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Streaks of joy, streaks of pain11 July 2011
Life runs in streaks. For the past three days I have been getting streaks of bad luck: my outside lights all went out due to a faulty circuit (now repaired $$$), my washing machine went on strike due to a faulty something or other (now repaired $$$), my dishwasher's undercarriage broke due to a faulty screw (now repaired $$$), my television cable went kablooey due to a faulty outside cable connection (now repaired $$$), and my parrot's head got stuck in a small opening (I saved the little fellow but was not paid anything for that act of rescue).
I have also had three-day periods where good things happened. I signed a four-book deal with Triumph Books, a division of Random House; the same day I signed a contract with a Midwest casino to help them with their advertising; the next day I signed a television deal, and on the third day my little grandson won an award in preschool.
There have been mixed good and bad streaks over three days, too. Those were "luck-choppy" streaks. There have also been days and days of nothing unusual happening. These were the "non-memorable" streaks.
Such streaks in real life are no different than the streaks one gets when playing casino games or slot machines. Indeed, casino games are just as real-life as is real life. Truly, casino games based on randomness do not look random to our inquiring minds. We are always seeing streaks that have happened, good streaks, bad streaks, and choppy streaks. The nature of nature is streakiness -- since everything is a part of some kind of streak.
The problem with streaks in random games is the impossibility of predicting what will happen next because of what just happened recently. We know there are streaks in the past and we know there will be streaks in the future. The past streaks are established and ingrained in the history of all that is; and yes, the future streaks are coming, but what they are and when they will come is unknown.
You might say the future of a random gambling game from the point of right now to the point of coming next exists in a "cloud of unknowing."
This "cloud" does not sit well with many casino gamblers, who are streak-sniffing creatures, basing many of their cherished gambling systems on their desire to predict the future based on what has just happened. Many gambling writers and Internet message-board posters swear by streaking, even though these writers are no less long-term losers than jolly players who just throw their money out not knowing what streaks have just happened and caring even less about such past streaks.
You see or hear the streakers in the casinos all the time: Craps players looking for hot tables, or cold tables, or successive craps propositions such as the Whirl to hit several times in succession or not hit in many, many rolls and are now due; blackjack players trying to find dealers who are busting all the time; baccarat players looking for long streaks of bank or player wins; slot players scouring the casino slot aisles hoping for the machine that is about to explode. All have their individual criteria for determining when a streak should be bet -- and none of these criteria work any better than the "no criteria" criteria.
Without knowing some piece of truly valuable information that changes the nature of what can possibly happen next -- such as all the aces being removed from a blackjack game preventing any blackjacks from appearing -- the desire to find and bet streaks is understandable, though totally wrong-headed.
Now, even with streak-mindedness, there is no actual harm done if the casino player only makes low-house-edge bets. If you place the 6 at craps because a 6 was just rolled, that's fine, because that place bet of the 6 has a low house edge of 1.52% (an expected loss of $1.52 per $100 wagered). On the other hand, if you hop 3:3 on the next roll, that is a poor bet since a hop bet on the 3:3 comes in with a house edge of 13.89% -- a monumental edge with an expected loss of $13.89 per $100 wagered.
If you are looking for streaks on bank or player to bet with or against in baccarat, that's fine, since each has a house edge under 1.25%. If you decide to bet the tie at baccarat, then you are asking for a house edge to oppose at about 14%. Ouch!
For casino gamblers then, going for or against this or that streak is not harmful if the bets you are making are the low-house-edge variety. Such streak catching or thwarting might even be good if you wait out some rolls of the dice or some play of the cards or spin of the reels as you walk around the casino floor. You reduce your exposure to even the low-house-edge bets by not betting each and every round.
It is simultaneously fun and somewhat scary to see the emotional animation of proponents of streak-betting when they engage in discussions. Despite long-term losses, despite the evidence of their own experiences telling them they are totally wrong, they still feel they are absolutely right in their beliefs. They can be considered the "flat earth society" of gambling strategies -- except they make up a significant portion of the gambling public.
Bottom line is always this: Bet the lowest house edge bets, even if you do believe in the predictability of streaks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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