Friday, March 23, 2012

"High rollers who can afford $25,000 bets would never be willing to lower their standards (and mix with the riff-raff) by placing minimum bets."

(Updated 11:00am Monday, March 26)

The above summarizes an interesting—but in my view wholly specious!—argument that comes up periodically, most recently in an otherwise positive comment on another blog.

The other day, I was sent a link to a system-debunking blog run by a guy who calls himself "Imspirit (wishing I were just)" aka just plain Dave.

I have written here before about Dave's mystifying dismissal of Target without accurately applying the strategy's carefully calibrated rules, so there's no need for me to go there again.

The link was to a comment submitted by an apparent Target devotee, and since it's already been published online, it seems fair enough to reproduce it here:

Great site.
First of all, we appreciate your great effort and time to manage this wonderful gaming forum. I've been reading your site for more than a year now in addition to other insightful sites such as Bethsets (sic!) and the popular BTC.
From the outside looking in, and with all the remarkable constructive disagreement between you and Seth, I see two people who are highly intelligent trying to make sense (of) how to beat the game of Baccarat.
I wish we had Internet 30 years ago so people like me would have benefited from the information generated (by) your site and others.
Over the years, I'm one of the losers who won't (ever) be able to recoup (all my) losses nor do I intend to. I'm not as hard core as I was and (am now) just focusing on my business.
Unfortunate or not, the "Barney Lincoln" in me never wanes so (a) trip to the Casino is always in order two weekends every month.
The difference for the last ten months (is remarkable), because rather than losing every time, I (have) never lost a trip.
For what it's worth, the difference is the mind set, there is a game plan and the set bankroll.
This success rate happened after I used Target betting in combination with the "pattern placement betting" similar to the concept of NOR (although I haven't seen the NOR manual yet).
It's something Personally, I give credit to the Target, as volatile as it can be, because it gives one a formula to (use in) battle, and a fighting chance.
The difference is that I don't attack the shoe right off the bat like it intends to (he plays "Player" always). Meaning, I can avoid an unnecessary hole in the beginning which may take me a while to see some daylight, thereby saving (recovery) time.
The NOR bet placement is an added power due to it's optimum selection.The bet spread of 1-5000 is understandably way out of whack for most people.
High rollers wouldn't fall for $25 unit with their $125,000 bankroll, most players just don't have that much. So far (knock on wood), the 1st turnaround bet is clipping at 75% rate so I have used a small fraction of the bankroll.
If I run into nine straight "shoes from hell", that would wipe the whole bankroll and (I would deservedly) retire and do something else for entertainment.
I don't know Seth, and with all the negative accusations by extremely combative individuals, I feel the sincerity from him trying to enlighten people.
It used to be that it's almost a given that I will shell a few thousand here and there during(any) trip. Now, I was able to reverse it, and I expect to win every trip.I'm not breaking the bank by any means, but by saving losses and conversely going home with winnings is tantamount to a healthy psyche.
This is by no means an endorsement of these combined concept(s) nor do I intend to do it professionally.
The fact that the wife is happy after the trip is more than enough for me. I'd like to acknowledge Ellis, not so much of his system (of which I really don't have any knowledge), but his encouragement to all people who play the game of chance to try to be healthy with proper nutrition and exercise and alcohol while playing. I think it's the best advice for everyone.
Thanks for sharing your forum and I can't say enough about your objectivity and sense of fairness without any agenda whatsoever. Regards, M.Lee.

I hope that if he sees this, Mr. Lee will forgive me for an occasional edit and addition: His message needed a little clarification in parts, I felt.

As you can see, I have highlighted the sections of this well-meaning comment that I find most interesting, and underlined the statement with which I take greatest issue (aside from the praise for Dave's accuracy and lack of an agenda!).

I cannot say often enough that a wide betting spread is the one and only key to long-term defeat of casino games with a negative expectation—and high rollers are the players least likely to follow that advice because most of them couldn't care less whether they win or not.

Watch any high-stakes game and you will see bet ranges that match the puny 1-5 or 1-10 spreads applied by players with shoestring budgets.

The only difference is the number of zeroes on the chips, plus (perhaps) the fact that it is likely to take a whale a while longer to accept that he's sunk and can never recover.

Casinos court high rollers precisely because it is against players at the top and bottom ends of the spectrum that the house edge does the most damage, but the "top end" punters lose the most the fastest.

A high roller who wants to lose could do nothing better for the house than turn his nose up at bets below $25,000 and draw the line at wagers higher than, say, $250,000.

Years ago, I knew a guy who always bet the house limit on three hands of blackjack, taking over whichever table he selected and providing great entertainment for crowds of onlookers who thought he was nuts but rooted for him to win.

Standard deviation (the bane of all gamblers' lives) saw to it that at times, his sessions ended with spectacular wins, and he made dealers very happy with lavish tips and effusive gratitude.

The casino, for its part, piled on gifts and comps, all of which made him feel enormously appreciated, and every one of which he paid for ten times over.

Last time I saw him, he was leaving town after his excesses had drained his business of its not inconsequential profits—he was a middle-market art dealer—swallowed the proceeds of a second mortgage, and led his family to the brink of bankruptcy.

He has since served as a constant reminder to me and others who knew him that the moment you hit your maximum bet in a downturn, the odds are very much against a recovery.

The only antidote to that inconvenient reality is to make the gap between your lowest bet and your highest bet as wide as you can afford, and to consistently revert to a minimum bet (however demeaning it might seem in the eyes of those who don't know better!) after every recovery.

High rollers who sneer at "piddling" bets may get a bigger buzz from risking huge amounts, but their chances of coming out ahead in the long run are on the negative side of zero. That is a mathematical certainty.

Far better—the only way to win consistently, in fact—is a betting strategy that permits big bets whenever the bankroll is threatened, but one that grinds out profits in relatively small amounts for 99% of the time.

Since the entire range of bets cannot be placed at the same table, or the same game, or even at times, the same casino, progressive betting the Target way can be hard work, requiring endless repetition and a lot of meticulous record-keeping.

The very idea is anathema to most gamblers, because most gamblers hope (but rarely expect!) to win big money at very little risk, and to do it with minimal effort.

But whenever I describe Target, I am not doing it for the benefit of the average gambler.

Let's face it, the average gambler is a loser, and perfectly content to be that way, so long he can get a little bit ahead once in a while, to feed his hopeless dream that he will one day be a winner.

The Baccarat Plus iPhone app that I have featured here before starts you off with a $1,000 bankroll and allows bets from $5 to $100,000.

The win total shown above may be chump change to a high roller who looks at it as the proceeds of three consecutive $100,000 wins—big deal!—but I defy anyone to get $300,000 ahead against the iPhone app without using a disciplined variation of progressive betting.

Mr. Lee, whose message to Imspirit inspired this entry, will have learned that Target produces steady, reliable profits in the long run and can go a very long time between very large bets (the ones I sometimes refer to as brown trouser moments).

My critics scoff at those large bets, dismissing them as insane or unrealistic.

But the fact is that unless you are willing to defend your bankroll with whatever it takes to ride out a temporary downturn, there is only one consequence: losing.

In baccarat, unless you bet Banker all the way, it is certain that in the long run you will lose more bets than you win.

(And if you DO bet Banker all the way, you will quickly learn that the "5%" commission on successful bets will wipe out any advantage you may have gained from winning more bets than you lost!)

It is therefore essential to long-term success that you win more money when you win than you lose when you lose.

That can only be achieved if you ensure that more than half of all your bets are what I term recovery bets, meaning quite simply that their value exceeds that of all prior losses in the current series or sequence of bets.

With Target, about 75% of your bets will be recovery bets.

That's why the strategy works.

A Martingale requires that 100% of your losing bets must be recovery bets.

And that's why an unrestrained Martingale doesn't work: Eventually, you will have to place a recovery bet that no casino anywhere will allow.

(Analysis of the Martingale concept must in fairness include an evaluation of the capped Martingale, but that's been dealt with in previous posts to this blog!).

If, unlike Dave Imspirit, Mr. Lee is applying the Target rules strictly and accurately, he will have gained huge confidence from the fact that its discipline removes a great part of the uncertainty and hesitancy that plagues most gamblers.

It relieves the player of almost all decision-making. And if you don't have to make a decision, your chances of being wrong diminish considerably.

Mr. Lee spoils his endorsement of Target, as I see it, by referring to one of those "predictive" methods that both common sense and experience tell me must be absolute nonsense.

I don't dispute for a moment that there are trends and patterns in baccarat, just as there in any betting game.

But the notion that they can be identified other than after the fact is dangerous balderdash.

The popular trend-following method that comes closest to what Mr. Lee is talking about is avant derniere, which is applied in baccarat and roulette to profit from hops or chops (B-P-B-P-B-P) as well as from prolonged repeats of either of two options.

The idea is that you follow the win before last, so that P-B-P-P would call for a bet on Player, and P-B-B-P would indicate a Banker bet.

Exhaustive tests of avant derniere against millions of outcomes shows that in the long run, it is no more effective than random bet selection, so the same would certainly apply to so-called "predictive" or "trending" methods.

Target is not in any sense predictive: It is purely and simply reactive.

It tells you what to do after something has happened, in other words.

As for betting Player all the time in baccarat, regular readers of this blog will know my take on that!

Betting Player or Banker in baccarat or Red or Black or Odd or Even in roulette is like a two-hole game of Whack-a-mole.

The mole you have to whack to win can pop up in either hole at any time, and if you concentrate all your efforts on just one of those two holes, your reaction time and your accuracy will be much improved.

By switching your focus back and forth, you make success so much more elusive, running the risk of zigging when the "mole" zags and vice versa.

It also happens to be exactly what the house wants you to do.

As for the baccarat screen snap above, it is true to say that the win it shows "could have" been achieved by putting in a mind-numbing hundred hours or more in pursuit of a nine-bet run on Player that would take the $1,000 opening BR to $256,000.

I'm just guessing at the 100 hours, and I can confirm that I have indeed seen runs on Player or Banker that have lasted for 8, 9 and perhaps even 10 consecutive wins.

However, I defy anyone to play the Baccarat Pro iPhone app and parlay an opening $1,000 bet into a win of $300,000 or more!

The leader board data that comes with this nifty little game includes a win of more than $100,000,000—a staggering achievement that inspires a mix of envy and skepticism.

If that huge sum (and others in the same ballpark) was achieved honestly, I would love to know how, I admit.

Since the game will not permit a bet above $100,000 it follows that a $100 million win represents a minimum of 1,000 more wins than losses over time.

Hard to see how that could happen, since Player is mathematically proven to be at about a 1.35% disadvantage, and Banker's slight edge is blown away by the "Bank Tax."

It boggles the mind, and makes some manipulation of the app's software the more probable explanation.

Meanwhile, as someone who struggles to manipulate a toaster, never mind program code on a platform that does not permit edits or additions, I am content to wait for a reader out there to match or beat my win total against Baccarat Pro and then tell me how he or she did it!

As for the criticism that Target has no appeal for high rollers, I can only remind Mr. Lee that Target's great strength is that it tells you when to be a high roller, and when to play shoulder-to-shoulder with the little people.

Betting big all the time is as doomed as betting small all the's just a lot more expensive.

And just like greed, delusions of grandeur can make a loser out of anyone, regardless of the size of his or her bankroll.

Update, Monday, March 26: I just passed a win of $360,000 playing thumbnail baccarat in a place I need not mention, and I realized that since my own max is $25,000 and I am beating an overall house edge of 1.50%, my comment above about the leaderboard win of $106,000,000 is a load of old cobblers!

Sorry about that.

My current mini-mini baccarat BR is the equivalent of almost 15 maximum bets, but that certainly does not translate into 15 more wins than losses (far from it: I'm about 200 bets behind at this point).

The only rational explanation for the $106 million win that I can come up with is that the player used a capped Martingale, with a limit of $100,000, plus profound confidence in the notion that any house spike is temporary and will eventually be offset or compensated for.

It's a dangerous game, but perhaps more likely than the alternative explanation that the big winner hacked into the app and awarded himself huge profits without having to spend time actually playing the game.

Who knows?

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._