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Playing With Blackjack Betting Systems

Many players down through the years have tried to beat the casinos. Some of these were mathematicians of world acclaim who thought they had developed systems which could recover their losses and ultimately win.

If you believe in such systems, you are deluding yourself, just as those poor souls have done. The ultimate proof of their failures is that the casinos are still in business and are more profitable than ever.

A plane doesn't land at the Las Vegas Airport that doesn't have some poor sucker on it who has a progressive betting system that he is sure will win. We speak on this matter not as a disinterested observer, but as a once deluded sucker who thought he had a sure thing. These so-called systems are generally categorized as Progressive Betting Systems.

Progressive Betting Systems operate on the general principle that you increase your bet successively to cover your previous loss. There are many combinations for betting like this, and each has its own name. The simplest and most common is known as the double-up or Martingale System. The player makes an initial bet of one unit; if he loses, he bets two; loses again, he bets four; and so on, to 8, 16, 32, 64, etc. When the player finally wins, if he doesn't run out of money or run into the house limit, he wins the amount of his loss plus one unit.

Assuming that one was playing Blackjack at a table where the limits went from $1 to $500, one could lose nine hands in a row and then run out, since the tenth bet would require $512, which exceeds the house limit. See the series that follows: (Bet 1) $1; (Bet 2) $2; (Bet 3) $4; (Bet 4) $8; (Bet 5) $16; (Bet 6) $32; (Bet 7) $64; (Bet 8) $128; (Bet 9) $256; (Bet 10), the one that exceeds the limit, $512. Even if you could make this bet, isn't it foolish to chase that $1 win with a potential loss of $1,023, which is the sum off all ten bets?

Another less dramatic, but equally foolish, system is the Pyramid system. In this system you start with a bet of one unit.

If you win, you start again at one unit. If you lose, you raise your bet by one unit and continue to increase by one unit for each subsequent loss. If you win, however, you decrease your last bet by one unit until you return to the point where your bet will be only one unit. At the end of this sequnece, you will have won one unit for each time you have had a win, and hopefully you will not have run out of money before you have recouped your losses.

Another equally foolish system is the number series, or cancellation system, sometimes attributed to the mathematician Descartes. In this system, one writes down a series of numbers, say 1, 2, 3. You then bet the sum of the first and last numbers, or four units. Should you lose, you add the new last number (4) to the first and bet that sum (5). When you win, you cross out the sum (5) and the two numbers that added up to it (1 & 4), and determine a new sum (bet) by adding the first and last numbers (2 + 3 = 5) remaining.

If there is only one remaining number, it is rewritten and bet. This continues until, hopefully, the entire series is canceled out. This appears to be an attractive system since one can lose more bets than he wins yet come out ahead. Again, however, the bugaboo of the system player will arise, that oddball series in which the trend just doesn't seem to reverse.

We know from personal experience, that this system doesn't work when an almost impossible occurrence of twenty-three out of twenty-six trials came up wrong for us, and wiped out our bankroll. If you wish to profit from the experience of millions of others then stop deluding yourself and stop wasting your time.

We should learn from our youthful inexperience and foolishness, and not fall prey to false promises. There is simply no betting system that can win for you in the long run, especially when the house pays off at less than true odds.

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