Do betting systems really work?
By Frank Scoblete
I doubt many casino players can honestly say that they have never made a mistake in their playing careers. I know I can’t. In one of my ﬁrst visits to the casinos, I played the Martingale at roulette. This was in the old Sands casino in Atlantic City.
That casino is no longer there. It was torn down many years ago to make way for, well, nothing. That is what my wallet had left when after two straight days of tiny wins, I lost everything I had and then some. The Martingale, as most of you know, is the doubling of your previous bet every time you lose. It really works well until…well, until it doesn’t and you go on a losing streak of seven or so decisions.
You see, with the Martingale I’d go from a $5 bet to a $10 bet to a $20 bet to a $40 bet to an $80 bet to a $160 bet to a $320 bet to…oops, the table limit was $500. That stopped me in my tracks. Even if I bet $500 and won, I would not get my money back or win that ﬁrst bet.
That’s right, the Martingale only wins your ﬁrst bet for you.
[Please note: You bet $5, lose, and bet $10. Now you win and are paid $10. Five of that pays back the loss of the $5 original bet and the other $5 is your proﬁt. But if you lose that $10 bet then you bet $20. You see, right now you are down $15 but win that $20 bet and you get back that $15 and again win $5. Now if you lose the $20 bet then you bet $40 and again the real win—should you win that bet—is a mere $5. And just keep going until you can’t double anymore and you have lost everything!]
I would risk $320 to win $5. And now, my dear readers, think of all those losses leading up to that $320! If I don’t win that last bet then I have lost a lot on those past losses, and I mean a LOT. Add it up and see for yourselves. I can’t add them up because, well, because it still hurts that I was so stupid in those ﬁrst visits to the casinos.
I’ll tell you one more stupid thing to my stupid use of the Martingale— I thought I invented that system. In the pure hollowness of my empty head one night, I came up with this idea as I looked up at the blank ceiling. “I got it!” I thought. “I just double my bet and win back everything I lost and I am ahead. I have ﬁgured out a way to beat the casinos! I am amazed no one thought of this before! I must be a genius.”
I am sure many of my readers have given the Martingale, or some form of the Martingale, a try, and if they took it all the way they wound up as I did. Destroyed. Many of them probably thought they invented the idea and some of them might have thought themselves geniuses as well.
I never made that mistake again. I do learn from my negative experiences, after all. (Maybe not always.)
Still, yes still, I have made some other mistakes in my casino life, sometimes with the games and sometimes with people I’ve befriended. These I will not tell you about in this article because the only readers who know about them are the tens of thousands of readers of my books. I wouldn’t want to scoop myself now, would I?
I think one of the biggest mistakes many casino players make is to think that the comps they get are evidences that these players are special people. “Hey, man, the casino comps my room and my meals. Yeah, man!” They want to add to that sentence “because the casino thinks I am great.”
Do the casinos think the players they are comping (big comps, little comps or any comps) are great people or just potential losers of “X” amount of money that earns them some comps? Is winning and/or losing money a true judge of a man or woman’s character? I doubt it.
Are those winning players something special for casino workers for something other than winning? Are the losing players something special for losing? I doubt it. To be special it takes more than winning or losing money.
Casino management looks at you as a bag of money, be it a little bag or a big bag or an in-between bag. (“But what about tips, so there, there! That means something, yes?” – Gee, everybody is a critic. Tips are still money, my friend, and you are still a bag of it.)
The bottom line is to just play your game for whatever money you can aﬀord. Play good strategies and do not enter into silly worlds of betting too much or for too long or to take yourself too seriously because you might be lionized by the casino bosses.
And true, there are still mistakes we will make. It is the human condition: “I make mistakes, therefore I am.”
All the best in and out of the casinos!