Never, and this really applies once and only, should one begin a text with “I”. I have taken this to heart here, although it seems to me to be an imposition. For the real preface only begins now:
I was never welcomed as a reader in such a friendly and original way as I was when, at the age of 14, I held the first and only comic book of the Shingle Swing in my hands, opened it and the little figurines, which were still, recognisably for some time, lolling around listlessly on the floor, suddenly jumped up, pointed at me from the little picture at the command of the discoverer, and my discoverer at that, and shouted: “A reader, a reader, look, a reader!”
Well, I would also like to greet you so warmly. But I only have the letters at my disposal, mainly due to my lack of drawing talent. So with me it is the letters that jump out at you. It was only the disordered, listless, even demotivated palette of abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz that absolutely statement loose in apparent order lay before my mind’s eye. I have endeavoured to dissolve this ridiculous order, “alphabetically, baa”, and introduce my own system of order. My letters try to form themselves into words which, standing alone, do not make any sense, at most trigger an association, but these words are strung together, interrupted at the appropriate point by punctuation marks, and are thus supposed to make some mysterious “sense”. My letters here now also form, for example, the cordial greeting, which is not only called “cordial”.
But to give you a couple of examples of a word that stands alone and simply triggers an association, I’ll try the words player, play and mathematics. My letters can do even more. They don’t have to be afraid now. But they can even read minds. Player: “Oh yes, I once knew one too. I’ll just say one word: Ruin.” Play: “Simple: Hands off.” Mathematics: “Oh God. Anything but that. One – two – not a tree in sight yet!”
So this book is about playing. Originally, playing has something fun, exhilarating, entertaining about it. Even as children, we try to learn the world of the big ones, the adults, through play. Playing is therefore part of our life. But when we grow up, when we are exposed to the seriousness of life, we no longer play children’s games. Now we play the “games of the big children”, the games of adults. Even in ancient Rome it was already known what the people needed: Bread and games.
Play itself offers entertainment or diversion, tension and relaxation, joy and suffering, elation and sorrow, annoyance, passion. Have I listed everything? Certainly not, but you have an idea of what I mean.
And it only gets really exciting when it comes to money. So gambling, gambling for money always exerts a certain fascination. There are stories and legends about gambling. There are a few lucky winners and a lot of losers. But you want to hear the stories, you suffer or feel with them, you possibly dream of the big score yourself. Almost everyone, I would argue, tries a game for money at some point, even if it’s just among friends. That increases the excitement. Moreover, you can be sure that the game is played “seriously”. No more gifts. Now it’s time to play for real.
Every game also lives from the tension in the game itself. There is always a part of luck. And there is a skill component. You could also play Man-Against-Nothing for money. This game is also a combination of luck and skill. I have not been able to find any scientific papers so far, yet it is obvious (hitting or bringing men home?) that there are different possibilities that do not result in identical chances for the overall victory.
But what is the most important thing you learn as a child? Not to gamble for money. Because, firstly, it is true that if you want to bet, you also want to cheat. And because secondly, it seems to be proven: it is the sure way to ruin. I would like to show that both points are merely prejudices. Neither is true. So those who do it anyway should rather put their hand over their mouth before “admitting” it.
In every game played for money, there is the right side and the wrong side. Either you play among yourselves, without an organiser. Then there is bound to be one who plays better than the other. He then has an advantage. That does not mean that he will win. But whoever makes the better decisions in the long run will also end up in the plus in the long run, so the mathematics promises.
When you play games offered by an organiser, the organiser usually has an advantage. He has calculated a winning advantage for his side (I present the different types in the book). Nevertheless, it is also worthwhile to take a look at these games. Occasionally there is an approach to let the pendulum swing in favour of the player and against the provider. And that does not mean winning a single game, but making a living from it in the long run. I briefly present the approach I would take with the games usually offered. And – let yourself be surprised – it is different from the one you are imagining right now.
I personally know some tragic fates, some people addicted to gambling. And it’s true: there is a danger. People who have allowed themselves to be irritated by short-term successes. They believed that it would go on and on until one day they actually gambled away all their money. And not only that. Relationships break down, loans are taken out, jobs are given up, neglected or lost, even criminal acts occur. This is called “going off the rails” and there is only one direction to go: “steeply downhill”.
In this book, I try to work out the skill component in all the games examined, so that you can use it to your advantage. Many of the explanations are so general that they can be applied in general. You can apply these considerations to any game. You can become a better player, enjoy your pleasure or even get on the right side. There are many ways to use your money for pleasure or even profit.
I touch on the following games: Backgammon, Poker, Black Jack, Roulette, Lotto, Toto, the Stock Exchange, Horse Betting. And football betting. This has been my main business since 1990.
In many games there is a promoter who would like to win. When we play the games privately, that is not the case. The organiser, depending on the game and the possibility, calculated the advantage for his side. That is correct and also legitimate. But there is also a starting point in each of these games to shift the ratios in favour of the player. Whether it is profitable, i.e. sufficient to be able to support oneself in the long term, depends on the game, but also very much on individual ability. There is, so to speak, a skill factor in each of these games. The higher it is, the better the prospects.
I’ll gladly tell you my personal background on the side. I myself used to play the games of chess, backgammon, blackjack, poker and football betting professionally. Today I almost only do football betting.
Unfortunately, it is necessary to bring out a few long-forgotten arithmetic operations. After all, mathematics plays a role, it can’t be avoided. Besides, the publisher told me I urgently needed to feign a little competence here and there.
You also have to distinguish between games like skat, backgammon or poker, which you can also play in private, i.e. among friends. These are games that can also be called parlour games. You can play them for stakes, but you don’t have to. For example, there is supposed to be a variant of poker that gets its appeal from the fact that the participants gradually get rid of their clothes?
So there is not necessarily an organiser who wants to fill his pockets. Instead, you try to find the person with the most skill among your friends. Or the luckiest. All these games are classified by the state in the same category: Games of chance. But there is also a not inconsiderable percentage of skill in each of them. In this respect, for me it is rather the games of skill that nevertheless contain a luck factor. The luck factor is quite welcome for the professional player. Because it means that even the worse player can win sometimes. Even over a longer full stop of time. That is the temptation for the amateur or hobby player: Maybe today is my lucky day? As a result, these games are also played with higher stakes. The underdog often doesn’t even notice the gambling deficits. He assigns his losses, if they occur, to bad luck. Certainly, there are also those who “lie into their own pockets”.
On the other hand, there are the games that can only be played organised by an organiser. These include Black Jack, Roulette, but also Lotto, Toto, as well as the stock exchange or horse betting, even slot machines. From the professional gambler’s point of view, it is necessary here to shift the profit advantage calculated by the organiser until one actually gets into the profit zone oneself. This is not done by raping the mathematics, but only by recognising the basic principle that the organiser has come up with. Or one accepts the betting offer in the knowledge of being at a disadvantage, but that is “worth the fun” to one. Like Lotto, for example, where you can buy the illusion of a whole million with just a single euro every week. Or is it not an illusion at all? Wasn’t there a winner last week? I read that in the newspaper.
Sure, casinos now also offer games of skill like poker. The organiser simply takes a percentage of each pot, so he has no risk himself. But even that would be a challenge to win in the long run. In that case, the playing advantage over the opponents must be big enough to make up for the bank advantage, i.e. the percentage of the pot won, and still get into the profit zone.
What I’m trying to shed light on now is how to optimally make decisions that are independent of luck. So every game has its luck factor, sometimes it is bigger, sometimes smaller. Nevertheless, decisions have to be made. And even if a decision you make at one moment, in one case, goes against you, but it was the right one, you should make the same one again the next time. There is, regardless of luck, still the best decision.
You will see, it works almost everywhere. There is a skill component in (almost) every game. And working this out, pointing it out, will largely be the subject of this book. However, I will not present or suggest any sophisticated strategies for what I call pure skill games, but at most give a few tips here and there. To learn these games, one would have to take a look at the specialist literature.
Why I do not find any support for the term “game of skill” on the part of the state is quickly and easily explained. The state simply refers to all games in which there is a (greater) luck factor as “games of chance” and disregards the skill factors. Thus they fall under the gambling law, and gambling is, after all, forbidden.
Basically, the whole point is to maintain a monopoly on state-organised gambling. The claim that this is done “to protect gamblers from gambling addiction” is at least duplicitous. After all, casinos are literally sprouting from the ground. Everywhere there is a casino. And the state is cashing in. The fate of the individual is then suddenly indifferent. Or does the state even have the audacity to claim that there are (state-financed) treatment options for gamblers to free them from gambling addiction?
And Oddset, the state provider of sports betting, really does have by far the worst payout rates. It is virtually guaranteed that the player will lose in the long run. Where is the protection there?
The book content is mostly free narrative. So you shouldn’t be afraid. There are really no special requirements. I’m definitely not a formula juggler. I will tell you many small, funny, exciting or simply entertaining stories from my wealth of experience. Mathematics will then occasionally play a role. But you can also read the book without this understanding. When I studied some of my chapters that were described as mathematical, I was amazed myself that in some cases there was not a single formula or number there. Mathematics told freely! That works? Well, if I can at least arouse your curiosity with that?
The crucial question I would like to address is: is football calculable? Because the Bundesliga, our favourite child, which captivates the majority of the (male) population Saturday after Saturday, is particularly tempting to think about. Since I officially announced my profession, I have also received several letters from other people who have tried their hand at it. My approach, with all due modesty, nevertheless goes beyond most others. And not only have I tackled the problem in depth (my background has helped me a lot), I have successfully participated in the betting market with the product for many years and have also developed a few methods with which I can check the quality of the forecasts.
The unword mathematics loses its terror quite quickly if you are willing to engage in certain models of thinking. Very often, mathematics merges into philosophy. And especially in the field of probability calculation, it can happen in a flash that you lose your grip. What is fate, what is predetermined, what is luck, what is religion and faith? Should chance be calculable? Do you want to play God? “Chance,” I once read, “is the pseudonym of God when he does not want to sign himself.” You see…
Anyway, I personally took mathematics by the hand one day, very firmly, and never let it go. It goes with me through thick and thin. I can’t let the lucky streaks get in my way any more than I can let the unlucky streaks get in my way. I am a professional player. I am doomed to have my one faithful companion with me at all times. And the longer we have been walking together, the more intimate our relationship becomes. Even though she has laughed at me often enough, sneered at me. She’s not a monster, but she can be infinitely mean. But later she smiles again. Even though this behaviour is usually attributed to Fortuna, Fortuna is guided by her big sister, mathematics. You can see from this book how reliably this works. Fortuna becomes a puppet. Both are whimsical. But whimsical is also humorous, isn’t it?
And now I’d like to make the following suggestion: I’ll take you by the other hand. We’ll walk through the world of play together. Call it a walk if you like. Then at some point we’ll swap places and have her in our midst. And at the end you can go on with her alone.
Thanks to your subtlety that I will then be alone, you have the following addition to thank for:
1) Aptitude test passed
2) Cloning is not forbidden in the virtual world.
3) Mathematics is, quite untypically for women, extremely faithful, reliable and not at all jealous.
4) Not everything that limps is a comparison.
So, do you agree? Then grab hold, here we go….