Without streaks, casino games wouldn’t be much fun at all. If the house collected its 1.41 percent on the craps pass line roll after roll or its 5.26 percent on double-zero roulette spin after spin, there would be little reason to play.
But winning streaks give us hope and sometimes pad our bankrolls. They grow out of normal probability, as do losing streaks.
Over thousands of plays, casinos will collect something close to the expected percentage, but we all win some and lose some.
Streaks give us our most memorable sessions, for better or for worse. Several readers have decided to share their experiences when streaks seemed to defy the norms.
ARTIE: I was playing craps with my normal method. I make a pass bet and follow with a couple of come bets. I like to have three numbers in action, all backed with odds.
The casino was moderately busy and there were five other players at my table. I’d just finished a good roll. I made five passes, made some nice money and was feeling pretty good about the world.
The next five shooters all went point-7. No one made any money. There wasn’t even a 7 or 11 on the comeout. Just losers.
A little extreme, right?
The first shooter rolled a 6. Everybody was rooting him on, but no luck. Next roll was 7.
On down the line, another 6 and another 7. Then a 9 and 7, and a 4 and 7.
Barely five minutes after my roll, there was only one shooter left before it came back around to me.
The fifth shooter was a big burly guy they were calling Jimmy. He had a really nice touch, a big slow arc that would hit the wall and come to a dead stop on the first bounce. Nobody had left the table yet, but everybody was talking about a break.
Jimmy’s first roll was an 8, just like you’d hope. Next roll looked good out of his hand, but the dice stopped on 4-3. ANOTHER point-7.
I was betting $10 on pass, then $10 on come. I lost all the passes, but won the comes on the 7s.
But I lost my odds. It was a 3x, 4x, 5x table, so I lost $30 in odds on the 4, $40 on the 9 and $50 each on the two 6s and the 8s. In all, I lost $220 in that stretch without a single pass. Awful.
I stuck around to see if I could repeat my good roll. I did make a point to break the streak, but sevened-out right after. Time to leave.
ROSA: I don’t usually bet single numbers. I’m a red or black, odd or even kind of girl.
But the board at the roulette wheel showed the number was 6 the last two times and three of the last eight. Also, twice in the last 10 the number was 18.
My birthday is 6/18, so I said to myself, “Self, if you’re ever going to risk single numbers, this is the time.”
Instead of $10 on red and $10 on odd, I bet $10 on 6 and $10 on 18.
Six came up right away, so I had a 35-1 payoff. Next was an 18, so I won 35-1 again.
I’d never won more than $200 in a session, and here I was with $700. I thought I would faint.
I decided to double up for one last bet, $20 each on 6 and 18, and 6 came up again! I won $1,400. I was so nervous, my hands were shaking.
I just couldn’t go on. I took the money and ran. I didn’t even want to know if the streak went on. I just needed to calm down. I may never play single numbers again, but wow, that was exciting.
DEE: The dealer matched my blackjack four times in a row and five out of six. This is over about an hour and a half at the table.
The first two times, the dealer had an Ace up. I know better than to insure my blackjack and take even money. My dad taught me my overall results are better than even money if I stay the course and play my blackjacks.
The dealer didn’t even bat an eye when I declined even money. I’m sure she’s seen it thousands of times. But there was another player who decided to razz me about it. The first time the dealer matched my blackjack, she said, “That’s why you take even money.” I just shrugged it off.
Next time, as soon as I declined, the other player said, “Come on, you have to take even money there.” When the dealer turned up a King, he said, “See? See? Take the guarantee.”
The next two blackjack pushes started with the dealer having a 10 up. That didn’t stop the comments. I heard, “This ought to be teaching you something” and “This isn’t your day on blackjacks, is it?”
Finally, I got a blackjack that paid off. Dealer had a Queen up and an 8 down. Mr. Even Money said something about a blind squirrel, but the others were all happy for me. Even the dealer said, “About time, honey.” Another player who I noticed was playing basic strategy said, “Keep making the right plays.”
On my last blackjack, the dealer had an Ace up again, so when I waved off even money I heard, “Haven’t you learned ANYTHING?” I really, really wanted to win that, regardless of the money. Alas, one more dealer 10 down.
Five pushes in six blackjacks is a pretty tough streak. Accompanied by a heckler, well, let’s say it wasn’t my favorite session.