07/20/97 EDITORIAL FALL 1997
Losing is Part of the Game…
By Michael Dalton
This issue’s editorial was unfortunately inspired by a short (relatively speaking) losing streak I recently had. In three weeks I had lost every blackjack session I started — a total of seven sessions! Each recorded session was approximately 3 hours long, however, one of those sessions was a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas, which actually consisted of about 10 hours of play. Was I concerned? Well…. hardly!
I recently read a blackjack advertisement on the Internet that asked the question, “How do I know when to go to a more advanced strategy?” Their answer was, “After you are successfully playing in the casino and only lose 1 session out of 8.” Well, looking back on my records, it seems that I would ‘never’ be eligible to move up to their ‘advanced’ strategy… but I can assure you that I am a successful and ‘winning’ player!
Suggesting to players that it is possible to consistently win 7 out of 8 sessions is nonsense. Yes, I’ve had winning sessions of 7 out of 8 before, but I can assure you that to perform this task consistently is almost ‘impossible’ in today’s games. *
Losing is part of the game! Yes, you should win the majority of your sessions in the long run, however, losing 10 sessions in a row is not out of the question. As a matter of fact losing several sessions in a row will occur quite often.
Looking back on my records for the past 10 years I noticed that I have had losing streaks of greater than or equal to 5 trips. I must admit that losing many sessions, let alone trips, in a row is not fun. You start to doubt your own ability and begin to ask yourself questions like, “Am I making too many mistakes?” or “Did this casino just cheat me?” or “Do I really have what it takes to beat this game?”
Asking yourself questions on a regular basis is probably not a bad idea. You should ask yourself these questions honestly:
1) Are mistakes affecting my play?
2) Am I using good discipline?
3) Am I using a large enough bet spread?
4) Am I playing in quality games?
5) Am I getting enough rest before play?
6) Am I over-betting?
7) Am I over-tipping?
8) Am I being cheated?
9) Do I really have an edge in this game?
These questions not only need to be answered honestly but you need to take corrective action if there is a problem. Documenting your sessions is vitally important. If you plan on playing blackjack for an income (or to supplement your income) you indeed must treat it as a business. The above questions should be part of your ‘business plan’ that gets updated once or twice a year.
As I move into my second decade of card counting I am fortunate to have survived considerable variance and probably quite a few mistakes. This experience has taught me that discipline is the most important element to winning. The hardest part of this game is the fact that you will have losing streaks. How you handle yourself during them will probably determine whether you end up a winner in the long run or not!
* FOOTNOTE: It is possible to consistently win 7 out of 8 sessions if you use a progression system. However, a progression system that wins 7 out of 8 sessions will eventually bring you to ruin. You don’t want to win 7 sessions only to give it all back on the 8th, do you?