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The Best Times to Raise Your Bets Are When They Win30 May 1994
Most casino visitors, way down deep, dream of reurning home in a limo or private jet with more money than they brought. Not half again as much, not two or three times as much. But ten, a hundred, a thousand times more.
This is what longshot jackpots are about. Drop three dollars in the slot, take three million out. Slide a dollar onto the circle at a progressive version of your favorite table game, draw some unusual combination of cards, and win $250,000.
But what about non-jackpot games? Blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat? Winning big on these means betting big. The more you put down, the more you pick up.
There's a dilemma, though. Typical casino budgets of $200 or $300 are fine for $10 blackjack, mini-baccarat, or roulette. They're adequate to drop $5 on the line then take full odds and place two numbers for $5 or $6 each at craps. A $100 profit is reasonable for such bets, $200 isn't unusual, but $500 or $1000 would be rare. Jump into a faster river with these water wings and the risk of being swept away is too great.
To resolve the dilemma, begin betting small, no more than 1/20 of your stake for any game, then progress to higher wagers when conditions warrant. Sound simple? Not when you ask what "when conditions warrant" means. If I knew, Julius would have signed the deed to Caesars over to me and I wouldn't tell you my secret.
When to press
Some players raise their bets after losing a few in a row. They figure a win is due, and bet high to recover past losses. Advocates of this approach remember the ecstasy of a few victories, not the agony of many defeats. The fallacy is wrongly thinking that the law of averages predicts a win after a series of losses.
Another common strategy is to press after several wins or to parlay a winning longshot. Players who think they're hot vividly recall the rare continuing streak, and ignore the frequent sudden turn-arounds. The mistake is in believing that streaks run into the future rather than happened in the past.
An alternate philosophy is to increase the amount at risk when you're ahead because it's "playing with their money." Those who follow this method recollect the time or two it worked, not the many instances the elevated bets sent the profit and part of the original stake down the chute. The error is in viewing profits as "their" money; if it's in front of you, it's your money.
System players raise bets based on patterns in the way the cards, dice, balls, or wheels fall. Closely allied, hunch players press based on "feelings" about the next bet. Again, the joyous reminiscence of a few successes cancels the sad recollection of many failures. The flaw is in falsely ascribing order to chaos.
Any method is good when it works and bad when it fails. Sadly, there's no way to know in advance which it will be. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Don't press your bets when you're losing and are disgusted.
Press when you think you're hot only if you've the time and money to keep going if you drop a few higher-level bets.
Press when you're ahead and ready to quit, such that you'll still be satisfied with the profit if you lose the new bet.
And, bear in mind the words of Sumner A Ingmark, poet laureate of high rollers everywhere:
But only when right times are guessed,
It's quickly lost on all the rest.
Best of Alan Krigman