Understanding Odds While Online Gambling
Odds is an area you’ll see written about a lot when it comes to online gambling. But how many of us really understand how odds work for the games we love, or know how to give ourselves the best chance of success when we’re playing at the virtual tables?
On this page we hope to break down the odds basics, by highlighting three of the most popular online casino games and demonstrating how odds apply to the respective formats. We plan to get granular on the details, and also to compare the odds you’ll get at an online casino prepared to a bricks and mortar establishment.
Here’s a menu for what’s to follow:
- Odds basics
- Roulette odds
- Poker odds
- Slots odds
How odds work
Let’s start by defining odds and how they are presented. Another way to think of odds is that they tell you how likely you are to win. Odds of 4-1 are illustrative of a scenario where you might expect to win one in four times.
In the UK we’re used to odds being presented in this way. 100-1 odds make the outcome unlikely, whereas 2-1 odds give you a 50-50 chance of success. Online casino odds are often presented as win probability percentages. For example, you might have a 25% chance of a win when dealt a certain hand in poker.
Roulette odds basics
Roulette odds are relatively straightforward to understand, for the fact that they are preordained before every spin. Be aware they will fluctuate between American and European wheels, as the European wheel has one less zero pocket (and thus gives you better odds of success).
In online roulette you bet on the outcome of a ball landing in a particular pocket, or grouped set of pockets (red or black for example). This being a site for UK players we’re going to focus on the European wheel as we outline some of the odds.
Poker odds basics
When it comes to poker we must first understand that odds are undefined when you start a hand. Your chance of winning the pot is impacted by both the cards dealt and the actions of the other players at the table.
There are online calculators than can give you a good steer on your chances of winning based on the cards you’re dealt, and the cards dealt to the table. But you should know that the most accurate prediction can only be made knowing the cards dealt to others also.
That being said, there are some areas that odds can be helpful for the online poker player, as follows:
- By identifying the cards you need to win a hand you can compute the probability of those cards being dealt face up to the table. For example if you know the pot is yours with the deal of any club, to make a flush, your odds may be 4-1 on getting the card you need.
- It’s important to compare those probability odds with the real odds that will pay out. For example, if you’ve £20 in play and the pot is worth £200, you’re going to win at much higher odds than the 4-1 probability you calculated. You’re actually getting 10-1 on a 4-1 win shot, which is a really strong opportunity.
Slots odds basics
“Slots” is the term used to define digital fruit machines at online casinos. They come in a huge range of varieties and many will be themed to add to your entertainment value.
When it comes to slots odds, the best you’re going to get is win probability percentages (consider anything in the high 90s to be good) and pay back percentages. Pay back percentages will tell you, over time, how much money will be won by UK players for every £1 put in. The higher the pay back number, the better for you obviously.
It’s important to know that every spin happens in isolation. That is to say the online gambling software does not base a spin outcome on factors such as play levels or money paid in. Random generator software is programmed to operate at a certain pay back level and does exactly that.
Progressive jackpot games are very popular because they give you a shot at winning a big amount for a relatively small stake. They way progressive games work is by pooling pots from linked games over a set time period. That money builds towards a big total that will ultimately be collected by just one lucky player. Progressive jackpots are therefore very appealing, but you should be aware that your chances of winning are less than they are playing regular games.
Brick and mortar casinos can’t always compete with the odds and pay out percentages offered online, as they have big running costs to cover. Land-based venues are also unable to offer the sheer variety on offer at online casinos, and you’ll find minimum stake levels will generally be a lot higher.
Another big factor to consider is that online casinos offer a lot of promotions to entice new players and keep them loyal. Welcome bonuses are common and provide players with free casino credit to gamble with. Playing at land-based casinos, on the other hand, can incur a lot of additional costs.