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How To Get It, and How To Keep It

Your Win-Loss Ratio Revisited

I continue to receive quite a bit of e-mail regarding ways to properly gauge Win-Loss ratios. 

Though we’ve discussed them in a few articles (including an in-depth look at this critically important subject in the four-part Can’t Win For Losing series), many players continue to struggle with the juggling act of balancing their number of losing sessions versus an adequate number of offsetting winning ones.

A disturbing example…

       If 8-out-of-10 of your sessions see you walking away with an average profit of $50, but the other 2-out-of-10 see you hitting a session Loss-Limit of $200 each; then despite your 80%/20% Win:Loss ratio, you are still only breaking even.

Though break-even in a casino context (over an extended number of sessions) is a laudable thing for most gamblers, for the advantage-player, “break-even” is not quite what we are looking for.

Loss-Limits are so closely tied to your overall Precision-Shooting profitability, and your Win:Loss ratio is so closely linked to your overall success as an advantage-player; that neither of them can be viewed in total isolation from the other.


When Setting A Win/Loss Goal You Have To Be Careful

As far as setting a goal of winning sessions-to-losing sessions goal is concerned; you have to be careful that you don't have your eye on one thing (your "batting-average" win-loss ratio), and end up losing sight of your net-winnings (in real and actual dollars).  It’s important that the skilled Precision-Shooter has their eye on the right prize.

       It’s important to know HOW MANY sessions you get ahead of your buy-in, and how many sessions you fall behind right from the outset.

       It’s also important to know HOW MUCH you usually get ahead of your buy-in during the winning sessions.  You can measure that in dollars or as a percentage…the important thing is that you figure out how far, on average, you usually get ahead during any given session.

       It’s equally important to know HOW OFTEN you are able to stage a comeback when you fall behind in your session.

       You also have to know how often you squander the lead you had, and let the profit slip back into the minus column.

       Though it’s nice to be able to say that you have an 80% session-win rate, it’s much more important to factor in what your net-profit actually is.  Again, it does you no good to have a high W:L ratio, but still be a net-loser.

       For several years I had an unbelievably high win-ratio, but I found that I was too sharply focused on maintaining that number instead of giving myself slightly more betting-latitude (and garnering even more profit from slightly fewer wins).   Though my net-profit was still high at that point, it was stalled out and wasn’t growing at any discernable rate.

       When I started giving my dice-shooting talents broader leeway (through a wider betting-range and heavier weight-wagering) on the currently dominating action-numbers (which had for YEARS been screaming out for more wagering attention); my net-profits actually shot up astronomically even though my winning-session ratio dropped by a few percentage points.  For details on that, I would invite you to have a look at my on-going twelve-part How To Get THERE From HERE series.  The results may surprise you, but the path I took shouldn’t.

       The point is that you have to keep your eye on the overall NET-profitability of ANYTHING that catches your Precision-Shooting attention, and decide if it can contribute to your revenue-generating efforts or whether it is a growth limiter.

If one more example isn’t too much overkill, indulge me for another moment…

       If you have a per-session Win-Goal of let's say $100, and a Loss-Limit of let's say $500; then with a win-to-loss ratio of 8 winning sessions for every 2 losing sessions (an 8:2 ratio) you'll STILL be losing money most of the time ($800 in winnings versus $1000 in losses).

       I used those two Win-Goal and Loss-Limit figures because they seem to be the most popular with a lot of avid gamblers.  With those two benchmarks comes a situation where you are winning 80% of the time, yet like I said, you are STILL going to be losing money.

       If you set your Win-Goals satisfying low (so that you’ll reach them more often and be able to leave the casino with a profit more frequently); then your Loss-Limit also has to be set conservatively low.

       To strike a proper balance (and be able to show an overall net-profit for your efforts), you first have to look at how often you get to your Win-Goal.   For example, if you usually hit the $75 profit-point in let’s say 70% of your sessions, then you have to factor it in when you are figuring out how much of a Loss-Limit you’ll allow yourself.

Let’s do some simple math…

       If 7-out-of-10 sessions see you get to an average $75 locked-in profit-mark, then you simply multiply that amount by the average number of sessions when you’ll hit it.  In this case you’ll hit $75 during 7-out-of-10 sessions (so we multiply $75 times 7 sessions) which comes to approximately $525 in gross-winnings.

That figure helps us structure our Loss-Limit.

       We know we have 3-out-of-10 sessions where we fail to reach profitability.

       Now we have to ask ourselves how much net-profitability we want to RETAIN, versus how much we are willing to lose in so far as setting a reasonable Loss-Limit is concerned.

       The reason that question is so important is because it determines our overall net-profitability.  As you’ve seen, it does you no good if you win 90%+ of your sessions, but still aren’t able to show a net-profit for all your effort.

       The task of the advantage-player is to GET a profit, and then structure his game-plan (or at least the Win-Goal and Loss-Limit portion of his game-plan) in order to KEEP that profit.  Your Loss-Limit is the chief determining factor in that equation.

       So, we look at those 3-out-of-10 losing sessions to determine how much we’ll allow ourselves to lose before walking away with an overall net-profit from ALL of our sessions combined. 

       Though we always want to give ourselves a fair chance to win…if we dig too deep of a hole during our losing sessions, then our winning sessions have to be all that much bigger just to offset our losses, let alone start showing a net-profit.

       In this example, knowing that 7-out-of-10 winning sessions spin off about $525 in revenue, we have to look at the three remaining losing-sessions to come up with a tolerable Loss-Limit.

       Let’s say that we decide a $150 Loss-Limit for any given session is enough to give our Precision-Shooting a fair chance to redeem itself, but not too big of a hole that our winning sessions can’t dig us out of it.

       In that model, the three losing sessions (with a $150 L-L for each one) sees a $450 deficit, but our 7-out-of-10 winning session revenue of $525 is enough to bail our ass out and still leave us with an overall profit of $75.

       When you see all of your effort go into netting just a $75 profit, it’s often enough to make many players see the need for tightening their Loss-Limit by quite a bit.  In other words, they want to be working to KEEP the profit that their winning-sessions make, instead of working to fill in the hole that their losing sessions dig.

       It’s very much like a balancing act.  On one hand you want to play and you want to win.  You want to give yourself a fair opportunity to make some money, yet you understand that you can’t allow too many or too big of those losses since that would put you in an overall losing position. 

       You also know that your dice-shooting abilities are exploitable when they are zoned-in, and therefore it’s only reasonable to lock-in some of that profit to offset the times when your shooting isn’t quite up to par.

       You have to temper your Loss-Limits (when your shooting isn’t so wonderful) with enough opportunity to let your Precision-Shooting efforts show their true capability when they are. If you limit your betting by too tight of a range, then the full power of your dicesetting efforts will not be afforded their full worth and value (and therefore you won’t be capturing the full profit that your good shooting efforts confer).

       Equally, if your Loss-Limits are too loose, then your dice-shooting will have to be more extraordinary, more often just to maintain your break-even status (let alone get to any degree of reliable profitability).

As I mentioned, we explored this entire subject, and how to deal with it in my four-part Can't Win For Losing series, and its importance obviously hasn’t faded. 


Profitable Outcomes Bear A Striking Resemblance to Smart Inputs

If you look at the money that your fair-to-good sessions generally make, and figure out how many of those you have versus how many losing sessions you encounter; then you’ll be able to calculate the average high-point of where your refuse-to-lose-back-one-dollar-below-this-point Win-Goal should be locked-in at, and where your allowable Loss-Limits (that will still show an overall profit when considered in relation to ALL of your sessions) should be set at.

You don’t want to be in the unenviable position where you are winning 80%+ of your sessions, yet still showing an overall deficit. 

Your Win-Goal, your Loss-Limit and your Win-to-Loss ratio determines all of that.  You have to plug in your own numbers to determine what is right for you.

       Your current dice-shooting results should shape your game-plan parameters (W-G, L-L, and W:L ratio) in order to give you an overall profit NOW. 

       As your skill-set improves, you can raise your locked-in Win-Goal, tighten (or loosen) your Loss-Limit as appropriate, and re-appraise your Win-to-Loss ratio to find any unseen profit potential within that latitude.

Why Precision-Shooting Is A Thinking-Man’s Game

As a craps player, it’s easy to let someone else do your thinking for you.

       If the book says that Passline bets backed with Full-Odds, and two Come-bets with Full Odds is not only the best way to play, but it’s really the ONLY way to play…then it must be so.  Of course those same authors either have never even heard of dicesetting or have discarded the entire concept out of hand.

       If someone says a 20% win-goal and a 50% Loss-Limit is the way to go…then we can blindly accept that; but in doing so, we unwittingly consent to the need of hitting our win-goal at least two-and-a-half times as often just to offset every single losing session…JUST TO BREAK EVEN.

When you look at any advice, including mine, you have to put it in the proper perspective, and you actually have to think about it.

If you blindly accept advice (no matter how well intentioned it is) without knowing WHY it should work, or WHAT it’s biggest risks are, or HOW it will affect YOUR game…then you are accepting recommendations without knowing if they are pertinent to your circumstances at all.

Though it may work wondrous miracles for others, you may be unwilling or unable to make all of the other necessary changes to your game that would put that same well-founded advice to full and effective use.  Therefore, in falling short of expectation, your game may fare even worse than it was before you applied the recommendations.

In a nutshell…if someone tells you that the only way to make big money at this game is to Place-bet the 4, and then parlay all of your winnings on each subsequent Box-number until you reach (and hit) the 10…you can think about it, but as a responsible and mature advantage-player, you have to think about how often you’ve been able to accomplish that particular feat (in that correct order) in the last couple of months.

If it’s applicable to you…then by all means use it.

If you want to make it applicable to your current game-plan…then make the necessary skill-set (and not hope-set) changes to make it so.

If it’s not applicable…then don’t blindly use it in the HOPE that it might someday bear profitable fruit.

Think about any advice or any contemplated changes, and consider how effective they will be at your current skill-level.  As your Precision-Shooting or Precision-Betting skills improve, you can integrate and incorporate the ones that are most effective, and eliminate the ones that aren’t. 

That’s what advantage-play is all about.

If you THINK about where the lion’s share of your profit comes from, and where the bulk of your losses go to…your decisions, your bet choices, your Win Goals, your Loss-Limits and all the decisions surrounding them should come a little easier (and the profit should flow a little faster) if you do.

If you need all of that summarized in a one line bumper-sticker format:

GET the profit…KEEP the profit…Don’t WASTE the profit.

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.


The Mad Professor


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