History of Video Poker

Video poker is a game based on five-card draw. The software deals and displays the cards. The player bets against the casino,which acts as the dealer and the banker. The object of the game is to make the highest ranking poker hand possible. Video poker differs from most other slot machines because the skill of the player affects the outcome of the game.

A winning hand is paid a fixed return. The payouts for winning hands are displayed on the casino’s website. The higher the ranking of the hand, the greater the returns. The payouts vary depending on the casinos rules.

Video poker differs from a traditional game of five-card draw in a number of ways:
•    There is only one player so it is not necessary to beat other players’ hands.
•    It is a much faster game.
•    The payout odds for particular hands are fixed.
•    It does not involve bluffing.


The history of video poker
Poker has been played on gaming machines since the 1800s. In 1891 Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn began manufacturing poker card machines. They proved extremely popular and were installed in virtually all Brooklyn’s licensed liquor establishments, which at that time numbered over 3000. By 1901 the machines had been redesigned so that draw poker could be played.
In the mid-1970s video poker was invented. By 1976 the first black and white video poker machines appeared. They were superseded eight months later with a colour version. Nowadays, video poker is one of the most popular casino games.


Types of video poker
There are a number of different games with slight variations in the rules. The most popular games are jacks or better, deuces wild and joker wild. Games can also be played where three hands at a time are played. For beginners, jacks or better is a simpler game to play. The returns for a royal flush on some machines are fixed, on others there is a progressive jackpot, which accumulates each time a game is played.

How to play Blackjack

The cards are shuffled. In order to play, players must make an initial bet by placing sufficient chips in the betting box. The player is dealt two cards face up. The dealer also receives two cards – one face up and one face down. The dealer’s card that is not revealed to the players is called the hole card.

Players judge their chances of beating the dealer with the cards they hold and the card shown in the dealer’s hand. The cards you have compared to the card in the dealer’s hand will determine what you do next. You have several options. You can stand (take no further cards); take more cards to try to improve your score (hit); split your cards into two hands by making an additional bet; or you can double your additional bet. With some online casinos there will be a time limit for you to make your decision. If you do not act within the time limit, it will be assumed that you want to stand.

You can take as many cards as you like to improve your score, but if your score exceeds 21, you lose and your cards will be cleared away. Your bet loses and will be removed. You still lose even if the dealer’s hand exceeds 21. A tie or standoff occurs only if both scores are equal and do not exceed 21. Once you are satisfied that you have sufficient cards to beat the dealer’s eventual score, you should ‘stand’ (take no more cards).

After the player’s hand has been dealt with, the dealer’s hand is played. There are rules that determine the dealer’s action. If his score is 16 or less, he must take a card. If his score goes above 21, he has lost and all winning bets are paid. Once he reaches 17 or over he must stand (he can’t take any more cards). If the player has beaten the dealer’s score, he is paid. If you tie with the dealer, your bet is a standoff (not lost). If your score is lower, you lose.


Depending on the initial value of the cards dealt, you have several options available to you. 

You may double your initial bet. Rules vary as to when you can double so always check first. Whether or not doubling your bet is a wise move depends on the dealer’s score.

After two cards have been dealt, you have. the options of splitting them into two separate hands. An additional bet equal to your initial bet can be made. If two aces are split into two hands, only one extra card can be taken. If you split two aces and then get a 10-value card – this is not blackjack as you can only have blackjack after two cards have been dealt. Instead, you have a score of 21.

Insurance is an additional bet you can make if the dealer’s first card is an ace. Here, you make a further bet equal to half your original stake. If the dealer gets blackjack, your original bet loses but your insurance bet is paid at odds of 2/1. If the dealer does not have blackjack, you lose the insurance bet, but your original bet is paid at even odds.
If you have blackjack and the dealer has an ace, you will be asked if you want to take insurance. When you take insurance, the outcome is the same whether the dealer has blackjack or not. Your net winnings are even money. Some casinos automatlcally pay you even money as soon as you take insurance. It is generally more advantageous for the player to not take insurance as there is a greater chance that the dealer will make another score and not get blackjack.

Odds paid
If both the dealer and the player have the same score, the bet is a standoff (not lost).
If a player wins with a score of 21 with his first two cards only (blackjack) the odds are 3/2.
If the player beats the dealer on any other score, the odds are 1/1.
Insurance pays 2/1.


Where to place bets
The table is marked with boxes where bets can be placed. These may be rectangular or round (see Figure 7.1). You can bet on as many boxes as you like, up to the table maximum. You can either play yourself or bet on other players’ hands. Chips must be placed in the correct position:
•    for single bets, chips should be placed in the box
•    for split bets, chips should be placed on the line of the box
•    for doubled bets, chips should be placed behind the original stake
•    for double split bets, chips should be placed behind original stakes on the line.

What is Blackjack?

Blackjack is a card game played with several decks, commonly four, six or eight. Standard 52-card decks are used. It is based on the game of 21 (pontoon). Rules may vary in different casinos, so always check them before you start playing. You play only against the dealer who plays for the casino. The other players’ hands do not affect your game. To win you need to beat the dealer’s hand up to a score not exceeding 21. It is played on a semi-circular layout. The software shuffles and deals the cards, pays out winning bets and collects the losing bets. The cards are usually shuffled after each game.

Told you it was a brief article! 🙂

Deciding which Horse to Bet on

Deciding which horse to bet on in a race is not easy. Many factors influence the outcome of horse races. These include things like the jockey, the weight carried, the condition of the ground and the distance of the race. This makes betting on horse racing both interesting and challenging. A gambler needs to use his skill to assess the likely winner and or placed horses from a field of between two and up to 40 runners.

Even after taking into account all the different factors some aspects of horse racing are unpredictable. No matter how carefully you have assessed a horse’s chances of winning, something can go wrong that will affect the outcome of a race. In national hunt races, horses can be brought down by others. Horses may slip on wet ground. The weights carried by the horse may be lost in the course of the race, causing the horse to be disqualified. Even the jockey’s actions may result in a horse being disqualified. Races are run at a fast pace with the jockey making split-second decisions. His actions can result in other horses being impeded, which may lead to disqualification. In his eagerness to make a horse win, he may use his whip more frequently than is allowed under the rules.

A great deal of the information that you need to consider when assessing a horse’s chance of winning is given by the race cards printed in newspapers and programmes. The format varies depending on the publication. To save space a lot of abbreviations are used. Take time to familiarize yourself with what all the abbreviations mean.
The analysis of all this information is very time consuming. In recent years computer programs have been developed to process this information. Using a computer can cut down on the work. There are many different programs on the market, all offering different features, so it is worth shopping around for the best deal.

There is now a wealth of information available on the internet. The amount of information is almost overwhelming. Lots of online racing magazines, horse racing websites and tipsters services now exist. Many provide up-to-date analysis of all the statistics like the performance of favourites, the influence of the draw, the top trainers, the top jockeys and pedigree information.

Spread Betting

Spread betting started about 25 years ago and was used as a way to speculate on the financial markets. Bets were placed on how much the stock exchange would go up or down on a certain day. This form of gambling has been adapted for betting on horse racing.

Instead of betting on individual horses winning or losing, it is betting on combinations of events like how the favourites will perform at a meeting, what the starting prices of all the winning horses will be and what the winning distances will be. The spread betting company will make a prediction about a particular event. You need to decide if their prediction is too high or too low. The more you’re right, the more you win and the more you’re wrong, the more you lose. Due to its connection with the financial markets, the terms buying and selling are used. Buying is betting higher and selling is betting lower.

It has a higher level of financial risk than traditional betting. With traditional betting you know beforehand how much you will lose if your bet loses. You simply lose the amount you stake. With spread betting it is possible to have huge losses. To restrict the amount you can lose, it is possible to place a stop order on a bet.


Spread betting on favourites
A spread betting company will give a favourites’ index at each meeting. This index is based on a Score given to favourites that are placed in a race. The scores given can vary but as a general guide a favourite is awarded 25 points for winning, 10 points for coming second, five points for third place and 0 points for finishing in any other position. If there are joint favourites, then the one with the lowest race card number is considered the favourite.

To place a bet, you need to decide whether to bet higher or lower than the predicted score. If, for example, the predicted score is 70 and you think the likely score is higher then you bet high (buy). If you think the predicted score will be lower then you bet low.

The payout is calculated on the basis of how much higher or lower the score is.

If you bet £2 high and the result is 85 then you win 15 times your stake: (85 – 70) X your stake = 10 X £2 = £30.

If you bet low and the result is 80 then you lose 10 times your stake: (80 – 70) X your stake = 10 X £2 = – £20.


Jockey performance index
This is a bet on how a jockey performs in a meeting. A jockey is awarded 25 points for winning a race, 10 points for coming second, five points for coming third and no points for any other position. The spread betting firm will quote an index for each jockey at the meeting. You need to decide if the result will be higher or lower than the predicted index.

At a race meeting a jockey is predicted as having a performance of 32-34 points. You can bet higher than 34 or lower than 32.
Suppose you bet £10 lower. If the jockey’s score is 25, you win £70: (32 – 25) X 10 = £70. If the jockey’s score is 80, you will lose £460: (80 – 34) X 10 = £460.


Starting prices (SPs) of the winners
This is a bet on the total of the starting prices of all the winners at a race meeting. A 4/1 winner is four points, 10/1 is 10 points up to a maximum of 50/1 or 50 points so a 100/1 winner will have 50 points.
The SP prediction may be 55-58. If you predict that the result will be higher, you bet high, if you think it will be lower then you bet low.


Match bets
This is a bet on the distance between two nominated horses in a race. The maximum makeup on for flat races is 12 lengths and 15 lengths for national hunt. A short head is 0.1 of a length, a head is 0.2 and a neck 0.3, half a length 0.5, three-quarters of a length 0.75.


Race index
This is a bet on an individual horse. Bets are placed on whether or not a horse’s index will be higher or lower than the prediction.


The number of points awarded will depend on how many runners are are in a race.

For races with over 12 runners:
50 points for first
30 points for second
20 points for third
10 points for fourth
0 points for any other position
Races with up to 12 runners:
50 points for first
25 points for second
10 points for third

A horse is predicted to get 13-16 points. You bet £1 higher at 16. Maximum win is £34; maximum risk is £16.

The horse finishes sixth so has no points. The difference between the price and the result is 16 – 0 = 16. Loss = £1 x 16 = £16.


Double race card numbers
This is a bet based on the total of the winners’ doubled race card number at a meeting. For example, if the race card number of the winners of a meeting were numbers 2, 5, 11, 7, 3, and 6, this totals 34. The result would be 2 x 34 = 68.

If the prediction had been 75-79 and you had bet £10 low (sell), the difference between the result and the prediction is 75 – 68 = 7.  Your wininngs would be £10 X 7 = £70.


Heavyweights index
Here the performance of the heavyweights is predicted.


Winning distances
Here the total winning margins for a meeting is predicted.

How Betting Exchange odds are shown

The odds are presented in a different way from bookmakers’ odds. As different people offer different odds there will be several prices shown for each horse. The odds are presented in the form of a table and displayed from a backer’s point of view. The table shows the value of bets that are currently unmatched for a particular price. There are odds displayed for the horses to win and to lose. The odds section of the table is divided into two halves – one half for back odds and the other half for lay odds. The back odds, for the horse to win, are typically listed on the left of the table and the lay odds for the horse to lose are on the right. The odds available are arranged in columns. The best odds are usually shown in a coloured or highlighted column.
An example of a betting screen for a betting exchange is shown below. The table is headed with the time and place of the race and is divided into two halves. The left side shows the back odds and the right side shows the lay odds. Next to the horses name are several different prices accompanied by an amount. These prices and amounts are arranged in columns. The best current odds are displayed in the column adjacent to the horse’s name and are highlighted. In this case, the closer the column is to the outside of the table, the worse the odds. The amount underneath each price is the current maximum that can be bet at those odds. It represents unmatched bets. The amount is the total of all the bets offered at that price. It can be the stakes from more than one person. For example, the 9.8 £54 could be one bet for £50 and one bet for £4.

The prices in the back section are the prices at which you can back a horses to win. The amount underneath is how much can currently be bet at that price. Once that amount has been reached, the figure to the left will take its place.

                     Back        14:30 Ascot       Lay
4.1      4.2      4.3          Lucky Chance     4.4      4.5      4.6
£2191  £1692  £1558                             £1931  £1050  £1249
9.8      10        10.5        Dobbin              11       11.5    13.5
£54      £497    £2                                  £266    £200    £8
17.5     18        18.5        Fast Filly           19.5     21       22
£43      £35      £249                              £10       £20     £2
15.5     16.5      17          Slow Coach        21       22        23
£155     £121    £8                                  £2       £66      £6

Back odds
In this example, the best price available for Dobbin to win is 10.5, the £2 underneath the 10.5 is the amount of unmatched stakes at that price. This means that someone is willing to offer odds of 10.5 for a stake of £2. The next best odds are 10 and it possible to bet up to £497 at this price. After this the next best odds are 9.8 with up to £54 being available to bet. From a backer’s point of view, the highest number is the best price. It represents the multiple of the stake that will be won by the backer if the horse wins.

To back £2 at odds of 10.5, you would click on the price. You will then be taken to a betting screen (the equivalent of a betting slip). The odds of 10.5 will be displayed and there will be a box for you to enter your stake. You enter £2. Your profit (£19) will be displayed. You will then need to confirm the bet in order to place it. On the screen displaying the odds, the price of 10.5 will then disappear and will be replaced by the next best odds of 10 £497. If you decided to bet a further £2 at odds of 10 after making your bet 10 £495 would now be displayed in the best odds column.

Suppose you want to stake £10 on Dobbin to win and wanted to take the best price on offer you would then bet £2 at odds of 10.5 and £8 at odds of 10.


Lay odds
When you lay a bet, you are acting like a traditional bookmaker. If the backer wins (the horse wins), you payout his winnings but if the backer loses (the horse loses) you win his stake.

Suppose there is 6.0 and £10 on the lay side. If you decide to lay at these odds, you will win £10 if the horse loses. However, like a bookmaker, if the horse wins, you will lose £50.

If you look at the bet in terms of traditional odds, 6 is odds of 5/1. As you are laying the bet, you are taking the place of the bookmaker, you are making the bet of 1/5. In terms of money, you lay £50 and the backer stakes £10. The bet from your point of view is £10/£50. You stand to win £10 but in order to win you must stake £50. If you win (i.e. the horse loses) you will get the backer’s stake of £10 and keep your stake of £50. If you lose (i.e. the horse wins), the backer will get your £50 stake and will keep his stake of £10.

From the previous table, the best price available for Dobbin to lose is 11 the £266 underneath the price is the amount of £266 of unmatched bets at a price of 11. The £266 represents bets that have been placed by backers that are currently unmatched. The next best odds are 11.5 and the maximum amount of money that is unmatched is £200. After this the next best odds are 13.5 With £8 being available to bet. From a layer’s point of view, the lowest number is the best price. It represents the multiple of the backers stake that will be lost by the layer if the horse wins. For example, by laying £266 at odds of 11, a layer will win £266 less commission if the horse loses. In order to win this he needs to stake £2660. If the horse wins the layer will lose his £2660 stake, which will be paid to the backers.

Betting on Foreign Racing

Depending on where you live you may or may not be able to bet on foreign racing. In the UK, it is possible to bet on racing all over the world. In the United States, you are restricted to betting only in the state in which you live (if online betting is legal there). With the innovation of satellite transmission of racing, it is becommg more common for coverage to be given for major foreign racing. Simulcasting allows bettors in another country to bet directly into the pools at a foreign racecourse. An example of this is betting on the Breeders’ Cup and the Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe, which allow British bettors to bet on the tote at the racecourse.
If you bet with British bookmakers on French racing you may have the choice of betting on the pari-mutuel (French tote) or with the bookmakers’ prices. It is not possible to predict which is better, but at least if you take a price you know in advance what your winnings will be.


Pari-mutuel dividends
Pari-mutuel is the name of the French horseracing tote. The dividends are quoted to a one Euro stake.

One major difference with the French system of betting is the coupling of horses. If horses from the same stable are running in the same race, then the same price for those horses will be given in the betting. The horses are said to be coupled. A bet on one horse from that stable is also a bet on anyone of the other horses from the same stable. Therefore, if horses A and B are coupled and a £1 win is placed on horse A, the bet will also win
if horse B wins.

If, however, you take the bookmaker’s price on a horse, your horses will not be coupled.


Online bookmakers accept bets at fixed odds on a huge range of events including horse racing, greyhound racing, sports and election results. The betting opportunities are similar to those offered by on-course and off-course bookmakers. The range of bets available include single, multiple, each way, forecast and tricast bets.

For horse racing at the bookmaker’s website, you can find details of the race cards, prices, ratings, naps, form and statistics. Live commentaries of the races are given. The services are offered in a number of languages and bets can be made in a choice of currencies. Minimum stakes vary but can be as low as 1 p. Maximum stakes and payouts vary from bookmaker to bookmaker so you should check the rules if you intend to make large bets. Many bookmakers also provide an online bet calculator so that you can easily work out your payout. Some bookmakers also give you the opportunity to see the odds as fractions or as decimals. This makes it easier to compare prices with betting exchanges. The bookmakers also provide price alerts that can be sent to you via email or mobile phone so that you can keep track of any changes.

Like a traditional bookmaker, there is a profit for the firm built into the prices of around 17 per cent.


How prices are determined
A bookmaker uses an expert called a handicapper to assess the chances of each runner in the race. The handicapper will consider a number of factors to determine the chances of each horse. Things like pedigree, recent performance, the jockey, weight carried and the condition of the ground will be taken into account. A book of prices is then made depending on the assessment. The runner that he thinks is most likely to win will have the lowest price and is called the favourite. Occasionally,  two runners are deemed to have an equal chance of winning. They will have the same price and be called joint favourites. If several, runners have the same lowest price, they are called co-favountes.

The prices of the horses in a race can vary enormously. Just because a horse has a large price it does not mean that it will not win. In 1990 Equinoctial won at Kelso at a price of 250/1 – the longest odds recorded in British horse racing.

The initial prices offered are called tissue prices. This is just a preliminary indication of the prices and they tend to be a conservative estimate of a horse’s chance of winning. Once bets have been made the prices are said to have been layed. This means a betting market has been made. The prices then change depending on how much money is bet. The prices do not show the chances that a horse has of winning. Instead, they reflect how much money has been bet on them. The horse attracting the greatest amount of money in bets will have the lowest price. The horse attracting the least amount of money will have the highest pnce. Horses with high pnces are called outsiders or rags.


When prices are quoted for a race, the odds for some outsiders may not be given. Instead, a bar price is shown. This means that all the horses not quoted in the betting are at a higher price than that given in the bar. For example, in a 10-runner race, prices may be given for seven of the runners and a bar price of 25/1. This means that the other three horses all have a price of greater than 25/1. If rou want to place a bet on one of the unquoted horses, you will need to agree a price with the bookmaker.

The History of Poker

Online card room poker, also referred to as internet poker, is playing poker via a computer connection over the internet. Internet poker firms supply computer software via their websites to connect poker players from all over the world so that they compete against one another in a game. The games can be played 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the privacy of the players’ own homes.

All types of poker can be played. Online poker rooms offer a variety of games including Texas hold ’em, five-card draw, seven-card stud and Omaha. You can play in live games for money or in free games for fun. There are games at all stake levels starting from £0.01 to no-limit games where you can bet as much as you like. You can also watch games in progress. A wide choice of tournaments is also offered.

For real money games, a rake of typically 5 per cent is charged for the use of the poker room services. The rake is deducted from the winning pot. The rake charged varies with different poker sites. Some offer reduced rates for regular customers. Others may take no rake if, for example, you fold before the flop on Texas hold ’em. Before we look any further at online poker rooms I think it is a good idea if we examine the origins of poker.


The history of poker

The game of poker first appeared in New Orleans some time during the 18th century. It was particularly popular among the French settlers. The origins of the game are not documented, but it probably evolved from a combination of other card or dice games.

There are several European card games with similarities to poker. These include the French game of pogue, the German game of Pochen, the English game of brag and the Italian game of primero. None of these games is a direct descendant of poker but they have most likely had an influence on it. The term flush, for example, comes from primero, which dates from the 16th century. In primero, four cards of the same suit was called a flux, leading to the term flush, which is used in poker to denote a hand of the same suit. The name for poker was probably derived from the French game pogue.

A game that has the greatest similarity to poker is the Persian game of as nas, which dates from the 16th century. It was played with a deck of 25 cards with five suits. Each player would initially be dealt two cards. A round of betting would follow. A further two cards were dealt, followed by another round of betting. A fifth card would be dealt, followed by a third round of betting. Hands were ranked in a similar way to poker. The highest ranking hand was five of the same suit (equivalent to a flush in poker) followed by five of a kind. A full house of three of a kind with a pair also features in the ranking. As well as betting the game also allowed players to bluff.

It is also possible that poker was adapted from dice games. Poker is based on the ranking of hands. Dice games with the same principle, the ranking of throws, have been played for at least 2000 years. A Roman dice game called tali is based on the ranking of throws where three of a kind beats a pair, much like poker.

The first written account of poker comes from the diary of Joseph Crowell, an English actor, who was touring America in 1829. He described it as a game where players each received five cards and made bets. The highest combination of cards won.

In 1834, in his book An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling, Jonathan H. Green gave an account of what he called ‘the cheating game’. He saw it being played while on the Mississippi River travelling on a steamboat heading for New Orleans. A deck of 20 cards was used with each player receiving a hand of five. The player with the highest ranking hand would win. The hands were ranked as pairs, three of a kind and four of kind. This early form of poker featured no draws. The players simply received five cards face down and would bet on the cards received.

Along the way, the 20-card deck was replaced by a 32-card deck and, by 1833, a 52-card deck had been introduced. Brief mentions of poker were made in Hoyles’ Games in 1850 where it was described as a game for 10 players where each player received five cards face down.

New Orleans had numerous gambling establishments where poker was played including the Crescent City House, a luxury casino, which was opened by John Davis in 1827. As America was settled, poker spread and was played on boats that travelled along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Professional gamblers known as sharps made their living by playing cards with river boat passengers and relieving them of their money. Cheating was rife.

In the USA, poker spread to the west with settlers who travelled on wagon trains. When gold was discovered in California in 1848, gambling flourished in the prospecting camps. San Francisco, which became a huge tented city, had over 1000 gamblmg houses where gold was the currency. Initially, games like roulette were most popular but gradually card games like poker caught on.

The game spread rapidly during the Civil War (1861-65) . Soldiers would play poker to pass the time. Lack of money resulted in their fashioning gaming chips out of flattened bullets and pieces of bone. The soldiers would usually discard their playing cards before battle as playing cards were considered to be ‘instruments of the devil’ and the soldiers did not want to die carrying them. It was during the Civil War that stud poker first emerged.

Many variations of the game started to appear that could be broadly divided into two types: draw poker and stud poker. In draw poker, all the cards are dealt face down and seen only by the player of the hand. Players are then allowed to exchange cards to improve their hand. In stud poker, some of the cards are dealt  face up on the table and players make a hand by combining their cards and those on the table. New rankings of hands and betting methods were also incorporated. In the 1867 edition of Hoyles’ Games, a straight and a straight flush and an ante had been incorporated into the game. By 1875 jackpot poker and the use of a joker as a wildcard had been mentioned.

Poker players made a living travelling from town to town. Virtually every saloon of the Old West had a poker table where a buckhorn knife would be passed around the table to denote the dealer. This led to the phrase ‘passing the buck’. Later, a silver dollar was used, which gave rise to the slang term of a buck for a dollar. Disputes over the game were often settled by gun. One famous poker player from this time was Doc Holliday (1851-87) who on several occasions got into a gunfight over poker.

Poker arrived in England in 1872. It was introduced by Robert C. Schenk, the American ambassador to England. He had been invited to a party at a country house in Somerset where he had taught his fellow guests how to play the game. The hostess persuaded him to write down the rules which were then published. The game was popular among members of the aristocracy and became know as Schenk poker. Queen Victoria is known to have played the game as a diversion after the death of her husband, Prince Albert.

In 1911 legislation was passed in the United States that prohibited stud poker as it was concluded that it was a game of luck. However, a ruling was also passed that draw poker was a game of skill and therefore not illegal. This led to the decline of stud poker and in new draw games being invented.

Prohibition in the 1920s was responsible for poker becoming a home-based game. With the closure of drinking and gaming establishments, private games were organized and became part of American culture. The traditional venue became the kitchen table where family and friends would gather to play. The playing of private games resulted in many variations appearing, with each household inventing its own rules. New rankings of hands, incorporation of one or more wildcards and different ways of organizing the betting appeared.

When gambling was legalized in Nevada in the 1930s, draw poker was introduced to Las Vegas casinos. In 1970 Benny Binion, owner of the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas, decided to hold a poker tournament so that the best players in the world could compete against one another. The tournament, called the World Series of Poker, has become an annual event with players from around the globe competing. The game chosen for the championship was Texas hold ’em – a form of stud poker. This resulted in Texas hold ’em becoming one of the most widely played games.

With the innovation of the internet, online poker came into being. Computer technology allows players from all over the world to compete against one another from the comfort of their own homes. Gaming sites offer traditional poker, video poker and Caribbean stud poker. The first online poker room was introduced by Planet Poker in 1998. One year later, Paradise Poker arrived and became the industry leader. Its prominent position was overtaken by Party Poker owned by PartyGaming. It is now the world’s largest poker room with over 50 per cent of the online poker market. The site was launched in 2001. It is licensed and regulated by the government of Gibraltar. There are over 70,000 simultaneous players and 8000 tables during peak traffic time each day. The site annually hosts the PartyPoker.com Million, an offline tournament with over $7 million in prizes.

The popularity of online poker is growing year on year. In 2003 there were an estimated 600,000 people playing online. Now it is estimated that over 1.2 million people play internet poker.

Understanding the Casino Odds

For a gambler, the term ‘odds’ has two different meamngs, depending on the context in which it is used.


Chances of winning or losing
Before making a bet you will want to know your chances of winning or losing. In this context the ‘odds’ is a comparison of the chances of winning and losing and is expressed as a ratio. For example, 2 to 1. A shorter way of writing the odds is to put a slash between the two numbers, so 2 to 1 becomes 2/1.
Consider the tossing of a coin. There are two possible outcomes – the coin could land on heads or, just as easily, on tails. Suppose two people, we’ll call them A and B, decided to bet on the tossing of a coin. A predicts it will land on heads and B thinks it will land on tails. They each bet £10 and agree that the person predicting the outcome wins the money.

The coin lands on heads so A wins a total of £20 (£10 from B and the £10 he staked) and B loses £10. A has made a £10 profit and B has made a £10 loss. This is gambling in its simplest form. The amount of money that each player risked was £10. This is called the stake. For A there was one chance that he would lose and one chance that he would win. As a ratio this is 1/1 or odds of one to one. Where the odds are 1/1, it is called evens or even money.

This can be applied to any game to find the chances of winning. Suppose A and B were to bet on the throwing of a six-sided die. Here, there are six possible outcomes. Numbers 1,2,3,4,5 or 6 could be thrown. If A were to bet on throwing a 6, he would have five chances of losing and only one chance of winning (if he threw a 1,2,3,4 or 5 he would lose). The odds against him winning would be 5/1 (five to one).

To calculate the odds in any game, you need to work out how many chances you have of winning and how many of losing.


Winnings compared to stakes
The term ‘odds’ is also applied to the ratio of winnings compared to stakes. In the coin tossing example, A had the chance of winning £10 for a £10 stake. Expressed as a ratio this is 10/10 or 1/1 (even money). Here, the odds against winning are the same as the odds paid. In other words, the true mathematical odds are being paid.

The odds are quoted as two numbers, for example 2 to 1 and 8 to 1. The number on the left of the odds is the amount won if the number on the right is staked. So, with odds of 2 to 1 if one chip is staked two chips will be won. The player also keeps the stake so in total three chips will be won. For odds of 3 to 2 if 1 chip is staked one and a half chips will be won and the piayer keeps the stake. Total winnings are two and a half chips. For a five-chip bet on odds of 2 to 1, you simply multiply the odds by 5; so 2 to 1 becomes 10 to 5. For a five-chip bet 10 chips are won and the player keeps the stake giving total winnings of 15 chips.