Odds

Odds

The odds in favor of an event or a proposition are the ratio of the probability that an event will happen to the probability that it will not happen. For example, the odds that a randomly chosen day of the week is a Sunday are one to six, which is sometimes written 1:6.

'Odds' are an expression of relative probabilities. Often 'odds' are quoted as odds against, rather than as odds in favor of, because of the possibility of confusion of the latter with the fractional probability of an event occurring. For example, the probability that a random day is a Sunday is one-seventh (1/7). A bookmaker may (for his own purposes) use 'odds' of 'one-sixth', but a more common use is "odds against", of the form 6 to 1, 6-1, 6:1, or 6/1 (all read as 'six-to-one') where the first figure represents the number of ways of failing to achieve the outcome and the second figure is the number of ways of achieving a favorable outcome.

In probability theory, odds may sometimes be more natural or more convenient than probabilities. This is often the case in problems of sequential decision making as for instance in problems of how to stop (online) on a last specific event which is solved by the odds algorithm.

In some games of chance, using odds against is also the most convenient way to understand what winnings will be paid if the selection is successful: the winner will be paid 'six' of whatever stake unit was bet for each 'one' of the stake unit wagered. For example, a winning bet of 10 at 6/1 will win '6 × 10 = 60' with the original 10 stake also being returned. Betting odds are skewed to ensure that the bookmaker makes a profit—if true odds were offered the bookmaker would break even in the long run—so the numbers do not represent the true odds.

"Odds on" means that the event is more likely to happen than not. This is sometimes expressed with the smaller number first (1:2) but more often using the word "on" (2:1 on) meaning that the event is twice as likely to happen as not.

Read more about Odds:  Examples, Alternate Usage, Gambling Odds Versus Probabilities, Even Odds, Historical

Famous quotes containing the word odds:

    Macbeth. What is the night?
    Lady Macbeth. Almost at odds with morning, which is which.
    William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

    It makes no odds where a man goes or stays, if he is only about his business.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    However great a man’s fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear-headed act of a mathematician. The suicide has judged by the laws of chance—so many odds against one that to live will be more miserable than to die. His sense of mathematics is greater than his sense of survival. But think how a sense of survival must clamour to be heard at the last moment, what excuses it must present of a totally unscientific nature.
    Graham Greene (1904–1991)