Betting
Systems
Betting systems fall into the broad categories of betting the same after
each decision, known as flat betting, raising wagers after wins,
called positive progressions, and raising money after losses,
named negative progressions,
There
are also systems which have characteristics of one or more of
these types, such as the Baccarat Attack Strategy Betting System
which we will encounter in a few more chapters.
Many of the classical betting systems were developed for
roulette in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but can be
used for other games with evenmoney wagers such as craps,
baccarat and blackjack. Although
none of these systems in its pure form is a winning system, it
is worthwhile to study the efforts of our ancestors as these
betting systems are the grandparents of every modern betting
system.
Martingale
Martingale
is one of the oldest betting systems using a negative
progression. It is
named after Henry Martingale, an English casino owner in the
1700s who is reputed to urge losing punters to "double 'em
up" with their wagers.
This
system is very simple. You
will use a betting series where each bet in the series is twice
as large as the preceding one, as with 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32.
So long as you win a bet, you will continue to bet at the
lowest level, e.g. wager 1.
If you lose a bet, you will move up to the next wager,
doubling the amount of the previous wager.
Use of the system ensures that whenever your wager
eventually wins, you will win the amount of the original wager,
in this instance 1.
One
of my gambling friends once told me about an amazing system he
had developed for craps. He
had gone to Las Vegas on two consecutive trips and returned a
winner. He was
wagering only on don't pass at casino craps using a betting
series starting with a $1 bet and doubling his bet after each
loss. He was
certain that his risk of loss was very small and planned to
continue to use the system. He was reluctant to share the system with me but he finally
confessed that he was using the following betting series,
increasing his wager one level following a loss:
1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256.
He correctly pointed out that he would have to lose nine
times in a row to lose the betting series, and he just didn't
think that this was possible.
I
pointed out to him that there was a very real possibility that
he could lose nine decisions in a row; in fact, this would
happen once about every 500 pass line  don't pass decisions.
With craps decisions averaging fifty to sixty per hour, a
loss of all nine wagers could happen once every eight to ten
hours. I asked him
to consider whether he was winning enough to sustain a loss of
$511.00 (the total amount he was risking) in order to win the
sum of $1. This
must have impressed him as I don't think he ever used this
system again (or at least he didn't tell me about losing with
it).
The Martingale system would be just about unbeatable if you could
continue to double your wagers until you finally won a bet.
Modern casinos are very aware of Martingale, and they know that
the easiest way to thwart the system is to narrow the spread
between maximum and minimum bets allowed.
In other words, the minimum wager must be high enough and
the maximum wager low enough that no more than eight or nine
doublings can occur. If
you find a table with a low minimum, such as $1 and a high
maximum, such as $3,000, you may wish to try using a
Martingale system against the table.
You could use the following series of wagers: 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256
512 1,024 2,048. With
12 bets in the series, you would be an oddson favorite to win
any weekend gambling contest involving evenmoney wagers.
However, you might want to consider one thing.
If you try this, sooner or later you will lose bet number
11, for $1,024. You
will now have lost $2,047 and will be called on to bet $2,048 in
order to win the grand sum of $1.
Are you willing to risk it?
If you win, you will be up exactly one buck for your
efforts. However,
if you lose your last wager of $2,048,
you will have lost $4,095
in the gaming contest. While the risk of loss is low, it will
happen at some time if you continue to wager this way, and there
is no guarantee that it won't happen during your first casino
excursion using this system.
MiniMartingale
Martingale
in its purest form is too risky for the amount of reward
offered. Nearly
every gambling expert likes to cite Martingale as an example of
a losing system and then jump into a gloating mode and proclaim
that all betting systems are losers. However, a Martingale system can be used with very good
results if it is used on a spot basis. Assume that you are
wagering on an evenmoney game and that you have lost the last
four consecutive wagers. Usually,
a threestage Martingale against this trend continuing for three
more decisions will be quite profitable and the reward will be
reasonable as compared to the amount risked.
A
fivestage Martingale progression can be used very profitably
when it is used against a betting pattern which is less likely
to occur than would normally be expected.
Grand
Martingale
One
criticism of Martingale is that too much is risked as compared
to the potential return. For
example, in the first Martingale series shown, you would have
had to wager $256 in order to win a net $1.
With Grand Martingale, additional chips are added to each
increased wager,
so that when
a win
finally occurs,
the amount won will be greater than just the amount of the first
wager. A typical
Grand Martingale series is: 1 3 5 15 35 75.
Martingale
in all forms risks a lot to win a little.
When the losses come, they will wipe out hours of
profits. Another
twist to using a Martingale series is to play Martingale in
reverse, called an "AntiMartingale" betting series.
With this system, winning wagers will be pressed
(doubled). Whenever
you encounter a long winning streak this system can produce
phenomenal profits. Assume
we use the following AntiMartingale series:
5 10 20 40 80. With
five consecutive wins, we will $155, while our total risk is
only the amount of our first wager, $5.
The highrisk reward ratio is a major reason raising your
wagers after wins is recommended by many gaming experts.
However, as we saw two chapters back, this type of system
wins very infrequently, and the many small losses overwhelm most
gains, so that over 90% of all games will end with a loss.
Labouchere
With Labouchere, also known as the Cancellation System, the player sets
up a series of numbers which will add up to the profit he will
make if he wins this betting series.
If he picks 1 2 3 as his series, his expected profit for
winning this series is 1 + 2 + 3 = 6.
Like the variations of Martingale, this series is used
with evenmoney bets.
To start the series, a player will wager the sum of the two outside
numbers, in this case 4 (1
+ 3 = 4).
If he wins this wager, he will cancel the two outside
numbers by scratching them out, and wager the sum of the next
two outside numbers. In
this simple series, only the single number of 2 is left, so the
player would wager 2. If he
also wins this wager, he will have won the series, having won 4
on the first round and 2 for the second wager, for a total of 6,
the total of all bets in the series.
Any
time the player loses a wager, he will add the amount lost to
the series and continue to wager the sum of the two outside
wagers. Let's assume the player lost the first bet of 4.
He would add this wager to the series, which would now
become: 1 2 3 4.
His next wager would be for 5, the sum of the two outside
wagers. We will
assume that this bet wins.
Having won the bet, our players cancels the outside
numbers of 1 and 4 leaving the series as: 2 3.
He next wagers the sum of these two numbers, betting 5.
If this wager wins the series is completed.
If he loses this wager, the losing bet of 5 will be added
to the series and he will continue the series.
The principal appeal of this system is that it appears to be a two for
one proposition in that each win cancels two numbers while a
loss only adds one number to the series.
However, this isn't the case, as the player is not paid
two for one on winning bets.
In testing this system, I have had bets escalate to wagers of hundreds
of dollars all too frequently.
This is probably the most insidious of the old time
roulette systems. It
is said to have been responsible for more suicides on the French
Riviera than any other system. Part of the problem with this system is that the small stream
of steady wins tends to lull the player into believing that the
system can't lose. Unfortunately,
a long enough losing streak will occur that the wagers called
for will either be larger than the player's bankroll or will
exceed the house limits and not be allowed.
In either case, the series will be over with the end
result that the player suffers a substantial loss.
This
system can also be played in reverse, known as Reverse
Labouchere. With
Reverse Labby, as many punters call it, the amount of each win
is added to the series, and the two outside numbers are canceled
whenever a loss occurs. Each
wager is still the sum of the two outside numbers. This system produces many small losses in exchange for an
occasional win over 1,000 times the amount at risk.
Use
of this approach is recounted in Norman Leigh's fascinating
account of his successful effort to beat the casino in Monte
Carlo by playing Labouchere in reverse (Thirteen Against the Bank, William Morrow & Co., 1976).
Norman Leigh theorized that the reason so many players
lose with Labouchere is that they run into the house limits or
lose their playing capital and are unable to recoup losses.
Since the bank has almost unlimited capital in comparison
to the players, the bank can out wait most player assaults,
knowing that either the house betting limit or the player's own
limited financial resources will bring about the player's
demise.
In
using the reverse betting strategy, Leigh reasoned that this
approach would most closely resemble the bank's approach to most
other players. He
would wait out the small losses until a large win occurred.
Leigh spent months recruiting and training a team to play
against the casino. His
trials in pulling off this coup make for fascinating reading.
I believe that one of the reasons he was eventually able
to beat the casino in Monte Carlo was that his starting wagers
were fairly low and the house maximums large in comparison.
Consequently, he was able to keep his losses fairly low while
his team played on, waiting for the monster win.
It
is doubtful that this system could be used successfully now, as
the spread between minimum and maximum wagers is not large
enough in most casinos. The
losses realized while waiting for the large win would be
enormous, with the house limits on maximum wagers limiting the
systems' ability to ultimately recoup the losses.
D'Alembert
This
system was invented by a French mathematician, based on the
assumption of equilibrium
in gaming contests. D'Alembert
reasoned that since winning and losing bets must eventually
equal one another, a system of adding one chip after each losing
bet and subtracting a chip after a winning bet would ultimately
result in a win as winning wagers would always be greater than
losing ones.
It
is not unusual to win only ten of the first thirty wagers in an
evenmoney betting contest.
With d'Alembert's system, the player will wager higher
and higher amounts until he eventually runs into our old
nemesis, the house limit.
D'Alembert can be fairly successful if it is modified to include no more
than nine or ten bets in a series of wagers, so that potential
losses are limited. An
additional modification to improve the system is to space the
bets so that the win of two consecutive wagers will offset prior
losses. A series
which accomplishes this is 1 2 3 4 7 11 18. With this series, a player would drop back to the lowest bet
after winning two consecutive wagers, such as 7 and 4.
This system can be fairly successful if used by two
partners betting the opposite in roulette, craps or baccarat.
ContradAlembert
Like
Reverse Labouchere, the idea behind Contrad'Alembert is to
reduce the amount risked while allowing profitable runs to rise
to great heights. With
this strategy we will increase our wager one level after a win
and reduce it a level following a loss.
The
only positive aspect to the strategy is that when you hit a
prolonged losing streak the size of your wagers is quickly
reduced. In this respect this system can help protect your bankroll.
However,
the upside of using any system requiring increasing your wager
following wins is limited.
Trends of long, uninterrupted winning streaks are fairly
rare in gaming and a system relying on piling up win after
consecutive win is not going to win very often.
Here's
an example. Your
first bet is for one unit.
You win and move up to betting two units.
With another win, you wager three units and have a loss.
You have won two out of three bets and have absolutely
nothing to show for it. All
of your profit evaporated with that single loss.
If you could always pick your spots, this system would have merit.
Of course, if pigs could fly . . .
well, you get the idea.
It is just about impossible to know in advance when a
threewager consecutive win might occur so that you could
jump in with a Contrad'Alembert. Like
so many systems, this one sounds good on paper, but is difficult
to squeeze profits out of in real world gaming.
Ascot
This
is another of the old time roulette systems that can be adapted
to any game offering evenmoney bets.
With Ascot, winning wagers are increased one unit at a
time in a predetermined series of wagers while losing bets are
lowered one step using the same betting series. An Ascot betting series can be from seven to
eleven numbers. A typical series is: 2
3 5 8 13 20 30. The
player's first wager would be a middle number such as 8.
If this wager wins, the next wager would be 13.
If this wager also won, the succeeding wager would be for
20, and so on, with each win followed by an increase of one
level in the betting series.
The series would end with the win of the last bet in the
series. For a win,
that would be a win of 30.
A losing series would be terminated with the loss of the
lowest bet of 2.
The
greatest problem with Ascot is that alternating wins and losses
at the higher levels of wagers will destroy the profit potential
of the series. This
can be a serious flaw in any system calling for a large
reduction in the amount wagered following a loss.
The
Fibonacci System
Fibonacci was a mathematician who discovered a series of numbers where
the sum of each two numbers in the series equals the number
which follows. A
Fibonacci series with twelve levels of bets would look like:
1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 for a total risked of
$608.
This is a very low risk system for use with evenmoney bets at craps,
roulette and baccarat. To
use it, you will increase your bet one level following a loss. After any win, you drop your next wager one level.
If you win two bets in a row, or win two out of three
bets, you drop back to the first bet in the series.
This system was sold many years ago for $100 a copy with instructions to
use it betting don't pass in craps.
This is a good system for partners to use betting
opposites. With
roulette, for instance, one partner could bet red while the
other wagered black. With
craps, one would wager on pass line and the other on don't pass.
With baccarat, one partner would bet banker and the other
on player hands.
Incidentally,
there are a number of derivations of the Fibonacci series of
numbers, including ratios of the numbers, which are regularly
used in trading stocks and commodity future contracts. This is
indeed a versatile and powerful sequence of numbers.
The
Parlay
A
parlay or paroli is a
positive progression method. In its simplest form, it consists
of leaving a winning bet plus the winnings up for a second win. If you are betting $10 on an evenmoney bet and win $10, you
parlay the wager by leaving $20 up for the next decision.
If this bet wins, you will have won $30 while only
risking $10.
Probably
the most attractive aspect of a successful parlay is that it
wins three times as much as the amount risked.
However, the probability of winning two bets in a row on
evenmoney wagers is less than one in four.
For this reason, one of the better ways to use a parlay
is to combine it with a series of bets where the amount wagered
is increased following a loss.
For example the following parlay progression could be
used: 2 2 3 4 6 8 12 16. To
use this series, you would normally start with the first wager
in the series. If
this bet won, you would parlay it and next wager $4.
If either the original wager or the parlay lost you would
move up one level in the betting series.
Any time a parlay bet is won, you will start the betting
series over. If the
series is lost, you may either start the series over or leave
the table.
Setting up parlay progressions like the one above can be the basis for
some of the best performing betting progressions in gambling.
To use such a series in blackjack, which requires
additional money in order to handle pair splitting and
doublings, requires adjustments to the series.
One way to handle this is to modify basic strategy to
reduce the number of splitting and doubling plays.
However, this is not a wise way to play blackjack as
these moves represent one of the player's strongest winning
options. A better
way to handle the program of developing a winning parlay
progression for blackjack is to modify the progression so that
it allows for splitting and doubling opportunities.
Oscar's
Grind
If
you want to use a system with very little risk of loss, here's
the one you want.
Oscar
has a target of winning one unit at the end of any successful
betting series. That's
it. One unit.
Here are the rules:
1.
Increase your bet by one unit after every win; provided
that winning the wager won't result in a series gain larger then
one unit.
2.
Never change the size of your bet following a loss.
Assume that your betting
unit is $5 and you are betting don't pass. You find yourself fighting a hot streak and you have lost six
bets in a row for a cumulative loss of $30.
You continue to bet $5 since you never change the size of
your wager following losses.
You bet $5 again and win.
Now, with one win and six losses, you are down a net $25.
Following the win, you raise your bet one unit and wager
$10. This wager also wins. You
have reduced your net loss to $15.
You raise your next wager one more unit to $15 and win. You are now even. Your
final wager will revert to $5.
Why? Because
of the rule limiting the size of a wager to one which will not
result in a gain larger than one unit.
Your
last bet of $5 wins. You
now have a net win of $5, having lost six bets and won four.
Even this system can take you to high levels on occasion.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have
occasional wins followed by multiple losses, the size of your
wagers will continue to grow.
If you run into this situation, you will be forced to
stop the series at some point and accept a loss, rather than
risking larger and larger amounts of money.
Patrick's
System
John
Patrick, a professional gambler turned writer, presented another
positive betting system for blackjack, which can also be used
for baccarat. In
his John Patrick's
Blackjack (Carol Publishing Group, 1995) he describes his
system. He uses a
system with both progressive and regressive attributes.
With his system, you will start with a wager at least
twice as large as the table minimum so that you have room to
reduce the size of your bet after wins.
After your first win, your next wager will be onehalf
the size of the first winning wager.
For instance, if your base bet is $10 and you win, you
will wager $5 next. After
any net loss you will revert to the original starting bet.
However, if you can manage to win the second bet in a
series, you will return to the twounit bet and increase the
amount wagered after any additional win.
A
series of six wins at a $10 minimum table would look like:
20 10 20 30 40 50 for a total of $170 won.
Patrick
suggests a way to limit losses by quitting if you lose the first
four hands in a shoe or deck.
The above was taken from the book 
Baccarat Attack Strategy.
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