Ask Mr Research
by Larry Edell
A friend of mine, David, just found out about Martingale systems - you know, the kind where you keep doubling up after a loss in a hopeless attempt to break even. So if you have a $5 pass line bet and lose, the next bet would be for $10, then $20, then $40 then $80, $160, $320...and then youre usually up against the $500 casino table limit. You have not lost just the $320, but $320 + $160 + $80 +$40 + $20 +10...a total of $630 on a gallant quest to recoup your original lost $5 pass line bet. But David (who happens to be my wifes brother) just found out about the Martingale system - he thinks its some great new secret method hes going to use to make his fortune!
While driving to the casino, I tried to persuade him not to use his newfound Martingale system but he persisted, much to the dismay of both of our wives. He kept insisting that on the pass line, he would have to lose seven times in a row before he lost anything, and that was nearly impossible. However, if he did lose, he would lose $630, which didnt exactly please his sister, and she....well, lets just say she wasnt real happy since I was the one to teach David the fine art of shooting craps in the first place. At any rate, I had to figure out some way of cutting down on his possible loses in order to keep peace at both his home and my own.
When I get into these weird predicaments theres only one person I can ask, and thats Mr. Research. An idea was already beginning to form, and I asked David about it while we were still in the car. It wouldnt take much effort, and I was sure it would work. OK Dave when you bet and lose on your system, whats the maximum amount of bets you can lose?
He thought about it. Lets see, $5, $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320 ...thats seven bets....but how can seven shooters lose seven times in a row....its impossible....
Look Dave, even if you win, say at the $160 level, youve already lost $150 so all you win is $10. Youre risking $160 to win only $10. And at the $320 level, its even worse, because youve already lost $310, so youre risking $320 just to win the same measly $10! So if you lose $630, you have to win 63 more times just to break even.
That never happens. If you look at the math, its nearly impossible.
Well, even if it happens just once its too much. Look, if we can find someplace where you can bet your seven progressive bets, which would test your nearly impossible system, do you promise to STOP betting after the seventh bet?
Well, it would never take seven.... My wife glared at him. O.K. O.K. Ill stop after the seventh bet, I promise. Whew! Did it! Now for Mr. Research. I found one of the free gambling magazines that were distributed everywhere and started calling the smaller casinos. You can find out almost anything about every casino using those free papers. And if the information isnt there, you can always call the casinos on their listed toll-free numbers and ask them. Finally, I found one with the proper requirements and told Dave about it. He frowned. But thats a dinky little casino!
I countered, Look do you want to continue to aggravate both your wife and your sister at the same time or not? He sighed. All right well try it. But whats so special about this place? Well, for one thing, their table maximum is $500. Sos every other place. Their minimum bet is only 25 cents. So? So if you make a 25 cent pass line bet, and lose, you bet 50 cents, then $1.00, then $2 , then $4, $8 and then finally $16 - thats seven bets, same as you planned. But at a $5 casino you can lose a maximum of $630. At this casino, betting the same way, you can only lose .25 + .50 + $1 + $2 + $4 + $8 + $16, or a grand total of almost $32! David frowned. Huh! You dont win much though either. Tell you what, when you see how much I win at this dinky place, then can we go back to the $5 casino?
Sure Dave, sure.
Well he played. And lost. Several times. But he stuck to his word and stopped after seven progressive losses per session. He won several times too, but just one loss always wiped out all of his winnings. Dave learned that if he wanted to play a progression (or almost any other system), he should test it at a casino that allowed the maximum amount of plays, and had a 25 cent starting bet.
Soon, Dave came up to us with a downcast face. I learned my lesson. No more Martingales. My wife smiled up at me, but then frowned when David spoke again.. Someone just told me about a system called a Reverse Martingale.......
Larry Edell is the Editor of The Crapshooter Newsletter and author of two craps books and numerous articles about the game of craps. I have been a subscriber to his newsletter since 1995. In 1996 I met Larry at a Gaming Convention and was impressed with his passion and knowledge of the game. Larry's monthly articles appear here as a regular feature. If you would like a free copy of The Crapshooter Newsletter send two first class stamps to The Crapshooter, Dept. , PO Box 421440, San Diego CA 92142. Youll Also receive a FREE catalog and a special FREE offer!