The area of mathematics dealing with the chance of certain outcomes is known as probability theory. Probability is the likelihood of a given event occurring. With gambling, probability is simply the possible ways of winning divided by the total possible outcomes.
How Does Probability Work?
To understand probability, a simple example can be used. Consider a coin where one side is heads and the other side is tails. If the coin is flipped, then the two possible outcomes are that the coin will land with the heads side facing up or the coin will land with the tails side facing up.
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If heads are called, the probability of heads resulting from a coin toss is equal to 1 out of 2 or .5 or 50%. Likewise, the probability of tails resulting from a coin toss is also 1 out of 2 or .5 or 50%. Probability is most often referred to as a number between 0 and 1 and it is important to note the probability of all possible outcomes always equals 1. In the case of the coin, .5 and .5 equals 1.
The probability theory can also be used in gambling. On an American roulette wheel, there are 38 numbers. The probability the ball will land on any number is 1/38 or .026. So, there is a 2.6% chance that every time the ball lands, it will land on any given number. It becomes apparent that the more possible outcomes there are, the less likely it is a gambler will experience a winning outcome.
What Is The Relevance of Probability to Gambling?
While probability can help predict the number of times a particular outcome will occur, it will not predict when an outcome will occur. Based on the probability theory, a coin flipped 100 times would result in heads about 50 of those times and in tails the other 50 times. However, when those results would occur is not predictable.
If someone calling heads had some luck, the 50 heads would come up early in the game. If their luck was average, the vast majority of heads would occur intermittently and about as frequently as the heads. Bad luck would likely result in tails more frequently in the early going for someone calling heads.
Probability can also be used to help determine the long term monetary windfall associated with a game and ultimately whether or not a game is financially worth playing. It goes without saying that if probability can be used to predict favorable outcomes, then it can also be used to predict the frequency of unfavorable outcomes. The more successful gamblers are likely those that understand how probability works.
Probability theory has many applications in various situations. Being able to predict the chance of an outcome can be helpful in making decisions related to these situations. When it comes to gambling, probability can compare the number of winning outcomes against all possible outcomes in order to give gamblers and the house the information they need.