Grand Theft Auto: Odds and Probability

I have moved beyond the bike portion of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and have learned that the Los Santos police are awfully cavalier about any carjacking I might do. At first I was very careful about what cars I’d boost, and I’d try to take care of them. Now I realize that cars are disposable like kleenex.

I’ve also discovered the joys of off-track betting. Gambling on the ponies is dramatically simplified: you can bet on one of five horses. The horses’ odds of winning vary from 1 in 2 to about 1 in 12. If the horse wins, you win a matching amount of money: the 1-in-2 horse doubles your bet, while the 1-in-12 horse pays back 12 times your bet.

I say “odds of winning,” but I lie. As best I can tell, the game picks one of the five horses at random to win. So every single horse has the true odds of winning of 1 in 5.

I think you can see where I’m going here. With a little judicious save-and-restoring, and by betting only on the horse with the longest odds, I’ve quickly gone from having some $300 to $14M. Why, it’s like someone doubled all the payouts at a casino.

Hrm, two GTA posts in one weekend. At the rate I’m going here, pretty soon I’ll be doing what Carl does for his blog.

10 thoughts on “Grand Theft Auto: Odds and Probability

  1. You should have saved this reply for my treatise on how the introduction of airbag technology would completely change GTA gameplay.

  2. I did until I realized it was cutting down on my enjoyment of the game. I have very limited playtimes, and waiting at lights was not fun and cutting into game time.

  3. Are you familiar with Thomas Cover’s results comparing horse betting with data compression? I’m now curious about how it would apply to the GTA universe.

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