Darkside Strategies of the Dead

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’m not above being inspired by shows like The Walking Dead.  But in this case – we’re not talking about the dead walking. We’re talking about the dead European mathematicians. Back in the heyday of roulette in Europe the greatest mathematicians of the day set about attempting to bet the wheel.  Most of the systems they developed were flat betting strategies that revolved around some sort of progressive betting. Martingale, LaBoucherie, D’Alenbert and the Paroli come to mind right off the bat. Let’s take a look at a couple of these and consider how they might apply to Dark Side play.

First is the Martingale – which simply calls for doubling up your losing bets until you get a winner – and a one unit win. Let’s say you are betting at the $25 level. First bet is $25. If that bet loses your next bet is $50. If that one loses the next one is $100. Then it’s $200, $400, $800, $1600 and so on until you hit the table limit. That is exactly WHY there is a table limit on every game in the house – to prevent well-heeled players from playing the Martingale every hand until they get a win. Most players, however, are only three or four consecutive losses away from losing their entire session stake with the Martingale. It simply isn’t a good way to play.

Here’s a Reverse-Martingale variation that is popular with many roulette and baccarat players. It calls for increasing your bet on a win instead of a loss. The 1-3-2-6 progression can work very well for the short term. What makes the 1 – 3 – 2 – 6 progression so attractive is that only two betting units are at risk for a chance to win ten units. You can make a nice profit with a minimal investment. Maintain discipline and catch a streak and you can do very well.

The first bet in this progression is one unit. If you win that wager you add another unit to the original bet and payoff, making the second bet a total of three units. This is not unlike a “power press” move on a place bet.

If you win the second bet, there are 6 units on the table. Remove four units, making your third bet two units.

If the third bet wins add two more units to the original bet and payoff, making it a total of six units for your fourth bet. If the fourth bet wins you’ll collect a total of 12 units, of which ten units are profit!

Obviously, if you lose the first bet, the loss is one unit. Assuming you win the first, but lose the second bet, your net loss is two units. If you win the second, but lose the third bet, you have a profit of two units. If you win the first three bets but lose the fourth bet, you’ll break even. If you lose the second bet five out of six times and win four consecutive bets once, you’ll be right back to even.

Hey, it’s not that complicated. Print out a copy of it, then cut and paste it onto a 3×5 index card and take it to the tables with you. It might be the best move you made all day.

The Paroli System is another sort of an anti-Martingale strategy. You begin with a one-unit bet and increase your wager by one unit whenever you win rather than when you lose. On any loss you regress back to a one unit bet.

This is not a bad way to play. However, you should have some firm rules as to how large you will let your bets build up on a winning streak before regressing them back down to one unit. This obviously depends on the type of game played and the odds of the bet.

My personal play when betting the Paroli system is to begin with one $5 unit and increase on each win until I reach a $25 level. I take one hit at $25 then regress back town to a $10 bet, then repeat the process – this time taking it up to $50 before incorporating a second regression.

The advantage of this system is that it can be played with a relatively small bankroll. When you incorporate some self-imposed rules such as I outlined above the strategy forces you to manage your money. You only need to maintain discipline and catch the right streak.

The LaBoucherie system, also known as the “Split Martingale” or “Cross-Out” or “Cancellation” strategy – has been around for many years. Named for it’s creator, in its simplest form, you simply write down some numbers… let’s say 1 2 3. Each bet is the sum of the first and last of these numbers. In this example, it is 1 and 3, which equals 4. If you win you cross the two numbers off and bet the next two that are on the outside. In this instance there would be only the single two-unit bet. If that wins you complete the series and win a total of all of the numbers (six here). If the bet loses, then you add that one number to the end of the series. So, the first bet would be 4 and it loses, so you add 4. That makes the next bet 1 plus 4, which is 5. This means that you need to win only 1/3 of the bets PLUS two more and you will complete the series and win the amount that is in the series. Since you normally will win ALMOST half of your bets, that means that you MUST win — right?

There are a lot of variations to the LaBoucherie. One is to use a series of different numbers, perhaps with a lot of ones in the beginning to keep the series from growing so fast. The series would look something like 1 1 1 2 2 3. When you complete the series you will win 10 units. The first bet is still four. You must win 1/3 plus 3.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a little bothersome to try and keep track of all the “cross out” action at the table. I suppose it works fine at a slow game like roulette. But craps? For me, a simpler play is the Fibonacci.

The Fibonacci Progression is based on a naturally occurring “growth” cycle that can be found over and over in the world we live in. Consider the nautilus shell. As the nautilus outgrows one chamber of its shell it builds another – larger chamber. Each successive chamber is progressively larger than the last. In fact – its size is the sum of the sizes of the last two chambers. And that is exactly how the Fibonacci works. Let’s look at some numbers and you’ll see how it applies at the tables.

The standard Fibonacci progression is as follows: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55, 89, etc. Each number in the series is the sum of the previous two numbers. The basic idea behind the progression is to get two wins in a row. For each loss, step up one in the progression. For each win, make the same bet again. If you win again (the second win) you start progression over. If lose, advance one step.

Like all progression betting strategies, there is the chance of losing a substantial amount of money if you catch a losing streak. However, the Fibonacci is generally a well respected strategy that also has applications in blackjack and roulette.

Well, there you have it – Heavy’s tour of Dead Europeans betting progressions. None of them will work 100% of the time – and they require patience to play – but they are fun to experiment with. And played within sensible win goals and loss limits – they might just earn you some good old Yankee dollars.