The truth about betting systems
By Frank Scoblete
There are numerous systems employed by casino gamblers in their attempts to wrest money from the house. Some of these, such as the Martingale, have long histories, and some have been developed by mathematical geniuses such as Blaise Pascal.
Players have used these methods over the centuries and are still using them today. Whole books have been written about them, too.
Do they work to give the players the edge over the house? No.
While systems allow the players to play a consistent way, they do not allow such folks to prosper over time. They are all losing propositions in the end—and sometimes in the beginning and middle, too.
One of the favorite methods of play is labeled “trend betting,” which means the player follows some kind of trend that dictates his betting strategy.
At roulette and craps a trend could be certain speciﬁc numbers or sets of numbers coming up; at blackjack it could be a series of wins or losses that dictates how to bet on the upcoming hands. Such a series can be found at most games and these series can be considered trends.
There are two general types of trend betting: a player can bet with the trend or the player can bet against the trend.
You are playing roulette and you notice that the color black has come up 13 times in 20 decisions. You ﬁgure that the color black is “hot” and will probably continue to be hot. So, you bet black on the next half-dozen spins expecting to see it hit again and maybe again (and again!).
Will this happen? Sometimes it will. More times it won’t, at least it won’t enough times that one can’t count on pro-trend betting to get you an edge at the games.
Why is that? The players betting with black can expect to win 18 times and lose 20 times, since they lose on a “red” being hit and they lose on a 0 or 00 being hit. The odds favor the streak not continuing.
The same is true with winning or losing streaks at all games. The structure of the payouts favors the casinos because the casinos don’t usually pay the true value of a winning bet. The win/loss relationship will also favor the casino. For example, at craps the Pass Line bet wins 251 times for the casino and 244 times for the player.
Pro-trenders have to combat that reality and such combat will ultimately end in losses. Thus, those favoring betting with trends are asking for ultimate defeat.
Okay, if pro-trending bets are ultimate losers, shouldn’t anti-trending bets be winners? Sadly, no. Such reasoning may seem logical but once again, the casino has the wins stacked in their favor.
Now, let us say that three red pockets have come up in a row at roulette. Instead of betting that another red pocket will show, the player bets against it by placing a black bet. Shouldn’t that work? Again, sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t, but the sometimes it won’t will happen more than the sometimes that will.
Here’s why: You have 18 ways to win if black hits but you also have 18 ways to lose if a red pocket hits. Okay, that’s a tie— but—you still lose if the 0 or 00 hits. Thus, you have 18 ways to win and 20 ways to lose.
[Please note: I am using the American double- zero wheel of 0 and 00 for the above examples. However, on the European single-zero wheel there is only one zero so the casino wins 19 times on the above bets while the player still wins 18 times. The American wheel has a 5.26 percent house edge, while the European wheel has a house edge of 2.7 percent.]
In games such as craps you face the same dilemma—no matter how you bet, either with the perceived streak or against the perceived streak, the house has the edge over you. Much as you wish and hope that wasn’t true, you can’t escape that fact.
Trend Betting: Good or Bad? It’s bad. Don’t run away yet.
All betting systems are bad. There is no way of manipulating your money to get the edge over the house; therefore, in the good or bad debate, all betting systems are by necessity bad.
That doesn’t mean that all are at the same level of bad as others. If you were to sit out roulette spins waiting for a streak of two or three of the same events before you bet for or against such a streak, the fact that you didn’t wager on many spins is a good thing.
The player does have the opportunity to use a system in the most conservative or liberal way he or she chooses. Since we can’t change the very nature of a casino game, we do have control over how much or how little we wager. As long as you bet the table minimum, you can play the game as you see ﬁt.
All the best in and out of the casinos!