G ambling is a numbers game. For casinos, it has nothing to do with luck, although on any given table at any given time, it looks as if luck predominates. At least gamblers are convinced the casinos rely on luck too. For casinos, luck isn’t an operant condition, because they have enough tables and machines to be in the long run in a very, very short time. The long-run favors the math, and a very “short” long-run means the casinos can confidently go to the bank, oh, like tomorrow or the day after.
Casino gamblers fervently believe in luck—short-term luck, long-term luck, luck today, luck tomorrow, luck for a week, a month, a lifetime—and these casino gamblers firmly believe that such luck will dominate over time, either for good or bad. The sad truth is that it’s almost always for the bad. Casinos know how in love gamblers are with luck, so they play up the concept that you will have good luck all the time by using deceptive advertising: pictures and billboards showing happy winners, radio and television advertisements depicting people smiling, and applauding at table games and slot machines, etc.
In casinos’ pitches to players, you won’t see commercials where a player is cursing and foaming at the mouth or kicking the slot machine in a mad rage. Besides the true-life pictures of dazzled winners, the commercials show the beautiful people, usually drinking out of martini glasses with the whitest of white teeth gleaming in the glow of the slot machines.
Smart players know that luck is almost always bad over time for casino gamblers who are not playing with an edge and who have to go up against the house edge on the games they play. Gamblers are almost all losers over almost any prolonged series of decisions. Casinos, on the other hand, are almost always winners over any such prolonged period of time. Indeed, casinos—with all their tables, all their machines, and all their decisions per hour—are almost always winners right now.
If a casino player plays the Pass Line day in and day out for years and years, that player is most probably cursed to be a loser, and the casino is blessed to be a winner. That seven-number edge is all the casino needs to make a nice chunk of change from a craps player. And that’s a good craps player, not the poppies who make foolish bets. The bottom line is that the longer a player plays, the worse his or her prospects will be. That’s a fact because that is the math of the game. Those sad poppy players think they can overcome randomness by discovering patterns in such randomness—patterns that are predictable and therefore bet table, making the game beatable. They can’t; they are merely deluded in this regard, although they are quite strong in their declarations that their losing trend-betting systems are actually the way to play. I think it was Einstein who said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That’s the typical casino gambler.
That’s the math inexorably working itself out. You can’t escape the math even if you are deluded enough to think you can. So the more decisions a casino gets, the better chance it will be ahead. In craps, casinos look to get in 120 decisions per hour per table. Do they? Easily. At a full table, there are players betting three, four, five, or more bets each round of play, so 120 decisions is actually a rather modest goal.
For advantage players, the road is up and down, down and up, but over time, the advantage player should be ahead. It’s the reverse for a no advantage player—it’s up and down, down and up, but the thrust is a steady down over time.