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Riding the Waves of Winning

8 December 2012

By Donald Catlin

I recently received the following email from one of my readers named James:

I play ten hands and if they are over 50% successful, I increase my single unit to three for the following ten rounds. When the twenty hands are completed I repeat the procedure. Having played 6000 hands, I have a moderate increase amounting to 1.26 units per twenty hands. Is this the basis for a system or have I been lucky riding the waves of short term variance?

I use practice credits on an audited casino website and strategy charts for eight decks.

Awaiting your conclusion with fascination.

Siempre,

James

Dear James:

Well from the tone of your letter I think you already know the answer. Also I am encouraged that you know about short term variance. Although Blackjack hands are not independent, in your case they might as well be because you are basing your decision on money won rather than deck composition. In this case you are effectively ignoring information on any dependency that may be present. As such you are simply making your wagers based on past results. Such systems will not change the house edge in the long run.

Yours is a modest system and will not force huge bets that run into table maximums. Since you reset every twenty hands your play is equivalent to basic strategy with modest bet variations. I’m glad that you have been lucky but believe me those nasty losing streaks are a part of Blackjack and you will get yours at some time.

You may be interested to know that there is a gaming writer by the name of Walter Thompson who does progressive betting at Blackjack and claims to have proof by computer that it works. I don’t agree with Walter but he is an interesting guy and you might like to Google him and see what he has to say. Anyway, James, thanks for your letter. See you in a couple of months.

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Don Catlin can be reached at 711cat@comcast.net
Donald Catlin
Don Catlin is a retired professor of mathematics and statistics from the University of Massachusetts. His original research area was in Stochastic Estimation applied to submarine navigation problems but has spent the last several years doing gaming analysis for gaming developers and writing about gaming. He is the author of The Lottery Book, The Truth Behind the Numbers published by Bonus books.

Books by Donald Catlin:

Lottery Book: The Truth Behind the Numbers