Sunday, September 18, 2011

They say if I keep winning, I must be cheating. I just wish I knew how to do that (and get away with it!).

(For current information about Target's ongoing sports betting experiment, please go to the Sethbets website, or click here for an introduction to progressive betting)

Maybe one way for me to encourage people out there to learn how to quit losing is to keep posting my own results.

There's a world of difference between playing for real money in an actual casino and betting against a "virtual" game - but when it comes down to the math, funny-munny sims like this really do have something to teach us.

The house edge for the hour or so's worth of play above is close to 9.0%, which is far beyond the less than 1.0% negative expectation for a single-deck game of blackjack played heads-up.

I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but I'd guess that the "win" you see here exceeds 10% of total action.

That's pretty standard for Target.

I'd love to be able to post actual wins from Nevada casino play, but for some reason the gambling industry is paranoid about note-taking at blackjack layouts, so it's safe to assume that whipping out a digital camera to immortalize a growing pile of chips is a serious no-no.

Am I manipulating Ken Smith's BST app? Nope, for one because I don't know how, for another because, er, what would be the point...?

I should confess that the big fat bankroll number above is not quite as impressive as it looks.

Because of the 1 to 200 "house limit" imposed by the Smith sim, I busted out a few times and had to buy back in each time.

But the truth is that in real play, I would by now be much further ahead.

Winning streaks started coming thick and fast right after the last buy-in (3 in a row, twins, 5 plus a double-down and another 3-peat within 30 hands of the low point).

That's not luck, that's just routine rhythm for blackjack: the house gets way ahead, then the pendulum starts to swing back.

If Target needed the same number of wins as losses to recover from a serious slump, it would never get the job done.

But it doesn't. Two wins, one after the other, is all it takes 99 percent of the time. Otherwise, three wins in succession will do the trick.

Another BST session this morning, short and sweet...

And another before lunch...

The session snapped immediately above provided a typical lesson on the hazards of so-called standard deviation.

Before recovery came along courtesy of FIVE consecutive wins, the last of them a successful double-down, the "house" had shot 13 bets ahead without a single win.

Without the table limit, the three-streak that followed that nightmarish opening (at -13!) would have saved the day, but I had to slog on for 51 more bets before climbing out of the hole.

This is why I keep saying that table limits exist for no other reason that to interfere with progressive betting strategies, including those that are artfully camouflaged with the term money management.

Anyone who backs off in a downturn (and it's a common response) is doing just what the house expects of them while destroying any prospect of recovering prior losses in fewer bets than it took to get into trouble.

You have to bet in such a way that turnaround can be achieved far more rapidly than temporary penury, keeping in mind that without the BST house limit, I would have reaped a profit while still being 11 bets behind.

Yesterday's question of the day was, What's your definition of acceptable risk? and the smaller the number in your answer, the more likely it is that you are already a long-term loser.

Here's the final summary from the latest BST session:

Unique, anecdotal, irrelevant, blah blah blah.

But the fact is that every session of blackjack or baccarat or roulette or craps or whatever is pretty much the same as any other from the same game and there was really nothing special about this one.

I erred a while back when I estimated the "player edge" at 10.0% but it turned out to be an educated prophecy - total action was close to $115,000, so the win percentage was in the ballpark.

There were some hairy moments, as there usually are, but the test of a good betting strategy has less to do with the trouble it can get into than with the trouble it can get out of.

Conservative play won't win back lost chips unless wins outnumber losses down the line, and that's a fantasy most of the time. Undisciplined aggression is similarly doomed by the fact that even after a slump (or a spike in the house edge), bad timing can do a whole lot more damage.

Target, on the other hand, did a pretty good job. Again!

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._