Transcendental Baccaratology

In my 101st post, I start a new century of posts.

Reflecting on the experiences and lessons I’ve acquired thus far …

Typical baccarat systems all fail because each of their three components fails:

1.  Bet Placement:  Pattern-based bet placement procedures cannot systematically provide a positive player’s edge, simply because they commit the Gambler’s Fallacy or its Inverse (ref: Fallacies and Illusions).  The past has no bearing on the future for independent events.

2.  Bet Selection:  All bet progressions will eventually bust the bankroll, because the odds do not depend on the size of the bet, and in the long run, any given winning wager will be neutralized by a corresponding losing one, and the House always earns its guaranteed edge in the process.  Ultimately, bet progressions simply accelerate loss.  Eventually, the required wager will bust the bankroll or exceed the table limit.

3.  Money Management:  No strategic stop loss or take profit point will help in the long run, because if you return to play the next session, you still face the exact same odds as before.  Whether you pause, stop, or not, it does not matter, because it is really just one long, continuous game in the end.  Money management simply delays the inevitable.  The only money management strategy which might beat the casino is:  Walk away forever the moment you are up!

Thus, any computational simulation of a pattern-based baccarat system must yield the same negative player’s expectations which are calculated from the one-lined odds equation.  The final expectations will range between that of Always Bet Banker (which has the best odds) and Always Bet Player (which has the worst odds).  After all, baccarat is a simple, linear game, and the pattern of bets you can make will always be some combination of Banker and Player bets; the more Banker it bets, the closer the final expectancy will be to that of Always Bet Banker; and the more Player it bets, that of Always Bet Player.

We shouldn’t expect anything different, since the game itself is explicitly designed to guarantee the House its edge at a minimum over the long run.  Computational simulations and analyses of such systems will always yield the expected answer, because baccarat is based on the same, linear, deterministic mathematics which always guarantees that 1+1=2.  It is a rule built into the way things work.  Find an instance where 1+1 does not equal 2, and you will have found a holy grail.

Think about it:  Someone challenges you, “You will be rewarded with fortunes beyond imagination if you can find a case where 1+1 is not 2.”  It is not a challenge.  It is a cruel joke.  The potential reward motivates you to believe it must certainly justify any effort necessary.  Here’s a short-cut:  just buy the solution from someone else.

Based on the above, no one should play baccarat, because everyone is eventually bound to lose.  The math and computer simulations have merely confirmed our parents’ sage instruction:  Don’t gamble!  And, if heeded, they would have helped us to avoid a lot of loss and grief.

But suppose a holy grail bet placement method actually existed.  Suppose this grail is the holiest of holy in the sense that it predicted with 100% accuracy the exact pattern of Ps and Bs of any and all shoes.  Like the unholy grails before, this holiest of holy grail produces a pattern of bets which is some combination of Banker and Player bets.  But while the unholies’ expectations are negative, the holiest holy boasts an infinitely positive player’s advantage.

We don’t need an infinitely positive expectation.  Just a modestly positive one will do.  A holy-enough-grail is one which wins more than loses in the long run and overcomes the house edge, if even a little.  It would take the gamble out of gambling, and it can, because using it, 1+1 no longer always equals 2.

What can we say about these holy grails?  How do they differ from the unholies?

1.  Bet Placement:  Bet placement decisions must not be solely and blindly based upon the history of the shoe, that is, what had happened in the past.

2.  Bet Selection:  Simply flat bet.  Using any progression will just help to win more money faster.  Drawdowns, if any, are temporary, and recovery is always guaranteed.

3.  Money Management:  Completely unnecessary, but feel free to stop when you get sleepy or bored of winning chips.  Resume upon rested, and repeat.

Thus, the baccarat sangreal must require something else.

If the goal is to find it, then two things are in order:  First, stop developing, simulating, testing, and analyzing systems which are solely based upon pattern-based bet placement, selection, and money management.  We already know the answer, and it is boring.  The math and the computer will always confirm that 1+1=2.  Second, start pondering and investigating something else.

Indeed, by the above reasoning, it is something else that makes all the difference between winning and losing in the long run, which means the mechanics involving bet placement, selection, and money management are of relatively minor importance in the final analysis.  So, why earnestly focus on these mechanics alone?  They cannot and should not win alone.  So, why spend so much time and attention (and money) on them?

What might this something else be?

If we insist on venturing down the path of finding a consistently winning way, we can ponder some possibilities, cluttered in the shadows at the bottom of a very slippery slope.

What about luck?  Are winners just lucky?  That is, is something else actually just nothing else?  Statistically speaking, in a group using a given methodology of playing baccarat, roughly half will be winning, while the other half losing, and the difference between them is the House edge.  Over a sufficient number of shoes (on the order of hundreds to thousands of shoes, depending on the betting frequency), everyone hits the wall labeled “long term” and should expect to lose the House edge.

So, are those who are consistently winning just under the illusion they are winning due to anything other than Lady Luck?  In other words, are they enjoying nothing more than self-delusion?

But what about those winners who claim to be winning far longer and greater than what normal statistical variance would objectively allow.  Assuming they are reporting their winnings accurately (selective memory is always a possibility), they certainly belong to the “Sixth Sigma Club” of baccarat winners.

Is it possible that such consistent winners are somehow able to either consciously or unconsciously engineer good luck?  After all, luck is the happy state of fortuitous circumstances which have apparently no definite, rational, repeatable causes, at least not within the modern scientific paradigm of strict reductionism.  Perhaps there are forces we have yet to qualify and quantify which would explain why good fortune smiles upon some, while not others.  Perhaps these forces are manipulable by some subjective means, conscious or otherwise.  Perhaps there is a hidden order in the apparent chaos, caused by an invisible but very real hand, or a natural consequence of the dynamics of an infinite number of parallel realities allowed by one interpretation of quantum mechanics.  Call it Luck, Fate, Karma, Magic, the New Physics, God, whichever you prefer.

What about intuition?  I corresponded briefly with an expert baccarat player who believed his consistent success relied on a very simple method, a very aggressive progression, a great deal of luck, and a bit of his wits.  He has never lost his initial bankroll, and he had paid off two rental properties with his winnings.   Somehow, he just “gets” it, and he can predict with sufficient accuracy what the next decision will likely be.  He would watch the shoe and be able to notice a pattern in the patterns, which repeated regularly enough to be consistently exploitable.  He can’t really explain how he does it.  It just comes to him, like a natural intuition.  Of course, he isn’t always right; that’s where the luck and progression help.  But somehow he is always able to stay ahead, well past what normal statistical variance would seem to allow.

Strictly speaking, he is guessing.  But given that his guesses are more often right than wrong, something is educating his guesses, and he takes action upon his belief that the patterns he notices would continue to repeat.  Yes, he admits he gambles on that premise, and fortunately, his gambles pay off.

Another player who often appealed to the fuzzy notion of intuition is Mark Maverick.  One of his favorite lines is, “I can’t teach intuition.”  I have never personally witnessed Mark use his intuition playing forward, but only backward with 20/20 hindsight on practice shoes.  But I’ll assume he’s able to do just as well in live, forward play.

I spent some time with Mark to try to better understand his thought processes when he gets an intuitive hunch that otherwise breaks his mechanical rules of play.  I tried to objectify his thought processes and convert them into a logical set of sub-rules, which were then applied to my computer simulations of Maverick and Maverick Ultimate.  But no matter how many of these intuitive sub-routines I tried to include in my simulations, none helped the methods consistently stay ahead.  I’m unable to verify the accuracy of Mark’s intuitive hunches in live, forward play.  Taking him at his word, they usually are.

Scientists at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (P.E.A.R.) have collected evidence which suggests that human consciousness can exert a small but significant influence on the results of random number generators.  That is, their research suggests that human subjects can intentionally skew the normal distribution from otherwise perfectly random number generators to a degree well beyond what can be explained by normal statistical variance.

Taken at face value, P.E.A.R.’s research has scientifically identified an inexplicable connection between mind and machine.  To what degree does this ability exist in the broader population?  Are some people better at using their intention to bring about desirable outcomes which to others appear to arise from just good luck?  If it exists, can this ability be developed to help someone consistently win games of chance such as baccarat?  Perhaps some are already unknowingly using these mind-over-matter abilities to their advantage and profit.

We have barely scratched the surface of understanding human consciousness and its implications.  Perhaps we are more connected than we presently realize.

Or, is something else more mundane and rational …

Can some methods take advantage of inherent deficiencies and inefficiencies of the game, which the creators of the game have not yet realized?  For example, I know a baccarat player who claims to have developed a card-counting method which is both effective and efficient to the tune of +1% player’s advantage, demonstrated both computationally over a large data-set and in live, forward play over thousands of shoes.  He admits it is a grind to play and easily thwarted by casino countermeasures.  Even so, he claims to win with it regularly.  I am unable to verify his claims computationally, because I don’t know his method, nor have I ever personally witnessed him winning.  He sounds sincere and honest, and I will assume he is telling the truth.

Or, is there something about the way the game is presented which offers players a chance to gain an advantage.  For example, Ellis teaches that casinos can and do intentionally manipulate the shuffle to try to increase their winnings.  As a result, Ellis believes that baccarat as presented by casinos is not a perfectly random game.  He claims to be able to turn the tables on the casinos by using this knowledge against them, a process he terms table selection.

While I offer several reasons why it would not be in the casinos’ best interest to manipulate the shuffle in my previous post Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House, if Ellis were correct, then his approach would provide a real, consistent edge to the knowing player.

Perhaps one, bits of some, all, or none of the above have something to do with helping consistent winners stay ahead.  Perhaps it is due to other reasons yet to be identified.  (Please leave comments and add to the list of possibilities!)  I just know that consistent winners must be doing something else besides bet placement, selection, and money management.

As my journey reaches a new level, I am looking forward to investigating and exploring some possibilities.  By their very nature, they must be experienced and not computed.  If nothing else, they will make great stories.

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11 Responses to “Transcendental Baccaratology”

  1. Excellent article David! It should really open up people’s minds.

  2. Great article!
    Well i think from all the millions of people playing baccarat and a 100 years that have gone only a handful of person knows something that we all do not know.

    and for a fact this guy’s won’t bother sharing that secret to other people which i strongly agree for lots of good reasons, just think of the process that they have undergo before discovering that “so called holy grail”.

    Ellis or Maverick this guys maybe good bac… player
    OR this guys work for the casino to spread a marketing gimmick to attract new people(including me) make them think that every one can go out of a casino with a pocket full of money or reigniting those gambler fallacies.

    but i myself believe everything has a flaw, like once in blackjack and roulette like (Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo) this handful of individual discovered imperfection in the game.

    • @mowjigz

      Thanks for leaving your comments.

      One thing I know for sure: I know both Mark and Ellis personally, I have interacted with both extensively, I have played with Ellis in person with real chips, and I can verify with 100% certainty that they are both genuine, real people, who are trying their best to beat the casino, and help others do the same.

  3. […] As I had briefly relayed in my previous two posts (Shadowing Ellis and Ellis and I Take on Atlantic City), Ellis convincingly demonstrated to me with real money in live play that he can consistently win at baccarat. Thanks to him, I am a little wealthier today in terms of chips, experience, and perspective. […]

  4. […]In this post, I will explain why in the long run, any progression, no matter how mild or aggressive, must fail when used to bet in a negative expectancy game such as baccarat. I’ve mentioned this fact in many of my previous posts (e.g. Transcendental Baccaratology), but I haven’t yet devoted an entire post to explaining why.[…]

  5. lily du Says:

    Great article! Logic and rational.

  6. doeydont Says:

    Are you saying that there are proven consistent winners?
    How do you know? My experience has been that there are two kinds of gamblers: Losers and liars.

    • virtuoid Says:

      No proven consistent winners in baccarat.

      My experience is there’s 3 kinds of gamblers: Losers, liars, and the blind (those who think what they did caused them to win, but actually they were just lucky.)

  7. as i developed and said beginning a very long time ago..there is no such thing as luck..luck is simply skill applied to opportunity the primary skill is being able to recognize the opportunity

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