Friday, August 26, 2011

It may be true that in the world of gambling math, nothing proves anything - but let's all at least agree that winning is better than losing.

First of all, an illustration of what a sucker-hook looks like (although you may prefer to use the term bait-and-switch, hustle, boiler-room, bunco, con game or sting, take your pick!).

The above shows where I'm at right now with my attempt to collect as many Bodog freebie blackjack rounds as I have hands of baccarat.

What I see in the red line above is that for a while, the game played out pretty much per the standard script, with the "house" seeing the expected benefits from a 1 to 500 spread, helped by an edge that exceeded the norm.

Then, as I made successive return visits and my IP address kept popping up, a flag went up in Bodogland indicating a possible convert from funny-munny play to the real thing.

All of a sudden, the game turned soft, not just for a little while (you all know about "standard deviation") but for session after session.

If I were someone who was cautiously testing the waters with risk-free play before diving in the deep end, I might be led to think that hey, maybe Bodog offers a straight game of blackjack after all.

Sticking strictly with numbers, the Bodog blackjack story to date looks like this:

And if pretty pictures are your thing, here's a couple of other ways to look at what's been happening lately:

Not bad for a tight spread, although my guess is that results like these could only have been achieved by progressive betting. Or blind luck.

The blackjack summary at the top shows Target's win with several bells and whistles set up to tinkle and toot and generally add to the confusion.

Their primary function is to make the progressive betting core of the strategy harder to spot, keeping in mind that the far more obvious Martingale or double-up approach is the land-based casino's worst nightmare once it becomes a serious threat.

But increasing the bet after an opening win (and subsequent successive wins) in a new series is not essential to Target's long-term success, and neither is responding to an opening loss with a 5x bet and boosting bet values after a second and third loss.

A player with relatively limited resources might be wise to keep it simple, because those camouflage moves can drive up bet values in a hurry, increasing exposure and stress.

A Target bettor can do pretty much whatever he or she wants, so long as the response to a mid-recovery win isn't messed with.

A win after a string of losses is always a signal to dramatically increase the next bet value, targeting the series loss to date plus a modest profit.

If betting the target value will cause problems at a given layout, it's better to switch to another location than to risk attracting the attention of pit personnel.

Contrary to the "expert" pronouncements of the Wizard of Odds and other casino consultants, pit bosses do not welcome progressive bettors. In fact, they hate 'em to pieces, like the meeces in the Mr. Jinks cartoons.

Years ago, I walked up to a blackjack table at Harrahs Stateline just as a new dealer was taking over, and as she shuffled the cards, she said something to the effect that she'd been "killing" customers since her shift began, and she hoped she'd be kinder from now on.

To which a sharply-dressed Hispanic gent to the dealer's immediate left responded: "You won't beat me!"

And when the dealer laughed and asked why, he added: "Because I have too much money."

Sure enough, he was a progressive bettor, combining perfect basic-strategy blackjack play with consistent, courageous money management.

I asked him why, as a serious player, he didn't opt for the third-base slot preferred by most blackjack aficionados, and he said he hated having the player ahead of him draw "his" perfect card (the 5 that would make his 16 a winning hand, for example) even more than he did watching someone at the far end of the table play like an idiot.

Can't say I agree with him on that, but it was a valid point of view.

He and I both did well at that table in spite of the dealer's ominous hello, and despite her continued breathtaking run of luck.

Both of us lost far more hands than we won, but because progressive betting enabled us to win more when we won than we lost when we lost, we parted company with more chips than we started out with.

I didn't see the Hispanic high-roller again, but my guess it that like me, he moved from table to table often, matching his target bets to the layout limits, starting low and recovering high.

Even when a target bet is below the current table limit, following, say, a string of $25 losses with a $400 turnaround attempt is not usually a good idea - it just makes dealers and pit staff pay unwanted attention.

I'm perfectly happy to walk away a loser, from a table or even a casino, knowing that when I resume play elsewhere at the right betting level, I will probably recover my prior losses and give my bankroll an extra boost besides.

As always, the key is consistency, courage, and lots of cash (the "three Cs" no winner can do without!).

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._