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Blackjack Betting Systems: The Pseudo-Tournament System
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|The Pseudo-Tournament System
By Arnold Snyder
(From Card Player, January 1994)
© 1994 Arnold Snyder
Question from a Reader: I have been playing blackjack and craps for about 40 years, and have been competing in blackjack and craps tournaments pretty seriously for about five years. I’ve always been a system player. Believe me, I’ve tried them all (except for card counting, since I do not have a good memory, and my eyesight is also poor). I have to admit I never really made any money at the gaming tables until I got into the tournaments. I’ve been making very good money at tournaments for about two years now.
Recently, I’ve been applying my tournament strategies at the tables even when I’m not in a tournament. In other words, I pretend it’s a tournament, and I have to beat the other players at my table using a fixed bankroll, with self-imposed betting limits, over a fixed (short) time period.
In my four decades of system play, I’ve never heard of a system anything like this. Have you? Since I’ve seen this approach win over and over in actual tournament play, I feel that a strategic approach to being the “best at the table” would work even when I’m not in a tournament.
Competing with the other players at my table, instead of trying to beat the house, strikes me as a more realistic approach. I know that I can’t always win, so my goal is to lose the least when everyone else loses, and to win the most when everyone else wins. Regardless of what happens at the table, I want to come out in the best shape. Doesn’t this make sense?
But, Bishop, as logical as this may sound, I’ve been having some serious problems applying this method, and I have suffered some tremendous losses in my attempts to compensate for the confusing situations that arise. For instance, as you might imagine, the other players at these “pretend” tournaments don’t abide by my imaginary rules. I try to adjust my strategy based on the units that other players win and lose (instead of dollars), but since new players suddenly enter “mid-round” as it were, and other “competitors” just as suddenly quit, this is more complicated than it might seem. Other players also make “illegal” bets (such as spreading to multiple blackjack hands), and constantly violate the “limits” I’ve imposed on myself, even if I translate their bets to units.
It seems to me that I should be able to win more often in these imaginary tournaments than I do in real tournaments, since my imaginary “competitors” don’t really know that they’re competing with me, don’t know when the end of a “round” is approaching, etc., etc. When I first came up with this idea, I thought I had the system to beat all systems. Just be the best at your table. It sounds simple. But how do I do this in the real world?
Answer: When it comes to systems, I thought I had seen them all. However, yours is a new one to me. But just because no one else has thought of this system before, does not mean it’s a valid, winning system. As a matter of fact, it is not a valid method for beating the blackjack tables. You will continue to “suffer tremendous losses” if you persist with this approach.
Consider what you know from your many years of experience.
For forty years, you’ve played blackjack and craps, but you’ve only made any real money in the past few years, by playing in tournaments. What does this tell you? That the systems you’ve been using simply don’t work — except in tournaments.
What is it about tournament play that is different from playing at the normal, house banked, gaming tables? Two major differences: One, you are competing with other players and not the house. (Obviously, you realize this.) Two, if you finish with more money than any of the other players, you will win the jackpot. (You seem to be totally ignoring this!)
In your “pretend” tournaments, there is no jackpot. Other than whatever money you might win from the dealer, there is no reward for being the best at your table. Since you obviously have a natural talent for competing with other players, proven by your success in real tournaments, you should reserve all of your serious play for tournaments. Don’t try to use betting systems to beat other players, unless those other players have put money into a pot that you will collect when you come out ahead of them.
Look at it this way: Make a list of all of the tournaments you’ve played in for the past two years. Then make three columns. List the amounts you’ve paid in entry fees in all of the tournaments you’ve competed in. List the amounts you’ve won and lost during play at the tables in all of the tournaments you’ve competed in. And finally, list all of the prize moneys you’ve collected in all of the tournaments you’ve competed in. Now, total up the columns and see what your net profit has been from tournament play.
Now, ignore both the entry fee column, and the prize money column, since your “pretend” tournaments don’t include either of these factors, and just look at the amounts you’ve won and lost at the tournament tables in the process of competing. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that this number is a net loss. How do I know this? Because if you are a successful tournament player, you will often tap out in the tournaments where you do not finish in the money (and this will be the majority of the tournaments you play). The reason you come out ahead in the long run in tournament play is because the prize moneys you collect for your aggressive betting strategies will exceed the total of your losses from entry fees and table play.
Using tournament strategies when there is no jackpot for the winner is a very foolhardy way to bet your money. So, you invented a new system. Unfortunately, it’s a lousy system. So, stick to the real tournaments.Send memorabilia from casinos and hardware stores for my soon to be published book,“Casinos and Plumbing Supply Outlets of America,” to the Bishop at Blackjack Forum Online. ♠
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