# Blackjack online gambling question

Hi SD,

I am swearing off online gambling after a strategy I tried failed.

I believe it is called the Martingale strategy, where you double your bet after each loss, until you win.

The strategy runs into problems like a limited bankroll and a minimum betting limit. For example, at a table in a casino, you would fail relatively quickly because m (where I live at least) table minimums are \$10. Upon several losses in a row you will be betting obscene amounts of money to make very little.

I thought online gambling was more advantageous because you can bet as little as 10 cents. The increments available to you are 10 cents, 50 cents, \$1, \$5, \$10, \$25, \$50, and \$100.

I bet \$1 each time, doubling after my loss, and not participating in double downs unless it was an absolute no-brainer, like an 11 against a 6. I would never double down on higher bets than my dollar. I was in no hurry, and I didn’t want to lose any more than my dollar bet.

Playing this way, in a rapid fashion, very methodically, I was able to make a dollar often enough that after 20 minutes of play, I was able to make \$100 profit. Putting aside that, once or twice, I often bet over \$100 to make a profit of a single dollar, I think the profit is pretty decent for twenty minutes of work. And when I was lucky enough to hit blackjack on one of those higher bets my profit increased a lot. You can see how I thought I had outsmarted the system.

Now, I don’t need anyone to tell me this is a bad idea and a poor strategy. I almost had a heart attack every couple of minutes after a string of losses. I don’t gamble online anymore and have canceled my account.

But, here is my question. Had I bet merely ten cents, per bet, the probability would be much higher that I would have slowly amassed a profit. After all, compared to my \$1 bet, that’s “two more chances” to win and start again. Though the process would be incredibly slow and not practical. Making a hundred dollar profit this way would conceivably take 10x as long as a dollar bet did. So is there some way to automate this process? Would some enterprising person be able to create a program to do this, without the online casino knowing?

Note: I am not a programmer and have no plans to be one.

But I am curious why the casinos would make the betting limits so low. It can’t be good for business when someone can make 100 off them in 20 minutes, by betting small and grinding. And one time, I bet 5 the same way and was able to make \$100 in \$5 minutes!

Enlighten me, Dopers!

Thanks,

Dave

The Martingale is always going to lose, no matter what the initial bet is. It sounds like you’re saying that you accept that Martingale is a losing strategy with an initial bet of \$1, but it could be a winning strategy with an initial bet of 1 cent. Yes, you get a few more bets before you max out your bankroll or the house limit, but the chance to win those bets is not any higher than that of any other bet. If the chances of winning each bet is less than 50%, in the long run you’re going to lose.

And deviating from Basic Strategy by “not participating in double downs unless it was an absolute no-brainer” only decreases your returns. Basic Strategy will on average net you the maximum winnings of any non-counting strategy. You’re just decreasing your winnings by making up your own “conservative” strategy.

The casino (especially an online casino) doesn’t care about you, but about their average take, and that’s firm in the maths, no matter what you bet. They make the betting limit low so that you don’t think you’re betting much.

Casinos realise that some people have to win during some play sessions - yes, by betting \$5 a go you can make \$100 in 5 minutes, but you won’t do it every time and over a long period, your “profit” will regress to the mean.

The Martingale strategy is as good as any other. Or as bad as any other depending on your point of view.

Thanks for setting me straight.

Glad I learned this now before I went down the rabbit hole!

Dave

A Martingale is like a reverse lottery: You have a high probability of making a small profit, balanced (actually, more than balanced) by a low probability of losing big. The amount you’ll win (if you do) is your minimum bet, and the amount you’ll lose is your entire bankroll, and the probability of each depends on the ratio of your minimum bet to your bankroll.

A lottery at least makes some sense as paying a dollar for a day’s worth of daydreaming about what you’ll do with your hypothetical winnings, but a Martingale doesn’t even offer that. Nobody ever says “Woo-hoo, I’m up ten cents over what I started with!”. Nor does anybody go “There’s a chance I’ll lose my entire bankroll, so exciting, I hope I get lucky!”.

That part of the OP has not been answered and I’ve been wondering since online gambling became legal around here.

Note, I have no intentions of going to a casino online or in meat space. I prefer to waste my money at thrift stores and garage sales.

They don’t need to,assuming the bots don’t cheat - the ability to bet fast just makes that regression to the mean faster.

How do they check for card counting? AIUI In a physical casino, card counting is legal unless you use a mechanical or electronic aid or an accomplice. Checking for little card counting aids or noticing a team working together is easy in a physical casino. But I still don’t understand how they an online casino can check for that. I would think they could just have a virtual shoe with virtual cards and reshuffle after every hand. But, at least one of the local businesses advertises “real dealers, real tables and real cards.”.

Count the cards yourself, and see whether the punter plays so as to take advantage of the count?

Interestingly, are the online casinos audited to ensure that the cards are real, or properly virtualized, and that the bank isn’t otherwise cheating?

The local places stress that they are as inspected and certified as physical casinos.

You could defeat card-counting just by limiting the range of bets allowed at any given table. Maybe even make exactly one bet value allowed for each table. With a large-enough player base, you could still easily accommodate all the bet sizes you’d want, and if a player is “feeling lucky” and wants to increase their bet, they can easily move to a new table.

My WAG is that the amount of money you save by not getting fleeced by the rare card counter is dwarfed by the amount of money you lose when you don’t allow gamblers to impulsively place (and lose) huge bets at the table.

Card counting only starts working several hand into a 6 or 8 deck shoe. With a percentage of the deck gone, the remaining deck might be heavy or light on 10s and you adjust your bet accordingly. It doesn’t work on the first hand of the deck, and it works better the further through the shoe you go.

In an online casino, they shuffle the whole 8-deck shoe at every hand. Every hand is the first of the shoe.

Peter Morris It seems you failed to read post # 9 fully.

I agree with Peter Morris, as it’s pretty much a no-brainer that online blackjack would do a full reshuffle every hand. I read post #9 but I don’t understand what is meant by “real dealers, real tables and real cards.” Is it some kind of skype setup where you see a physical table with a real live human dealer and actual cards? How would that scale to handle all the players?

If it’s not a video feed to actual physical cards and your own personal live human dealer, it’s computer generated and thus reshuffled every hand.
As for the Martingale, doubling after each loss is far too aggressive and guaranteed to bankrupt you even if the starting bet is one penny. I’ve seen a dozen (approximate) 50-50 bets lose in a row many, many times in an actual casino. (Usually pass or don’t pass, but same basic difference.)

0.01 > 0.02 > 0.04 > 0.08 > 0.16 > 0.32 > 0.64 > 1.28 > 2.56 > 5.12 > 10.24 > 20.48 > 40.96

After 12 losses in a row (not uncommon) you’ve lost \$81.91, which isn’t much money at all. However, that represents a loss of over eight thousand winning sequences. How long, exactly, would it take to win 8000 sequences? In the OP you say your base bet was \$1 and you won \$100 (100 winning sequences) in 20 minutes. So at 5 sequences per minute, that’s over 27 solid hours of winning wiped out in just over 2 minutes the first time you hit a bad patch.

If I had to guess, I would say you can expect a dozen or more losses in a row half a dozen times during 8000 sequences. But more to the point, stack just 3 more losses on one of those losing streaks and all of a sudden you’re down \$640.00 that you’re trying to win back one penny at a time. Yikes.

There are other, “better” mathematical progressions to use for gambling. The best will generally require a pencil and a piece of paper to keep track of where you are in the progression, and brick and mortar casinos are more than happy to let you do that to your heart’s content, at least at the craps table. A sympathetic dealer may try to save you by pointing out that gambling systems are just ways to systematically lose your money, but that’s the only acknowledgement you’ll get from the house.

At a real casino, that’s almost certainly true. But with an online casino, if someone discovers that you can beat the house by downloading and running cardcounter.exe, it’ll take about a week before every single customer you’ve got is counting perfectly. And you can still allow for those impulsive gamblers making huge bets by invisibly moving them to a different table.

Gotcha, yes that makes a lot of sense for an online game.

Martingale is not a strategy for obtaining a guaranteed profit, since the player will rarely lose, but on a large scale, and win often, but relatively little. Therefore, one should speak first of all about the redistribution of winnings.
When betting on sports, Martingale has several drawbacks:

1. the bookmaker limits the size of the maximum bet, and this may interfere with making the next bet in the series;
2. bets with odds of at least 2.00 are suitable, among which one should look for “value” ones.