The Perils of Betting Systems
Betting systems have been popular with casino gamblers for years, and plenty of people still swear by them. No matter which one you use, these systems provide the player with a guide for placing their wagers, which is meant to increase profits and minimize losses.
Unfortunately, no betting system can offer sustained winnings over a long period of time. That's because each spin of the wheel or roll of the dice is independent from the last, and there's never a pattern to be predicted or taken advantage of. Anyone who believes otherwise is falling prey to what's known as the "gambler's fallacy," which is something to be avoided at all costs.
On this page, we look at the main perils of betting systems, as well as providing brief descriptions about some of the leading methods. If you're still sitting on the fence about the validity of betting systems, hopefully we can help you make up your mind.
Reasons to Avoid Betting Systems
If you've ever tried betting systems for any length of time, then you've likely learned to stay away from them. Some players, however, continue to use them and actually brag about some of the major wins they've received. Whether you're a veteran of betting systems or a novice who's thinking about applying one or more of these methods, please read the following arguments for why you should stick to more reliable tactics.
Countless mathematicians have denounced betting systems as nothing more than a fraud, as their basic criteria for success almost always requires the player to have an infinite bankroll. If this were true, most players would be wealthy beyond belief and probably wouldn't be interested in gambling to begin with.
Since each spin, roll, or deal of the cards is independent of the last, there's no guarantee that a couple of losses are going to be followed by a win. And since most gamblers are playing on a limited budget, a string of losses combined with ill-advised wagers are enough to bust most people in a short period of time.
Our beginner's guide to casinos includes an article explaining games of chance. You should read this if you're not sure exactly what games of chance are, as it will help you to understand why betting systems don't work.
If you don't care what anyone else thinks about you, then go ahead and ignore this one. While you're at it, hop onto some Internet gambling forums and extoll the virtues of betting systems to anyone who'll listen. For everyone else, we suggest avoiding betting systems because they make you look like a gullible fool. It's the same level of naiveté that causes some players to rub a coin between their fingers before depositing it into a slot or sit down in front of a vacated machine because it's due to get hot.
Many of the mysteries of the universe have been explained with math. While it's cold and impersonal, it's also ultimately fair and doesn't play favorites.
Casino games all have a house edge, and it has been mathematically proven that no known betting system can overcome this edge. If you choose to ignore such findings, you're showing complete contempt for an entire branch of science and the achievements of men like Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, and Euclid.
Anyone who's spent a decent amount of time on the Internet has seen how myths and urban legends can spread like wildfire. One person sends an email making wild claims about a certain subject, and soon it's been forwarded to hundreds or thousands of others and accepted as the truth. While these mistruths are constantly debunked by dedicated individuals, it doesn't stop people from straying across them and being fooled (even years later).
When someone uses a betting system and then brags to their friends about all the success they've been having, it perpetuates the lie that these systems are a valid option for serious gamblers. If you want to help your fellow players, the only sane course of action is to avoid such tactics and break the chain of deceit.
While most gambling systems can be found online for free, there are also a number of individuals who are willing to sell "winning" systems to their customers. These people are the scum of the Earth, as they knowingly prey on the desperate and naïve to add to their own bank accounts. Since some of them also sell books about the fortune telling and contacting spirits, you would think their credibility would immediately be called into question. Still, it's scary how many people fall victim to them each year.
The art of bankroll management is key to any successful long-term gambling strategy, as it allows you to play within your budget and keep losses to a minimum. Without it, a player is likely to make multiple trips to the ATM and gamble away funds that were initially earmarked for necessities such as food and rent.
Since gambling systems often require you to double your wagers following either a win or loss, an unlucky player can find their bankroll wiped out in less than an hour. Unless the player has an iron will, there's a good chance that they'll head to the ATM in order to get more funds for their flawed gaming strategy.
While plenty of systems are relatively simple to learn, there are others that take a bit more dedication. Sadly, any amount of time devoted to these bogus systems is being wasted. There are precious minutes and hours that you could be devoting to your family, a productive hobby, or even a more legitimate gambling technique such as basic strategy or card counting.
Types of Betting Systems
Before we list some of the most popular systems for betting, keep in mind that most of these fall into two distinct categories.
A system based on positive progression asks you to increase your wager each time you win, while losses result in a decreased bet. The idea is to capitalize on a hot streak by making larger wagers, while the damage caused by a cold streak is reduced through smaller and smaller bets.
With a negative progression system, a loss results in a larger bet (often doubled) while a win results in a smaller wager. The idea is that a losing player is bound to win eventually, and the larger bets allow them to recoup their previous losses and also generate a profit. A winning player, meanwhile, is due to lose at some point, so reducing wagers after a win is meant to ensure that some profits are retained when a loss eventually comes.
Popular Betting Systems
Now that we've established the two most common categories of gambling system, let's look at some of the most popular among players.
Often used on even money wagers, this system requires the player to double their bet following each loss. The assumption is that the player should eventually get a win, and that will cover all previous losses.
The opposite of the Martingale, the system requires the player to double their wager following each win. The idea here is to take advantage of a hot streak.
Not only does the player double their wager after each loss, but they also add an additional unit each time.
The player starts by deciding how much money they want to win. They then write down a series of numbers that add up to this amount. For each wager, the player bets the sum of the first and last numbers on the list. These numbers are crossed out after a winning wager, while a losing player adds the previous wager onto the end of their list. This continues until the player has either run out of money or crossed off all the numbers on their list. This is also known as the Cancellation or Split Martingale system.
Instead of deleting numbers after a win, the player adds the winning bet to the end of the numerical line. The objective is to keep adding numbers until you reach the table limit on bets. If the wager results in a loss, then the two outside numbers are erased. The player starts over if they run out of numbers on their line.
This system is based on a mathematical sequence where the next number is the previous two numbers added together. Here's how the first few numbers in the sequence look (the sequence can actually go on infinitely).
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610
A player using this system ignores the 0 and begins by betting one unit. They continue in this fashion until they lose, at which point they move up one level in the sequence. They then move up a further level for every subsequent loss, and move back two levels when they win.
The player begins by betting one unit. If they lose, the sequence is complete and they start over with a one-unit bet. If they keep winning, however, the betting units are increased or decreased according to the 1-3-2-6 arrangement. This continues until the player either loses or completes a run of four consecutive wins.
The perils of betting systems should be evident by now. Not only are they inherently flawed, but many of the individuals who are willing to part with these "secrets" for a few bucks are knowingly deceiving their clientele. Even if a player manages to achieve some short-term success using one of these methods, you can bet that the house edge is going to catch up with them eventually and decimate their bankroll.
If you want to be successful at gambling, the first thing you must accept is that the house almost always has the advantage. While this edge can be overcome in some cases, doing so takes an immense amount of planning and effort. If it were easy, casinos would be going out of business left and right.
There are strategies and tactics that can help in the casino, but these take hours of practice and memorization to properly apply. Card counting is a major boon for blackjack players, for example, but even it can't guarantee continual success.
The only guaranteed way to avoid losing money at the casino is to never set foot in such an establishment. If you don't play, the house can't get your money. That's no fun, though, so just accept that good times are going to be mixed with the bad. Once you've resolved this hard truth in your mind, you'll find your gaming sessions are a lot more relaxed and enjoyable.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: December 2015
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