Online betting is increasingly popular in the UK, and many punters from Manchester and elsewhere are looking for ways to improve their chances of finishing ahead. The house edge, the advantage the casino has over the player, can vary enormously, and we’ve picked out some of the games that are most player-friendly.
Finding the Best UK Online Casinos
Players keen on finding the most competitive house edges have plenty of choice at the many online casinos in the UK. The country is a major international betting hub, and there are great sites for players from Manchester and all over the UK which have a broad selection of high RTP slots and low edge table games. As we’ll elaborate upon below, the best online casinos UK sites not only have great games and bonuses that can benefit players, but free play modes that allow risk-free practice to find the games that really suit you. There are also certain strategies that can be employed, most obviously with blackjack, that can substantially improve your chances of finishing in profit.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before we get to the games with the best house edges, it’s worth noting a couple of major advantages that online UK casinos have over their land-based counterparts. Lacking a physical presence not only means that the doors never close, it also means the establishments have far lower overheads. This in turn means that they can afford smaller house edges and still turn a profit, increasing the chance of a player to finish ahead.
Another substantial advantage is that the top online casino games come with free modes. These free modes enable players to get to know the intricacies of a game and, as we all know, practice makes perfect especially when it comes to gambling. This is important because the house edges are all based on a player who makes decisions correctly. If a player has poor decision-making skills due to inexperience, then this naturally makes it harder to finish ahead. Therefore, making use of the free practice mode until you’re comfortable with a game makes sense.
Free cash/spins via bonuses are a similar proposition. The benefit of this approach is that players can win real money prizes despite not risking/depositing any cash. The downside is that the free sums involved are relatively modest, perhaps £20, whereas the free mode (with neither wagers nor winnings) can be played as much as you like.
Slots – Yay or Nay?
The UK is a global centre for online betting, and domestic interest in UK online casinos has been on the rise for years now. This trend has only accelerated more recently, particularly with the global pandemic giving millions of people a surplus of free time and an absence of other distractions.
Slots are a major draw to the best UK online casinos, but can you get low house edges with them? Well, sometimes. Generally slot machines have a Return To Player (RTP) bobbling around 95-96%, which is not as good as many table games or video poker. However, the RTP can vary massively from one game to another. Some are in the 80s, others exceed 99%, so if you’re hunting for the lowest house edges then you really need to pick and choose. Ocean Princess from software developer Playtech, for example, has an RTP north of 99%, but this is a very rare thing. Another top RTP game is NetEnt’s Blood Suckers, a vampire-themed game with an RTP of 98%.
Overall, slots aren’t the best deal when it comes to low house edges, but there’s a wide range from the highest to the lowers RTPs so if that is something you want to focus on it’s worth browsing extensively before picking what to play.
Craps and Baccarat
It’s interesting to note that the older table game classics are often the ones that offer the best value. But it’s important to know how to play and which sorts of bets are best avoided.
Craps can seem very complicated, and it is. The complex rules can put players off, and many of the bets are very unlikely to come off. If you limit yourself to the don’t pass/don’t come bets then the house edge is only about 1.4%, making it one of the most player-friendly options in the casino.
At the other end of the complexity scale is baccarat. There are many varieties with different side bets, but the basic game involves just betting on the player or the banker, with the edge varying from 1.2% to 1%. These are nice and low edges, but be aware that if you stray into other bets you’ll need to move the decimal point one place to the right.
Video Poker and Blackjack – the Negative Edge
The house always has an edge. After all, if a casino didn’t make money on every game, they’d soon be out of business. Right?
Perhaps surprisingly, this isn’t strictly true. There are some very rare circumstances that see a game have a negative edge, meaning that the odds actually favour the player rather than the house. It should be stressed that these are very limited options, two of which we’ll highlight below.
Video poker is a bit of a curious thing, not quite the same as ‘real’ poker but similar. There is one game, Deuces Wild, that offers players an in-built advantage. The return to player is 100.76%, meaning that if you play well (it’s worth practising a lot) then the odds are you’ll finish ahead.
Blackjack is one of the oldest and most popular casino games. It’s quick to learn but hard to master, but if you spend the time there is a way you can tilt the odds to your advantage. Learning to count cards, making the optimal move every time you’re faced with a decision, will take a few weeks on average. In land-based casinos you would play single deck blackjack and use this method, but online UK casinos also have live dealer options which may allow you to replicate this approach. Be aware that whilst the player has the advantage, luck still plays a major role so it’s not a guarantee of finishing ahead, but it does significantly improve your chances. Counting cards isn’t illegal, but casinos are understandably less than thrilled with the practice so if you’re caught or suspected of doing it you’ll be politely ushered away from the table.
It’s important to play the single deck variety (there are many different types of blackjack you’ll find). A good general rule of thumb is that basic/original versions of games offer the best odds for the player. More rules, more complexity, tend to shift things even further the casino’s way and increase the size of house edges.
It’s entirely possible to finish ahead, but always keep your eye on your stakes and never bet more than you can afford to lose. Gambling is for Entertainment after all. Even on those rare occasions when the player has the edge, luck plays a huge role, so keep your feet on the ground if things are going well.