Can you make millions of dollars every time you play? That is doubtful—highly doubtful—unless you have a lot of money to bet. Millions of dollars are probably not in your gambling future. But you can be the smartest, strongest, and savviest player you can possibly be. Okay, let’s do it!
There used to be a television commercial where pretty twins debated the merits of a tasty mint. It went something like this:
Pretty Twin One: Certs is a breath mint. Pretty Twin Two: Certs is a candy mint.
Pretty Twin One: No, Certs is a breath mint.
Pretty Twin Two: No, Certs is a candy mint.
Deep-Voiced Narrator: Stop, stop!
The pretty twins stop, and their pretty faces look really confused.
Deep-Voiced Narrator: You’re both right!
The pretty twins are happy because they are both right
Why Player One Is Too Cynical
Some games can be beaten by some systems—if we define system merely as an organized, mathematically valid, advantage-play approach to a specific game—such as card counting at blackjack, dice control at craps, 100 percent–return video poker machines, advantage-play slot machines, etc.
Sadly, most casino players have little interest in learning these advantage play systems, so such skilled players are rare indeed, although the casinos are often paranoid about them. Considering that there are approximately 54 million casino gamblers in the United States alone, advantage players do not even makeup one-fiftieth of a percent, in my estimation.
Player Two’s Betting Systems Resemble Sewer Systems
The typical betting systems, such as doubling up after one’s previous loss—known as the Martingale system—or searching out trends that you bet with or against or only allowing yourself three, four, or however many consecutive losses before switching tables or some such are all losers. Such betting systems cannot overcome the house edges despite the fact that many (losing) gamblers swear by such systems. If these systems could overcome the house edges, there would be no casinos, because the bulk of regular players uses these systems in their play. Probably more than half of all casino players use these betting systems with ultimately fruitless results.
Player Three Is on the Wrong Trend Too
Trend betting is the most appealing system of play for almost all casino gamblers. A trend bettor sees red show up at roulette five times in a row and thinks, Red is hot; I am going to bet red! Or the trend bettor thinks Black has to show now with so many reds appearing. Black is due! I’m betting black
Trend betting can actually be called “bi-bet-u-laity,” because a wager can be made that the trend will continue, or a wager can be made that the trend won’t continue
A Closer Look at Streaks
A Closer Look at Streaks every casino gambler, from the best of them to the worst of them, know that all casino contests are streaky. You win some, you lose some. You win a few in a row, you lose a few in a row. You have good days, you have bad days.
Player Four Has an Inkling of an Idea
Money management—defined as how you handle your gambling money, how much you bet, and when you stop playing—can not overcome house edges. Still, money management is an important ingredient in all gambling, whether you are a player who doesn’t have an edge or whether you are a player who does have an edge. Cautious management of one’s money is always best, as I will show you.
Player Five Has Obviously Never Done Any Gardening
You cut your hedges, and what do they do? They grow back to annoy you and also your loud, complaining neighbors. That annoying fact explains why there is no way to cut the house edge by hedging one’s bets—you just lose more money because you are adding more bets of the high house-edge variety. In your garden, if you don’t want the annoyance factor of hedges, don’t grow any; same with casino gambling.
Gambling hedges are usually using bets with high house edges to protect bets with low house edges. Not a good exchange. But some players and even some gambling writers think these bets are the cat’s meow, the wolf’s howl, and the lion’s roar, but they are more like the Titanic’s iceberg. They will sink you rather quickly. The game with the most and most varied hedges is craps—you can hedge-like crazy, especially if you are crazy. Indeed the hedge bets in craps have been called “Crazy Crapper” bets by my late mentor, the Captain, the world’s greatest craps player. I’ll tackle hedging at craps in the section on craps. For now, just trust me—hedging is a bad idea. It’s like cutting poison ivy using your bare hands.