Systems and Strategies: Part I

The average online gambler very quickly comes into contact with advertisements and articles purporting to offer the best ‘system’ for beating a particular game, including slots. Sometimes these systems are referred to as sure-fire ‘strategies’ for winning or betting methods that promise to turn you into a table shark in the casino. First of all, I’d like to point out that while the terms ‘system’ and ‘strategy’ are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them when it comes to gambling. Many online salesmen overlook the difference because the term strategy implies a measure of skill that makes their supposed guaranteed method sound more reliable, but what they are selling is not really a strategy.

The difference between a system and a strategy is that one specifically controls the wagering component of a game and the other relates to actual gameplay. For the purposes of clarifying that, think of the terms as ‘betting system’ and ‘gaming strategy’. For instance, in a regular game like checkers or chess, gaming strategy is how you move your pieces around on the board in order to win. A betting system relating to chess or checkers would be something like betting on who’s going to lose a piece next and saying, ‘every time I lose a piece, I’m going to raise my bet for the next turn. That way if they lose the next piece, I’ll win back what I just lost”.

Losing that piece makes a difference in terms of your strategy (after all, you no longer have that piece to move with and your opponent has changed their position) but you could continue playing the game and using strategy to win without ever changing your wager (as you would with a system). Occasionally you’d lose a piece and occasionally your opponent would. How you go about betting on the pieces in between does not change your gameplay strategy, only the amount of money you stand to win or lose. A person playing a game that is not being bet on and utilizes no money at all still uses strategy to win. A betting system only pertains to the amounts of the wagers when real money is being used to gamble on the game’s outcome. Do you see?

In a game like roulette or slots where betting is the only real aspect of gameplay, the line between the 2 can be still confusing. However, in roulette, for example, a player may place bets in different places on the board so as to cross wager and increase their odds of getting a payout. This would be a strategy. A system relating to roulette (and there are many) would be increasing or decreasing the amount of each wager depending on whether or not the previous spin was a winner. A legitimate strategy is something that everyone can use. In poker strategy plays a large part in determining who ultimately wins and takes home the jackpot. A betting system by comparison can never bring you more than temporary gain, and usually at the cost of large future loss.

This is what one person had to say about Betting Systems: “They all work. We’ve never lost long term on any of them. Of course when I say "we" I mean those of us who work in the casino. “ ~ Casino Manager

I’ll cover more on Betting Systems, how to spot them, and why you should avoid them in our next post.