Understanding the Odds

Understanding the Odds

A moment before choosing an online casino to play at, learn how the odds are calculated for the different games and what it means for the house to have an advantage.

To the beginner gambler, the word "odds" might not mean much. This is completely understandable, as odds are made up of many complicated calculations. Don't let this discourage you from gambling! - the fundamentals of odds are easy to grasp and easy to put into practice. This brief explanation of odds will provide you with all you need to know in order to make sensible gambling decisions.

It is important you understand that odds are designed to always benefit the casino, and not you. For this reason they are also called house advantage or hold percentage. If the house advantage is 5%, then for every $100 you wager the casino will receive $5. So the higher the house advantage is, the more you are expected to lose. Accordingly, the longer you play a single game, the more money you will lose.

Odds are always pre-determined and calculated according to external factors, therefore they will vary greatly between games. When gambling, "odds" means the ratio of money that may be won versus the ratio of money that must be bet. For example, if the odds on a particular game are 2-1, it means you must bet $1 for the chance to make $2. Some games incorporate a level of skill, and this can give you better odds when playing.

Take Blackjack, for instance. The odds of blackjack are calculated according to the percentage of times you would lose if you decide to "hit" with a certain card value in your hand. Therefore, you can make an informed decision to hit or stand by looking at your card value. If it is 11, then you have 0% chance of busting because no other card is valued more than 10. As your card value increases, so do your chances of busting. Also, the less packs used when playing, makes it easier for you to estimate the percentage of a certain card being dealt.

Another good example is Craps. To calculate the chance of a specific number being rolled, simply divide 36 (total number of dice outcomes) by the total number of dice combinations for that number.** Rolling a 7 is made up of the most dice combinations, and consequently has the highest chance of being rolled. This explains why a pass line bet has the highest odds and is bet on most commonly.

**(For example, a 3 can be rolled in 2 ways: 1+2 or 2+1. Therefore 36/2 =18, meaning you have a 1 in 18 chance of rolling 3.)

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