on the rules of the game for every dollar wagered.  It is obvious that the expectation for any game can never be more than 1, because then the casino would start losing money.  However, different online casino games have different expectations and it is important for players to be aware of this.

There are two online casino games that have expectations very close to 1.  These are blackjack and video poker.  As far as blackjack is concerned players have to be a bit careful because all variants of blackjack are not alike.  Those variants that follow the rules of land based casinos have expectations close to 1.  But there are many exotic variants of blackjack that have considerably lower expectations.  There is another factor to be considered in the context of expectation for blackjack games.  The expectation is close to 1 only when the player is making the correct moves.  If the player does not play the game well his expectation will be much lower.  The obvious solution is to learn blackjack strategy and practice till you become perfect.  A less tiresome but less interesting way is to use the blackjack strategy card.  Players can keep this card in front of them while wagering and ensure that they are playing optimally. Many online casino software providers incorporate an auto play function in blackjack games that automatically selects the best moves.

Video poker games are similar to blackjack. Their high expectation is contingent on correct play. As in the case of blackjack, the strategy can be learnt or can be referred to while wagering. Also some online casino software providers indicate the right strategy in the games. The only thing different from blackjack is that all variants have an expectation of between 0.98 and 0.99.

Roulette is another very popular online casino game.  The expectation depends on the variant of roulette.  American Roulette has an expectation of about 0.95, whereas European Roulette has an expectation of about 0.97.  This difference arises because European Roulette has only ‘0’, whereas American Roulette has ‘0’ and ‘00’.  Therefore there are two numbers in American Roulette that void all normal bets and this leads to the lower expectation in this variant of the game.

Online slots are the most popular game at Internet casinos.  This is despite the fact that these games have a house edge of only about 0.95.  There are several reasons for this.  No online casino game offers better audio visual appeal.  Also no other online casino game offers as much variety as online slots. The biggest advantage that online slots offer is of huge payouts. Payouts of 50 to 100 times the bet amount are not unusual. Then there are payouts up to 10,000 times the bet amount. Finally progressive jackpot online slots offer life changing payouts. It is because of this attraction the online casino players are willing to accept the lower expectations of online slots.

Keno is perhaps the online casino game with the lowest expectation. It is so low that players should not be wagering on it. It is usually provided at online casinos because it is a historical game and online casinos have nothing to lose and everything to gain if players wager on it.

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