# Why don't people make money gambling?

clandarkfire
Posers and Puzzles 28 Feb '09 04:35
1. clandarkfire
Grammar Nazi
28 Feb '09 04:352 edits
It seems every time (or 99% of the time) people gamble, they lose money. Why? Take a game like blackjack. The odds in a casino are something like three to one. That means, that on average you will win one out of three games. So if you just double or triple your bet each time, you will eventually gain.

Say you enter a casino with 10000 to spend. (I'm asuming you are rich, if you have less to spend, your initial bet must be less) You start my making a bet of \$1. If you win, make the same bet again. If you lose, bet \$2. If you win, restart at \$1. If you lose, bet \$4. If you win, restart at \$1. Lose, and bet \$8, etc.

The formula for the amount you bet would be: y(x^a), where y is your starting value, x is the amount of times you are multiplying your number by for each increase; if you are doubling, its 2, if you are tripling its 2, etc. A is the number of times until you win.

For example, in the example above, after 10 games it is 1(2^10) which means you have spent \$1024. By this time, you will probably have already won.

Continue to increase your bet by double or more, and you are bound to win. If you start at \$1, and have \$10000 available for gambling, you can bet 13 times, by which time you should have won.

While it may take a long time to win, my point is that if you have enough money available, you will win no matter what. For a guy just spending his week's earnings, this is not a sound idea. However, for someone with billions of dollars, there can be no better way to increase your money by millions a day.

Why don't any incredibly rich people do this?
2. forkedknight
Defend the Universe
28 Feb '09 06:53
because the martingale strategy doesn't work.

http://www.okthen.com/martingale/
3. clandarkfire
Grammar Nazi
28 Feb '09 16:06
Ouch. My idea was simply for someone who has an almost unlimited supply of money, but I didn't realize just how easily you could end up loseing. Another factor I didn't consider is that with that much money at stake, the casino is sure to have some way of making them lose every time eventually. I guess it just comes down the fact that gambling is simply gambling, and if you assume you are playing a game with 50-50 odds, (although I don't think there is anything in Vegas with 50-50 odds), and you start with \$1024, its still even with either system. For example, if you just do flat bets you will stay at 1024, while with the other system, you will only lose 10 times in a row 1/1024 times, but that time you will lose everything.
4. forkedknight
Defend the Universe
28 Feb '09 17:57
The problem with the martingale system is that your bankroll increases linearly, but the number of bets you can make increases inverse-exponentially.

The probability of losing x bets in a row is relatively large over the number of wins required to be able to make x+1 bets.
5. uzless
The So Fist
28 Feb '09 22:46
The only way to gamble is to play a game that the house has no control over. Poker for example.
6. 02 Mar '09 01:39
Casinos have upper limits (lower also) that limit how much you can bet, so someone with infinite money couldn't do what you proposed.
7. 02 Mar '09 08:01
If you want to make money out of gambling - start a casino!
8. AttilaTheHorn
Erro Ergo Sum
02 Mar '09 11:59
You cannot make money in a casino in the long run. In a casino, a fool and his money are soon parted, and a fool is anyone who bets in a casino. The proof is that the casino exists. If you could make money, the casino would be out of business. In fact, gambling in general is a losing proposition.
9. forkedknight
Defend the Universe
02 Mar '09 16:00
Originally posted by AttilaTheHorn
You cannot make money in a casino in the long run. In a casino, a fool and his money are soon parted, and a fool is anyone who bets in a casino. The proof is that the casino exists. If you could make money, the casino would be out of business. In fact, gambling in general is a losing proposition.
The average person cannot make money in a casino in the long run. In a casino, a fool and his money are soon parted, and a fool is anyone who bets in a casino. The proof is that the casino exists. If the average person could make money, the casino would be out of business. In fact, gambling in general is a losing proposition.

fixed
10. SwissGambit
Caninus Interruptus
02 Mar '09 20:43
Originally posted by forkedknight
The average person cannot make money in a casino in the long run. In a casino, a fool and his money are soon parted, and a fool is anyone who bets in a casino. The proof is that the casino exists. If the average person could make money, the casino would be out of business. In fact, gambling in general is a losing proposition.

fixed
Even in card games, can't the house shuffle the cards more often, or use larger decks, to defeat players who have systems for memorizing or 'counting' cards?
11. forkedknight
Defend the Universe
02 Mar '09 21:39
Originally posted by SwissGambit
Even in card games, can't the house shuffle the cards more often, or use larger decks, to defeat players who have systems for memorizing or 'counting' cards?
Yes, the most common game where you can usually get some sort of edge over the house is Blackjack, and there are ways a casino can use to eliminate that edge, but a smart Blackjack player would avoid those games.

I was more referring to poker or other player vs. player games, where many people have become professionals and made a living off of gambling. Obviously these are not average players, nor are they winning money from the house, but they do it in a casino, nevertheless.
12. 04 Mar '09 18:58
Originally posted by AttilaTheHorn
In fact, gambling in general is a losing proposition.
On average. I know people who make a profit gambling (not in a casino, though). And I've been in the presence of someone who's become a multi-millionaire through placing bets.
13. 05 Mar '09 14:14
Gambling only works where there is a skill (inside information) element and people without such to balance the other side of the occasion. Take horse racing, if 25 % are picking their horses because they like the name then that cash must (after the house cut) be available to the less random gamblers.