Monday, August 29, 2011

There's only one long-term alternative to progressive betting. It's called losing - and casinos and their state sponsors consider it your duty!

(Sports book data is regularly updated on the Sethbets website)

Some points to ponder in the light of my recent foray into online baccarat and blackjack courtesy of the crooks at Bodog.

At 5,000 rounds, it was a relatively small sample in math terms - a tiny drop in a very big bucket when compared with the number of bets placed in even a mid-sized casino on any given day.

But 5,000 rounds translate to at least 30 hours of non-stop play for the average punter, so it's a "representative sample" by most people's standards, mythematicians excepted.

At the core of the "You can't win" axiom is the tenet that while a system or strategy can certainly be tweaked to beat a few thousand random outcomes, it is sure to fail against any other sample of similar size.

In the Bodog trial, Target beat 2,475 rounds of baccarat, then used exactly the same rules set to prevail against 2,509 hands of blackjack.

Skeptics say that the fakers and frauds who create betting systems (honest people never try, they tell us!) claim success by pushing bet values higher and higher until they are not only beyond the reach of most players, but are so enormous that no casino would permit them.

In the Bodog tests - as in all others in the past two or three decades - bet limits were deliberately set to be well within the range allowed in Nevada casinos.

Meanwhile, state governments outside of Nevada persist in mandating table limits that they claim will "protect" gamblers, knowing that mathematics will always confirm that restricted betting spreads can only work in casinos' favor.

Strategy debunkers (many of them employed by the gambling industry) point to complex, unplayable rules as just one of many impractical components of systems that are sure to lose in the long run.

But in the Bodog samples, when Target was stripped of all its rules other than its critical requirement that any mid-recovery win must be followed by a "turnaround" bet, it won 13.6% of its total action against the blackjack game, and 8.8% against the baccarat simulation.

Target's win and loss progression multiples and its responses to pushes or ties are all intended primarily to help conceal the use of a progressive betting strategy (although I admit that casino pit personnel are not always as easily fooled as I would like them to be!).

Those additional rules serve to substantially boost profits. But they also increase risk, which is why they can be modified or eliminated to suit each individual player's temperament...and resources.

But keep this in mind: -5,-10,-20,-40,-80,+160,+5 is a glaringly obvious Martingale sequence; -5,-5,-5,-5,-5,+5,+25 (the no-frills version of Target) is only a little less transparent but is at least dramatically less risky, with only 45u ventured vs. 315!

The comparative numbers for the blackjack sessions are: Bells and whistles +$51,590 (+15.2% of action), maximum exposure $36,000; No frills +$23,650 (+13.6%), maximum exposure $32,000.

For baccarat: B&W +$13,305 (+7.8%), risk $10,000; NF +$11,110 (+8.8%), risk $8,000.

I can hear the protests now: "That's crazy! I can't afford to risk $35,000 on a game that's all about having fun!"

And that's why the casinos and their shills and sponsors have us all by the short and curlies: It really is impossible to win without a bankroll that is sufficient to the mathematical challenge.

Hell, no one would think of opening a casino or starting a book with just $35,000 to take them through tough times - and those people have the odds on their side!

And the notion that losing is "fun" is almost too preposterous to merit comment, except that millions of people exemplify the definition of insanity by repeatedly returning to the tables with inadequate bankrolls, always expecting that this time, they'll win.

Sorry, folks, it can't be done in the long run. Although occasional (and always temporary) blind luck will keep those suckers coming back.

It is also true that gambling is popular because it offers the hope of being able to turn a little money into a lot.

And it works for cash-strapped state governments because stealing money from innumerate dreamers is politically preferable to the honest alternatives: cutting waste and raising taxes.

A late question: "How would a simple Martingale have done against the same two sets of Bodog outcomes?"

I'm so glad you asked!

Against baccarat, double-up would have risked $72,000 to win $5,745 ($10,000 and $13,305 for the bells-and-whistles version of Target).

Against blackjack, a "Martingaler" would have risked $17,000 to net a profit of $29,000 (Target risked $36,000 to win $51,600).

Double-up is progressive betting, and progressive betting works, as the casinos confirm with every new step they take to thwart its use.

Trouble is, it can't be played without encountering what card-counters used to call "heat" from pit personnel. The only way to dodge that is to place no more than wo or three bets at any one layout - and that's awful hard on shoe leather!

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._