Are some people Lucky?

Are some people Lucky?

Introduction – Luck?

There’s actually not really such a thing as luck, especially when it comes to non-skill gambling. I know you will have had days where no matter what you bet, you just can’t lose and I’m sure you've had days where where no matter what you do, you can’t seem to win.

If there is no skill in the game chance you are playing, then what you are experiencing is called variance.

What is variance?

In a perfect world where everything did exactly as the probability suggested, apart from the fact you would always get the exact results matching the probability, things like casinos would be very boring and depressing!

In a perfect world with no variance, if you took a 50/50 chance, like tossing a coin 10x, you would always get 5 heads and 5 tails. Now you probably know from experience it doesn’t always work like that, it’s likely you will get a mix of 5/5, 6/4, 7/3 etc and even some 9/1 and maybe even 10/0 in rare circumstances.

What’s interesting, is that over a short or even medium period of events, the difference between the actual results and the expected results can be quite large. The more times you repeat the event, the closer and closer it will get to the expected outcome. This is also know as the expected value or EV.

If you run it through a computer simulation millions of time, you will see the two values converge until the actual results match the expected results to multiple decimal places. This is known as “the law of large numbers”

Variance, EV & Casinos

Variance is why you can go in a casino and despite the odds being slightly against you, have nights or even multiple nights in a row where you win a large amount of money. This is what makes casinos exciting, as whilst they will make money overall, it might not be off you tonight!

However, if you were to play so many times that you fall into the law of large numbers then eventually you will lose money, assuming you don’t have a way to level the field or even push the EV(expected value) in your favour.

This is why Casinos don’t mind winning players as long as they are not cheating or have an obvious +EV strategy, as even if some win, some will lose. Over a large number of events, the casino will make the approximate house edge per game.

Increasing your chance of winning in Casinos

Despite the odds generally being slightly against you, there are ways you can increase your chance of winning in casinos, or in some cases, even become +EV.

  1. Knowing what you now know about casinos and variance, you will know that if you play for a shorter period of time and play less hands/spins, the variance will be higher. This could of course go against you and you lose more than EV, but it also could go for you and you win far more than EV. The longer you play, the closer the outcome will get to the true probability, the EV.

  2. Have an edge on the casino or table, whether that’s because you are playing a skill game like poker and you’re a better player than your company, or you have mastered the art of card counting at Blackjack. It’s also worth mentioning, that if you truly are +EV, the longer you play, the closer you will get to making guaranteed money.

  3. Make sure you take all the bonuses and free spins that the casinos offer and understand the terms and conditions. The odds at the casino table games won’t change whether you have bonus cash or free spins. Therefore you are either drastically shorting the casino’s advantage or in a lot of cases, actually becoming +EV for the bonus period.