Card Counting/ Team play techniques needed.
  • I just got back from Vegas last weekend. It was my first time counting cards. Suprisingly all my hard practice had paid off. I played my 2 deck game just about flawlessly. The only problem I had was trying to make my play non-detectable so that it wouldn't suggest I was counting. Especially most of the time me and a friend were playing together as a team with our bank roll combined.

    For example at Binion's the dealer noticed we both increased our bets from $5 to $25-$30. She seemed to be really bitchy about it and yelled out "checks in play!!" really loud so the pit boss could hear it. I got really effin pissed about that. So the pit boss came over (he was really cool about the whole thing because he didnt think anything was up and he had a friendly attitude) so we played our hands out while the count was in the positive and we both lost our hands anyways. After we lost those 2 hands there was less heat.

    Another example is when we were at the Plaza. We had to constantly flat bet when the count was bad of course.... but when the count jumped high we took advantage many times and increased our bet. Our bet spread figured out to the size of the bank roll we had was:

    +1 bet $10 +2 bet $20 +3 bet 30 +4 bet $40... and if the count was really good and over +4 we put in any amount higher than $40.

    One problem all the time was that playing at a $5 table and flat betting when the count negative... then alot of time by the end of the round the count would go to +3 ... so we would go from $5 to $30. The dealers expression on their faces were as if they knew what was up. That I didn't worry to much about because most were cracking jokes about it. BUT some times I did see the pit bosses looking closely.

    Luckily half way thru the trip I learned how to overcome distractions and be alert of my surroundings with keeping the count at the same time.

    But still my question is what are some good ideas/tips that would make counting while in team play less obvious??

    Aside from that, I also want to thank those on this board who have given me most helpful tips to my questions months ago when I was still learning how to count. I used most of your suggestions thru practice and in real play on my Vegas trip and it all came to good use. So thanx! It feels good when you can beat the casinos game and see the mathematics work. Even tho we ended up even we did witness that card counting does work, you just have to wait and catch those good runs.
  • Hi Jaynie-
    do what the MIT team did-call in your team partner when the count is up-act like you don't know one another.
    best of luck-
  • Yeah that works, BUT our bank roll on our last trip was combined so we couldnt really afford to bet more than $40 or $50 being our max bet or our percentage of ROR (risk of ruin) would be higher.

    I guess with a team of 2 people the best way is to play at seprate tables?? Hopefully on my next trip I will have a 3rd or a 4th person. Its hard to get a team together because I don't know anyone that wants to make the effort to learn counting.
  • maybe you could both backcount at separate tables?
  • two points.

    1. Two players with shared bankroll. If you play at separate tables, you can each play as if your combined bankroll is your personal bankroll, and bet according to the total bankroll (assuming you use a Kelly-type approach). If you play at the _same_ table there is covariance and if you both bet as if the entire bankroll were your own, your risk of ruin goes way up. For example, when the dealer gets a natural you both lose. At two separate tables, that is less likely and there is no covariance between the two hands.

    2. one player can play min bets and call the other player in to make only max bets when the count climbs. The risk here is the min-bet player is playing a negative expectation game which costs money. And normal variance can turn that into a real money killer...
  • The first player should leave the table at call-in.

    SSR- How do you view covariance, negative or postive?
  • Ray:

    It depends. For example, two players at separate tables are statistically just like one player that plays twice as many hands per hour. Same ROR, same max bet, same betting ramp, etc. At the same table, the two players hae a covariance between their hands, the best example being that when the dealer gets a snapper, both lose (unless one is lucky enough to push). On separate tables, that is far less likely for two dealers to get a snapper at the same time...

    I deal with it because playing a RO6 SD game, it is better to play two hands if you are heads-up as you get deeper penetration. But then you need to bet about 3/4 your normal max bet on each hand to maintain your normal risk of ruin due to covariance...

    I suppose with two people, it is a negative point since both need to bet 3/4 their normal bet, which means a total of 1.5X the normal big bet will be on the table, but the players eat more of the good cards at the same time. Which means the effective winning rate is then not any better.

    Tough question. To me it is just a "property" of the game that has to be remembered... I didn't know about this early in my counting "life" and played far more risky than I thought as a result...
  • I see...From my point of view I am playing two as much as possible
    in shoe games. While the benefit of covariance is small in terms of
    risk reduction, it combined with larger spreads that can look very much
    like a progression is the real goal. However, get ready for big variance
    because no two playing sessions are alike and two or three bad runs will
    test your metal.
  • hi ray and rat-
    simply stated what are you guys suggesting two partners do in a 6 deck shoe game-player A calls in plaer B and leaves the table or A calls in B and continues to play at the table?
    thanks guys-
  • Prog- If the big player just comes in and bets a 1-8 or 1-10 spread, he
    is simply doing what you could have done by yourself. In the case were
    he comes in and you leave, your total EV is a little better because you,
    having a neg expectation, are no longer in the game.

    I would suggest that the big player should bet much more than $5-$40
    or $5-50 with a ramp of two steps (100-200). That way he looks more like a big time player that is there to gamble. In that case, if he is not an AP you can afford to stay in because your neg EV is small compared to the overall expectation. Playing just for cover is not worth that much effort when one player simply replaces the other.
  • If I may jump in, this topic is interesting to me, in that I can see potential in even a two person team maximizing time, bankroll, and expertise to increase results. In the past I usually thought of a team consisting of four or more people. To your knowledge, is the two person approach being used much today, and is it a system that works?
  • PJ- I'm sure you read Bluebook and we can compare what I said above
    to the A/10 method. It goes like so:

    -Front count the first two decks
    -If you have a 36, jump in and bet 4 units for the remainder of the shoe
    -Don't count any more even when you know you have just 1.6 ( I think
    that is the number)

    Why do you think that works? Here is my humble opinion:

    When Renzey don't allow you to count further than two decks he is
    forcing you to be consistent....(e.g. 4 units flat). Consistency is what
    makes this approach a winner, a .25 winner over time.

    This is the same situation that Prog has....He is doing the counting so
    as to arrive at the advantage. Then the big player is betting the large
    amounts on a consistent basis time after time. Big players unit is much
    higher and very limited in steps(2), but like the A/10 it must be played
    with consistency over time.

    With this approach both players avoid the heat....................
  • (I don't think my response posted so here goes again)
    My thinking is that a TWO person team should also be effective. One person flat bets table minimum then calls in big bettor at the right time, thus avoiding heat. My main question was, are you aware of this system being used commonly today, and does it work well? One concern would be playing too long and getting recognized by the pit. (Yes, Blackjack BB II is my favorite book, but I see the front count as mostly a one player situation.)
  • PJ- It was not a very good example, but I wanted to show the value of
    consistency. If you flat bet $100 with just a tiny advantage you will win
    money, but you can't bet that amount lacking that tiny advantage.

    I don't know of anyone in my area that plays team blackjack. The idea
    of 5-6 players playing as a team at different tables has no advantage
    unless we get into the science of large numbers which would average
    out there play over some period of time. They will win money for the
    team, but not in the sense that we are talking about.

    The object is to bet big with the advantage and eliminate and/or
    reduce the poor EV time. That's hard to do. So you work as a team (2) to
    reduce your exposure time and I believe that is what Prog is after.

    You introduce the possibility of big variances and they will occur, but
    that is also when you win the money.
  • couple of more notes...

    1. If one player flat-bets, and calls in the BP at + counts, should the first player stay or leave?


    a. He can stay because at a + count, he has a positive expectation for those hands where the count is up, so even though he is flat-betting and losing at negative/neutral counts, he is winning in + counts. From that perspective, he should stay.

    b. But. He is eating cards with a small bet out, while the BP is eating cards with a big bet out. Much better to bail out and not eat good count cards with tiny bets, to maximize the BP's win rate...

    2. 2-player teams? Got to be plenty of 'em. And they work in two ways. One is the BP/spotter approach. The other is to play two different tables, counting and spreading, and let the two players reduce overall variance and get to "the long term" twice as fast. Probably for smaller combined bankrolls, this is safer/easier.

    Hope that helps a bit, the question is complex. And there are degrees of either approach. 2 players to 200 players and everything in between.

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