Card Counting

Card counting is a strategy principally used in the casino game blackjack. The system determines odds for player wins or house advantage. Card counting is a statistical tool effective in helping a player to keep track of density of cards over the course of a game of blackjack. Ideally, a higher density of high cards puts the player at a higher advantage for placing a higher bet. More low cards give the casino a high advantage. The beauty of card counting lies in the fact that you can alter bets depending on density of remaining cards as the game progresses.

System basics

The basic counting approach relies on a system of assigning a (-)ve, (+)ve, or (0) value to each card value available. Dealing a card of that value adjusts a card to its counting value. There are several card counting systems, ranging from very simple strategies that favour beginners to highly complex systems for experienced players. The most common among the level 1 (simple) is the Hi-Lo system, preferred for its accuracy. Other systems include the KISS, Knock out blackjack and the Red 7.
In the Hi-Lo system, all cards give a count of zero. A negative count means there are more low cards and the opposite is true for a positive count. The system subtracts 1 for each 10, King, Queen or Ace dealt and adds 1 for values between 2 and 6. Values between 7 and 9 are assigned zero and do not have an impact on the count. A high density of 10s and Aces is the player’s advantage as it implies a higher chance of smashing a natural blackjack with a 3:2 payout unless the house also has a blackjack.

The hi-lo approach is considered a basic system as the running count changes by a single predetermined value. Others like the Wong Halves and Zen count are multi-level counting mechanisms and are thus more accurate. Mid-level systems (level 2 and 3) like Omega II assign +2 and -2 values to cards and are considered more accurate than level 1 systems.
Your level of experience will determine which approach works to your advantage.

The Kelly Criterion

The Kelly Criterion Kelly Criteron is a mathematical method that helps you determine how much money you should stake on a particular bet when the stacking of odds favours you. With gambling roundly acclaimed as an appeal to emotion, it is wise to take a different approach and put not just your heart, but also your mind in the placement of a bet. Many times attention is placed on who to bet on and what bet option to take, but how much money to place- an equally important factor- is often ignored.

The formula created by J. L. Kelly, Jr in 1956 has been used a lot over the years, and a good number of gamblers attest to its effectiveness. It has a complex derivation explanation; too much trouble for those interested in just placing a bet. Here’s a simplified version:

(BP – Q) / B
B = the Decimal odds -1
P = the probability of success
Q = 1-p (probability of failure)

Basically, the more chances you have of winning, the more money you should stake out, and vice versa.

And an example of how you can actually put it to use:

Let’s say you have 100 dollars you intend to stake in a race between two horses. Your favoured horse has a 54% winning chance. Thus:

P= 0.54
Q = 1-0.54 = 0.46
B = 2-1 = 1.
(0.54×1 – 0.46) / 1 = 0.08
0.08 % is the percentage of your available stake that you should place on this bet.
0.08 x 100 = 8 dollars.

There has been a back and forth discussion on whether the Kelly Criterion, though effective, is viable in all types of betting. There are those who claim it is not applicable in sports betting, the most common betting platform today. Experts dispute this as a case of miscalculation of probabilities, which makes the application faulty from the onset. There is also issue of big profits. Kelly Criterion is quite disciplined, and as such, it is not a guarantee for huge returns on small bets. Its only assurance is guarding you from illogical risk.

The Martingale Betting System

The Martingale Betting System For gamblers who like to rely more on strategy than luck, the Martingale system is on technique I’m sure most have tried. Most new gamblers prefer to use it over others because it has the allure of winning you quick money and the (often incorrect!) perception that should have a loss or two it’s easy enough to claw it all back. The other factor that makes it a ‘go to’ for many is that even though there are systems that work better, they require a lot more maths than most people can cope with.

This type of strategy was popularised in 18th century France. The basic idea of the strategy is that the bettor keeps doubling their bet until they win and a single win would recover all previous losses winning them a profit equal to their initial stake. The bettor then reverts to the initial bet doubling again until another win comes by. This means if you placed a $5 bet and won first time, you place another $5 bet and continue doubling until you win again after which you go back to a $5 bet.

The martingale system was first tried with a coin toss game where heads wins and tails losses. The strategy is also applicable to roulette where the chances of getting red or black are just about balanced (the bankers edge in this situation is the green 0, on European wheels there tends to be one 0, whereas in the US you often see two so the odds on near 50/50 bets and somewhere worse).

An example of how the system works:
In roulette, the system is applied when a player places the outside bets. The outer bets are 1-18 (Manque) or 19-36 (Passe); even(Pair) or odd(Impair); red (Rogue) or black (Noir). They have a higher chance of winning but fetch low rewards with a payout of 1:1. For instance, if you place the bet with a single chip you win a chip.

Supporters of the system rely on the inevitable win if a player keeps playing with a near 50/50 chance of winning. However, the Martingale System can only work well if the gambler has enough money to keep doubling their bet each time until they win. This usually becomes a problem because the likelihood of suffering a catastrophic loss sooner or later is immense. Aside from this, losing streaks often tend to occur more frequently than you might think. This is why most experienced gamblers shun the system as they understand that it would only guarantee wins if they held unlimited wealth, time and bets, which isn’t true in practice. Many casinos have limits too, so that’s another factor that could end uch a stratgey.

It may be fun to occasionally ‘go for it’ with the Martingale betting system, but it’s not a serious long term way of betting, because it will eventually in all likekihood result in a losing streak that will lose you everything!

Oscar’s Grind

Oscar’s Grind Oscar’s Grind as a betting strategy uses the assumption that gambling results come in streaks of wins and losses. Mostly used in Roulette, it seeks to keep increasing the betting stake during the positive streaks, and low when you’re not winning (progressive strategy). It divides the gambling event into a ‘betting units’ and ‘sessions.’

A betting unit is an amount of money that you start out with at the onset of a gambling event, while a session is the time it takes to earn profit of another one unit. Every time you win, your unit doubles. This goes on until your units increase to four, at which time you begin again at one unit. Every time you lose, you place another bet of a similar amount.

Let’s simplify that by looking at an example:

Assume you have 1000 dollars bankroll, which you divide into units of ten dollars.

Session 1:

Bet £10 and lose – Bet another £10
Lose the second £10- Bet another £10
Win £10 on third £10- Bet £20
Win £20 on new stake- End of session

So, here, you set out with £10, which you staked twice without winning. The third stake won you £10, and you placed an extra unit, which won you another £20. In total you have spent £30, and now have £40. The difference is one unit of profit, so the session is done, and you go back to another session which you start out with £10.

The upside of this strategy, whose first documentation was in Allan Wilson’s 1965 book, The Casino Gambler’s Guide, is that every gambling session ends in profit.

The downside is that it requires too much time to keep profits going, which are not assured because of streaks of losses. Also, the length of a session cannot be expressly determined. Essentially, it keeps the gambler hooked.

Oscar’s Grind is also commonly referred to as Hoyle’s Press or Pluscoup Progression within gambling circles by the pros.

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