Gambling

Many betting systems have been created in an attempt to “beat the bookie” but most still accept that no system can make an unprofitable bet profitable over time. Widely-used systems include:

  • Fixed stakes – a traditional system of staking the same amount on each selection.
  • Fixed profits – the stakes vary based on the odds to ensure the same profit from each winning selection.
  • Due-column betting – A variation on fixed profits betting in which the bettor sets a target profit and then calculates a bet size that will make this profit, adding any losses to the target.
  • Card counting – Many systems exist for Blackjack to keep track of the ratio of ten values to all others; when this ratio is high the player has an advantage and should increase the amount of their bets. Keeping track of cards dealt confers an advantage in other games as well.
  • Pot odds vs. true odds – In poker, the ratio of the size of the current pot to the bet a player is considering is called “pot odds”, which can be compared to the “true odds” of a player completing a winning hand from the cards remaining to be dealt to determine whether to make the bet.
  • Kelly – the optimum level to bet to maximize your future median bank level.
  • Martingale – A system based on staking enough each time to recover losses from previous bet(s) until one wins.

Psychological aspects

Studies show that though many people participate in gambling as a form of recreation or even as a means to gain an income, gambling, like any behavior which involves variation in brain chemistry, can become a psychologically addictive and harmful behavior in some people. Reinforcement schedules may also make gamblers persist in gambling even after repeated losses.

The Russian writer Dostoevsky (himself a problem gambler) portrays in his novella The Gambler the psychological implications of gambling and how gambling can affect gamblers. He also associates gambling and the idea of “getting rich quick”, suggesting that Russians may have a particular affinity for gambling. Dostoevsky shows the effect of betting money for the chance of gaining more in 19th-century Europe. The association between Russians and gambling has fed legends of the origins of Russian roulette.

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