Casino gaming is rife with themes of luck and fate. Whether you play online or in a brick-and-mortar establishment, the same ideologies appear everywhere! It’s all about “testing Lady Luck” and the “luck of the draw.” At face value, many popular games seem to run entirely on chance. For the most part, the outcomes are not controllable. However, that doesn’t mean that everything is simply up to fate.
At their core, casino games revolve around mathematics! It’s all statistics and complex math going on behind the scenes. From simple three-reel slots to your favorite variety of Poker: It’s all about the math.
It’s impossible to dive into the more complex mathematical concepts and calculations involved in gambling. Statistical theory is a beast that can take decades to understand fully. Most casinos utilize computer programs and dedicated software to run the numbers for them.
That said, it does pay to have a basic understanding of the math involved. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a math whiz to use it in your favor. Simple arithmetic and a good grasp of core concepts can take you very far. Not only does math help you make better choices, but it can improve your results and bottom line.
How Math Affects Casino Gaming
At the end of the day, gambling is a business. Most gamers see it as a fun pastime. It’s a form of entertainment that just so happens to reward those who make the correct predictions. Ultimately, casino gaming is a big business.
Do you think that any business would leave their revenues up to pure fate? Of course not! It’s the mathematics that makes running a casino operation profitable in the first place. Those that fail to use math are the ones that fall by the wayside due to poor profitability.
Math is what keeps this industry running. Casinos use statistical theory to determine how much revenue they can generate over time. It’s responsible for dictating game rules, rewards, promotions, and more. Not only that, but math is responsible for making games appealing to players.
Casino gaming is a balancing act for operators. They must ensure positive revenue generation while still catering to the expectations of players. No one is going to make bets when they know that the casino is actively working against them. As a result, operators must use math to keep things fair while still maintaining that all-important edge.
In addition to being a thriving industry, the casino world is also one of the most regulated. Once again, math swoops in and evens the playing field. Governing bodies set standards to keep things fair and honest. As you probably guessed by now, math is at the backbone of every regulation in existence.
While many players avoid thinking about math while they play, it’s all around them. Mathematics is what keeps the casino industry going. Knowing how to use it to your favor can make all the difference.
Ways to Use Math to Win
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned player or someone walking into the casino realm with no experience. Knowing basic math concepts can push the odds in your favor! Of course, there are no guarantees with casino gaming. However, the following tips can help you play more strategically.
1. Understanding the House Edge and RTP
First and foremost, you need to understand what the house edge is. If there’s anything you take away from the math side of gaming, this should be it!
The house edge is a figure that represents how much wagered money the casino keeps. You might also see it called the house advantage. Either way, it’s typically displayed as a percentage.
This number is about long-term performance. It’s not necessarily going to dictate how much money the casino keeps with every bet. But, it can give you a better idea of how much you can expect to lose over time.
For example, let’s say that you plan on wagering about £1,000 at a single slot game. You see that the title has a house edge of 15 percent. That figure tells you that the casino will keep at least £150 of that wagered money as profit.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you’ll only lose £150. The house edge applies to all players over time. As a result, you could lose much more while others lose less.
Understanding the house edge is paramount because it helps you compare casinos. A casino game that rewards more money will give you a better chance of walking away with winnings. For this reason, seasoned players know to look at the house edge for guidance. A lower figure is always better!
Another number you should pay attention to is the RTP. RTP stands for Return to Player. You can think of this percentage as the opposite of the house edge. It shows you how much the game rewards back to players. The calculations to get this figure is different, but they represent the same thing.
Let’s take a look at our example from earlier. The slot game that has a house edge of 15 percent would have an RTP of 85 percent.
2. Wager Expected Value
Here’s another number that casino operators use. This one shows how profitable your bets are and how much you might lose. Now, this figure applies to repeated bets. It’s not an exact calculation, as parameters of the game can change quickly. However, the number is a good representation of how much you might lose if you repeatedly make the same bet.
Interestingly enough, the number also plays a part in coming up with the total house edge.
Let’s look at a game of roulette as an example! We’ll say that you plan on making a £5.00 bet on the fact that the ball will land in a red pocket. To do the math, you have to have some basic knowledge of the roulette wheel.
In an American-style roulette wheel, you have 38 pockets. Of those 38 pockets, 18 are red. That brings us to the probability ratio of 18/38. Multiply that by your initial bet of £5, and we get 2.368.
To determine the expected value (EV), we also have to do the math from the casino’s perspective. For this calculation, you’d multiply -£5 by 20/38, the probability of non-red pockets. Your result would be -2.631.
Add 2.368 and -2.631, and you have your EV of -0.263. That means that you can expect to lose about £0.26 for every £5.00 bet that the roulette ball will land in a red pocket.
3. The Difference Between Probability and Odds
Another way to use math while playing it is to compare probability and odds.
Many inexperienced players use those two terms interchangeably. While they seem similar, probability and odds are two different concepts. Probability refers to the number of times an outcome might occur over time. Meanwhile, the odds are defined as the probability that an event will occur divided by the probability it won’t happen.
How does that affect your decision-making in casino gaming?
Well, games typically use odds to determine the payout. Think of it as a wager against you winning.
Say that you bet on a specific number on the roulette wheel. The probability that you land on it is 1/38. But the odds against that number are 37 to 1. To break even on your bets, you’d need to get a reward of 37 to 1.
These two figures should play a big part in your wagering strategy. A 37 to 1 payout would be fantastic! But, the probability of that happening makes it a little less appealing. You can certainly make that bet. However, you might want to offset the risks with something safer. For example, you might go back to that red-only bet. It would have a probability of 18/38, which is far safer than 1/38.
4. Playing with Volatility
The volatility rating is something you don’t always see at casinos. Not every operator provides this figure. Unfortunately, it’s not a calculation you can do in your head, either. If you’re lucky enough to find this information, use it to your advantage!
A game’s volatility refers to how risky it is to play. You might see it called variance or dispersion. It’s different from RTP or house edge as it reflects payout size and frequency.
A low-volatile game is a much safer bet. Low volatility means that the game rewards frequent low and mid-sized prizes. Don’t expect to win any sizable jackpots. However, you can rest easy knowing that you’re not risking big to lose it all.
The opposite applies to high volatility. A high-volatile game is one that rarely rewards small or medium prize amounts. Instead, it grants massive amounts sporadically. Think of it as a large jackpot provider. Your odds of winning something are very low. But if you’re lucky enough, you could walk away with one of the biggest prizes available!
Seasoned players will use math to manage their risks. A mix of low and high-volatile games evens the chances a bit for safer play.
5. Figuring Out How Long Your Bankroll Will Last
If your priority is to play as much as possible, math comes in handy. Typically, the go-to strategy is to make the lowest bet possible. That way, you can save your bankroll and make tons of wagers. But how long will your funds last?
Using available house edge rates, you can figure out how much money you’re able to bet. For this calculation to work, you must play a single game and make the same bet repeatedly.
As an example, say that you have a bankroll of £1,000. The game of choice has a house edge of 5 percent. By dividing your funds by the house edge, we come up with a grand betting total. In this example, it’s £20,000. That means that you can wager up to £20,000 before you deplete your bankroll! The figure covers the probability and potential returns of wins within your play session.
It’s not possible to make exact calculations with each bet. That said, some understanding of the statistical side of gambling can pay off! Knowing a bit about the math involved helps you bet wisely. You can better understand your risks, making it easier to come out on top.