CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

When You Start Hedging or Holding Back, You're Betting Too High

30 July 1996

Many table players "press" their bets skywards after locking-up a profit on several successive wins, hoping for a long run of hits. Such betting strategies don't change the house advantage inherent in various wagers. They do skew sessions toward large but rare wins and small but frequent losses, the dichotomy growing more extreme as pressing becomes more aggressive.

Nothing's inherently right, wrong, or recondite about this gambling style. Folks frequently bring their recess money to a casino to invest in a shot at a big score. They set win goals much higher than loss limits, recognizing that doing so inversely proportions their chances of reaching one or the other.

There's a trap, though. Solid citizens comfortable when betting at one level often get cold feet when the money riding on the next outcome passes through some psychological barrier. So they alter their play in a way that either cuts the chances they'll win or gives the house extra edge on their big-buck action.


Say that a dice devotee normally bets $10 on the pass line, then takes full odds and places two $10 or $12 "inside" numbers after the point is established. During a particular long roll, this person gets up to $50 on the line and $60 on the numbers. With triple odds, $320 is at risk - all vulnerable to a single seven. Nervous, the player puts "insurance" on what he otherwise considers sucker bets. During the come-out, he hedges the line bet with $5 "any craps." Then he holds the odds at $100, planning to go to $150 when an inside number hits so he can bet with "their money." When the dice go off the table, the player takes down both place bets and tosses $25 on "any seven" to protect what's left.

Imagine a roulette radical starting at $1 on each of the six lowest red numbers. Two hits in a row earn $60. The player goes to $5 each, winning again, pushing the gross to $210. The next bet, $10 each, wins to raise profit to $510. Now the player jumps to $25 per spot, but hedges with $75 each on black and 19-to-36.

Picture a blackjack buff beginning at $10 and, during a fantastic run, sliding $100 into the betting circle. The hand's a stiff - 14 against dealer eight; the player surrenders rather than making the optimum decision and hitting. Or the hand's a 20 but the dealer shows an ace; the player "takes insurance," a proposition he normally spurns. Or the hand's an 11 against dealer 10; the player hits instead of exploiting a favorable chance to double down, preferring to win only $100 rather than risk losing $200.


Any of these moves could turn prove fortuitous. If the dice land on seven, the streak fizzles not with a $320 bang but a $50 whimper. If the roulette ball stops on a high black number, the player pushes - saving $150. And, a theoretically weak blackjack decision could well snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, prolonging rather than ending the run.

But gambling's based on what could, not what did, happen. As bets rise, it becomes potentially more propitious to play properly. A point in a betting progression is too high if you're afraid to jump on whatever opportunities arise.

Think before you press. Almost anyone would feel anxious pressing to $100 at blackjack then sliding out another $100 to split a pair of sixes against the dealer's four, $100 more to double when a five falls on the first and $100 again when a four appears on the second. Or going to $50 on the line at craps and taking $150 odds when the point's an elusive four or 10. But this is the stuff of real bettors' dreams. Whenever you're pressing, ask yourself whether you're ready to follow through. If you're going to hedge or hold back at the next level, you've reached your psychological barrier. Don't overreach it.

Sumner A Ingmark, whose every new ode overcomes a semantic if not a psychological barrier, put it this way:

It's best not to bet it,
If you're gonna sweat it,
'Cause actions most crucial,
Need courage fiducial.

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.