Player Systems Exposed!

Heather: Hello!

Michael: Hellow Heather’s audience!

Heather: Hi, welcome. Today we are doing player strategies or systems exposed, which we will be talking about in a few seconds. I am joined with Michael Shackleford. Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you for talking with me about this topic today.

Michael: My pleasure.

Heather: The reason we are doing the show today is I get a lot of people coming to me asking me about playing strategies, playing systems. They say, “They are going to sell me this system, and it is supposed to win me back all this money and I am supposed to win all this– .” I always say the same thing, they are all BULL/BS. Do not trust them. It’s not worth it. Don’t do it. Now when I was a dealer, we would see this actually in the casino. Now this was before the internet got as big as it did. So there was more people in the casino going around the casino saying, “Oh I got this system and it’s amazing and if we can gamble with your money, I can show you how amazing this is. And I can show you that it works.” My response to that was always, “If it’s so amazing why do you need other people’s money to play? Why don’t you make your own money? Why are you doing this?” So it was always a thing. And ever since I was a dealer, it was always, oh don’t listen to them.

Now the first thing that I want to talk about today is what is the difference between a system and a strategy? Right now my title is Player Strategies Exposed. It really really should be Player Systems Exposed, which we will be changing here in a second. But why is that?

Michael: Okay so to keep the terminology straight, I call a betting system a way of changing your bet up and down according to the past sequence of wins and losses. So examples of betting systems might be the Martingail, the Oscar's Grind, the Labouchere, and the Bennachie, and the Paroli. Those are all free systems. There are tons of other scams out there. Betting systems that you have to pay for. As opposed to a strategy which is something that actually uses information from the cards themselves to make a decision. So a good example of a strategy might be card counting, or it might be hole carding. Things where you are actually using useful information to make a decision and decide how much to bet.

Heather: Another strategy then would be Edward Thorps Basic Strategy?

Michael: Yeah that is another good example. Just don’t call it Edward Thorp’s Basic Strategy. It has been created over and over again, hundreds of times, including by me so it’s – and he isn’t even the first person to come out with the basic strategy. The first people who did were four people that wrote for a statistics journal. I don’t remember the name of it off the top of my head. And they published one way back in the 50’s.

Heather: Okay they were in the 50’s and then Edward Thorp came in the 60’s right?

Michael: Yeah in the early 60’s and you know it’s really not that mathematically complicated. It’s been done and verified over and over again many times.

Heather: Okay.

Michael: That would be a good example of strategy. Something that is mathematically driven.

Heather: So strategies are good. Strategies are what you want to use as far as card counting and basic strategy and what you said. So the systems, those are the bad ones. Those are the ones to stay away from. Those are the ones to stay away from. Those are the ones where it’s like, “We will make you all of this money if you do this or that.”

Michael: Well I wouldn’t necessarily say every strategy is good. For example, somebody might say that my strategy is to wear a polka dotted hat and that helps me win. I wouldn’t call that a useful strategy. So you have to judge every strategy based on some merits and do a scientific or mathematical analysis of it.

Heather: Some strategies are good but other strategies you have to be careful of.

Michael: Yep.

Heather: Now when you go about, let’s say the internet for example. YouTube and you see all of these videos. “Oh check out this craps strategy, and check out this roulette strategy and you are guaranteed to win!” Are there certain red flags that you should look for that pretty much says no this is not to be trusted?

Michael: That is already the red flags that you need. If somebody is offering an easy way to beat the game with the house advantage by a betting system, then it’s a scam. Sometimes people won’t say it’s a betting system. They will use other terminology. Like there was one called Chaos Craps. They wouldn't say that it is a betting system. And I still don’t know the just of it but it was still some allegedly simple way to crush craps. If you make a promise like that it has got to be a scam. Even outside of gambling, what your mother said, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Heather: Yeah. That’s a really good point. So anything that says you have a guaranteed win, you are going to make a ton of money. If it’s like you said, too good to be true, it’s not going to happen.

Michael: Yep!

Heather: Now with the basic strategy, even using the basic strategy, you are still only getting down to 50% and so it’s like 50 - 50, it’s like a coin toss. Without it, the casino would have a little bit more of the edge, therefore the house edge. Right? Even then you are still only getting down to 50 - 50?

Michael: Well the doubling and the splitting in the blackjacks make it more complicated than a coin flip game. But the house edge using the basic strategy is going to vary anywhere from .2% to about 2% depending upon the rules. But if you don’t follow the basic strategy, I would say player errors in blackjack are going to add about 1-2% on top of that.

Heather: Okay. That is just for a normal for every game? Something to consider is player error, or human error?

Michael: Yes, any game of skill there is going to be some element of error if you are not following perfect strategy. Peter Griffin studied this in his book, estimating what is the average cost of error to the recreational player.

Heather: Okay and what was the name of the book?

Michael: He wrote two books, one of them is the Theory of Blackjack and one is Gambling Ramblings. I tend to think that the study on the cost of errors was in Gambling Ramblings.

Heather: Okay. Sounds cool. So we talked a little bit about strategies. Can we talk a little bit about systems? Now can we go more into what exactly is a system, how it is different from a strategy, and what to look out for systems?

Michael: Sure. I have recently put out five videos on YouTube that explain some free systems. Like the last one was the Purley? And probably the most famous system is called the Martingale. That is where you double up after every loss, with the thinking that well I have to win eventually. On an even money bet, if you do that, then with every win you are going to recuperate all your past losses since the last win, plus make one unit. The flaw in that is that nobody has an infinite amount of money and it’s possible to get completely wiped out. You just won’t have enough money to make the next double.

At the end of the day all betting systems have the same house advantage given the same game. As I have said many times, not only can’t betting systems overcome the house advantage, they can’t even end it. Finally if you must use a betting system, go ahead and please use a free one. Never pay somebody for one, because they are all worthless. Why give your money to a con man?

Heather: It’s a scam. Yeah. Don’t do it! As far as the Martingale goes, as a dealer we would see people play this in the casino. Like here is your real life actually, here is what’s going to happen. And now the money they lost would make your jaw drop. It’s like OMG. And they just kept going. They were on a losing streak. The amount of money they doled out. It’s really shocking. That this is real. That someone would spend that much money.

Now what is the difference between a system and money management? Wouldn’t that be exactly the same thing? Isn’t money management a good thing? Here we are saying the system is a bad thing?

Michael: Depends on how you define money management. The way I look at money management is something like, I am going to play until I win $100 or lose a $100. So like, markers based on when you stop playing. Granted that can be part of a betting system too. So, I would say money management by itself is not bad. Neither does it really help you. I get asked all the time, what form of money management do you recommend? Much like betting systems, money management doesn’t affect the house advantage. But I am big on responsible gambling, and that gambling should be thought of as a form of entertainment. So my general advice is to stop playing when you are not having fun any more. If you are getting in a bad mood because you have lost a lot of money. Don’t keep digging yourself in the hole deeper. Walk away and clear your head.

Heather: So realize that these systems are just a way to make gambling more fun but don’t take it too seriously. Once the fun stops, stop with the system, stop with the strategy, stop what you are doing. If it’s too much, and too stressful and you are losing too much money, stop it.

Michael: Yep! That is a good way of putting it.

Heather: Cool! Now if someone would like to use a strategy for example, then we would suggest card counting, we would suggest the basic blackjack strategy. What else would you suggest for strategy as far as really good decent solid strategies that are not out there that are not scams.

Michael: My website is full of strategies For example in blackjack the basic strategy is a good foundation. In video poker – actually let me get my bin of strategy cards here.

Heather: That’s a good point, Mike has two books out. You can find both of them on Amazon. And also go to his website You can find a lot of information not only on strategies, anything on any game and pretty much any casino. It is the ultimate guide for gambling so go check it out.

Michael: Yes thanks for the plug! This is my book, it’s full of gambling strategies. I have this whole bin in my office full of strategies. For example, most of them are video poker strategies. I know this looks cryptic. This shows you the right way to play any hand in Deuces Wild. Here is a similar one for Double Bonus. Here is my basic strategy for Mississippi Stud. And these things can be found both on my website and my book. Here is a blackjack basic strategy. Here is one for Pai Gow tiles, On the other side I have Ultimate Texas Hold’em. Here is one for Crazy for Poker. These just show you have to play your cards. Here is another basic strategy for blackjack.

Heather: So if anyone needs a good strategy then go to You can find everything there that’s good. Almost any game! Go check it out.

What about systems? So we went through strategies. We determined what are good strategies, go to for them. Are there any good systems or are all systems crap?

Michael: The way I like to phrase it is they are all equally worthless.

Heather: And that works too.

Michael: Much as a systems betting system does not lower the house advantage. They don’t increase it either. So I say if you want to use a system go ahead if it makes gambling more fun for you. Just don’t have any delusions that it’s going to make you rich. Again, please don’t pay for one. There are plenty of free ones out there, just pick one of those.

Heather: Yeah that is the scam. Please don’t pay for it. So are there any systems on the top of your mind where you just want to call them out right now. Do not follow these. They are out there and you see them all the time and these are the systems you want to be aware of? Anything like that?

Michael: The only one I can think of off the top of my head is, there was a book that came out a few years ago called Twenty-first Century Blackjack which alleged to have a winning betting system on blackjack as opposed to a strategy. The author, I think Walter Thomason, said it was an easy way to make money in blackjack. You know of course it was worthless. It was proven to be worthless by simulations. Yeah basically any betting system that you have to pay for is worthless. It’s that simple.

Heather: So save your money do not spend your money on that please!

Michael: Yep. They will all say it’s a money back guarantee, but I have heard so many complaints on forums and to me directly that when people ask for their money back they didn’t get it.

Heather: Yeah.

Michael: You know another trick – the betting system salesmen will say, “We will give you a watered down form of our system for free, and go and use it in the casino. Just use some of the money you make to buy our full blown system.” They say, “How can you lose? You are buying the system with the casino's money.” But what happens when you go in and use your own money with their watered down system and lose? The betting system is not going to refund you that money. Their so-called watered down free system is usually going to be something very progressive where you will probably will win a little bit, but at the expense of risking a lot of money. So it might be something where, say you win either $50 or lose $5000. You will probably with the $50 but again don’t fall for this trick about buying it with the casinos money. They are not going to reimburse you if you lose.

Heather: Exactly. Once you walk out the door of the casino it’s your money. It’s your money not the casino's money. That is your money. Keep your money.

Michael: As soon as you win the bet it’s your money. A little off topic but I have seen many times at the tables, betters betting foolishly, and they say, “Oh this is the casino's money. I haven't formed an attachment to it yet, thus I can bet more than I normally would.” NO! The minute the dealer pays you and scoops the cards away. That is your money as much as any money you have earned.

Heather: Yep. Exactly.

Question: I listened to an old GWAE podcast hosted by Michael with guest Eliot Jacobson. It seemed a bit testy. Does Michael hold any contempt for Eliot publishing his advanced AP book?

Answer: Michael: Absolutely not. Eliot Jacobson is a very good friend of mine. His book is fantastic. It’s out of print now so it is a little difficult to get. But it’s full of great strategies. His strategies are rather advanced and will result in a player advantage. He explains them in very plain simple English as opposed to Grosjean’s book (which is also great) but he kind of buries his gems amongst a lot of tables that will help you. So yeah. I remember that show. I think Eliot was a little bit annoyed with some questions he was getting from Bob Dancer? To be honest, Eliot his personality in general is a bit confrontational, so that is just the way he is. No, I love Eliot. Great guy. And by the way he is retired.

Question: I am struggling to get ahold of Mike’s first book for less than 80, quid any advice?

Answer: Heather: ebay? If anyone has Mike’s first book and would like to sell it to Joe. Let me know and I will get you two in touch. Oh there might be an ebook available. Check and see if he has a book on kindle. That might work.

Question: Some slots offer multiple choices during game play such as free spins and multipliers. Does this actually affect the outcome?

Answer: Michael: It’s funny you ask that. I am designing a slot machine right now where the player gets a choice of which bonus to play. And the way any respectable slot machine would be designed is the average win would be the same no matter what you pick. That is how I do it. So, sometimes it’s really obvious. Like let’s say you get a choice between 20 free spins with a 2X multiplier or 10 with a 4 or 5 with a – basically as long as the number of free spins in the multiplier is the same, then the expected value of the whole bonus should be the same. So just make your choice based on whether or not you like volatility. So yeah.

Question: Skill and luck 90% or greater craps systems on YouTube say…nothing is guaranteed but the odds can be in your favor.

Answer: Michael: Yeah it’s not true. And furthermore it’s kind of vague. Like the odds can be in your favor. The way I interpret that is they are saying you can have an advantage but it’s kind of vague. Even I autograph my book by saying may the Odds be in your favor.

Heather: They totally stole it from you.

Michael: No I stole it from the hunger games.

Heather: Oh okay.

Michael: What’s her name Effie Trinket says, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” So when I say that, what I mean by that is, may you use some sort of a gambling strategy where you have the advantage. But nevertheless, it is a vague statement. And probably, this person states it in that vague kind of way. So if people come back and complain that they lost money, he can say, look, we never guaranteed that you would win. Look right here.

Heather: That is a very good point. You are still at the whim of the ebb and the flow of gambling. You are still going to have lucky streaks. You are still going to have unlucky streaks. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, what system you are using. You could be using a system that is totally BS but you win because that just happened to be a lucky streak and you happen to win money. And now you think that that system will be the ultimate system that will always make you money. It was just a complete coincidence.

Michael: Yep!

Question: How about full house 14/10 double double bonus ultimate. Is this a good game?

Answer: Michael: Off the top of my head I don’t know what the return of that is. So basically I don’t know. I would have to look it up.

Heather: Okay. Looks like that is it on questions.

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