What is The House Advantage?

What is the house advantage? Whenever you talk gambling, the subject of the house advantage or the hold advantage is bound to creep in. In fact, the term is most likely capitalized in most players’ brains--The House Advantage—as it seems to hold a sort of evil power, like a rival that must be overcome (against all odds, as it were).

Perhaps it’s best, first, to state what the House Advantage is not:

  • The House Advantage is not a triumph over renting an apartment or flat.
  • The House Advantage has nothing to do with Windsor or Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
  • The House Advantage is not a legislative win.
  • The House Advantage is not the benefit of a lively audience.

Joking aside, The House Advantage is a very real thing. It’s the reason why we have a casino industry and not generous casino charities (although, some casinos do give to charities). Every game on a casino’s floor, virtual or brick-and-mortar, is programmed or created to give The House (aka “The Casino”) an upper hand.

How is The House Advantage accomplished? In a word: Math.

The House Advantage is often described in terms of percentages. These percentages can vary by state, game, casino, and wager.

For example, let’s say The House Advantage on a “Blackjack” is 3%. This means that, on average, for every $100 a player wagers on Blackjack, the player will lose $3. And because the odds are always in The House’s favor, the longer and faster you play a casino game, the more you can be expected to lose.

Of course, we can’t take it all out on Math. And we really can’t take it out on The House, either—casinos can’t force you to play, nor do they just take your money and run.

If we are doomed to lose, why do we play at all? Is there a Player Advantage?

Well, it’s fun, for one. And no one really plays a casino game expecting to win each and every time (if they do, they need to be forwarded this article). And, of course, there’s always a chance that you actually will win more than you wagered.

The Player Advantage, then, is being able to appreciate a win for the odds-defying thing that it is and either have a blast while losing it all or walk away while you are still ahead.