Don’t make foolish wagers based on past events
By Frank Scoblete
Trend bettors fail to understand that what they’re betting on is hindsight, and has nothing to do with the proper play in the future— even if that future is the very next roll.
Here’s the situation: There are four cards left in the blackjack shoe. You know what they are – three 10-valued cards and one ace. You have a choice of betting on the dealer’s hand, or the player’s hand.
Obviously, with these four remaining cards the game is even in terms of how many hands a dealer or player should win, and how many hands a dealer or player should lose. The dealer will get as many blackjacks as the player, and also as many 20’s. In terms of the possible wins and losses, it’s a dead heat.
After each hand, the four cards will be shuffled and dealt again. You are going to be allowed to play five consecutive hands with such cards.
So on whom should you bet? Do you go with the dealer, or do you go with the player? Or does it really matter?
Now let me add a wrinkle. Let’s explore a second scenario. In this one, you will play those same four cards on five consecutive hands, but before each of these hands, the dealer will have gotten two blackjacks, one right after the other. It appears that the dealer is hot.
With such a “hot dealer,” would you bet dealer or player with those four remaining cards?
The correct answer in both cases is simple: You must bet the player’s hand, because when a player gets a blackjack he is paid three dollars for every two dollars he wagered. (This assumes that you’re playing at a table that gives 3-2 payouts on blackjack, which is the only type of blackjack game you should play.)
The dealer only gets even money on his blackjacks. So one blackjack for the dealer and one blackjack for the player means the player is winning the money! Thus, in a game where each side will win 50 percent of the hands, the side that gets that extra payment is the favorite.
But isn’t the dealer “hot” because he got those blackjacks before the last four cards were played? Doesn’t the dealer have a better chance to win because he was hot? No. The dealer’s win has no bearing on whom to bet with those four remaining cards. It has no bearing on whether the player will win or the dealer will win. The best bet, the only bet to make, is on the player’s hand.
There is a theory in gambling that the long run and the short run are totally different animals, and that long run strategies don’t have to be used in the short run. This theory is wrong.
Players who subscribe to this theory believe that if something has been happening at a game, it will more than likely continue, and therefore you should bet on what’s been happening recently—whether or not these bets are the best ones to make in the long run. This method of play is called trend betting.
Obviously, in our example above, a player would have to be a dimwit of the first order to bet on the dealer with those remaining four cards, just because the dealer won two hands just before that. The best bet now, and always will be, on the player.
If we take a random craps game with many bets, all of them with various house edges, and we saw a streak of 12’s, the trend bettor would figure the 12 is “hot” and make a bet on that number. But betting the 12 is a horrible bet with a house edge of almost 14 percent. It doesn’t matter that the 12 appeared several times before. It has no bearing on the house edge in the future.
Betting the 12 is a big, long-range losing proposition. It should not be wagered, just as the dealer’s hand should not be wagered in the example above.
Trend bettors fail to understand that what they’re betting on is hindsight, and has nothing to do with the proper play in the future— even if that future is the very next roll. What was abundantly clear in my blackjack example suddenly loses its power in the trend bettor’s mind when the game contains more betting choices.
Take this to heart: It doesn’t matter how many bets are in a random game. The player must bet the lowest house edge bets at all times, or else he’s asking for trouble.
So now I’ll get to the bane of the trend bettor’s superstitions, the thing that boils his blood and makes his face turn red with anger – the math of the game. Many trend bettors love to believe that the long-term math of the game has no bearing on what is happening in the here and now. But the fact is this: whatever is happening in the short run does not create a new criteria for how one should wager. There is only one proper bet to make—the lowest house edge bet.
The long-run math informs the short run. There is no short-run math. There is no way to tell that the12 will come up more frequently from now on. This type of thinking has led many gamblers to ruin.
The best advice any gambling writer can give is this: The short run is the long run in terms of how you should bet. Don’t make poor bets because you think you’re in some kind of different game. The game is the same; the math is the same; and the correct betting choices are the same, whether it’s on the next roll of the dice or turn of the cards, or on your next trip to the casino.
Frank Scoblete’s newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines, which features advantage-play slots; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win, which comes with a DVD showing unedited 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 1-800-944-0406. You can also call that number for a free brochure.