Improving your Odds Gaming Online

Casino gaming and sports betting have never been more popular, and players do have certain strategies available to improve their chances (and some pitfalls to be avoided) as we explain below.

Is Gambling just Investment on Steroids?

Gambling and investing do have certain differences. Betting tends to be more fun, and more rapidly paced. However, there are some big areas of overlap too. Handling high-frequency trading has a comparable activity and speculation level, with a concept of high volume low margin profitability (akin to using basic strategy in blackjack). Betting does involve a high degree of risk, although there can also be a better (though still small) chance of a large payout as well. Necessarily, betting has a better average result for the gambling firm than the player (the business model dictates that) whereas investing usually yields a better chance of a return for the investor. Volatility can, of course, vary with crypto being rather on the bouncy side. However, there are some tips and tricks you can use to try and improve your odds by calculating risks appropriately.

Exploit No Deposit Bonuses

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but it may be possible to enjoy free samples now and then. The competition in the online betting industry is such that rival casinos try and attract players with increasingly lucrative EU no deposit bonuses, which is a huge benefit to players. You can use these promotions from the best European operators and start gaming online with zero risk. No deposit bonuses are commonly free spins on a specific slot or free cash that can be used on a wide range of casino games. As the name suggests, no deposit is required and it’s still possible to win real cash. Note that there will be an upper limit, the withdrawal cap, on potential prizes, often around the £100 mark. But this is still a chance to win money without having to risk any, which makes it a shot to nothing.

As an aside, it’s important not to bet in daft ways to satisfy the wagering requirement (the minimum total sum that must be bet in order to meet the criterion for withdrawal of a bonus and associated winnings). If you put £1 on red in roulette and £1 on black, the casino will notice and your promo will be voided. Just bet normally, and you should be fine.

Blackjack – Basic Strategy

Blackjack is one of the oldest casino games and also one of the most popular because it’s easy to learn and hard to master. For those who don’t mind doing a little revision, there’s a very easy way to give yourself the best possible odds (the house edge may be as low as 0.5%). And that is with basic strategy. Presented in handy charts (which are easy to find online), this strategy shows the player when they should hit, and when they should stick. Sometimes that’s obvious, but if you’ve got a 3 and a J and the dealer has a face card of a 7, what’s the right call? It’s in these edge cases that basic strategy gives you the best possible chance. And because blackjack was invented way before modern mathematicians and businesses could fiddle with it, the odds for the player (while still slightly worse than for the casino) are close enough that the merest whisper of luck can push you into the black.

In Poker, don’t be Afraid to Fold

Lose small, win big is an easy mantra that is hard to put into practice given everyone else is trying to accomplish much the same thing. In poker, it can be very easy to get sucked into the sunk cost fallacy (in for a penny, in for a pound) and get strung along with consistently raised bets when your hand is mediocre at best. This is because psychological tension exists when you’ve wagered a certain amount and want to stop but you can’t be sure if the other player is bluffing, or you might win anyway, and it feels a bit limp to just fold.

Folding early is one way to greatly reduce the number of times this happens. Obviously, this shouldn’t be a universal approach (if you adopt the same strategy every single time everyone else will realise you only see a bet when you have a decent hand and they will then fold, limiting your winnings) but generally folding early is a good idea if your pocket cards are terrible. And terrible doesn’t just mean the old classic of 7-2 off-suit. Sometimes, J-8 can be way worse because the Jack feels decent but the odds are others will have an Ace or King or Queen, and the tantalising prospect of a straight is pretty unlikely to come off. Don’t be afraid to fold early and fairly often if others are raising.

When a Domino Falls

Sportsbooks are very good at assessing the odds and while these can be subject to the weight of money and fan favouritism (England’s football team has historically had shorter odds than it should to win the World Cup due to patriotic bettors) they do generally line up very close to reality.

The exception to this is when breaking news fundamentally alters a sporting contest. The probabilities, in reality, have just been totally shaken up but it takes time for humans (and sportsbooks) to react, which opens a golden window of opportunity. An example of this happening in recent memory is the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

At this time, Hamilton was top dog by a country mile and the clear favourite for the win. This naturally meant his odds were very short and everybody else’s were correspondingly long. When Hamilton failed a COVID-19 test and had to sit the race out, though (his race seat was taken by George Russell on this occasion) and everybody else’s real chances improved immeasurably. There were two broad approaches that could be taken in this circumstance, both (with hedging) leading to profits. The first was to spray small stakes on the best of the midfield (Perez won the race at 60/1). The second was to back Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate, and Russell at the odds available before they were adjusted, then hedge (bet against) them on an exchange. Because of the way the race went, this also would have led to finishing very much in the black.

The best way to exploit this is to have a dedicated list on Twitter (or something comparable) which features trusted sports journalists so you can rapidly see breaking news.

Shun the Gambler’s Fallacy

The gambler’s fallacy is another statistical misunderstanding that can lead people to drastically miscalculate what the odds are. In roulette, the odds of red are 48.6% (European) or 47.4% (American). If a red has shown up, what are the odds of red being the next result?

If you said 48.6%/47.4% you would be correct. The odds are not altered one jot by the previous result. The odds on 10 reds in a row are identical to the odds of five red and five black or alternating between the two, or eight reds and two blacks. The idea that a red result becomes more or less likely based on prior numbers is an absolute falsehood. This fallacy is also called the Monte Carlo fallacy, following an incident in 1913 whereby the ball landed on black 26 times in a row.

Understanding this matters because some people adopt the terrible Martingale strategy which involves doubling a stake every time you lose (resetting to the original stake on a victory). This is an atrocious concept because any win you enjoy will be small (the size of one original stake) and any loss will be catastrophically enormous. Consider the aforementioned Monte Carlo situation. After 26 spins the stake, having started at £2, would have to rise to £67,108,864. Even after just 10 it’d be up to £1,024. For players this is unaffordable and even with unlimited funds, tables do have upper stake limits.

And that just about wraps up our look at trying to shift the odds in your favour, and some things to avoid. Don’t forget the Golden Rule: only bet what you can afford to lose.

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