Does the House Always Win?

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Does the House Always Win?

It could be hard to imagine how the house can always win when there are so many people angling to beat them. Yet it’s true, the house always wins. How do they do it? Quite frankly, it’s because they design games that ensure they do.

It all comes down to statistics. The reason people can win money in casinos, often times a lot of money, yet the house still wins, can be explained with a simple flip of a coin. Coins have two sides with a 50/50 chance of landing on either side every time. But that still means that you could flip the coin 10 times and have it land on heads every time. It just happened to work out that way. But it doesn’t mean that the 11th flip is more likely to be tails, just because the previous 10 were heads — it’s 50/50 odds every time. Players can win money in the short term in the same way you could happen to flip 10 heads in a row, however unlikely that is.

Now, back to casinos designing games to ensure they win. Let’s use this simple coin flip example one more time and imagine a (albeit very boring) casino game called Flip a Coin. The game is simple: you have to call tails even though the casino has weighed the coin ever so slightly so that there’s a 51% chance the coin will land on heads every single flip. Of course, no one would play this game unless it had an extremely high payout, but the principle is this: In the short run, yes, a player could get on a lucky streak and get a handful of tails in a row and make some money, but over the course of a day, a week, a month, etc, that 51% chance of the coin landing on heads will ensure the house wins and the casino makes money.

So where do these casino-designed odds exist in other games? In Roulette, they exist in the 0 and 00 pockets. These two pockets are not paid out on even though they exist, and they ensure, ever so slightly, that the house will ultimately win. Take Blackjack too — the simple fact that the player has to play their hand before the dealer is an example of house odds. If the player and dealer both go over 21, the house still wins because the player busted first.

So why do people still gamble if they know the house will always win? Well, quite frankly, most people don’t care. Most people are in casinos for the simple fun of it. They see it as paying for entertainment, the same way you would pay for a movie, rather than trying to win money. For the players that are trying to make money — they can and do all the time. Even though the house always wins, there are still tons of player strategies that consistently win people money in a number of games. These strategies aren’t beating the house in the long run, but they can be effective for short-term play. And lastly, it’s the fun, the excitement, the anticipation that you could be on the verge of a huge payday. Everyone plays for the thrill of the game. But the fact remains: the house always wins.

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

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