Thursday, August 18, 2011

If you don't have a betting strategy, you will probably lose. If you do have a strategy, you probably WON'T lose - but if you do, it could kill you!

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It's a tough choice: trust to luck, and lose, or rely on money management, win most of the time, but go very, very broke if you lose.

Last time, I posted details of a 2,500-bet session against Bodog's online baccarat game.

It didn't take long for me to be reminded in feedback that after-the-fact info from any betting session (win or lose) is always anecdotal and ultimately irrelevant.

And as always, I had to fire back that since the present and the past are all we have access to (absent crystal balls), and since they provide the foundation for all experience...so what?

The fact is that Bodog's 1 to 200 spread limit, imposed by the game's $200 maximum bet, did precisely what it was meant to do and handed the house a win that far exceeded the 1.4% house edge that was the overall negative expectation for the session.

(Technically, since the data were from the past, the word expectation does not apply, but I am confident that those of you who are not pedantic nit-pickers will know what I mean!).

It is also true that once the Bodog table limit was eliminated and replaced with the Target max, the picture changed dramatically and the house edge was blasted to smithereens.

The over-arching and unpalatable truth is that unless you have a lot of money behind you and the guts to put it in play, you will absolutely, positively lose against the house in the long run.

And that's only fair.

After all, it costs a lotta dough to open a casino or start a sports-betting book, and even with the odds hugely in its favor, the house does not win all the time.

A strategy like Target - a progressive betting strategy, aka the only kind of betting strategy that can work in the long run - is at times intimidating and dangerous.

But without a long-term plan and the commitment and courage to stick with it, the house edge at games of chance (and even sports betting with random bet values is in essence a game of chance) will always defeat you in the end.

The other critical factor that plays into this equation is greed.

How much do you hope to win? The higher that number, the more money you will need, and the greater the risk you will have to face.

Casinos and bookmakers count on you to get in the game with inadequate funds and limited courage.

Do other than toe that narrow little line and they will think of you as the enemy, no better than a cheat.

That's another fact.

The sports betting real-time trial that I have been running for more than a year, with each day's selections always posted ahead of game times, hit a new high yesterday, taking total profits to more than $150,000 once again.

Since July 24 last year, there have been some seriously hard times, with the bankroll being depleted by over $100,000 in a losing streak that lasted for more than two months.

Before that happened, the BR was at almost $140,000 in profits and so was able to withstand the constant hits that dragged on for week after week.

It is fair to suggest that if that major slump had come at the beginning of the trial, it would have been fatal and the experiment would have been a total failure.

But that it is not how it was, and the odds against a combination of circumstances like that are tinier than infinitesimal in comparison with the odds against a random-betting player at any moment in the game.

I have talked before about the inertia factor or the inertia effect, which makes all simulations - including my session against Bodog's baccarat game - highly suspect.

Any sentient player sets limits on how many consecutive losses he will suffer before suspending betting or taking his money to a different game, and that is something that "sims" cannot imitate.

My major slump in the sports betting field was caused in part by changes I made to the rules in the middle of the game, changes I do not regret even now because I was responding to feedback from folks who I think had my best interests at heart.

The core of Target, the strategy's engine, if you like, is that two consecutive wins will most of the time enable recovery of all prior losses and the achievement of turnaround.

If prior losses are extra heavy when expressed as a multiple of the first winning bet in the midst of a losing series, then three consecutive wins might be required.

Because of my sports betting rules changes, I failed to turn around with FOUR winning bets in a row...and that's just daft!

Twinned wins happen a lot in table games such as blackjack and baccarat, and less often in sports betting on underdogs, which gives the bookies about a 10% edge vs. 1% to 2% at a table game (basically, forget games with a higher HA than that).

But they happen enough to make Target a very powerful progressive betting strategy, far more so than the notorious Martingale, which needs just one win to turn around but can often go broke waiting for it.

Target can be tailored for your bankroll, so long as you stick faithfully to the rule that the moment a win comes in the middle of a losing series, you must bet enough to achieve turnaround, or go a long way towards it.

Damage control can be applied along the way in accordance with your resources, limiting your exposure as you wait for a losing pattern to relent just enough for you to come out a winner.

Even after, say, 12 consecutive lost bets, your chances of winning your next wager are exactly the same as they were for Wager #1 in the losing streak.

But it is demonstrably true that prolonged swings in the house's favor must always be at least partially offset in order for the known negative expectation for the game to remain viable.

"Experts" like the house shills I referred to in my recent post will always challenge that certainty, spewing equations that "prove" that a losing streak never has to end.

But they are never able to demonstrate the truth of their "You. Can't. Win." philosophy.

In the Bodog baccarat session, the longest losing streak was (what a coincidence) a 12-bet horror story, meaning that at the end of that bleak streak, when a win finally came along, the applicable HA was -12/13 = -92%, in a game with a negative expectation of about 1.4%!

Did that HA ever go down?

Of course it did, so that by the end of the 2,500 rounds, the overall HA was back down to 1.41%.

In a prolonged downturn, Target doesn't need a matching opposite trend to recover - just two or three wins in a row. And it gets what it needs, over and over and over again.

The key to success is to understand the odds, take a break when the pressure builds too high, and know that it doesn't matter if you quit in the middle of a punishing losing streak and take your bankroll elsewhere to continue betting at the appropriate level.

If the stress is too much, back away. Turnaround will come soon enough.

My local casino has a $300 table limit for blackjack and it applies to every layout. So as a rule, when I hit $100 bets, I say goodbye, and take my business 15 miles up the road to tables where I know I'll recover my losses.

The method hasn't failed me yet, although sometimes I have to swallow a loss simply because I don't always have the cash I need to battle on.

It's all about numbers. Bet the way the house expects you to - needs you to - with tight spreads and random bet values, and your chances of winning are at best about 49.5%.

Use Target, modifying the rules to match your resources, and your chances of winning any given session soar to better than 99%.

Unless, of course, you choke.

I can hear the skeptics' cry already: "You mean Target only doubles your chances of winning? That's nothing!"

Do the math! Play like the sucker the casinos consider you to be, and the house has at least a 50.5:49.5 edge over you. Target gives you a player edge of at least 99:1.

More later...

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._