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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: And Faith says to Logic, "I'll jus' whup yo' butt, sonny."

5 March 2010

Dear Mark: I have been going to casinos for years and have never seen these so called "winning streaks" you have written about. Not that I need proof, but I would sure like to see one. Bud C.

How's this for a quick reply, Bud? I received your e-mail on February 11th, at 1:42 p.m. I had some idea on how to respond, however, by happenstance, at approximately 3:30 p.m. EST on that same day, I get a call from a friend of mine, Tom, who happened to be in Las Vegas. Luckily, he wasn't tapped out and calling me to wire him some seed money for a poker room romp, but to share what was happening on a roulette table at Caesars Palace. Black had just appeared 23 times in a row. Immediately I had Tom e-mail me a photo with his iPhone, which I promptly forwarded to you. (Readers can view the display board at http://markpilarski.com/23row.html. Although the winning roulette number display only shows the results of the previous 17 spins, the photo was taken on the 23rd consecutive black.)

Now a question for you, Bud. When a streak like this happens, which way would you bet on it? Tom's friend, Brian, who happened to be on the game, started betting an aggressive progression that red would eventually have to appear based on the "due factor," assumptions that don't necessarily happen over his short gambling timeline, and are not necessarily shared by the roulette wheel.

His conviction regarding streaks in gambling was that after black appeared so many times, a red would have to pop up to self-correct that streak. So, after seven, eight, nine, 10 black's in a row, his faith led him to the faulty conclusion that based on past performance, red was due; ergo, time to bet more. Brian, like many gamblers, doesn't realize that faith and results are different. One doesn't necessarily create the other. Brian witnessed a deviation in one direction (Black, B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B, etc.), so he believed that a reversal was going to occur to restore balance.

Time and time again you'll see a guy like Brian who wagers more, and more, and more, because he KNOWS that this time red's going to show. Brian thought this form of betting to be foolproof because you have to win sooner or later. The problem is, it didn't work 23 successive times, each spin is an independent event, he didn't have an inexhaustible bankroll, and in any event, our friends who own the casinos would limit the maximum size of his wager.

Say, for instance, Brian had jumped on red after the third black and started doubling his previous bet to recoup his loss. His 20th wager would have cost him $10,485,760, just to get his measly 10 bucks back. Had he been betting black all along, his ledger wouldn't have shown 10 million in the black either because the casino puts a ceiling on your win via the table max so you don't end up owning the joint.

Yes, Caesars has some hefty table maximums, but I'm guessing he wasn't carrying that size of a bankroll, nor is the casino willing to part with that kind of loot to a $10 player.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:

"A winning hand is not assured, Until proceeds are secured. So you may find you're out of scratch, By counting chickens ere they hatch." --Sumner A. Ingmark

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.