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Hundred percent gambling - what is it?

“Hundred percent gambling” is simply accepting only those bets whose payoffs match, or exceed, the true odds of the bet.

Find a roulette table that offers you a 36 to 1 payoff on winning bets, as opposed to the usual 35 to 1, and you have a hundred percent game. You will, on average, lose 36 bets for every one bet you win, and that one winning bet, at thirty six to one, will cover your losses, leaving you with an overall loss of zero, and a return of one hundred percent of the money you invested - $36 won for every $36 lost.

Let's take a look at a couple of examples of other such bets that exist in all casinos, land-based and online.

“Taking odds” in Craps

After the initial bets are placed on the table, assuming the player doesn't win or lose outright with a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12, he can wager on a repeat of his number (called the “point”), on subsequent rolls of the dice, before a 7 combination is rolled. The six possible “point” numbers are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. This wager on a repeat of the number is called “taking odds”, because the payoff on the bet matches the true odds of the bet.

The probability of each combination is listed in the table below:


...and here are the payoffs for the six combinations:

4 or 102:1
5 or 93:2
6 or 86:5

The chances of rolling a 7 are 6/36, which is exactly double the chances of rolling a 4 -3/36. Looking at the above table, you can see that the payoff on a 4 combination is 2:1.

Since these are the true odds of the bet, 7 having two times the probability of the 4, this is fair wager with no house edge.
Just to check, let's run those figures through the “expected value” formula on the mathematical expectation page:

(2 × 3/36) + (-1 × 6/36) = 0

The expectation is 0, or 100% return.

The same is true of all the other odds bets.

The video poker “double up”

Video poker machines, both on land and online, offer the option of “doubling up” on a winning hand, with wins paid at even money.

The machine deals one card at random, and the player must then select one of the other four unseen cards. If the chosen card is higher, the double-up bet wins.

The table below lists the card ranks along with the number of chances that each has of winning and losing:


If you draw a 2, the lowest card, you have no way of winning. Draw an ace on the other hand, and you can't lose.

Adding up both “win” and “lose” columns gives a total of 78; as such, over the course of drawing all 13 ranks, you have 78 ways to win and the same number of ways to lose, giving us true odds of 78:78, or 1:1.

Since the even-money payoff matches the true odds, this is another “fair” wager with no house edge.

The blackjack “double down”

The blackjack “double down” bet is unique in the casino in as much as it actually favours the player.

The player looks at his two cards and the dealer's one exposed card, and takes a decision as to whether or not to double his initial wager and accept just one more card.

As with all blackjack wagers - apart from the natural blackjack paying 3:2 and “insurance” paying 2:1 - the double-down bet pays even money. However, the true odds of the bet always favour the player, on average by approximately 3:2, giving the player the spectacular return of around 120% on his double-down wagers.

There is one big caveat to these three bets: each one requires a preceding wager to enable the subsequent no house edge bet to take place, and that initial wager almost always does have a house edge - casinos offer few free lunches.

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