Posts Tagged ‘betting systems’

Why the Martingale System Is So Popular

Monday, April 12th, 2010

If you have ready any of my blogs about betting systems, you know that I’m not a fan. None of them are able to overcome the house edge and in the long run, simply cause you to lose money faster. Betting systems all seem to be invented by one of two people: a scam artist who wants to sell his system or a dreamer who thinks he just figured out a way to beat the system. You shouldn’t listen to either of them.

The Martingale system is the most popular betting system in casinos and is most often used for games of chance, such as roulette and craps, but it is also used for blackjack. The popularity of the Martingale system is easy to explain. Everyone thinks they’re the one who invented it.

If you have ever gone to a casino, there’s a good chance that it occurred to you to use the Martingale system and there’s a good chance that you have never heard of the term “Martingale.” The Martingale has been “invented” by millions of people over hundreds of years and will continue to be invented by new gamblers.

The reason so many people come up with the idea for the Martingale system without ever reading about betting strategy is that it seems like common sense. Double your bet when you lose. That way, when you win, you will make all of your money back and then some.

It’s common sense, right? If you bet $5 and lose and then bet $10 and win, you won your money back. The problem, as I’ve discussed before, is that a losing streak will very quickly deplete your bankroll if you use the Martingale system. If you have a limited amount of money with which to gamble, it is a terrible idea, because you could lose all of your money in just a few hands.

But what if you have a higher bankroll? What if you’re rich? The Martingale system would work for you then, right? Well, it would if not for a little rule called “betting limits.” You see, the casinos have heard of the Martingale strategy and in order to combat it, they place a limit on how much money you can bet on a hand. So if you’re starting with $5 and are on a losing streak, six hands later your bet would be $320. That’s way too rich for my blood, but some people don’t mind betting that much. So you bet that and lose again. Doubling your bet, you then wager $640, losing again. Now your bet would have to be $1280 in order to stick with your betting system. There is no way I would ever bet that much on a hand, but even if you would, most casinos won’t let you.

It is common for blackjack tables to have a $1000 upper limit for betting and sometimes it’s even lower. If a losing streak long enough to take you to that amount seems unrealistic, then you probably haven’t played much blackjack. Playing using basic strategy lowers the house edge to 0.5% over the long run, but hot and cold streaks are part of the game. Also, the above example is starting with a bet of only $5, the lowest you’ll be able to find at a casino. Many casinos don’t go that low and the minimum bet would be $10. If you start a bet with $10, it only takes four losses to bring you to a bet of $160. I don’t know about you, but if I’ve lost four hands in a row, I want to only be betting $5 (or $10).

So whether you play blackjack at an online casino or at the brick and mortar variety, my advice is to use flat betting and if you want your money to last longer, bet the table minimum. That’s a brand new strategy I invented called “saving money.” Feel free to use it.

Bad Strategy: The D’Alembert System

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In my blog, aside from giving advice of what you should do when playing blackjack, I like to also tell you what not to do. When it comes to bad blackjack strategy, the most popular culprits are betting systems. There are countless betting systems out there designed to defeat the house edge, but the simple truth is that none of them work.

One such system is the D’Alembert system, which is a cancellation system that is sometimes also called an Alembert system. Whatever you call it, using this betting system will have a disastrous affect on your bankroll in the long run. At its simplest, with the D’Alembert System you increase your bet when you lose and decrease it when you win. Unlike the Paroli and Martingale systems, there is no base bet. Your bet will always increase or decrease depending on whether you win or lose. Needless to say, if you get into a losing streak your bankroll will deteriorate quickly.

The D’Alembert system is usually applied to games of chance such as roulette and craps, though in their fervor to find a strategy more beneficial than basic strategy, many people have tried using it for blackjack. I’m not a mathematician, but the man who goes by the Wizard of Odds is. He is the recognized expert in gambling percentages, odds and strategies, and he has concluded, through a computer simulation of a million hands of play, that the D’Alembert system will cause you to lose money faster than with flat betting.

Without going into the complex mathematics of it, let me make it very simple. The D’Alembert system is a type of cancellation system. A cancellation system counts on there being two sides of outcomes, positive or negative (winning and losing) and an equal probability of each. Therefore, by betting more when you lose and less when you win, you cancel out your losses and make up for the lost money. The major flaw of this system is that there isn’t an equal probability of the two outcomes.

Blackjack has a house edge and what that means is that you will lose more often than you win. Not only that, but basic strategy may reduce the house edge to a slight 0.5%, but that percentage is over the long run. In the short term, you can get into a losing streak and lose much more than 0.5%. If you are flat betting in a losing streak, you will lose a lot of money, but if you are increasing your bet with each loss, you will lose money much faster. The thinking is that if you keep increasing the bet, you will make up for the losses when you win, but that can’t happen if you run out of money first. And that, to be honest, is the outcome with the highest odds when you employ the D’Alembert system.

Open Letter to Dr. Kevin Whitburn

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Dear Dr. Kevin Whitburn:

Last week I, like many blackjack writers, expressed skepticism about your new MOST Strategy and its claims to lead to a player edge of 1-6% without the involvement of card counting. In response, you replied with a condescending message that basically states that just because I don’t understand the strategy doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

You, of course, are right. Many things work that I don’t understand, which is why I am offering you the chance to prove to me that it does work. I am sure you are aware that there are a lot of scam artists out there and betting systems are a big gambling scam on the internet. While I’m not saying that you fall into that category, I am cautious about anyone who charges $150 to share their “secret.” I’m sure you understand.

If the MOST Strategy truly works as well as advertised, then it is a groundbreaking achievement in the world of blackjack and of course I would be happy to tell everyone to use it. Of course, I don’t want to spend $150 of my money to find out.

I guess what gives me the most pause concerning your system is that, by your own admission, you cannot prove that it works in a casino setting. You admit that “to demonstrate a clear winner in the untidy realm of games-of-chance is tougher than you might think” and you admit that you can’t “reliably separate out the underlying win-signal from the random luck it’s buried in.” And that seems to be the problem with your mathematical system that has not been tested in a casino: It doesn’t take into account the luck of the draw.

You also claim that the MOST Strategy “produces accelerated returns far exceeding those of aggressive growth investments in financial markets, but without the market uncertainties.” Oh, so your strategy is a better investment than the stock market? That’s a pretty bold statement considering the high element of chance in the game of blackjack, especially considering that MOST, at its core, is just a complex table-exiting strategy.

Your strategy is a math-based strategy that doesn’t require the player to be good at math, yet is better than basic strategy with card counting and even the stock market. You claim all of this despite not testing it in a casino by stating that “the math can actually cross-check itself.” Dr. Whitburn, since you are a scientist, I am sure you are aware that, generally speaking, scientists don’t go around professing that something is fact because of mathematical equations. The math is important, of course, but the theory also has to be tested. I remember learning about the Scientific Method in school. Of course, I also remember that it is necessary to eliminate variables (such as luck) in the experiment. Good luck with that.

Dr. Whitburn, I hope you do not see this letter as a personal attack. On the contrary, I hope you will see this as an opportunity to prove to me and to the world that the MOST Strategy does deliver on its promises. If you are willing to provide me with a complete free copy of your e-book, I would be happy to test your strategy in a casino environment and then let everybody know the results. As I said, if your strategy works then this is a monumental achievement in blackjack and I would be happy to admit that I was wrong to be skeptical. I look forward to hearing from you.

New Book Promises to Help You Beat Blackjack

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Well, if you’ve been wondering how to beat the house at blackjack, you need look no further, claims Dr. Kevin Whitburn. The good doctor has released a new e-book called The MOST Strategy and it promises to give the player an edge of 1% to 6%. That’s right. He claims that his strategy leads to a 1-6% player advantage rather than a house edge.

In a press release, Dr. Whitburn claims to have spent years devising his new strategy, which does not involve counting cards. It is about playing in a way “that allows you to know when to leave the table with a statistical advantage.” He also says that his technique is done “without any deception at all.” I guess that is supposed to mean that the casinos will have no problem with you using this strategy and cleaning them out.

Whitburn doesn’t explain exactly what his method entails, because if he did you wouldn’t need to buy the book, but he says it involves varying your bankroll so that it’s “in harmony” and that when you’re in harmony, “you’ll know when it’s time to go.” When it’s time to leave, you need only leave that table and can go to another table and start playing right away.

Whitburn admits that it’s difficult to impossible to prove whether his system actually works in casino play due to the large number of variables (including chance), but he insists that the math checks out. If you go to Dr. Whitburn’s website, which is named after his strategy, you can buy his e-book for a low price of $150. That’s a small investment for the money you will soon be making at the casino, right?

I have not read The MOST Strategy, so I can’t attest to what’s in it, but I will say this: When something seems too good to be true, it usually is not true. As soon as gambling was invented, there were con artists going around selling secrets to winning and beating the casinos. Most people selling secret gambling strategies are nothing but snake oil salesman. I don’t know if Dr. Whitburn is, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

I can find no independent information on Dr. Whitburn, but he claims his education is in chemistry and he has been an “occasional blackjack player at Connecticut and Florida casinos.” It sounds like Dr. Whitburn is selling nothing more than a betting system and I have yet to find a betting system that works. He claims that by using his strategy you will know when to leave a table, but due to the random nature of the drawing of cards, each hand is independent of the last and any streaks that you’re on are just luck.

That is, of course, unless you’re counting cards. By counting cards you can tell when the deck is rich in tens and when it is, the odds are tilted toward the player. However, Dr. Whitburn’s strategy does not involve counting cards. Instead, he says “you count the chips in front of you.” So again, it seems like a simple betting system – one that is being sold for $150.

I cannot say with certainty that Dr. Whitburn’s system does not deliver on his promises, but the fact is that even in his own press release he admits that he cannot say with certainty that it does. I caution all of my readers to avoid betting systems and any secret strategies that are for sale. Instead, stick to basic strategy, which can lower the house edge to 0.5%, and you can even tilt the odds in your favor by counting cards in addition to basic strategy.

Parlay Betting System

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Gamblers are always looking for a way to beat the odds and blackjack players are no different from the rest. Blackjack basic strategy can already reduce the house edge to 0.5% if played perfectly and counting cards in conjunction with basic strategy can lower the edge farther and even tilt the odds in favor of the player. However, some people aren’t content with that and also want to incorporate betting systems.

I said this before when covering the martingale betting system, but I’ll say it again: I do not recommend any betting system. The best chances you can give yourself in blackjack are to play perfect basic strategy and do flat betting, which is to bet the same amount on each hand, whether you win or lose. Betting systems are designed to maximize your profits when you win and minimize your losses when you lose, but none of them work as well in practice as in theory. That is because they don’t take into consideration the randomness of the games.

Blackjack is a game that is a combination of skill and chance. Even if you are the smartest blackjack player in the world, you can’t win with a bad hand. Which cards you and the dealer are dealt plays a large part in the outcome. This is where the parlay betting system fails.

The parlay system basically says to “let it ride,” which means to bet all or part of your winnings in the next hand. Using a parlay system, if you bet $10 on a hand and got a natural blackjack, you would win $15. You would then bet $25 on the next hand (your $15 in winnings plus a $10 bet). Some people think this is a good idea because you’re “playing with house money.” That is the wrong way of thinking. As soon as the dealer gives you money, it’s yours.

Playing perfect strategy, the blackjack table will take 0.5% of the money you bet; the rest you keep. By always betting your winnings, you are exposing your winnings to the house edge and in the long run, you will lose more money. Think of it this way: In blackjack you are more likely to lose money than win it (thus the house edge), so why would you be so eager to bet money that you have just won? Logic states that you are more likely to lose that money than to increase it.

The parlay betting system would only make sense if you could predict a winning streak, which the random nature of the dealing of cards all but makes impossible. The only chance you have of predicting a streak is if you’re counting cards and know the count is heavily in your favor. In that scenario, it might be a good idea to use the parlay betting system. However, if you are not counting cards or if the count is not heavily in your favor, it is without a doubt a better idea to use flat betting.

My betting system is actually the exact opposite of the parlay system. It is to protect all of your winnings. I advise that you go into the casino with a set amount of money that you are willing to spend and don’t wager any money other than that. Any winnings that you have should be set aside and not touched until it’s time to cash out. This will guarantee that you don’t turn around and give your winnings back to the casino and will make sure you leave with something to show for your night.

Blackjack Betting Limits

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

So you’ve memorized blackjack basic strategy and want to put your knowledge to the test at the tables. How do you choose which table to play, though? In brick and mortar and online casinos, there are normally several variations of the game at the blackjack tables. One thing that separates the tables is the number of decks (though this does not apply to online blackjack). Many casinos will have different tables that range from one deck to eight. Remember that the more decks there are, the more the odds favor the house. However, single-deck games often only pay 6:5 for blackjack, in which case the lower deck number is not better.

The other major variation in blackjack tables is the betting limit. Blackjack tables typically have two limits: a lower limit and an upper limit. Both need to be taken into consideration. The lower limits can be as low as $1 per bet and as high as over $100, though it is becoming increasingly hard to find blackjack tables in a casino with a limit lower than $5. The lower your bet, the less money you risk losing on each hand. The downside, of course, is that you win less money when you win the hand, so it’s a trade-off. If you’re new to the game of blackjack, I recommend playing at the table with the lowest minimum bet and betting that minimum amount on each hand.

The casino’s reason for putting lower limits on the betting is obvious: They make more money when you bet more money. But why are there upper limits? The main reason casinos place upper limits on their games is to thwart the Martingale betting system, where players double their bet after each loss. Players, in theory, could be guaranteed to make money if they had an unlimited bankroll because even if they have  a losing streak, the money they make once they win again would make up for it. Most players who try the Martingale system simply run out of money. For those with a large enough bankroll, though, the upper betting limit does essentially the same thing. It makes it so that the players eventually get to a point where they can no longer double their bet.

If you’re new to blackjack, the upper betting limits don’t matter. After all, betting the minimum is the wisest strategy for you, anyway. I also recommend flat betting, where you bet the same amount on each hand, in which case the upper betting limit doesn’t matter, either.

What it all comes down to is fiscal responsibility. You should never gamble money that you can’t afford to lose. Therefore, before you ever begin playing blackjack you should decide how much money you want to spend and how long you want to play. Based on that information, you should determine how much money you want to bet on each hand and find a table that suits that need.

The Martingale Betting System

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

When playing blackjack, or any casino game for that matter, it is wise to use flat betting, which is to bet the same amount each time. It is the safest way to bet and in the long run will save you money. However, that doesn’t stop people from believing that betting systems are the way to go. People use betting systems in an attempt to gain an advantage in games of chance, such as craps and roulette. People think that using the correct betting system can help you overcome the house edge. Those people are wrong. Betting systems don’t work. Still, everybody knows somebody who swears that their strategy works for them. I will attempt to convince you otherwise.

One of the most popular betting systems is the Martingale system. Using the Martingale system, a player doubles his bet after a loss. This is an idea that seems to make sense. After all, if you lose money on one bet and then double the bet and win it, you make your money back and then some, right? Well, kind of.

For an example of the system “working,” let’s imagine a bet where the player starts by wagering $1 and loses four bets in a row before winning on the fifth. In this case, the player wins $1 extra (losing $15 on 4 bets and then winning $16 on the fifth bet). The reason that the Martingale system is a bad idea is that the above example assumes you have enough money to handle the losing streak. Far more often, the players keep doubling their bet and doubling their bet and then run out of money before they have a chance to win it back. Also, many casino games have a betting limit that is used, in part, to thwart the Martingale strategy. Therefore, another way of the system failing you would be for you to reach the betting limit before making your money back.

In the short run, the Martingale system can make you some money, but it is also likely to cause you to lose a lot more money a lot faster, causing you to give up and quit, run out of money, or reach the game’s table limit. In the long run, the system will cause you to lose money.

Blackjack Budgeting

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Blackjack, like all other forms of gambling, is supposed to be a fun game. Some people, however, get caught up in the game and lose too much money. Others look at it as a way to make money. You shouldn’t do either. Playing perfect strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%, but it’s still a house edge, meaning that in the long run, the odds say that you will lose money. You should go into the game thinking that if you do lose some money, it is the price of your entertainment, in the same way that seeing a movie or visiting a theme park cost money. With that in mind, enjoying your blackjack experience and making the best decisions requires some budgeting strategy. Here are some pointers.

If you are going to play blackjack, or any other casino game for that matter, you need to create a budget ahead of time. Before you walk into a casino, you should decide how much money you are willing to spend that night and set that money aside. No matter what happens while playing, good or bad, you should not spend any money other than what you have put aside. It is common for players to lose money because they either try to spend their way out of a slump or increase their betting because they are doing well. Setting aside your betting funds ahead of time can help you avoid both of those pitfalls.

And while we’re on the subject, you should never increase your wagering to either pull yourself out of a hole or extend a good streak. Flat betting is the safer, smarter betting strategy.
Knowing when to walk away from the table is also important. If you are having a good streak and have made a lot of money, it is tempting to keep wagering that money, maybe even increasing each individual bet, in order to make more money. Usually this results in the players losing the money. A better idea is to separate your winnings from the money you have budgeted for wagering. That way, the money you win at the blackjack table is always safe. It is also a good idea to set a target win limit. That will keep your eyes from getting too big for your stomach. Set an amount of money that you want to win (be realistic) and once you reach that amount, walk away.

Proper budgeting separates a fun time playing blackjack from throwing your money away. Too often, people do the latter. All of these tips apply to brick and mortar casino as well as playing online blackjack at an online casino.