Betting Systems – The Ugly Truth

Everyone who gambles has met someone with a system. You don’t meet poker players or serious blackjack players who have systems because they don’t need them. Poker and Blackjack have a large element of skill to them to balance out the luck quotient over time. You meet horse players who have systems all the time, but the house advantage in horse racing is way higher than in a game like roulette, and it’s too high in roulette. The house takes anywhere from 15% to 25% in horse racing so you are starting at a huge disadvantage. Information can help you, however, in horse racing.

There is no information in craps or roulette. They are 100% games of chance. As such people devise betting systems to try and counteract the house advantage.

There are a lot of systems out there: doubling-up (a progressive system of betting also known as the Martingale system), doubling-up +1, cancellation, raising and lowering, and hundreds of subtle variations on these common themes. They all have one thing in common: they do not work. You will ultimately lose, because over time only one thing matters, the house edge. Systems merely delay the inevitable.

There is one way to win at casino, and that is to be lucky and then to leave. The longer you play the more likely it is that those odds will catch up to you. Most systems require you to increase your initial bet until you recoup your losses. If this was simple heads and tails it would be a great idea. If you bet $5 on heads and tails came up all you would have to say is “double or quits” and keep repeating that until heads came up. In heads and tails there are no maximum betting limits so you could keep going until heads came up, even if you were betting $1 million to break even. But in a casino there are limits and it just takes one long streak of reds to break you when you’re doubling up, or doubling up and adding one on black.

Furthemore, in heads and tails there is no 5% house edge to contend with. The fundamental problem with every betting system in games of chance is that you start off with the odds against you, and the more you bet the more that negative factor becomes significant. It is like owning a store and selling everything at a 5% loss. Eventually you’re going to go bankrupt. So what should you do?

If you play roulette or craps you need to ensure that if you do get lucky you have maximized your win. Don’t bet on corners when you could be betting on a number. Play as few spins of the wheel or rolls of the dice as possible. Most gamblers fail because they enjoy drawing out the experience. If you budget $100 for roulette then spend that on two spins of the wheel. If you win leave the table as soon as possible (never leave a roulette table on a winning spin – play until the winning streak ends and then cash out your winnings). If you lose leave the table immediately. Playing roulette or craps requires tremendous discipline. You must risk your stake quickly and leave with your profits. If you get sucked in you will lose in the long run.

If you want to be entertained spend your time learning how to play blackjack. Here you can pass all the time you like and there is little in the way of house edge, as long as you know what you’re doing. Your trips to the roulette and craps tables must be brief and purposeful. If you go there with a betting system you will end up with nothing.