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Best of John May

Gaming Guru

 

Do Session Wins Matter?

24 April 2000

If you hang out on the dingiest corners of the net or browse through seedy classified sections of unprincipled magazines, you will see an advert saying something to this effect of "Winning Gambling System - 85% session win."

The claims that you read about "session wins", unlike the rest of the pitch, are not actually untrue. The reason is that session win is a really meaningless concept of no importance to a professional gambler. Firstly, how long is the session? However long you call it. And if you define it as some arbitrary period of time, say an hour, does it do you any good to win 85% of your sessions? Not if you lose back all of the money you gained in those winning sessions in the 15% of sessions when you lose.

You can win virtually all of your sessions by using the oldest and most often debunked gambling system of all time--the Martingale. In fact you will only ever have one losing session with a Martingale. Unfortunately that will be the session in which you are ruined.

Nevertheless, playing devil's advocate, I'd suggest that session win has some interesting properties that are worth considering. I'd have to qualify that by saying that nothing I am going to discuss justifies stop-loss, progressive betting systems, etc. Nevertheless, there are practical considerations here that you should be aware of, regardless of the style of your play.

The traditional assumption amongst professional gamblers is that short-term results should be ignored in favour of the long-term certainty of profit. The more you play with an advantage, say as a card-counter or a poker player would, then your losing and winning sessions will even out and you will grind further and further ahead in profit. Some texts further suggest that it is good psychology to leave after a long series of losses since this clouds your judgement and makes you play badly.

There are a few other issues which are never addressed. Firstly, it does matter what your disposable income is at each and every instant. It may actually be desirable if you are trying to achieve some set amount of money to try to win it with a spectacular coup than it would be to take out a loan with a usurious rate of interest. Note that I am not saying either course of action may be desirable; my avowed principle in financial dealings is to neither a borrower nor a lender be. But one course of action may be the lesser evil.

The second point is that, unlike how it is treated in mathematics, the accumulation of money is not strictly additive. The larger the sum of money the greater the amount of interest it earns. Two hundred thousand dollars is more than twice as valuable as $100,000 because of the extra amount of compound interest it will earn.

Players hooked on theories that are thought of as unscientific--progression bettors, clumpers, and players who chart trends--often support their ideas with notions that are supernatural or pseudo-scientific, e.g., luck, the effects of the shuffle, the "rhythm of the cards", etc. My advice to such players, if they do not wish to follow the recommendations of responsible gambling texts and orthodox probability, would be to pursue these genuine "real-world" factors I have alluded to, if they wish to give substance and credibility to their ideas.

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May