calculate odds

Winning a game, especially one with a huge prize, is the dream of every player. Many people ask themselves how they can win these big games. When you win games such as the lottery, you know you will not have to worry about debts and other financial burdens. Finally, you have the luxury of buying whatever you have been longing for or you can travel around the world. In short, winning a huge prize is life-changing.

What most people don’t know is that winning most of these games is all about chances. Look at the lottery, poker, monopoly and any other game and you will discover that there are chances of winning and losing. Understanding a game, specifically the odds of winning and losing, is the first step towards using math to enhance your chances of winning. Various games have different ways in which you can win using better math.

1. Poker

poker winsPoker is a game that relies on your skills and your capacity to read your opponent to get an advantage in each hand that you play. Math is important as you need to always calculate both your odds of winning the hand and the odds of your opponent. Although math is important in this game, it doesn’t mean that those who don’t use it don’t win. However, a sound knowledge of the odds comes as an advantage and can enhance your chances of winning.

Application of math in poker

Mathematics can be applied in various situations when playing poker. However, they are more critical when one is on a draw like a flush or a straight draw. For instance, when your opponent makes a bet when you are on a draw, you have to decide whether you should use the next card or allow the opponent to take the pot. In such a situation, the person with good knowledge of math will decide accordingly, while the one without the knowledge will be unsure of the decision to make.

The use of math in poker enables a player to correctly work out the pot odds they have on the hand. Pot odds consider the total amount your opponent has bet on the pot along with the likelihood of completing your draw, which helps you to decide whether you need to call or fold.

When playing poker, you may also have to consider using math in a situation such as expected value. For instance, when your opponent bets, you need to know what to do. Math can be of great benefit, especially when you are unsure whether he or she has a better hand than you.

When you find yourself in such a situation, you have to determine whether the opponent is just bluffing and indeed has a worse card than you. If you establish that the opponent bluffs once for every 3 times he or she has the best hand on the river, this implies that there’s a 1-in- 4 chance that you have a better hand than him or her. Consequently, there’s a 3-in-4 chance that you don’t have the best hand. Therefore, whenever you lose three times you win once (3-to-1). Now, you have to calculate how much you gain or lose whenever you call. For instance, if you discover you gain more than you lose when you call, calling all the time will enable you to make money in the long run.

When using mathematics in poker, it is important to note that the decisions have no impact on your winning in the short term. Working out the odds and making the correct call does not mean you will always win the hand. Also, losing a hand is not an indicator that you made the wrong choice. However, making the right decision consistently is beneficial in the long run. You should not let the short-term results stop you from making the correct plays.

Incorporating math in poker is a challenging skill to learn. However, you should keep practicing as it is critical if you want to become a winning poker player in the future. After practicing, you will get used to these calculations and you will have no difficulty when using math.

2. Lottery

lottery winnerLottery is a game known for rewarding the winners with huge prizes. However, there are certain things you need to know before thinking of using math to enhance the chances of winning even sooner. The lottery is a purely random game. This means the game is unpredictable and takes a lot of patience. The chances of winning the U.S. Powerball grand prize, for instance, are 1-to-292 million. Others like Mega Millions have odds of one-to-302.5 million. Given the low chances of winning the lottery, it is advisable to only play it for fun.

Although it is very challenging to predict a lottery winner, there are ways in which you can enhance your chances of winning. The calculation methods available for increasing your chances of winning in a lottery differ from one lottery to another.

Consider the odds

When you want to win a jackpot, you have to consider the odds on the various lottery games. However, it is advisable to be going for a jackpot with better odds, irrespective of the value of the prize. That is the easiest way of enhancing your winning chances. Although the prize of a given jackpot may be small compared to others, it is still large enough to change your life in a big way.

How to identify better odds

Establishing the lottery with better odds is not very challenging. The first thing you should consider is the number field. Lotteries with lesser number fields have better odds. For instance, a lottery with 42 balls has better odds than one with 49.

Second, you should also consider the pick size. Lotteries with lesser pick size have better odds. For example, it is better to play a 5-number game than a 6-or-more-number game. By considering the two factors, you can, therefore, establish games with better odds. For instance, you have higher chances of winning when playing a 5/42 game than when playing a 6/42 game.

The extra ball

You should always consider playing a game with fewer numbers. However, it is important to consider the extra ball as it influences your chances of winning. Numerous games use different names for the ball. The U.S. Powerball refers to it as the “Powerball” while Euro Million calls it “Lucky Star.” What matters, however, is the number of balls picked and where they are drawn from. You may have a competition that draws two numbers from the same drum which is favorable. Others may pick the extra ball from a different drum making it harder for you to win.

How to compute the odds

The odds are calculated by first establishing the number of possible combinations. The best formula to use is the binomial coefficient as explained below.

nCr = n! / r! * (n – r)!


n = Size of the number field
r = pick size

Using the formula, the total possible combinations in a 6/42 lotto are

n = 42
r = 6

42C6 = 5,245,786

Determining the odds involves dividing the number of ways to lose by the number of ways to win. Using this formula, the odds of winning a 6/42 lotto are

The odds in favor of winning = 1/ (5,245,786-1) which 1 is to 5,245,785

Your chances of winning a prize in any lottery increase with the number of tickets you buy. This is because an introduction of an extra ticket doubles your opportunity of choosing the winning lotto numbers. As such, the more the tickets you buy, the higher your chances of winning. However, you may have higher chances of winning but still fail to win. So, it is advisable to only spend on tickets the amount you are willing to lose.

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Thomas McCoy was born in Bethesda, Maryland and studied finance at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington D.C. before heading to New York and a job as a forex trader on Wall Street. Successful enough to launch his own, online forex trading platform, Thomas has long had a keen interest in the places where the worlds of finance and technology meet. As a prolific blogger, Thomas considers himself an expert on cryptocurrencies, casino asset restructuring, and emerging technologies set to change the way people do business.