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Beating the Casinos at Their Own Game: A Strategic Approach to Winning at Craps, Roulette, Blackjack, Carribean Stud Poker, (Square One Gaming Guides) Paperback – September 1, 2000
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"If you're inexperienced at these games, you can take an expert with you...[Beating the Casinos at Their Own Game] has all the basic playing information you need to improve your chances of winning."(Casino Detroit Magazine)
About the Author
Peter Svoboda is a professional engineer with degrees in mechanical and civil engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. A veteran gambler with over thirty-five years of experience in casinos all over North America, Peter has studied the odds and probabilities of the various games to determine effective strategies of play.
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Unfortunately, the logic's not always there and sometimes the data are wrong.
In the roulette section, he recommends that if you are going to bet on a single number, you should pick one that hasn't shown up in the past 20 spins. This, after explaining how a lot of people keep gambling on the faulty premise that if something hasn't happened in a while, it's likely to happen, and after describing bias in roulette tables, which would make a number more likely to re-appear if it HAS appeared multiple times before.
In the blackjack section, I re-calculated the probabilities for each of the tables that he has in there, and while most of his numbers are right, some of them are off by as much as 5%. True, my numbers could be wrong, but since i wrote a computer program to do it (meaning that it did it consistently for each test), why would it be right for all but one value in the table? More likely, they are hand-copying or editing errors.
I wrote software (yes, i'm a geek) to play the game, implemented his suggestions one by one, and played 100,000 hands with each to see what kind of improvement each one made. The fact is, if you play your hand just like the dealer (hold at 17+, hit below), you will win 48% of the time, lose 43% of the time, and push 9% of the time. If you implement all of his strategies, you will win 48% of the time, lose 43% of the time, and push 9% of the time (yup! exactly the same!). What's important turns out not to be how you play the game (in most of the strategies, you are trading busts for losing hands and vice versa), but how you BET. Using his doubling and splitting strategies lets you hang on to your money much longer before going broke (sometimes twice as long). In the blackjack section, he doesn't spend much time talking about betting.
Lastly, and this applies to blackjack again, he claims that the casino's main advantage in blackjack lies in the fact that "the players must choose before the dealer whether or not to draw more cards." While it's true that you could play a lot better if you could see the dealer's cards, that is not what gives the casino the advantage. Remember, the dealer is basically a human machine -- it hits at < 17, holds at 17+. The dealer does not have the benefit of seeing EITHER of your cards, so that can't be the advantage. The casino's real advantage is that the player has one more losing condition than the dealer has. That condition occurs when both the dealer and the player bust. Other than that, if the player played exactly like the dealer, they would both do exactly the same. You cannot overcome this handicap. If you play conservatively such that you do not bust (which is where most of Svoboda's recommendations lead you), the percentage of hands you lose because the dealer has more points than you will go up.
That's about it for now. Just wait till I read the other chapters, though!
You'll find casino basics in chapters 1 and 2 including some history, odds of winning and losing, what the casinos do to get you there, the house advantage, advice on managing your money and when to quit. And if you have a gambling problem, Peter will direct you to the right place. Chapters 3 through 13 list rules of the ten most popular casino games, with playing strategies and some betting systems you can try. The illustrations will help you learn the games and the math listed will explain the odds and probabilities of winning.
Peter includes some known strategies for Craps, Roulette and Baccarat. So, if you're inexperienced at any of these games, you can take an expert with you to the casino. Peter also presents some of his own winning systems.
If you've never been to a casino, but think you might want to try some of the games offered, I'd recommend studying this book before you enter. It has all the basic playing information you'll need to improve your chances of winning...
Simply put, my problem with this book is that it is full of incorrect statements and poor advice which completely ignores probability theory. For example, on roulette, Mr. Svoboda actually says, "The house will always have a 5.26% edge, but you can increase your winning probabilities by playing it smart." What?!? When I read that, I knew he had a very weak grasp of probability theory. It is impossible to change the odds in roulette; they are fixed. You are always at a 5.26% disadvantage, no matter what your betting strategy is. Period. I suggest you run away from any book that asserts otherwise.
The surprising thing is that in several parts of the book, Mr. Svoboda agrees that the casino has an advantage over the player in the long run. However, to overcome this, he recommends that players play in the short run! I couldn't believe that an engineer, and someone who supposedly understands mathematics and probability, would actually write such completely incorrect information. True, in the short run you may win, but odds are that you will lose. The percentage disadvantage you face does not change.
Over and over, Mr. Svoboda asserts that his strategies increase your chances of winning. How can you increase your chances of winning if the odds against you are fixed? For example, after several pages of detailed and complex tables and charts, Mr. Svoboda admits that his craps betting strategy gives the house a 2% advantage. Yet he still advocates following his strategy, saying that you just need to know when to walk away when ahead. What he fails to mention is that you will be behind more often than you will be ahead.
In games of chance and independent trials (such as craps, roulette and keno, to name a few), the house has a fixed percentage advantage over the player. This is a proven mathematical fact. There are no betting systems or strategies whish can change this percentage advantage. The only thing a player may do is bet slowly and bet the minimums in order to decrease the rate at which he loses. Gambling at these types of games should be viewed as paying for entertainment, not investing, as Mr. Svoboda suggests.
Casinos love people with systems. Why do you think companies choose to spend $1 billion to build a new casino? Because they know that system betters will come in and lose more than that. Casinos exist because they make money for their owners. I had thought that with the advanced level of gaming theory available today, that books which advocated incorrect probability theory would become a thing of the past. Then I read Mr. Svoboda's book and realized I was wrong.
On the plus side, the book does clearly state the rules of the games and the odds of winning. It has very pretty and colorful charts and tables. As a rule book, it is very good. However, as a strategy guide, you are much better off ignoring this book. Mr. Svoboda's assertion that "this book will help you learn how to level the playing field...and gain a return on your investment" is false. This book does not tell you how to even the odds against the house. The only return on investment you will get by following the advice in this book is negative.