To be a successful gambler, you must understand the intersection of statistics, probability, and the odds. In simple terms, that means you need to understand how likely something is to happen (statistics), how likely that it can happen to you (probability), and what you’re going to get out of it, if it does happen (odds). With a grasp of these concepts, you’re ready to tackle the casino with realistic expectations, and you can understand why some games should be avoided.

The best example to start with is the coin flip. You probably know that heads and tails each have a 50-50shot at turning up. As I say in the previous section,

you can communicate the probability of the flip in terms of odds. In the case of a two-sided coin, your odds of flipping heads are 1 to 1. In other words, with

two possible events (outcomes), you have one chance to fail and one chance to succeed. Clear as mud? Here’s another example. Consider the roll of a sixsided

die. What are the odds that you’ll roll a 3? The ratio is 1in 6, so the odds are 5 to 1.

Odds are, you’ll hear the word odds used in other contexts. For example, the amount of money a bet pays compared to the initial bet are sometimes called odds too. But don’t confuse payout odds with true odds. True odds refer to the actual chance that a specific occurrence will happen, which is usually different from the casino payout odds.