The Eternal Problem with Gambling Systems

Generations of gamblers have sought to create betting systems to make gambling profitable. A betting or gambling system is a strategy that aims to significantly increase your chances of winning, to the point where it becomes a “sure thing.”

But there are inherent problems with gambling systems – they are not fool-proof and really don't all work so well. If they did, casinos would be bankrupt and we would have nowhere to place our bet.

Let's take a look at how gambling systems work, why players think they might work, and ultimately why they don't.

How gambling systems work
Popular gambling movies like “21,” “Rain Man,” and “Holy Rollers” show us that players can drastically improve their advantages at gambling by using their math prowess. But in the past, it usually meant you had to have a genius-level intellect or high proficiency in mathematics.

Older betting systems were like strict recipes – if “A” happened in the game, you do “X,” and if “B” happened you do “Y” and so on. It told you which bets to pick, when to make a bet and how much you should bet. The choice of action changes based on the outcome of each betting round.

Popular betting systems include the Martingale, Fibonacci, the Labouchere, and Oscar's Grind. The oldest of these is probably the Martingale, which is based on the concept of doubling your bet until you hit a win. But this is a high-risk strategy where chasing that elusive win can quickly drain your bankroll with each losing round.

In Labouchere and Fibonacci, the underlying logic is that you only require one-third of your bets to win to make a profit in the gaming session. Despite having a more cautious approach than Martingale, even these systems suffer from the same weakness. If luck doesn't come your way in a session, you may run out of money or suffer huge losses.

The role played by “Gambler's Fallacy”
Gamblers are often quite a superstitious lot. The biggest myth in gambling is that of the Gambler's Fallacy – the idea that if something does not happen in recent rounds, its chances of happening in the next round increase. A simple example – if you get reds four times in roulette, then the next round has a bigger chance of hitting black.

But if this was true, then that would mean that the table/cards/dice use has some innate memory of all rounds that happen. They don't – each round is fully independent of all past rounds in the game (unless, of course, someone is cheating).

Unfortunately, the gambler's fallacy is all too real and widespread among players. Many gambling systems have been developed based on this very premise. But the ones who developed these systems did not get rich by using it at a casino. They made money selling these to superstitious players who believed in such myths.

Countless books and guides have been written in the past to cater to gamblers looking for surefire ways to win. And the casinos encourage this as all it does is increase their profits. Most newbies get tricked into thinking they are well on their way to becoming professional gambler after reading a 5-minute guide. The result is always the same. They lose their bankroll in most cases.

The impenetrable armor of casinos – House Edge
Gambling houses and casinos are business enterprises – they rely on profits. And businesses cannot thrive without a minimum guarantee of profit. In gambling, this guarantee comes from something called the “house edge.” All casinos and gambling houses survive and prosper based on a very simple equation:

Casino income = Total Value of Bets Placed X The House Edge

And the house edge is something that is baked into all the games offered by the casino. It is a mathematical advantage that is built into the game's rules and mechanisms – it is not something that a casino adds later.

It does not matter if individual players win big on some occasions. The longer they keep playing the house edge will come out on top. The more players are actively betting, the higher the casino income.

In some games like blackjack, your knowledge of the rules and advanced skills and practice can reduce the house edge. This is why blackjack is a favored game for gambling system enthusiasts. But contrary to what supporters of betting systems claim, this house edge can never be fully erased or overcome.

Have things changed with the rise of online gambling?
Digital technology is having a greater role in the gambling industry. While the tables at casinos still use traditional cards, dice, and roulette machines, slots have gone all-digital. And with the rise of online casinos, even games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat have gone virtual.

These games are programmed to have a fair (read “fully random and unpredictable”) outcome on each bet, using advanced computer algorithms called Random Number Generators (RNG). But they still retain the single biggest nemesis of gambling systems – the house edge.

With smarter and smaller computers available, we now have digital betting systems. These are software programs created based on strategies old and new like Labouchere and Martingale. The attraction here is that you don't have to do the math in your head – the software will do it for you.

But in reality, this is just old wine in a new “digital” bottle. No matter which gambling system you use, the house edge cannot be overcome, as long as it is present and active within the game. You may occasionally get wins on short sessions, but they will usually be quite paltry. And in stark contrast, when you lose, the losses could be colossal.

Gambling systems are okay for fun
This is the key takeaway here. If you are looking for some fun and experimentation, you can try your hand at gambling systems. That too for free. There are countless guides online to popular strategies. Don't spend good money on betting systems that promise you guaranteed wins – they belong in the same class as unicorns, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster – myths and hoaxes!

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