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I've got a character who wants to do a lot of gambling. Betting on urbanbrawl, and other sports. I'd like to give him a roll, but what?

First of all, picking teams to win doesn't sound like an active skill, just a knowledge skill. Who's playing, who's the captain, who are they playing against, how have they been doing against that team this season, what's their home record, is their defense decent against that sort of offense, etc. Total up all your pros and cons and call your bookie. It's less a matter of talent than time spent.

Intuition or logic?

How do you determine what the payoff is? We tried saying, "choose your odds. That's your threshold for success." He started choosing 2 to 1. Two successes on six dice is not too tough. So we upped it to a threshold of the odds plus 2. Plus, he can't possibly win on 7 to 1 or steeper.

I'm up for any suggestions you have. Either a realistic simulation, or a simplified die roll.
Ol' Scratch
This has come up a few times. We'd play the game out "in the real world" along with a roll for the character. In SR4, it would basically be Edge + Knowledge Skill with each hit representing one "cheat" move for each side participating in the game. For Poker, for instance, each hit would let you trade in one card for another, for Craps each hit would allow the rerolling of one die, and so on and so forth.

For things like sports bets, your house rule sounds as good as any since who wins or loses is, essentially, GM fiat. I'd still use Edge over Logic or Intuition, though. Your actual skill represents your knowledge and familiarity with the game in question, while Edge represents your raw luck.

Alternatively you could just use an upcoming game on the television (which sport would be irrelevant) and assign each team with one of the fictional ones... then use the same odds (if you can find them) and payouts based upon who wins and who the players bet on.
Intuition + logic and any intuition based knowledge skill that you think could apply. Slap on some modifiers and there you go. Honestly it depends on what type of gambling you do. I would like it if it was 2 stats then stat + skill. Kind of like judge intent (which you could use when you play poker.) A slight of hand game might be reaction + agility. Ect. ect. ect.

You could also just roll edge off the bat if it is going on raw luck and then have something else rolled, because for many betting games it is not just about luck.

*edit* I think the biggest problem is that different situations call for different measures. Doing a data search to find out all the appropriate data on a team, using your logic and intuition looking at the skill and then having edge because of the luck factor might be viable. There are just to many variables to take into account. *edit*
For sports gambling like Urban Brawl and Desert Wars I look up old sports statistics. I usually use collegiate football for Urban Brawl and pro football for Desert Wars. Say this Desert Wars season I'll use stats from 1996. Ares Predators are the Packers. etc. etc. For standard gambling, well none of my players have brought it up, so I let it slide by. but I do let my players roll an Intuition + appropriate knowledge skill. More hits get them better odds. This does have the potential for blowing up in their face if they pick the wrong team, but that's why they call it gambling.
For betting on events, the Knowledge Skill plus Logic could be like a Professional "earning a living". It should be a contested roll against the bookie's Logic-plus-KS, which should be *good*. The number of hits either way should determine the payout rate or losses. In the end, that sort of gambling is about statistics and their interpretation; the actual results are mostly irrelevant.
I'd probably roll a static pool of dice, say.... 10 dice, and have the player roll 7 dice. Highest # of hits wins with ties to the GM.
For each hit on a complementary knowledge skill + Edge roll (that would not allow Edge to be rolled unless maybe they WERE the athlete!) I'd add +1 die the player could roll on the test.

So lets say a player had Urban Brawling KS at 6 and Edge of 5, in my example they'd roll 11 dice, get an average of 4 hits, then add those 4 dice to the starting dicepool of 7 dice.

The problem lay in things like TM's with emulated skillsofts, adepts with analytics, and cybered statisticians with mnemonic enhancers. The die pools could get so large that to keep it from being a steady moneymaker to the low skill characters pretty much get hosed consistently. My thoughts, anyways.

to make it extra realistic have the bookies rolling 50 million dice and if they have more hits than the player have the payouts scale DOWN for the player since the bookie anticipates the winning outcome even better than the player does. This encourages longshot betting off the initial no-knowledge skill dieroll rather than always picking the favored team.
For poker, we have a skill (int based), and whoever has the most hits wins the pot. Roulette, we roll a 30 sider, and the bets are made as normal (1:30 instead of 1:36 odds).
Zen Shooter01
My advice is to abstract it as much as possible. With sports betting, if you go the direction of betting on particular contests, like L.A. vs. Washington DC in basketball, then you are going to end up having to generate statistics for a dozen or more teams, including statistics on individual players, and then decide how various attributes of one basketball team (or Urban Brawl team, or freestyle fighter, or jockey, etc.) against another translates into a dice roll. You'll drown in the paperwork. Your game is going to become Wide Sixth World of Sports.

My advice is make it a threshold 4 test of either Logic + Sport (with each sport having it's own Knowledge skill) if the Sport Knowledge is Academic, or Intuition + Sport if the Sport knowledge skill is Street. Modify for inside information potentially gained in the shadows, like who's hurt, who's doping, who's getting paid off.

Choose an amount of nuyen to be the stakes. Let the player roll the dice once a month. If the player exceeds the threshold, multiply the number of hits over threshold by the stakes, and award that amount of nuyen to the player. If the player rolls under the threshold, multiply the number of hits under threshold by the stakes, and subtract that amount of nuyen from the player. A critical glitch is considered to be six hits under threshold.
Couldn't you siphon out some relevant statistics from some of the online fantasy sports leagues?
Do you have to be a member to view that kind of data? Could you roll out a season in some sports game like Madden?

More on topic, it's atough call. I don't think you should cook up seperate skills for gambling. That's extra bookkeeping, and not worth the hassle for something that might come up once every blue moon. (Unless you are running a casino-campaign, but then you might just play te real games instead of cooking up abstract simulations...).

I also find it difficult assigning knowledge skills for most games, since they represent more of a background knowledge to me. It might work in the case of sports odds, maybe also for games like poker, stuff that has rules and systems, but I doubt that "Background knowledge: Roulette" is going to help you in actually predicting where that little metal ball will end up. (Background Knowledge: Casinos might help you remembering that the house always wins, and that the only way not to lose is to not play at all wink.gif)

And then there is Edge. At first glance, using your "luck" attribute for what is essentially a game of chance sounds reasonable. But what about the special properties of that stat? Re-rolls? Exploding dice? Mr. Lucky?
"Rien ne va plus... quarante, noir, the bank wins... oh, no, wait, the ball moves again, it settles on zero. Again. The gentleman with the smug grin wins. Again."

Then, as has been mentioned, there's also the possibilites opened up by all the new tech. Most hackers and technos will have their mental stats beefed up so much in one way or another that they'll make the guy from Numb3rs look like a toddler with learning deficiencies. Ditto for most magicians. If you allow these characters to use their Int or Log for gambling, they might easily discover that they can make so much more cred by romping the casinos than by going on runs. Until the mob gets a hold of them, of course.

What it comes down to is this: In most cases, gambling should be abstracted as much as possible, because the amount of bookkeeping a more sophisticated simulation requires will only bog down your game. If the gambling is central to a plot, or the theme of a character, AND you know the game in question, you might be better off just playing a round of that.

PS: look at me rambling!!!
For some games I run the dice rolls using palming, especially if my players are intending on card sharking. With knowledge skills used to give bonus dice for people who know a lot about gambling odds or the game in question.

Edit - I should note that's mainly for traditional casinos, rather than online gambling etc. Where I'd have a player use exploit to cheat. (I pretty much expect my players to try cheat regardless of how they're gambling, because honestly when do runners play fair?)
Either you can play it out (with rolls for drawing extra cards or stacking decks),
Or you can use it as a plot device (for example, the UrbanBrawl game constantly appears in the background and mirrors the group's luck/success),
Or you just roll a die depending on the odds (example: he rolls Gambling on an UrbanBrawl game and you tell him the correct odds - after that you roll 1 die yourself, for example 1-4 (2) : 5-6 (1)) After all, he can't beat the odds with Gambling, he can just predict them correctly.
Or you let him roll Gambling and tell him how much he won. Works on longer Gambling sessions you don't want to play out. But I wouldn't do that too much as that makes Gambling too effective to rake in cash.
I think you were on the right track with the Threshold. I just think that you, as the GM should, as the "house", set the threshold, and he has to exceed that in order to win anything. Let's say that you set the odds at 2:1. On 6 dice, that's pretty easy. 2 hits will make him break even. Each hit above the threshold wins money.
Platinum Dragon
Depends on the type of gambling. For betting on sports teams, Log + (Sport Knowledge) sounds appropriate. To stop the moneymaking on that getting out of hand, stick with the 1/month roll mentioned above, and set the threshold randomly each month (I.E. the threshold is the result of 2d6+1 or something, to emulate that even with the best statistical analysis, you can't predict everything about an upcoming sports game). Inside info gathered with contacts / data searches might reduce the threshold by 1-5 (suddenly learning the favoured team's star player is about to be busted for substance abuse might be just what you need to bet on the underdog right before the odds change).

Alternately, there's games of 'skill,' such as poker, where you play against other people, and someone comes out ahead. For this I'd say each player rolls edge + con (or other appropriate skill), and if they want to cheat, a palming roll (opposed and at, like, -6 to represent how difficult it is to cheat at these games - it might be impossible in casinos without prepping by stealing a deck or something) could reduce their opponent's pool.

For games of pure luck like craps or roulette? Roll edge with an obscene threshold - one that gets higher the more money they want to risk (I'd start at 3). As mentioned upthread, the only way not to lose is not to play, though you can make money off it by playing once and getting lucky, but your odds aren't good.
Thanks fokes. A lot of interesting ideas.

One of the problems with rolling skill+attribute dice is that the dice pools vary from character to character much more than any given person's actual chances of winning, versus another person's chances. Wasabi's suggestion of rolling dice pools to add hits to a generic die roll is a fair way of reducing this amount of fluctuation, but it's removed from SR's system.

Researching real games and odds, and letting the player choose, is also a fair way to go, but I don't feel like doing that much work. I'd like to leave it up to a die roll or two.

Simple die roll. 1-5 nothing. 6 wins. how much money betted times another die roll.

Example you bet 50 nuyen. On a roll of 5 or less you don't win anything. On a roll of a 6 and 1 you take 50 nuyen money home with you. On a roll of a 6 your money is now 300 nuyen.

Anything more complicated demands more complicated rules. In real life craps one of the more even games has odds of 36:1.

Gambling has never come up in any of our games, but I thought a bit about it. Instead of putting the time into comparing teams to each other and finding out who beats who in the real world, why don't you just roll the odds? 2:1, roll 2 dice to 1 (or 4 to 2). 5:3 (5 dice to 3).

You'd first start out by having your player roll edge. If they have an appropriate knowledge skill, I'd let them roll that in addition, but it has to be somewhat specific (ie, not just sports, but the knowledge for that particular sport. Not just gambling, but what particular game). This serves as the creation of the odds. It abstracts and represents the research that goes into your player looking at the events and choosing which games to play. Since we don't know which teams are playing or what the odds are, this test helps GMs come up with a bit more fluff for the players. If multiple players want to bet on the same game, use the player with the biggest pool to keep the odds the same.

Roll the odds against each other like up above and figure out who wins. Ties go to the team that has higher odds in their favor.
In SRM02-11 Rising Sin, the simple Gambling rules were:

Players who wish to do some actual
gambling may do so. Use the following
(simplified) system to handle monetary gain
or loss: The player declares how much
money he is betting. On the off chance the
character has a Gambling skill, use
Gambling+Logic or Gambling+Intuition,
whichever is higher. If not, Default either
Logic or Intuition only. Roll an Extended test
(6, 5 minutes) with a maximum of 3 pool
rolls per gambling attempt. Every success
over the required 6 provides the runner with
a 10% increase in their bet. If the character
does not succeed, he loses his bet.
I hadn't read that mission yet, thanks for the input.
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