The meaning of ‘odds’ can vary from one gambling venue to another, but in most situations, it refers to the likelihood of an event occurring as compared to the overall probability of something happening.
For instance, if you are playing at a well-known sportsbook, then the chances of your selected team winning the next match are probably the thing you are after, so you would consult the odds to find out how likely they are to occur.
Similarly, if you are playing at a poker site, then the odds of getting particular hands or sequences of hands (based on the rules of the game) are what you are after.
However, in a few specific situations, the odds might not be what you are looking for. Here are some examples to help you determine the right meaning for ‘odds’ in each case.
Playing against the House
In a traditional casino setting, whenever you play against the house, their computer programs do the math for you and provide the results in the form of odds. So, if you are playing roulette, for example, and want to know what the odds are of a single ball landing on a specific number, you would look to the computer generated odds instead of trying to do the math yourself (which is actually quite difficult, considering there are 36 numbers to choose from and only one red and black ball).
In this case, the odds are the same as the house advantage i.e. the casino’s edge.
Determining the Overall Edge
To find the edge in blackjack, you would have to consider all of the rules and regulations that apply in addition to the cards that are dealt (please see the official rules for blackjack here). Even then, it is not easy to figure out the exact edge, as most casinos are not willing to disclose these numbers and many consider it to be their intellectual property. But, you can get a rough idea by looking at the rules and regulations and how they apply in your situation.
For example, if the maximum bet is $10 and your hand has $9 in it, then you would have to pay $1 to the house. But, if the dealer has an ace as their highest card and your hand has an 8, then you would win and the house would have to pay you $11 ($10 + $1 base bet). In this situation, the edge is determined by the following equation:
Note: Some casinos might consider an even money risk/reward ratio in your favor to be a positive edge, while others might not. It all depends on the rules of the game as well as the regulations for the specific establishment. If you want to find the edge for blackjack, then you would have to look at several different books or websites to determine how the game is played in different parts of the country (and the world).
Knowing the Rules of a Game
One of the most common mistakes new gamblers make is that they try to apply the rules of roulette to blackjack and vice versa. But, this is definitely not something you want to do as it will almost certainly lead to you losing money. The most important thing to do is to learn the rules of the game you are playing (or planning to play).
In some instances, this might be hard to do since some casinos provide no information regarding the rules and it is up to the players to figure them out (or ask the casino personnel for assistance). But, in most cases, you can find out what the rules are by looking either at the rules book or at the website for the specific game (usually under the heading ‘Help’ or ‘Rules’).
For example, if you want to play roulette at a casino in Paris, then you would check the website for the casino to see what the rules are regarding that specific game (most likely roulette). While in Berlin, you would have to look in the rules book for Schwedenpotte (most likely Germany’s national game).
Playing on a Considered Edge
There are several well-known types of games that are based on probability and statistics. One such game is sports betting where you place wagers on the outcome of athletic contests (like the Super Bowl or the World Cup). You can also place sports wagers on the outcomes of individual games, such as the NBA finals or the World Series.
In most situations, you can place a wager on the overall outcome of an event (team versus team, or player versus player) and the house edge is usually small, usually a few percentage points (it varies by jurisdiction). But in some cases, you might want to avoid placing a wager on a game where the house edge is much higher than usual – usually over ten percentage points..
Playing Within a Specific Frame-work
Many people like to play roulette because it is simple to grasp the basic concept and the chances of winning are always in your favor (provided you follow the rules of the game). But, if you want to get the most out of your time playing, then you should consider playing within a specific and very narrow frame-work. For example, if you are playing at a land-based casino in the US, then you might want to play only those games where you can adhere to the following formula:
Red + Black = 0.38*(0.62) – 0.48*(0.38)
In this case, the first part of the equation (red + black) is the theoretical probability of receiving a red or black ball, and the second part is the combined probability of receiving a red and black ball (0.62 and 0.38). The denominator, 0.48 and 0.49, is the probability of getting a red or black ball, respectively, when two hands are played (each hand has a probability of 0.48 to produce a red ball and 0.49 to produce a black ball). The number in the parentheses is the house edge (i.e., the advantage that the casino has over you as a player).
By adhering to this formula, you will win on average 48% of your wagers while playing at ‘47% house edge’. If you want to improve your odds of winning, then you should look for games with a lower house edge (but, of course, you will have to adhere to the rules of the games you play).
For those of you who are new to betting and are looking to find the best place to start, then the safest and most convenient option is online betting since they usually accept players from all over the world. But, if you are looking for a more traditional experience (i.e., you want to play at a land-based casino), then you should look for games with a lower house edge (and please note that most casinos have games with high house edges as well – usually over 20% these days).
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the meaning of ‘odds’ in different situations. No matter what the case may be, you can always find the answer in the rules or at the website for the specific establishment.