Betting systems are rip-offs. They basically all involve raising and lowering the sizes of your bets, managing your bankroll, wins, and losses, and hedging your bets. Some of them involve just one of these 3 techniques, while others use 2 or 3 different aspects.
But what they all have in common is this:
Betting systems don’t work in the long run.
This post looks at a couple of betting system challenges as well as some of the inspiration behind these challenges.
The 3 Techniques Used in Gambling Systems
The first technique used by a betting system is the varying of your bet size based on your previous results.
For example, you might increase the size of your bet if you won on the previous bet.
Or you might increase the size of your bet if you LOST on the previous bet.
In the first example, your goal is to take advantage of a winning streak to win more money. In the 2nd, you’re hoping to recoup your losses from your previous bets.
The most popular example of this is the Martingale System, where you double the size of your bet after each loss until you win. Once you’ve won, you’ve gotten back your losses along with a profit equal to your original bet.
Another popular example is the Paroli System, where you double the size of your bet after each win. With the Paroli System, you go back to your original bet size once you’ve won 3 times in a row.
And, of course, when you’ve won 3 times in a row, you’ve won significant money.
Neither of these systems work, though, because the house edge applies to all of those bets, regardless of their size. Also, the probability of winning and losing doesn’t change based on what happened previously. Every bet is a bet on an independent event.
Another aspect of a lot of betting systems is a bankroll management scheme where you set a goal for your gambling session for how much you want to win. You also have a limit to how much you are willing to lose.
This doesn’t do anything for your long-term prospects, though, because the math behind these casino games doesn’t start over every time you play. Think of your time gambling on a casino game as being just a section of one really long playing session that lasts your entire life. The longer you play, the closer your net results will get to the mathematical expectation.
Finally, hedging your bets just means to place a bet that will compensate if you lose another bet. For example, in roulette, you might hedge your bets by placing a bet on 0 and on 00 along with a bet on black.
You might think that since you have bets on 20 of the 38 possible numbers you’re going to come out ahead, but the reality is that each of those 3 bets has the same house edge.
But people still want to believe that you can use betting systems to win at gambling.
Betting System Challenges – Where Did This Idea Come From?
I don’t know for sure how gambling experts came up with the idea to host betting system challenges, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t inspired by a challenge that magician and skeptic James Randi came up with.
This was called “The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.” The James Randi Educational Foundation was responsible for this, and they offered $1 million to anyone who could prove that they had some kind of supernatural abilities in a controlled, experimental setting.
The criteria for this was based on scientific principles, which means that the applicant must meet rigorous standards of proof. This seems fair to me, as extraordinary claims should be supported by extraordinary proof.
Since 1964, 1000+ people tried to beat the challenge.
None of them succeeded.
Randi stopped offering the Challenge in 2015, after 51 years of never having a successful applicant.
Of course, this was a challenge designed to demonstrate how people don’t really have psychic abilities, but the thinking behind it is probably what led to the creation of these betting system challenges I’m writing about.
The Michael Shackleford Betting System Challenge (The Wizard of Odds)
From 1999 to 2005, Michael Shackleford offered a betting system challenge on his website. In that time, he only had one person actually apply for the challenge, even though hundreds of people wanted to discuss the challenge with him.
The rules were simple – first, you had to offer a clearly-written description of the betting system. It had to include how much to bet and under what conditions you’d bet that amount. You don’t get to use intuition to judge bet sizes – that’s not a system at all.
The bet ranges had to bet between 1 and 1028 units. In other words, you have to bet at least 1 unit, but you can’t bet more than 1028 units.
Those are the 3 most common casino games where players try to use betting systems – mostly because those are the games with even-money bets with a close to 50% probability of winning.
You also had to put $2000 into an escrow account. Shackleford would also put $20,000 into escrow.
Then Shackleford would program a simulation that simulated a billion bets. The results of that simulation determined whether the system resulted in a profit or not.
The applicants were allowed to verify the source code for the simulation.
I’ve already explained how that went – Shackleford only had one applicant, and that person lost.
Michael Bluejay’s $30,000 Challenge
Michael Bluejay offered a similar challenge. One of the reasons he cites is that it should be obvious that anyone who can beat the house in a gambling game isn’t going to sell the secret for just $30.
Also, he offered the challenge when Shackleford stopped offering his challenge – presumably to “fill the gap,” so to speak. No one ever even took Bluejay up on his challenge, although he heard from a lot of people about it.
He also points out that none of the people who asked about his challenge were selling systems. They were just people who had figured out what they thought was a winning system.
His conclusion was that anyone selling a working system for $30 would jump at the chance to win $30,000 with that system. And no one even tried.
Bluejay no longer accepts inquiries from the general public, although he would accept a challenge from someone who’s in the business of selling a system.
He also offers a $1000 prize if you can find a flaw in his challenge.
His explanation of why systems don’t work is simple, easy to understand, and correct:
You can’t predict what’s going to happen on your next bet.
You can’t predict heads or tails, black or red, high or low, pass or don’t pass, etc.
What happened on the last bet doesn’t matter – it has no predictive value.
His terms were similar to Shackleford’s. You’d put your $3000 up against his $30,000 in escrow accounts.
His simulation only runs for 200,000 bets, though, which theoretically means his challenge is easier to beat.
But you have to run 20 of these simulations and have a winning result on at least 11 of those 20 tries.
Your starting bankroll is $5000, and you can play either craps or roulette.
The craps game has 3X4X5X odds. You can choose between single-zero or double-zero roulette.
The minimum bet is $5, and the maximum bet is $5000. (With the exception of single-zero roulette, which has a $25 minimum.)
Bankroll, Game Rules, and Table Limits. Starting bankroll for each test is $5000. You choose the game.
Bluejay even offered a live casino version of his challenge for people who are skeptical of simulations. The difference is that you had to make 1000 bets in a casino, and instead of paying off at 10 to 1 odds, he was only paying off at even odds.
He never had anyone apply to take the challenge.
None of this proves that betting systems don’t work, by the way. It’s hard to prove a negative.
But common sense tells you that someone would have taken one of these challenges and won the prize if it were possible to do so.
The moral of the story isn’t that you should avoid betting systems, either.
It’s that you should NEVER pay for a betting system.
And if you use a betting system, keep your expectations in check.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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