Dear Mark, I have
found over the years that betting on sports and beating the bookmaker
is no easy task. Nevertheless, exactly what percentage of games do I
have to win just to break even? Mark M.
To kick off (puns
offered at no extra charge for people with the right name, Mark), the
person you are really trying to outfox is the oddsmaker, and his analysis
on each team's chances, not necessarily the bookmaker as your question
The bookmaker is
simply a middleman who operates on a small profit margin and, ideally,
is looking for half the money wagered on one team, and half that bet
on the other. If too much of the money is wagered on one team, the bookmaker
merely moves the point spread to prop up betting on the other team.
What assures him of a profit is balancing his books.
As to a specific
answer to your question, at odds of 10/11 (bet $11 to win $10) you only
have to win 52.4% of your bets to overcome the bookmaker's profit and
break even. While that may not seem like very high win-ratio, Mark,
watching sports from a lazy-boy chair is one thing, while betting and
winning them is quite another.
Dear Mark, Ditto
to Lesters comment last week, and thanks for the increase in poker
coverage. Anyhow, I just have a one short question if I may. You being
a student of the game, what is the most sound advise you have ever received?
from The Gambler himself, singer Kenny Rogers (whom by the way doesnt
gamble, then again, hes been married five times), whose biggest
contribution to the game of poker also just happens to be my Golden
Poker Rule #1: You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to
Put more concisely,
Dell, you need to maximize the size of the pots that you win; and to
minimize the money in the pots that you lose. This simple rule of poker
is the most overlooked stratagem among most of those who play the game,
and a real fortune-builder for those who follow it.
Dear Mark, Last
week in your column you explained the never-bust was a bad bet and advised
players that you need to hit "plenty of those stiff hands.
My question concentrates strictly with the player having a 12 against
a two or three. Wouldnt the smart move be to always stand since
it seems that every time I hit a 12 when the dealer is showing a 2 or
3, I always get a 10 and bust. Whats wrong with standing instead
of giving the dealer that bust card? Kevin M.
Without even considering
depletion of the deck, a 12 in hand is somewhat different from most
other "stiff" hands because you have a 9 out of 13 chance
of not busting if you take a hit. Likewise, if you decide against hitting,
your only chance of winning with a 12 is for the dealer to bust, and
he has that same 69.2% plus chance of making his hand that you did.
The negative aspect
of hitting a 12 is that even if you do take a hit, you will still lose
money over the long haul, since a 12 against a dealers 2 or 3
is a losing proposition. Yet, you should always hit a 12 against a two
or three in order to save from 2-5% of the money wagered as compared
you wont win any additional money by hitting, but it will help
keep you from losing more than you should.
of the Week: You got to know when to hold em, know when
to fold em, Know when to walk away and know when to run. You never
count your money when youre sittin at the table. Therell
be time enough for countin when the dealins done."
Kenny Rogers, The Gambler