Want to check your bingo odds? Calculating odds in bingo is not as straightforward as it is in some gaming scenarios, but with a little understanding you can use some basic statistical ideas to improve your game and increase your overall level of winnings.

Basic odds are easy to understand: 5 to 1 on a horse, for example, is self-explanatory: You’ll get £6 back on a £1 bet if your horse wins.

With bingo, though, your chances of winning will depend on how many tickets you have compared to the total number bought by all the players in your game. If you’ve bought 5 tickets at £1 each for a game with a single £30 jackpot, for example, and there are 35 tickets sold, then you’ll have a 5 in 35 chance of winning, or odds of 7 to 1. That, however, means very little if the prize is relatively small or the tickets are relatively expensive. Suppose the tickets were £2 each and you won the £30 jackpot: The bingo operator would be making £70 and only giving you £30.

The answer is to look at your expected return:

Expected return is a great way of comparing online games, be they bingo, slots or otherwise. It tells you how much of your stake money you can expect to get back if you play the same game repeatedly, which means you’ll know how much of a house edge the operator has. It’s easy to work out, as well:

Going back to our previous example with tickets at £1 each, take the odds of winning and make it into a fraction – in this case, 1/7. Then multiply this by the total prize. If there is more than one prize on offer for different numbers of lines, it’s easiest to just add them up and use the total. In this case the figure will come to 30/7. Then divide this figure by the amount you staked - £5 – which comes to 30/35, or 6/7: That’s 85.7%. So for every £1 you spend on that game, you can expect to get 85.7p back. If you’re lucky, you’ll get more, and the higher the expected return you have the more likely it is that you’ll come out ahead with winnings of 100%-plus when things are going your way.

The snag with this method is that you won’t know how many tickets have been sold in total – but don’t worry, you can make a very good guess: Most players will buy the same number of tickets, as they’re presented on the screen in strips of 10 or 12, usually, to a page. You only need to watch how the prize totals go up as more players join in a game to see how many tickets they’re buying: When you buy some yourself, watch the prize fund go up to see how your purchases affected the prize fund and you’ll have a very good idea what other players are typically buying. You can then multiply this by the total number of players in the game, which many bingo operators will tell you in their lobbies or game rooms.

It takes a bit of practice, but once you’ve got this useful skill under your belt you’ll be well on your way to becoming a world-class bingo player and becoming one of the few participants who always seem to have fortune on their side – but who actually make their own luck…