Saturday, November 12

Frugal Las Vegas - Betting Strategies

Even though I arrived in Vegas on Thursday night, I haven't really been on the playing floor yet because my attention has been focused on this conference.  Since the conference ends at noon today, I expect to spend some time gambling during the rest of my trip.

My goal is to lose less than $300 while I am here.  I don't think anyone will disagree that they come to Vegas hoping to take home a jackpot.  But, I am realistic and I acknowledge that gambling is a form of entertainment.  Therefore, the overwhelming odds are that I will lose money the longer I play.

Still, one can be smart about it.  One of the most annoying things I see in the casino is people making dumb betting decisions.  How entertaining can it be to double down on a hard twelve at Blackjack?  You just don't do that.

When I gamble you will usually find me in one of two places:  either video poker or blackjack.  I do enjoy live poker but I've never played in Vegas because there are too many professional players and I am just not good enough.  Whether I'm on a video poker machine or a blackjack table, I'm using strategy cards.  Sure, some people think it takes the fun out of the game.  On the contrary, I enjoy the challenge of memorizing a set of rules that will help me make the most advantageous decisions.

Alas, I do like the adrenaline rush of taking chances, which is why I've decided on this trip to try the Martingale Betting System.  This strategy increases your chances of winning, but if you do lose, you tend to lose big.

Here's how the Martingale Betting System works:  Say my starting bet is $5.  

  • If I win a hand, I've won $5.  My next bet is the same amount, $5.
  • If I lose the hand, I increase my bet to $10.  If I win the second hand, I am ahead by $5 (lost $5 on the first hand, won $10 on the second hand).
  • Every time I win a hand, I net $5, regardless of the amount wagered, and my bet reverts back to the original bet, in this case $5.
  • Every time I lose a hand, I double my last bet.
In most cases, this strategy will significantly improve my chances of winning.  I read on another website that in a one hour period, the statistical odds are that I will win 82% of the time using the Martingale Betting System.  But in the rare case that it doesn't work, I will lose a lot of money.  The reason:  if I lose too many consecutive hands, I run out of money to bet or I reach the maximum bet limit for the table.  Let me illustrate:
  • First bet:  $5
  • Second bet (if I did not win the previous bet):  $10
  • Third bet:  $20
  • Fourth bet:  $40
  • Fifth bet:  $80
  • Sixth bet:  $160
  • Seventh bet  $320
  • Eighth bet:  $640
  • Ninth bet:  $1,280
  • Tenth bet:  $2,560
Many blackjack tables cap your bet at $1,000, so after I've lost eight hands in a row I am screwed.  It's important to note the Martingale Strategy can be used on other games, such as roulette.  For roulette, you pick a color, red or black, and start with your base bet and keep doubling until you win.

My plan is to visit the El Cortez, an old casino near Fremont Street that features $3 minimums on blackjack.  Once I am ahead by $100 I will take a break and find something else to do.  

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