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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Adjust Your Bankroll Needs and Hopes with Your Betting Strategy

14 September 2005

Most casino table games require players to make decisions. For instance to pick among alternate propositions, or to elect how to execute a hand. Proficient punters usually follow a methodology in these cases that minimizes the house advantage or balances the edge against the volatility associated with various options.

Betting strategies, or "progressions," are also decisions. But here, more players rely on folklore than fact.

No betting strategy can ensure a desired result or cancel the house edge. Rather, progressions serve as tools to trade-off how much bettors are apt win or lose during a session and the chances of either. This implies a spectrum from a low probability of major damage with a high likelihood of a minor gain, to a strong chance of a small loss with a weak prospect of a huge profit.

Bets on Player at baccarat afford an example for a game that pays even-money on propositions close to 50-50. When bet flat -- the same amount every round -- bankrolls usually drift up and down at a moderate pace. And, on the average, wins are on the same order of magnitude as losses. Someone hoping to grab, say, $100, should therefore be ready to lose $100. And the statistical chance of success under these conditions would be slightly less than of failure, the offset depending primarily on edge and bet size.

A person in an even-money situation, however, might legitimately be willing to risk $100, seeking a $25 or $50 return, if the chance of winning were correspondingly greater than of losing. Or, conversely, to invest $100 in a long shot at $500 or $1,000.

Betting strategies offer means to tailor the action accordingly. A computer simulation helps show how progressions affect bankroll needs and profit potential. One such simulation covered 10,000 200-decision sessions, about two hours of minibaccarat, with $10 base bets. Results gave bankroll low and high in each session for five strategies: 1) bet flat; 2) raise $10 after a loss, go back to $10 after a win; 3) double-up after a loss, go back to $10 after a win; 4) raise $10 after a win, go back to $10 after a loss; and 5) double-up after a win, go back to $10 after a loss.

With flat betting, the average low point was a loss of $120 while the average high was a profit of $100. The worst loss was $610 while the best win was $500. Half of all maximum losses were in excess of $110, while half of all profits were greater than $80.

Raising by $10 after every loss widened the spreads. The average maximum drop was $310 and the average peak was $210. The worst of the 10,000 sessions had the virtual player $2,980 in the hole at the nadir; the best boasted a $940 gain. Half of all maximum losses exceeded $240, while half of all earnings were over $190.

Doubling up after losses yielded an average low of $11,370 and an average high of $990. The worst loss was over $20 million while the best profit was only $1,250. Half of all bettors sunk below $650, while half rose above $990.

Raising by $10 after every win lead to an average maximum loss of $260 and an average maximum gain of $250. The most extreme cases were losses of $960 and profits of $2,290. And half of all bettors bottomed out below $240, while half peaked at over $180.

Doubling after every win showed average maximum low points of $1,010 and average maximum peaks of $6,610. The worst low was $1,290 while the best high was more than $10 million. And, half of all bettors sunk below $1,010 while half soared above $540.

The differences in the outcomes are striking. They ensue from both the average amounts wagered during the session and the volatility induced by the variances in the bets. And they suggest how solid citizens might try tweaking their strategies to suit their personal gambling preferences. Another illustration of how insightful the inkster, Sumner A Ingmark, was when he intoned:

There may well be a destiny that shapes our very lives,
But he who has prepared himself is oft the one who thrives

Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.