The "Paradox" of BS & CC...
  • The "Paradox" of Basic Strategy and Card Counting is that although both are Mathematically "Correct",
    neither are Realistically "Correct" in the "Sense" that they just don't "Work"
    for most people most of the time...

    This is not to "Fault" BS nor CC (per se),
    but to "Point Out" at least 3 very "Common" mistakes
    that most people make most of the time...

    Mistake #1 : Playing at the Wrong GAME -
    6 and 8 Deck SHOE Games should be Avoided whenever possible.
    Too many Cards are "Cut" out of Play to get an Accurate Count,
    and "No Mid Shoe Entry"= no "Wonging".
    Playing Double Deck is the Only Way to Go.

    Mistake #2 : Playing at the Wrong TABLE -
    Crowded and/or FULL Tables should be Avoided whenever possible.
    Sitting at 3rd Base dosen't work, because by the time you get your Cards, the Count has totally CHANGED, and then it's often too late,
    because you've already placed your bet.
    Playing Head-On with the Dealer is the Only Way to Go.

    Mistake #3 : Raising your Bets at the Wrong TIME -
    Most people Raise their Bets TOO SOON in High Counts,
    instead of waiting until AFTER a High Count Plateau,
    when the Count begins to DROP as the High Cards actually start coming out...

    Quote from Arnold Snyder in Blackbelt in Blackjack Book/2005 Edition,
    "You don't bet big simply because the count is HIGH,
    you bet big because the count should come DOWN...
    you make small bets while the count is RISING,
    and large bets while it is coming back DOWN"(pages 200-201).
  • Mistakes 2 and 3 are simply wrong.

    2. Playing at a crowded table does _not_ affect your EV in the slightest. All it does is slow down the game so that you play fewer hands per hour, and as a result, your win rate per hour drops. When you play with 3 other players in a + count, you are just as likely to get the good cards as any other player.

    3. betting big before the "plateau" is voodoo. When the TC is at +2, in a good DD game, your advantage is almost +1%. Do you _not_ bet big there? How do you know that isn't the "plateau" until you sit and watch and see the count drop? But by then you just missed betting into the favorable cards and threw away any edge card counting gives you.

    Card counting is not a mystical art. It is very simple and precise. Kelly betting is not a mythical thing nobody can pull off. It works. Stepping outside "good practices of card counting" immediately turns a barely winning game into a losing game.

    Do what the books say do, ramp your bet up as the count rises, down as the count drops. Play less crowded tables to get more rounds per hour. Play the best games available. And forget the voodoo stuff about not betting until the count peaks and starts to drop. No one can recognize that point until after it has happened and it is too late...
  • SSR...I appreciate your posts, but respectfully dis-agree with you,
    and agree with A. S. :
    Quotes from Arnold Snyder in Blackbelt in Blackjack Book/2005 Edition,

    "You don't bet big simply because the count is HIGH,
    you bet big because the count should come DOWN...
    you make small bets while the count is RISING,
    and large bets while it is coming back DOWN"(pages 200-201).

    "IF you play by the BOOK,
    you'll NEVER make it as a PRO.
    You've got to write your OWN book,
    and then, whatever you do,
    don't publish it!"(page 284).
  • Surfteq:

    Your words carry more weight if they're YOUR words, not someone elses.

    Frankly, all I can tell is that you're well read. I haven't seen enough independent thought outta you yet.

    So I respectfully disagree with your position. Get busy, and do your work, and point out your observations.
  • Surfteq, I've got to disagree with you also. And I think you're misinterpreting Arnold's words. What he means by that statement is that, although you DO bet big when the count is high, that's not necessarily the reason. The reason is that the count should be coming down.

    Since you have no idea when the count will start to "come back down", you must bet big when the count is high because you're assuming (that's all you can do) that it will be coming back down.
  • You are not understanding Arnold's comment.

    The reason we bet big when the count is high is that probability says that the running count is going to drop because those extra cards should "fall".

    There are two angles to this. If the count is high, it will fall most of the time. Not all the time since there is a cut card in most games that can "hide" some of the excess big cards. If the count is negative, then it will rise most of the time. But again not all of the time...

    All we can bet on is probabilities, and the probability is that when the count is high, it is going to drop (note I am talking about the running count only here, the "true count theorem" says that during play, the true count tends to remain constant but the running count tends to drop toward zero." If you interpret Arnold's words any other way, you are interpreting them wrongly. You can ask him over on "" if you wish. He runs the site and posts there all the time and will answer most anything...
  • Hey, I said that.
  • I was probably typing at the same time you were. I got a couple of interruptions while typing, but when I started the post I responded to was the last one in the list...
  • Hey, there's an echo.....echo.....echo in here. 8)

    Just got back from playing a little hold'm at one of the local stores, and couldn't believe the amount of VOODOO our resident witch doctor has been spreading on almost every thread......Must be a full moon out there or something. (but it looks like you two and others are trying to set him straight)

  • full moon doesn't even get this started. Mercury must be in retrograde. A man in dark clothes on a white horse riding west to east... all sorts of bad vibes in the air. :)

    (that last from the old Andy Grif. show)...
  • It's quite "amusing" to me how quickly some of you guys are so quick to "label" anyone who disagrees with you "VOODOO",
    and "witch doctor"(= "Ad Hominem" in Logic = Attacking The Man)...

    Reminds me exactly of the Hypocritical ATTITUDE of the Pharisees of Jesus' time and culture,
    who were absolutely "intolerant" of any belief other than their own...

    Just because a Strategy is DIFFERENT than yours does NOT mean that it is "VOODOO"!!!...LOL
  • There is a big difference that renders your comparison invalid.

    In the case of talk about "Jesus" there are things you have to take on faith and either believe in or not.

    In the case of blackjack and math, there is no "faith". There is nothing but "fact". And the fact is, there is no money-management (progression) scheme that can beat the game of 21 by itself.

    The math doesn't lie or forget, it just tells the _absolute_ truth every time. That's what math is...
  • SSR Quote,
    "The math doesn't lie or forget, it just tells the_absolute_truth every time. That's what math is..."
    Definitely agree with THAT,
    but THAT is NOT my "point"...

    My "point" is that Blackjack involves much more than just math alone...

    It involves Real "Variance", Real Patterns, Real Trends, Real Mistakes, Real Cards, Real People, Real Money, Real Self-Discipline, Real Skill, etc...
  • Sorry, but that is _all_ voodoo.

    Blackjack is purely based on math and probability theory.

    "variance" is a statistical property that indicates how variable something is with respect to the average or expected value (mean).

    All you need to do to beat the game is

    (a) learn to count cards using a viable system;

    (b) learn basic strategy along with any BS departures your chosen counting system suggests as worthwhile;

    (c) learn how to correctly vary your bet based on your chosen counting system;

    (d) go to a casino and do (a), (b) and (c). Forget trends. Feelings. other voodoo-based strategies. The math will get the dollars. The rest will not...

    The "real people" means nothing. I can play just as effectively against the dealer as I can against a computer, or a robot, or a space alien. Because the "players" don't affect the cards and the game...
  • I have to correct you on one thing, Rat. You have a big assumption built into your reasoning -- that the laws of physics apply and people don't have extra sensory perception.

    If I could be allowed to morph this discussion into a more interesting topic than the same old discussion, there are some variables that BS Hi/Low doesn't take into account:

    the most common mistakes people make;
    loss aversion (or the opposite);
    casinos that cheat - maybe a certain strategy can best combat casinos that try to cheat the group more than others (yes, the best strategy to combat this is not to play at those casinos);
    any more people can think of?

    Also, its evident that Surf likes the "high" of winning large amounts. Perhaps what is really going on is Surf remembers his big wins a lot more than his big losses -- that if you were to add up all his wins and losses you would come out with a loss, but the losses just don't stand out. If that's the case, perhaps there is another variable Surf is trying to take into account: his own happiness and fun while playing. As I've said many times, if you are having fun, a few % points don't matter. There are very very few people that are trying to make a living at the game.
  • SSR Quote,"Blackjack is purely based on math and probability theory"...

    Definitely agree with THAT, but THAT was NOT my "point"...
    My "point" was that BJ involves much more than just math only.
  • Surfteq:

    please provide _any_ reference showing that things besides pure math affect the game of blackjack. There is none. The deck of cards in inanimate, it is shuffled, the contents are known as to composition, but not as to order, and probability theory can tell us _exactly_ the probability of drawing any specific hand, or which playing strategy is optimal for a given hand, etc. feelings, suspicions, inspiration, etc, all has absolutely no effect other than to lower your ev if you do not play what is known to be correct strategy...


    You are correct. I don't believe in ESP. Nor in telepathy. Nor in levitation. Nor in out-of-body experiences. Nor in witchcraft, voodo, hocus-pokus, black magic, and so forth. I believe in math, and in computer simulations, and in card counting as one way of obtaining an advantage in the game of 21. All the other things being discussed here are simply nonsense, pure and simple.

    Let's not turn this place into a circus, trying to see who can come up with the most outrageous suggestions for playing the game contrary to what is known to be optimal...

    If you want to toss your money away, that's your right. But don't try to purport it as "reasonable play" so that beginners will try this nonsense, only to see their bankroll shrink more quickly while expecting to win.
  • You don't have to get snippy with me because you are irritated with Surf. I agree with you -- its math dependent; and all this junk about Real casinos, Real people, is Real nonsense.

    However, my only point is that there are some variables that the basic strategy formula may not be taking into account. I'm sure there exists, but I haven't seen posted, basic strategy tables for loss aversion people (i.e. in some instances it may be worth the drop in EV to get a drop in the negative variance). Or, similarly, some may prefer to take more risk, realizing their EV goes down, but their positive variance rises. I say negative and positive variance without actually knowing if the distribution is symetric -- if it is symetric, feel free to replace my terms with just "variance."

    And perhaps there is some way in which the dealer shuffles that could be factored in to slightly modify the BS tables that may produce a higher EV. Computer simulations assume random shuffling -- dealers don't randomly shuffle. Perhaps there are even studies on the methods of dealer shuffling and the effect that may have on the game. Yes, a longshot, but not out of the realm of possibility.

    To me, this is worth talking about and is a lot more interesting than the "you practice voodoo"-"no I don't" discussion, which I think has been had enough times.
  • Didn't mean to sound "snippy". I'm just pointing out that strategy is well-defined. If you prefer a so-called "risk-averse basic strategy" such a thing could be defined.

    variance is symmetric, but the basic strategy point is on the negative side of the Y-axis, which means there is more of the total area under this curve in negative territory than in positive territory. A counter shifts this mean to the right of the Y-axis, to about the 1% mark, but there is still _plenty_ of area under that curve that is to the left of the Y-axis in -EV territory.

    One can define a pure EV-maximizing strategy (max bet at TC=+1, or a RoR minimizing strategy (cautious bet ramp, but lower EV, etc.)
  • Stainless...... where do you play??? I would like to come and watch you for a couple of hours to see how well your counting works.

    Also as soon as my new book comes out the casinos will start to close their blackjack tables as my method of play and money management will totally wipe them out.

    Surfteq,,,,, I'll be a pauma tonight Friday.... the guy in the black hat..

  • SSR/F.Chicken - Risk-averse basic strategy tables have been have been around for at least 25/30 years. Essentially (and obviously) the number of double downs and splits is significantly reduced........Sorry, but I don't remember the exact negative effect on EV.

  • unclenorm,
    Pleeeze don't publish your book yet. I don't want the BJ tables to shut down over here. I want to play a couple of more years if possible!
  • Relevant to the discussion about betting progression "voodoo" -- there is a nice article on about them. Check out
  • F. Chicken - I have posted this before, but it has been a couple years. If you are going to play a progression, my recommendation would be to play "Oscar's Grind".

    I have been using it for about thirty years when I am not counting ....either just playing socially or if there is heat, and usually when I'm forced to play six deck.

    As Snyder points out, it will not improve your EV, but it is very conservative method that will give you more "session" wins than losses, usually without any huge swings in your bankroll........I would recommend it for anyone who just wants to play for "fun".

  • UncleNorm:

    I mainly play (played) on the MS gulf coast. Once or twice a year, we make a trip to vegas for a week or so each time. I have hit other places (Tunica, Pearl River, a few midwest casinos, Harrah's in NO, Boomtown and so forth as well. But those are sporadic at best. Have not played but once since Katrina hit and closed the MS coast...

    As far as the "they will have to close the doors" that has been claimed many times. The casinos love those claims to death. :)
  • According to Mr Snyder and several others,when using Oscars Grind,the occasional big loss will wipe out your winnings from smaller sessions.
    But the math does not back that up.
    The article quoted above says you will wipe out approx. 1 out of 5000 sessions,losing a bankroll of $13,000. Yet you'll have had 4,999 winning sessions of about $100.
    $49,990 in winings are not wiped out by losing $13,000.

    Using a slightly less agressive grind,I have had practice sessions of over 1,000 sessions now.
    998 of them resulted in my winning $100 or more(sometimes I've split the last winning hand or gotten a BJ on it.4 times I've lost my entire $500 bankroll.
    In 9 sessions,I've been down more than 60% of my bankroll. 5 times I've recovered.4 times I've been down 75%, none of those times have I recovered.An admitedly small sample,but over 30,000 hands does show some trends.
    In real life casino play of 7 sessions,I've yet to be down more than 20% of my bankroll, with real money winnings of $638 in very limited play.
    December 12th,I'll be in Vegas with a $1,000 bankroll to be used exclusively on this grind,and another $1,000 to be used with my normal fairly risk-adverse style. I'm extremely interested in the results,and will post them,whichever way they turn out.
    As I hope(and pray) to retire in a few years and greatly suppliment my income thru playing,I'm very open to any system that will 1)protect my bankroll, and 2) allow it to
    What I haven't figured out,but will, is how to incorperate the need to raise your bets while you are dealing with an extemely negative deck.Usually I just stand up and have a smoke when the deck is bad,but can't do that forever.
    Any tips on how to use the grind,with its call for placing larger bets, and negative decks would be greatly appreciated.
    I could just stick to his original system,but it seems pretty silly to be raising bets into a negative deck.
  • Grifter -- Is there someplace I can find an intelligible explanation of Oscar's Grind? I've tried searching online, but all the "explanations" I've found are quite lacking.

    For the record, I'm looking for a conservative, easy progression to use whenever I'm not counting. I usually stick to Walter Thomason's progression, but I wouldn't mind learning an alternative. Thanks.
  • jlc - I don't know of any really definitive source, other than the article linked above and what you probably found by "googling".......But send me a PM with any questions you have about it, and I am fairly sure I can answer them.

  • Actually,what got my attention about Oscars Grind is the misinformation that I found when I googled it.
    The fact that so many sources distorted or outright lied about it made me think there was something to it.
    Several sources from google call for you to raise after every loss,which is about as far from the real system as you can get.
    The website mentioned above has several other articles on the Grind,and many discussions in its forum about it as well.

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