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Craps Systems

I'm not here to steer you into choosing to play with a craps system or choosing to play without a system, I'm just here to give you a little info from both sides of the fence so that you are educated enough to make the decision on your own grounds. Systems are a topic of uncertainty in the gambling industry, with many many followers who live by their system, some who claim to live off of it, and many follower of the notion that systems are complete bullocks and should be done away with from the hearts and minds of every gambler in the world.

Truthfully it comes down to how something is presented to you. If craps systems are the topic and the writer is a mathematician, chances are the content will be along the lines of 'you're all gullible idiots and deserve to lose!' - if however the writer is an experience gambler who has used systems to help them in their life the content may be 'not all systems are equal, telling the good from the bad is what counts, and it's a game of intelligence'. Ok, two extremes, but also two perspectives that deserve to have their point of view explained. That's what this page is about, with particular reference to craps systems.

Encyclopedia Britannica speaks a little to gambling, and even brings up the issue of controlled betting systems:
"A common gamblers' fallacy called 'the doctrine of the maturity of the chances' (or 'Monte Carlo fallacy') falsely assumes that each play in a game of chance is not independent of the others and that a series of outcomes of one sort should be balanced in the short run by other possibilities. A number of 'systems' have been invented by gamblers based largely on this fallacy; casino operators are happy to encourage the use of such systems and to exploit any gambler's neglect of the strict rules of probability and independent plays."

Since Craps has the Pass line bet, many a man, woman and hopefully not child has fallen prey to the oversimplification of mathematics; in the form of a system known widely as the Martingale. The concept is rather basic: when you lose 5 bucks, next time you bet 10 bucks, and if you win, you win back everything you've lost, plus whatever you would have normally one on a single unit bet. Next time you lose, do the same thing. This works. No question this is completely infallible. As systems go this one is absolutely perfect and anyone could beat a casino using this technique. So of course casinos decided to change the rules. Can you guess the simple thing that casinos have done to outsmart the martingalers out there? It's literally staring you in the face when you sit down at any table… the table limits. If there is an upper table limit and you are playing martingale, you will find yourself having to double your last bet right up until that doubled amount is larger than the table maximum. At that point, you take a big BIG loss.

So as the encyclopedia was trying to say (maybe they shouldn't speak in such intellectual tones when discussing the activities of Joe American, but I digress), any one bet in a casino is not dependent on the bet that happened before it. If you flip a coin 100 times and the first 99 times it came up heads, there is no point betting on tails just because you think its due, the 100th toss has the same 50/50 chance the first toss had. The same is true at the roulette table, and at the craps table, no roll is dependent on the preceding roll, every roll is independent. These are the laws of mathematics.

But these are only the laws of mathematics! Who obeys math's laws? What's math done for you lately? who's its governing body? what's a 7? All very good questions. Answered in order: Nobody.. just things and forces (unless a person is thought of as a thing in a given situation.. or a force, not the force a force), nothing (unless you're a mathematician, but it hasn't hurt you either, remember, think causality), the governing body is base10.. or is that base2, and 7 is an abstract thought (and occasionally a damn good come out roll). Put 'em all together and you've got a foolproof system of numbers that apparently don't let anybody screw with them. And the casinos are like the hells angels of the number system, it's their racket, and nobody screws with them. Cumulatively this is usually simply referred to as the house edge.

So why listen to me, I obviously don't know much about math (oooh big talker betty crocker!), so I found someone who does. Here's the opinion of the wizard of odds, a mathematician who spends the better part of his day analyzing casino games and systems. His name is Michael Shackelford and he happens to keep a mighty fine web page called the wizard of odds. His take on craps systems? It's the same as his take on all gambling systems, and this is a quote:

Under no circumstances should you waste one penny on any gambling system. If you don't believe me ask for evidence that the system you are considering has been put through a computer analysis over millions of trials and has shown a profit over the long run. If you ask for this you usually will get a reply saying that in real life nobody plays millions of trials in the casino and that somehow their system works in real life but not when used against a computer simulation. It is interesting that professionals use computers to model real life problems in just about every field of study but when it comes to betting systems computer analysis becomes "worthless and unreliable" as the salesman of one system put it. Sometimes they may claim their system has passed a computer simulation, if they say this demand the evidence. Anyone who resists putting their system to the test over the long haul is not to be trusted. Here are a few examples of the kind of web pages I am talking about that are taking advantage of the mathematically challenged:

Sound advice from a man who certainly has a knack for sounding like he knows what he's talking about. In fact, I found this a perfect summary for my own position on craps systems, the Wizard offers a contest open to the entire world to provide a system for beating any negative expectation (house edge of > 0%) casino game. Nobody to date has taken him up on his offer and won.

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