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Blog Posted on 07/05/2019 | Author: Karen Macarthur

What Is Negative Expectation?

Most gamblers might at one time or the other have heard the term Negative Expectation being bandied around. While it sounds a little bit sinister, it is not really and merely referring to the well-known fact that a casino holds most of the advantage when interacting with its clientele.

Negative Expectation is normally used in reference to casino games. In such cases, it is used to refer to casino games where the house has a sizable mathematical advantage that players have no hope of wiping away. With this advantage in place, the house is guaranteed to get a certain percentage of all bets over the long run, with the player being of course guaranteed to lose over the long run. Thus, while the player might record some wins in the short term, this cannot be sustained in the long term in games with a Negative expectation, as the player will eventually lose more than he/she gains.

It can as well be used in reference to the House Edge. The majority of casino games on the market sport Negative Expectation. This includes such games as Baccarat, Roulette, Blackjack, Keno and Craps. In contrast, standard Poker games lack this kind of expectation. Instead, the house gets its money by raking in a certain percentage of the pot.

What is Negative Expectation?

Negative Expectation In Detail

On the typical European Roulette wheel, 36 numbers and a lone zero is all that is featured. Such roulette wheels are spun by the croupier, with the roulette ball spinning within the confines of the wheel and potentially landing in any of the 36 numbers and single zero number, giving an overall 37 outcomes. As a result, players at such a wheel have a 1 in 37 odds of making a correct bet and getting a win.

However, the house pays just 35:1, which essentially translates to a house 2.7% advantage over the long run. Given the above scenario, the house is assured of winning 2.7% more games than it can lose, which means the casino will be profitable regardless of the skill or luck of the players in making correct and high-paying bets.

A few players are of the opinion that wagering on red/black is a potentially safer strategy, due to the fact that this is a 50/50 wager that ostensibly precludes player loss in the long term. However, the entire premise is false.

Worth noting is that the red/black wager is not precisely even due to the fact that the zero is not red nor black. As a result, player odds on betting the red/black are 18/37, or 48.7% instead of the fabled 50%. The situation is even worse on the American Roulette wheel, due to its possession of an extra zero that confers a 5.3% advantage on the casino.

Negative expectation does not, however, imply that players will be totally unable to record wins. Rather, some wins can be expected, with the house advantage working in the background over time and serving as an insurance against loss.

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