Randomness thanks to technology – How do random number generator and betting odds work?

Eine Person mit einem Headset zockt an einem PC
Insbesondere in der Gamingbranche sind Zufallszahlengeneratoren sehr weit verbreitet. Bildquelle: Fredrick Tendong / Unsplash

Chance is an important part of the business model in the gaming and gambling industry. For example, the conception of betting odds in the sports betting segment is a fundamental part of revenue generation. In video games, on the other hand, the random number generator – also called Random Number Generator (RNG) operates in many areas.


Betting odds in sports betting

The sports betting market has now reached a wide audience and attracts many sports fans worldwide with attractive odds. Attractive betting odds are particularly important for the betting community. However, hardly anyone knows how these odds are calculated. Although mathematics plays the most important role, chance is the deciding factor between victory and defeat. For this reason, the mathematical calculation and just that chance go hand in hand in betting odds.

The concept behind sports betting seems to work. In recent years, the online market in particular has developed rapidly. Many bookmakers offer attractive odds on the Internet. At least, that’s how the numbers appear. In practice, however, it should be borne in mind that the digital betting shop would like to make a profit itself in the long run. How attractive the odds ultimately are can be found out via so-called betting or system calculators. The free tool simulates the personal betting slip and shows how the odds, stake and possible profit are made up even before the actual placement.


Three-way bet as an example

In order to better assess the odds on a sports bet, it is advisable to take a closer look at their structure. The so-called three-way bet is ideally suited as an illustrative example. It is by far the most frequently played bet in Germany, as it is easy to understand and players can estimate their chances well.

Just like with any other bet, chance plays an important role in three-way betting. After all, no one knows in advance what the particular sporting event will offer. Accordingly, the determination of the betting odds should not be disregarded.

Victory for team A, victory for team B or a draw – players can bet on these three possibilities. The calculation of these probabilities is not necessarily mathematical in nature, but is often based on the sporting conditions. So, on the part of the bookmakers, both expert knowledge and tact are required.

As an example, let’s pit FC Bayern Munich against SpVgg Greuther Fürth. Bayern is the overwhelming favorite, while Fürth is the underdog. Added to this is the fact that the team from the Bavarian capital is enormously strong at home. Accordingly, a win is rated with a probability of 80 percent. The bookmakers put the chance of a draw at 15 percent. A victory for Fürth is five percent.

If the probabilities were worked out, the conversion follows into a betting rate. A fair betting odds is subject to the mathematical formula 100/probable for event X. Means for the calculation example:

  • Victory Bayern: 100/80 = 1.25
  • Remis: 100/15 = 6.66
  • Victory Bremen: 100/5 = 20


Random generators – What is it anyway?

Betting odds are based on probabilities and mathematics. Chance ultimately plays the leading role in the outcome of a sporting event. The situation is different with random number generators. They are a common mechanic in a wide variety of games. Basically, it is a system that is completely unpredictable for both the developers and the gaming community. An apt comparison is a roll of the dice. Once the random number generators are activated, the game symbolically rolls a die, creating a random and spontaneous event. Basically, then, the RNG mechanics can be described as a random factor.


Application of RNG Mechanics

The RNG system is used in quite different areas. For example, board games such as Snakes & Ladders or role-playing games (RPGs) such as Dungeons & Dragons are based entirely on the random factor. One of the biggest users, however, are casinos. Every game of chance is based on random events, so the RNG mechanic is correspondingly essential. It does not matter what type of gambling it is. Card games, table games or for example this Novoline game only work thanks to random number generators.

Online gambling, which is becoming increasingly relevant, also thrives on the RNG system. For example, the spin results of a video slot are determined by a computer that works completely automatically with the random factor.


Random number generators in video games

In video games, the RNG system may not be ubiquitous, but it is widely represented. Very many games rely entirely, or at least in part, on the mechanic. This is often used to procedurally add new sequences at each prompt. A suitable example is Minecraft. Mojang’s sandbox game generates gigantic building-block-looking game worlds that are completely randomized (if required) by RNG.

In action strategy games, random number generators are used to randomly determine the success of player commands. For example, if an archer or a soldier is ordered to fire his weapon at an enemy unit, a random result is determined by RNG mechanics. The attack can miss its target, hit or even cause critical damage. Regardless of the outcome, the player is encouraged to continue playing and adjust their approach if necessary.


RNG mechanics – positive or negative?

Random number generators in video games have both advantages and disadvantages. So it is not by chance that the complex of topics causes controversial discussions.

In many games, RNG mechanics are basically positive. Randomly generated game situations increase the replay value of a game and ensure a varied game experience. Without random number generators, there would probably be no live service games that offer a loop based on RNG mechanics in the endgame. Not only levels and game sections are procedurally generated with numbers. Also the items and items, which drop opponents in the game, are subject to the RNG system.

Randomness is a great thing, especially in casual games, but when it comes to competitive games, the skills of the opponents should basically be the focus. Nevertheless, RNG mechanics are increasingly encountered in the competitive realm of the video game world.

A fitting example is the basketball simulation NBA 2K22. Defended throws have a small chance of landing in the basket, but due to the built-in RNG mechanics, the possibility still exists. This makes for a high frustration factor when the defense is played well and lets the random factor decide the outcome in some situations, although the playing skills should be in the foreground.

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