The average online gambler very quickly comes into contact with advertisements and articles purporting to offer the best ‘system’ for beating a particular game, including slots. Sometimes these systems are referred to as sure-fire ‘strategies’ for winning or betting methods that promise to turn you into a table shark in the casino.
First of all, I’d like to point out that while the terms ‘system’ and ‘strategy’ are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them when it comes to gambling. Many online salesmen overlook the difference because the term strategy implies a measure of skill that makes their supposed guaranteed method sound more reliable, but what they are selling is not really a strategy.
The difference between a system and a strategy is that one specifically controls the wagering component of a game and the other relates to actual gameplay. For the purposes of clarifying that, think of the terms as ‘betting system’ and ‘gaming strategy’. For instance, in a regular game like checkers or chess, gaming strategy is how you move your pieces around on the board in order to win. A betting system relating to chess or checkers would be something like betting on who’s going to lose a piece next and saying, ‘every time I lose a piece, I’m going to raise my bet for the next turn. That way if they lose the next piece, I’ll win back what I just lost”.
Losing that piece makes a difference in terms of your strategy (after all, you no longer have that piece to move with and your opponent has changed their position) but you could continue playing the game and using strategy to win without ever changing your wager (as you would with a system). Occasionally you’d lose a piece and occasionally your opponent would. How you go about betting on the pieces in between does not change your gameplay strategy, only the amount of money you stand to win or lose. A person playing a game that is not being bet on and utilizes no money at all still uses strategy to win. A betting system only pertains to the amounts of the wagers when real money is being used to gamble on the game’s outcome. Do you see?
In a game like roulette or slots where betting is the only real aspect of gameplay, the line between the 2 can be still confusing. However, in roulette, for example, a player may place bets in different places on the board so as to cross wager and increase their odds of getting a payout. This would be a strategy. A system relating to roulette (and there are many) would be increasing or decreasing the amount of each wager depending on whether or not the previous spin was a winner. A legitimate strategy is something that everyone can use. In poker strategy plays a large part in determining who ultimately wins and takes home the jackpot. A betting system by comparison can never bring you more than temporary gain, and usually at the cost of large future loss.
This is what one person had to say about Betting Systems: “They all work. We’ve never lost long term on any of them. Of course when I say “we” I mean those of us who work in the casino. “ ~ Casino Manager
“Remember this: The house doesn’t beat the player. It just gives him the opportunity to beat himself.” – Nicholas (Nick the Greek) Dandalos
The number one problem with using betting systems is that they all rely in some part on the gambler’s fallacy. The gambler’s fallacy is simply this: the idea that an event becomes overdue and more likely to occur if it has not happened in a long time. For example, if a person thinks that black is more likely to come up on the roulette wheel because the last 3 spins were red, they are falling prey to the gambler’s fallacy. What’s important to understand is that wheels, reels, dice, and any other instrument of chance in the gambling world have no memory. The roulette ball does not know that it has already landed on red 3 times. It can therefore not ‘react’ on the next spin by aiming for a black. For each and every spin of the wheel, the chances of wither red or black are always 50/50 (well-slightly less than that because of the green pocket/s). One never becomes more or less likely than the other to occur.
Betting systems depend on the idea that after a losing streak you are more likely to win, as well as vice versa. If you lose 5 hands, you are more likely to win the 6th and get your money back, or something similar. An example of this is any system like the Martingale where you double your bet every time you lose. Then, when you finally win, you’ll have earned back everything you lost plus the initial wager amount. For instance, if I start off betting a dollar, lose 3 hands and then win the fourth, the pattern would look like this: lose $1 on first hand, raise bet and lose $2 on 2nd hand, raise bet and lose $4 on 3rd hand, raise bet and win $16. I will have lost $7, in total on the first 3 bets. When I bet $8, I get back the $8 I was betting and win an additional $8, which makes up for the $7 I lost plus gives me an addition unit of $1 (which was my starting bet). Sounds good, right? Except that this means I risked losing $15 to win $1, because if I had lost that 4th hand I’d be out the$8 plus the other $7 I’d already lost.
You’d be surprised at how this can add up over time. At the betting rate in our previous example, after 13 losing hands (a streak that is far from impossible) you’d have lost over $8,000 just trying to win $1. Other types of betting systems depend on the opposite concept. They require you to up your bet when winning and decrease your bet after a loss. Still others depend on even more complex algorithms to determine the bet amount per hand, or spin. In the end though, no system can change the laws of averages. Mathematicians have repeatedly tested betting systems over the course of multiple hands. No matter how you look at it, it levels out to be that you lost slightly more than you made, to a percentage that is fairly approximate to the house edge on the game you are playing. Check out this article at Online Casino Lane for more on information on how they test this.
Every once in a while a player gets extremely lucky, of course, and takes home a huge jackpot. However, with the exception of skill-based games such as poker, these wins are always a function of random chance. They are just as likely to happen to non-system users as they are to players using a system. If you really feel like trying a system out, then pick it up at your local library or look them up online for free. Never let anyone talk you into paying for the system. If it were worth anything to begin with, they could use it to win everything they needed in the casino, and they wouldn’t need to be selling their idea to you.
I’m Jason Rockwell. When I’m not winning playing online poker, I enjoy writing about my love of the game. Thanks for visiting!