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Everyone has a system2 April 2009
In a sense, I am a casino gambling systems seller. Now, if you are going to quote that first sentence please make sure you use "in a sense" or the whole point of this column will be the opposite of what I intend it to be.
A gambling system is a patterned way of approaching a game. The use of basic strategy at blackjack is a gambling system. The strict use of just the pass line and come at craps is a gambling system. Looking for slot machines with the highest payback, standalones as opposed to inter-casino-connected-progressives is a gambling system.
Money management schemes are gambling systems, in a sense, as well, since you allocate your money in such and such a way when you play. If the money goes, you go too.
Systems can go from the sublime to the idiotic to everything in between. A sublime system is one that has passed the rigors of advantage-play testing — in short, systems that actually allow you to beat some of the casino games, Speed count at blackjack, advantage-slot machine play, Golden Touch dice control at craps, and perfect strategy at video poker on full payback machines.
Somewhat sublime systems of play focus on using the second-best strategies, such as basic strategy at blackjack, betting only the lowest-house-edge bets at craps and playing high-payback slot machines. These somewhat sublime systems can't make you a long-term winner, but they can keep the house edge at bay.
The less sublime systems are usually the progressive ones where you raise your bet because you have won some hands in a row or lost some hands in a row. In a random game, raising your bet, for whatever reason, just gives the casino edge more money to hack away at. That is not good for the player's bankroll.
Now, some players have eccentric systems ranging from the lunatic, undisciplined play on this or that game in no conceivably sensible way, then running to the ATM machine to get more money to make up the losses. Many new players have succumbed to the Martingale system of play, which is to double their bets after every loss in the hopes of getting everything back in one win (I did that system on my very first trip to the casinos and got creamed on the third day!).
The logic behind the Martingale system is the simple phrase, "Sooner or later the losing streak has to end, doesn't it?" True, it does, but sometimes you hit the house limit on how much you can bet — and then it does and you've lost a heck of a lot of money.
A lot of players have sent me their systems over the years; in fact, I sometimes get several a week! These systems are often just variations of the classic systems — slightly different basic strategies where the player doesn't double down because doubling just makes you lose more; or hedging systems at craps; or Martingales at every game with certain changes such as, and I quote, "I have found that on the fourth spin at a roulette game the casino tends to lose and that is when you triple the previous bet."
The truly original systems are often extremely complex, and such complexity might make them seem as if they can actually beat the game.
In the past when I received such an e-mail from someone with a "can't lose" system, I answered them and tried to explain that while they had some success with their system it was just luck or, as the mathematicians call it, variability. You can play as stupidly as possible and some nights you will win. What's that old saying? Oh, yes, "even a blind squirrel sometimes finds some nuts."
Unfortunately some of the discoverers of new systems have discovered these systems by truly powerful ways. I had one individual write to me explaining to me that God Himself, the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, had given him this system that "could not lose" against any casino game and that he (this man, not God) would sell the system to me.
Being a dope I responded to him and told him that I'd give the system to Dr. Don Catlin, my math genius, who would analyze it and tell us whether the system was any good, knowing full well what Catlin's response would be — the stupid thing didn't work any better than any other betting system, which means it didn't work at all.
I should have just told this guy goodbye, but I didn't. Once Dr. Catlin came into the picture all hell (or should I say "heaven"?) broke loose. Both Catlin and I were subjected to visionary e-mails about the end of the world and how this gambling system was a part of God's plan for Armageddon.
Finally I told him that we would not look at the system and I ended the e-mail relationship.
Now, I do know a few things about systems. The great advantage-play ones work, but they are based on math and trial and error over long periods of time; the good ones reduce the house hit on your money; and the bad or eccentric ones are like being on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. Your bankroll is going into the drink.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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