Winning is an important part of casino gaming. After all, you don’t walk into the casino with the mindset that you could care less about wins and losses.
But how often can you expect to win with certain casino games? Understanding volatility is an important step towards answering this question.
Moreover, finding casino games with low volatility gives you a stronger chance of winning on a consistent basis. Keep reading as I cover more on this term along with which games feature the lowest volatility.
What Is Volatility?
Volatility refers to the measurement of how results disperse from a statistical average. In other words, it measures the explosiveness of results.
High volatility suggests that outcomes vary wildly from the average. Slot machines are a perfect example of this because they can offer huge payouts or lengthy losing streaks.
Low volatility means that results don’t differ as much from the average. If you were looking at a scatter plot, most of the dots would be around the mean.
What’s the Advantage of Low Volatility?
Most slots players overlook volatility or simply have no idea what it means. Failing to account for this concept isn’t a big gambling crime, especially for those who are just looking to have some fun.
However, it’s good to understand volatility in order to get a vague idea of how often you’ll win. Knowing this info is especially important with regard to bankroll management.
Low volatility equates to winning on a more frequent basis. Winning often allows you to get frequent payouts that’ll help sustain your bankroll.
If you’re somebody who’s dealing with a small bankroll, you’ll definitely be interested in games with low volatility. The consistent wins that you earn will help you stay in the game longer.
Casino Games with the Lowest Volatility
Casinos don’t offer any indication on the volatility of their games. You’re therefore left researching the matter on your own. But you can use the following list as a quick reference guide for which games offer the most frequent wins.
1 – Baccarat
Baccarat is the best casino game with regard to low volatility. The only catch is that you have to make the right bets in order to take advantage.
The banker hand gives you a 50.68% chance of winning in every round (ties non-withstanding). This is the only fixed-odds bet in the casino that sees you win over half the time.
Betting on the banker hand is also great from the perspective that it results in a low 1.06% house edge. The only reason why casinos even have an edge on this wager is because they take a 5% commission from winning bets.
Wagering on the player’s hand gives you a 49.3% chance of winning, which is also very good in the overall scheme of gambling. The player bet has a 1.24% house edge, which is just slightly less than the banker wager.
The tie bet is the only one of the bunch that you must avoid. It offers just a 9.53% chance of winning and also features a 14.36% house advantage.
Some people make the tie wager because they’re interested in the 8:1 payout (sometimes 9:1). However, this large potential prize isn’t worth it when considering the low odds and high house edge.
2 – Craps
Craps offers dozens of available bets, which is attractive from a variety perspective. However, most of these wagers aren’t worth your time.
You want to concentrate on the handful of bets that give you strong odds of winning. Pass line and don’t pass line are two of the best in this regard.
The don’t pass line bet gives you a 49.3% chance of winning. It also has a low 1.36% house edge.
A pass line wager offers you a 49.29% chance of winning. It features a 1.41% house advantage.
Here are the rules on how these bets work.
Don’t Pass Line
Wins on the come out roll (first roll of new round) with 2 or 3
Loses on the come out roll with 7 or 11
Pushes on the come out with 12
All other numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) establish a point
You need 7 to be rolled before the point number in order to win
Wins on the come out roll with 7 or 11
Loses on the come out roll with 2, 3, or 12
All other numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) establish a point
You need the point to be rolled before 7 to win
These wagers are already good enough in terms of odds and the house edge. However, you might also consider backing them with “odds” to improve your chances of winning even more.
An odds bet pays at your true odds of winning (i.e., 2:1 payout for 2:1 true odds). You put this wager behind either a don’t pass line or pass line bet after the point has been established.
Here is some information about odds with don’t pass line wagers:
Backing don’t pass line is called “taking” odds
Pays 1:2 on point numbers of 4 and 10
Pays 2:3 on point numbers of 5 and 9
Pays 5:6 on point numbers of 6 and 8
Here is some information about odds with pass line bets:
Backing pass line is called “laying” odds
Pays 2:1 on point numbers of 4 and 10
Pays 3:2 on point numbers of 5 and 9
Pays 6:5 on point numbers of 6 and 8
You essentially get to choose your odds based on what point numbers you lay/take.
You have the highest chance of winning when laying odds on point numbers 6 and 8.
Keep in mind that you can also take or lay bigger odds to lower the overall house edge. You simply need to bet with bigger odds to do so.
Here are examples:
1x odds on don’t pass line = 0.682% house edge
1x odds on pass line = 0.848% house edge
2x odds on don’t pass line = 0.455%
2x odds on pass line = 0.606%
Full double odds on don’t pass line = 0.431%
Full double odds on pass line = 0.572%
3x odds on don’t pass line = 0.341%
3x odds on pass line = 0.471%
3x-4x-5x odds on don’t pass line = 0.273%
3x-4x-5x odds on pass line = 0.374%
5x odds on don’t pass line = 0.227%
5x odds on pass line = 0.326%
The one catch, though, is that some casinos stop at 2x or full double odds. Therefore, you have to find the right casino if you want to have access to larger odds.
3 – Roulette
Roulette features two different wheels, including the American and European wheel. Both versions have the same basic concept, where you bet on the pocket/section where the ball will land.
However, each variation differs in terms of how many numbers are on the wheel.
The American wheel features 38 numbers, while the European wheel has 37.
This difference may not seem very noticeable. However, it actually affects both your short-term odds and the house edge.
Here are the characteristics of each wheel:
Single- and double-zero pockets
26% house edge
70% house edge
You can see that it’s definitely worth playing on a European wheel whenever you get the opportunity. Your chances of winning increase even further if you play French roulette, which features the la partage rule.
La partage sees you receive half back on losing even-money bets when the ball lands on zero. This rule lowers the house edge to 1.35%.
Of course, simply knowing the differences between games and wheels doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win more often in the short run. You also need a good understanding of the different available bets.
You want to stick with even-money wagers to have the best odds in each round. Here are the available even-money bets:
High/low – Bet on whether the ball will land in the 1-18 (low) or 19-36 (high) range
Odds/even – Wager on if the ball will land on an even or odd number
Red/black – Bet on whether the ball will end up in a red or black pocket
Each of these wagers gives you a 48.65% chance of winning on the European wheel. Contrast this to all other roulette wagers, which only offer average win percentages ranging between 2.78% and 32.4%.
4 – Blackjack
Blackjack typically offers one of the lowest house edges in the casino. You can look forward to anywhere from a 0.5% to 2.0% house advantage, depending upon the rules.
This game also offers good short-term odds as well. Ties non-withstanding, you have a 46.36% chance of winning each hand.
While a 46.36% win rate is pretty good, it doesn’t quite measure up to baccarat. You might compare the house edges between these two games and wonder why blackjack’s win frequency is lower.
Blackjack offers certain advantages that can boost your payouts. You can double down, split hands, and earn a 3:2 payout for a natural blackjack (21 on first two cards).
The casino still maintains an edge because the dealer acts second. If you and the dealer both bust out in the same round, then the croupier automatically wins.
Nevertheless, blackjack gives you a good shot at winning in the long run. This is especially true if you’re on a table with good rules and a low house edge.
Speaking of which, you should know what rules impact the house advantage the most. Keep the following in mind when choosing a blackjack table:
A 3:2 natural blackjack payout lowers the house edge by 1.4% versus a 6:5 payout
Single-deck blackjack reduces the house advantage by 0.59% when compared to eight-deck blackjack
Doubling down on any two cards lowers the house edge by 0.25%
The dealer standing on a soft 17 reduces the house edge by 0.2% versus them hitting
Online casinos typically offer the best blackjack games. They don’t have to pay dealer salaries, which means that they can afford to feature a lower house edge.
However, you can still find decent land-based blackjack games at the right casinos. Downtown Vegas casinos are especially known for offering good blackjack.
5 – Pai Gow Poker
Pai gow poker may not be as popular as the other games discussed on this list. However, you definitely shouldn’t overlook it with regard to low volatility.
This game sees you receive seven cards, which you use to form 5-card and 2-card hands. Your goal is to beat the dealer on both hands so that you win the wager.
You push if you only beat the dealer on one hand. Your bet is lost if you lose both hands.
Pai gow only gives you a 30.39% chance of winning two hands. Therefore, this game seems like it doesn’t belong in the low-volatility category.
However, you only lose both hands an average of 29.12% of the time. The remaining 40.49% of rounds are pushes.
Pai gow is similar to baccarat in that the casino takes a 5% commission from wins to maintain their house edge. Factoring in the 5% commission, pai gow features a 2.84% house advantage.
However, you can boost your chances of winning even more by acting as the banker. You simply need enough money to cover all of the other players’ bets for a given round.
Acting as the banker is worth it if you have the money because it lowers the house edge to 1.46%. Keep in mind that you need to use correct strategy as both a player and banker to decrease the house advantage to its lowest point.
6 – Heads-Up Poker
Heads-up poker sees you compete against a single opponent in either a cash game or sit-and-go format. The latter is what you want to concentrate on in order to experience the lowest volatility.
You theoretically have a 50% chance of beating your opponent in a heads-up SNG. Whoever wins all of the chips takes the prize.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that skill plays a big role in poker.
You can actually win over 50% of the time as long as you’re better than the average opponent.
Multiple elements go into being better than the competition. You have to know proper strategy, have experience, fix your leaks, and choose the right stakes for your skill level.
Many players struggle with the latter because they want to immediately jump into higher buy-ins than they’re ready for. However, opponents become more skilled as you move up the ladder.
I recommend starting at stakes where you can afford at least 50 heads-up SNG buy-ins. This plan ensures that you’ll have enough buy-ins to cover losing streaks while you continue improving your skills.
Games with High Volatility to Avoid
I’ve just covered six games that have low volatility and offer great short-term odds. But it also pays to know some of the worst games in terms of high volatility so that you can avoid them at all costs.
However, slots must make up for these large prizes by paying less frequently. You can play a slot machine with 30 lines and lose several spins in a row before earning a small prize.
You also have to worry about losses disguised as wins (LDWs), which refer to times when your payout is worth less than the spin cost. Don’t let LDWs trick you into thinking that you’re winning when you really aren’t.
Multi-table poker tournaments are another high-volatility affair. A multi-table tournament (MTT) normally features a large field of players.
The good thing about more players being involved is that it means an increased prize pool. However, only around 10% of the field will earn a share in the prize money. You’ll theoretically lose your buy-in (plus rake fees) the other 90% of the time.
Roulette and craps bets also feature high volatility. Roulette inside bets — or rather those that are found on the inside part of the board — feature odds ranging from 5.17:1 (six line) to 36:1 (single number). Single-number bets are especially terrible because they only offer you a 2.70% chance of winning.
Any 7 and Whirl have 16.67% and 13.33% house advantages, respectively.
Craps prop wagers aren’t much better in terms of odds, either. Here are some examples:
Craps (2, 3, or 12) = 8:1 odds (7:1 payout)
Hard 4/hard 10 = 8:1 odds (7:1 payout)
Hard 6/hard 8 = 10:1 odds (9:1 payout)
11 (Yo or Yo-leven) = 17:1 odds (15:1 payout)
3 = 17:1 odds (15:1 payout)
2 = 35:1 odds (30:1 payout)
12 = 35:1 odds (30:1 payout)
Of course, you can avoid this mess of prop bets by simply sticking with pass line or don’t pass line wagers backed with odds.
Volatility is one of the most overlooked factors in gambling. Many people simply look at a game’s house edge to figure out their chances of winning.
While the house advantage determines the long-term odds, it doesn’t always indicate what your short-term odds are. Volatility is a much better measuring stick for this.
Games with low volatility give you a stronger chance to win in each round. You simply need to look at how likely you are to win a single hand/spin.
The higher your chances of winning, the lower the volatility will be. You can therefore count on more consistent payouts with these games.
Consistent wins are especially important when you’re dealing with a small bankroll. Winning more often helps you better sustain your bankroll.
Baccarat is an excellent game when it comes to frequent wins. You have a 50.68% chance of winning a banker bet, which is outstanding.
Craps offers two bets with strong odds, including don’t pass line (49.30%) and pass line (49.29%). You can also back these bets with odds, which pay at true odds.
Roulette is another great game with regard to low volatility. Even-money bets in European roulette offer a 48.65% chance of winning.
Blackjack doesn’t offer as great of odds (46.30%) as the games covered above. But you’ll still win close to half the time.
Pai gow poker doesn’t appear to offer good chances (30.29%) on the surface. However, it actually sees you win more often than you lose (29.12%). Many other hands result in pushes.
Heads-up SNGs also have low volatility. You can boost your odds of winning heads-up SNGs even more by becoming a skilled player.
Any one of the games discussed here make a fine choice if you want good short-term odds. That said, I highly recommend these low-volatility games so that you can win more often.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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