Casino games are undoubtedly one of the most popular forms of entertainment to ever be created, and they continue to be all-the-rage in the 21st century. Advancements in technology have revolutionised casinos, allowing land-based venues to offer visitors hundreds of modern table games and slots.
Tech has also driven an online explosion of casino games, with a plethora of operators currently offering their services to players on the internet. While the phrase ‘the house always wins’ fires a note of caution to anyone thinking of playing casino games, that well-used idiom isn’t strictly true.
Many people have won big at casinos, highlighting that it is entirely possible to change your life forever through the turn of a card or the spin of a wheel. One of the most important elements for any player to get to grips with at a casino is to understand the probabilities of winning on the different games.
While the odds do favour the casinos, it is feasible to tip these in your favour by learning about probability and implementing strategies. Read on as we take a closer look at probabilities on four different games and get advice from experts about winning at casinos.
The European version has 37 numbers on the wheel and a 2.70 percent house edge – only one number (zero) supports the house edge on even-money bets. American roulette has two zero pockets – 0 and 00 – making a total of 38 numbers on the wheel and increasing the house edge to 5.26 percent. Using the American wheel as an example for probability purposes, a bet on the number 24 is a wager on one number out of 38 – giving you a 1-in-38 chance of winning.
Graham Kendall, a Professor of Computer Science, says that while probability favours the house in roulette, employing strategies can increase a player’s chances of winning. “Like a dartboard, the layout of a roulette wheel did not come about by accident,” he said. “It was carefully planned and exhibits certain properties. A simple search on Google will return many (possibly millions) of systems for playing (and supposedly winning) roulette. Some easy, some complicated, some well described, some not so. A system should really be a combination of a playing strategy and a money management strategy. Perhaps the best known money management strategy is the Martingale System. This system is guaranteed to win money as long as you have enough of a bankroll to double your bet after every loss and you do not hit the table limit.”
Some systems involve betting on many numbers, perhaps 20. In this case, you will win quite often as you are covering more than half of the numbers. Without a doubt roulette is one of the most exciting games you could play at a casino, the adrenaline behind of it makes people love it, so learn how to increase your roulette odds and make some money.
Calculating probabilities in blackjack is no easy task, with a wide range of factors leading to fluctuation as the composition of the deck changes. In simple terms probability in blackjack is governed by three laws – multiplication, addition and complementation.
Unlike casino games based on chance, the odds in blackjack change every time a card is removed from play. The exact value of the discard also impacts the odds and the players’ expectation.
With a flexible value of one or eleven, the ace is undoubtedly the most important card in blackjack and being dealt this increases the chances of winning.
The probability of hitting blackjack decreases with each ace that is dealt, so if you are playing against multiple players it is important to bear this in mind. Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee Peter A Griffin notes the importance of employing ‘basic strategy’ in the game, as using this perfectly can reduce the house’s edge to around 0.5 percent.
“Blackjack is unique among all casino games in that it is a game in which skill should make a difference, even swing the odds in the player’s favour,” Griffin wrote in his book ‘The Theory of Blackjack’. Because of the possibilities of using information and exercising rational choice, this game has an appeal to many who wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in gambling. Some will also enjoy the game for its solitaire-like aspect, since the dealer has no choices it’s like batting a ball against a wall.”
The chances of securing a real money win on slots is dependent on the Random Number Generator (RNG) and the Return to Player (RTP) percentage. Unlike blackjack, there is no in-game strategy that you can implement to force a slot machine into paying out more often.
The probability of winning on slots over a long-term period is not high, with elements such as frequency of play and possessing the ability to stop when you win having an impact on this. The number of reels and the number of symbols on each reel affects probability, but also provides a platform to calculate the possible number of winning combinations.
For instance, on a three-reel slot with six symbols on each, the total number of possible combinations is 6 x 6 x 6 = 216 combinations. Where things become more difficult from a probability perspective is the RTP rate, which often varies from around 94 to nearly 100 percent dependent on which game you play. However, playing a game with a higher RTP percentage will naturally increase the probability that you will secure a winning return.
Understanding probability is the key to poker
Poker is a game where maths, strategy, skill and luck combine to create one of the most thrilling pastimes on the planet. There are nearly 2.6 million five-card hands that can be dealt or made in poker, highlighting the complexity involved in working out probability.
Poker hands vary in rank, with high card being the lowest in the list and royal flush (five sequential cards of the same suit) the best of the bunch. Probability of hitting one of these varies from just over 50% for the former to 0.000154% for a royal flush.
The probability of making a pair in poker is around 42%, while bagging a full house (three cards of one rank and two cards of another) is around 0.1441%. Poker player Matthew Cluff has gained an in-depth understanding of probability since taking up the game in 2012.
He says it is crucial to remember how many opponents are in a hand and determine the best way to go about playing accordingly. “To increase the probability of winning poker, you must become accustomed to the odds and probabilities that are presented to you in the game,” he said.
“Become familiar with outs and calculating your percentages of improving and be able to quickly relate these to the pot odds you may be getting, so that you can determine if you can call profitably or not. Remember also that you don’t always need to ‘just call’ whenever you have a draw. Sometimes, it can be advantageous to bet or raise. This way, you can either win by improving later on to the best hand or getting your opponent to fold.”
Hope this examples of casino games make you increase the probabilities of winning.