Let us state right from the outset the Golden Rule of gambling:
Which begs the question: So why does anyone gamble?
To which the answer is Because the opposite is also true :
So how do you win in the casino? By following just 2 simple rules:
Simple enough, but what does that really mean?
Casinos stay in business because, in the long term, all events happen as often as predicted. In other words, given enough spins of a single-zero roulette wheel, all the numbers will come out, on average, 2.7% (1/37) of the time.
In the short term, this doesn't happen. Given 37 spins, 37 different numbers will almost never come out.
Some will come out more than once, some will not come out at all. Some may come out three or even four times.
Results come in two ways: either alternately or consecutively. To understand the nature of streaks and runs, read our streaks page.
However the results come, there is always a discrepancy between predicted probabilities and actual events. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing which events will come out ahead of probability and which behind, but it does give us the basis for a gambling strategy which, if applied properly, can give you the edge over the house and ensure you lose small and, hopefully, win big.
The odds, winning streaks and house edge pages explain in detail how results can occur in any game. (If you haven't read those pages yet, it may be best to do so before you continue).
The first thing to understand is that we're looking at a strategy over a number of sessions, large enough to offset freak results. This strategy will result in some losing sessions, but most will be winners.
This is an important rule: Don't expect to win every time - decide on your session limits (a win target and a maximum loss) and stick to them.
Let's say we start a session with a bankroll of £1000 and are making £20 bets on a 50-1 chance (0.02 probability, 2% chance.) We're making 50 bets with a 50-1 chance, so according to long term probability, we should end up equal. But 50 bets is not long term, so the long term trends won't apply.
The key to understanding this is to say that if a 50-1 chance comes up on the first event or in the first ten or twenty results, then at that point, you're beating the long term odds, so that is the point to stop gambling (quit while you're ahead).
Of course, it's possible that the bet will come up two, three or even four times in the fifty. But in some sessions it won't come up at all, so if you chase another occurence, you're just giving the probabilities time to even themselves out. Do that on every session and you'll lose - guaranteed.
To explain this:
If you win on the first bet and stop, you've spent £20 and won £1000 - overall profit of £1000.
If you win on the tenth bet and stop, you've spent £200 and won £1000 - overall profit of £800.
If you win on the fiftieth bet, you've spent £1000 and won £1000 - overall profit of £0.
If you win on the first bet and keep betting, but don't get any more wins, it's exactly the same as if you'd bet 50 times i.e. your overall profit is 0.
The temptations to chase losses or keep gambling when you're winning are very strong - some call it gambling fever.
If your bet comes up on the first chance, the temptation is very strong to keep betting, thinking that's it's bound to come up again. But you're then gambling with your winnings - which is exactly what the casino wants - and needs - you to do.
It's like the episode in South Park where the townsfolk get together $10,000 and bet it all on Roulette. They win $350,000 - enough to save the town. But then someone says 'If we win again, we'll save the town and be super-rich. Let it ride!'
This is what the casinos depend on. There's no way to escape the golden rule (in the long term, the casinos always win) and, if you play long enough, the probabilities will always catch up with you.
It's really very simple: if you always bet until your bankroll is gone, you will be a loser overall. The key to this gambling strategy is to keep all sessions (losing and winning) short.
If you follow this strategy, keep your losses down and don't gamble away your winnings, in the short term you could come out ahead.
US players welcome!