Only Perfect Will Do
  • I have a friend who travels the country teaching and instructing how to play advantage blackjack. He's a former member and was one of the leaders of the MIT blackjack team, so I totally trust and respect his opinion on the subject of blackjack. He told me that out of all the people he has taught, whether it be in group seminars or in private training, the biggest problem he saw with them was that almost all of them could not use their counting system correctly. No matter what skill level they claim to be at. I found this to be amazing, but he assured me it was true. Basically he's found most people count at the beginners level and never advance from there, although they think they do because they they go to a casino frequently after they claim to know how to count. The biggest problems occur after about 30 minutes of counting. People forget counts, reverse negative and positive counts, bet wrong, and basically screw up counting after adding a few distractions. He told me not one person that he has met in these classes has ever been able to pass An MIT checkout. This information leads me to believe that the reason most people aren't that successful with their play, even while counting is, most people are overestimating how good they really are. Most any counter can count down a deck of cards quickly, but can you continually count 6 decks with a 1 minute break in between with someone talking to you and the television and stereo on for 2 hours, without making more than 2 mistakes. And thats the easy part thats not even including betting, basic strategy, and variations to basic strategy. Try have someone dealing to you under the same conditions playing as you think you should for at least 2 hours straight, and see if you can make 3 mistakes or less. Basically if you don't play on a team and have to play through so many negative counts to find the advantage you want, you just cannot make mistakes. And doing sims factoring in errors won't be accurate because most don't even realize how many or in what area the errors are taking place. My advice is if you take playing this game fairly seriously, than be honest in evaluating your play, and step up your practice. If possible practice with another person, that way you can't control the speed of the action or pace of the game. Use a program like CVBJ for all its drills and simulated play thats great, but actually physically play also, to get the feel of the real movements of the game. Remember if this stuff was that easy blackjack wouldn't be played in casinos anymore.
  • Bojack, you have common sense to an uncommon degree. I'm curious about one thing. How many playable games are there within a 150 radius of your base? In addition, why is team play mentally easier on a person?

    Thanks, Jim
  • Well Jim its not really a matter of having playable games in our area because we'll travel anywhere in the country, or sometimes out of the country for a good game. As far as team play goes it can be easier because the duties of counting can be split up. Spotters dont have to worry about bet sizing or basic strategy variations, they just count and call in someone to bet when the count is favorable. The call in can come in and just bet larger amounts with an advantage and not have to worry about spreading or cover. And the beauty of it is, he'll never see a negative count or play at a disadvantage. This is a basic way to use team play, being that the call in is the better player that can come in and take over the count and knows how to figure how to size his bet to the count. Another common way is to have the spotter be the more experienced player, and when he calls in the gorilla, (a common term for this type of player) all the gorilla does is bet big on signals given by the spotter, and than leaves when signaled the advantage is gone. It makes for a good act and lots of comps for the gorilla player. And although you want to keep mistakes to a minimum, you have a greater margin of error when not having to wade through all the negative counts waiting for the advantage. Even though the spotters do play through negative counts they bet as low as they can, which is hopefully lower than the unit, and just flat bet the whole time. Its easier and less conspicuous than running around backcounting and wonging in and out of tables, and with a couple of people you can really find a consistent flow of multi unit advantages.
  • Bojack1 said:
    I have a friend who travels the country teaching and instructing how to play advantage blackjack. He's a former member and was one of the leaders of the MIT blackjack team, so I totally trust and respect his opinion on the subject of blackjack. He told me that out of all the people he has taught, whether it be in group seminars or in private training, the biggest problem he saw with them was that almost all of them could not use their counting system correctly. No matter what skill level they claim to be at. I found this to be amazing, but he assured me it was true. Basically he's found most people count at the beginners level and never advance from there, although they think they do because they they go to a casino frequently after they claim to know how to count. The biggest problems occur after about 30 minutes of counting. People forget counts, reverse negative and positive counts, bet wrong, and basically screw up counting after adding a few distractions. He told me not one person that he has met in these classes has ever been able to pass An MIT checkout. This information leads me to believe that the reason most people aren't that successful with their play, even while counting is, most people are overestimating how good they really are. Most any counter can count down a deck of cards quickly, but can you continually count 6 decks with a 1 minute break in between with someone talking to you and the television and stereo on for 2 hours, without making more than 2 mistakes. And thats the easy part thats not even including betting, basic strategy, and variations to basic strategy. Try have someone dealing to you under the same conditions playing as you think you should for at least 2 hours straight, and see if you can make 3 mistakes or less. Basically if you don't play on a team and have to play through so many negative counts to find the advantage you want, you just cannot make mistakes. And doing sims factoring in errors won't be accurate because most don't even realize how many or in what area the errors are taking place. My advice is if you take playing this game fairly seriously, than be honest in evaluating your play, and step up your practice. If possible practice with another person, that way you can't control the speed of the action or pace of the game. Use a program like CVBJ for all its drills and simulated play thats great, but actually physically play also, to get the feel of the real movements of the game. Remember if this stuff was that easy blackjack wouldn't be played in casinos anymore.



    While I agree with most of what you write, I don't agree with the concept that perfection is required. The type of error you make might not be very important at all. For example, in a shoe game, getting the big bet out when the count calls for it is the most important thing you can do. Playing decisions with a min bet out has very little effect on the bottom line. Norm has posted some results from time to time about this very subject, one classic was playing pure BS but ramping the bet based on TC. In a shoe, it didn't make much difference at all, which is (I assume) why the MIT team stopped with the playing indices.

    I think one needs to strive for perfection, but knowing that the occasional mistake anyone will make is not going to kill them. Counting errors have to be eliminated so that you recognize when you have an advantage. But precise playing indices and super-accurate discard estimation is not so critical, just look at the difference when flooring, rounding or truncating TC conversions. Not a lot of change...

    I happen to believe in sims. I've been writing/running them for years to answer questions about what is important and what is not. I like knowing exactly what to expect, rather than just thinking I know what effect screwing up an index play is going to have on my bottom line... Or what effect screwing up a betting ramp is going to have. Or, ..., etc...

    Just my $.02, but I think hyper-accuracy is hyper-overrated, particularly in the typical shoe games of today.
  • SSR, I consider you a professional blackjack player and a class act. No question in my mind you would make the perfect moderator for this forum.

    Best, Jim

    P.S. I never miss a post by either you or Bojack...Ray's posts along with Grifter's were also never missed.
  • jimpenn said:
    SSR, I consider you a professional blackjack player and a class act. No question in my mind you would make the perfect moderator for this forum.

    Best, Jim

    P.S. I never miss a post by either you or Bojack...Ray's posts along with Grifter's were also never missed.



    I happen to like a lot of folks here myself, Bojack is at the top of the list even though we've never met. But as to being a moderator, I would have to give a lot of thought to that as I already do this on a couple of other fora and there is a time consideration since I am also a university professor and teach and do research, as a full-time job.

    I suspect there are many good folks here that would make good moderators here whether or not they are good 21 players at all. In fact, I don't think that needs to be a requirement for a moderator. He/whe mainly needs to have a reasonable head on his/her shoulders to prevent threads from spiraling down into a flame-war, and to get rid of the occasional obscene SPAM that will show up.

    BTW, I am far from a pro player. I have played for a number of years now, and do practice hi-lo (the only system I have ever used) and some shuffle-tracking from time to time when I find a shuffle I can deal with without having to wrap my head in duct tape to keep it from exploding. But there are plenty of good/experienced/better-than-me 21 players hear based on the posts I have read. I just happen to be a computer scientist that likes to use computers to answer questions or prove/disprove hypotheses whenever possible.

    I've found the qfit stuff to be the most useful tools I have in my arsenal after the original Professional BlackJack book that got me started on hi-lo. One should not fail to look under any possible rock for potential assistance and advantage. qfit stuff is "must-have". Then you will begin to _really_ understand the game and what it takes to beat it, and decide if you have what it takes without having to go bankrupt to figure it out.. :)

    BTW, I was not trying to quibble with Bojack. But I did want to make the point that if one thinks perfection is essential, that view will most likely scare away most potential advantage-players. If you can get an edge with the speed-count or A-10 front count, you can get a better edge with hi-lo even if you make a ton of errors, so long as the errors are not major ones. Inverting the sign of the running count is one such error as you would bet big with no advantage and bet small when things were good, killing your EV completely. But once someone can count a deck or shoe down accurately, with distractions, while carrying on a conversation, playing with an advantage is not that difficult. Even if you choose to eschew playing indices completely and just play BS or CBS to keep life simple...
  • SSR, my point being is so many people overestimate their counting ability that they have no idea what or how many mistakes they are making. And let me tell you this, most mistakes are counting mistakes, especially after a couple of shoes and with some minor distractions. And as you previously agreed that can be the mistake that will make you miss your advantage, or even worse make you think you have one when you don't. In more instances than not people were generally making 2 to 3 counting errors per deck while being tested in simulated playing conditions, while the same people would make 0 to 3 counting errors per 6 deck shoe when just counting them down. These mind you are not novices either, they range from 2 to 11 years experience. Could you imagine how badly you would be playing being consistently off by that much. And than when you get whipped at the casino you go home and run your simulation to find out whats going wrong, and when it tells you nothings wrong, you just figure you're on the wrong side of standard deviation, and that everythings going to be okay. When actually you're not okay and never will be playing in this manner.
    Most people don't have the chance to be tested in actual playing conditions, and most don't think it matters. I believe that it does, and if you can't than you better strive for perfection while practicing, because you're way off if you think mediocre will make you a winner. Nobodys perfect. I've seen some of the best counters in the world, they're not perfect either. But the difference between them and most is they try to be, and it shows in the results. Trying to be perfect is one of the best ways to assure your mistakes will be minimal. Trying to be anything other than perfect will assure you that you will settle for whatever happens. I could never play that way, and if anybody wants to be good at this game neither should they.
  • The next best thing to "perfect" is consistency. Fact is, you'll never get there otherwise. Over the long run we all have about the same SD (good/bad luck), but to hear some tell it, theirs is mostly bad. Perceptions are a lot like assumptions, hardly ever trust-worthly or educational.

    Just got back in the good old USA and I thought by now we would have Nickels and somebody else as Moderators. What is the problem?
  • Bojack1 said:
    SSR, my point being is so many people overestimate their counting ability that they have no idea what or how many mistakes they are making. And let me tell you this, most mistakes are counting mistakes, especially after a couple of shoes and with some minor distractions. And as you previously agreed that can be the mistake that will make you miss your advantage, or even worse make you think you have one when you don't. In more instances than not people were generally making 2 to 3 counting errors per deck while being tested in simulated playing conditions, while the same people would make 0 to 3 counting errors per 6 deck shoe when just counting them down. These mind you are not novices either, they range from 2 to 11 years experience. Could you imagine how badly you would be playing being consistently off by that much. And than when you get whipped at the casino you go home and run your simulation to find out whats going wrong, and when it tells you nothings wrong, you just figure you're on the wrong side of standard deviation, and that everythings going to be okay. When actually you're not okay and never will be playing in this manner.
    Most people don't have the chance to be tested in actual playing conditions, and most don't think it matters. I believe that it does, and if you can't than you better strive for perfection while practicing, because you're way off if you think mediocre will make you a winner. Nobodys perfect. I've seen some of the best counters in the world, they're not perfect either. But the difference between them and most is they try to be, and it shows in the results. Trying to be perfect is one of the best ways to assure your mistakes will be minimal. Trying to be anything other than perfect will assure you that you will settle for whatever happens. I could never play that way, and if anybody wants to be good at this game neither should they.



    There's nothing above I would disagree with. One evasive action you can take is to use CVBJ to test your playing accuracy, since it will catch every betting/playing error which will thereby catch most counting errors as well. And you can play it in a room with the TV turned up, and try to follow the plot in a TV program, and talk with your wife/kids/etc, and all the while playing correctly according to CVBJ. That's how I have used it and I find the casino _easier_ to deal with than that environment, since just watching a TV program is a challenge while playing BJ accurately...

    If you can do the above and play for an hour with zero errors reported, you will be good to go in a casino environment, IMHO. And, more importantly, you have a good idea of what your actual error rate is, hopefully zero after one practices enough...

    If someone likes to drink and play, it would also be wise to drink while playing CVBJ to see _exactly_ what it does to your error rate. :)

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