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Re:I want to believe!

Posted by Bootlegger on 19 May 1998, at 10:10 p.m., in response to Scared of Ideas?, posted by JJ on 19 May 1998, at 6:00 p.m.

After I learned to count, I thought there must be an easier way to make money in the casino. I bought books by many people who made claims that their "systems" could beat the casino. I bought books by people who said they didn't have a "system" per se, just a style of play that could turn negative expectancy games into positive ones. Much of the rhetoric contained in those books sounded very similar to what John Jay has been saying in his posts.

Like Fox Mulder on the X-Files, I wanted to believe. I tried those systems out, not only in blackjack, but also in craps and roulette. I even tried to beat the slots. What I discovered was that those systems just couldn't sustain themselves in the long run. I could not find any reliable way to find a "hot" table, nor could I find a way to predict when a table was going to get "hot" or "cold." All of the progressions I tried didn't work. The so-called "money management" systems, using tactics like "win goals" and "stop losses" only accomplished one thing: they limited my play so that I wasn't losing as much as I was before.

Finally, I began to understand (a little) the math of the games. I learned some about probabilities and I began to test out these "systems" on paper. I even bought books containing thousands of recorded dice rolls and started testing these systems with the aid of the books. After I bought a computer, I began testing the systems with the help of the computer. This combination of experience, calculation and testing taught me that these kinds of systems just don't work. I learned that counting cards does work, both in the casino and on paper. The reasons it works are grounded in solid math.

In the end, that's what matters. There are 52 cards in a deck, 36 combinations of the dice and 37 (or 36 if you're lucky) numbers on a roulette wheel. No amount of money management, which I call "damage control," is going to change the numbers or the odds. The more hands you play, the closer you will be to meeting the statistical expectation of the game. No kind of table identification or evaluation of conditions that have absolutely no effect on the outcome of the next hand is going to change that expectation.

Card counting and systems related to card counting, such as shuffle-tracking, are the only systems I have seen that can shift the expectation over to the player's side. I wish it were not so. I would love to see a system that is easier to use than counting cards that could truly win in a casino. JJ, if you have devised such a system or method, I'm all ears. I still "want to believe."

But I didn't just fall off the hay wagon. So far, I've seen nothing here that is any different than what I read in all those books. If there is something of substance posted here, I'll be the first to applaud it. So far, that hasn't happened.


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