General Question for the Forum about counting and BS
  • Ok I know these arent exactly accurate, but lets says for the purpose of this question that the house edge for the BS non counter is about 1% and that the player edge for the card counter is also about 1%.

    I have read many of the counters on here say that in order for that 1% player edge to be anything meaningful dollar wise, you have to play years and years and tens of thousands of hands. Its a long term edge and there can be a rocky road along the way, but it grinds out to 1% or so over the long haul. OK thats fine, but...

    The majority of BS non counters i know who have been gambling at least a few years are down HUGE. I know very few that are up for their lifetime and even those who have only been playing a few years seem to be down substantially. Im talking people who have been to a casino and played less than 20 total sessions are almost always down a good amount.

    So my question is why is it so easy for the 1% house edge for the house against BS players to explode quickly and in a big way, but the 1% player edge for a counter doesnt do the same in their favor. I mean 1% is 1% right. Shouldnt card counters be doing just as good from day 1 as BS players are doing bad from day 1? It does not take years and years and tens of thousands of hands for a BS only player to finally grind out his 1% loss, so why does it take a counter years and years to grind out his gain?
  • A very simple answer: The house has an advantage over the B/S player
    all the time. He has the advantage over the counter at least 80% of the
    time. So, the counter must do in 20% of the time what the house does in
    100% of the time.
  • i thought the counter had a 1% "overall advantage" including and accoutning for bets made when the count is not in their favor.

    so your telling me the 1% advantage only goes for hands when the count is at a certain number? that doesnt make sense.
  • I like that answer Ray.

    Considering most of these people ONLY play when THEY have the advantage, its easy to see why these people go up big and lose big.

    MHO is that one has to play 2/3 of the time to grind it out, rather than attack the game. As you point out, the advantage/disadvantage is rather small compared to most Casino games. We have the option to leave if ahead, the House has to keep playin. Small spreads and not straying too far from Basic help. In fact, strict basic with only advanced surrender options will do wonders for most H/L players. JMHO
  • and one other thing. the house does not have an advantage over the BS player all the time. the BS player plays many of his hands with a positive count, and whether he knows it or not, its still an advanatge for him.
  • Thats why people keep score Mike. Know when to "double-up". Consider the following point, also... if the game is -1% for the player, the "Method" needs a 2% gain to have a 1% Player Advantage. Food for thought.

    The more even the game, the better that 2% gain looks.
  • What you say is true. When the B/S player walks in the casino He is
    at a .5 disadvantage and the counter is 1.0 advantage. It is a matter
    of time/hands played. The counter for a typical four session may have
    12-16 hands that determines win/loss,but the B/S player will have a much
    longer exposure, say 320 hands. For that reason the counter needs a
    much longer period of time for his edge to work vs luck.
  • You are right again Michael, Nickels got closer to my point by pointing
    to variance. A counter can have two or three bad months and it may take
    him a year to recover. And yes, the odds do shift to favor both from time
    to time somewhere in the shoe/deck.
  • michael990 said:
    ....The majority of BS non counters i know who have been gambling at least a few years are down HUGE. I know very few that are up for their lifetime and even those who have only been playing a few years seem to be down substantially....


    Here's a little something to also consider...

    Are the BS non counters you know REALLY playing PERFECT BS? I know you used 1% for your example, but remember, in reality, it's more like .5% depending on the rules. AND, that is if you play PERFECT BS. People may say they play BS, but with distractions, and a few drinks, how many hands do they play wrong? It doesn't take too many wrong plays and your .5% disadvantage grows to a larger disadvantage.

    (Also, are the BS players using the correct BS for the rules they are playing)

    I'm a beginner, but studied BS religiously before going to the casino. And, I took my strategy card with me to refer to when I wasn't sure. Even played stone sober to make sure the alcohol wasn't affecting my playing decisions.

    Playing that way, I won some sessions and lost some, and was down a little over all. Even when I lost, I was there for 4 hours straight before losing $100. I consider that loss my cost of entertainment cuz I had a blast playing.

    Just my thoughts.
  • Thank you for all the replies, but there is still something I dont understand.

    what does it mean that card counters have a 1% advantage? Does this mean they only have a 1% advantage when the count is in their favor. That seems to be what one person said. If thats the case then wouldnt all the hands played at minimum bet when the count is even or against them and therefore a 1% disadvantage offset all the hands played at a high count and for higher bets? I realize you are betting higher with the advantage but I would think substantially more hands are played at an even count or negative count than at a hight count.

    I always believed the 1% adv for the counter was an overall 1% advantage, meaning factoring in all hands played whether at the low or high end of the bet spread. and if im right about that, then i still dont see how that overall 1% adv doesnt seem as fruitful as the overall 1% disadv that a BS only player is up against.
  • the math goes like this...

    Each increment in the true count (hi-lo count here) adds about 1/2% to the player's edge. If you play a 6d shoe that is -.5% off the top, then a TC of +1 will make the game almost dead even. A TC of +2 will make it a +.5% game (player actually has an edge here).

    overall, we end up at about 1% or so, because we bet big when we have the edge, small when the house has the edge, and when you sum all of that up our bigger bets have a better chance of winning which gives us our 1% or so...
  • michael990 said:


    The majority of BS non counters i know who have been gambling at least a few years are down HUGE. I know very few that are up for their lifetime and even those who have only been playing a few years seem to be down substantially. Im talking people who have been to a casino and played less than 20 total sessions are almost always down a good amount.



    I'm not a counter and I play B/S about 90-95% acurately. I have played in Vegas, Laughlin, Niagara, Windsor, Sarnia and Brantford. I can say this much so far. No strategy or system is going to help your edge if you just can't get the cards. There is a thing called luck and it is real. Just like some people shouldn't drink cuz its bad for them, some people should not play this game or gamble on a regular basis cuz its just not their game. If these folks you know have been to play 20 times and are down huge then maybe consider they are not lucky at the game and thats the way its is. The B/S strategy works but if the dealer is hot and making hands say 15 out of 20 your in for a long day. I have sat and played for hours on $100 and lost $300 in 20 minutes. No change in playing tactics. [B}LUCK[/B] my friend...its that magic that exists out there. Its like a hidden talent some have and some don't. My Mom being a good example...She will play cards but as soon as any form of money is involved she looses ALL the time. Thus she plays nickle slots :lol: Not trying to be harsh to you or your friends but there is such a thing that exists and you need to have some luck along with the strategy too ok! :wink:
  • For B/S: The HA is fixed nothing changes that. What does change is LUCK
    which alters your outcome win or lose. When you get more BJ's and
    make more hands and doubles you have had good luck. Does this alter
    the HA? No, but for some short period you are the favorite during this
    brief variance, but overall, even when you win, the HA is still there. To
    alter the HA you must take some kind of action that is not related to
    luck. IMHO...


    Counters depend on very large bets to gain an edge (20 * X ). Suppose this amounts to 12-16 per session. For any one session this is a very small
    number and random chance/luck can take its toll. Now multiply 16 * 10,000 and luck is, or begins, to flatten out/vanish. This is the crux of why
    a counter depends on the long term. Some counters start out winning and
    never look back. They are the exception because 1% is such a small
    advantage.
  • Some of the people I know play "basic" and are down big. You know why?... Its because after a while, they stop betting ONE unit (say $25), and increase the bet, rather than LEAVE the table.

    Part of Basic Strategy is that ALL bets start out as ONE unit. A split and/or Double is the only time the bet increases. Surrender is the only time a loss is 1/2 a bet. Many of these "losing basic" players get that itch to get even and go broke in the process.
  • Nichels- When you're down a 1000, it's a pain to reduce to $10 bets. Oh,,,
    how long it took for me to get that through my thick skull.
  • If in ONE session, 1000 would mean I bought in for 4000 and would be down 5 bets... for some other people, it might mean wipe-out at a loss of 40 bets.

    No, really though... -1000 hurts a lot of players, and becomes an object lesson in $$$ management. At some point of loss and/or gain the bells and whistles go off and the thought occurs that "this is enough". Of course the liquid pain-killers dispensed freely at the table, may influence one "hearing" as it were.

    For multi-session-course-of-a-year with a lot of say 15 or 25 play, -1000 might not be outside of expectation.

    Good point about the "time-line" in the scheme of things. Have a plan ! reason out how much you want to play.... for a day, or week, or a year.

    Full tables = SLOW MONEY for both sides
    1/2 tables (4 players including oneself) = AVG. MONEY
    Heads-up or 2 players = FAST $$$

    Think of it as a tournament... this has helped me endure.
    Start "SLOW AND LOW", and progress according to ability, knowledge, and luck.

    My tastes are 1-4 chips with 4 players at a shoe with good rules, and am lucky to have at least the good rules, and full tables Just-In-Case.
  • Mike:
    To more directly answer your question, The 1% advantage means that such player AVERAGES a 1% advantage for the rules and conditions of play. This means that such a player may leave the table as soon as the game is even, and bet minimum at that point. As the score increases, so does the bet and the advantage. Overall, in the long-long run, that player has a 1% advantage, on the average.

    For some other methods, a 1% advantage can be had even if playing a little bit when the house has a small advantage. Usually though, in such cases, the player increases the bet more steeply, or bets more chips than the first example, to compensate.

    Both would be 1% advantage to the player... but the 2nd example takes more risks.

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