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Those inevitable streaks31 December 2015
It didn’t work. The streak ended, and the player lost a little money.
That’s normal enough. Streaks are a normal part of play, but they don’t predict future outcomes. The odds are the same on every spin of the wheel or roll of the dice.
Another reader, Derek, wrote to tell me of a baccarat session in which he decided to bet against any streaks instead of with them, and how another player was less than pleased.
“I was at a table with a lady who was charting all the hands, and any time banker won two in a row, she bet $20 on banker, and any time player won two in a row, she bet on $20 player,” Derek wrote. “She stayed on that side until the streak ended. When there was no streak going, she went down to $10, the table minimum.
“She had a big stack of chips in front of her, so she must have caught a big streak earlier. Still, I’m kind of a contrary sort, so I decided to bet against the streaks instead.”
It seems Derek was being contrary for the sake of being contrary, but it makes no difference in the odds. The cards aren’t going to change just because someone is betting opposite another player. Still, it drew a reaction.
“Banker won two in a row, she bet with the streak, and I switched to player,” Derek wrote. “She gave me the evil eye and said, ‘Why are you doing that?’ I said player just felt lucky to me, and she gave a heavy sigh and shook her head.
“Player won, and she got a little testy. ‘Don’t you go breaking the magic.’”
The streak was over, and Derek stopped paying attention to how the other player was betting. But after banker won two in a row again, she jumped on the streak. The player hand won, then won the next hand, too. With a two-win player streak going, the woman switched to player. Derek bet on banker.
“She said, ‘This is war between us, right?’ And I said no war, I just thought banker was due," Derek wrote. "Banker won. I wasn’t making a lot of money at this. Between streaks, I was probably losing a little more than I won. But my wins while betting against the streaks kept me about even.”
Derek stuck around for one more streak. Banker won two in a row, so the woman bet banker and Derek bet player.
“She complained, ‘Why won’t you play this game right?’ She even called out to the pit supervisor, ‘He won’t play right.’ He told her he couldn’t tell me which hand to bet on.”
Banker – and Derek – won again.
“She told me, ‘This was a good game until you got here,’ and started to stack up her chips to color up. I told her, ‘Sorry ma’am, I was just having a little fun. You stay, and I’ll go.’
“I don’t know if she did better after I left, but she was taking it so seriously I figured I’d better move.”
Longer streaks happen, and that’s probably how the woman at Derek’s table got so many chips before he arrived. But choppy results are a normal part of the game, too, and whether you find it amusing depends on which side you’re on.
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