Low-Risk Bets: Why the Safe Option Isn’t Always Best

Like poker, casino games have a degree of flexibility when it comes to betting options and potential returns. Even though we can all accept random number generators (RNGs) ensure a fair result whatever game we’re playing, the outcome doesn’t always fall in our favour. In poker, this will often mean the right move doesn’t always end with the right result. Indeed, by understanding the concept of equity, you’ll know that you’re rarely a 100% certainty to win a hand. Therefore, because there’s always a chance for your opponent to catch up, you can get “unlucky” and lose.

The most obvious example is pocket aces vs. 72 offsuit. If both hands are all-in preflop, the odds of aces winning the hand are 87.24%. As a poker player, having more than 87% equity of the pot (i.e. an 87% chance of winning the pot) is fantastic and enough to make you want to repeat this scenario indefinitely. However, there are times when you’ll lose. Now, if you’re playing a cash game, there is a way to reduce the risk of losing by running it twice. Originally popular live but now available online, this rule allows you to see more than one board (or simply more than one turn and river).

The theory behind this option is that it reduces the amount of times you get “unlucky” To put it another way, running it twice is an insurance policy against bad luck. Given that casino games share a variety of common features with poker, similar betting options have become popular in this section of the gaming industry over the years. Indeed, when you play blackjack, roulette et al, you’ll find various low-risk bets that are designed to help move the odds in your favour.

What Are Low-Risk Bets?

In simple terms, low risks bets are options that allow you to offset a negative outcome in some way. For example, in some games, you can make an insurance bet that allows you to receive a portion of your stake back if a certain result occurs. In other situations, you can combine two or more bets in order to mitigate your risk. When you choose the latter option, it’s similar to what Forbes guide to trading Bitcoin describes as “hedging” your bets i.e. speculating on more than one asset in order to reduce your overall risk. Basically, low risk bets are options that allow you to reduce your chances of getting unlucky.

Low-Value Bets In Practice

Before we give you some examples of low-risk casino bets, it’s important to note that they won’t allow you to become a heavy favourite in any given scenario. Every casino game is based on odds and that brings into play the concept of expected value (EV). This concept basically refers to the amount of times you can expect a certain move to win in the long-run based on a situations dynamics. Low-risk bets allow you to have better EV in some situations than you otherwise would. However, they don’t guarantee you a win.

Insurance Bet Blackjack

We all know what car insurance is. If you read through Confused.com’s car insurance overview and you’ll see that one fundamental premise runs through all the policy types: if X happens, you’ll receive Y is compensation. The same is true at the blackjack table. Whenever the dealer is showing an ace, you can take out an insurance policy that covers half of your main bet. This bet costs 50% of your starting stake and pays out at out 2:1 if the dealer makes blackjack. So, if you took insurance and the dealer made blackjack (and you didn’t), you’d lose the main bet but receive money back from the side bet. In other words, you’re insuring yourself against the dealer making an unbeatable hand.

Tie Bet in Baccarat

As per the Betway Casino guide to baccarat, the aim of the game is to decide whether the bank (dealer hand) or player hand is going to win (i.e. get a total closest to nine). Although it’s rare, there are times when the bank and player hand can tie. In situations like this, standard bets lose. To you cover more eventualities, you can bet on a tie and receive an 8:1 payout (sometimes 9:1).

La Partage French Roulette

Cash back sites have become all the rage in recent years. As described by MoneySavingExpert, sites like Quidco give you money back on purchases, providing you fulfil certain conditions. La Partage offer a similar service when you play French Roulette. Using the European format (i.e. a single zero), this game plays in the same way as other standard roulette variants. However, the main difference is that you can receive 50% of your stake back when you make an even money bet and the ball lands on zero. Therefore, in essence, even money bets are lower risk here than they are in other variants.

Side Bets

Many modern online casino games now feature side bets. Typically linked to a progressive jackpot or some sort of bonus, these options allow you to win more money when certain conditions are met. For example, the 21+3 bet in blackjack is based on your two starting cards plus the dealer’s up card. If these three cards make a ranked poker hand like a flush or trips, you’ll win a bonus prize that’s separate from the main win.

Should You Make Low-Value Bets?

Reducing your risk and offset negative variance i.e. results that deviate from an expected norm, is good in theory. However, because low risks bets either carry an additional fee or reduce your potential returns, they’re not considered a good long-term proposition. For example, when you make an insurance bet, it increases your stake by 50%. In turn, this reduces your returns by 50% when the dealer doesn’t have blackjack. Therefore, while low risks bets can be positive in certain scenarios, they’re not always great for your long-term EV.

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