May the odds be ever in your favor.
If you've been paying attention to The Hunger Games trailers, then you've heard that phrase at least a couple of times. Effie Trinket announces these words at the Reaping, where two children from each of twelve districts are chosen to die in tribute to an oppressive Capitol.
Several people have been asking me "what does the phrase mean?"
First of all, the series of novels is for young adults, which has a tendency to factor into the doubt over the meaning of the expression. Adults, I believe, will have an easier time understanding what this means, especially in terms of the Reaping. I wanted to take a moment to explain the meaning of "May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor."
Note that some minor Hunger Games spoilers are headed your way. Proceed with your reading with caution.
During the Reaping scene of The Hunger Games (the book or the movie), Effie Trinket (Capitol Escort to District 12) announces "May the Odds be EVER in Your Favor!" Around her stand the children of the district, all aged between 12 and 18, and each of them hoping against hope that the odds are in their favor today. Because if they aren't, they will be picked to be a "tribute" in The Hunger Games.
The name of every child between 12 and 18 has their name in the hopper a certain number of times. Each year, your name goes in one more time. So, for example, Prim, who is twelve, has her name in the hopper 1 time. Katniss, had she not taken tesserae (explained below) would have had her name in the hopper five times. Had Gale not purchased tesserae, his name would be in the hopper seven times. Each year of a district resident's life between twelve and eighteen becomes more risky. The odds become increasingly against them.
However, sometimes the people of the districts are too poor to feed their families. When this happens, the children purchase 'Tesserae' which is a ration of grain and oil given to their family. They can purchase tesserae for each individual in their house. Tesserae is delivered monthly to the home. Each tesserae is purchased at the cost of having your name in the hopper one additional time. Your name is put in one additional time per person per year of eligibility.
Katniss has taken tesserae every year of eligibility for all three members of her family, meaning that the first year, she had her name in the hopper four times. The second year she had her name in the hopper eight times. At sixteen, she now has her name in the hopper twenty times (five times for reaping-eligible age and fifteen times for the tesserae).
The reaping is an odds game. The more times you have your name in the hopper, the more likely you are to get picked to be a Tribute in the Games. If your name is only in the hopper once, you're less likely to get picked (as Katniss says to Prim in the movie, "Your name's only in once, Prim. They're not gonna pick you.").
When Effie Trinket says "May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor" she is saying, in essence, "may your name not be picked from the hopper." The more times your name is in the hopper, the less the odds are in your favor. As Gale says in the movie, "I guess the odds aren't in my favor."