Want to know what every casino game has in common? They’re all designed to take as much money from you as possible. But that’s not all. They also give you the illusion you have a chance to win. AND they try to keep you as happy as possible while this is going on.
It might seem hard to stay happy while losing money. But the casino industry has done an excellent job of working toward this goal. Many casino games offer even money bets. This term is misleading. No casinos offer truly even money wagers.
An even money bet is one where you have a chance to win that equals the expected return on your bet. Sounds complicated? It’s simpler than it sounds.
The best example is a coin flip. The coin has a 50% chance to land on heads and a 50% chance to land on tails. If you win the same amount that you bet when you win the coin toss, it’s an even money bet.
In even money wagers you come out even in the long run. The long run may take thousands of outcomes, but you’ll be even eventually—if you play long enough.
The rest of this page outlines the so-called even money bets in the casinos. It includes explanations of why they’re not really even money bets.
Roulette Even Money Bets
Roulette offers numerous bets that are called even money. You can bet on black or red, even or odd, or 1 – 18 or 19 – 36. These bets all pay 1 to 1, but they’re not really even money wagers. When the ball lands on the 0 or 00 you lose. This gives the advantage to the house.
The actual house edge on a wheel with only one zero is 2.7%. On a wheel with a zero and a double zero it is 5.26%.
The closest thing you can find to an even money bet on roulette is when you play on a wheel that is using the en prison rule. This is only available on some single zero wheels. If the ball lands on zero, the bet is held “in prison” until the next result. If the bet would win on the next result you get your wager back, but if it would lose on the next wager you lose it.
This still gives the house a small edge, but it’s the smallest possible edge while playing roulette.
Baccarat Even Money Bets
In baccarat, you can place a bet on the banker, the player, or on a tie. The banker and player wagers are close to even money bets, but when the two tie you lose. The tie and the commission you pay on winning banker bets make baccarat wagers not true even money bets.
The actual house edge on a banker bet in baccarat is 1.06%. On the player bet it’s 1.24%. The tie bet is well over 10% so you should never take it.
Craps Even Money Bets
Craps is the one game found in almost every casino that actually offers a true even money bet. But there’s a catch:
You’re forced to make a bet that is not even money before you can place the even money wager. This still creates a slight edge for the casino.
The pass bet has a house edge of around 1.4%. The don’t pass offers a house edge of around 1.35%.
After the pass line wager is resolved you have the opportunity to place what is called an odds bet. The amount of the odds bet varies but offers a true even money bet. Some casinos accept up to 100 times the amount of your previous pass line bet on an odds wager.
An odds bet is a wager that the point will be rolled again before a seven is rolled. The odds bet pays two to one if the point is a 4 or a 10, three to two on a point of 5 or 9, and six to five on a point of 6 or 8. These are the exact odds that they will be rolled, creating a true even money bet.
The odds bets on craps are usually the best bets in the casino. Counting cards at blackjack or playing poker at a winning level are better, but those are advantage play techniques.
Want to reduce the house edge as much as possible? Bet the maximum amount on the odds every time you can.
Other Even Money Games
While they aren’t exactly even money on each hand, blackjack and certain video poker games offer house edges of around a half percent or less. This is only accomplished with proper strategy and the best rules, but many players look at them as basically even money games.
This can especially be true if you’re receiving comps for your play. You might be able to earn enough in comps to make up for your losses while playing a low house edge game.