A Simplified Guide to Gambling Odds

If you are going to be a casual gambler, then you don't need to know much about the mathematical probabilities or odds. But if you want to earn money in the long run, and maybe even turn pro, you need to have some basic knowledge concerning the casino edge.

The importance of this aspect in gambling is obvious: the more information you know, the better your chances of winning, and also keeping your bankroll intact. However a lot of people, even those who want to learn, tend to shy away because they think it's too complicated. But the basics really aren't that difficult to understand.

The best way to understand gambling odds is to use the most basic and fundamental example: heads or tails. Which has a better chance of turning up on your hand? Both have an equal opportunity, a 50/50. In casinos this is equivalent to the even money payout, wherein you stand to win an amount equal to what you risk. In a 2:1 payout the casino gambling odds indicate you will be paid twice what you risk.

When looking for a casino game, you should also check if it is a 5 for 1, 4 for 1, etc. Under this setup you will make only a 4 or 3 unit profit because the house will get your wager. This is different from the 5 to 1, 6 to 1 etc, where you get 5 times what you bet.

But despite the house edge, the gambling odds are still the same: it is still 1:1. The casino edge is simply positive expectation, meaning despite 1:1 being a 50/50 proposition, the casino, through the house edge, will still earn money in the long term. It doesn't matter if there are winning streaks; in the end, the gambling venue will still make money.

This doesn't mean that the player (the one with the negative expectation) can never make money against the casino. In games like Blackjack and Poker this house edge can be reduced significantly, so much so that people can make a living this way. Even in games like slots, the house edge is offset by the huge jackpots.

This is just an introduction to gambling odds, and while there is still more about probability theory that can be learned (tied to specific casino games), this should be enough to give you the right perspective and also give you ideas on how to use it in your strategies.


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