Scientific developments in Gambling

Science of Gambling

This page of Arst.ch contains a rundown of some of the most important scientific developments the gambling sector has seen over the years, from the advent of rudimentary gambling ideas and theories to advances in betting strategies.

Ever since people have been playing games of chance where money or possessions are used as wagers, people have been seeking out ways to maximize their chances of winning. In fact, the concept of gambling games dates all the way back to 2,300 BC, with archaeologists discovering basic ancient Chinese tiles and boards that have been linked to games of chance. Around 1,000 ADC, the first playing cards set was created, while the first casinos started to appear around the start of the 19th century, and games such as slots, blackjack, poker and roulette have become popular ever since. It has not been until the last 20 years or so that online gambling has become popular due to easier access to the internet and faster connections speeds.

It’s safe to say that today, with more options in terms of the variety of casinos online, gambling around the world has never been more popular.  And, as a result, people look to adopt new betting strategies, theories and ideas (based on scientific or mathematical theories) to improve their chances of winning – or even ‘beat the casino’ (which we all know is virtually impossible).

Roulette and ‘the martingale’

One of the most infamous betting strategies in which players, casino owners and mathematicians have discussed as a way of ‘beating the casino’ is called ‘the martingale’. Devised around the time that the roulette wheel first started to appear in French casinos in the 18th century, this betting strategy is simple and easy.

A player would make a bet on either red or black – the actual choice of the bet doesn’t matter, as long as the odds of winning are even or (or very close to even). If the player’s bet was right, they would double their money. If their bet lost the first time the roulette wheel spins, he or she would simply double their initial bet. Same for the second and third times etc. This process of doubling up would be repeated until eventually the player’s bet is correct, meaning that, in theory, the player would eventually recuperate all of their previous losses, plus double their initial bet, leaving them ‘up’ in terms of winnings.

Here’s the problem: after a certain amount of wrong guesses – the player would run out of money. For example, an initial $50 bet quickly turns into $20,000 with 10 wrong bets in a row (unlikely, but possible).

The point is, the martingale is not fool-proof – and goes to prove that the casino will win every time (eventually).

While it may be true that the casino will never lose money on its games in the long run – and there is no way of actually ‘beating’ the casino, there are scientifically-driven strategies one can adopt that improves the chances of walking away with a profit.

For example, seasoned blackjack players will make various different decisions (as to when to hit, stand, double-down etc.) based on their mathematical understanding of the potential value of the cards within the decks in circulation at any one time, while poker stars often play through whole tournaments by calculating the odds of winning and losing each hand.

Whereas in machine and computer-driven games like slots and roulette the science and maths behind formulating a winning strategy is relatively weak, games where knowing the exact odds of each outcome – which mostly include card games like blackjack, poker and baccarat – are increasingly starting to rely on scientific and even technology to favour the player.

For example, specifically designed software simulations have been designed to calculate the odds of each card being drawn in a game of blackjack and poker (providing that you know how many cards are in circulation), giving players with these mathematical insights a huge upper-hand over their opponents.

These involve computer generated algorithms and huge databases of every possible outcome which helps to project potential win/lose rates.

The one takeaway from this article is that casinos always have the upper hand as their games are rigged in their favour (and they don’t try to hide this fact). The best example of a casino game blatantly gaining the upper hand over the player is the inclusion of the ‘zero’ green pocket in games of roulette or even the ‘double-zero’ pocket in American-style roulette which gives the house an even better advantage.

However, player-vs-player games do have the potential to use scientific and mathematical theories to gain an advantage over opponents; the game of poker, in particular, is certainly not all down to luck. In this case, the casino makes their profit from simply hosting the games, with players required to pay a small fee for their place at the table or entrance fee for a tournament.