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Gambling: Probability over Luck

Pascal Blaise Pascal portrayed on the left, together with fellow mathematician Pierre de Fermat, had a significant contribution in the history of gambling.

Through their correspondence, they formulated the central foundation of the theory of probability which they researched personally from their visits to gambling houses. Their work resulted in an exposition that Pascal described as a 'new composition on accidental combinations which govern the gambling games.'

The origin of probability science

Clearly, it was Pascal who was the first to calculate the statistics of gambling games, refusing to accept anything as luck or chance. Mathematics then became more interesting to all the gamblers who, of course wanted better chances of winning at casino games like roulette online or live.

Math was used as the scientific method for foreseeing future number combinations. According to Pascal, the art of mathematical probability forecast is different from basic statistics in the sense that statistics are based on past experiments while their math was based on the mind foreseeing the most likely events based on intellectual definitions.

Depending on the terms of the bet, Pascal could calculate the expected value of a gambler's gain, using his method of mathematical expectations. Pascal's computations completely took away the concept of luck, which was the prevalent idea at the time.

Blaise Pascal states that once money is wagered, it no longer belongs to the gambler. However, after losing a certain amount of money the gambler gains something in return. This is the right to expect a kind of gain according to the initial stakes. Using his mathematical expectation methods, he computed the right for gain which is the player's probability of winning.

The famous Pascal Triangle was of course named after Blaise Pascal himself. Though, it has been used centuries before him by mathematicians from Persia, China, Germany, and even India, but in different applications. When applied to gambling, it can be used to find the probability of a series of events where each event has only two outcomes.

It starts with 1 at the top and the sum below is computed by adding the two numbers directly above it. These theories of probability can only be applied in long series of chances, so this is why in gambling the average results can only be seen in the long run.

Pascal caused several controversies in gambling houses at his time. He was often faced with complications about his work. An aristocrat friend once posed him a problem in which he wanted to know how many throws of the dice is needed to get two six's for a sure win at the tables. So with two dice each with six sides, there are 36 possible combinations of numbers. The chance then of getting two 6 is one in 35. Avid fans of the game now know the probabilities of winning a toss of the dice (which really isn't very good actually, if only a single throw of the dice is considered).


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