Casino gambling is all about math. This is a simple fact that many ‘recreational players’ ignore to their detriment. The thinking is that the ‘math of gambling’ is strictly for ‘sharp’ advantage players and ‘wise guys’. It is true that you need a very strong grasp of the math of gambling if you’re looking to become an expert at any casino game, sports betting, horse racing or poker. What isn’t true is that the math of gambling has no concern for the ‘average Joe’.

In fact, those of us who right gambling strategy articles ignore a simple reality about the ‘recreational bettor’–they don’t like to lose money any more than those who consider ourselves expert. The stereotype is that the ‘recreational player’ is just happy to be in the casino, watching the lights, getting free drinks, etc. He might be more ‘entertained’ by the ‘show’ than experts but that doesn’t negate the fact that winning money is significantly more fun than losing money. This is true whether you’re a sports betting expert or a nickel slots player.


This is why even novice players should learn at the very least the basics of how their favorite games work. This includes not only the rules of the game and the most effective strategies but also the math and statistical concepts that govern it. In fact, you can’t have one without the other—a strategy that pays no attention to the mathematical foundation of a game is just a superstition.

Games like video poker, keno and slots are often the ones that get the less critical attention from newcomers. Their thinking is that ‘it’s all luck’ and that if fortune smiles on them they’ll walk home with more money in their pocket than they started with. If lady luck is a fickle mistress, they’ll walk home with empty pockets.

Serious gamblers emphasize that there is ‘no such thing as luck’. There is, however, such a thing as ‘probability’. What neophytes mistake as the function of ‘good luck’ or ‘bad luck’ is in reality just the natural variances of probability. A sidebar here—the more you can learn about probability theory the better for your gambling success. If you’re playing video poker and are dealt four cards to a royal flush but don’t complete the hand that isn’t ‘bad luck’–you had a 1 in 47 chance to get the card you need. Luck had nothing to do with it. Probability did.


There may be no individual topic within gambling theory that generates a greater amount of misconceptions and flat out ‘wrong thinking’ than randomness. If a losing bettor doesn’t win a jackpot or complete a winning hand it’s invariably explained away by any number of conspiracy theories—the games are ‘fixed’, the slot club card lets a casino know how much you’ve already won, the machine was ‘hot’, the coins were ‘cold’, someone in the back office ‘flipped a switch’, so on and so forth.

None of these theories are true, nor are any of the millions of similar (and some much more ridiculous) conspiracy theories. It’s all random. Randomness is built into the game and randomness doesn’t care how much you’ve won that month or whether or not you’re ‘due’. In fact, most video keno players don’t realize just how random the game is.

At the heart of any gambling machine—video poker, slots, video lottery terminals, video keno, ‘instant racing’, etc—is a device known as a random number generator. This is a computer chip that has only one function—to generate random numbers and convey them to the machine where they can be extrapolated into results. One part of the process has no interest or influence over what the other part is doing. The RNG generates the random number, then other parts of the game’s ‘brain’ interprets them based on the rules.

You might be amazed at just how far the RNG goes to deliver numbers that are completely random. Most people think that when you put in your coins to play video keno the machine alerts the RNG to spit out numbers. That’s not the case. The RNG is always generating random numbers. It generates a new set of random numbers multiple times per second. When the player activates the game, the RNG simply reports the ‘current’ set of random numbers. Then it generates a new set of random numbers over and over again until the process is repeated.

Once you understand exactly how the random number generation system works it quickly invalidates many theories and superstitions regarding gambling. Picking a certain machine, using a slot card or carrying a lucky rabbit’s foot might make you feel better but it has nothing to do with whether you win or lose.