Archive for the ‘Strategies’ Category

Poker Texas Holdem – Source: Wikimedia

The most popular variation of poker around the world, famous since the first World Series of Poker celebrated in 1970, Texas Holdem has been around for a while and much has been said about it. By that we mean that from the greatest players to amateurs, everyone seems to have their say on how to play it well. As important as it is to bet properly on the felt, we also thought it might be useful to look at some strategies that will help you master this game.

Alfred Alvarez, a poet and a poker player at the same time, once said that Holdem was a game of calculated aggression, adding that if your cards were good enough to call a bet, then they were good enough to raise with.

Read the rest of this entry »

Four of a kind, aces – Source: Wikimedia

There are many reasons why poker is the king of all card games. The challenge and excitement of playing against a table of people naturally bring a social aspect to the game. There’s also the unique language and colorful expressions spoken by poker players that make them appear as a cool secret society. Sometimes the action creates a downright party.

And then there’s the irresistible competition. Whether it’s a casual poker game between friends or a tournament hand at a casino, poker typically involves a bet of some kind. Raise the stakes and watch the intensity of play soar.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hold ‘em or fold ‘em – that’s the big decision that every player of Texas Hold‘em has to make. Of course, the problem is that you have to make that call before you even see the rest of the cards you can use to make your hand.

The first two cards, dealt face down for only you to see, are called the hole cards or pocket cards, and based on these cards, and these cards alone, you have to make a decision about the potential strength of your hand. So how do you decide whether to raise, match or fold, when you only know 40% of what you have to play with?

Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Martingale betting strategy still effective in today’s modern gambling scenario? Read this post to know how it’s applied to Roulette and Blackjack.

There are two kinds of reviews you would generally get about the Martingale system. While the beginners hold strong opinion about the same, an expert player will tell you to try any method other than the Martingale. With its origin way back in the 18th century, this Martingale strategy is specifically for games with a heads or tails format. Let us take a look at how this system works in two of the most popular casino games; roulette and blackjack.

Roulette

In order to make the Martingale system work at the roulette table, you will have to confine your bets to black or red in 50/50 propositions. In case you lose a spin after placing the bet, you need to double the ante on the subsequent turn of the wheel. Say for an instance, if you bet $20 on black and lose the first spin, you’ll have to bet $40 on the next spin, and further $80 on the third spin if you lose again. As a result you get a one unit profit, and you need to start the sequence again once you win the bet.

Blackjack

Similar to the condition applied at the roulette table, here also you have to double the stake for every losing hand, and the betting sequence continues till the time you win a hand. So basically, if you do your math right, you’ll end up with one unit profit. For example, with a starting stake of $5, you end up wagering $40 after losing three hands. This gives an exposure to $75, and after winning the hand, you are left with a profit of $5.

So Does It Really Work?

Martingale system may have proved to be effective for games like roulette or blackjack, but it is certainly not a solution for other variations. Mathematically, it’s an authentic strategy, but complicated in the gaming world. Unless you have an extremely large bankroll, you cannot make the most of this system. For example, if your opening stake is $10, and you lose 6 successive hands, you’ll have to bet a whopping $640, which is beyond the limit of many players.

Now even if you have enough bankroll to take on the house, the rules imposed by the casino will cause this system to fail. Most of the online casinos have a limit on the maximum amount you can bet, and this makes it really difficult to implement the system. Just because you have enough funds to keep doubling your stakes until you win, the table’s limit will avert you from doing this repeatedly.

Relying on this system completely to make huge profits for you is the costliest mistake you can make for yourself. Unless you uphold the basic principle of this betting system, it will fail both in theory and practice. It may be good in small doses, but getting used to it can hurt you real bad in the long term. Hence, one should look beyond this strategy if they are to make big winnings with a lower bankroll.

backgammon-board-sectors

Backgammon is a fast paced game in which you may see the pro player’s checkers hitting the board frenetically. This proficiency can be easily achieved by the players with the development of the understanding of the subtle mechanisms of the game. Here, we will highlight some of the most common strategies which may help you win your next game. There is a variety of strategies available in order to successfully play the game and you’ll soon realise that winning a backgammon game mainly depends on the ability of distributing the checkers on the board according to the different scenarios you may incur.

First thing to consider is that once the players start to play the game, both players have fewer pieces in the home board of the opponent and hence it is easy to bring forth the checkers back in the game and towards your home board. The opponent with more pieces on the home board of the opponent in the later stages of the game will find it difficult to get pieces back on board. However the strategy you choose is often determined by the rolls of the dice in the first stages of the game on one side and the strategy adopted by your opponent on the other. For example if your first two rolls are high combos like 6-5 and 6-5, you probably want to move your back checkers forward and get into a race strategy in which you want to bring all your checkers into your home board and bear them off as quickly as possible, just like it were a competitive race. If you are hit early and have checkers sent back instead, you probably want to play a holding game or a back game in which you want to reach a positional advantage by keeping one ore more points in your control. In the holding game you will reach your positional advantage controlling the 20 point or bar points. They will work as anchors and they will provide maximum chances to hit your opponent as he brings his checkers closer to the home board. Points further back are generally weaker. In the back game instead you must control at least two points in the home board of your opponent with the goal of hitting a blot late in the game and restrain it.

Also a very important strategy in any Backgammon game is blocking opponent’s pieces at your home board. The opponent will have a tougher time moving out as you get more and more checkers there. The player should start the blocking strategy early in the game to get all six checkers inside his home board. A quick blocking strategy of this type is called a “backgammon blitz” and its ultimate goal is to close out one or more of the opponent’s pieces by occupying all 6 of the points in the own home board. This will make it impossible for these pieces to return to the game until a point becomes available. And this will happen just when you start the bearing off phase. You can also block your opponent’s checkers behind a “Prime“, a row of six consecutive occupied spots by at least 2 checkers, also called 6 “made points“. An opposing checker trapped behind a prime cannot escape until the prime is broken. The prime can be constructed anywhere between point 2 and point 11 in the board.

Backgammon is definitely a skill game where strategies must evolve and adapt to the different situations. Luck certainly plays a role in the roll of the dice, but the many decisions available on how to move your checkers after the dice have been cast, are the very essence of this game and hence a professional player can play with an advantage and eventually have much higher chances to win.

There exist a few documentaries about card counting.

One of them is the 2005 Card Counting Documentary called – The Hot Shoe, directed by David Layton. Even though it does not always meet the expectations, it remains interesting and entertaining to watch even for people not already familiar with card counting. Here you will find Johnny Chang, Andy Bloch, Ian Andersen and others professional players talking about blackjack.

David claims he attempted to deal with the subject in all its complexities – the mathematics, the history, the politics and the practical realities of blackjack.

I talked to the leading lights in the world of blackjack—professional players, authors, casino personnel, detectives who identify players, lawyers and academics. If you want to know the real story, if you want to learn how to count cards, or if you just want to watch a fun adventure I think you will enjoy “The Hot Shoe”.

Another interesting documentary to watch is Ken Uston – “Breaking Vegas: Blackjack Man”, more the biography of a legendary blackjack player than focused on technical aspects of the strategy. You can watch this one just here through the embedded videos below.



Chapters 1-3


Chapters 4-6


Chapters 7-9


Chapters 10-12


Chapters 13-15

Advantage gambling, or advantage play, refers to a practice of using legal ways to gain a mathematical advantage while gambling. The term usually refers to house-banked games, but can also refer to games played against other players, such as poker. Someone who practices advantage gambling is referred to as an advantage gambler, or an advantage player.

A skillful or knowledgeable player can gain an advantage at a number of games. Blackjack can usually be beaten with card counting and sometimes with shuffle tracking. Some video poker games can be beaten by the use of a strategy card  devised by computer analysis of the game. Some progressive slot machines can eventually have such a high jackpot that they offer a positive return when played. Some online games can be beaten with bonus hunting.

Sports and horse betting

Sports and horse betting can be beaten in the long run by skillful handicappers who only bet when they believe the line offers them an advantage. Sports and horse betting can also be beaten by placing arbitrage bets, which involve placing bets at different bookmakers who are offering different lines. Many online sports books now offer bonuses like free bets or free money. These bonuses usually come with a stipulation that the bettor place a certain number of bets. For example, a site may offer a bettor $50 free if they deposit $100 and place a total of $1000 in bets. These can reduce the “juice” or vig taken by the house or even offer the bettor a small advantage.

Another form of advantage can be found by betting the “middle” on a sports event. This situation occurs when two bookmakers are offering different lines on the same event, or if a bettor has placed a bet and the bookmaker changes the line. The bettor simply takes the most favorable lines at each bookmaker, and if the result of the contest is between the numbers, or in the “middle”, then the bettor wins both bets.

For example, Bookmaker A lists the Jets to be a 4-point favorite over the Bills. Bookmaker B has the Jets as just a 2-point favorite. The advantage player may bet the Bills +4 with Book A and then the Jets -2 with Book B. If the Jets win by 3, the advantage player collects on both bets. If the Jets win by either 2 or 4, the advantage player collects on one winning bet. And if the Jets win or lose by any other total, the two bets cancel out, leaving the advantage player to pay only the vigorish on the bets. Given typical 10-cent lines, a middle need only win 1 time in 20 to break even, which is a realistic goal – the middle is always a plausible result since it is based on the actual strength of the teams. Middling is an example of line arbitrage.

Betting exchanges

Betting exchanges offer advantage players a chance to make a larger profit than possible with bookmakers because exchanges charge commission only on the net winnings in a particular betting market. One way to make money on the exchanges is “trading” – in the above example, the Jets might be a a favorite decimal odds of 1.90 to defeat the Bills. If a “trader” thinks these odds too long he may bet $1000 on the Jets, and should he prove correct and the odds on the Jets get shorter, “lay off” by laying, say, a $1016 bet on the Jets at 1.87. If the Jets win, he collects $900 on his bet on the Jets and pays out approximately $884 on the bet he layed against the Jets. If the Jets lose, he loses his $1000 stake on the Jets but keeps the $1016 stake on the bet he layed against the Jets. Either way, the “trader” makes a $16 profit and he will pay a commission only on that profit (usually not more than 5% or 80 cents in this example) for a net profit of $15.20 regardless of the result. Of course, if the odds go the wrong way the “trader” may lose money but exchanges do not charge a commission in the event of a net loss.

Poker

Poker can offer a long-term advantage to a skilled player because it is played against other players and not against the house. The casino usually takes a rake or a session fee. A skilled poker player can often win enough from the game to cover the rake and make a profit.

Other ways to gain an advantage

Dice control

Experts disagree about whether or not an advantage can be gained at some other games. One example is dice control. Authors Stanford Wong and Frank Scoblete believe that by setting and throwing the dice in a certain way players can alter the odds at the game of craps enough to gain an advantage.

Pachinko

In the Japanese game of pachinko, there are numerous purported strategies for winning, most reliably to use inside information to learn which machines have the highest payout settings.

Angle shooting

“Angle shooting” is another type of advantage play. “Angle shooting” refers to legal but possibly unethical ways to beat casino games. One way to get an advantage at a casino is “hole carding” where a player tries to look at the dealer’s hole card in blackjack and then uses that information to play his hand differently. Taking advantage of incorrect payouts is another example of angle shooting. Not correcting an inexperienced dealer who pays 2 to 1 on a blackjack instead of 3 to 2 is an example of taking advantage of an incorrect payout.

Angle shooting may also be undertaken in poker. If, for example, an angle shooter attempts to bluff at the end of a hand, and is called, he may announce his hand as a flush even if it does not qualify. If the calling player throws away his hand, the angle shooter will claim the pot with his non-flush, claiming he made an honest error in announcing his hand. Similarly, angle shooters might hold on to a losing hand, hoping the winning hand will be mucked at showdown due to player or dealer error, and then claim the pot. A simple way to avoid being taken advantage of by angle shooting at poker is always protect one’s hand and always let the “cards speak”; that is, turning over one’s hand at the showdown for all to see.

Comp hustling

Comp hustling can be another form of advantage gambling. Players who play games with a low house advantage can get more than their expected loss in free items from the casino. Many advantage players also take steps to maximize the comps they receive from their play.

Hazards of advantage gambling

Casinos sometimes take measures to thwart players who they believe pose a threat to them, especially card-counters or hole-card players. But some casinos tolerate card-counters who don’t bet large amounts, who are not good at counting, or who don’t use a large betting spread. Some countermeasures include shuffling more frequently, imposing betting limits, “backing off” the player by asking him not to play blackjack any more, or asking the player to leave the casino. In New Jersey, a player may not be asked to leave a table for counting cards, although the house may still impose betting limits or shuffle sooner. Players caught counting cards or hole-carding ultimately may find themselves listed in the Griffin Book and become unwelcome in most casinos. Video poker and skillful progressive slot players are rarely ejected, but it has happened. They may have their comps reduced or eliminated. Skillful sports bettors may have their betting limits reduced and may not be allowed to take advantage of bonuses at online sports books.

Craps players are often stopped from playing if the dice fail to bounce off the back wall of the table.

Advantage players abide by the established rules of the game and thus, in most jurisdictions, are not regarded as committing fraud against the casino. So, while they may face the above casino-imposed sanctions, they are able to operate without the threat of criminal prosecution for their behavior.