This Blackjack Forum article explains why you can't judge gambling systems by winners' testimonials. Every gambling system, no matter how phony, will have at least a few winners due to sheer fluctuations in the short run.
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Winners' Testimonials: A Swami Pastrami Parable

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One Million Roulette Experts: A Parable About Winners' Testimonials

By Arnold Snyder
(From Blackjack Forum March 1983)
© Blackjack Forum 1983

Swami Pastrami, the Great Guru of Gambling, had a dream one night that thousands of croupiers were being strangled by their bow ties while drowning in 100-gallon vats of tomato soup. The following morning he sent an epistle to his one million followers: “I have had a vision! Send me just $10 and I shall share with you the secret of acquiring unlimited wealth!”

All one million of the Swami’s followers sent him the money he’d requested, making the Swami a very rich holy man. The Swami sent each of his disciples his interpretation of his strange dream: “Find a croupier with a crooked bow tie and bet one hundred dollars on red. Parlay your winnings until you are rich!”

Unbeknownst to Swami Pastrami and his followers, the Swami had misinterpreted his dream, which was not, as the Swami had presumed, of divine origin, but had actually resulted from the Swami’s over-indulgence in jalapeno peppers at dinner the previous evening.

Within the next month, all one million of the Swami’s followers had found croupiers with crooked bow ties and placed $100 bets on red. Since the chance of winning this bet is only 18 out of 38, it came to pass that 526,316 players lost their $100, while 473,684 players won. Those who had lost left dejectedly, but those who had won praised the Swami and soon all the winners had placed $200 bets on red.

As expected, 249,307 lost their money and left the tables. But 224,377 players won, and now excitedly bet $400 on the red square. This time 118,093 lost, while 106,284 won. These players, with $800 each, were now firm believers in the Swami’s systems, and so were the casinos! Since the Swami’s followers had begun playing, the casinos had already won a combined total of almost $15 million just from the Swami’s disciples! Word spread from casino to casino, and soon there was a standing rule that any follower of Swami Pastrami would be covered for any bet of any size at the roulette tables. There wasn’t a croupier in Las Vegas with a straight bow tie.

The 106,284 remaining followers each placed $800 bets on red. In no time at all, the Swami’s followers were reduced to 50,345, each with $1600. After another bet, the remaining players were cut to 23,848, each with $3,200. Then they became 11,296 players, each with $6,400. One bet later, there were only 5,351 players left, with $12,800 each.

After yet another parlay, there remained 2,535 players, each with $25,600. These players were now worshipping the Swami publicly. One bet later, however, their numbers were reduced to 1201 followers, each with $51,200. The casino had now profited more than $38 million from the Swami’s followers.

The Swami, meanwhile, had a new ad campaign going, which was based on honest facts: “More than 400,000 of my followers doubled their money the first day!” More than 1200 of these dedicated disciples have watched their $100 bankrolls grow to more than $50,000!”

There is a moral to this story.

Remember that literally millions of gambling systems and books on how to win have been sold over the years. The fact that an individual has made money using some inexplicable system is not proof that the system is valid. Beware of system sellers who use “testimonials” from successful players in their advertising. You’ll find this form of advertising popular for craps, roulette, baccarat, keno and some blackjack systems. Although the testimonials may be real, the short run experiences of individual players are meaningless.

Incidentally, if you are wondering what ultimately happened to the Swami’s 1201 successful disciples, who had $51,200 each, eight parlays later only three followers were left, each with more than $13 million. By this time, the casinos had profited more than $60 million from the ex-disciples.

Noting the continually-shrinking ranks of the Swami’s original followers, the three remaining disciples wised up and decided not to place any more bets on the wheel. Instead, each disciple paid Swami Pastrami $1 million for the honor of opening a Pastrami Roulette Franchise in his own neighborhood. They all made their second $13 million twice as fast as their first. ♠

For information on the real methods professional gamblers use to win money in casinos, see Arnold Snyder's Big Book of Blackjack and Blackbelt in Blackjack .

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  Winners' Testimonials Aren't Proof That a Gambling System Works
Over the short run, every gambling system, no matter how phony, will have some winners due to sheer flux (good luck). And even over longer periods, every gambling system, no matter how phony, will have a lucky someone or two who beat the odds and won. Arnold Snyder explains why winners' testimonials do not mean that a gambling system will work for the many over the long run, including for you.