Saturday, April 11, 2009

To answer questions about Oscar's Grind, it's better than flying by the seat of your pants, but target betting is better still.

I get questions about Oscar's Grind from time to time, usually from people who want to suggest that there is a more than coincidental similarity between Oscar's variation on the money management theme and my own.

The two methods are as alike as an apple and an orange (both grew on a tree, both are spherical and have pips, both taste good and...that's about it).

I have always enjoyed the story of the origins of the Grind, which legend has it was created by a crusty old geezer who played just craps and used a stubby pencil to record the result of each roll in a battered notebook. Too many adjectives!

I'm more inclined to believe that like card counting, Oscar's creation is encouraged by the casinos because most people mess it up, and when they do, they lose more money than they probably would otherwise.

The idea as I recall it from Tom Ainslie's book How to Win in a Casino is to freeze the bet after a loss, add one unit after any mid-series win, and revert to a minimum bet after recovering prior losses for the series, plus one unit.

If the next bet in a series would exceed 20 units, it's Game Over and back to a minimum wager, and that's the part that makes me suspect that "Oscar" was actually a casino employee with evil intent!

A 1-20 spread has zero chance of winning in the long term, with or without following the OG rules. That's an absolute factual fact. With the loss limit removed, "Oscar" does marginally better than a random bettor on a winning streak and can stay ahead for a good long while with a decent bankroll.

Against the BST blackjack data set, for example, OG earned about 5.0% of target betting's win to date while racking up more than 50% of my method's overall action. That translates to a greater risk with a far lesser reward.

Mr. Ainslie's description of Oscar's Grind makes no provision for a win progression, which seems to me strangely short-sighted unless there is an ulterior professional motive. Incorporating +1u after an opening win, continuing until a loss, then freezing the bet per the standard rules and playing on until the loss is recovered +1u, pumps OG's win by more than 30% while increasing the action by less than 10%. Why not do it?

OG is a progressive betting method, of course, so it wins more often than not. It's just not a very good progressive betting method!

A simple Martingale does much better, my version of a Martingale is more effective than the original, and target betting knocks them all into the proverbial cocked hat (one of these days, I must look that one up!).

Now seems as good a time as any to revisit the topic of which games to tackle with target betting.

Blackjack is by far the preferred option because of its low net house edge and the extra profit opportunities offered by double-downs and splits and 3-2 payoffs for naturals (never play at a layout offering 6-5, unless you are stuck at the last blackjack layout on earth).

Field betting at craps is a great place to start a series and take a break from blackjack, because of the x2 payoffs for 2 and 12 that are still x2 and x3 in some casinos. The negative odds are more than 5x blackjack's with x2x2, so you should never let the bets get too high before bailing out for a safer game.

Baccarat is the #2 option, but you should never, ever bet on Banker. That so-called "5 percent" commission is one of the great lies of gambling because it can easily swallow all your winnings and leave you in the hole in spite of your best efforts. I'll be posting more about that one of these days, with the help of the baccarat data sets from Lee Jones and Lorenzo Rodriguez (all 300,000+ of 'em!).

Roulette is a wonderfully streaky game best played (in my opinion) with the "wobble" method of picking black or red, odd or even, or whatever - never "inside" bets. Wobble is from WBL which in turn means Win Before Last, or as the French have it, avant derniere (or is it the other way around? I can never be sure!).

The big problem with roulette, of course, is its 5.26% house edge. So, again, kick off a new series (or several) at roulette if you must, but always back off before the NB gets out of hand, and take your LTD/NB numbers to a more player-friendly game.

Just don't rely on old Oscar, may he RIP. Mr. Ainslie claims to have paid for several gambling trips to the Bahamas with that method. Guess he's just a lucky cuss...?

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.