Chances are that you want to win immediately in gambling — not at some point in the distant future. Casino games with favorable short-term odds like baccarat, blackjack, and Pai Gow poker can help you do this. Choosing games with good short-term prospects helps you collect small payouts and sustain your bankroll. On the other hand, games with poor short-term odds increase the chances that you’ll lose your bankroll.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that these are bad bets. After all, some games feature poor odds in the short run, yet still have a low house edge. But again, you need to worry more about your bankroll when dealing with volatile games that don’t pay well in the short term. The following 7 games fit this category and won’t give you much a chance to win immediately.
1 – Slot Machines
Slots have been given the nickname “one-armed bandits” for two reasons:
- They used to operate through levers, rather than spin buttons.
- They’re notorious for taking your money.
The reality, though, is that slot machines aren’t as hard on your bankroll as they first appear — at least not on a per-bet basis in ways.
Some online slots offer anywhere from 97% to 99% return to player (RTP), meaning they have a 1-3% house edge. But just because these slots have a low house advantage doesn’t mean they’re going to shower you with payouts right away. Slot machines are extremely volatile, meaning that your short-term results are less likely to match long-term results. The reason why is because there’s a lot of variation between the smallest and biggest payouts.
Here’s an example of a simplified slots pay table:
- 5 vampires = 10,000 coins
- 5 Frankenstein monsters = 1,000 coins
- 5 mummies = 250 coins
- 5 bats = 100 coins
- 5 hunchbacks = 25 coins
- 5 snakes = 1 coin
You can see that there’s a difference of 10,000 coins between the lowest and highest payouts.
Another point worth making is that you can win payouts worth 1k and 10k coins for a small bet. Slots pay you less frequently, because they have to make up for large payouts like this. It’s hard to put an exact figure on how often you’ll win in the short run with slot machines. After all, these games offer different paylines and prizes.
On average, though, you can only expect to win around 2-10% on each payline you use. Slots with more lines usually feature lower hit frequency, which refers to how often you win per round. This low hit frequency combined with numerous payouts leads to a phenomenon known as losses disguised as wins (LDWs). LDWs are tricky and can make you feel like you’re winning even when you’re losing overall.
Here’s an example:
- You play a slot with 50 paylines.
- You bet $0.50 (one cent for each line).
- You win $0.20.
- The screen begins flashing and sound effects blare.
- You feel like a winner.
- But you’ve actually lost $0.30 overall.
Very rarely will you find a slot machine that offers high hit frequency, especially if it features dozens of paylines. Instead, you have to win a number of large payouts before you can either become profitable or at least reach the game’s stated payout percentage. Considering that big payouts don’t come very often, you’ll lose a lot in the short run with slots.
2 – Poker and DFS Tournaments
Poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS) are generally looked at favorably with regard to your chances of winning. The reason why is because these games involve a heavy amount of skill that can help you realize profits.
The main problem is that only a small percentage of the field cashes in these events. Just 10-15% of the field earns money in a big DFS event or multi-table poker tournament (MTT). DFS and poker sites take 10% rake from the entry fees. This makes your odds of winning profits even lower. But the defining factor in why you win so little in tourneys remains the prize pool distribution.
Here’s an example:
- 100 players enter a tournament.
- The buy-in is $50 + $5 (rake).
- 100 x 50 = $5,000 prize pool.
- 1st place earns $2,500.
- 2nd place earns $1,000.
- 3rd place earns $500.
- 4th place earns $300.
- 5th place earns $200.
- 6th-10th places earn $100.
You should look for poker sit and go’s (SNGs) and DFS cash games if you want a better chance of winning now. A poker SNG is a single-table tournament that involves anywhere from 2-10 players. Only 1-3 players cash in these events, but this is a larger percentage of the field than what’s seen in big DFS and poker tourneys.
A DFS cash game can be a heads-up, 50/50, or double-up contest. Half the field cashes in these events, giving you strong odds of winning money. You can still participate in the larger events as a means of competing for big payouts. But your bankroll will be subjected to more volatility if you continue entering these tourneys.
3 – Keno
Keno is a lottery style casino game that sees you select numbers on a card. The hope is that the air-blowing machine produces your chosen number(s) and helps you win a prize. The exciting thing about keno is that you can turn a small wager into a big payout. This is especially true when you select more numbers (spots) on your card. Your odds of winning depend upon how many spots you select on your card, how many balls are drawn, and the available pool of numbers.
Here are a couple of examples on your odds of winning:
- 80 available balls; 20 drawn per round
- 1 number picked = 1 in 4 odds of one ball be drawn.
- 2 numbers picked = 1 in 16.63 odds of two balls being drawn.
- 4 numbers picked = 1 in 4.70 odds of two balls being drawn; 1 in 23.12 odds of three balls; and 1 in 326.43 odds of four balls.
- 5 numbers picked = 1 in 11.93 odds of three balls being drawn; 1 in 82.70 odds of four balls; and 1 in 1,550.57 odds of five balls.
The prizes you can win grow as you choose more balls. However, your odds also become longer as you select more spots on your card. You can see that you only have a 1 in 4 chance of winning, even when choosing a single spot. These long-odds only become worse as you move down the line.
Keno is similar to slot machines in that you can make a lot of tiny bets in pursuit of a huge payout. But unlike slots, keno typically has a far worse house edge. Some land-based casinos feature anywhere from a 30% to 40% keno house advantage. Online keno usually only has around a 5% to 8% house edge. But this feels much bigger when considering the low win frequency.
4 – Online Casino Scratch Cards
You’ve likely heard that the lottery offers terrible odds of winning. Nevertheless, people love playing games due to the fact that they can win a life-changing sum of money. Scratchcards are offered by lottery corporations at convenience stores. These games don’t have jackpots as big as Mega Millions and Powerball, but they do offer significant prizes.
Internet casinos don’t typically list your odds of winning every payout in an online scratchcard. But It’s obvious that the odds of winning are low when considering that these games offer payouts worth 1,000x your bet or higher. These games are similar to physical scratchcards in that you use a virtual coin to scratch off the opaque and reveal your results. If you match enough icons, then you’ll win a designated prize.
Aside from the fact that you get to scratch the opaque just like with a real card, internet scratchers are also fun in that they don’t cost much to play. The only problem is that you’ll normally go through lots of cards before earning any worthwhile payouts. These games can feel like slot machine when you continue playing and losing.
5 – Roulette (Inside Bets)
The roulette board features a wide variety of wagers. These bets fall into two general categories, including “inside” and “outside.” Outside bets refer to spaces that are on the outer edge of the board. These wagers have higher odds of winning.
Here are examples of outside bets and your chances of winning:
- Single number – 36:1 odds (35:1 payout)
- Split – 17.5:1 odds (17:1 payout)
- Street – 11.33:1 odds (11:1 payout)
- Corner – 8.25:1 odds (8:1 payout)
- Six line – 5.17:1 odds (5:1 payout)
Like any long-odds bets, each of these wagers gives you an opportunity to win a nice payout. But the downside is that you’re also facing low prospects of winning. Single number bets are especially risky when considering that they only have 36:1 true odds, or a 2.70% chance of winning.
One thing to note is that all European roulette wagers have a 2.70% house edge. Your long-term chances of winning remain the same no matter if you’re placing a red/black or single number bet. However, you should also keep in mind that you’re less likely to win a single number wager anytime soon.
6 – Craps (Prop Bets)
Craps is another game like roulette, where your odds of success depend upon which bets you choose. Two basic craps bets include pass line and don’t pass line, which are both made on the “come out” roll (first roll of new round).
Here’s a quick look at how these wagers work:
- 251:244 true odds
- 1:1 payout
- 1.41% house edge
- Wins on the come out roll with 7 or 11.
- Loses on the come out with 2, 3, or 12.
- Any other number establishes a “point number.”
- You need the point number to be rolled before a 7 to win.
Don’t pass line
- 976:949 true odds
- 1:1 payout
- 1.36% house edge
- Wins on the come out roll with a 2 or 3.
- Loses on the come out with a 7 or 12.
- Pushes with a 12.
- Any other number establishes a point.
- You need a 7 to be rolled before the point to win.
Whenever a point number is established, you can make either a come or don’t come bet. These are essentially as pass line and don’t pass line, except that they can only be made when a point is determined. Pass line, don’t pass line, come, and don’t come are considered the main bets in craps. But you can also wager on a variety of other proposition (“prop”) bets.
You’ll see dozens of prop bets lining the craps board. These include both single-roll and multi-roll wagers, the latter of which are just like pass line and don’t pass line. Nothing is inherently wrong with placing a prop bet. But some of these wagers are terrible with regard to both their house advantage and short-term odds.
I’ll start by showing the worst prop bets in terms of house edge:
- Place 4 / place 10 = 6.67%
- Hard 6 / hard 8 = 9.09%
- Big 6 / big 8 = 9.09%
- 11 (Yo or Yo-leven) = 11.11%
- 3 = 11.11%
- 2 or 12 (Hi-Lo) = 11.11%
- Craps (2, 3, or 12) = 11.11%
- Hard 4 / hard 10 = 11.11%
- Horn = 12.5%
- Whirl = 13.33%
- 2 = 13.89%
- 12 = 13.89%
- Any 7 = 16.67%
Here are the odds of winning each of these bets:
- Place 4 / place 10 = 2:1 odds (9:5 payout)
- Hard 6 / hard 8 = 10:1 odds (9:1 payout)
- Big 6 / big 8 = 6:5 odds (6:5 payout – minus 5% commission)
- 11 (Yo or Yo-leven) = 17:1 odds (15:1 payout)
- 3 = 17:1 odds (15:1 payout)
- 2 or 12 (Hi-Lo) = 35:1 odds (30:1 payout)
- Craps (2, 3, or 12) = 8:1 odds (7:1 payout)
- Hard 4 / hard 10 = 8:1 odds (7:1 payout)
- Horn = 5:1 odds (27:4 payout on 2 and 12; 3:1 payout on 3 and 11)
- Whirl = 2:1 odds (26:5 payout on 2 and 12; 11:5 payout on 3 and 11; push on 7)
- 2 = 35:1 odds (30:1 payout)
- 12 = 35:1 odds (30:1 payout)
- Any 7 = 5:1 odds (4:1 payout)
You can see that the betting odds and poor house edges don’t always lineup in each case. For example, Any 7 gives you decent true odds at 4:1. However, the house edge is awful at 16.67%. In any case, most prop bets are poor choices whether you’re trying to win in the short or long run.
7 – Video Poker
Video poker isn’t as bad in terms of short-term odds as some of the other games and bets on this list. After all, you have a 46% chance of winning a payout in any given Jacks or Better game. But on the same token, video poker isn’t the best game when you’re looking for frequent payouts. Just like slots, video poker has a large discrepancy between the lowest and highest prizes.
Here’s a look at the Jacks or Better pay table as an example:
|Hand||1 coin||2 coins||3 coins||4 coins||5 coins|
|4 of a kind||25||50||75||100||125|
|3 of a kind||3||6||9||12||15|
|Jacks or better||1||2||3||4||5|
This creates another situation where the game must make up for large payouts by delivering wins less frequently. The good news is that you’ll still win approximately nine out of every 20 hands. And you also have a chance to earn large payouts, including 4,000 coins for a royal flush (on 5-coin bet). Also note that you need to use proper strategy in order to maximize your chances of winning in video poker. Each video poker variation features its own specific strategy that must be mastered.
Furthermore, your odds of forming the high-paying hands are low. For instance, you’ll only get a royal flush on approximately 1 out of every 40,000 hands. The upside, though, is that video poker is one of the most-generous games in terms of payback. Jacks or Better offers 99.54% payback, while games like Deuces Wild (100.72% payback) actually give you an opportunity to win long-term profits.
You also want to avoid falling for the fallacy that you’re winning frequently on multi-payline games. LDWs, or spins where you win partial prizes that don’t equal your total bet, can play tricks on you. Poker and DFS tournaments are also really bad with regard to short-term chances. The bigger tourneys only pay 10-15% of the field, meaning that you won’t win very often even if you’re a really good player.
Keno and online scratchcards are fun lottery themed games that offer big prizes. But just like any lottery, they don’t deliver wins very often. Craps and roulette can be good or bad regarding your short-term odds. Craps prop bets and inside roulette wagers are both really hard on your bankroll in the short run.
In summary, you should always be mindful of the house edge and casino games since this relates to your long-term prospects of winning. But don’t lose sight of short-term odds, because they determine how much you win right now.