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Gambling Scams and Advantage Gambling…
Knowing the Difference!


Dan Pronovost is the owner and president of DeepNet Technologies, makers of a wide range of advantage gambling training products and software (blackjack, poker, craps). Their web site is:, and all products are available for free trial download. Dan is also the creator of the easy-to-use card counting system Speed Count, taught in the Golden Touch Blackjack courses for two years and now available in the Frank Scoblete's new book, "Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution!":

What is a Gambling Scam?

"Go To ANY Roulette Table and Win Money at Will"

"Baccarat System… 100% Statistically Proven to Win!"

"Beat Any Craps Table with My Two Secret Bets"

"Blackjack- No Card Counting - 75% Win Average!"

I didn't make the above quotes up (although I did modify them just a tickle to protect the innocent). They are real, from various publications and web sites.

Can you see the common message between them? They are all scams…. run away!

But how can you tell what's a scam and what isn't? For example, myself, and many other gambling experts, claim that you can get a long-term positive edge in specific, casino games. We even use the same 'language' at times, claiming mathematical, statistical or computer simulation proofs that a player has the edge. So how can you tell the difference between a scam, and a legitimate advantage gambling strategy?

The most common thread in gambling scams is that they generally profess that there is a way to win strictly through a betting pattern, treating the game in question as a series of pure chance events. Such betting schemes have been around for hundreds of years, and will probably continue to exist for hundreds more. Probably one of the earliest betting schemers was Jacomo Casanova (yes, THE Casanova), who used a traditional 'Martingale' system in roulette: he'd double his bet after each loss, hoping for the 'enviable' big win streak to come. Of course, he lost his shirt, and that of his many female financial backers as well (I'm sure he lost his pants too, but that's a different story). All betting schemes, no matter what pattern they employ, are guaranteed to make you a loser in the long-run at casino games.

Sometimes betting schemes are very cleverly disguised, leveraging a lot of justification and legitimacy from other techniques. In craps, different bets will be played off each other, providing a seemingly rational balance of wins and losses. A common invalid method in blackjack involves betting more after wins (or losses… you'll see both), on the basis of that you are coordinating your bets with the edge of the remaining deck, just like card counters do. In roulette, the claim is often that you can track a hundred or so numbers and then predict the likely future results, seeking legitimacy through the possibility of a biased wheel.

Another common method to bolster their claims is to promote financial gains made by advocates and customers, or include samples of actual game sessions where people won. Individual gambling results are simply not mathematically convincing, since a single person cannot make enough wagers to provide statistically valid evidence. If someone shows you 5 or 10 thousands hands of blackjack with their 'system', congratulate them on being lucky. Many millions of rounds of blackjack are required to see statistical proof of earnings with legitimate methods like card counting. Similarly, a person who throws the dice every weekend at the craps table, and made some money last year, is encouraging but is not in itself proof of anything (neither good or bad).

The simple fact is that most legitimate advantage gambling methods provide a VERY slim edge to the player, and this means that individual results are not statistically significant, regardless of the game. This flies in the face of human instincts: we like to see patterns, especially when we are gambling. And it works against us too: as a blackjack card counting instructor, I often have to answer the question, "I counted the cards, and I still lost money! Why?"

In blackjack with card counting, a positive long-term player advantage of 0.5% is average, and we get very excited about games that provide more than 1%. All the legitimate advantage gambling methods I've seen to date hover around a 1% player edge, or less. This means you'll earn back about $1 for every hundred bet, or less. Slim pickings indeed!

Beyond all of these reasons, gambling scams tend to 'smell' like everyday scams. If it's too good to be true, then it probably is. Most gambling scams I've seen make grandiose claims about the money you'll earn, and how quickly you'll do so. When I explain card counting to unknowledgeable skeptics, I usually get the question, "If it works, why don't you quit your day job and do it full-time?" A scammer would point to their big boat, jewels and babes as proof of success. My answer is, "Because the edge is so slim, it's a tough grind of a job, and my hourly win rate would not be high enough for the bankroll I can afford to risk." My motto is: "IF you're going to gamble, why not play with a positive edge?"

What is a Legitimate Advantage Gambling Method?

Gambling scams get under my skin because they make it very hard for mathematicians like me to tout legitimate advantage gambling methods. People have been made skeptical, and indeed they should be. But this means you're often lumped in with the scammers if you study anything unconventional.

Take craps. The game is perfect for betting schemes, since there are so many bets available to play against. But all craps bets having a losing edge for the player, so it's a plain fact that NO combination of bets is going to make you a winner!

Yet, I claim that craps is a beatable game, and even sell analysis software for proving if you can get an edge or not ( It took years to convince me (thanks to Frank Scoblete and others), that dice control is for real, and can in fact influence the outcomes enough, in the hands of a very skilled shooter, to yield a positive player edge. As a scientist, I eventually decided it was worth studying, and developed statistical models to test the outcomes of dice controllers, based on the physics of axial dice control. Lo and behold… indeed it's true that in the RARE hands of gifted shooters when their skill is good, the statistical evidence shows there is virtual certainty that they are influencing the dice outcomes. This is unlike blackjack and card counting, where the proof is not subjective, or based on a physical skill, so it earns me (and others) a lot of grief.

Speed Count is a simple card counting system I developed for blackjack ( Through billions of computer simulations, I've proven it yields a surprisingly healthy player edge in all fair to good blackjack games. Yet because the system is so darn easy to learn and master and we market it as such, the hint of scam prevails and some SPMBs (self-proclaimed masters of blackjack) have called it a fraud.

Roulette is another interesting case. Some gamblers in the 80s analyzed 10s of thousand of recorded results from individual roulette wheels and determined statistically valid bias. They then used this observed bias to influence the bets on specific wheels, providing a marginal positive edge. Unfortunately, this form of advantage gambling is very easy for the casino to stop by switching wheels, studying the results themselves, and simply making better wheels. More over, the large number of potential outcomes in roulette, even when combined with models of physical bias, necessitates the recording of many thousands of results to see a legitimate bias, if any. If a system claims you just need to follow a betting scheme after observing a few hundred outcomes, then you're being fleeced.

Card counting in blackjack is probably the most recognized and accepted form of legitimate advantage gambling. Ironically, it's the fact that casinos will kick out card counters on occasion that convinces the general public that card counting works, more so that mountains of computer simulations. Returning to my typical conversations with novices, I usually get asked, "So, have you ever been backed off from a casino for card counting?" The answer is yes, sadly, but at least it usually quiets the skeptics.

Another fascinating, but legitimate, advantage gambling strategy is cheating (or at least, what the casino classifies as cheating). For example, suppose you've found a dealer that exposes their hole card when checking for a blackjack, and you observe this. The edge you can gain from this knowledge is huge, and not surprisingly, casinos treat this as cheating (it is not, but that is an article for a different day). But what if you work with a partner and signal the hole card so you both get the advantage? Or, what if you used a reflection on your watch to sneak this valuable peek? Lastly, what if you actually used a small mirror or device to get the winning glance? I'm not advocating that you 'cheat' in any way, but it's interesting to differentiate some of these methods as legitimate, and not taint them as scams, just because you may consider them nefarious.

Another fairly safe advantage gambling opportunity is possible with select video poker games. The edge is extremely thin (i.e. near or slightly below zero), but if you factor in comps and the lack of 'heat' from casino personnel, it can be a very pleasant and fun way to win. But check that pay schedule carefully… the positive edge machines are very rare (I recommend Jean Scott's new book on this: Frugal Video Poker).

There are other ways to win when gambling. Some of our BJI authors have written about occasional casino promotions that have a positive edge (usually by accident, or for unusual reasons). Applying some casino coupons (such as match plays) can give you a healthy positive edge, and are even welcomed by the casino!

So, keeps your eyes open, be skeptical, read the fine print, and ask the experts when in doubt. People will always be finding new ways to beat the casinos, and scammers will always be looking for new ways to fleece gamblers. Your wallet will be glad you can tell difference!

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