is based on statistics. More precisely, gambling odds are based
on the subdiscipline of statistics known as probability. As we explained
on our gambling
tips page, much of what is discussed when it comes to gambling
odds revolves around something known as the house edge. The house
edge is a number representing the mathematical advantage that the
casino (the house) has over you, the player. Now we can't fool ourselves,
the casinos always have the advantage statistically. In the long
run we should all lose at every casino game. Fortunately we don't
have to play over the long run, we can just jump in and jump out
if we manage to go up a little money.
now that we know the odds are always stacked against us in gambling,
what's the meaning of all this? Well the point is to play in such
a manner that we reduce the house edge to lower than average. We
can't ever get it below zero, but we can try. As mentioned in the
gambling strategy page, gambling odds are reducible with the right
game play. That game play usually involves a mix of 'basic strategy'
over the majority of bets, and some advanced strategy or systems
when it comes to particular situations for particular games.
The house edge is usually written in the form of a percentage. For
example, the house edge on roulette is 5.26% (on an American wheel),
meaning that on average, the house will win approx 105 times by
the time you win 100 times. The house edge is a variable, and as
such can vary according to other influences, such as playing style
and decision making. Roulette is a game where the odds are fairly
static, as the players don't get to influence what goes on in the
game. The only real fluctuation comes from small changes in the
rules of the game or style of the table and wheel, which are set
by the casinos.
For another example take blackjack. There is no standard house edge
in this game, because the player participates so much in the outcome.
If you don't know basic blackjack strategy you face house odds of
2 to 3%. If you play with the basic strategy you can get quite close
to zero, but rarely achieve a house edge below 0.5%. There is one
example within blackjack where the house edge can be reduced to
below 0%, and it suddenly becomes the players edge. This extreme
example is in the case of blackjack card counters, who keep track
of how many of each denomination of card have been played from the
shoe, and compensate their betting strategy accordingly. This is
a rare skill and has recently been countered pretty much completely
in Las Vegas. These days a lot of casinos are playing with 6 decks,
and reshuffling after only a deck or two's worth of cards have been
Now that you understand what the house edge is, you have a much
better understanding of the concept of gambling odds. For a precise
and well laid out presentation of statistics in gambling
odds, check out Michael Shackelford's wizard of odds page.