Press, Regress, or None of the Above

The debates have been raging lately over the efficacy of regressions versus progressions versus flat betting.  Should you bets start high, drop back down, then follow some sort of press moves to table max?  Should you press from the first hit and forget about regressions?  Or should your bets simply stay constant?

Every legitimate gaming expert out there will tell you that betting strategies, no matter how complex or sophisticated, do not affect the house advantage or edge.  In fact, if you had a chance to peek at the casino’s ledgers over an extended stretch of time you would find table holds close enough to the gross amounts wagered times the edge on the game to make you take notice.  If, for example, over the course of the year players place a total of $12 million in action on the six and eight place bets, the hold on this action will be no more than a wisp away from  $181,200 – or 1.51% of the total amount wagered.  It makes no difference how those wagers were pressed or regressed, or how long the bets stayed up.

Math experts understand this inherently.  But they’re looking at the total of all wagers by all gamblers for a long period of time.  Experienced players, on the other hand, know from experience that often what happens over the long run has little to do with what occurs on the table in any given session.  They know that betting systems do affect short-term performance. Some believe the secret of success is locking up a small win, and then playing with “the house’s money.”  Others believe that long streaks on either the right side or wrong side are rare, so they play Fibos, Martingales, or some other progression strategy named after a dead European math guy.  Then there are the “tortoises,” those slow but steady flat bettors who never press or regress.

So who is right?  The math guy or the veteran player?  Truth is, they’re both right.  On the one hand, betting strategies do matter.  On the other hand, they don’t.  Why?  Because not only does every wager have a built-in edge for the house, there is also an inherent volatility that can swing either way – to the house’s advantage or the player’s.  Over the long run, the house edge is strong enough to overcome the volatility and balance everything out.  But in the short run, volatility wins the day.

How can you manage volatility to your advantage?  Again, it depends on your betting strategy.  On any selected wager, flat betting minimizes the player’s exposure to volatility. Progressions raise it.  Regressions may reduce it somewhat.  Managing volatility by flat betting or taking a regression can help you lose less – and at a slower pace.  On the other hand, progressive bettors who “get lucky” will win much more for equivalent amounts at risk.  But when their luck runs out – and it always does – they lose large, and they lose it fast.