Friday, September 30, 2011

Target Betting's second most important function (winning is Job #1) is to tell you when to throttle back and start over.

(For updated information about Target's ongoing sports betting experiment, please go to the Sethbets website, or click here for an introduction to progressive betting, and here [20] and here [5] for current picks)

Knowing when to quit is the toughest decision any gambler has to make.

And it's not necessarily easier to make the right call at the right time when you are well ahead of the game and it seems you can do no wrong.

Target Betting never set out to be "Gambling for Dummies" but because it has a comprehensive set of rules that cover every possible eventuality, sometimes it seems that way.

No decisions are necessary, once you have opted to put your betting future in Target's hands.

A player is at his or her most vulnerable when things are going well.

What's the smartest move - quitting while you're in the chips, or playing on to make even more?

A wise man I once knew defined enough as "Just a little more than you have right now," and that's probably the way most gamblers feel.

But Target Betting is about long-term profits, not short-term thrills, which is why some people believe it takes a lot of the "fun" out of gambling.

Casinos are full of people who were nicely ahead at one point, but are now sliding back towards the awful moment when they'll once again be playing with their own money.

Target's primary function is to respond to a bad situation in such a way that it can be turned around as quickly as possible.

It does well in the long term because it recognizes that in games of chance, trends either way are short term.

And "riding" a winning streak by keeping bets high until it ends is exactly what casinos expect us to do.

Target tells you when the winning's done: It's the moment when you recover all your prior losses plus a small profit, and drop back to a minimum bet.

The strategy doesn't meet most people's idea of excitement because it has modest expectations.

And to some, settling for less is the antithesis of courage and daring.

More than once, I have had other players almost berate me for abandoning a winning streak.

They feel that after a couple of big wins, the right thing to do is to "make the most" of a good thing and keep up the pressure.

But the only sure way to know a winning streak is "over" is when all your money's gone.

And when it comes to casino betting, I'm not a big fan of roller-coasters.

It might seem tame and timid to keep dropping down to little bets after winning big ones, and table limits (minimums as well as maximums) can make it tough on shoe-leather.

But in the long run, it's the only way to win.

And it's also the reason why again and again, the Target method wins while requiring less risk and smaller average bets than betting strategies that seem on the face of it to be more conservative.

It all comes down to the arithmetic, nothing more and nothing less.

To the You Can't Win chorus, the arithmetic says that if the house advantage is, say, 1.5% then in the long run you will lose 1.5% of the combined value of all your bets.

That's true. But only as long as you bet as if you want to lose.

Once you break out of the straitjacket that the casinos and their tame mythematicians have tailored just for you, the picture changes very dramatically.

For example:

I don't make up these numbers. I just report on them.

The source for the baccarat data, regular readers will recall, was Bodog's online "practice" game - and I have a pile of pencil logs available to anyone who asks politely for them.

The mathematical explanation for the numbers you see above is pure logic.

If you bet a "tight" spread, then you will hit your maximum (your own, or the house's table limit) much sooner, and will "bet the max" for longer.

But if you are free to bet as much as necessary but do it only when necessary, you will routinely blow the house edge to smithereens and replace it with a player edge.

And very often, you will also WIN with less risk than seemingly more conservative strategies that consistently LOSE.

Here are the numbers from the full current set of blackjack outcomes, drawn from Bodog logs and from recent sessions with Ken Smith's Blackjack Strategy Trainer.

This was a "player friendly" data set overall, so the picture is just a little different.

The number for "house advantage" is green and positive (a house DISadvantage, for once), as it is when the BST outcomes are pulled out to stand alone:

The "max" spread (1-5,000) didn't come out on top this time, but the message remains loud and clear.

Table limits will kill you.

I'm well aware that sundry "experts" dismiss any data set, however large, as anecdotal, irrelevant and unique.

And of course, they're full of it.

If every data sample from every game of chance was unlike any other, casinos would be as vulnerable as players are.

As it is, the house always knows what to expect from a given game - and we do too.

There will always be short-term fluctuations and anomalies, courtesy of so-alled standard deviation.

But they're just meaningless blips in the big picture.

Right now I'm working on a web page that pulls together more than 75,000 baccarat outcomes over which (as with all the others!) I had no control.

I like this lot because they were published about 20 years ago in a couple of Zumma Publishing tomes that claimed to record actual baccarat shoes from casinos around the world.

My thanks to a strategy developer named Lee Jones for keying all those numbers into spreadsheets and making them available to me.

The books can still be found in most gambling bookstores, and from Zumma online.

I'm going to all this bother to further expose the fundamental lie that is the foundation for the casino-sponsored "conventional wisdom" that bamboozles millions of punters into believing that only blind luck can make them winners.

You read it here first: The myth of the unbeatable house advantage deserves a special place in history as the second most successful con of all time.

It works this way:

The house bias in any game has to be small - usually a lot less than 5.0% - so that it's possible for players to win once in a while, because without winners, there'd be no punters, and without punters, there'd be no casinos. And no billion-dollar bottom lines.

Because the house edge must be slight, it is necessary to persuade players that the bias is ultimately invincible, and to encourage them to bet in such a way that they "learn" to believe the con.

Table limits are one way to corral the herd and to influence player betting.

Another successful ploy is to pounce on anyone who demonstrates the slightest tendency toward progressive betting, and to persuade them that what they are doing is suicide.

Another is to manipulate data - and its interpretation - by ignoring the mathematical, logical truth that only progressive betting can win in the long run.

Clever stuff!

If you want to make consistent long-term headway against games with a negative expectation, you must be willing to give up what the casinos call "fun" (the right word is losing), and be ready to work a little harder.

And Target is only as complicated as you choose to make it.

The current win value for my strategy against the BST blackjack outcomes is +$108,560 with action of $980,325 indicating a 11.1% "hold" of action vs. a house disadvantage of 0.56% and an indicated win (AV x Action) of $5,490.

My way, there were 33 bets of $5,000 or more, 177 bets of $500 or more, 991 bets between $50 and $500, and 3,610 bets below $50.

The equivalent numbers for a "bare bones" approach would be +$11,530 with action of $192,000 indicating a 6.0% "hold" of action vs. a house disadvantage of 0.56% and an indicated win (AV x Action) of $1,075.

Playing it very safe, there woulda been just five bets of $5,000 or more, 58 bets of $500 or more, 251 bets between $50 and $500, and 4,497 bets below $50.

It's your call!

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._