Counting vs Progression: Which is Funner?
  • As I have been drilling on the KISS I count on my Casino Verite software and watching my bankroll slowly inch up (while undergoing the expected roller coaster curves of standard deviation) I've noticed something funny, I get a little bored. Something that didn't happen when I was practicing my progression, there the thought and actual occurance of hitting a nice streak and seeing a bunch of chips hit my stack put a little excitement and tension into the rote of playing basic strategy. Has anyone else found this to be true? Another question: Can it be shown mathematically or not that progressions get you your reward or your punishment faster than counting, ala Deer Dog Deluxes 'make hay while you can' theory of life? That is, for the short term recreational player, does a progression fit thier casino needs better than a count? Finally, it has only been alluded to in PMs but I think its time for some of the Old Dogs here to commit to a discussion on thier experiances in combining a count and a progression, I know they've tried it, how has it worked out and is it too complex of a system to use computer sims to address its validity?
  • Doc – Of the active posters in this group, there are only maybe three bonafide counters so the responses to your question are going to be limited. I’ll give it a shot first and maybe Renzey and Ray will follow up with their thoughts (or anyone else who has actually counted in a casino for a few years).

    1. Is Counting Boring?...... I think counting a six deck shoe is like watching grass grow or paint dry, and that is why I do not do it……boring, boring, boring…..and for so little gain vs. risk. Counting double deck is not boring at all because of the faster action.

    2. For the short term recreational player, does a progression fit their needs better than a count?.... Yes, I think it does (and Renzey will probably disagree with me on that). Progressions can be a lot of “fun” with not much risk and I think that is what the short term rec player is looking for….along with a chance to “win”, and some “action”. Let’s face it, flat betting is even more boring than counting.

    A side note about progressions in another post……Generally, positive progressions will lose a little often and win big once in a while. Conversely, negative progressions will win a little often and lose big once in a while……So pick the ‘action’ you want.

    3. Combining a Count and a Progression……I do not know of a single counter who has not at least ‘dabbled’ with a progression as “cover”. I have tried most of them with double deck, and am testing using Walter’s Method right now. I have also used a 1-2-3-5 pos. prog. and variations of Oscar’s Grind.

    3A. Do They Work and Are They Too Complex to Test??.....Yes and yes. They work as cover because you are getting the pit used to seeing larger bets in front of you. Yes, they are too complex to test because you deviate from the progression too often to adjust your spread to the count.

    Doc, I know this is a short response but I didn’t want to write a book.

    Regards…..Grifter
  • Doc, Work,work and more work is what gets to everyone that has
    ever tried counting. Let me tell you some things that I experienced
    with the old high/low system years ago(it's been around for quite some
    time). First, your losing the count more times than not and no matter
    how much practice you do at home, it is not the same as being under
    the gun. When I could only play 3-4 times a year I tried several things
    to try to simplify the process. On my first attempts at counting, I was
    so intent on not dropping the count again that the only way I knew if
    I won the hand was if the dealer gave me some chips. Does that sound
    like joy or fun city? It's work, plain and simple, but I don't know any
    alternative that can beat this crazy game. Now days, with casinos in
    resonable distances, things should be easier because you can play
    more often. This is a great advandage because you have the opportunity
    to develop those individual tricks(unique to you alone) that allow you
    to overcome those things that muddy-up the water.

    I never gave progressions any serious consideration because I knew
    from a professional point of view that they could not work. At least
    my logical mind, lacking any theory, discounted this approach.

    Yes, that much work is boring as hell.

    Ray
  • Doc, I began to drill with the Kiss method and gave it up because I was unable to concentrate and follow the game-like Ray. Too busy now with kids and work and I don't get to do enough real play to know how much it would have helped. (My husband is scared, VERY scared about the free time I'll have when I retire and has suggested I start a retirement account for my BJ bankroll NOW! :roll: ) I am preparing for a trip to Vegas and have decided to concentrate on Renzey's Ace/Ten front count. I believe that this will give me enough of an edge and still allow me to have some fun! So since having fun is my main goal, I guess I vote for counting part of the time.
  • Why do you gamble? To have fun, or to win? I have noticed that most gamblers want to gamble worse than they want to win. And so, they get their wish.

    Playing a winning game at any kind of gambling is work! The fun comes in the winning. Two blackjack players, one a funloving typical type and the other a competent card counter sit at the same blackjack table. While they're there, the typical player is having fun "playing" at his game and the competent card counter is "working" at his. If the deck breaks even, on the way home the typical player is experiencing disappointment and the card counter is having fun.
  • Renzey said:
    Why do you gamble? To have fun, or to win? I have noticed that most gamblers want to gamble worse than they want to win. And so, they get their wish.

    Playing a winning game at any kind of gambling is work! The fun comes in the winning. Two blackjack players, one a funloving typical type and the other a competent card counter sit at the same blackjack table. While they're there, the typical player is having fun "playing" at his game and the competent card counter is "working" at his. If the deck breaks even, on the way home the typical player is experiencing disappointment and the card counter is having fun.


    You got it, Fred. It's the "on the way home" part that matters. If I've spent at least part of a session counting, even if that part wasn't a winner, I walk to my car with no feelings of regret. And if that part was a winner, I walk to my car feeling brilliant, and ten feet taller than the 90% heading to their cars with eyes downcast. If I play an entire session without counting and still come out a winner, it's just a lucky night and feels nice, but I'd rather win $100 by counting than $200 by dumb luck. Because without counting as your long term strategy, that $200 is just on temporary loan from the casino at loan shark rates. As for how it feels during the time at the table -- yes counting is work, and I can't go through two-three hours doing it continuously. When my brain turns to mush, I move to a lower limit table and just play strong basic strategy. Your mag-7 advice has made me the table's third base hero more than just a few times. I think KISS II is the right balance between accuracy and ease of use. Those red deuces don't trip me up anymore.
  • I don't think a pure counter is going to have fun its alot of stress and frustation. I would suggest that you read Blackjack without tears by Morse. Dave is probably one of the few succesfull pure counters in the world. However, when you look at his system the spread is too much for any mortal to handle. He will have you betting $50 bucks one minute and $2000 the next!!!! Lets face it card counting is mathematical advantegous but it will cause the average guy to commit suicide!!!!
  • Playmaker21 - Don't take this personal.....Your post was just another in a long list of posts about supposedly how difficult counting is, how you need a massive bankroll, etc., etc.......All written by non-counters. 8)...and I'm just getting tired of hearing the "horse puckey".

    Here are some of my favorites over the last six months:
    1. Some say it takes a 5,000 unit bankroll to count.
    2. Some" counters learn 150 indices.
    3. The advantage is so little it isn't worth it.
    4. You have to 'spread' 1-10 to make any money.
    .....and then let's add yours....(paraphrased to shorten)
    5. "....Morse. Dave is probably one of the few successful pure counters in the world." .....I could send you a list of just the ones I know, but I don't think they would appreciate it; and Renzey's list would be even longer.
    6. "However, when you look at his system the spread is too much for any mortal to handle. He will have you betting $50 bucks one minute and $2000 the next!!!!".........Where are you going to play and get by with a 1-40 spread????
    7. "Lets face it card counting is mathematical advantegous but it will cause the average guy to commit suicide!!!!"........Renzey and I are just average (sorry, Renzey...I shouldn't use your name without asking) and we are still alive after 30+ years each.

    Sorry for "venting", but here is a "mathematical fact" for all:
    If you play a 'normal' USA double deck blackjack game using a Level 1 count and only spread 1-2 (yes, $5-10, $100-200), you will be playing a "favorable expectation" game......YES, that is a fact..... will have a positive EV>

    Respectively submitted.....Grifter
  • I'll add some numbers to Grifters post

    1. a 500 unit bankroll is realistic, 2000 is conservative
    2. The "Illustrious 18" (18 indices) and "Fab 4" cover most of the potential gain.
    3. Figure a 1% advantage: say $20/hand, 75 hands per hour = $15/hour. Not great, but better than minimum wage!
    4. Standard spread for 2 deck is 1-4.
  • Ed - Thanks for the additional numbers, especially the spread of 1- 4. I should have stated that although you mathematically have a "plus" with a 1- 2 spread, you normally would not play it.

    Grifter
  • O.K. guys back from my trip to Vegas and had a few sessions of GREAT success using simple Ace/Ten front count (Renzey). I've changed my tune and now am ready to put in the time and concentration necessary for a more advanced counting system. In fact, I spent the flight home counting down a deck...no where near 30 seconds yet! I began with learning Basic Strategy, added Renzey's mag 7 hands, then used the Ace/Ten front count. Perhaps, that is the key, we each have to go through the learning process and prove to ourselves that having the edge counting gives IS fun!
  • D said:
    O.K. guys back from my trip to Vegas and had a few sessions of GREAT success using simple Ace/Ten front count (Renzey). I've changed my tune and now am ready to put in the time and concentration necessary for a more advanced counting system. In fact, I spent the flight home counting down a deck...no where near 30 seconds yet! I began with learning Basic Strategy, added Renzey's mag 7 hands, then used the Ace/Ten front count. Perhaps, that is the key, we each have to go through the learning process and prove to ourselves that having the edge counting gives IS fun!


    Congratulations! With your schoolteacher 'act', you're going to be dangerous, D. What did the other people on the plane think of all that shuffling and counting? By the way, in a plane you're slightly oxygen-deprived because it's only pressurized to 10,000 ft. Are you counting faster on the ground?

    Percentage-wise, roughly how many shoes had 36 or fewer A-10's come out in the first two decks?
  • Grifter it really comes down to risk tolerence. Their are very few people who can handle the swings a pure card counter goes through. I would advise people to look at interviews by Arnold synder at his web site blackjack forum. George C came to LV with 100k lost about 70%. His wife leaves him. However, he comes back to win for the year. Now I ask you how many people could deal with something like that. Remeber even the great Ken Uston consider throwing in the towel on numerous occasion. We have to look at blackjack like any form of investment. Its has to match the persons personality. Even though card counting gives you the advantage in the long run. Maybe only a handful of people can deal with the swings!!!
  • ynders interviews are on www.bfonline.com. check out pros at work/win and losses: tales from the treches. its gives you the real deal. Not any fairy tales!!!
  • PM21 – Well, where to start?.....Let’s go to your last post first, and some unasked for advice. I read Snyder’s, Wong’s (I’m practically a charter member of Green Chip), and other blackjack sites every morning. If you don’t believe anything else I say in this post, believe this…..Those are both good sites, but they are no different than others in the respect that….There are some real “players” and there are some wannabees and pretenders at both places. Most of those pretenders have never been near the “trenches”. I know who most of the “players” are because I have corresponded with or met them over the years, but most folks would have no way of knowing.

    Now to the post before that….You said, “Grifter it really comes down to risk tolerence.” …..I agree with you 100%. Now we have to define “risk” as it relates to the “swings” you are talking about.

    Do me a favor and answer this question, “What do you personally think a typical “swing” is for a counter in a four hour session?”

    You give me that answer so we are both on the same page as far as “swing” and I will do my best to give you a comprehensive response to your post.

    Regards…..Grifter
  • To Playmaker: I have to add one more question to Grifter's list. If a blackjack player doesn't have the risk tolerance to absorb the swings of a card counter, then what more palatable risk alternative is available? Counting cards produces a losing session 40% to 45% of the time and flat basic strategy loses around 55% of its sessions.
    If it's the wide betting spread that spooks you, then cut your bets down to where a 3 unit bet in a 1-to-10 spreading scheme equals what your "average" size bet was before. Now, 80% of your bets will be only 1/3rd of what they were before, 10% will about be the same as before and 10% will be triple what they used to be. Now your swings will be about the same as before -- except -- you'll be playing a winning game!
  • Fred - Welcome back from wherever you've been. Ya' stole part of my thunder, Hoss. :wink: ....but only part. When Playmaker gives me his answer I am going to advise him that "risk" vs "gain" is for the most part controllable, and show him how it works......what you did was give him the "first clue"......Thanks.....Grifter
  • I don't understand Grifter your question is short term oriented, but your a long term advocate?huh. Assuming the card counter is willing to spread properly the focus should be on 400hrs not 4hrs. Which is about how long it Should take you too double your bank. Futhermore, inorder to answer your question I would need the spread, #decks and rules. However, lets get back to the purpose of this discussion which was about which method is fun. Well in blackjack the more money you make the more fun you have. Yet, this rule doesn't seem to apply to Grifter. Through his own omission he would rather spread a misely 1-2 and make less money. I know of no investment were the investor would rather make less money. If your a pure believer in your mathematical theorem then quit pussyfooting around and bet your advantage!!! The only logical reason your not trying to make as much money as possible is your afraid of the swings. Which debases your argument for longterm play. Lets face it being scared is No fun!!!!

    Peace
    PlayMaker21
  • Playmaker – I will try one more time. Actually, I am trying to agree with you about risk being important but you seem to want to be confrontational and personal. I am responding to this because I do not want the newer players on this board believing what you seem to have convinced yourself of and have posted about……as follows:

    You apparently think that anybody who counts is going to have huge swings and are taking big risks they can’t handle, and you said,

    "Lets face it card counting is mathematical advantegous but it will cause the average guy to commit suicide!!!!........
    “Their are very few people who can handle the swings a pure card counter goes through.”


    Do you really believe this?..... Of course there is risk involved, we are gambling. What you seem to be overlooking is that the ‘risk’ vs ‘gain’ ratios can be controlled. They can be “dialed in” to the amount of risk a player is comfortable with. And it is so easy these days. When I learned to count in the late sixties all of us were “flying by the seat of our pants”. We didn’t know our EV, ROR, Var, etc. Today, you can pick up almost any good blackjack book (Schlesinger’s “Blackjack Attack” for example), and you have charts that give you almost everything you need to know.

    What more can I say?.....The game you play is up to you. If you think counting is too risky, then don’t do it. If you believe what I say above, they pick a “risk/gain” ratio you are comfortable with…..and “just do it”.

    Quick response to your last post…….I have never played and did not advocate a 1-2 spread. Read my post again. I was merely pointing out that you could reduce your risk to minimal and still be playing a positive expectation game, much the same as Renzey’s post to you.

    My game is double deck with a 1-4,5,6 spread. I am totally comfortable with the risk involved, and yes I have fun playing it, and no it does not “stress me out”.

    Peace…..Grifter
  • I think were on the same page. Don't misunderstand me I use card counting all the time.I use all types of methods in my toolkit. I take a Unified approach. I just don't want people to think counting cards is a holy grail. Despite what you say most people fail at card counting because of the swings.Also we have to make the difference between the individual counter and teams. I'll quote Peter Giles from Wongs Blackjack Secrets" When it comes to card counting for the individual I just don't trust the math". In the end its up to the individual. When did money not matter in blackjack. In poker if your making money thats all that matters. However, in blackjack if your not playing like Don or Wong then your wrong. I'll stick with the poker philosophy "Money matters first"

    Peace
    PlayMaker21

    .
  • Yep, we're on the same page.......we just had to find the page. :wink: And I agree counting is not the "holy grail". It sure ain't for everyone.

    Peace.....G.
  • PM21, I find you comments very interesting and, to a great extent, on
    target. Most of my post on this Forum relate to the money issue and the
    impact that it has in general. You contrast blackjack with poker and I'll
    take that as a starting point to express my views and ask for your review.

    POKER

    In poker your technicals skills, personality, and money are fused
    together to form your playing style. The use of money at strategic
    points is all important; more that any other factor it will determine your
    final outcome(my opinion). I think we can say that poker is a game
    of opportunity that is very difficult to teach or learn for most personalities.

    BLACKJACK

    Does money matter that much in blackjack? You bet it does BUT, in a
    far more subtle way. Whereas, in poker, opportunities come in random
    spurts, blackjack opportunities are "ENGINEERED". Example: Card cntg.,
    backcounting, shuffle tracking, Wonging,etc,etc.

    Your point is well taken, very true and to the point. If you can't stand
    the heat(put the money out there) then give up the ship.........

    I rate "PERSONALITY" as number "ONE".


    Ray

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