Know your Game Plan: Gambling Strategy versus Betting System
There are different types of gamblers in the world. The majority of them are just seeking out a form of entertainment, taking no real time to consider how they play the games. Then you have those who invoke a gambling strategy to better their odds of winning a specific game. Last of all, there are some who utilize a betting system, to better manage their bankroll.
Based on the statements above, the difference between a gambling strategy and a betting system should be fairly clear. But I’ll take a moment to better explain the reasons we use them, and their individual range of benefits.
It’s important to realize, though, that gambling strategies and betting systems are not the same thing. Both are based on premeditated tactics that can have a great impact on our success and rate of return, but how and why we incorporate them are entirely separate.
A gambling strategy is generally something you come into a live or online casino already prepared for. In blackjack, for example, we might develop a basic strategy plan that covers the decisions we make in all possible situations.
There are, in fact, blackjack strategy charts, based on the exact rules of the game you intend to play, that can be downloaded and/or printed out. It’s best to have them memorized, especially in a live setting, because it speeds up gameplay. But the staff won’t fault you for whipping out a strategy card and using it. In fact, they often supply them, although they may not be as precise as the perfect strategy charts found online and in blackjack books.
These strategies tell us exactly what to do in every possible situation, right down to doubling, splitting and purchasing insurance. By following it perfectly, we can decrease the house edge to an absolute minimum.
Card counting is another example of a gambling strategy, albeit one that casinos frown upon, thus you’ll want to practice diligently counting through decks of cards before you try it. And it won’t work at online casinos since the computer software reshuffles the deck after each and every hand, unlike a live dealer.
A betting system has nothing to do with actually playing a casino game, but rather the size bets we make at each given deal of the cards or turn of the roulette wheel. Systems are often used in games like baccarat and roulette, where the player has no control over the outcome, or tactical decisions to be made, aside from where to place our bets.
Generally, a betting system is best applied to wagers that have near-even odds, such as High/Low in roulette, or Player/Banker in baccarat. The idea is to set goals and place specific size bets to maximize the potential of your bankroll – or, at the least, slow its progressive descent. But bare in mind, no betting system is guaranteed to win you a profit.
Some of the most common betting systems are:
- d’Alembert System
- Fibonacci System
- Labouchere System
- Martingale System
I’m not going to detail them all here, because they are all similar, but deviate in their own ways. I’ll give an example to give you an idea of how they work, using the Fibonacci System.
This is a betting technique that uses the progressive betting unit sizes of:
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89
Thus you would bet 1 unit to start, and if you lose, bet 1 unit again, followed by a 2 unit bet in the case of another loss, and so on. You’ll notice each number is the sum of the previous two. Thus, once you win, you break even on all losses. Then, anytime you do win, start back at one. To make a profit, you must win twice in a row, pocketing the equivalent of 1 betting unit.
The problem – as with all betting systems – is that casinos are on to it. They put minimum and maximum bet limits on all tables. If you were at a baccarat table that offers $5 to $200 stakes, and placing $5 unit bets, you would only be able to bet up to the “34 unit” mark, since a $275 “55 unit” bet would be too high.
Of course, losing more than 9 bets in a row is rare, but if it does happen, you’ll bet out a whopping $440.
Gambling Strategy vs Betting System
Now that you understand why they are so different, we can clearly see the potential benefits of each, and also why it would be hard to invoke both at the same time. A gambling strategy is meant for games where decisions are to be made regularly (like blackjack). A betting system is provided for less tactical games (baccarat, roulette, etc.)
You could try to use a betting system in blackjack, but the moment your strategy chart tells you to split or double down, you’re system’s bet units will be all messed up. Better to stick with what works best for each individual game type.