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Casinos are a place we visit to feed our fantasies of fortune. They have a way of making us all feel as though the next round, spin or hand could be just what we need to earn that big payout, regardless of how big or small our budgets are. That of course, is half the attraction!
Even if we suffer a loss, there is always hope that another spin, roll or hand can help us to recover and on and on it goes. We are always looking for ways to beat the house and walk away with a profit.
This is where betting progression strategies come into play for some. These "systems" are a guideline for raising and lowering the value of bets during the course of the game to help you recover from losses and multiply your profits.
Few topics in gambling are as controversial as betting systems and few are more poorly understood, even by seasoned gamblers who are comfortable raising or lowering their bets during a game as these systems dictate. These systems are often sold online as "insider secrets" that "guarantee wins" making them attractive to everyone on some level, even when you know it's too good to be true.
The thing that most people don't realise about betting progressions though is that they increase volatility. Volatility refers to the swings that you should expect your bankroll to undergo relative to the amount of your average wager per round/hand/spin. Big swings will either deplete your bankroll completely or push you over the top in any given session.
Let's take a look at a few examples of several progressions using the same average wager. For the sake of example we'll look at comparisons representative of even money betting equivalents or hypothetical flat bets that pay out at precisely 1:1, with the same house edge, probability of winning and expected bankroll fluctuations as the actual series of bets.
In a game of online blackjack, let's consider a player who plays $10 on each hand. The even money equivalent on this wager is $11.22 and offers a 49.66% chance of winning. A flat bet equivalent would exceed the players $10 budget as he/she could win $15 on naturals and either win or lose $20 or $30 or more on splits and doubles respectively.
Let's assume that rather than flat betting, the player bets $5, $10 and $15 respectively on one third of each of his/her bets. The average will still equate to $10 but the even-money equivalent of this wager will total $12.12 with 49.70% odds of winning.
A sharper progression may equate to wagering $5 half the time, $10 a quarter of the session and then dividing the last quarter by betting $15 and $25 respectively. Again, the average bet value remains at $10, but the even-money equivalent increases to $13.45 with a 49.72% chance of emerging victorious.
If the player is feeling even more adventurous he/she may structure betting at $5 60% of the time, $10 25% of the time, $20 10% of the time and $50 for the remaining 5% of the session. Again this progression equates to a $10 average bet, but the even money equivalent is $16.07 and the player will have winning odds of 49.77%.
To summarise this, for the same average risk, increasing progressions radically can be likened to wagering a great deal more of your hard earned money with only a slight increase in your odds. So you could bet $11.22 with 49.66% odds on $10 flat bets, or very aggressively with a betting progression system spending $16.07 to only increase your odds to 49.77.
As you can see, like high level flat betting, progressions increase the bankroll swings you'll experience in any given casino game. So why not just wager more? Because progression betting affords you the opportunity to tailor gaming sessions according to your own preferences while flat betting in casinos games with short odds results in symmetrical upward and downward swings. Increasing your wagers when you're ahead will result in small chances of larger profits, while raising your bets when you're down gives you a higher probability of small profits.