Teacher is in, let the Semester begin!

The old adage goes that if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for life, buy a funny hat and eventually drown after drinking too much while out on the boat. Here at BetPreviews.com, we don’t want to see anyone drowning, but we do want to encourage a little self-sufficiency in our readers so we want to teach you a few tricks of the trade to help isolate value for yourself, of course with a view to you coming back on here and sharing it with us!

As a former odds compiler and risk manager for over a decade, I’ve picked up a few things from the other side of the counter, but not everyone can have the benefit of learning in a trading room, invariably comprised of some of the sharpest minds and indeed some of the shrewdest thieves you could ever hope to meet.

Consider this opening post as an introduction and indeed an open invitation to send in your queries and questions. As all your other teachers may have told you growing up, there is no such thing as a stupid question, so fire them in! Feel free to use the comments section below or on any of our articles, or alternatively you can send an email to betpreviews dot school at gmail dot com. (Apologies for the use of words, but we are hoping to avoid the attention of all those spambots who lurk among us!)

No matter what the issue – in play betting, hedging, obscure sports, mathematical derivation, even poker and casino, we’ll be happy to do our best to field your queries. In the meantime I’ll begin by going through some of the “greatest hits”, or the questions that I most commonly get asked by casual bettors when I explain my career path and my place in the betting industry. For today, we’ll start with a simple one, the Martingale system.

For those of you who are unaware, the Martingale system is based upon the premise that if you make the same bet enough times, you’ll get a winner eventually and you just bet to cover your losses with a little over every time. So, to take an easy example, let’s imagine a client at a roulette table in a casino, betting on red at even money. The client bets €1 on red, and if the bet comes in, they’re up €1. If they lose, they stake €2 on red the next time. Lose and they’re down €3 in total, win and they’re €1 ahead. Lose again and they stake €4 and so on, doubling the stake each time until the wheel finally throws up a red number and the €1 profit is secured. Nobody can imagine an infinite number of black/zero spins, so this must be profitable, right?

Wrong.

The way to think about this is not in terms of the bet you’re placing each time, it’s in terms of your bank. Your stake increases exponentially, from €1 to €2 to €4, up to €8, €16, €32, €64, €128, €256, €512, €1024, and beyond if necessary. If you take your total bank, that is the total amount you can afford or are willing to lose, you’re willing to go up to half that for a stake on an individual bet. For example if you do your sums and give yourself a bank of €33,000 roughly, you can afford 16 iterations. On the 16th spin of the wheel, you’ll be staking €16,384 and you’ll have lost €16,383 already. So in effect, when you start the process with your €1 stake, you’re not betting on a red coming up EVENTUALLY, you’re betting on a red coming up in the next sixteen spins – and that’s assuming you’ll hold your nerve and put the €16,384 down on the table when you’ve already lost fifteen times. How many of us would have cut and run long before this?

You’re betting your total stakes of €32, 768 to win €1, that this is not the unlucky time that there are sixteen spins without a red number. Unlikely, yes – but impossible? No. In actual fact, on a standard roulette table with two zeros, once in every 28,844 spins on average, the croupier will be about to embark on the first of sixteen spins in succession without a red number. So in fact, your bet is giving a 12% edge to the house.

The same mathematics applies to every other form of Martingale, whether it be betting every favourite on a busy day of racing, every trap one in the dogs, an even number to be the bonus number in every lotto. The vast, vast majority who attempt to follow this ploy will get away with it, but unless each individual bet is good value, the house still has the edge, and in this system, those who it cuts will be cut deeply.

About Kevin Egan 130 Articles
Kevin Egan is one of Ireland's leading GAA tipsters. He has previously served as GAA odds compiler for a number of major bookmakers.

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