Casino Betting Systems

You’ll find no shortage of casino betting systems to choose from on the Internet. They’re all equally worthless, though. If you want to try some casino betting systems to see how well they work, stick with the free ones. Under no circumstances should you spend money on this kind of snake oil. On the other hand, legitimate advantage gambling strategies exist, and those can be worth spending money on. But they’re usually more affordable than you might expect.

Betting Systems versus Advantage Gambling Strategies – What’s the Difference?

A betting system is a method for raising and lowering your bets based on whether you’re winning or losing at a gambling game. True believers tend toward fanaticism with their favorite betting systems, but the math doesn’t lie. No betting system can change the house edge or improve your odds of winning over the long run. We’ll get into the reasons for that below.

An advantage gambling strategy, on the other hand, is a legitimate way of getting a mathematical edge when gambling. Advantage gambling strategies include some ways of playing casino games, but they also encompass strategies for sports betting and poker, which are categorized differently from a traditional casino game like blackjack or craps. Advantage strategies also sometimes involved raising and lowering the size of your bets, but they use criteria other than whether or not you won your previous bet to inform that decision.

The best example of a betting system is the Martingale System. In this approach, you double the size of your bet after every loss until you win. This recoups your losses on the previous bets and shows a tiny profit over the course of the progression. So if you bet $100 on a roulette spin and lose, you’d bet $200 on the next spin. If you win, you win back the $100 you lost on the previous spin AND you’re up $100. If you lose, you double the size of your bet again, this time to $400. If you win, you get back the $300 you lost and profit $100. If you lose, you double your bet again, this time to $800, and so on.

The best example of an advantage gambling technique is counting cards. A card counter tracks the ratio of high cards to low cards in a deck when playing blackjack. A deck that has a relatively higher number of 10s and aces compared to low cards like 2s and 3s is more likely to result in a blackjack for the player. Since blackjack pays off at 3 to 2, it makes sense to get more money into action when your chances of hitting that hand are greater.

The difference between the two approaches has to do with memory.

The Gambler’s Fallacy – Does a Roulette Wheel Have a Memory?

The reason that betting systems don’t work is because they rely on the Gambler’s Fallacy for their theory of how gambling works. The Gambler’s Fallacy is a belief that previous results affect the probability of subsequent results.

Here’s an example: You’re playing roulette, and you know that the probability of getting a black result is 47.37%. But black has come up in six times in a row. If you believe that the probability of getting black again (for a seventh time) is lower than 47.37%, you’re buying into the Gambler’s Fallacy.

The reality is that the roulette wheel has no memory. The probability of getting a black result is calculated by dividing the number of black results by the total number of possible results. On a standard American roulette wheel, you have 18 black numbers, 18 red numbers and 2 green numbers, for a total of 38 possible outcomes. The probability of getting black is 18/38.

Those black pockets don’t disappear just because the ball landed in them six times in a row. They’re still there.

You might argue that the probability of getting black seven times in a row is much lower than 47.37%, and you’d be right. But you’re not betting on whether or not you’ll get black seven times in a row. You’re betting on the next spin.

A blackjack deck, though, does have a memory. Once a card has been dealt, it changes the composition of the deck. Of course, the casino can shuffle those cards back into the deck, and when they do, the count starts all over. But until they do, the odds have changed. Imagine if you were playing roulette in a game where once a number had been hit it got filled in and couldn’t be hit again until the game was reset. The probabilities would obviously change. And that’s what happens in blackjack.

Progressive versus Negative Progression Systems

This page is about betting systems, though, not advantage gambling techniques. We’ve already explained why such systems don’t work. Casino games, in general, don’t have a memory. Previous results have no effect on your subsequent results. But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss how these systems work. For the most part, they’re divided into two categories:

  • Progressive systems
  • Negative progressions systems

In a progressive system, you raise your bets when you’re winning. The goal is to take advantage of winning streaks and to play with the house’s money. So if you win a bet on a roulette spin, you might add your winnings to your next bet, increasing the size of your bet.

In a negative progression system (like the Martingale), you raise your bets when you lose in order to recoup your losses and make a tiny profit.

Let’s look briefly at why the Martingale System doesn’t work:

Since you’re doubling your bet after every loss, you need a large bankroll to continue the system. Doubling a $5 to $10 seems like no big deal, but once you go on a big losing streak (which happens more often than you think), the bets can get high enough that you can’t cover them. Here’s what the progression looks like after six bets:

  • $5
  • $10
  • $20
  • $40
  • $80
  • $160

Not only do you need $320 to cover the next bet, but you’ve already lose $315. You’re going to place a $320 bet in the hopes of showing a $5 profit. Most casinos who allow $5 minimum bets on roulette have a maximum bet of $500. So even if you can afford the next bet in the progression, the casino won’t let you place it because of their betting limits.

Casino betting systems can be a fun way to play, but they don’t increase your probability of winning. As long as you keep that in mind, you’ll be okay.

Updated: 11.26.2016
Author: Steve Mitchell