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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Should you change your bet if you see a pattern?

1 July 2013

Question: If you've been at a blackjack or other table and it’s been hot or cold – the house is beating everybody or giving away money – should you lower or raise your bets based on what seems to be a pattern?

Answer: Take blackjack, although the same applies to other games. You sit, shoe after losing shoe. You wonder about leaving or cut¬ting your bet, because the cards have fallen into a bad order or the dealer has amazing luck. Maybe the opposite. The dealer keeps breaking; other players are raising their bets, winning big, and you kick yourself later for not joining the feeding frenzy.

Randomness doesn't preclude series of cold hands or shoes, or runs where players can do no wrong. But when these occur, you remember them and imagine the cards falling into patterns. More often, wins and losses are inter¬spersed. You disregard these sessions, not thinking of ordinary ups and downs as patterns.

So random instances when a game stays good or bad stand out, and are reinforced when encountered. Other sessions are forgotten.

There are no exploitable patterns of hot and cold. Just chaos, which means you can expect streaks but can't predict when they'll occur or how long they'll continue. If you're losing, it might be best for your peace of mind to lower your bet or walk away. If you're winning and think the run will last forever, lock up a profit before you go hog wild. But these are matters of discipline, not gambling theory or patterns in the cards.
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.