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David Pibworth | The Blog


The Gambler's Ruin And How To Beat The Bookies

Here's a little experiment for you ...



All you need is a standard chess board and a bag of rice. A chess board has 64 squares on it. Take one grain of rice and place it on the 1st square. Then double the amount of rice for the 2nd square thus putting 2 grains on it ...

I stick to card tricks now which are considerably more fun

I stick to card tricks now which are considerably more fun

copyright: dolgachov / 123rf stock photo

Then do the same on the next square thus putting 4 grains on it. Just carry on doing that. Double the amount of grains of rice on each subsequent square.

"You won't manage to get as far as you think without popping out to buy some more rice."

To get to the 64th square on the chess board, you will need to find more than 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 grains of rice which equals around 210 billion tons of the stuff so I'm told.

I haven't actually tested the weight part of the experiment, but I believe that is more than the whole output of rice in the world annually and even if not, is more than the Co-Op at Olney hold on an average selling day.

The reason I'm telling you this is because one of my hobbies is trying to beat the odds at casinos and a gamblers fallacy – of which there are many – is that you can always win at roulette by betting on red, which pays even money, by just doubling your initial stake if it loses.

Well, yes that is so, but at what cost? To put it another way if you put a pound on red and it lost 63 times and you were playing the doubling game, just look at the above chess experiment.

However it is unlikely that would happen, but you would be surprised how many times the same colour comes up in sequence. Quite often 6 or 7 times and even playing the £1 doubling game, your 8th bet on a losing run would cost you £128 and if it won, would win you back £256 of which £128 is the bet and £128 is the profit on that spin.

Aaah, but we haven't taken into consideration the bets you put on the last 7 spins have we? No. And that comes to £127, so after all that outlay, you have a £1 profit. You will only ever win your initial outlay. So if you choose to gamble then don't use that method.

There is a way to win at gambling which I shall come to, but firstly I'll just explain my gambling. I'm not really a gambler as such as I don't like losing and I understand odds and probability.

I first started on cards, learning a way to play blackjack to a very precise format. It doesn't stop you losing, but it does put the percentages in a more favourable light towards you. Without boring you with it - and there are many books that can teach you it - it is worth knowing that it is extremely dull.

You have a betting strategy for absolutely every hand that comes up dependant on the dealer's cards and you can still lose - but far less than reckless gambling - and when you get on a good run it can pay dividends. But as I said, it's dull.

"I stick to card tricks now which are considerably more fun."

On the roulette table, my pals and I worked out, in a somewhat circuitous and lengthy way, the probability of numbers coming up again and again within a round of 37 spins. 37 being the number of numbers on the roulette table (including the zero which everyone forgets about to their cost. If zero comes up, then neither red nor black are paid out. You only win on zero, if you have a bet on zero).

The basic premise of this is that not all 37 numbers will come up in 37 spins, so when you get to 25 spins, bet on all the numbers which have come up at least 3 times and quite often you will win within a few bets. After months of studying this in Germany (I didn't go specifically to Germany you understand, I just happened to be living there) we came across a book written by an Indian fellow explaining it all in about 2 pages of a book about Relative Frequencies.

"It would have taken us about an hour to comprehend, but it was fun working it out and we drank a good deal of Schnapps along the way."

So here is the way you can win. Politics. I have correctly predicted the outcome of every election since - and including - John Major's win against Neil Kinnock in 1992. It was that election that got me interested in political betting.

I have been accused of arrogance over this, though as I always point out, the only qualification you need to achieve success in this field is to dislike all political parties with the same venom.

It's no good betting on what you hope the outcome will be and it's no good listening to the polls, although they are sometimes correct. I'm lucky in that I have a wide variety of friends of all political views and many are floating voters, so I carry out my research with no interest in the outcome other than getting it right.

I dismiss the tribal party followers and concentrate on the floating voters. I honestly couldn't give a toss who wins other than winning the bet and it's not even for the money as I never bet anything other than modest amounts.

On this last Tory win, I bet on them winning an outright majority on the basis of the SNP surge in Scotland and the fact that although the Lib Dems would clearly be all but wiped out, their core voters would be so peed off with them that they would in all probability go with the Greens, who wouldn't gain any seats. That and the fact that although many Tory voters said they would vote UKIP, you sort of know that once in the ballot box they waver with obvious results.

Curiously Labour would lose some to UKIP and UKIP were as problematic to Labour as the Tories, if not slightly more so. Also Ed Miliband was being sniped at from his own side from the day he won the leadership contest. Ex politicians especially just can't shut up and seemingly enjoy undermining their own parties, which is quite fun and does have to be taken into the mix.

"Ted Heath crept around for 28 years with a face like a slapped arse."

So I won my bet. I told Michael Portillo he was wrong with his prediction of a hung parliament and I always nag Andrew Neill about being on his politics show, but for some reason they prefer to have daft buggers onscreen who predict what they hope will happen. Ho Hum – their loss.

Give me a shout at the next one and I'll tell you who's going to win. I might be wrong of course, but that's your gamble, isn't it?

Until next time ...


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More about David Pibworth ...

David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.

Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.

He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.

He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.

He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.

David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.

Further Reading ...

Wolfram - Gambler's RuinWolfram - Gambler's Ruin
Wikipedia - Gambler's RuinWikipedia - Gambler's Ruin
Youtube - The Gambler's RuinYoutube - The Gambler's Ruin