Optimal Betting

In any casino game the ongoing quandary one is faced with is exactly how much to bet. If you’re not feeling too lucky, you may want to bet low in order to minimize your losses, or if you feel like it’s your lucky day you may want to bet high so that you maximize your wins if you get that winning hand, combination, roll or spin. Additionally, some slot machines only pay out the jackpot if you have played max bet. The optimum bet amount lies somewhere between minimum bet and maximum bet and varies according to available funds, the type of game and the conditions of the particular game. This is where a basic knowledge of the mathematics of gambling, including the theory of probability, can be useful.

The theory of probability deals with the likelihood that any particular event has of occurring, such as drawing a particular hand from a deck of cards or rolling a particular value on a dice, and an understanding of probability is useful when determining the optimum bet for a particular game.

Systems used for placing optimum bets

There are a number of systems that have been developed to aid gamblers in their quest for minimum losses and maximum wins. Optimum betting varies greatly according to a number of variables, but the following systems and strategies can be used in various circumstances to afford gamblers the best possible scenarios:

Fixed stakes – betting the same amount on each bet, regardless of odds;

Fixed profits – changing the bet amount according to the odds for that particular bet, so as to attain the same profit figure in the event of a win;

Due-column betting – a variant of the fixed profits strategy, which also takes losses into account;

Card counting – in games like Blackjack it’s a good strategy to take note of the ratio of ten values to all other values; one should increases one’s bet amount when this ratio is high, since the probability of a win increases;

Pot odds and true odds – in Poker, pot odds refers to the relationship between the size of the pot and the size of a bet, while true odds pertains to the chance of completing a winning hand taking into account the cards that could still be dealt;

The Kelly system – a mathematically complex system of determining the optimum amount for a particular bet based on your total bankroll – theoretically, when using the Kelly system, your funds will never be completely depleted;

The Martingale system – This system involves placing a high enough bet each time you play so that, if you win, you will recover the losses from previous bets. This system can bankrupt you quickly if you’re unfortunate enough to have a long losing streak, since theoretically it requires infinite capital.

Learn more about the Mathematics of Gambling or have a quick read through our Mathematics of Gambling glossary.