My excursion to Blackhawk, CO, thoughts/questions
  • Hello all...first time post...have been following the board the last few weeks and very much appreciate the expertise and knowledgeable advice. Learned BS with the help of the BS trainer, then made a trip up the mountains to Blackhawk, CO....$5 max bet, 6 decks, S17, DOA, DAS, LS. Came away up $325 after approx. 15 hrs at the table over 2 days. Yes, the luck factor went my way...hit more than my share of BJs...but the advantages of BS were readily apparent, especially doubling/splitting when called for to stretch that $5 max bet. Recall splitting 7s three times in the same hand, doubled on one and stood on the remaining three to the dealer's busted, which made for a pretty nice one-hand take. By no means do I expect that kind of return on a regular basis, but I'll take it when I can...instilled some confidence in BS. Sadly, no one else I encountered at the table seemed to be playing consistent BS...hitting 13+ to the dealer's 2-6, standing on 12-16 to the dealer's 17+, not doubling/splitting when called for. Tried to extol the virtues of BS when the conversation presented itself without beating people over the head...which I felt like doing at times. It's beyond me why people so willingly spend their hard-earned $$ without first spending the time to learn the game to minimize the house edge. Anyway, a couple of questions...can the A-10 count through 2+ decks, as described in earlier posts, be leveraged to one's advantage when you can't increase your bet? Slight variations to BS possibly? Also, curious to know about tipping habits...when/how much...I know it has no bearing on the game, but it is nevertheless a part of BJ etiquette...and may even generate some good kharma :) Thanks for listening....Cuzz
  • On Raising Bets: Since even the best blackjack player on the planet will absolutely, positively end up losing more hands than he'll win at blackjack, it is utterly impossible to beat the game without having more money bet on your winning hands. The trick is to determine which upcoming hands you're more likely to win. The "Ace/10 Front Count" can do that very simply. But when it tells you the time is "now", you must get that bet up there and keep it up there through thick and thin. By doing this, then over time, as you combine all hands on which your big bets were riding, you'll find that you made a profit on them. If you can't bet more than $5, then you have to bet less or not at all during all the other times.
  • Cuzz, my attitude to other players is always cordial no matter what they bet, its thier money not mine. I know the casinos expect a take of between 15-20% on the blackjack tables, if it averaged out to less than 1% I wonder what they might do? Maybe make the rules worse for the rest of us, so I'm almost as happy to see these folks as the casino is. I have also found that BS plays should be kept to onesself, if you recommend the proper play to someone and they lose, you feel bad and they may feel downright angry. When I make a proper BS play such as splitting 4s in a game in which that is called for and people say something, I just smile and say 'I know, but I just have a hunch on this hand'. Otherwise just enjoy the play of the game. I have a little more trouble on the 'team play' attitude, it seems to be a very popular 'cultural' way to play in Mississippi, if I'm in a table position where this seems to be important enough to everybody else, usually 3rd base, sometimes I'll move around the table, others I just move on. As far as tipping I don't tip on my wins or withhold tips if I lose, I give a modest tip when I get up to go. The exception is when I have a couple of big hands, BJs or big splits and double downs. Then I will put a modest tip, usually $1 per red chip 'on top' of my next bet, not out in front, and let that bets winnings go to the dealer, and letting the original bet ride, it gives the dealer a reason to root for a streak too and makes thier job a little less boring.
  • Renzey, thanks for the clarification....guess I'll just stick to the $5 flat bet and BS when playing in low stakes CO. Doc, didn't mean to imply I offered advice to other players on how to play a hand...just mentioned BS if the topic came up. I agree one should be cordial to all players regardless of their play. You make a good point in suggesting the rules would probably be less favorable if everyone adhered to BS...just a bit frustrating watching folks give their money away....Cuzz
  • Cuzz, it's hard to find tables with a $5 MINIMUM. What's the deal with that place where it's a $5 maximum? No wonder the other players were clueless. However, Doc is right that we need them, no matter where they play, because if everybody played as tightly as most of us who post here, the casinos wouldn't be happy about only getting their statistical 1/2 of one percent. Fred Renzey's Ace/10 Front Count is the easiest way to break into counting, but be prepared to find many instances of more than 36 of them being played during the first two decks of a six deck shoe, meaning no excitement there. It's also possible though highly unlikely that those "missing" high cards will spill out in the first hand or two immediately after the first two decks, and after that you won't have a shoe rich in Aces and Tens after all, but because you've stopped tracking it, you'd still be playing at elevated betting levels. Also, I think, and Fred can correct me if I am wrong, if those "missing" high cards had their places taken by lows (2-6) , that's more advantageous to the player than if their places were taken by neutrals (7-9).
  • Colorado has limited stakes gambling (I live in Denver, too). $5 max bet per hand. No roulette, no craps. Most places are $5 min bet, too. Therefore, the only way to adjust your bet is to play more hands.
  • Cuzz, sorry , I didn't take it that way either, I know what you meant. For me its fun to see these people play now, it used to be pretty frustrating for me too but now I just 'enjoy the moment', and some of these folks have been playing this way for years and know all about BS, but thier 'system' is better they really believe, just wait til one of these folks gets on a roll and really starts winning, which happens, they really show the people that questioned thier play who's the boss. I actually root for them. The rare times I do chime in is when someone who has never played before asks what to do with a hand, but I'll usually wait to see if someone else helps first, and more and more I say 'follow your first instinct', and try to avoid saying something like 'well basic strategy says do this'. In a game where you only win 43% of the hands playing the best way, any advice you give is going to be seen as wrong over half the time.
  • Yeah fortunes to be made playing BJ in Colorado...$5 max bet in the few mountain towns offering a stripped down version of casino gambling, though a decent forum to practice and hone BS. Doc, point well taken...the benefits of BS will never be demonstrated over a few hands....Cuzz
  • Cuzz -- what other games do these sort-of-casinos in Colorado offer and what limits on them? For example, are slot machines 25 cents only, etc?
  • Desert Dog said:
    Cuzz -- what other games do these sort-of-casinos in Colorado offer and what limits on them? For example, are slot machines 25 cents only, etc?

    Slots go up to $5 per pull. You've also got video poker, blackjack, 3 card poker and progressive BJ tables. And poker rooms. That's about it.
  • It's good the slots go up that high. A state needs to make money on stupidity.
  • How do those CO places stay in business? Let's do the math: Say there are a lot of stupid players so the average house advantage is 5%. Say on average, there are 5 players per table. Say dealers can deal 50 hands/ hour. The casino brings in (5%)($5)(5)(50/hour)=$62.50/hour. That has to support the dealer, pit boss, security, shift manager, owner, pay the rent, lease the equipment, etc., etc., etc.,

    It just doesn't make sense. There has to be something else going on.
  • Mr. Ed said:
    How do those CO places stay in business? Let's do the math: Say there are a lot of stupid players so the average house advantage is 5%. Say on average, there are 5 players per table. Say dealers can deal 50 hands/ hour. The casino brings in (5%)($5)(5)(50/hour)=$62.50/hour. That has to support the dealer, pit boss, security, shift manager, owner, pay the rent, lease the equipment, etc., etc., etc.,

    It just doesn't make sense. There has to be something else going on.

    There isn't anything else going on. They have a ton of slots and very few tables at each casino, so table game overhead isn't all that bad.

    Casinos make the majority of their $ on slots (even the Vegas resorts).
  • O.K. back to the discussion on the Ace/Ten front count. I've been practicing and it is VERY difficult to judge 2 decks. You have to be within 6 cards to make it work, right? Any hints?
  • D, Get yourself an old credit card and mark it with tape in steps.
    (Like half deck, one deck, two decks and three decks) This gives
    you a visual relationship that you should carry with you. Before you
    start play, look at the thing several times; if you go on break, look at
    it again. After a little while you will have it down pat.

  • Cuzz, My daughter teaches school in Denver and I'm out there several
    times a year. We end-up going to Blackhawk more for the food rather than
    the play. I've talked to the dealers about the limit and they all would
    rather play a normal game. What I do may or may not be something
    that you want to try. I play both spots right off (10 bucks) and if things
    get favorable, I play a second position(another 10 bucks). Thats about
    the only approach that has worked for me. If you are normally a five
    dollar player, that gets your 4 units out there. But, Cuzz it's by no
    means the same as 4 units or 6 that comes with the A/10 count
    recommendations for a normal game.

    NOTE: For those of you that are wondering, each position at the table
    has two spots and you actually get two hands for each position if you
    bet both spots.

    P. S. I was out there when they had the Esc. problem at the ballpark...

  • D - As Ray said it won't take long for you to learn to tell the decks. Here are a couple more visual "cribs" to use if you need them and they are always with you at the table (at least I hope so).

    1. A stack of 9 chips equals two decks (9gm chips....slightly more than nine with 7.5gm chips).

    2. Use your finger.....Lay out one, two, and three decks and measure how high each is on your index finger and memorize them....Heck, put an inkspot on it if you need to.


    p.s. The friend I played with over the weekend uses method No. 2. He has a tendency to pick his nose during play so it is not suspicious for him to look at his index finger many times "en route" to get the count of the number of decks. :D :D :wink:
  • Thanks Ray and Grifter. I am (and look like) a middle-aged school teacher/mommy and I hold a strategy card for security. I'll never have to worry about looking suspicious.
  • Back from my trip. Thanks to your help, I was able to successfully use Ace/Ten count to my advantage several times.
  • Here's another idea: get yourself 2 decks of cards. Make a pile with less than all of them. Take a guess of how many are in the pile, then count them. Practice makes perfect.

    Make 2 even piles. There is 1 deck in each pile. Stare at the piles.

    Take one of these piles, split it in half. This is one half deck. Stare at the pile. Put the other half on top of the full deck. Stare at the pile. This is 1.5 decks.

    There is just no substitute for practice.

    Good luck!
  • Thanks again. I had some success on my trip. One shoe I had an Ace/Ten count of only 27 or 28 at the 2 deck point and FINALLY got the nerve to bet more than $5 or $10 past the minumum and won BIG for the rest of the shoe. There's nothing like a big win to encourage one to continue. On the plane home I started practicing KISS be continued!
  • D - Congratulations .. both on your success and your first venture into counting. I would think that A/10 count would be a painless way to get your feet wet with a count.


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