The Truth About Betting Systems
Every gambler knows someone who plays to a system. But serious blackjack and poker players don’t use systems because they’re overrated. Skill counts a great deal in both of these games and it tends to balance out the chance factor over any significant period. People who bet on the horses are always using systems, yet the house edge in horse racing is far greater than in the game of roulette – and the edge is too great in roulette, too. The bookies rake in between 15 percent and 25 percent on the horses, which takes any advantage away from you. Even so, some knowledge of horses can help you at the track … but there is no information you can apply in roulette or craps. These are totally games of luck. None the less, gamblers do try to formulate betting systems to overcome the house edge in these games.
There are countless systems in use – doubling-up (also called the Martingale system), in which bets are increased progressively; doubling-up plus 1; raising, lowering and cancellation; and a myriad of subtle variations on these systems. A common factor they all share is this: they don’t work. Eventually you’ll lose because only one factor makes the difference in the long run, and that’s the house advantage. Using a system just delays the inevitable.
The only winning strategy for craps or roulette is to get a lucky win and then make a hasty departure. If you hang around, that house edge is going to sneak up on you eventually. In the majority of systems you have to raise your first bet until you’ve recovered what you lost. Maybe this would work if we were betting on the toss of a coin. Suppose you wager ฃ10 on heads but the toss comes out tails. You would merely need to bet “double or nothing” over and over again until heads did eventually win. We’ll assume there’s no top limit on the betting in this game of heads or tails and you could bet a million pounds if necessary as you sought to break even. Casinos do impose betting limits, however. A drawn-out succession of reds would break you if you were playing double-up or double-up + 1 on black.
In a simple toss of a coin, moreover, you don’t have to play against a built-in house advantage. The problem at the heart of any gambling system is that the odds are always stacked against you. The house edge insidiously works against you, and the more time you spend trying to beat it, the more likely it is to get you. If you ran a shop, would you sell all of your goods at a 5 percent loss? Over enough time any betting system will break you. So, is there nothing to be done?
In craps or roulette you must do everything possible to maximize your chances of winning. Bet on a number, not on corners. Go for a win in the fewest possible number of dice-rolls or spins of the wheel. Gamblers who like to prolong the pleasure of being at the table are the ones who lose. If your roulette bankroll is ฃ100, bet it on two spins of the wheel. If you get lucky, leave the table at the first sensible opportunity. Don’t ever walk away immediately after a winning spin. Let the winning streak run its course first. But as soon as that happens, cash out and leave. Craps and roulette call for mighty self-discipline. Be absolutely determined to bet fast and walk away with what you win. If you let the game draw you in, it’ll eat you.
If it’s fun you’re looking for, become familiar with blackjack. You can play blackjack as long as you like and there’s not much of a house edge to worry about if you keep your head screwed on straight. But your interludes at roulette or craps should be more like lightning raids. And leave your betting system behind when you go there, or it’ll cost you dearly.