The truth behind popular gambling myths
By Frank Scoblete
I like to think of these “wrong facts” as Ploppy Philosophy.
Where there are people, there are ideas. Where there are ideas, there are often wrong ideas. And where there are wrong ideas, there are often superstitions that grow in, under, around and through these wrong ideas.
These superstitions are then supported by a makeshift rationale, a flimsy logic that solidifies them in the minds of their adherents. They become theories more closely resembling the Flat Earth Society than the modern scientific age. If these theories were drinks, they would be strange brews.
When that happens, some of these superstitions become a kind of fact—a “wrong fact” taken as real by casino players, and it takes a yeoman’s strength to disassemble such wrong facts.
So meet your modern-day yeoman (that’s me!) and let’s take a look at some of the “wrong facts” that have been published in books, magazines and on the Internet. I like to think of these “wrong facts” as Ploppy Philosophy. (By the way, all of these are being paraphrased from actual letters, articles or books.)
Ploppy Philosopher: I have never received any cents in my payoffs from the casinos in table games. Yet all the time you hear that this bet has a percent of losing that includes cents like the Pass Line will lose you 1.41 cents per $100 wagered. I have never seen these cents; where are they? I say they don’t exist!
Yeoman Scobe: These percentages are averages and they do indeed have cents, even if that doesn’t make sense to you. You don’t see those cents, but they are there all the same. In fact, there are cents in many strings of decisions at craps and other table games. You don’t even have to show elaborate math to prove it. Let’s say you bet one dollar. Now you bet another dollar. Now you bet two dollars.
Your total bet in the sequence is four dollars. You made three bets. What is your average bet? It’s about $1.33. The cents are always there, but they can’t be seen with the naked eye of a gambler.
Here’s a good analogy to show you why you can’t trust your eyes at a gambling table. I call it the “stick in the water” trick. I take a straight stick and put it in a glass tank of water. It appears that the water is now bending the stick. But is it really? No. We all know the stick has not suddenly been bent by the water. Your eyes have been fooled by the distortion of the light waves coming from the water.
Table game percentages are all sticks in the water. The problem is that we believe what we are seeing, instead of what is really happening. The stick doesn’t bend. The cents are real.
Ploppy Philosopher: I usually bring $1,000 with me to the casino. I cash in for that full amount, but I will not allow myself to lose more than five hundred dollars. This way, I always go home with some money in my pocket. I think this is a smart money management system.
Yeoman Scobe: Why don’t you bring $10,000 with you, and if you lose $500 you can go home with $9,500? You’d really feel good then! Or better still, bring that money, don’t gamble, and you will always break even. You’ll be one of the few casino goers who comes out even in the long run.
While I realize that this gimmick is a mental trick to try to make players feel good, it’s just another stick in the water. Bring what you intend to play with so that you aren’t conning yourself, should you lose that $500.
Ploppy Philosopher: Casinos loosen slot machines on the weekends and that’s why there are more jackpots. Casinos bring in “weekend dice” and that’s why there are more seven-outs on the weekends. The number “four” means death and anyone at a baccarat table seated in the number “four” position is going to get killed, economically speaking. Blackjack players who make the wrong decisions in the playing of their hands will cause the cards to become unlucky for the other players.
Yeoman Scobe: There are more jackpots on weekends because more people are playing. More players equal more decisions equal better chances for jackpots. There are no weekend dice. There are more players and more craps tables open and more moans when seven-outs occur. Obviously, more players equal more decisions equal more seven-outs.
In Chinese the number “four” does indeed sound like the word for death—so much so that many baccarat tables in the high roller rooms have eliminated this number completely. Obviously, there is no proof of any kind that the number four will cause anyone to win more or less at baccarat. The odds stay the same; the house edge stays the same; and the long-range expectations remain the same.
Wrong decisions at the blackjack table have nothing to do with anything. No one knows exactly what cards are coming out of the deck or shoe on the next round, or the rounds after that. The player who moans and complains about a change in the “flow” is merely someone who enjoys moaning and complaining. If he knew in advance which cards were about to come out, why didn’t he inform everyone at the table and give them a chance to win? Because his logic merely created another “wrong fact” that he now firmly believes in, experience to the contrary.
The above are merely a few of the “wrong facts” that many casino players take as truth. As a cleaned-up version of a popular saying goes, “The real truth be darned!”
Frank Scoblete’s newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines, which features advantage-play slots; and Casino Craps: Shoot to Win, which comes with a DVD showing controlled throws. Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players and Beat Blackjack Now are all available from Amazon.com, at your favorite bookstore, or by mail-order by calling 1-866-SET-DICE. You can also call that number for a free brochure.