that the highly skilled player can occasionally detect
situations in which the odds are in his favor, how
should he bet?
He could bet his entire bankroll. Say a player did
this, and the total of his bankroll is $5,000. Every
time he gets a 20 percent advantage by, for example,
determining a deck composition which gives the tie
approximately this advantage, he can expect to make
$1,000 overall. In effect, he "earns" this
amount, a very attractive return. But hang on a minute!
The tie bet only occurs, on average, less than once
in every ten deals! The tie bet, of necessity, must
occur more frequently if the cardcounter detects an
advantage, but even in the most favorable situations
it will usually occur less than one time in five.
In this example, the tie will not occur 87 percent
of the time. So the gambler has an 87 percent chance
of losing everything. He might well have an advantage
in the long run, but that's academic-he won't be able
to continue playing with no money.
Alternatively, the player could pursue the other extreme
and bet the table minimum. This virtually guarantees
that he will not be ruined before he gets ahead when
he has the advantage, but the money he wins from the
occasional favorable situation will not outweigh the
considerable losses from the unfavorable bets he must
place in order to stay in the games. Consequently,
he is playing a losing games. Even if he watches from
the sidelines and only bets when the deck is positive,
he will win so slowly that working at McDonald's would
seem attractive by comparison.
begin by relating one cheating story that illustrates
what I see as the biggest "threat" at home
games. I was heads-up at the end of a little Hold'em
tournament with about a $50 first-place prize. Another
player who had been eliminated agreed to shuffle and
deal for us in order to speed up the game. The thought
of cheating wasn't on my mind, so we allowed this
player to shuffle, cut, and deal entirely on his own.
For whatever reason, this guy decided to stack the
deck. In one hand, I got fair starting cards and called
before the flop. The flop was a jack and some rags.
My opponent made a small bet and I called. The turn
was another jack. Immediately, my opponent became
a caricature of an amateur feigning weakness, so I
folded on his bet. Disappointed at the small pot,
he showed me his two pocket jacks, which gave him
quad. I congratulated hand, and didn't think much
more of it.