another question on sessions.
  • Hypothetical question;
    You are in a casino,playing $10 a hand,raising your bet as per the count and playing perfect BS.
    Every hand goes your way,you get dealt 12 with a high count against a ten ,but dealer busts,you win your doubles,your splits,everything,and when you can't make a hand,the dealer busts.
    Two hours later,you are up $800.
    If you quit,you walk out $800 ahead.
    If you stay,you may win more.
    If you stay,you may tread water and stay up $800
    If you stay,you may lose some ,alot, or all of your $800 in winning.
    Three choices,2 out of 3 that don't favor you. So why do so many folks here insist that leaving now is some form of voodoo.
    Even assuming that your entire life is some "super-session",your "EV" will be the same next hand you play,no matter if its now,tomorrow or next week.So why are you so oppossed to setting a quit limit.
  • I don't think anyone is opposed to setting a quit limit if you want to set a quit limit. The question is why are you setting a quit limit.

    If you are setting a quit limit as part of a strategy to improve your odds against the house, then that is what people are calling voodoo. Picking a quit limit doesn't change your EV or improve your chances for winning throughout your lifetime.

    Many people want to walk away from a night gambling as a winner. For those, it may give them pleasure to stop if they win a certain amount and then they can say they were a winner for that night. No one will stop them. Its just when it is part of a strategy to increase your odds that people rightly point out the fallacy of such a strategy.
  • NYB- I'll give you my opinion/answer by looking at some fundamentals of
    money management and card counting theory. First, and before I go to
    the casino I figure the amount of time that I have to play and the BR
    needed for some level of coverage, say two SD. In my mind, I am willing to
    play as many hands as possible in my restricted timeframe. The BR is sized
    to fit the situation and I'm fully aware that I may lose it all and have on many
    occasions. I plan on a four hr. session with 1.2 hrs. drive each way.

    At the casino I play the game you have described and like you I am supprised
    that I am on such a good roll. During the first two hrs I find I'm up $500, then
    $600, then $700 and then $800. What form of motivation does these numbers
    bring? Well, frankly none. Why should they? I still have two good hrs and if
    I don't intend to use them why did I come in the first place? What we are
    talking about is not letting scared money, resulting from conservative thinking,
    have an impact on the need to play as many hands as possible every time I
    fill up the tank and head for the casino. A card counter must understand this
    concept if he expects to at some time get ahead of the game. If you quit at
    anyone of the above numbers you have accomplished nothing. Absolutely O.

    When do I go home:

    - 4 hrs are up, time constraint
    - Too tired, not likely in four hrs
    - Broke, empty pockets
  • Accomplished nothing,but added $800 to my bank account.the problem I have with this sort of thinking is that you seem to value EV over everything. EV is a guide,not a law.
    Quitting up money may not raise your lifetime EV,but to say it wouldn't raise your lifetime earnings is beyond me.
    The cards don't know that I quit up $800,so there will be no 'evening up session",its just that my lifelong session begins anew,with me up $800.Whatever my EV was on the hand I quit will be the same,unless I've learned a new trick or two.
    One thing I keep hearing/reading is that if not constrained by time,you should play until you find yourself too fatigued to make proper decsions.I'm pretty sure that by the time a player realizes he's burnt out,its several hands too late.
    Were I a professional player,I would think that I would want to make X amount of $$$$ a week and quit playing when I reached it. Greed will kill the Golden Goose.Too much time at the table leads to more "heat".
    As a casual player,I want to play long enough to pay for my trip,increase my bankroll and earn the comps I get.I'm not someone who plays 12-15 hours a day for the length of his trip.Still have tons of non-casino things to do and see in and around Vegas.
    Setting a goal(a quit point) works for me.Perhaps it is an artificial goal,but life is full of those.
  • NYB:

    The math just doesn't work like that. You can quit when you are up $800. Or you can play on. It has _zero_ effect on your lifetime bankroll. You might quit just before a big loss, or just before another big gain. No way of knowing. Only thing for _certain_ is that you are going to approach your expected value as you play more and more hands. Whether you play em one hand a day, or 1000 hands a day doesn't change a thing, except for how long it takes you to "get there".

    This is all about random samples. And just because you pick a "good sample" for one trial, (up $800) that does _not_ turn out to be a bankroll improver. If you play on today, or you wait and start playing tomorrow, you could have _exactly_ the same final result after the same number of hands are played both ways.

    There is simply no way to "cheat" the math. Long-term is long-term. Stop-loss or stop-win limits have no effect. Unless you count cards. If you "stop-win" it actually hurts your overall EV. Norm Wattenberger posted some numbers over on AP.com about this very issue. Why does enforcing a "stop-win" limit hurt your ev? When do you typically reach a win limit? Answer: in a + count where you are betting big and winning. When you get to $800, would you _really_ quit with a +6 TC and throw away an advantage opportunity that exists _right now_, knowing that the next session will start off at zero on a new shuffle? That actually lowers lifetime EV. If you set your stop-win limit to say "I will quit after I win $800 _and_ reach the end of the shoe, or the count tanks, whichever occurs first, then your EV doesn't drop. But it also does _not_ go up...
  • I play DD,so I would play until the end of the deck.
    I'm not saying quiting will improve the EV,but it will improve the earnings. Earnings and EV are not the same.
    There will be players that strictly play BS but have a lifetimes positive earning rate and there will be players that count with the best that have negative earnings. There will even be the super-rare idiot that is clueless but somehow wins the majority of the times he plays.
  • Earning and EV are not the same, but EV is the best way to predict what your earnings will be. If your earnings turn out to be higher than what your EV predicted, then you are on the positive side of the bell curve. You could quit while you are ahead and always be up that amount of money.

    However, assuming you are going to play blackjack again sometime in your life, there is no difference between continuing to play; stopping for an hour and then playing again; stopping for a day and then playing again; or stopping for five years and then playing again. That's the point. (Although Rat rightly points out that when you are winning, there is a greater chance of a positive count, so stopping when you are winning may mean you are leaving a good deck).

    There is of course other reasons why you may want to stop: you may be tired; you may have had your fill for that day; you may be happy with winning X amount and this makes you happier than playing any more could make you. These are all valid. The serious counters, though, are there to make the most money possible and care less about the enjoyment of the game or feeling good after a few hours. Plus, they know that if they have a positive EV, they will, in all probability, make more money the longer they play.
  • Chicken- That is a very good summary. If you don't follow the methods of
    advantage play, then it does not matter how you react to a win or loss. It's
    you money, your time,etc. I think the objective here is to make sure new
    players understand the theories of correct play that have been proven over
    the last 40 years.
  • Chicken - I'll go one beyond Ray and say that was an "excellent" summary, especially that last paragraph......Grifter
  • Yet even the worlds best players must have quit points,no?
    A world class counter isn't going to stay in a casino until he is mentally exhausted,nor is he going to leave a positive shoe simply because its time,are they?Especially if they are going to continue playing in another casino,where the count would start over.
    But I'm not a serious player,yet. I plan on being one day. Just took the quiz in Renzy's book and scored a 32.As I've said,I have more to do in Vegas than just play cards.And setting artificial goals lets me make money and do those things.
  • A world class counter will stay in a casino as long as counts are good, playing conditions seem favorable, he can get a lot of hands per hour, and he isn't getting much heat. A lot of variables go into how long worldclass players stay.

    Sounds like you have a plan -- best of luck as you continue to learn. I'm continuing to learn myself every day and I would hazard to guess that everyone on this board trys to enjoy the other aspects of the casinos or Vegas while at the same time working to make money and perfect their skills.

    Myself, I can't help but play Craps and (gasp) Let It Ride every once in a while, even though I know my odds are worse. I'm very much in it for the fun, though (although I find counting and trying to "beat the casino" fun).
  • I have a session limit of one hour or less. That is for a single pit. Playing longer has frequently resulted in problems because the more you play, the more you win, the more attention you get. It is hard to figure out whether someone is counting for certain if they are not at the table long enough to attract attention, and cause the pit to ask surv. for a "skills check".

    My reasons for quitting, in no particular order:

    1. session time limit reached. I _never_ play more than an hour before "moving on".

    2. time to eat and wife is waiting.

    3. get tired enough to pack it in for the day (night).

    4. Have other plans. Show. Shopping. sightseeing. Etc.

    Notice there is no mention of reaching some win level. Of course if I cough up my session bankroll, I quit, if I have a session bankroll. When I play seriously I have a trip bankroll and that's all I worry about.
  • SSR,
    Since you limit your session to one hour or less, how do you get in enough playing time? My problem with moving to different pits is that usually the conditions will be different such as higher minimums, CSM's, bad pen, etc. When I go to my local casino, it usually has only one or two pits with playable games. In Las Vegas you can move around to different casinos, but even there, it's more difficult to find good games. I would be interested in knowing how you and some of the other AP's deal with this.
  • Easy enough with several answers.

    In vegas, or reno, or even laughlin, the "next casino" is not very far away. Fremont street for example, where it is a short walk from the Plaza's good DD games to Binion's good SD games (both were good in late June early July, not sure about the present).

    If you keep up with the shift changes, you can play 3 one hour sessions in a single pit without seeing the same people twice. If the casino is big enough, and you are willing to take a bigger risk, you can go to a different pit for the next session.

    You can become a "Wong'er" for shoe games, where you back-count, jump in on + counts, and leave when it tanks, which limits your playing time at the same table, but increases your EV.

    The longer you play, the more careful you have to be. If you start throwing in too much "cover play" then you whack your EV more than if you just accept less playing time. If you use an aggressive spread, and bet at anything beyond $5/$10 units, you greatly increase your chances of being spotted and kicked out. I'd rather play a good game 3 hours per day at a single casino, rather than playing it for 3 hours in a row and getting tossed out where I can't play it again...

    Took me about 2 years to figure this out when I first got started. I rarely got backed off while playing, but when I'd return, I could hardly buy in before being told "anything but blackjack for you". I'd played too long at one session, drew attention, and then a video replay for a "skills check" would leave them waiting for my return. With my one-hour limit, I've not had any problems at all. I violated this just before Katrina, playing with someone else's money and playing about 3 hours (at his request) and the next time I sat down, about 2 weeks later, I was tossed. I hope that "record" didn't survive Katrina. :)
  • Your "war stories" are truly amazing. You play in a casino one or two weeks a year and have been evidently been backed off numerous times, had several 'skill checks' called on you, and were almost in a physical confrontation during one eighty-six......I guess I must be a really boring person. I've played about forty-seven weeks out of these last fifty-two and never had anything remotely close to your escapades this year (and very few over the last forty years).

    Grifter
  • My "problems" are 3 years behind me. The first two years I counted, I didn't know much about anything other than how to count using hi-lo. And at that time, I lived about an hour or so from west MS casino areas of Vicksburg, a little further from Natchez or Tunica (opposite directions). I played a fair amount and played _many_ sessions of 4-6 hours duration. And eventually started getting "burned" for doing so.

    I then started to play shorter sessions, and for the past three years I have had very few problems. BC kicked me out for simply winning, with my wife looking on. A MS coast casino backed me off just before Katrina for playing larger than normal stakes, with my usual spread, and violating my one hour rule needlessly.

    BTW I typically play _far_ more than 1-2 weeks per year. I usually make 1-2 trips to Vegas a year. In the past 18 months I have been there three times, for about a week each trip. I usually play the MS coast at least once a month, usually more, as I have lots of occasions to make business trips to the area and flying takes longer than driving due to small airports at the MS destinations I go to. There was a streak way earlier this year where I played almost every week in MS for several months. Of course, since August, I haven't played on the coast because until recently, nothing was open. Now the IP and the Isle of Capri are open, but neither had particularly good games in the past. I am going to be down there this coming weekend if nothing goes wrong.

    My only "escapade" for this year was going to a place where I have played many times, for short sessions, spreading $5-$40, and playing for far bigger stakes, bankrolled by a retired friend that wanted to see this stuff "work". It came up at the last minute, and was one of those things that had I thought about it, I would have handled it far differently, but it was a spur of the moment poor decision on my part, potentially costing me access to the best SD/DD game on the MS coast. No idea how Katrina is going to affect that. I hope the "data" was lost, I'll find out sometime next year as I understand they are going to re-open.

    As far as getting "backed off" goes, I've been fairly fortunate. I've had a few in the past, nothing to mention recently (except the one mentioned above and the BC Summer before last). The BC case was potentially ugly, as my wife was with me, and I simply refused the "please follow us..." and elected to leave. My wife is a bit paranoid now although we've not seen anything approaching that. My most recent "back-off" was apparently the result of a change in policies, since a friend of mine was backed off within two weeks of my MS coast "problem" as well. He'd been playing the same place, and emailed me about the back-off, within a week or two of mine. So maybe it was less about the big units I was playing, and more about something else that had changed.

    My wife and I have known a few CCs over the years, and when we used to sit around and talk, their "tales" had her terrified of walking into a casino with me. :) One good friend, living in CA, was roughed up significantly in Vegas, maybe 6-7 years ago (it happened to him before I had even started counting cards). That really got my wife's attention. And my "history" seems quite tame compared to some of the things I've heard from others... :)

    To recap, I've been 86'd exactly once, although I am not sure it would "stick" since I didn't sign anything. In some states, the trespass act requires a signature, in others, just a witness or two. Don't know about vegas. I've been backed off several times, although only once in the past 2-3 years, for my play. I did forget the backoff in a midwest casino where someone bet behind me and we were chased for "team play". Hardly Uston-like, IMHO. :)

    SSR
  • SSR,
    Regarding your previous description,


    Second paragraph: (MS coast back-off): What do you mean by "larger than normal stakes"? What is considered normal? How did they back you off? What did they do that constituted a back-off?


    4th paragraph: "Far bigger stakes"- What do you mean? What was the "escapade" you refer to? What happened that "cost you access"?


    5th paragraph: Did BC say "please follow me" just because you were winning?



    I hope you don't mind me asking for more details. I, like Grifter, find all this somewhat intriging.
  • Sorry for the "more than normal" confusion.

    I had played that same game _many_ times spreading $5-$40 (DD game). On this occasion, a long-term friend (retired) said "OK, let's hit the boats (MS casinos were floating at the time) and let me see how this counting stuff works." I told him "sorry, but when I stopped by (I was driving back from New Orleans to Alabama) I had not expected to have time to play any and didn't bring any amount of money that would be reasonable to play." He offered to supply the money and asked "how much". I said that for safety's sake, we'd want to have 20 "big bets" for a single session. He said OK, and pulled out $5,000 and said "will this do?" I didn't have my CV software and laptop with me, and couldn't do any real risk analysis, but decided to play $25-$200, which is in line with my normal $5-$40 spread (1-8).

    I made two mistakes. (1) spreading $5-$40 is not nearly as noticable as spreading $25-$200; (2) after nearly an hour I said "time to go" but he replied "you are up almost $1000, let's keep playing." I did.

    That's apparently what led to my trouble there. We played about 3 hours, and ended up about $1200 ahead. The next weekend I was down fishing with a family member and he suggested we all "hit the boats" after an all-day fishing trip. I had come prepared this time and off we went. I sat down, bought in, and before the first hand was played, pit boss came over and said hold on just a minute before dealing. Next came "the tap" and I was told I could play any other game, but not BJ any longer... I was allowed to cash out with no problems, and just over a week later, Katrina rolled through there shutting everything down.

    So larger than normal was referring to _my_ normal unit of $5. I have played $25 units several times, but I typically back off the bigger spread I use with $5 units since $25 units produce a much higher hourly win rate even without that big spread. But playing that long, that accurately, was a stupid mistake. One I would not normally have made, but the entire thing was so "impromptu" that normal thought processes didn't get a chance to fire up.

    At the BC "incident" I was playing at a $25 table (I believe, but that trip was 2 years ago and is somewhat a "blur" now). The game never produced a + count, so I simply flat-bet but seemed to win almost every hand I played, no matter what. After about 20-25 minutes of that, I was asked to step away from the table. I did and was told "please follow me." At that point I declined. I was told "we can force you to follow if necessary." I looked the guy right in the eye and said "you mean you can try to force me..." After a few more heated exchanges (with my wife about to have a nervous breakdown) I just walked out the front and left. Let another family member pick up our rental car later. I never bet more than the table min, never made any obtuse BS departures, just got tossed for winning. They told me that if I came back, they would have me arrested for trespassing, read some nonsense from a card one of the two "suits" had, but I did not sign anything nor let them take my picture (although they probably had something through the "eye"..) So yes, they tossed me simply for winning. I have heard similar stories about other gaming choices. A family member was tossed for winning at video poker, for example. (not the same day).

    My negative experiences fall into several categories, mostly during my first couple of years of counting, but not exclusively there.

    (1) short-shoe, where a shoe game may get 50% pen or less. A message "we know what you are doing..." Can also be through "the glare" from suits in the pit, or the pit boss coming over and counting down the discard tray while glaring. Talking on the phone while glaring. Etc.

    (2) typical back-off "no more blackjack, your game is too strong. You can play any other game you want however."

    (3) Get out and don't ever come back... Once at the BC, another time at a Midwest casino where someone reached over my shoulder and placed a $1000 bet on my hand a couple of times, in a + count, and got us both booted for "team play" even though I had never seen him before. And I had never seen this "back betting" stuff either, although I have since learned that it is not that uncommon when casinos are way crowded such as in AC.
  • stainless steel rat,
    I appreciate your added comments. If you don't mind, I have only one more question.
    At BC you were asked to follow the "suits" somewhere. This appears to me they wanted to back-room you. My understanding is that they only have legal basis to do that if you are being acused of cheating or some other crime.
    And even then, you can request law enforcement before going anywhere or showing your ID. With all the publicity today about casinos harrassing players and over-stepping their authority, would BC treat you or me the same way today?
  • I believe the intent was to (a) simply get a decent quality photograph of me and (b) read me the trespass act and have me sign something saying I had been notified of being trespassed. I don't know whether they would have actually tried the "backroom" behavior as discussed in many older books, although Grosjean's case shows that they still do this sort of stuff from time to time.

    I refused to "follow them" because I don't believe the request to be legal, and I personally felt safer in the middle of a crowd, rather than in some private office where anything could happen.

    But I will add, it was not clear where they wanted me to "follow them" to. Might have simply been to the cage for all I know. And I really did not intend to find out what their intentions were. But the security guy seemed to be pretty hostile, which didn't make me want to cooperate in any way.

    Short story ending is that it is a place that probably should be avoided, IMHO, at least until it changes hands (if it ever does).

    As far as whether they would do this today or not, I don't know. I do know that in Summer 2004 they certainly did exactly what I said. In addition, on another day a couple of family members that were out with us (but not present when I had the problem) were playing some sort of video poker, either at a bar, or something, and they got chased after winning a whopping $400 or so. They were playing one machine together, and were told "no more gaming here for you..." They cashed out and left. They also said that the security guy that chased them seemed to be hostile.

    Come to think of it, perhaps most everyone I encountered was hostile in some way or another. The pit boss certainly was not the usual "glad-hander" you find in most successful casino pits...

    Maybe they were burned recently by a counting team, or the usual hole-carders or trackers. Who knows.

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