Tuesday, November 15, 2011

After a month of daily abuse on a baccarat forum (Hey, I can take it!), the only rational conclusion is that most players want to lose!

I think I have probably rambled on enough about my experience on the Baccarat Forums website, but please bear with me for just a little longer, because I believe the way baccarat players see their game has something to tell all of us.

There is an absolute rejection of any kind of sustained progressive betting because it's crazy or too risky or unplayable, but a devotion to brainless ideas about streaks and trends and pattern prediction that defies belief.

Only one contributor to the forum saw fit to look into the mathematics of Target betting, and he chose to ignore all the rules but one, placing a theoretical bet that exceeded 100,000 units and then pronouncing the strategy (and along with it any and all variations on progressive betting) an "utter failure."

He then passed on the one-rule application to a friend who doesn't subscribe to BF but who runs a site of his own that minutely examines every measurable aspect of the game of baccarat using math and simulation skills that are truly impressive.

After failing to demonstrate that Target fails against the 1,600 "real" baccarat shoes put out by Zumma Publishing in two ancient books that seem to have attained almost scriptural status plus 1,000 more shoes placed on line by the Wizard of Bodog, he then created 10,000 shoes of his own.

When even his corrupted, partial application of the Target rules beat that sample (10,000 shoes being about a decade of play for the average baccarat punter) he added a zero to his sample size, then another, before claiming a crash-and-burn for my strategy against ONE MILLION shoes.

Knowing that the rules of Target actually do affect the end result against any large sample of outcomes (or even a small one, come to that!), I asked my rather prickly evaluator to let me see his line-by-line bets against the Zumma and Wizard sets, because those at least have been around for years and can be readily verified.

It took almost a month before he finally posted his output against the Wizard 1,000 set , which his pal on the baccarat forum claimed had blown Target to bits.

First to come out of the file (still available online here by clicking on the smaller of the two DOWNLOAD buttons) was confirmation that even with the recommended rules only partially applied, Target beat the Wizard shoes to the tune of 2.2% of its total action.

The file (and its author) claimed that a 1 to 10,000 spread limit had been applied - double Target's standard 1 to 5,000 - but close examination of the data confirmed dozens of bets in a total of 83,640 that had far exceeded the claimed limit.

I was left wondering why someone who can spend hours microscopically examining the effects of removing, say, all the 9s from an 8-deck baccarat shoe, could put his name on such a sloppy piece of work.

When I asked about that, I was dismissed as a paranoid lunatic with criminal tendencies and was told in no uncertain terms that Imspirit (in spite of the pretentious Wishing I were just motto in the title of his blog!) had no interest in correcting his mistakes or engaging in any further dialogue with me.

It turned out that my casual evaluator had put none of his considerable skills to work testing the ideas of a guy to whom he gives repeated plugs in his blog, a fellow who offers for sale (at $200 a pop) four strategies that claim to beat either baccarat or blackjack.


Of course, bet selection methods that rely on intuition and gut "readings" of shoes after only a few cards have been dealt are obviously impossible to evaluate mathematically without a few hundred thousand actual outcomes. And Imspirit understandably prefers simulations that spit out a lifetime's worth of rounds of baccarat in less than 10 seconds.

Similarly, math is powerless when it comes to reading minds or determining whether or not there is life after death.

I mention all this because most of the chatter on the baccarat forum I visited hinges on deciding between bets on Banker or Player based either on the most recent outcome (FLD or follow last decision) or the one before that (WBL for win before last, or avant dernier in Monte Carlo).

Some contributors to the forum happily admit to using progressive betting - but to such a limited degree that it is demonstrably more dangerous than flat or fixed betting, and quite possibly riskier than flying by the seat of their pants.

I created numerous Sethbets web pages to show that over and over again, a 1 to 5,000 spread requires less action, and therefore less risk, than a 1-50 spread - and that frequently, it is even "safer" than spreading 1 to 10.

No takers on any of that info, according to my site hit counters . I needed the information for the book I'm working on, so no harm done and no time wasted - but I admit I am surprised that nobody was willing to suspend their knee-jerk disbelief for even the few minutes it took to click up and glance at the data.

Progressive betting in any form requires guts and confidence and, at times, a ton of cold hard cash - I have been saying that for years, often resorting to the credo, "If you can't afford to win, don't play."

But the kind of hocus-pocus that these guys on BF have devoted (in some cases) years of their life to discussing and endorsing day after day is much more dangerous and irresponsible than anything I have ever recommended.

On the one hand, they point to Target's failure against a million shoes as proof that progressive betting doesn't work.

Then they go right back to twittering about oddball chops and hops and jumps and trends and patterns and "predictiveness" that together belong in the same grab-bag as runes and chicken entrails.

The only prediction I'm willing to make when it comes to gambling is that if you don't bet progressively in response to a persistent downturn, you will lose, at best, a big chunk of your bankroll - and if you put any faith in patterns lasting longer than a round or two, you will likely lose ALL of it.

I did discover that walking away from a session or shoe if the dealer gets, say, five bets ahead of you will probably (but not certainly!) save you some grief down the road, but even that is hard to quantify.

I tried it by feeding "skipped" rounds into my Target models - all rounds in each shoe, that is, but with no money at risk when the bail-out limit was reached - and the results were very encouraging.

But the problem was that Target breaks shoes up into individual recovery series, and because it's routine for a series to end successfully in spite of more bets lost than won, a five-bet house advantage since a given shoe began does not necessarily line up with a serious threat to the bankroll.

For example, the first five series in a new shoe might each have turned around with four bets lost and three won, indicating five more losers than winners since the first round from the shoe was dealt, but Target would be feeling no pain at all.

Imspirit (a name even stranger than Seth Theobeau!) had a bad experience with a proponent of progressive betting before I came along, I should add before I close, and that may have disqualified him from a fair assessment of any betting strategy.

It might also explain his extraordinary claim that I have some criminal agenda in warning would-be punters that without progressive betting, they might as well empty their wallets into a big pot at the casino entrance and turn around for home.

He describes some of what happened on his blog, and the story underscores my constant warning that anyone who can't afford to fight fire with fire, meaning money vs. money in a gambling context, should never place a bet.

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._