There are two factors that must be considered when analyzing the various casino games, the house edge and speed of the game. The two go together like “love and marriage” and a “horse and carriage.”
A game with a high house edge but very few decisions might actually be better than playing a game with a low house edge but many decisions.
Take a look at the game of mini-baccarat. The house edges on the two main bets of “bank” and “player” are 1.06 percent and 1.24 percent respectively. That means a player can expect to lose $1.06 per $100 wagered on “bank” and $1.24 per $100 wagered on “player.” Sounds great and as house edges go it is great.
Now let us take a look at roulette. The house edge on the American wheel (0 and 00) is a monstrous 5.26 percent. Yikes! That means a player can expect to lose $5.26 per $100 wagered. That is some big loss.
So it is clear that as house edges go, mini-baccarat is overwhelmingly superior to roulette.
Now let’s take a look at the speed of these games. In mini-baccarat a player can face 150 or more decisions per hour on either “bank” or “player.” There is a third bet too but we don’t have to worry about it since we never make it. That is called the “tie” bet coming in with over a 14 percent house edge.
I recently went to the casino and clocked mini-baccarat games. They came in with 140 to 180 decisions per hour. An amazing speed! Now, the minimum bet was $15 (most players were green and black chippers but let’s stick to $15). Let us take 160 decisions per hour.
The player bets $15 for 160 decisions. He bets a total of $2,400 and his expectation is to lose $25.44 on “bank” and $29.76 on “player.” So let’s say we average these two out to make the hourly loss on a $15 bet $27.60.
Now we turn our attention to roulette. The average game (based on my observations) will have approximately 35 decisions per hour (especially at an almost full or completely full table). So multiply $15 times 35 decisions and you get $525 wagered of which the player is expected to lose $27.62 – just about the same as a player at mini-baccarat. So a good house-edge game and a bad house-edge game come in just about the same.
So when you are deciding which games to play and if you want to figure what your losses would be with game “A” and game “B,” it is wise to learn how fast the games are as well. House edge is only one measure. It takes “two to tango” after all.
[Frank Scoblete’s new books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps! and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack! Available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]