Thursday, September 15, 2011

Once you accept that progressive betting is your only winning option, you can modify the Target rules to suit your style...and your bankroll.

(For current information about Target's ongoing sports betting experiment, please go to the Sethbets website)

One of the most persistent myths about casino gambling is that there is something magical and unknowable about how the next few hands, rolls or spins will play out.

Most people understand that "the math" rules all table games, and that in the long run they are sure to lose more bets than they win.

But they assume that "the math" is a law of large numbers only - numbers with an excess of commas and zeroes - and that there's a good chance it will somehow give them a break for the next hour or so.

In fact, when outcomes (defined as wins or losses with no dollar values attached) are studied in relatively small groups or samples, patterns can be discerned that are repeated again and again.

Casino operators know that, and stake their huge start-up costs not just on the reliability of game stats both long and short-term, but on "the math" of player behavior.

They depend on their customers to either defy or be blissfully unaware of true odds, to react emotionally and irrationally to short-term trends both for and against them, and to accept that they will eventually lose.

Most people don't look for patterns, so the only ones they notice are the screamingly obvious streaks that either put them briefly ahead or wipe them out.

And most people would never think of linking their bet values to any agenda other than staying in the game for as long as their (usually meager) funds will allow and having as much fun as possible before their money runs out.

Not that there is anything wrong with fun.

Hell, without the happy hordes who revel in "free" booze and excitement, there would be no casinos, and nowhere for a cautious, conservative player who sees table games as an investment to make a modest profit!

I go back to risk-free games like those offered online by countless unregulated pseudo casinos because they offer the best way to collect the statistics - the numbers - that support the Target concept.

Real casinos don't permit any record-keeping at blackjack tables (other than their own), and while baccarat and roulette players are allowed to scribble notes on fancy cards provided for the purpose, it's a slow, drawn-out process.

I don't learn anything new when I set aside a few hours for yet more analysis, but it gives me something to write about here, and keeps me out of more serious mischief.

The only time I ever play for real money is when I have a lot of it to put in play - it really does take money to make money - and I admit I don't enjoy casinos as much as I used to.

The most critical rule in Target Betting is that you must at any time know exactly how far behind you are, so that you can calibrate your bet values to win back that sum - your target - plus a fair payment for your time and toil.

The latest blackjack and baccarat samples confirm that "nothing changes under the sun" - quick turnarounds, or recovery of prior losses, can only be achieved by varying bet values.

Flat or random bets don't cut it...can't cut it.

Take the most common sequence in table games: Win one, lose one, aka lose one, win one.

Either way, after two bets of equal value, you're back where you started.

No great insight there. But in the current blackjack sample (6,150 hands or about 30 hours of play), the bare-bones version of Target, which increases the bet only in response to a mid-recovery win, flat-betting until that moment wins $16,000 overall for a "player edge" of 8.5%.

Not too shabby, but if all I do is double the bet once after an opening loss in a new series, the win jumps to $17,885 (+9.1%).

More important, there's a 10% jump in the total number of turnarounds, from 989 to 1,086 - and the quicker you can turn a temporary loss into a profit, the better off you are.

It's moronically simple: -1, +2 is infinitely more profitable than -1, +1!

Exactly the same applies to the baccarat sample (938 turnarounds in 6,320 rounds jumps to 1,109).

(There are fractionally fewer recoveries in baccarat because blackjack has double-downs, splits and bonus paybacks for naturals).

Another Target wrinkle involves an opening win in a new series, and the choice is between increasing the next bet (NB) or repeating the previous bet (PB).

My preferred rules bump the bet after an opening win by 50% (x1.5).

Do that with the baccarat sample, and the overall win goes from $8,345 (+7.1%) to $14,115 (7.0%) - a hefty increase in profits offset by a proportionately much smaller jump in overall action, aka risk.

In the blackjack set, same story: a $16,000 win (+8.5%) without the x1.5 win progression rule, +$31,000 (+8.3%) with it.

Reinstate the x2 after an opening loss rule in blackjack, and you get a win of $35,000 (+8.8%) and in baccarat the equivalent numbers are +$39,000 (+7.3%).

You can also see the effects of blackjack's greater volatility compared to baccarat's sedate and slow (read tedious if you like!) process.

This is why I have gone to enormous trouble and expense to create spreadsheets that can tell me in an instant what the effects will be of very minor changes in the Target strategy.

It is statistically valid to be confident that one large sample of outcomes from any game with a similar house edge will be pretty much the same as any other, however hard the gambling industry's brown-nosed mythematicians may try to argue against that simple truth.

If win-loss patterns in table games (or any gambling proposition) were as haywire and haphazard as many self-described experts would have you believe, casinos would have far more to worry about than they actually do.

As it is, games have to be beatable by a few so that the many will keep coming back to be beaten, and the patterns that make it possible for some people to win some of the time are what Target exists to exploit.

We don't want to win now and then. We want to win consistently. And we know just how to do it.

It is nonsense for anyone to suggest that there will be a vast difference in a statistical analysis of 10,000 rounds of baccarat dealt from Table #9 (or whatever) in the next few days, and 10,000 rounds dealt and recorded a week, a month or a year later.

We can see from the summary below that blackjack and baccarat yield very different results, and we'd expect that because of all the extra betting options that blackjack offers and baccarat doesn't because the royal idiot it was invented to amuse would have found them too confusing.

But what is eerily consistent is the effect on both games of seemingly minor tweaks in the Target strategy.

And let's not forget that history is all we have to guide how we conduct ourselves right now and in the future - it is, in other words, the foundation of all experience and wisdom.

(You don't have to be a French lamebrain to find the figures above mystifying, so anyone who would like a detailed explanation is invited to simply ask politely until I get a chance to post one on the website!)

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._