Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I'm a little late to this party, but discussing the difference between a shill and a charlatan is timelessly topical.

A friend sent me a link to this thread the other day, and the biggest kick I got out of it was the news that Mike Shackleford, aka the Wizard of Odds, had finally sold out to the casino industry after years of pretending that he was a players' champion.

Sure, I'm just a little envious of the $2.4 million he banked in exchange for at last showing his true colours.

But perhaps now gullible punters will see that the WOO website has always been the internet equivalent of a fairground barker, loudly luring suckers into a tent that they will leave lighter in the wallet than they were when they fell for his patter.

I have never denied that Mr. Shackleford knows his arithmetic, and even under his empire's new owners, his numbers are solid.

But all the numbers really tell you is that if you bet exactly the way the Wizard and his paymasters (the ones who funded him for years before he stopped trying to fool everyone and openly sold out) want you to, you don't have a cat in hell's chance of winning in the long run.

You have to set your bet values randomly, without any reference to how much you're in the hole or what it takes to get back in the black.

Above all, you have to bet a very tight spread ($5 to $100 should see you broke in no time!).

And if that doesn't finish you off, be sure to get scared before you can get even, taking a big hit and hoping you can start over and recover your losses another day.

Here's the http://betselection.cc/baccarat-forum/ post that caught my friend's eye:

"Albalaha" is just the most recent of countless self-proclaimed experts who have dismissed my take on progressive betting as a viable antidote to the house advantage without proof or explanation.

But he's at least a few rungs higher up the ethics ladder than my old pal Dave "Imspirit" Anonymous.

Years back, Imspirit published reams of charts that he claimed proved that my Target method crashed and burned against baccarat outcomes sourced from Zumma Publishing and the Wizard of Shills.

I had already published proof that Target handily beat the same 250,000 or so objective (meaning verifiable) data sets, so I asked Dave to confirm that he had applied my "core" algorithm correctly.

It took him a month or more to comply, and I was not greatly surprised to learn that he had thrown out all of the Target rules to get the results he wanted, excusing himself by saying that he followed an algorithm supplied by a third party.

I knew Dave wasn't on the side of the angels when he said he was "not interested" in running an objective trial using the methodology I had long ago posted online, where he could easily have found it if he had any integrity at all.

All water under the bridge, but readers might at least see why people like "Albalaha" who trash my work without explanation (and sad little weasels like Dave who cheat to get the results they want!) don't bother me for longer than a day or two.

That said, the name of the forum where "Albalaha" posts is a sure sign that he has nothing to teach players who really want to win.

Bet selection is irrelevant to the challenge of beating the house advantage in casino games of chance.

If you have two or more options to choose between, you are much better served sticking with one or the other than hopping back and forth.

The only determining factor in long-term profitability is how much you bet and when, and in effect, switching from one choice to another can double your chances of losing.

For example, my (verifiable!) single-zero roulette model confirms that it is entirely possible to win on all six even-money propositions at the end of a long session at the table, assuming you can accurately track the optimum bet values for red AND black, odd AND even and first AND last without blowing a mental gasket.

The essence of Target is, of course, progressive betting.

And progressive betting is the only way to overcome the otherwise certain negative effect of losing more bets than you win.

Many of you will know the mantra very well: If you bet in such a way that you win more money when you win than you lose when you lose, then losing more often than you win won't hurt you.

Betting six ways to Sunday as above isn't something most solo players could handle, but backing both propositions at baccarat can be just as successful:

I am often chided for making life too complicated for the average punter, and I never apologise for that.

Far better to back my statements with proof, I believe, than to behave like so may of my critics and dismiss a viable betting method without corroboration or explanation!

The baccarat outcomes summarized above are from the first 2,000 shoes in the 10th tranche of simulated decisions (25,000 shoes in each!) posted online by the Wiz of Shills before he cashed out.

Of course the big problem with all simulations (mine included) is that they cannot tell us what WILL happen, only what CAN happen.

Massive data sets that seem to cause a fixed betting algorithm to crash and burn can only do so if we accept that a gambler with a huge bankroll would happily throw it all away rather than take any defensive action when things get really, really tough.

Target 3-Play and the other riffs on my original algorithm (Turnaround, first posted online 20 years ago!) demand progressive betting, and that puts very large sums of money at risk from time to time.

But my approach applies a bet limit, with a fixed maximum and a brake on how much greater a bet can be than the one that preceded it.

It also freezes or even reduces bet values when a prolonged losing streak calls for defensive action, little details that Dastardly Dave and his ilk prefer to ignore.

The baccarat summaries above confirm that backing Player all the way routinely nets bigger profits than following the standard shill advice to "always bet on the Bank because it wins more often."

Sure, Banker catches more wins overall.  But the drip, drip, drip of "5%" commission shaved off every payback adds up to a bloody red torrent at the end of the day (70% of the total win in the first 1,000 shoe set above, and 66% in the second).

So, Mike at betselection.cc thinks I may be a shill in disguise, just like Mr. Shackleford.

The truth is that casino games really can be consistently beaten, and the casinos know that better than anyone.

Progressive betting is Casino Enemy Number One, which for most people means doubling up from an opening 1-unit bet after a loss, doing it again and again (-1, -2, -4, -8, -16...) until an eventual win delivers an overall profit of one unit.

I prefer a modification that adds +1 after an opening win until a loss, then repeats before resuming doubling (+1, +2, +3, +4, -5, -10, -25, +50) but that's not the Target way and I am just demonstrating that the much-derided Martingale is not the only way to go.

Folks like Mike happily buy into the myth that casinos love system punters, with Las Vegas pioneer Benny Binion RIP often quoted as saying that he sent chauffeured limos to bring the poor saps to his door.

The truth is that if you, Dear Reader, ever sit down at a casino table game and launch an obvious progression, you will have a pit critter purring at your elbow in no time flat.

Casino personnel never lift a finger when an idiot is throwing his money away (why would they!) but put a Martingale or similar into play, and friendly advice will soon come at you from all directions.

So, the TRUTH is that shills are in business to convince punters that there's no way to win in the long run, but never mind...losing is such fun.

A charlatan is a creature of a different stripe, someone who will ding you for $5,000 and sit you down for a two-day seminar "teaching" you that baccarat can be beaten by using past trends to predict what's going to happen next.

It can't work, it doesn't work...but then again, it does, as long as you're the guy giving the lecture, rather than the mark sitting in the audience.

Target, Turnaround and all its variations are about pattern betting, as the intro to this blog has been saying since Day One.

I can't tell you what the next decision in any game will be, but I can guarantee you that if you bet the right progression, you will see a losing sequence turn around in five bets or fewer about 80% of the time, and in 10 bets or fewer 95% of the time.

Will the other 5% kill you?

It will if you sit tight and keep betting larger and larger amounts until you go broke, that's for certain.

But if you do as no simulated robot can and take a break whenever you feel like it, resuming the algorithm at the same values elsewhere when you are ready, the patterns of wins and losses that apply more than 95% of the time will probably (but not definitely) get you out of trouble.

It won't always be easy and it won't always be fun.

But in the end, winning is always better than losing...and the casinos can handle a few more winners.

Too often, I'll hear that the bet values Target requires are too rich for the average punter.

Sorry about that, but it's the reason the average punter always loses in the end.

You know the rule: If you can't afford to win, you shouldn't play...

Casinos have the edge in all their games, obviously, but even they see occasional slumps when all the numbers they know inside out and upside down take a temporary break, and madness prevails.

What Target does, as regular readers know, is to tell you when you have won enough.

Most gamblers are undone by greed as much as by ignorance.  They press and pull back randomly, with no notion of the damage their behavior is doing to their long-term prospects.

You can't neutralize a prolonged losing streak by hurling money at it, but as long as you are betting below your max, chances are that a move will put you alongside a more "normal" win-loss pattern.

As for moving from game to game, often the decision will not be yours to make.

Table limits are in place solely to confound progressive betting, and as soon as your next bet value exceeds the prevailing limit, it's your cue to take up your chips and walk.

Here's a fact: the sum total of all your bets of below average value will always be negative, while high-value bets will add up to a profit sufficient to offset the low-value losses and put you ahead.

Look at the baccarat summaries above. 

It's all there, un-fiddled, un-fixed and un-faked, UN-like the methods of Dastardly Dave and other shills whose job it is to convince you that you can't win in the end.

Sure, the sums at stake in 160,000 rounds of robotic, non-human, simulated play are often gigantic, and very few of the world's baccarat players could handle the...er...handle.

Doesn't matter.

The message from the You Can't Win contingent will always be that the house advantage at games of chance is mathematically unbeatable.

It's just not true.  The odds can be beaten.  The casinos know it.  And that's why they need shills.  

An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bovada, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this. _

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bottom line: If you bet randomly, you will probably lose; If you bet progressively, using a consistent strategy that includes rational self defense, you probably won't. The casinos know this, and you should too.

The bad news, of course, is that if you take on any house game with inadequate funds, the best strategy in the world won't save your bankroll.

I don't spend as much time as I used to bouncing around the web looking for useful insights into gambling because I know that most of the information out there is disinformation.

I'm tackling a couple of common examples of what I call "mythematics" this time because they illustrate how far some people will go to mislead gamblers.

The first holds that anyone promoting any form of betting strategy is foolishly challenging the great wisdom of a long line of mathematical geniuses who, for centuries, have demonstrated that if you lose more often than you win then in the long run you must also lose more money than you win.

The other is a more modern interpretation of the conventional wisdom which says that since every bet in a game of negative expectation is subject to the same negative probability (-1.32% for baccarat, for example), then every bet of any value is subject to the same loss percentage.

So, if in 10,000 rounds you bet $100 500 times for a total of $50,000 four centuries of mathematical geniuses will spin in their graves if you don't lose $50,000 x -1.32% = -$660.

Logically, the same applies to all other bets, regardless of their value, and if in 10,000 rounds you see $500,000 worth of action against a house edge of 1.32%, you'll leave $6,600 behind in the casino's coffers.

It all sounds so sensible and logical.

And if you bet randomly, it's also TRUE.

Progressive betting throws a spanner in the works, as they say in England, because it's not random.

Bets increase in value in response to an anomalous prolonged negative trend, and fall back to the minimum value once prior losses in given sequence of rounds have been recovered, plus whatever modest profit the strategy requires.

So for example, -1, -2, -4, -8, +16 delivers a profit of +1/31 = +3.2% against a house edge of -3/5 = -60.0%.

Expectation (meaning the probable outcome) for the sequence was -60.0% x 31 = -19 units.  And as usual, expectation was WRONG.

What happens with progressive betting (and I don't recommend a simple double-up or Martingale like the one above) is that the next bet value is adjusted after each successive loss in the demonstrably reasonable belief that a run in the house's favour cannot last forever.

Simply put, the objective is to recover prior losses in fewer bets than it took to fall into a deep red hole. 

In the simplistic example above, we lost four bets and won just one, but the win recovered the losses from the four wrong bets that preceded it.

This is all old territory for regular readers of this blog, so I'm simply going to put up some screen shots that demonstrate that the conventional wisdom (and the wisdom of the ages) is right on the money if bet values are random...but is just plain wrong against a progressive strategy.

In the model that supplied the snaps below, Target 3-Play was deployed against 10,000 random outcomes from a RNG set at -1.4%.

Random betting from 1 to 5,000 units per round was applied to the same data set, and wins and losses from both methods were separated into bets above/equal to and below the 2,500-unit mid value.

Logic required that given progressive betting, bets of 2,500 units and above would see a loss/win differential that was lower than either the overall negative expectation, or the loss expected from bets below the mid value.

The fact is that casino games of chance are designed so that extended swings in the house's favour will be relatively rare, but in the long run, the house will win more bets than the player.

There's nothing altruistic or generous about this design.  It simply responds to the plain truth that if casino games were impossible to beat, no one would play them.

And obviously, no punters means no profits.

So, $10,000 of action against a game with a (negative) expectation of 1.32% will probably result in a player loss of at least $132 as long as bet values are randomly selected.

The house percentage is almost always boosted by such factors as player greed, stupidity, insobriety (hence those "free" cocktails) and inadequate funding.

I put a time and date stamp on the model so you can see that these are successive outcomes: 50,000 randomly-generated rounds in all.

AV indicates the actual value of a given data set expressed in percentage terms.

So in the 5th snap above, 5048 losses vs. 4952 wins gave an AV of -96/10000 = -0.96%.

Random bets between 1 and 5,000 units saw a loss of -1.15% which is in the flat AV ballpark.

Target 3-Play, meanwhile, squashed negative expectation by achieving a win against the same data set equal to more than +11.0% of total action.

More importantly, high bets (above 2,500 units) saw an overall positive expectation above +50.0% while low bets (below 2,500 units) recorded a -2.0% AV.

There is nothing uncommon about these results.  And nothing illogical either.

The whole point of progressive betting is to first accept that you are going to lose more often than you win in the long run, and then bet in such a way that when you win, you win more on average than you lose when you lose.

In Sample #1 above, Target's average win value was 122% greater than its average loss value, followed by 109%, 111%, 117% and 128% for a five-session (50,000 rounds) average of +115%.

Apply that average percentage to a notional block of 50,000 outcomes in which the AV proved to be -1.06% with 25,290 losses and 24,710 wins.

Now assume that the average losing bet was $100 and the average winning bet was $115.

Crunch those numbers, and you get losses of $2,520,900 offset by wins worth $2,841,650 giving you a win of $320,750 (+6.0%) and more money than you started with in spite of the fact that, as expected, you lost more bets than you won.

There's no cheating here, no fiddling or faking, just plain and reliable old arithmetic rather than the mythematics so vigorously promoted by the casinos.

Of course, you would be right in surmising that if I pulled up my model and kept pressing the recalc key, eventually I'd see a horrendous flood of red numbers showing that Target 3-Play had crashed and burned, wiping out all its past profits as if by divine ordination.

But here's the thing: Wipeout can only come if a player does nothing whatever in response to a succession of punishing losses, the most appropriate tactic being a suspension of betting and a move to a different game or layout, or even a different casino.

The fact is that streaks lasting longer than three decisions in either direction (LLL or WWW) occur less than 15% of the time in an honest game.

That's not to say that they don't occur often enough to hurt us, but it does tell us that if bad runs keep coming up in the same recovery series or sequence of bets, we need to pay attention.

Sims that "prove" that no betting strategy can beat negative expectation rely entirely on what I call the Inertia Fallacy, and inertia can be interpreted as an acronym for I Never Ever Respond To Insane Anomalies.

Insane anomalies are a fact of life in any game with a house advantage.

A less dramatic name for them is standard deviation.

And casinos depend on unschooled players to respond to punishing downturns emotionally and erratically, throwing good money after bad.

You must at some point increase your bet values in a downturn to have any hope of recovering prior losses.

But you can't do it haphazardly or randomly if you want to bet your way out of a slump.

Money management is the key, and the key depends on discipline and consistency.

It's not always easy.  Often, it's bloody hard work.  But is anything achieved without effort ever worth a damn in the end?

As for the huge bets that Target sometimes requires, think of the risk that the house routinely accepts  because it has faith in long-term factors that are always in its favour.

First is the house edge: 1.0% for blackjack, 1.32% for baccarat, 2.63% for single-zero roulette and so on.

Just as important are the things players can be counted upon to do to cripple their own chances.

These include going to the table with too little money, betting too narrow a spread, drinking "free" cocktails and losing focus and/or their minds, ignoring the arithmetic, and giving up too soon.

And then of course there's greed and ignorance, assisted by erratic, random betting.

All around you in any casino, you'll find rules that gently nudge you towards betting the way the house needs you to.

That includes a narrow ratio between the minimum and the maximum bet permitted at any one layout, 1 to 100 being the most common.

Don't believe the guff you'll read about limits existing for "player comfort" or to ensure that high rollers don't have to rub shoulders with penny-ante Peter Punters.

Limits exist for the house's sake and no one else's, because the house knows that allowing any player to bet a 1 to 5,000 spread at the same game will more often than not prove problematic.

The upside for the casino is that most players faced with a prolonged downturn won't get up and walk away, they'll sit tight in the belief that a bad run will end soon.

Conversely, winners will starting thinking they are invincible and will keep pumping their bets until at last they over-reach and push all their profits into the dealer's tray, plus a hefty penalty for getting uppity.
The best reason for taking big bets in stride and even welcoming them when the strategy requires them is that (surprise!) they're where the money's at.

You will bounce up and down at low bet levels, but a winning strategy really comes into its own when the going gets tough and the hole gets temporarily deep.

In the last summary above, you will see that there were just six max bets, and five of them won

And if in real-time play you could somehow track every bet and get a summary of win percentages above and below the median value, you would see a set of numbers that look something like this:

Blind luck! say the skeptics, when the truth is that by the time a max bet is called for under a very patient and restrained set of rules, the house must be so far ahead in flat bet terms with losses exceeding wins by a double-digit percentage, that a partial offset is mathematically inevitable.

It won't always come as fast as we'd like, but come it will.

Then as soon as a recovery finally arrives, it's time to quietly chalk up another success to discipline and consistency, and start all over again with a minimum bet.

That, of course, is the moment when most punters will lose their heads and decide to press their luck, keeping the chips piled high until they all disappear, never to be seen again.

Strategic betting tells you when you've won enough, and it's time to drop back to a minimum bet.

Strategic betting also makes you follow a strict set of rules, so that you don't have to keep track of the long-term numbers.

Winning any one bet is no more probable when you respond to a break in a losing streak by pumping your bet 4x or more from the previous bet.

But the good news is that it's no less probable either.

And because Target keeps on adjusting bet values in line with the loss to date (LTD) in a recovery series, if you miss one turnaround try, another opportunity will come along soon enough, and you know you will derive maximum benefit from a two win (or twin) mini-streak.

Random betting, which can be defined as any approach which fails to tie bet values to a win target, is what the house needs and expects from you, and most of you will do your duty and blow your chances of getting ahead in the long run.

You have to know at all times how far you are behind and what it's going to take in order for you to win more when you win than you lose when you lose.

Without discipline, confidence and commitment, you are almost certain to go home broke.

I say "almost" because the big draw for all casino games are the winners who get rich in spite of themselves, thanks to blind luck.

If you count on blind luck, you're a fool.  And while fools can win once in a while, like a blind squirrel tripping over a nut, their long-term prospects are very poor indeed.

Here's one last screen shot, until next time.

One of my models permits the random selection of 1,000-round blocks from almost 60,000 rounds of real play submitted to me or logged by me in recent years.

It also offers the option of 1,000 randomly-generated outcomes, along with tests against Zumma Publishing's 1,000-shoe and 600-shoe real baccarat samples.

It is very hard indeed to pull up 1,000 rounds that the Target 3-Play rules fail to beat in spite of a substantial house edge.

And every time the strategy delivers a profit, it thumbs its nose at the mythematical lie that casino games of chance cannot be beaten.

There's a lot of information in the above screen snap which shows why the conventional wisdom about progressive betting and house games is a crock of crap.

Especially worth a look is the line referring to the number of times Target 3-Play delivers a turnaround or recovery from prior losses in just ONE win.

In the summary above, there were 416 recovery/turnaround attempts in 1,000 rounds, and 173 of those (42%) succeeded, raking back all prior losses, plus a modest profit.

Of those recoveries, 129 came with a single win following one or more losses. That's 75% of all recoveries that did not need "twins" to get out of the hole.

And it's not all uncommon for 1-win turnarounds to occur 85% or 90% of the time.

It is fair to say that after pressing the recalc button several dozen times, each of them confirming T3P wins against 1,000 random outcomes with a negative AV, you will see a huge red number at the top of the model...a catastrophic crash 'n burn that could be interpreted as "proof" that God is always on the house's side in the end.

But horror stories like that depend on killer sets of losing streaks such as (and this is a real example) EIGHT consecutive losses, a single win, NINE losses in a row, one win, then -3, +1, -7, +1 and -4, +1.

That amounts to 31 house wins and 5 player wins, for an overall house edge of -26/36 = -72%.

Ask yourself if you would still be pushing out chips and watching them disappear after a downturn like that!

If yes, then you should stay home and set fire to your money and save yourself the expense of going to a casino to give it all away.

Sims (mine included) depend on the total elimination of common sense and good judgment.

Casinos depend on the same formula, and are very rarely disappointed.

And that takes us back to the first lesson: Bet randomly, and you'll lose in the end; bet progressively, with a viable strategy such as T3P, and you'll make steady money.

You will also be harassed, cheated and occasionally banned.

But that's just part of the game...

An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bovada, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this.

Monday, March 14, 2016

It's an international obsession, so let's get this straight: Oscar's Grind can help you beat negative expectation, but Target 3-Play can make you richer faster, with less risk. Just forget about betting strategies that are not progressive!

Now I've restated that important truth about gambling, I'd like to put on record that I am happy to see daily blog traffic hitting about 3x the numbers from this time last year, but I am still surprised that first-time visitors don't search for the latest post, then work back in time!

I say that because Target (formerly Turnaround) has always been, and was meant to be, a work in progress, and the nature of evolution is that the latest version of anything under the sun can usually be assumed to be better than whatever went before it.

I don't pay as much attention to this blog as I used to, but this week, I took my own little journey back in time and was reminded that my post about Oscar's Grind long, long ago remains the most read of all the 250-plus articles I have published here.

I learned about OG from a book by Tom Ainslie, and for a while accepted his claim that he had used the strategy many times himself and had won enough to pay for several gambling trips to exotic casinos in the Caribbean.

I loved his story about an ancient geezer named Oscar who spent his life playing craps, scribbling the outcome of every roll in a beaten-up notebook with an equally clich├ęd stubby pencil.

I even gave the Grind a go myself, doing well enough over several sessions for one sarcastic pit boss to offer to send me a weekly cheque for an agreed amount to save me the bother of visiting his casino day after day.

Even then, I was convinced that only progressive betting could beat the odds in the long term, and Oscar's Grind is basically a restrained, almost constipated, version of a simple double-up or Martingale.

It can do pretty well for quite a while, and is demonstrably a better way to go than setting bet values randomly, the way 999 out of every thousand gamblers tend to do.

I finally abandoned the method because it was boring.  After a while, winning is not enough.  There has to be at least a little excitement, which translates as jeopardy, however brief.

To put this in perspective, let's first clarify the conventional wisdom about casino games of chance.

The CW says that since even the smartest player is sure to lose more bets than he wins in the long run, it is a mathematical certainty that ergo, he must in time lose more money than he wins.

This is a line that is relentlessly promoted by casinos, their employees and their online shills, and it is simply not true.

You will have heard, no doubt, that it is possible to fiddle and fart around and fudge the facts for a while to come up with a betting strategy that wins against a relatively small sample of recorded outcomes (say 5,000) but the same strategy will crash and burn against the next data set of similar size.

That's a flat-out fib, folks, but we can all see that it is in the interests of the gambling industry to have us believe it.

For example, if we take 50,000-plus outcomes painstakingly logged from real-time casino games and simulations, even Oscar's Grind in its original version can show a modest profit:

The Ainslie version of OG calls for the method to be abandoned after a 20-unit loss, and if you try that, you won't see even the weedy long-term win shown above.  And you certainly won't cover the cost of a week in Barbados!

I tweaked Mr. Ainslie's (or old Oscar's) approach by tossing out the stop-loss, and that did OK.

One of the frustrations of the original rules set was that it made no provision for an opening winning streak in a new series or sequence of bets to be exploited, so I threw in a plus-one response with this effect:

Better, but still constrained by the rule that no bet can be more than the total loss to date (LTD) in the current series, plus one unit.

For almost three decades, I have been repeating the previous bet if the LTD drops below that amount, so if a 50-unit win reduces the LTD to, say, -20, I bet 50u again hoping for (but obviously never certain of) a repeat or "twin" win that will end the losing series or sequence with a 30-unit profit rather than +1.

Against the same real-time data set, NB = PB turns out like this:

Not too shabby.  But still shy of a proper return for all that hard work (53,700 rounds is about a year and a half of play five hours a day, assuming 150 rounds per hour).

So...what to do about pushes or ties?

Firstly, if baccarat is your game, never, ever bet on the tie.  And while you're at it, never bet on Banker either: the so-called 5% commission will cripple you.

Instead, simply double the bet after a tie, with this effect against the same sample, assuming OG rules:

Now we're getting somewhere!

I want to stress that this isn't a change in the rules to accommodate this particular sample of outcomes, any more than the rules of Target are ever tweaked to falsify results against whatever set of numbers comes its way.

Repeat readers will know that T-3 thrashes all the Zumma baccarat samples, as well as the thousands of simulated shoes posted online by the Wizard of Odds, aka the casinos' Number One shill.

So how does 3-Play do against the 53,700 mixed-game outcomes pitted against deal old Oscar?

Here you go:

Definitely better, we can all agree.

I am often asked how much Target needs to deliver a long-term win, and of course there's no definitive response to that question.

You might as well ask how much money you'd need to open a casino.

In both cases, the best answer is: A LOT.

As a general rule, a strategy player has to learn to think like the House, accepting that his entire bankroll is the bet, and once in a very great while (just as in high-stakes poker) all the money in the bank will have to be pushed out on the table.

The casino has "the arithmetic" on its side.

But so does the Target player, if random betting is set aside with disciplined consistence.

3-Play prevails again and again because the house needs three successive wins to threaten our bankroll, while we can get out of trouble most of the time with just a single isolated win, and when that doesn't cut it, "twins" will usually get the job done.

As for the mathematics of games of chance, a player will see tripled wins about as often as the house: -1,-1,-1 is less than a 15% probability and so is +1, +1, +1.

Simulations far smaller than 53,700 outcomes can sometimes defeat T-3 (and OG) but we have to ask ourselves if a real player would allow himself to get into serious trouble against a prolonged losing streak without taking any defensive action.

The best response to a killer losing streak is to walk (or RUN!!!) away and then resume play at another table, or even a different game in another casino, maintaining the NB and LTD values as if there had been no interruption.

I start to feel uneasy if in a given recovery series, the house gets five bets or more ahead of me.
I won't take flight after every run of five consecutive losses, because often a quirky slump like that can follow an equally unusual run in my favour, but by then, I am certainly paying attention.

Freak losing streaks happen, so the best rule is to suspend play the moment you begin to feel under pressure.

You'll be wrong about as often as you are right, but you will feel better for protecting yourself, and that's a good thing.

"Sims" rely in what I often call the inertia fallacy, a blatant falsehood which is critical to the casino industry's never-ending campaign to convince you that only blind luck can make you a (short-term) winner, and losing is lots of fun.

Sure, progressive betting pushes bet values to scary heights from time to time, but the moment you impose too-low limits or resort to unrealistic stop-loss triggers (like Tom Ainslie) the more certain you are to be a long-term loser.

The casino doesn't care how much you bet, as long as you bet randomly, and do so ever more erratically as "free" cocktails kick in to cloud your judgment and make you play like a fool.

The house can afford to do that because against random and/or low-limit betting, more losses than wins (an inevitable consequence of the house edge) will always result in more dosh losht than won.

Bet like a pro, and you will keep building a bankroll that will make you harder and harder to beat as time goes by, because smart play will put the numbers on your side, not the house's.

Better yet, start with a gigantic bankroll and courage and confidence to match.

That's what the house does.

And remember...If you can't afford to win, you shouldn't play.
(I have said all this before, more than once, but most readers don't take the time to scroll through 250 articles...and who can blame them?).

_ An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bodog, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this. _

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

As this blog approaches its 7th birthday, let's go back to the very beginning and make one thing abundantly clear: Progressive betting is the only way to beat casino games of chance, and anyone who says otherwise is probably working for the house!

Since I started this in March of 2009, I have taken a fair amount of flak for relying on spreadsheets to demonstrate that the conventional wisdom about table games is bollocks, and that disciplined progressive betting with realistic filters applied can consistently win in a casino.

The spreadsheet platform is ideal for this job because it allows me to generate thousands of random outcomes in an instant, and then test my winning algorithm against them one by one without anyone being able to claim that I somehow "cooked" the positive result achieved against a negative data set.

Defenders of the CW may not all be house shills, but many of them become so shrill and shrewish when challenged that I'm reminded of Shakespeare's line, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."

Their argument that "any amount bet against a negative expectation must ultimately have a negative result" is unshakeable as long as gamblers follow the herd as 99.9% of them do and set their bet values randomly or within a very tight spread.

But the moment rational, restrained progressive betting is applied with confidence and consistency, the house edge becomes irrelevant and fewer wins than losses will deliver a profit instead of the predicted loss over and over again.

I have covered all of this before, of course, and over the years, as spreadsheet programmes have evolved into the high-speed powerhouses they are today, Turnaround/Target has become leaner and meaner and vastly more efficient along with them.

These days I call my strategy Pattern Betting or 3-Play because those names more accurately describe the nitty-gritty of the methodology.

The patterns that matter the most apply to the predictable frequency of paired wins and "three-peat" losses, which comply with the law of large numbers and don't differ much from one representative random data set to the next.

I'm banging the same old drum again because I can't shake the memory of a sceptic who set out to debunk my algorithm, and when he failed to do so against multiple sets of verifiable outcomes, he dispensed with integrity, dignity and honesty and tossed out my rules one by one until he got the negative result he wanted.

The same weasel came up with the half-baked axiom that all bets of the same value are subject to the negative expectation that applies to the sample as a whole, and it's that bit of nonsense that I am keen to address here, along with some other deliberate disinformation promoted by casinos.

First, some pertinent outtakes from a spreadsheet that in some ways supersedes all the thousands of models that preceded it:

Doubters abound among my audience, and in some cases, they hint that perhaps I get positive results by doing as "Imspirit" did with my algorithm, manipulating the data until I get the big wins that support my thesis (although, of course, Dastardly Dave needed losses to earn his paycheck!).

With one exception, the data sets in play in the above screen summaries are readily verifiable: the two sets of "real shoe" outcomes in logs from Zumma Publishing, and two 1,000-shoe baccarat simulations posted online by the best-known house shill of them all, the Wizard of Odds.

The first column of outcomes are logged rounds played in real time against casino game simulations offered online by Betfair in the UK and by Ken Smith, creator of the Basic Strategy Trainer for blackjack.

It's worth noting that Betfair's online "demo" games are remarkably like the real thing, and permit a spread from £1 to £10,000.  The real-money games look pretty much the same, but limit bets to a far tighter spread and use software that responds defensively to progressive betting.  Don't even think about risking real cash on them!

First, consider the final results shown above.

It is, according to CW-pushers, "axiomatic" that while it may be possible to twiddle and tweak until an algorithm is created to achieve a win against a large negative sample of outcomes, the same method is sure to fail against any other data set of similar size.

So either you are hallucinating, or I'm a crook...

Never mind, the casinos need you to believe that you can't win in the end but losing is tons of fun, so we shouldn't be too hard on them for resorting to outright lies to defend their bottom line.

Pattern betting will get you out of a temporary slump with a single win about 90% of the time, because it is progressive and because most losing streaks will not last longer than two or three consecutive losses.

Check the numbers in the summaries: Around 50% of all player losses (25% of all rounds) are followed by a player win, and roughly the same percentages apply to player wins, most of which are immediately followed by a house win.

Streaks of three or fewer like decisions either way (-1, -2, -3, +1, +2, +3) account for about 85% of all rounds in a session and are about evenly split between the player and the house.

What matters is that progressive betting can show a profit from 1, 2 or 3 consecutive wins while the house needs a streak lasting four bets or longer to do damage, which is invariably temporary because of the natural rhythm of swings in each direction, which looks like this:

No single outcome can be predicted (whatever hocus-pocus charlatans might try to sell you) but once we analyse large data sets, useful patterns can be seen and profitably exploited.

Pattern betting has about a 43% chance of encountering the wins it needs to end a recovery series with a profit (+1, +2, +3) while threats (-3, -4 and worse) are about a 12% probability.

Even the limited number of specimen rounds shown in the screen snaps above confirm that if you bet right (progressively!) you don't need more wins than losses to get ahead.

An important element in long-term casino play is to avoid betting exactly the same way every time, as long as my algorithm's essential recovery rules are faithfully followed, and the methodology applied to the above sets was a simple variation on an ancient tune.

Basically, after an opening loss in a new series or sequence of rounds, we bet 5x, and do the same again after a second consecutive loss, halving the bet after a third loss in a row.

After a mid-recovery win, we bet up to 5x the prior bet (PB), dropping to 2x in response to subsequent wins.  Once we're in striking distance of a recovery, meaning that the loss to date (LTD) for the current series is less than PB, we bet PBx1.

I played a 1-2,500 spread here, and anything above 1-100 usually prompts at least one reader to wail, "They won't let you bet that much!"

Of course they will, but not necessarily at the same layout or game where you placed the first bet in the current recovery series.

Table limits are in place for one reason only, and that is to thwart progressive betting.

You will hear all sorts of other explanation for restrictive house rules, but they will all be blowing smoke: every casino operator knows progressive betting can consistently beat table games, and telling big fat fibs is the least of the tricks they will deploy to protect their bottom line.

It's also the reason a progressive bettor won't win against online "casino" games: The software that runs them recognizes betting patterns and responds to them in ways that an honest dealer cannot.

I have been back in England for quite a while now, developing a pattern betting algorithm for horse-racing, and it is a big disappointment that the UK Gambling Commission ("Keeping gambling fair and safe for all") not only fails to rein in dishonest online games, but does not monitor them at all once licensing fees have been collected.

Then again, the British government has a notoriously irresponsible attitude to gambling.  Nowhere else in the world is it possible to step from any town centre street into a mini-casino where almost £20,000 can be lost against rigged games in less than an hour.

Even the greedy USA recognises that high-stakes casino gambling can cause all manner of societal ills and takes care to corral big money games into specific locations far, far away from residential and retail zones. 

That means that a loser has to really want to throw his money away, traveling miles for the privilege, rather than dumping the family budget on a whim on his wobbly way home from the pub.

In my spreadsheet models, random rounds have to be played out consecutively without reference to bet values, and their purpose is to prove again and again that the "axiom" that games with a negative expectation are unbeatable is nothing but casino propaganda.

As for the nonsense that all bets of the same value face the same long-term negative odds, take a look at the max-bet summaries above.

The mathematical truth is that once the max has been reached, the house edge in the current data set (in this case a series or sequence of bets) is so far out of whack that the law of large numbers will exert a correction at some point.

We don't know exactly WHEN the tide will turn because we don't believe in predictive betting, but we do know that at the end of the day, or the week, or the month, ALL of our profits will have been derived from high-stakes bets, making table minimums all but irrelevant.

Only one of the five verifiable data sets used in this trial showed a positive flat-bet outcome (+0.15%!) and that case, as in every other, pattern betting steam-rollered the actual value (AV) of the sample and delivered an overall win that represented a significant percentage of the total action.

The data that matters is at the top of each snap above, but here's a quick look:

Sample B, 278 max wins vs. 278 max losses for a max bet win of 478,000 units (the all-bets win was 387,204)
Sample D, 135 max wins vs. 119 max losses (+200,000/248,357)
Sample F, 133 max wins, 109 max losses (+275,000/279,630)
Sample H, 343 max wins, 331 max losses (+150,000/247,132)
Sample J, 242 max wins, 248 max losses (+175,000/245,295)

I will not claim that these numbers are definitive and of course they will not be precisely repeated, any more than they can guarantee that any sample of any size will see more winning max bets than losers.

What matters is that we are looking at six separate samples of 5,500 rounds apiece with exactly the same algorithm in play against each of them.

According to the CW and all those house-propagated "axioms" the results you see cannot have been achieved.

The model I am showcasing here permits me to randomly "play" against large blocks of archived results that in most cases long predate the development of the Turnound/Target/Pattern algorithm and are set in stone in the spreadsheet, all 322,276 of them!

In the summaries above, you will see that my algorithm delivered steady profits from more than 13,000 series or sequences in which the house won more bets than we did.

According to the CW, each one of those should have ended with a loss, and even the 12,000 or so series in which we won more often than we lost "should have" delivered only small profits.

The mathematical foundation for all this is that is when you win you win more than you lose when you lose (meaning that your average winning bet exceeds your average losing bet by a percentage far greater than the prevailing house edge) you will always win when you "should have" been soundly beaten.

There's no room for flim-flam here, although I cannot flat-out guarantee there will always be green ink because any model or simulation creates an essentially unreal betting market.

For one thing, no one can bet from £5 to £12,500 against the same table layout, and my max is higher than the house limits at most tin-pot casinos, which know the arithmetic inside out and accordingly limit their punters to spreads of 1-500 at best (1-100 is more common).

Sims also require that the "player" take no defensive action whatsoever, even when he has just lost 12 bets in succession and is thousands of units in the hole, a distorting factor that I refer to as "the inertia fallacy."

In real play, we either switch to a higher-stakes layout when a table limit is reached, or we suspend betting in a prolonged recovery sequence, fall back to a minimum bet, and reactivate the postponed PB/LTD values when we can.

Probabilities are unaffected in the long term by frequent moves from one layout to another or one game to another or one game to the next, and if you like you can visualise an empty casino with 200 open blackjack or baccarat tables and imagine yourself playing out pattern betting with just one wager at each layout.

You'd win, and get some very healthy exercise along the way!

Certainly, no one in their right mind keeps battling against a bad run, even when they know that statistically, bailing out mid-series and decamping to another game does not guarantee that they won't be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Statistical analysis does tell us that prolonged runs either way are relatively rare (15% or less) so the odds favour defensive action in a prolonged downturn.

There is no way to know for sure that things will get better if you flee from a bad run, or that they would not have immediately improved if you had stayed put.

Just take comfort from the numbers: threats, defined as prolonged streaks for the house, occur only 15% of the time, so there is a good chance that the next game will provide you with the paired or triple wins you need to recover your losses.

You can't know that the losing streak you ran away from was going to get worse, just that if it did, it would hurt you.

And making a move instead of being a sitting duck in a fusillade will make you feel better.

"Chase" systems, as they are often sneeringly named, are derided by gambling mythematicians (and even by casino pit bosses if you will lend them an ear) because they push stakes ever higher until they finally "get lucky" and recover prior losses plus a small profit.

But it is their aggressive nature that enables them to succeed where all other methods fail.

For example, given a routine sequence that runs -1, -1, +1, +1 the flat-bet or random outcome would be a break-even, whereas a standard Martingale would be -1, -2, +4, +1 and pattern betting with the variation described above would be -1, -5, +25, +1.

So, the choice is between a wash (0.0%), +2/8 (+25%) and +20/32 (+62%) with the constant double-up Martingale running second.

The problem with double-up is that casinos routinely interfere with its use, blocking it entirely in some shops by refusing mid-shuffle play at blackjack and baccarat.

No matter, shrewd progressive punters simply stay on the move, betting at blackjack and craps where they can (because of occasional paybacks at better than even money) and otherwise making do with brief stops at baccarat and roulette layouts.

Every time I repeat that simple truth, it will be challenged, which tells me that most gamblers either don't pay attention to what is going on around them, or are deluded.

You will often hear that it is madness to risk, say, 128 units in pursuit of a 1-unit profit, and for a split second, the argument seems rational.

But what actually happens when a 128-unit bet comes home is that prior losses from seven consecutive bets have been recovered in a single wager, which makes the house edge in casino table games no threat at all.

And, of course, the smart thing to do is to pad the final win by raising the bet in the early stages of a progression, perhaps -1, -2, -5, -10, -25, -50, +100 = +7/183 (+3.8%) instead of +1/63 (+1.6%). The house edge here was -5/7 (-71.4%) so a win is an achievement to be proud of.

There is nothing "lucky" about progressive betting, for sure.

Its whole purpose is to spin a profit when more bets have been lost than won, and it does it series after series and session after session.

Most of my models track double-up, random and flat betting along with 3-Play against the same set of thousands of random outcomes, and while the Martingale often does well, it's a bust in real play because of logistical hurdles.

Much of the pattern betting algorithm is in place to camouflage the method: halving instead of falling back to a minimum after -n losing rounds, for example.

By all means, vary mid-recovery wagers during a losing streak, but don't mess with the turnaround formula when a win triggers a get-out-of-the-hole: at least the loss to date (LTD) plus the number of rounds in the current series, and never less than the previous bet (PB).

Perhaps the most important advantage of progressive betting aside from its consistent long-term profitability is that it tells you when you have won enough, and it's time to drop back to a minimum bet.

The biggest enemy for most gamblers is their inability to respect enough: They will keep pressing their luck in a winning streak, then refuse to accept that it is over, and in no time at all, their chip stack is back where it started. Or worse.

Forget hold 'em or fold 'em. What matters is heap 'em or keep 'em! You aim to win what you need, then start over.

I have tried to work with gamblers who insist that the only proper response to a prolonged losing streak is to pull back and "protect" the bankroll until a slow recovery turns the red tide back to green.

Stop-loss limits seem oh so sensible in theory, but in truth, scared money never wins.

You have to have enough money (ammunition!) in your arsenal to take you through occasional tough times and out the other side.

Gamblers who cave in when the pressure is on are the casino's best friends.

What we all have to accept is that the bankroll is the bet, and once in a great while, we might have to be ready to put it all on the line.

Certainly, we can't hope to save it by constantly surrendering great chunks of the bankroll and betting scared, because pretty soon there will be nothing left.

Instead, when the going gets tough (and it doesn't happen often) take a break, and remind yourself that if winning were always easy, there would be no losers, and no casinos either.

In my Las Vegas days, I did more walking than playing, and I was grateful whenever a dealer I knew would warn me away from their empty table with a signal that said that they were on a hot streak for the house.

Sims and models may not be the real thing, but they confirm that often, when things go bad, they will go very, very bad before they get better.  And, of course, no one runs away from a a winning streak, however improbable it may be.

Recording or remembering suspended losses and reactivating them in random order when appropriate may seem like hard work, and sticking with a core rule through thick and thin may require iron guts and very deep pockets.

But honest work should not scare anyone, and winning is always a whole lot more fun than losing.

Can we at least agree on that?

_ An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bodog, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this. _

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stop me if you've heard this before: If you can't afford to win, you shouldn't play (probably the best gambling advice you'll ever get!)

I'm not posting here very often these days, simply because I have said all I have to say about progressive betting over and over again, and even someone afflicted with acute blogghorhea has to get tired eventually!

Still and all, just lately I have had several e-mails from readers initially praising Target betting principles to the skies, then suddenly going quiet.

I can't help but assume that in spite of my repeated warnings that winning consistently takes a great deal of money on top of discipline, confidence and courage, they tried to beat the house with an inadequate bankroll.

The great trap for most gamblers, I have learned over many, many years at this, is that they want to make too much money too fast, propelled by the notion that somehow all the arithmetic that governs games of chance will not apply to them.

The truth is that sometimes, with a positive expectation ranging from less than 1.0% at blackjack to more than 5.0% at double-zero roulette and other carnival games, even the house suffers an occasional shellacking, and it's player greed, not percentage points, that eventually sucks their money back into the cashier's cage.

I'm often asked how much it takes to beat house games, and the best answer I can ever give is that it depends, much as I'd like to come up with a definitive number.

All any of us can do is to stay away from games of chance if we can't pull together a bankroll of at least 5,000 times our minimum bet, and even then, we have to stick strictly with the betting rules and hope that we can keep building our arsenal so that failure becomes a diminishing threat.

Yes, it's a lot of money, and quite possibly people with that much in their pockets are too smart to risk losing it.

But there is not a business proposition anywhere, opening a casino included, that does not require an initial investment far greater than the anticipated return.

In time, a wise investment will pay back the initial outlay and the gravy train will keep chugging down the tracks.  But time and money are two essential ingredients that most gamblers either can't or won't stir into the mix.

A few months back, I was with a guy in Las Vegas who was headed for a craps table with a $50 minimum, and he asked me to refresh his memory on the rules of Target 3-Play, which is about as simple and effective a strategy as you will ever find.

It took maybe half a minute to run through it again: After an opening loss in a new series, bet at least 3x your first bet, then double it if there's a second loss; after three losses, drop back to your minimum, and stay there until there's a win; after the win, bet your loss to date plus one unit per round, and be prepared to double the bet just twice before retreating to the minimum. So, three losses, drop back...how hard can that be?

Great! said he...then I watched him lose almost $2,000 without once following the Target rules.

When I asked him what went wrong, he told me he couldn't remember the strategy in the heat of the game because it was too complicated.

I'm blogging again today because I suspect a lot of people are just like my friend in Las Vegas, and suffer a sudden brain seizure the moment the going gets tough.  And that, of course, is exactly when discipline and confidence (and sometimes lots of CASH) are most important.

What progressive betting is all about is managing our money so that over time, we consistently win more when we win than we lose when we lose.

That's essential, because we can be certain that in the long run, we will lose more bets than we win.  The house advantage will see to that.

Using 3x as the second bet increase (I prefer 5x, but never mind that for now), we might see a sequence of rounds that goes -1, -3, -6, -1, -1, -1, -1, -1, -1, +1, -27, +54 giving the house an overall edge of -8/12 or 66%, indicating a probable loss of our action of about 66 units.

Instead, we lost 10 bets for a total of 43 units and won two bets worth 55 units, giving us an overall win of +12/98 = +12.2%
It's not always that simple, obviously.

Then again, a few scribbles on the back of an envelope will confirm that -1, +3 = +2 and -1, +1 (how most people bet) = 0.

I think we can all agree that breaking even is not a long-term winning strategy.

The way the numbers work is that about half of all decisions in these games are followed by an opposite decision, about half of those (roughly 25%) are followed by a same decision, and half of those see a third consecutive same outcome.

So, WWWL or LLLW, WWL or LLW and WL or LW collectively account for more than 85% of all rounds in any house game.

That arithmetic in turn gives the house just a 15% probability that it will see more than three consecutive wins.

Target needs two consecutive wins to recover prior losses in a downturn...and that's a 25% probability.

Sure, 4 to 1 is a long shot.  But because we apply damage control in response to a negative trend, we're able to keep our losses under control until the next turnaround opportunity presents itself.

Each time we fail, bets are recalibrated to ensure that next time we are given a chance of recovery, we will have exactly the right amount of money on the table.

Timing is everything in gambling, as it is in life, and if all we ever do is recover in two bets what it took us three bets to lose, we won't be "making a contribution" to the house's groaning coffers.

Most gamblers are random bettors, so they have little hope of a quick recovery once bad timing has dumped them into a deep hole, and the harder they struggle, the deeper they sink.

In contrast, we know that two wins in a row will always save our bacon.

Meanwhile, every time the chips pile high in the betting circle, our chances of winning are just a little less than 50-50.

All I can say to readers who have run out of money before turnaround came is that it is senseless to take on a Sherman tank with a pea-shooter (although given today's news about Russia's $200m update of a weapon that has been obsolete for more than 50 years, maybe I should substitute Armata for Sherman?).

The best way to build confidence in Target is practice, practice and more practice against games that won't cost you a cent.

I recommend the demo games offered by Pinnacle Sports, not because we can graduate to real money (they won't let us) but because they are in my opinion the straightest simulations available anywhere on the 'Net.

And don't pay any attention to lectures by professional shills like the Wizard of Odds who insist that no betting strategy can win in the long run.

Mike Shackleford's page should be retitled "The Half-Truth About Betting Systems" because his billion-bet sims limit betting spread to 1-6 and are in any event divorced from reality because of what I call an inertia assumption.

Here's how it works: If you keep betting like a robot through even the worst losing streaks you have ever seen, you will eventually crash and burn the way the casinos and their shills require.

Mr. Shackleford and his casino-sponsored peers like to deride the whole concept of progressive betting by saying that its supporters just keep increasing their bet values until they score a win, making any "proof" they offer meaningless.

But the Wiz and his pals have no problem creating "proofs" that require a player to be inert and insensible for millions upon millions of bets!

If, however, you act like a real human being and apply educated damage control according to a strict betting strategy, you will ride out the rough spots through thousands of rounds and stay ahead of the game indefinitely.

Here's a screenshot from a single iteration of a verifiable random sim which does not rely on a suicidal half-wit to behave as no real person ever would.

Instead, it features a much smarter player who follows the Target 3-Play algorithm and defies the "laws" of mythematics that are so enthusiastically supported by casinos and their hirelings!

Common sense and consistency really do work wonders together.

For instance, the "Zumma 1,000" baccarat data set available to all on the Internet hits Player with a -1.6% overall negative expectation, but Target 3-Play returns a +5.2% "player edge" after the equivalent of more than 1,000 hours of play.

Scary exposure?  Yes.  Occasional very large bets?  Yup.  Spreads wider than the Wizard's weedy 1 to 6?  Hell, yes!

But the point is that according to experts like the Wiz, no strategy can hope to stay ahead against a data set as large as 85,000 rounds.


In reality (also known as Las Vegas), it is possible to bet as little as $5 and as much as $25,000 a pop without special dispensation, but not at the same table.

Table limits are irrelevant to a strategy player, because if the next bet is too high for the current location, the odds of winning are unaffected by suspending play and moving to a higher rent proposition.

Sometimes, winning can put a serious strain on shoe leather, but even if a recovery stretches into hours or days rather than minutes, it's always better than losing.

If this is your first visit to this blog, you would be smart not to believe a word I tell you until you have spent several hours testing and learning the Target strategy against games that won't bankrupt you.

Target 3-Play has a win progression, too: +1, +2, +4, +4, +4, +4, -4, (15).

Against baccarat, I recommend doubling any bet under 100 units in response to a tie. I like to triple after a 7,7 tie and double-double after a natural tie, but just ask Mike Shackleford: I'm a crazy person.

At blackjack, double after a push up to 100u, and do the same at roulette (single-zero only!) after a zero or any middle-line number, win or lose. Bet black or red or any of the other even-money propositions, and don't hop between them (stay on black or red, odd or even, first or last).

At craps, bet only on the field when 6,6 pays 3x (avoid the game otherwise) and double up to 100u whenever the shooter sevens out.

The point of all these double-ups is to improve the recovery profit without getting greedy.

Greed bankrupts more gamblers than free booze or sheer stupidity, so be grateful that the Target rules don't just tell you when to bit big, but when to bank your profits and fall back to a minimum wager.

You will quickly learn that having no decisions to make is a huge relief.

I'm talking about betting, obviously, since blackjack is the only relatively safe game in the house that permits the player to alter his hand after placing his bet and before the dealer's hand is exposed.

Forget Pai-Gow Poker and 3-Card Poker along with Let-It-Ride and other game variations that essentially hand the house your head on a platter!

As for baccarat, avoid bets on Banker, because the so-called "5 percent" commission can easily clean you out (as in +95, -100, +95, -100, +95, -100 = -15 instead of break-even).

I hear squeals of protest whenever I say that, but it's the truth. Yes, Banker wins more often than Player, but the commission rip-off makes it the worst of the two bets in the long run.

In any two-choice situation, back the same one every time.

Think of a two-mole game of whack-a-mole and you have to concede that if you position your mallet between the two holes and wait for one or other of the moles to pop up, you're sure to miss more often than if you're poised over the same hole every time.

Give it a try next time you're at a fairground!

Good luck...at the tables (forget those pesky moles and make a little money instead).

(3-Play is a streamlined version of the progressive strategy that has been described here since March of 2009 and has been available to all since 1997.  At craps/field and roulette, it's not necessary to fall back to a minimum bet after three losses: you can simply suspend betting entirely until what would have been a win comes along, then dive back in with the appropriate bet.  At baccarat, you can sometimes sit out without leaving the table, and if you are at a baccarat or blackjack layout where the table minimum is higher than your own chosen minimum, you can either fall back to the smallest bet allowed, or quit the game and resume when you are in compliance with both the Target and the house rules.  Remember, your profit prospects are unaffected by stops, skips and switches.  Most gamblers believe they have to ride out a losing streak in order to benefit from an off-setting swing their way.  They're wrong.)

_ An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bodog/Bovada, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

To all of you who have ever been ripped off by online gambling sites, a friendly reminder: Winning is the best revenge! And if you like to bet on horse-racing, I can show you how to make a long-term profit.


After five years of doing this (this is #250!), I have reached the point where I don't post to these pages unless I am confident that what I have to say will be of interest, and hopefully some value, to at least a few of the readers who click this way day in and day out.

I have taken a critical position against online "casinos" a few times in the past (see the long-standing note at the bottom of every post) but gave up the campaign as a lost cause when it became clear that politics and vested interests will never make the bet-from-home process fair and safe for players in the USA.

What follows is a restrained, corroborated rant about the hypocrisy of the term licensed and regulated outside of our borders.

But first, I'd like to offer an analogy to help illustrate misconceptions about what public protection safeguards are likely to amount to once large sums of money have legally changed hands.

It's Main Street in Anytown, Anywhere, and a fancy new restaurant has just opened in an area where eating out options were once bland and boring, and a menu offering items more exotic than burgers and hot-dogs or fried chicken and pizza has been eagerly awaited for years.

The place gleams with newness and cleanliness when the doors swing open, and a big official certificate out front confirms that the kitchens and dining areas have been thoroughly looked over by professional health inspectors, and everything is A+ perfect.

For the first few weeks, critics rave about the quality and freshness of the food, word of mouth spreads, and the new joint is filled to bursting point night after night.

Then someone reports seeing cockroaches scurrying under the tables, and soon after that an entire family has to have emergency treatment for food poisoning.

More horror stories are reported, and pretty soon everyone in Anytown knows someone who has been to the Fancy New Place and regretted it, sometimes after getting very seriously ill.

But miraculously, the local health department's A+ accreditation stays on display by the restaurant door.

As a result, people from out of town who don't know better keep ordering food and putting themselves at risk, thinking that the meals must be fresh and the kitchens clean because a respectable regulatory body says so.

Anyone who thinks to jot down the health department's phone number and put in a call to complain is given the same official explanation.

The A+ rating was posted right after the owners of the restaurant paid a $250,000 licensing fee, and submitted a food safety report from outside inspectors who were hired by...the owners.

The rigid official position turns out to be that regular spot-checks on health and cleanliness standards are never carried out.

And remote health department updates occur on a prearranged schedule just once a year, a few days after a renewal application (and another $250,000) is received.

Again, inspections are not carried out by the public authority, which instead supplies guidelines to an authorized sub-contractor, and rubber stamps a fitness report paid for by the restaurant operator.

Crazy stuff, right?

I mean, what regulatory authority charged by legislation to protect the public would put its own reputation at risk, let alone the best interests and safety of the public it was created to protect, for a measly few million dollars?

Here are a few names:

The (UK) Gambling Commission
Alderney Gambling Control Commission
Government of Gibralter Remote Gambling Commission
Isle of Man Government Gambling Supervision Commission in association with
Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority

Early this year, an opportunity came along for me to spend an indefinite amount of time in England, and I jumped at it because it would give me access to online betting services that, officially regulated under the terms of a 2005 gambling law as they are, are certain to be honest and upright.

Or so I thought.

But here's the way it really works.

Because the British Government doesn't want to soil its pristine image by being directly involved in something as seedy as gambling but needs all the tax revenue it can get, it dodges the dirt by creating outside bodies to get the gambling money machine rolling.

Lotteries have been running for years in the UK, but what some people see as a tax on stupidity (and I'll admit, I buy lottery tickets most weeks!) has somehow become respectable the world over, and Britain offers games that are almost uniquely fair.

All prizes are free of income tax, hallelujah!  And a very large percentage of lottery revenues go to a variety of good causes without affecting government contributions (unlike in California, where the billions in lottery bucks that go to schools have enabled the state to pare its general fund education allocation, and squander our tax money elsewhere!).

So, schools in California are worse off than they were when the state lottery was launched for their benefit, while in England, stupidity taxes keep countless good causes and public projects running with more grant money than they ever saw before.

The UK Gambling Commission that was created in 2005 to oversee online "casinos" and bookmakers apparently didn't want to get its hands dirty either, so it promptly handed the groundwork over to a number of "approved regulatory authorities," most of which are listed above.

Not one of those bodies has any kind of mechanism in place to ensure that, in between licensing applications (and payment of fees ranging from more that $120,000 to $500,000 depending on anticipated revenue), its approved licensees actually run straight games.

There are rules that must be followed, and one of them at least is a huge improvement on the experience many of us can expect when we try to withdraw winnings from unregulated online operations in America.

In the UK, withdrawals from an online stash are credited to your bank account almost instantly, only very rarely taking longer than a couple of hours.  Imagine that!

My primary interest in British gambling sites, including those run by High Street bookmaking giants who have been in business for decades, is centered on home-based horse-race betting, which is made almost unworkable in the US because it is only offered as an afterthought.

I apply a variation of the Target progressive betting rules at the track, and focus entirely on favorites and second favorites, filtering odds without reference to any other data.

And because online bookies accessible back home provide very little information about changing odds going down to the wire, a 3-1 second favorite five minutes before the off can dwindle to 3-2 or less before the gate goes up.

That makes life tricky indeed for a betting strategy which relates next-bet (NB) values to a specific goal or target.

For example, if I'm down $500 and a qualifying entry—one that meets my odds requirements—presents itself at 4-1, I might trim my bet to $150 in anticipation of a little bonus on top of my win target, only to have the payback drop to 5-2 and leave me still in the red after a win.

The result in short, as Dickens would put it: Misery.

Another win will come along to mop up the red ink eventually, but delayed and unreliable information makes off-track horse-race betting in your underwear (or whatever) a frustrating business.

First-rate online tote-boards at some of the top US tracks take some of the anxiety out of the process.

But overall, there is a shortage of data that makes it smarter on the whole to stick with props in which the odds are relatively stable.

At one point, I was reasonably confident that shrinking odds after a bet was placed could be compensated for with frequent adjustments in the loss to date (LTD), but in the end I had to accept that flying at least partially blind was a problem.

I also had to concede that America's unlicensed and illegal online bookies had too much power on their side, able to stymie horse-race bettors by forcing them to wear blinkers, and even manipulating the odds on events that had more comprehensive coverage.

The UK's online bookies offer a veritable horse-race punter's paradise in comparison.

No-strings free bets abound.

Winnings are handed over almost as quickly as they would be at a High Street bookie's counter.

And most books offer a "best odds guarantee" that gives you absolute certainty not only that the odds when you placed the bet won't shorten, but that if the price actually improve before the start, you'll get the higher payback.

On top of all that, you can back either the Unnamed Favourite or the Unnamed Second Favourite, which is a big help if the odds on two or three entries are close,and it's hard to guess which of them will end up matching Target's filter requirements.

Target HR is anathema to horse-race purists who, like sports bettors everywhere, believe in stats analysis and "educated" betting.

They react with horror to the heresy that picking winners is all about numbers and only peripherally linked to form, pedigree, trainers, jockeys, track conditions and other variables.

Never mind that in 8,000 or so races in the UK and Ireland so far this year, favorites won 35% of all races and paid an average of 1.8 to 1 (9/5 or +180), second favorites won 21% at 3.6 to 1 (+360), and the bottom-line numbers for 2013 are almost identical.

At some point, I will have multi-year data covering starting prices on the four shortest-odds entries in every UK/Eire race for the past decade, but that's going to take a while.

In the meantime, consider a recent analysis that looked at more than SIX MILLION races in the USA and concluded that flat-betting favorites has a long-term disadvantage of better than -6.0%, or nowhere near the -30.0% negative expectation suggested by simply looking at the number of wins versus the number of losses.

Betting flat or fixed amounts or determining bet values randomly will still result in a long-term loss, but Target applies a modified set of its long-published progressive betting rules to make betting on both favorites and second favorites consistently profitable over time.

Information about the Target HR methodology is available elsewhere, so let's get back to the topic of UK-licensed casino-style games which all the gambling regulatory bodies above say with hand on heart have an average house advantage of not more than -4.0% (the minus sign indicating negative expectation for the player).

Years ago, I played several hundred hands of blackjack on the Bodog (now Bovada) website and discovered a house edge of close to 60.0% overall, about 60x the NE in a real game and plainly as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

Here's some recent UK data:

SkyBets "SkyVegas" craps, 62 rounds, 19 Wins, 37 Losses, House Advantage 29.0%
SkyBets baccarat, 143 rounds, 51W, 92L, HA 28.7%
SkyBets blackjack, 270 rounds, 85W, 185L, HA 37.0%

SkyBets all games, 475 rounds, 155W, 314L, HA 33.5%

As it happens, I play blackjack strictly by the book and I am a very disciplined, consistent player—but I would have to be very lucky indeed to beat a house edge of 37%.

Baccarat and craps demand no player choices at all if you always back the same proposition (player at baccarat, the field at craps).

So the only legitimate reason for results like those I saw is an exceptional run of bad luck...so exceptional that it happened three times in three separate sessions, then twice more.

There's a more likely explanation than bad luck when the unexpected happens again and again, and that dog's hind leg I mentioned before comes back to mind.

A couple more "casino" sessions in the UK:

Betfred blackjack, 40 rounds, 11W, 29L, HA (also expressed as actual value or AV when a sequence has been logged) 45.0%
William Hill blackjack, 45 rounds, 9W, 36L, HA 60.0%

The amounts of real money involved in these transactions are completely irrelevant, but every one of the examples quoted is backed up with account data downloaded from each of the "casinos" involved and available for verification.

We're not talking about a huge number of bets here, less than 600 in all.

But the pattern is crystal clear: five sessions, five losses, with a combined house edge vastly larger than the 4.0% claimed in filings that boast a 96% RTP (return to players), a figure that the "regulators" accept without question.

Not one of the five sessions with three different online casinos saw a house edge of less than 28.0%.

And, of course, the gouge in each and every session bears no resemblance to the numbers that apply to the actual games these robbers are imitating: craps, blackjack and baccarat.

Oddly, if you click up a demonstration version of any of the games on these websites, you will encounter conditions about the same as those you would find in a bricks-and-mortar casino.

You won't win every time, but if you use Target rules against games that mostly have a house edge below 5.0%, you will do well.  You just won't have any cash to show for it.

The very significant difference between the house edge at free-play games and what happens when you switch to real dough should be enough of a red flag to get the online regulators rushing to our rescue.

But wait...they weren't set up to protect players, were they?  Their function was, and is, to give the illusion of careful oversight while collecting millions in fees for doing nothing at all.

The official position of the "regulatory bodies" responsible for assuring fair play on the part of licensees paying up to $500,000 a year for government permission to steal from their customers is that casino software is merely required to prove an acceptable RTP over millions of outcomes.

The figures are never checked.  They are taken at face value.

And as long as complaining customers are clearly informed by a licensee that whatever their experience, it is "statistically insignificant," the casinos' humble servants in Alderney, Malta, Gibralter and the Isle of Man will consider the matter closed, time and time again.

It's simple enough to create a random-number generator that will simulate a house edge at different levels of player pain.  And if the authorities were truly concerned about regulation and control and the protection of trusting gamblers, they would do it themselves.

If they did, they would find that in order to get repeated numbers of the order I saw from consecutive sessions totaling 600 rounds, the simulation's HA must be permanently set at 20.0% or higher.

Of course, the only sure way for an "oversight body" to truly oversee gambling operations is to spot-check games by actually playing them.

And it has been made very clear to me that no such thing is ever going to happen in the UK.

Pity the poor rubber-stampers in Alderney, a tiny island in the English Channel with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants.

They pull in close to £20 million a year in license fees from gambling operations in exchange for cloaking them in fake legitimacy, but 90% of the loot is grabbed by nearby Guernsey, the local authority that brokered the cozy money-for-nothing rubber stamping deal with the UK government.

No wonder the six employees (four part-time) of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission couldn't care less about fairness!

As for the arithmetic of games of chance, it may be true that anyone who bets on a simulated game that does not include actual cards, wheels, balls or dice may deserve to lose.

And if that's the case, then regulation of online games is not needed at all, and supervisory bodies that give the impression that Internet "casinos" are properly monitored and controlled are operating under false pretenses.

My guess is that the only way the integrity of online games will ever be properly tested is if thousands of players get together, log their bets, download casino-generated account records for corroboration, and share their experiences.

But that's not going to happen either, because gambling is fundamentally a solitary pastime, even when 30 players are elbow-to-elbow around a craps table, all yelling their heads off.  The fun is shared, perhaps, but the wins and losses are not.

That leaves us with online betting propositions that can't be rigged, fixed, fiddled or faked, and horse racing is in my view the best of them all, at least in the UK.

Just remember, bet only on favorites and second favorites, and apply Target HR filtering and betting rules with absolute discipline, knowing that while the result of individual races may be unpredictable, and long-term numbers barely change from year to year.

Purists may hate to hear it, but like every other betting market in the world, horse-racing results are in the long run random.  So while experts, including the stewards, may do their best to predict the outcome of any one race, no one really knows a damn thing about what's going to happen.

We know that in 1,000 races or so, favorites will win x% and second favourites will win y%, but that is not much help if we are setting bet values randomly and behaving as erratically as the stats themselves.

That's why, as with all games of chance, it is essential to apply a progressive betting approach that exploits winning trends and limits the damage from prolonged losing streaks as much as possible.

It is mathematically impossible for random betting to win against a large sample of random outcomes.  And because their egos drive them to bet emotionally, the only experts who are certain to win in the long run are those with inside knowledge that is unavailable to anyone else.

Then, of course, they wouldn't be gambling.

Target HR is not for sale, but I will gladly give it away to anyone willing to help me expose online casinos—the dark side of book-making operations that have no choice but to be honest and accountable when it comes to sports betting—and the august public bodies that pretend to regulate them.

At the very least, I will need a log of bets clearly copied from a genuine "casino" website, along with proof that a complaint has been made to, and rejected by, the operator.

I'm willing to bet that if we pool all our data and analyze it with strict, verifiable accuracy, we will see a twisted house edge much closer to the 33.5% I experienced than to the 4.0% that "regulatory bodies" are naively bamboozled into believing...if in reality they believe them at all.

It's possible, I suppose, that an unbeatable algorithm has been secretly incorporated in the game software by its designers and that the "96% RTP" often quoted by commissioners actually includes a hefty skim to pad the percentage of the take paid to the game runner.

The online casinos would then be horrified to discover that nobody can win at their friendly games, and refunds in the millions would be dumped back into bank accounts all over the UK.

Duck, everyone...there's a flying pig headed our way.

_ An important reminder: The only person likely to make money out of this blog is you, Dear Reader. There's nothing to buy, ever, and your soul is safe (from me, at least). Test my ideas and use them or don't. It's up to you. One more piece of friendly advice: If you are inclined to use target betting with real money against online "casinos" such as Bodog, spend a few minutes and save a lot of money by reading this. _