Kyle is a baccarat player, or so he told me via email.
He’s not a big bettor, sticking mostly to low-limit mini-baccarat tables and betting $10 per hand.
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“I win some and I lose some, but I have fun and can usually play a long time for my money,” he wrote.
Kyle tries to keep things interesting with a couple of betting systems.
Let’s look at each separately.
KYLE: Sometimes I try to catch a streak. I start with a bet on banker, because that has the lower house edge.
I wait until there’s a streak of two player wins in a row. Then I switch to player, hoping to catch a long streak.
Once I’ve made the switch, I stay on player until banker wins two in a row. Then I switch back and hope to ride a streak there.
I’ve caught some good streaks for some big wins, but I’ve also lost when the table was choppy with no streaks. What do you think?
ANSWER: This system falls in the “mostly harmless” category.
The downside is that sometimes you’re betting on player. The house edge on banker is 1.06 percent, while there’s a 1.24 percent edge on player.
That’s a fairly narrow margin, and both are among the better bets at no-skill table games. So if switching between bets adds interest and enjoyment of the game for you, the house edge difference is a small price to pay.
It’s not a system that will lead to more frequent wins. The situation you described is normal, with some big wins when streaks happen but losses on a choppy table.
Overall, you wind up close to the same place as if you made the same bet on every hand. You’d do slightly better by sticking with banker and the lower edge, so you have to decide if the excitement of chasing the streak is worth it.
KYLE: My other system is a betting progression. When I use the progression, I don’t switch between banker and player. I stick with player. I know that’s the worse bet, but I don’t like dealing with different sized commissions when I win on banker.
I don’t go crazy. I start with a $10 bet, then if I win two in a row, I raise it to $20. If I win two more in a row, I go up to $30. Then, starting with when I win my fifth in a row, I add $10 after every win.
I don’t have too many real long streaks, so it’s not like I’m getting to $100 bets or anything. I did have one really nice streak where I won up through $50. That’s $180 before losing at $60, where betting $10 a hand would have meant winning $70 before losing $10.
ANSWER: Big wins on progressions are offset by frequent situations of having profits wiped out in smaller streaks.
If you win two $10 bets in a row then lose at $20, you break even. Flat $10 bets would have left you with a $10 profit for the three hands. That happens much more often than the big wins.
Your average losses will be higher in a progression than if you flat bet your minimum. Raising your bets in streaks also raises your average bet. The house edge will lead to higher losses on an average bet of $15 than on an average bet of $10.
So beware. If the potential for big wins is what your after, the progression gives you a chance. Just understand there’s a cost.
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).