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Albert Einstein is reputed to have stated, "You cannot beat a roulette table unless you steal money from it." I agree. I play a lot of poker. I play poker for money. But I don't gamble. I consider poker a skill game, and in poker, the skill is in playing the odds. I'd consider sports betting a skill "game" as well. If you're informed enough, you can make educated bets in which the odds favor you. However, when you go to a casino to play any of their slot, video, or table games, the odds NEVER favor you.
And why should they? Look, you go risk money at a casino on the chance to win money, but the only way you can ever expect a positive monetary gain from a casino is if you're bad at math. In poker, it's called "pot odds." It's a ratio of how much it costs you to call the bet versus how much money is in the pot. If it costs you $10 to try winning a $100 pot, then you have 10-to-1 pot odds. The bettor has laid 10-to-1 pot odds for you to call.
How do you determine whether or not accepting this wager is profitable? Well, it's all in what you believe your chances of winning are. If you think you will win once in five times, then you should definitely call. It costs you $50 to accept the bet five times, and once in every five times you will win $100. The difference is +$50. This wager has a positive expected value (EV) of $50. The reason poker is a skill game is because the players are using their own money to lay the odds.
You find the situations in which you have a positive expected value, and this is when you get your money in, because although you may lose this bet, if you take this same bet numerous times over a long period of time, you will slowly see a profit. However, when you go to a casino to play a table game, the casino lays the odds with their money, and it's never in your favor. Let's take the game of roulette as an easy example. For those who do not know, roulette is the game with the wheel, composed of 38 (in America, 37 in Europe) numbered and colored slots.
The wheel is spun, and a ball is thrown around the wheel in the opposite direction, eventually landing in one of the slots. The number and color of the slot determines which bets are paid. The 38 slots include the green slots, 0 and 00, and number slots 1 through 36, half of which are red, the other half of which are green. To avoid making this too complicated, I'm going to break down two different bets, and explain why they have negative expected value for the bettor and a positive expected value for the house.
Don't be confused though--in roulette, there is NO bet that you can make with a positive expected value. The first bet I'll break down is the simplest type of bet you can make in roulette. It's called the "straight bet." This bet is when the chip is placed entirely on a single number. There are 38 numbers you can bet on, and 38 free slots fruit smoothie the ball on the wheel can land in. You therefore have a 1 in 38 chance (2.6%) of winning one of these bets.
Now, 2.6% seems like a very low chance to win, however, it is not small chance of winning that prevents this bet from being profitable. It's the house's payout for single-number bets. The house pays 35-to-1 on straight bets. The house lays you 35-to-1 on what amount you bet. If you bet $1 and win, the house pays $35. If you bet $1,000 and win, the house pays $35,000. Seems like a great pay off, right? Wrong.
You're actually losing almost 8% of your bet every time you make this bet--even if you win. Why? Suppose you make this bet 38 times, $1 at a time. After all, statistically speaking, you should win once in 38 times, right? So, $38 and 38 bets later, you've now invested $38 on your straight bet. Let's say you won once in those 38 times. Well, the house paid you $35, so you won, right? Wrong. You lost $3. Losing $3 in 38 bets is essentially the same as give the casino a dollar and getting back 92 cents.