Playing BJ for a living
  • Hi guys,

    I'm new to this board. :) I've been playing the game for a while now, and just wanted to know what you guys think of the possibility of playing BJ for a living.
    Specifically, do you think a solo player can earn $100K a year playing BJ?

    Let us assume the counter only uses Hi-Lo counting as his weapon, with wonging if allowed. He can play up to 40 hours a week at the tables, and rotates between AC and Foxwoods. Further, investors will put up the money for this player. Do you think winning 100K is possible?

    MJ
  • Not playing full time, but playing between 3-400 hours per year, or between 1/5th and 1/6th the amount of hours you plan on playing, I have been averaging close to making $25,000 per year, or 1/4 your goal, for the past 10 years with just straight counting. I do other things, such as hole card play, that increase my win amount significantly.

    The but in the title is because playing full time is not for most people and not easy to do for extended periods without a ton of travel. If you have family it can be a problem. If you do not like living in hotels, things like that. Then there is the question of SCORE. AC, a place I have not gone too for several years, has a standard game that is just not that good and conditions that make it crowded many hours of the day. You get your 40 hours per week in when the place is empty and you might play 3X as many hands in an hour when compared to hours where the tables are about full. Play at a crowded table for 40 hours and you have played about 2,400 hands that week, play heads up for 40 hours and you have played 8,000 hands.
    Though they will not toss you from AC, playing there often, even if you are alternating casinos, you will become known. Management may instruct the dealers to cut penetration when you sit down, especially if you have been having repeatively good sessions at that casino. So besides the question of how many hands you will get in, you have a penetration question.

    Foxwoods can toss you. Being an Indian casino, if they did not have any fear of hurting their public image, counting could be a scalping offense, but it is not. Most fulltime counters do not go back to the same place again and again, without letting some real time pass. That is why I earlier mentioned hotels and family, successful full timers travel continuously, never getting to setteled or to well known in any location.

    What I think might happen is even if your bet level is high enough to create a profit of $50 per hour over a 2,000 hour period, you will have trouble getting in enough hands or enough hours without traveling to more places and finding some better games to play.

    ihate17
  • MJ1 said:
    Hi guys,

    I'm new to this board. :) I've been playing the game for a while now, and just wanted to know what you guys think of the possibility of playing BJ for a living.
    Specifically, do you think a solo player can earn $100K a year playing BJ?

    Let us assume the counter only uses Hi-Lo counting as his weapon, with wonging if allowed. He can play up to 40 hours a week at the tables, and rotates between AC and Foxwoods. Further, investors will put up the money for this player. Do you think winning 100K is possible?

    MJ


    There are a lot of variables to your question that need to be answered before it can be determined what type of money can you earn playing full time. First off what type of bankroll are you talking about? What type of split are you talking about between player and investor? Do you get paid no matter if you win or lose based on E.V.? Also if you plan on playing 40 hours a week you will need to play at least a couple of different places besides Foxwoods and A.C. Just for general information, most pros don't play 40 hrs a week due to travel and risk of burning out. If you are serious about this you really should incorporate Vegas into your plans. With the bankroll needed to assume a $100,000 income you will have many different casinos with good games that you can play at on regular basis. Winning $100,000 is entirely possible, but you need to be good, you need a decent bankroll, and a real game plan on how you are going to manage your money.
  • I have 2 challenges for you first challenge is to play the hit or stand game on difficult mode and to get a 100% with 10 or more bonus points at least 3 or 4 times. I suggest that you use the game from time to time even after you think you are really sharp so you can be sure you are playing the best blackjack possible.

    The second challenge is to go into a Casino playing for small amounts of money no more than a $5 or $10 table use hi low count 2,3,4,5,6 count as plus 1 7,8,9 count 0 and 10,J,Q,K,A's count -1 your unit value will be the table minimum. On the first shuffle of the deal you will bet 2 units and play your hand in the most profitable manner on the second deal of the deck you will either bet 1 or 4 units depending upon if the count is negative or positive betting in this manner allows you not to jump your bets up or down to much and will attract much less heat. If you can win in 5 out of 6 sessions using a bet spread of no more than 1-4 or $5-$20 you got what it takes to be a winning blackjack player all you have to do is up the ante. To maximize your chance of sucess I suggest that you have a bank roll of $500 available to you if you want you only have to buy in for a $100 but having back up bankroll is handy if you get caught up in a wild hand.
  • learningtocount said:
    I have 2 challenges for you first challenge is to play the hit or stand game on difficult mode and to get a 100% with 10 or more bonus points at least 3 or 4 times. I suggest that you use the game from time to time even after you think you are really sharp so you can be sure you are playing the best blackjack possible.



    What does this have to do with anything? I just played it 10 rounds on difficult. 100% every time. Best bonus was 22, worst was 16. Only problem (for me) on the bonus rounds is that moving the mouse that quickly introduces errors when I click the wrong button.

    But being able to play perfect basic strategy is step 1, out of a couple of dozen steps necessary to win money. When I talk to someone about counting cards this is always an assumption before beginning. If you can't play perfect basic strategy, then there's no need to get into card counting in the first place.



    The second challenge is to go into a Casino playing for small amounts of money no more than a $5 or $10 table use hi low count 2,3,4,5,6 count as plus 1 7,8,9 count 0 and 10,J,Q,K,A's count -1 your unit value will be the table minimum. On the first shuffle of the deal you will bet 2 units and play your hand in the most profitable manner on the second deal of the deck you will either bet 1 or 4 units depending upon if the count is negative or positive betting in this manner allows you not to jump your bets up or down to much and will attract much less heat. If you can win in 5 out of 6 sessions using a bet spread of no more than 1-4 or $5-$20 you got what it takes to be a winning blackjack player all you have to do is up the ante. To maximize your chance of sucess I suggest that you have a bank roll of $500 available to you if you want you only have to buy in for a $100 but having back up bankroll is handy if you get caught up in a wild hand.


    If you _can_ win 5 of 6 sessions, you are better than most players I know, myself included. also I would assume you are talking about playable single-deck games. that 1-4 spread won't beat a shoe game unless you count pennies per hour at that betting rate...
  • I can't imagine attempting to play blackjack for a living as an individual. It seems to me that it ought to be approached as a corporate effort so as to get into the realm of big bucks and the advantage of averages.

    As an individual, I think your concern would be how much can I afford to lose rather than how much can I win. You may have a better chance with the stock market. In the market, you may take advantage of diversification and play the role much like an absentee business owner, but as an individual blackjack player you are it.

    Stay with the day job and invest your blackjack profits. Both can work together.
  • I think the best approach to BJ is to use it to supplement your income. My goal is just what Ihate17 is doing, about $2000 per month tax free. Compared to most people's discretionary income, that is huge.

    I'm fortunate that I get to travel with my job at my company's expense. As long as I can cost justify what I am doing, I can work trips into most of the worthwhile gambling destinations. I believe the best are all of Mississippi and Vegas. Where I live (Knoxville), airfares tend to be expensive. I can usually drive over to Nashville, book a Southwest Airlines flight, and charge a total of 350 miles to my company at 48 cents per mile, and claim the whole amount as it is cheaper than flying from Knoxville.

    I have used this to make trips to both MS and Vegas on my way to/from work assignments. We also have direct flights on Allegiant Air from Knoxville to Vegas for $100 each way now.

    Ihate had another great piece of advice a while back, don't play more than an hour at one place. While I stretch that a little, it is a pretty good rule to keep the heat off and keep you fresh. In Vegas, there are plenty of places to hit and you can map it out and keep moving from place to place. That worked great for me on my trip about a month ago.

    I would suggest listening to any advice Ihate gives as he is quite helpful and knowledgeable. Ihate17, what about a reference for your hole card strategy? You seem to think that gives you a significant advantage and I want to know more about it.
  • Knox said:
    I think the best approach to BJ is to use it to supplement your income. My goal is just what Ihate17 is doing, about $2000 per month tax free. Compared to most people's discretionary income, that is huge.

    I'm fortunate that I get to travel with my job at my company's expense. As long as I can cost justify what I am doing, I can work trips into most of the worthwhile gambling destinations. I believe the best are all of Mississippi and Vegas. Where I live (Knoxville), airfares tend to be expensive. I can usually drive over to Nashville, book a Southwest Airlines flight, and charge a total of 350 miles to my company at 48 cents per mile, and claim the whole amount as it is cheaper than flying from Knoxville.

    I have used this to make trips to both MS and Vegas on my way to/from work assignments. We also have direct flights on Allegiant Air from Knoxville to Vegas for $100 each way now.

    Ihate had another great piece of advice a while back, don't play more than an hour at one place. While I stretch that a little, it is a pretty good rule to keep the heat off and keep you fresh. In Vegas, there are plenty of places to hit and you can map it out and keep moving from place to place. That worked great for me on my trip about a month ago.

    I would suggest listening to any advice Ihate gives as he is quite helpful and knowledgeable. Ihate17, what about a reference for your hole card strategy? You seem to think that gives you a significant advantage and I want to know more about it.


    There are references to hole-card play. I think Griffin was the first to really analyze how you should play when you know the dealer's hole card. It does give a significant advantage, but sloppy dealers are infrequent finds, and the same dealer is not always sloppy, depending on the kind of game he is dealing (shoes vs hand-held for example).

    3 card poker was a classic opportunity the way the auto shuffler/dealer worked.
  • In Professional Blackjack, Stamford Wong has a double exposure strategy and it gives basically almost perfect hole card strategy but using it is like committing casino suicide. You just can not hit your 19 because you know the dealer has 20. The strategy in the book is for the double exposure game.

    I believe I learned hole card strategy from Ken Uston's Million Dollar Blackjack, and I do not think finding a copy of the book is very hard.

    Today, with the peeking devices, catching weak dealers is harder but they still exist mainly in pitch games but also in the shoe games. More like a rare gift. Once I have found a weak dealer I will record his name in a list I keep with his description, casino he works at and any other information I get in speaking to him. It comes in handy. An example was several years ago a dealer in Vegas, that I could read the hole about 50%) and I talked and he mentioned that he had family in California and that most California casinos let dealers keep their own tips. On my next trip to Vegas, this dealer was not there. About a year later, on a trip to the Riverside/Northern San Diego county areas, guess who I find dealing pitch and sloppier than before.

    You do not need perfect hole card strategy to have a big edge. Get the Uston book but also just use common sense.
    Hitting your hard 18 or higher is a no no.
    Hitting your hard 17 should be done very rarely.

    But you can get away with stuff like not doubling when you know the dealer has a very good hand or draw and doubling when you know the dealers hand is poor (with exceptions).

    On short sessions you can be the biggest drunk or brain dead idiot in the world and get away with it. Sure, I split 7,7 vs 10, when the dealer has a 6 in the hole and have even doubled 9 vs 10 because that 6 was in the hole again and then not double 11 vs 5 because of that same 6, and on a very short session you can do all of these kind of things and be quickly gone.

    ihate17
  • A lot of people who want to be card counters fail at the basics and ultimately lose a lot of money at the tables. Since you got a 100% everytime with bonus scores of 16-22 obviously you are not that player. My personal top bonus score is only 15 because thats about my max speed of processing the info and clicking on a solution.
    My results at the blackjack table depend on the rules if I'm playing on a shoe game I would consider my self lucky to win 1 out of 2 sessions. If I'm playing on a single deck game with steller rules like the ones at Boomtown and Siena double any first two cards I think I can win 4 out of 5 to 5 out of 6 playing sessions! At the Biltmore playing on double deck with double on any two cards and double after a split allowed I won 7 sessions in a row! But my overall win lose rate at that game was proably round 10 wins and 3 loses. The Biltmore has sensed changed their rules so I can't take advantage of that game any more. Playing on a single deck when doubling is restricted to double on 10-11 only I think that my win lose ratio would be to win 3 out of 5 sessions. For me the playing rules of a particular casino had a huge impact on my results.
  • learningtocount said:
    A lot of people who want to be card counters fail at the basics and ultimately lose a lot of money at the tables. Since you got a 100% everytime with bonus scores of 16-22 obviously you are not that player. My personal top bonus score is only 15 because thats about my max speed of processing the info and clicking on a solution.


    By Norm's CVBJ (he posts here as "qfit" regularly. Run the drills and continually strive to beat your best time. It might initially take you 60 seconds to go thru 30 basic strategy test hands. Before you know it you can do it in 50, then 40 and then 30 seconds. And since the thing plots your progress, you can see over time the speed going up and the time used going down. But more importantly, you begin to notice you are "not thinking" about the decisions, they are becoming automatic, to the point that the only time you use is the time to get the mouse to the right button. To go even faster, you have to learn to use the keyboard to get rid of the lost time moving the mouse.

    you'll find that getting 100% on this web site (ignoring the occasional bug here) will become absolutely trivial. And that your counting accuracy goes up because now you don't have to waste mental energy on B/S decisions, just keeping up with the count. In fact, you will quickly become good enough that getting even one wrong in 60 tests will disgust you.

    That's the kind of skill a counter wants to have, its a detail that makes his real task easier.



    My results at the blackjack table depend on the rules if I'm playing on a shoe game I would consider my self lucky to win 1 out of 2 sessions. If I'm playing on a single deck game with steller rules like the ones at Boomtown and Siena double any first two cards I think I can win 4 out of 5 to 5 out of 6 playing sessions!


    If you play "equal sessions". Say exactly one hour each, you aren't going to win 5 of every 6 sessions. In fact, in terms of hands played, you are not going to win more than you lose, ever. But you will have losing sessions and winning sessions, and the winners will win more than the losers lose. But the raw number won't ever get to winning 5 of every 6 sessions unless you play 20,000 hands or so at one sitting (about 1.25 weeks of 24 hour a day play if you are lucky).

    Now if you do the usual superstitious stuff where you "quit when you are ahead" then you can win far more sessions than you lose, but your overall win or loss rate will not be changed because you are just dicking around with the session length to pick and choose when to stop. And you often stop at the worst possible time, and on losing sessions that can be very long you never get back to even. Don't think like that.



    At the Biltmore playing on double deck with double on any two cards and double after a split allowed I won 7 sessions in a row! But my overall win lose rate at that game was proably round 10 wins and 3 loses. The Biltmore has sensed changed their rules so I can't take advantage of that game any more. Playing on a single deck when doubling is restricted to double on 10-11 only I think that my win lose ratio would be to win 3 out of 5 sessions. For me the playing rules of a particular casino had a huge impact on my results.


    For me, penetration is far more important. The deeper the penetration, the more frequently I will get to push out a big bet in a + count. And that's where the money comes from. The rules are (in general) a secondary issue, particularly in shoe games. Yep, I'd rather play DA2 than D10/11 games. But given a DA2 double-deck game with 50% penetration, or a D10/11 with 80% (something you can find if you look enough) I'll take that D10/11 game without a second's hesitation.

    Most rules (ignoring 6:5 which should not be played anyway) are minor influences on EV given choices with penetration as well, but for me, penetration is the first requisite for me to sit down, then the rules would cause me to choose between two equal-pen games assuming there is such a choice.
  • at the Biltmore for example I had dealers that dealt down to 10-15 cards and I had dealers that shuffled after just 30 cards. The penetration that I get on the game is entirely up to the dealers. The dealers place the cut card in the shoe either shallow or deep and they deciced when to shuffle a 1 or 2 deck game it is entirely at there descresion! In the same casino on the same game the pentration varied from 30% to 85%. Other than the use of CSM or continious shuffle machines you can not tell how good or bad the pentration will be.
    Have you ever seen a dealer wipeout or early shuffle a lot of negative decks and give you good pentration on positive decks or do you see the opposite most of the time? If you see this the dealer has an effect on your results and that can either be a positive effect or negative effect.


    On single deck penetration is clearly effected by how many people are at the table if you are playing heads up I could give you about 7 rounds if the table has 4 or more people I will shuffle after 2 rounds. I have no problem playing only two rounds if I'm playing with good rules that are offered at the Siena and Boomtown with my 2-4-1 spread. I start of the shuffle with a 2 unit bet and if the count is positive by plus 2 or more on the second shuffle I up it to 4 units and if it is negative I decrease it to 1 unit. If the count is only plus 1 I will bet 2-3 units at my descrection. If I feel the count is neutral I will keep my 2 unit bet. The trick is I never more than double my last bet and I never cut my bet by more than half on the opposite side.
  • LTC:
    Books, computers, etc are all learning tools used outside of the casino. Inside the casino knowing all that you can know about your opposition, is a big advantage. For you, since you play in the same places over and over again, learn what you need to know about their dealers.
    Who are the dealers who give the best pen? That is the question you are asking in your last post. By now you should know who is giving horrible pen and who tends to give the best. If you even bother to play against a dealer who gives horrible pen and no other advantage, then you are not an advantage player but a gambler hoping for a lucky run.

    Overtime, with effort, you will learn which dealers in your area can have their hole card read, what kind of counter protection each casino uses, how strong or weak the pits are, and stuff like what kinds of levels of heat each casino gives or does not give.

    ihate17

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