Games of Chance Explained
Anyone who is interested in playing casino games needs to first understand that they truly are games of chance. You should also be aware of exactly how this relates to your odds of winning. It's the opposite of betting on skill games where your ability at the game effects whether you win or lose such as in sports betting where you can use your knowledge of the game to make accurate predictions. With games of chance, you have no control over whether you win or lose and accurately predicting outcomes is essentially impossible.
It's for this reason that betting on games of chance is considered to be gambling in the purest sense of the word. Results of these games are random and out of your control, which basically means you are reliant on luck if you're going to win. This is a somewhat simplistic view of things, but it still holds true. We explain why in this article, by looking at the random nature of certain games of chance and the role that luck plays throughout them.
The Random Nature of Games of Chance
A game is only considered a game of chance when its outcome is determined primarily by a random event. As all casino games are games of chance, they must all have random outcomes. This is actually the reason why casino games are so effective; the outcomes are completely random and therefore cannot be influenced or predicted with any accuracy.
Let's take a look at roulette for example. In this game you bet on which number will be spun next, with a choice of 37 or 38 different numbers (depending on which version of the game is being played). The number for each round is determined by dropping a small ball into a spinning roulette wheel. The wheel has a compartment for each number, and the ball will fall into one of those compartments just as the wheel slows down. Which compartment the ball falls into is completely random, simply due to the laws of physics, giving each number an equal chance of being spun.
Other games are randomized in different ways. In card games, the outcome is unpredictable because cards are dealt from a deck which has been shuffled. Which cards come out, and the order in which they come up, cannot be predicted or influenced. Therefore, what happens in a card game is truly random. In dice games, results are determined by the roll of a single die or multiple dice. The outcome of a roll of a die is random, so the results of these games also are random. In slot games, the combination of symbols spun is determined by a random number generator otherwise known as an RNG.
You don't need to understand exactly how or why casino games are random in order to enjoy playing them. It's important that you recognize they are random though, because this is essentially what makes them a form of gambling. Because you cannot predict or control the outcome of the games, luck plays a major role in determining whether or not you win or lose.
Games of Chance & The Luck Factor
Ultimately, you need to have luck on your side in order to win these games of chance. As we've just discussed, there's absolutely no way you can accurately predict what the outcome will be due to the random nature of these games. You have no control over the outcome either. Therefore, it's important to understand that whenever you place a bet in a casino, you are essentially just hoping to get lucky.
Imagine you are playing roulette, for example, and decide to place a bet on the number 16. The number 16 is no more or less likely to come up next than any other number, regardless of what numbers have been spun previously. It's a simple matter of luck if your guess ends up being right or wrong. If you get lucky, and number 16 does indeed come up, then you'll get a decent win. However, if luck isn't on your side, and one of the other numbers comes up, then you'll lose your initial bet.
The basic principle is the same regardless of what game you're playing. If you're playing a card game, you'll need luck to get the right cards. If you're playing a dice game, you'll need luck to see the right numbers rolled. If you are playing a slot game, you'll need luck to see the reels land on a winning combination of symbols.
Games of Chance & The Skill Factor
Although all casino games are games of chance, it's important to note that not all casino games are based entirely on luck. There are games where your actions will have some impact on the results. This doesn't mean that you can completely control the outcome or accurately predict what will happen, because there are still elements of randomness that prevent this. However, it does mean you have the opportunity to positively affect your overall chances of winning these games.
Blackjack is perhaps the best example of this. You have to make choices about how to play your hands, and in any given situation there's a mathematically correct decision to make. Making the correct decision doesn't mean you will necessarily win, but it will greatly improve your chances of doing so. If you consistently make the right decisions, you'll give yourself the very best opportunity for a win. The opposite is true if you consistently make the wrong decisions.
There are other casino games where your decisions matter too. Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Three Card Poker, and Video Poker are all games where you can directly improve your chances of winning. Again, it's basically just a case of making the right decisions at the right times.
Of course, you can still get lucky and win without making good decisions. You can also get unlucky and lose after making informed decisions. The fact is that the right decisions will give you a better chance of winning, which is why various games seem to require some degree of skill.
Why Casinos Don't Need Luck
We can all agree that casino games are completely random and unpredictable, so then it would be logical to assume that you will always have the same chance of winning as you do of losing. This isn't the case though. The random nature of the games means that you always have a chance of winning any individual bet you make. You can possibly win more than you lose over any given period of time, even though the odds are actually against you.
Every single casino game has a built in advantage for the casino which puts the odds in their favor. Although they don't win every bet, the laws of probability show that overtime they will always make a profit. This advantage is known as the house edge, and we explain more about what this is and how it works in the next article in our beginner's guide.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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