Wong's "PB": why is this considered such a good bo
  • So I ended up purchasing Wong's Professional Blackjack (I don't have any of his previous books) and I have to say, this was the most disappointing book I've seen so far.

    First of all, the new editions (if you call '94 new) have removed a lot of stuff that was initially in PB and moved it to "Blackjack secrets". Having worked in the publishing industry before, I find it unacceptable; you can't just split a book to make more profit. If you want, keep the old text, and expand it in a different book.

    All that is left in PB is lots of tables that Wong himself says are worthless, since "only a computer would memorize all of these". I can't even say that it was a nice intellectual challenge to calculate them or read the calculations (as in Griffin's books which I still consider the best book around) because he uses simulation rather than actual probability. In addition, half of the book is full of playing conditions for games that probably exist only in some run-down boat in southern Mississipii during solar eclipses.

    So the only "interesting" thing is the benchmark, which shows the relative benefit of different variations and counts.
    However, the benchmark is based on 10$ on all negatives, 25$ at 0-1, 50$ at +2, 75$ at +3, and 100$ at 4 or above. I don't see how one can relistically use this spread. Seems that with covers and gradually increasing and decreasing bets, these numbers are useless. So yes, it's nice to have a benchmark, but having such an unrealistic one is completely useless.

    Too bad that I don't have the Amazon return slip anymore :)

    I know I'll be getting flames for this post (probably from SSR), but I'd still like an explanation of why this is considered one of the best books around. The only good thing I saw about this book is that it doesn't sell you a system or promote anything based on progression.

    Also, I always thought that this book was supposed to have a nice interesting section on tournament play. If he's not hiding it here, where is he hiding it ?
  • No flame from me. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion and the right to express it.

    I like the book, because I use Hi-Lo, and PB is the place to find information about this system, from indices for various rules to most anything you want to know about hilo and are not afraid to ask...

    Other books are more fun to read. "the big player" comes to mind, as does ETs "Beat the Dealer" with the interesting stories about real casino play...

    My personal favorite is the Casino Verite instruction manual, because that piece of software is worth more than all the books ever written, IMHO. :)
  • stainless steel rat said:
    No flame from me. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion and the right to express it.

    I like the book, because I use Hi-Lo, and PB is the place to find information about this system, from indices for various rules to most anything you want to know about hilo and are not afraid to ask...

    Other books are more fun to read. "the big player" comes to mind, as does ETs "Beat the Dealer" with the interesting stories about real casino play...

    My personal favorite is the Casino Verite instruction manual, because that piece of software is worth more than all the books ever written, IMHO. :)


    I use hi-lo too, but didn't see much I could actually use that I haven't seen elsewhere. Actually, it's more difficult to find the important stuff than it is with a simple I18 list.

    I looked at the halves count and it looks pretty difficult to use efficiently. I mean, even a simple level 2 count is difficult, this actually seems like a level 4 (since there are four different valuations for cards). I guess you really have to be a full time player for that.

    Thorpe's book is great, but it is very outdated; also, if I understand correctly, Griffin fixed some of the values.

    My favourite book is Reynold's "The Complete book of Blackjack". It tries to provide a concise summary of what you see in other books (although it focuses on hi-lo) including Wong's books. No long gambling stories, no excessive tables, and no progrssion. Very neutrally written. I actually found a new copy for 4$, so that's the best "for-the-buck" book I see. I plan to take it on my trips since it's lightweight and contains the important stuff (BS, important indices, etc.)

    My least favourite book has to be John Patrick's. In addition to pushing progression, he pushes a different basic strategy variation that reduces volatility (supposedly) by eliminating some splits and doubles. He writes in a "common sense" kind of way but feels it with useless stories, and other stuff. And also, the power of trends and progression.
  • Do not read anything by Patrick or Patterson. Pure voodoo.

    If you can buy one of their books, and make it fit into a bathroom tissue dispenser, that might be useful. Otherwise stay away.
  • Talking about books I'm half way through reading "The Great Casino Heist" by Richard Marcus:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1845290054/qid%3D1115565841/026-2812827-4095648
    I think it is a reworked/renamed version of his book: "American Roulette: How I Turned the Odds Upside Down-My Wild Twenty-Five-Year Ride Ripping Off the World's Casinos" ( which I have not read )
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312336012/ref=pd_bxgy_img_2_cp/026-2812827-4095648
    it is a excellant read, and it makes you wonder how they had the BALLS :shock: to do what they did, I only play blackjack at my casino, so I don't see whats goes on at roulette or craps, but I see some crafty moves going on by some people when a double down or split situation comes up :wink:
    of course if I was to try it I would be the bum that would get caught first time if I was try it :roll: and as there is 40 odd cameras pointing at me it would be a bit pointless dennying it :oops: :P
    I was on holiday 8) (Antigua) for a week there and read a few other books:
    I recomended this, as its a excellant read as well:
    "High Stakes: How I Blew 14 Million Pounds" by Nigel Goldman
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1840188537/qid%3D1113420489/026-4754609-9472450

    "Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony" by Gary Stephen Ross
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0771075324/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_1/102-3403796-1808954?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance ( It was also made into a film "Owning Mahowny" )
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000BXMZ8/ref=pd_sim_b_3/026-4754609-9472450?_encoding=UTF8&v=glance )

    Also I see that Ben Mezrich has another book out "Ugly Americans" http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0434012351/qid=1115568919/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_11_2/026-2812827-4095648 it looks another good read as well, probably get that as well, Take care and be lucky

    Cheers

    Colin

    ( BTW I nothing to do or a affiliate with any author or publisher or site and none of the links in this post are affiliate links )
  • stainless steel rat said:
    Do not read anything by Patrick or Patterson. Pure voodoo.

    If you can buy one of their books, and make it fit into a bathroom tissue dispenser, that might be useful. Otherwise stay away.


    After I went to vegas in March, I became really interested in the whole topic of gambling. Although blackjack is the only game I'd play and that interests me (since it is beatable and since it is mathematically interesting), I found it fascinating that there are so many superstitions and weird ideas on games that are scientifically unbeatable. So whenever I find books for like a buck or two at the used bookstore next door, I pick them up for the entertainment.

    I find Patrick's style to be hilarious. The man is so full of himself. But he is nothing compare to Lyle Stuart himself. There's a book called "Winning at Casino Gambling" which is just so bad it's amazing the thing is in print (though he's his own publisher, so that might explain it). Full of anecdotes, myths and "proofs-by-example".... It also uses "I" more than any other book I've seen before.
  • There are others. I have one here that gives brilliant advice about playing a progression. Says that "if you watch the roulette wheel, and wait until either black or red has won N times in a row (where N is > 0 of course, the bigger the better) then you can jump in and start your progression at the min bet and have a much lower chance of ever reaching the table max. The idea is that if you flip a coin 10 times using a Martengale progression, the chances of losing 10 in a row is 1/2 to the 10th power, or 1/1024 or about one in 1000. But if you watch the coin and notice 4 heads in a row, you can bet on tails and for the next 6 tosses your odds of losing 6 in a row is 1/1024 because you can count those first 4 "losses" as well. As though the coin or wheel has a memory...

    My wife bought me this book a couple of years ago. She came home one afternoon and asked "what is that black spot in the back yard?" I answered that is the Marten book you bought me. "Why did you burn it?" Because it was full of wrong thinking/math. "why didn't you just throw it away?" Because someone might find it and read it and it is full of bad math. She just walked away shaking her head. :)
  • When I used to give my OOP students blackjack as their final projects I had some geniuses who used Martingale for betting strategy. Which leads us to the important conclusion: if you are going to write a martingale-based gambling simulator, do not use short integers...

    People ended up using 16 bit integers which is usually good enough, but occassionally they managed to have a really bad streak. Kept crashing my automatic test program...
  • I have a blackjack project that I assign in a distributed programming course. We've been using 64 bit ints (long long for gcc, __int64 in microsoft visual C) since the beginning as 2 billion of anything for a signed int is not enough at the speeds we run at.
  • stainless steel rat said:
    I have a blackjack project that I assign in a distributed programming course. We've been using 64 bit ints (long long for gcc, __int64 in microsoft visual C) since the beginning as 2 billion of anything for a signed int is not enough at the speeds we run at.


    What's the nature of the project?
    I used to teach OOP programming, so the students had to come up with a whole infrastructure for blackjack games and simulators.

    Good chance to stress out inheritance, allocation, abstraction, encapsulation and all the like.

    I'm working on checking the feasibility of JBoss's clustered caching to building conferencing systems (distributed is not really my thing, so I'm probably going to catch hell). I might end up building the most cumbersome distributed blackjack game ever...
  • Varies. Last time was a sim program to compute a basic strategy matrix for the rules specified. For example, 1 deck, DAS, etc. They had to compute the BS matrix and note any differences between their results and published results and explain. Most differences are due to being "very close plays" and they don't run enough rounds for that particular test.

    The brighter students figure out an adaptive number of rounds approach, so that for obvious decisions where a single playig option is clearly better, they run few rounds. For those that are very close, they run way more rounds.

    And they have to use multiple computers to make the thing run faster than it would on one computer. That's the main point in fact...
  • What is OOP programming?
  • Object Oriented Programming. C++ and Java are example languages built around this...
  • To slpgh, If you want an excellent book, which is at least 100 times better than Wong's BS imo, study Blackjack Attack/3rd Edition 0ver 500 pages by Don S...
  • Ray said:
    What is OOP programming?


    Object oriented programming. Essentially, instead of building a program by focusing on calculations, you use entitites (called objects) and manipulate them. So, for example, shuffling a deck of cards could be taking a list of "Card" objects and shuffling them around. When a dealer wants to draw a card, the "dealer" object interacts with a "deck" objects and receives a "card" object, etc.

    The course I used to teach often used blackjack as a significant final project because a lot of things can change: for example, you can have a different "dealer" object that hits on soft 17, etc. Different players each with his own "behavior", etc.
  • slpgh- Sounds like some variations of set theory, but the logical form
    rather than mathematical. We used what I think may be along those lines
    for all the major OS development. Starting with DOS, OS, MVS, etc,etc...
    .......I could be completely wrong about that tho...........

    My son is a second generation CS...he tries to keep me current. He started
    to get interested at age 9 and by 10 he was writing PGM's in BASIC and one of the first releases of "C". Young kids can learn complex languages
    in record times.
  • I looked at Sun's overview of OOP. Like all macro languages, way to
    expensive for "system programming". My references were related to
    analytical and architecture methods and not language. Sorry for going
    off topic.
  • I think this topic is pretty dead BJ-wise, so no big deal if we continue off topic.

    I'm first generation CS myself (my parents are both archeologists, go figure), but I've been programming since I was about 7, although only moved out of BASIC when I was 11 or so.

    I was always interested in how people program and how they understand and modify existing programs. Throughout my undergraduate studies I worked nearly full-time for Intel, when I had a chance to see the problems heads-on.

    One of the things that my manager told me once was that: "Complexity and algorithms and performance and all the stuff you studied in school are all important, but only for a certain kinds of programs. Unless that is critical, go with whatever is easier to develop, explain and maintain". Which from observing other projects is very true: I've seen people build crazy data structures that are supper efficient, but only work 98% of the time. Similarly, I've seen people using systems where you manage your own memory (unlike Java or C# that does it for you) because it is more efficient, but in reality, it's very difficult to do correctly. Because of how computers progressed, almost everything except really low-level system stuff can suffer the delay incurred by a better language.

    OOP gives you advantages in design that you don't have anywhere else. Think about a blackjack program, where you have a table object and several player objects. To play a round, you simply deal cards, and then call "play" on the player object. Now as far as the program (or "game" object) sees it, it has a variety of Player objects and it simply tells each one to play a round. In reality, however, each Player object is different: OOP supports inheritance that means different objects can have the same interface but different implementation. You can have a good player, bad player, etc., each with a different playing algorithm but the "Game" is not aware of it.

    You could accomplish the same in a traditional language by passing a pointer to a function or actually manipulate the address for this "playing" function to simulate the same thing, but then you are focusing on supporting this rather than on the actual playing function. OOP simply makes it easier, and in most cases, it is worth the associaed cost.

    Actually, now there's a newer fad called aspects: sometimes the program can't be broken down into objects, but there are concerns that cross objects. For example, everything that has to do with logging into the same log file is its own issue but it spans lots of objects. So they call that an "aspect" and interleave it into the code of the objects in specific places. The jury is still out on whether or not it is practical in real life, but I've already seen some small-scale industrial projects that make great use of it.
  • slpgh said:
    I think this topic is pretty dead BJ-wise, so no big deal if we continue off topic.


    Perhaps not a big deal to you, but probably boring the heck out of most members. Let's keep our discussions blackjack related.....Thank you.

    Moderator
  • Grifter- Correct as usual and I'm guilty as usual. Books and software
    can never replace experience. I think I have 3 books and little or no
    software. I learn most by experience at the table and a lot of notes.
    If you record mistakes and review you want repeat them. It doesn't take long.
  • yep.. me too. Rather than OOP, maybe we should say "oops".

    :)
  • Grifter said:
    [quote=slpgh]I think this topic is pretty dead BJ-wise, so no big deal if we continue off topic.


    Perhaps not a big deal to you, but probably boring the heck out of most members. Let's keep our discussions blackjack related.....Thank you.

    Moderator[/quote]

    Sorry about that :)
    Actually, out of interest, who programmed the hitorstand game on this site? The interface seems to be flash based, but is the actual underlying logic based on the same thing ?
  • slpgh - I have no idea. Neil might know......Grifter
  • Grifter...

    Did you catch the card counter episode of breaking vegas tonight, about Ken Uston?

    Did it make you feel stupid? I can count down a deck of cards in well under 15 seconds, but damned if I can tell you the precise card that is left assuming you give me 51 to count down. The Uston actor could, however, as we all saw him count down 51 cards and tell "Al" that the remaining card was a seven of clubs. I could certainly say "7-8-9" but that is all. ;)

    Damn. I've been counting for 5 years, no wonder I don't will tens of thousands on a single night. I'm not good enough to figure out exactly which cards are left, yet. :)

    feeling mighty stupid after watching that program...
  • nope, i missed it SSR......I'll watch it the next time around.....G.
  • stainless steel rat said:
    Grifter...
    Did it make you feel stupid? I can count down a deck of cards in well under 15 seconds, but damned if I can tell you the precise card that is left assuming you give me 51 to count down. The Uston actor could, however, as we all saw him count down 51 cards and tell "Al" that the remaining card was a seven of clubs. I could certainly say "7-8-9" but that is all. ;)

    feeling mighty stupid after watching that program...


    Which channel was this on?

    Also, isn't Uston using a balanced count?
    In that case, why would he count specifc suites or colors ?
    Sounds more like artistic license to me.
  • It was the history channel "breaking vegas" series. Aired last night but will be on again I'm sure.

    No count I know of can count 51 cards and tell you the 52nd card is a seven of clubs. :)

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