Last week, a couple friends asked me to sit in on a call to a systems seller who goes by the name David Gunas. They wanted to learn more about his system, which he claims mathematically beats baccarat.
Gunas claims after playing several thousand live shoes with his system (he says he plays daily), his player’s advantage is around +10%. Moreover, he claims to be working with a programmer who tested his system with computer simulations to yield long term expectancies of around +6%.
He claims not only will his system work for baccarat, but any other near-50/50 game such as roulette and craps as well. He claims students have paid him over $100,000 to learn his system, but being the nice guy that he is, would offer it to us at the bargain price of $25,000.
After asking him a few pointed questions regarding the mathematics of his approach, I quickly determined that a computer simulation of it could not possibly have yielded the long term expectancies he claimed.
In fact, his core betting procedure, which he only very reluctantly offered us an example of, is not at all original. It is exactly the same one Stetson Bailey explained in the introduction of his book Win $1k Per Day At Craps, and is very simple: Start at, say, 10u, and upon a win, go down 1u; or upon a loss, go up 1u. It is simply a D’Alembert with a base bet higher than 1u. When I first learned it from Bailey’s book, I immediately ran a computer simulation of it, and conclusively determined for myself it does no better in the long run than simply flat betting.
However, Gunas tried to convince us with the sloppy, broad hand-waving of a used-car salesman that the modified D’Alembert guarantees +1u for every win-loss pair, and that he was able to design an even more powerful system by adding money management rules and differential (net) betting procedures to it, what he calls hedging across multiple columns.
I challenged him with some very basic questions which pointed to the obvious mathematical flaws in his approach, for example, based on the reasoning of my previous post Why Any Progression Must Fail For Negative Expectancy Games In the Long Run, but rather than even trying to offer reasonable responses, he evaded them with statements that made no sense (“You’re just proving my point!”), or by becoming extremely defensive (“I don’t need your money, so why don’t you just hang up!”), or by trying to turn the tables and putting me on trial (“You’re just another one of those crazy skeptics who believe baccarat can’t be won!”). When pressed for rational explanations for his extraordinary claims, he completely fell apart.
I make a very reasonable proposal to systems sellers such as Gunas:
Agree to hold the price of the system in escrow at a reputable institution (e.g. those used for real estate and other large financial transactions) pending the outcome of long-term computer simulations of the system.
For full transparency and objectivity, the computer simulations should be performed independently by both parties, and both sets of results can then be objectively reviewed to everyone’s full satisfaction. This eliminates the risk on the buyer’s part, since his money is guaranteed to be safe in the event the results do not support the claims of the seller, in which case, the value of the system is worthless anyway, so the seller also in principle does not lose anything (except his reputation) either.
In Gunas’ case, he should jump at the opportunity, since supposedly, he has already performed the computer simulations. If he is confident his numerical results are accurate, then he should not fear this litmus test, but gratefully without hesitation accept the chance to prove its true worth.
However, when I proposed this to Gunas, he balked and accused me of being one of those crazy skeptics who have nothing better to do than prove the game can’t be won, that testing his system over even a few thousand shoes was an unreasonably large number.
I reminded him that a few thousand shoes is realistically what a professional would play in about a year. In reply, he scoffed at the idea of someone playing his system professionally to make a consistent living, even though that is what he is supposedly doing and what he is offering to teach others how to do. After all, with a +6% (heck, even a +0.1%) system, any rational person should utilize it as often as possible, since the more he plays, the more he will be assured of winning in the long run!
What really tickled me was his answer to my question, “If you really believe you have a way to beat baccarat long term, why are you selling it at any price?”
His answer: “Because I like helping people.”
Right … people who will pay you tens-of-thousands (or supposedly over $100K) first.
If I truly had a positive-expectancy system to beat baccarat and other near-50/50 games and truly wanted to help people, the last thing I would do is sell it to anyone at any price, if for no other reason than to keep the secret away from the casinos themselves, who would overnight change the rules to nullify my advantage if they recognized it as a legitimate threat to their bottom-line.
Rather, I’d use the system myself to quickly become the richest person in the world (by using it in the financial markets, rather than in casinos), then donate to existing charities or open up my own charities, and keep funding these charities indefinitely.
Selling a (supposed) holy grail helps no one but the seller.