The efficiency of a damper depends on the amount of energy dissipation during a typical cycle experienced by the damper. For viscous dampers this leads to substantial frequency dependence. For dampers with hysteresis the tuning and efficiency also depends on the apparent amplitude of the damper response. For irregular damper response the amplitude is evaluated as the magnitude of closed hysteresis loops. These loops are identified in real time by the rainflow rules, stored in a Markov-type matrix and used to predict the magnitude of subsequent closed loops. From this prediction the properties of the semi-active damper are adjusted in real time to optimize performance and avoid clamping of the damper. The efficiency of this adaptive tuning procedure is illustrated for a magneto-rheological damper model.