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Factoring in the odds To be a successful gambler, you must understand the intersection of statis- tics, probability, and the odds. In simple terms, that means you need to understand how likely something is to happen (statistics), how likely that it can happen to you (probability), and what you’re going to get out of it, if it does happen (odds). With a grasp of these concepts, you’re ready to tackle the casino with realistic expectations, and you can understand why some games should be avoided. The best example to start with is the coin flip

You probably know that heads and tails each have a 50-50 shot at turning up. As I say in the previous section, you can communicate the probability of the flip in terms of odds. In the case of a two-sided coin, your odds of flipping heads are 1 to 1. In other words, with two possible events (outcomes), you have one chance to fail and one chance to succeed. Clear as mud? Here’s another example. Consider the roll of a six- sided die. What are the odds that you’ll roll a 3? The ratio is 1 in 6, so the odds are 5 to 1. Odds are, you’ll hear the word odds used in other contexts. For example, the amount of money a bet pays compared to the initial bet are sometimes called odds too.

But don’t confuse payout odds with true odds. True odds refer to the actual chance that a specific occurrence will happen, which is usually differ- ent from the casino payout odds. Examining How Casinos Operate and Make Money: House Edge The seasoned gambler can count on true odds to dictate the chances of winning a particular game, right? Not exactly. Casinos aren’t in the charity business — they exist to make money.

And like all successful enterprises, they follow reliable business models. With their intimate understanding of proba- bility and odds, casino owners guarantee themselves a healthy bottom line. So you can’t beat the odds when the house arranges them in its favor, but you can understand the odds of winning inside a casino by arming yourself with information about the house edge. The house edge (sometimes known as the casino advantage or house advantage) by definition is the small percent- age of all wagers that the casino expects to win. Every game has a different house edge, and even certain bets within a single game have a better house edge than other bets.


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