Life as a Gamble: The Odds of Winning

Culture, Sport

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Pascal once tried to prove the existence of God through the use of mathematics in term of a wager, a bet and the odds against it in his famed book “Pensees“. Not to get philosophical and get the point across simply, think if you are gambling the existence of God, the scenario is as follow: You have an equal odd at 50.0 on believing in the existence of God and  50.0 odd on the none-existence of God, the price to pay is Hell and Heaven. This is wager you have to take, it seem as a simple choice to make.

Pascal's Wager

Here's a tricky one

Looking at the odds above, you may think that you have a fair chance of 1/2 of winning the odd, but you are wrong. You only have one chance with an odd of 1/1 that of believing  in God’s existence and 0/1 of not believing in God. If you bet on believing that  God exist and turn out that he does, then there is the chance and benefits in  you getting to go to Heaven and you win the bet when the result of God’s existence come in, and if he does not exist, then you won’t lose nothing, for if God does not exist then there is no Hell to go to nor a Heaven, you get your full refund. But if you bet on odd against God’s existence, then if it is proven that God does not exist, then you win the bet but there is nothing to win for if God does not exist then there is no Heaven or Hell to win, but if you lose the bet and it is proven that God exist, then the price you have to pay is Hell. So as you see, wagers and odds can be deceiving when it come to betting on them, the Pascal’s example might not be a logical one when it come to gambling on odds, but it is close to it, no matter how smart you are as a better, the bookkeepers will always have a better odds against you.

West Euro Bet

From Pascal to Sulaymaniyah. The reason that I thought about Pascal’s wager is because of West European Bet, a solo Bookkeeping  agency here in the city, a total monopoly of the betting game. They give their customers odds close if not worse than that of Pascal. Football being very popular in the city, many Young people spend their time watching football games in various Cafeterias, that is the place where you could play West European Bet, many do and many of them always lose. If you walk into some of these places, you always see a small booklet, printed on a cheap paper with a black and white image of Cristianio Ronaldo on its cover, the printing is so bad that it took me a few time looking over the booklet to recognize him. They print three different booklet every week, one from Friday to Sunday, the second one on Money and the third one from Tuesday to Thursday. The booklet have almost all the European, Asian, South American and MLS league games covered beside major competitions and any International Friendly games. Their odds on the games are less than any major bookkeepers, comparing them to Bet365, their odds at times reached a staggering %33 less in favorite of the player.

Odd Against Tomorrow?

Unlike many online bookmakers which let a player make a bet on a single game or a multiple bet on a single game. West European Bet rarely let you bet on a single game and they never let you bet twice an accumulative bet on the same game. They always stack-up their odds to a staggering total of three possibilities outcome of 130% on a single game, which mean they already have a 30% advantage over you. Then you have to bet on three accumulative  games most of the times which means now they have won %90  of the bet, leaving you with odd on only %10.

Against All Odds

You may ask, why would anybody wanna bet on three game with such low chance of winning? They do, because many believe they could win, not to mention that West European Bet is the only bookmaker in Sulaimanyah. For the thrill of it, I tried a few times to checkout the mathematical odds of winning at such low chance. My first bet was on Barcelona against Manchester on the Champion League Final, with an odd of 1.8 on Barcelona, it was a treat and I won. That was one of the few times in the past month that they offered a single bet on a single match. Next I tried my luck on a single 10 accumulative bet with an astonishing 8/100 shot of winning, I was close,  guessed 9 right but  I got beaten by a single match, I guessed Estonia instead of Faro.  No matter how smart you are at Mathematics or knowledge in Football, you rarely have a chance against them.

Not to miss one

Take my friend M, a die hard Barcelona fan and one who knows his Football statistic by heart. Barcelona and Real Madrid being the two most popular club in Kurdistan (so popular, when one of them win over the other, people start shooting into the air in celebration, no kidding!), it was the Golden year of the El Clasico, Barca and Madrid played 5 Clasico in the span of 5 month. The first Clasico was on Barcelona’s soil, with Madrid ahead of Barca on top of La Liegea by 2 point, many thoughts that the game would be close, so the West Euro Bet had the odds of 2.0 on favor of Barca and 2.15 in favor on Real with 3.55 on the draw,  many went for the draw and they all lost, for Barca nailed Real 5-0.

Barca in 5 El Clasico: Win, Draw, Lose, Win, Draw

Then came the second Clasico, Barca being on the peak of their form and remembering the 5-0 game, my friend M decided to bet 200.000 Dinar (about $190) on Barca with an odd on Barca at 1.15, the odd on Real was at 2.35, many bet on Barca “It will be another thrashing of 5-0” and they lost, for the game ended with a draw 1-1. I later asked M why he had staked 200.000 Dinar in order to win 30.000, his answer was “Because I was sure that Barca will win”, the guy never thought of the small odd of winning and the big odds of losing was against him. So, for the next Clasico at the final of King’s Cup many equally bet on Barca at 1.85 and Real at 2.1, they all lost again, for the game ended in a tie of 0-0 in regulation time, later real won it in over time, but your bet for winning is only good for 90 the 90 minute regulation time. The next game was that of Champion League semi-final and it was on Real’s home soil, the odd for the first time on Real was bigger than that on Barca, many went for Real at 1.85 and many for Draw at 3.1, few bet on Barca at 2.3, well guess what? Barca won the game 2-0 and for the next game on Barca’s soil the odd was in Barca’s favor now at 1.3, many bet on Barca again, but they lost again, for Barca took the game easy and the game ended 1-1. For the exception of the first match, my friend M lost all the bet on the El Clasicos, not because he did not guess right, he guesses some of them right, but because the odds was against him, his total sum of losing was bigger margin than that of his winning.

White Need 6+5 to Win

The only solution seems  to bet in small amount on Long Shots, I tried to do the long Shots, but no luck either.  How bad is your chance of winning a long shot with West European Bet? It is very small. Let us say if you play a game of Backgammon with the scenario Above: Your are playing White and it is your turn, you must get 6+5 to win, you have the dice and you calculate the mathematical possibility of getting 6+5,  you have a chance of 17% (Below), you are offered double from Black, would you except the offer? For all Black need to win is to get  3+4 and his chance is that of %47? Would you play? If the risks of losing your bet is higher than %17 and the return is about the same then No, you should not play, for winning at %17 chance does not come in that easy, but then if the risk is less than  %17 and the return is higher, the play for you still got a small chance.  If we play a dice game with West European Company, they would throw in another dice just to cheat you from winning, just think your chances then.

Possibility of getting 6+5: 17%

Many who is familiar with the old trick of doubling up may ask why not use the double-up tactic to win? Well, first they rarely offer a single match bet with an odd of 2.0 and they rarely ever offer 2.0 on the same teame from a match into the next one, (this season Barca only reached the 2.0 once). If somebody have a coin and offer you a bet of head or tail, they are offering you a chance of 50-50 of winning or loosing, head or tail,  same is true of a a roulette game, they spun the roulette wheel and it either land on black or red, 50-50 odd, that is a fair bet and you should take it and if you lose, you just double up on the next time, if you lose again, you double up and on a long shot, even if you lose 29 times and you win on the 30th or the 31th, for your chance of winning by then has reached 0.9999, by doubling up all the time, you will get all your loosing back with a small time wining.

Doubling Up on 50-50 Odd

That was in a world of betting that is fair, Doubling is out of the question with West European Bet for the betting is not  fair and many Youngsters have lost fortunes playing a game of chances with almost all the odds against them, yet they play for the thrill of it, and sadly, they are always the losers. If they don’t play fair with you, don’t play, but if they do, do play, for on the long shot, you will win. That is the trick of betting.


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