Odds & Probability

In this section

One of most confusing and misunderstood concepts in gambling is the odds.
Keep reading to learn more about the odds and how this concept relates to other concepts like house advantage.

Information about the actual odds and costs of playing particular games is available at the bottom of this page. GameSense.ca is another place where you will find information about the odds and the probability of winning.


Odds and Probability Vs. Gambling Odds

Odds and Probability

Odds are commonly understood to be the likelihood of one thing happening, rather than another.

In the case of the example at right, the word ‘odds’ is used to describe probability.

Example:
When flipping a coin, the odds are 1 in 2 (or 50% probability) that the coin will come up heads.

Gambling Odds

In gambling, the ‘odds’ often refers to the amount paid out by a gambling operator for a certain outcome.

The examples to the right show that, in the gambling industry, odds are not usually matched fairly with probability.

 

 

 

 

Examples:
If the odds at roulette are given at 2-to-1 for wagering on a particular outcome, then the gambling operator would pay out $3 for a $1 wager if that outcome is successful. $2 for winning + $1 initial bet returned.

Alternatively, if the odds are given at 1-to-2, the gambling operator would pay out $1.50 on a $1 wager. 50¢ for winning + $1 initial bet returned.

Other Real-Life Probabilities

Living to celebrate your 100th birthday 1 in 50
Dying from falling down stairs or steps 1 in 6,330
Being killed by a venomous bite or sting 1 in 160,000
Being struck by lightning 1 in 240,000
Dying from flesh-eating bacteria disease 1 in 1 million
Winning the Lotto 6/49 1 in 14 million

Casino Gambling Odds

In BC Casinos, most chance-based games have their payout odds listed on the tables or machines. House advantage for these games is generally between 1% and 10%, with greater advantages being enjoyed on higher payout outcomes such as bonuses, baccarat ties, sic bo specifics, etc.

For poker and other skill-based games, casinos simply rake the pot to earn their commission.

In practice, slot machine games come in many varieties, each with different jackpots and different outcome possibilities. The probability of winning the top prize at maximum coin play can range from 1 in 4,096 to 1 in 33,554,000.

Bingo Hall and Community Gaming Centre Odds

Community Gaming Centres in BC offer some casino gambling activities (like slot machines) and other activities not found in casinos, such as bingo. Games like bingo generally carry greater house advantage, about 40%.

Horse Race Track Betting Odds

In horse racing, the odds are often determined by a parimutuel betting system in which the winnings are shared by all winners. In this system, commission/house advantage (approximately 18% in BC) is taken out of the betting pool, and the rest of the money is used for payouts. These payouts are awarded at odds based on the number of bets for each win. In this system, the odds are not available beforehand.

Lottery Product Odds

BCLC’s website has listed the odds and probabilities of games and products that they offer. Generally, the house advantage for lottery products is between 40% and 60%, with greater advantages being enjoyed on higher payout games and outcomes.