I’ll never forget the first time a gambler showed me his new system to beat the odds at roulette.
I was living in Madrid at the time, and Carlo, an Italian guy who occasionally liked to go to the casino and play European roulette, had just heard about a “no lose” system that would guarantee he’d leave the casino a winner every time he went.
I was not a gambler, yet I doubted that this was possible. Carlo insisted on showing me how it worked. Intrigued, I suggested we do the following experiment. Using a deck of playing cards, I removed the jokers, leaving 52 cards in all, 26 red (hearts and diamonds), 26 black (spades and clubs). I said I would act as the casino, and would choose a card at random, the color of the card corresponding to red or black at the roulette wheel.
For the bets, I would simply write down the amount that Carlo told me, and we’d trace his wins and losses that way. Carlo said he would, for the sake of simplicity, always bet on red.
I picked a card. He won. I picked another, he lost. It went back and forth like this for a few rounds, then he lost twice in a row. He doubled his bet, from one unit to two. Losing again, he doubled again, now betting four units. Another loss, and he bet eight units. The next round he won, thus recovering all he had lost.
As we continued to play, he used this strategy every time he lost more than once, and to be sure, at the end he was ahead. He was ecstatic that his new found wonder-method would assure him unlimited gains, yet I was still skeptical.
After all, if it were this simple, casinos all over the world would soon go broke as more and more gamblers discovered the strategy. dream casino
I thought a bit, and then explained to him why he had no reason to rejoice.
“Suppose”, I said, “you lose nine times in a row. That would mean that, assuming your first bet was $3.” (the minimum bet at the time at the casino in Madrid). “That would mean that in the end, you’d have to place a bet of well over a thousand dollars just to regain your initial three dollars. And if you lost again, you’d have to bet thousands.”
Of course, he said that it was highly unlikely that he’d lose so many times in a row. I calculated for him the expected frequency of that occurring, and indeed, it wouldn’t happen very often. Nonetheless, it was plain to me that such a system could soon bankrupt you.
Many of you have no doubt realized by now that what Carlo had “discovered” was the age-old Martingale system. Any professional gambler (not to mention many amateurs) will tell you that this, as well as similar systems, is a sure way to go broke!
Since that day back in the early 90s, I have examined many “systems”, and in each and every case, I can assure you, there is no way you can beat the casino over time. The house will always have the edge as calculable in the basic odds of the game (that in the case of European – single-zero – roulette, for example, give you a chance of about 48.6% of winning.