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Best of John May

Gaming Guru

 

Finding an Edge in Every Game

20 April 2003

One of the ways to solve a problem is to look at related problems which have already been solved.

For gamblers looking for a new edge, there are a number of ways of doing this. The basic objective of the professional gambler is to win money. Professionals can draw inspiration from other classes of gamblers who share the same basic goal. The main classes of gamblers who may provide this inspiration are cheats and "voodoo" players.

If you look at several cheating techniques, it becomes apparent that a legal application of the same method exists. For example, card forcing (bending the deck open with the cut-card and fishing for an ace) at blackjack is illegal. However, alter the method slightly and you have card steering, which is legal, where you get a glimpse at the card at the back of the pack and cut some fixed number of cards from it, a very powerful method I wrote of in Get The Edge At Blackjack.

Similarly, "voodoo" players use techniques that, with some alteration, can interest the professional. A voodoo player is someone who thinks that he can win through the application of some mathematically fallacious method: be it progressive betting, trending or astrology.

That such players can be of interest to the professional gambler is somewhat controversial. Many serious gamblers think these individuals are best ignored. Often this is the case since these individuals often have little to contribute beyond tediously stating and re-stating their erroneous position. However, sometimes they may discover something of value purely by accident, partly because they are not bound by the rules of scientific discovery.

For example, many players believe that the shuffle has some kind of mystical properties which change player advantage. This is nonsense, but it leads on to the mathematically valid theory of shuffle-tracking, which is tracking clumps of aces and tens through the shuffle in the hopes of cutting them into play and betting big through these segments.

Also, voodoo players may inadvertently create methods which are excellent cover for a true professional. For example some progressive betting systems such as the D'alembert make excellent cover for the professional gambler who is using a technique that does not depend upon altering his bet size (for example, by playing online for bonuses). Such methods are associated with unsophisticated players but do not cost anything in terms of advantage. As such, they may make casino personnel think you are no threat.

One of the most important principles to remember is that you can learn something useful from everyone, including those who don't share your moral code or those who you may consider less intelligent than yourself.

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