Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Betting progressively with a wide spread doesn't mean greater risk. More often than not, it's safer than staying at a low-limit table.

It's fair to say that no one sample of outcomes, especially one as small as 5,000 rounds, is proof of the Big Picture.

But the "you can't win" mythematicians are adamant that negative expectation cannot be beaten, and equally insistent that raising bet values is the worst possible way to get out of trouble.

They lie.

Small as the Bodog blackjack sample may be in relation to the millions of bets that are placed in casinos worldwide every day, patterns emerge that are relevant to the challenge of winning consistently.

After all, when you - yes, I mean You! - take out your wallet in a casino, you'll make at most 200 bets an hour, and not more than 1,000 before you call it a day.

And the house will expect to have you opening your wallet again and again long before you reach bet #1,000.

The idea that bigger bets mean bigger risks and therefore bigger losses is yet another of the myths of disinformation that casinos foster in order to discourage the idea that their games can be beaten in the long run.

Taken at face value, it's true that more money at stake means more money lost, but only for gamblers who follow the herd and bet tight spreads.

A player who bets $1,000 to $5,000 a hand is, obviously, just as likely to lose as one who bets $5 to $25 - he'll just have more to complain about.

Widen your wagering spread from the smallest permissible bet (usually $5) to the largest available table limit (well above $25,000 on the Las Vegas Strip) and you will beat negative odds every time.

It can't be done with a picayune bankroll, obviously - but life as a grown-up will have taught you by now that making money without money to start with is a very tough proposition indeed.

When I played through all those tedious Bodog blackjack sessions, I started each new series with a $1 bet and used the rules already published here to bet all the way up to the skimpy table max of $500 whenever necessary.

The Bodog practice games permit a $1,000 virtual buy-in, and whenever I busted out, I clicked up another grand and resumed betting at whatever level was appropriate.

The result of each hand (win, lose, push, double, split, natural and so on) was faithfully recorded, bet values and all, and at the end of every session, I keyed the data into a spreadsheet.

A grid of conditional formulas then "replayed" the Bodog results with real-world bets according to a rules set that can be varied at will (hence my ability to tell you what the final 5,000-round outcome "woulda" been if I had played things differently).

The summary above confirms what I have been saying for years: A tight spread will kill ya.

It's no surprise at all to me that in all but seven out of 23 sessions, betting Bodog's table limit resulted in MORE money at risk, not less, and a final outcome that was negative in spite of the fact that I won more hands than I lost.

That's exactly how it goes in the real world - although there's not a casino anywhere that will permit blackjack hands to be recorded in a log, so you'll have to take my word for that!

The good news is that the results shown above are supported by simple logic.

Whatever your maximum bet limit may be (the most the casino will allow, or the most you feel you can afford), the sooner you reach it, the more certain it is that your goose will be cooked.

Progressive betting of any stripe requires wiggle room. And when you can't recover your losses in fewer bets than it took you to get into trouble, your chances of getting ahead again are virtually nil.

The flipside is the narrower the spread between a casino's min and max, the more likely it is that any player will end up a loser.

Bodog's 1-500 spread is, in fairness to the crooks who run the game, vastly wider than most people would even think about adopting for their own play.

Too risky, they'd assume. And, of course, they would be wrong.

At the end of the day, Target's real-world (by which I mean Nevada-style) betting levels resulted in more than a 12% hold of all action - action that was 10% less overall than Bodog's low table limit required.

There's nothing wrong with my math.

I take great pride in knowing my numbers and checking them a whole lot more often than twice.

No one should sign on for any gambling proposition without a full understanding of the mathematics involved.

Casinos know all about the power of progressive betting, which is why they go to such lengths to obstruct its use.

And the sad thing is that the disinformation they put out to bolster such measures as tight table limits and shuffle delays are widely believed.

After all, casinos wouldn't offer games if they could be beaten in the long run, right?


Casinos need winners almost as much as they need losers, because winners provide losers with hope and inspiration.

If table games were truly unbeatable, winners would be like hurricanes in Hertfordshire - they'd hardly happen.

It's just sound business for casinos to do whatever is necessary to make sure that winners comprise as small a minority as possible.

And as far as they are concerned, a consistent winner is their enemy.

Come back soon and I'll post comparative results from my Bodog baccarat sessions. I can promise you ahead of time that they will tell the same story.

UPDATE at 2:00pm:-

Same story...some of the time.

The big difference between the Bodog baccarat simulation and the blackjack game is that the baccarat spread is just 1-250, so overall, Target's Nevada limits ($25,000 vs. $250) resulted in action that was 43% greater overall.

Given a table limit that was 10,000% higher than Bodog's, the "experts" would have you expect a far more dramatic difference!

As it is, Target delivered an 8.0% "hold" of its slightly higher action (a win of more than $23,000) vs. the -3.0% $6,200 LOSS that was caused by the tight spread imposed by Bodog.

And five times in 15 sessions, a $250 cap resulted in more money in play as well as more money lost compared to a table limit 100x greater.

QED, as those ancient Romans used to say...

A few more words about baccarat, Bodog-style: I just checked my logs and discovered that at no time did I bet more than $200. I can't guess why - the screen shots confirm the actual table limit was indeed $250. I bet $200 718 times for a total loss on max bets of $4,000. If I had bet the maximum, the overall action for the 15 baccarat sessions would have been increased by $35,9000 to $237,902 - making the difference between Target's "Nevada" action and its Bodog action 21%, not 43%. That's what I get for checking things thrice - and I thought you'd all want to know.

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._