British Casino's
  • My mates and i are all going to be 18 this year and we thought we'd try a spot of team card counting for small stakes (we're students so it means a small bankroll) after having read Mezrich's Bringing Down the House. I was just wondering if anyone here was from the UK and could offer their opinions of British casino's and the rules that generally apply within them and more importantly whether the rules generally employed favour card counters.

  • I can't answer your question but I'm also a student and was just wondering how big your bankroll is? I'm not sure at the moment how much I should take to the casino myself.
  • Hi there,

    I am relatively new to blackjack with the basic strategy and card-counting techniques but I hope I can help you out.

    1) I see that you have read the book 'Bringing Down the House', have you read anything else?
    Bringing down the House seemed a bit sensationalised and geared towards the entertainment market. Therefore, it does not dwell on the time span and the massive standard deviations card counting can have.
    If you want to consider blackjack seriously- get a book on it such as Blackjack Bluetooth II (can't remember the author for now) and be prepared for a lot of practice.

    2) UK casinos-
    Gala casinos- don't seem to be very good for team play.
    For a start there are only a few blackjack tables in each venue compared to the Las Vegas casinos and so therefore it is difficult to go unnoticed by the cameras if you have your 'Big Player' going from one table to the other.
    Additionally, I believe you are looking at shoes of 8 decks and I read somewhere on this forum that less than 3/10 shoes will turn to a positive true count of plus 3. Therefore, you need a lot of patience.

    In terms of bankroll, you need to consider the standard deviation and risk of ruin (something I learnt about this week).
    On this website which has some useful tips

    it says that the minimum bank roll should be a minimum of 50 times your maximum bet.
    If you are playing a spread of 1-12, as it also recommends you should play on a 6-8 deck shoe (I believe), with a minimum unit bet of £5, you are looking at £3,000. If outside london with a minimum bet of £3 then £1,800.

    Hopefully Colin563 who is around this forum can inform you (and me) of the different rules in the UK casinos- (Stanley, Gala and Grosvenor). i.e. how many decks in the shoes etc...

  • Ive ordered Blackjack for Blood and The Worlds Greatest Blackjack Book from Amazon i think i have to go collect one tomorrow as it couldnt get delivered. I also read standford Wongs Blackjack 101 on the internet.
    With regards to the question of bankroll size i cant see it being anywhere near 3,000, but its size would definitely depend on my/our confidence. Also my mate said that before a certain time my nearest casino has a 50p minimum bet, whilst i dont know if there is any truth in this yet (i'm hoping to make a reckon trip soon to check the house rules and how favourable they are) the bankroll would certainly be proportional to this amount if it were real.

    With regard to Bringing Down the House whilst it was firmly a book for entertainment first information second, i think it provided significant insight into the conditon of blackjack at present and the very basics of card counting and a virtually limitless source for information.
  • Don't confuse overall BR with session BR. Suppose you plan on playing
    4hrs tonight. How much should you take to the casino? You need (2) SD
    for your 4 hrs session.

    @ low limit tables figure 60 hands per hr.

    Two SD looks like this:

    SD= 1.1 * (sq. rt of total hands played-240 * ave bet,example $10)* 2 .......flat betting $10

    That's the amount you should take to the casino tonight...............

    If you are counting cards and use a 1-8 spread, your ave bet is $20(2U)

    Just use your UK numbers in place of mine
  • My local casino, Gala - Sol Central in Northampton (UK), has a 'beginners' table in operation on Friday and Saturday nights from 8-10pm.

    The minimum bet there is 50p, I think the maximum is £5.

    Useful if you're learning or just want to play for fun. It can however be a bit frustrating as their are often people who have no idea how to play at all. Then again, you often see this at the £2 tables as well....

  • Frustrating yes but it should not affect your win/loss unless you allow the frustration to affect your ability to concentrate.

    Out of curiosity do you not find it difficult to escape detection in a UK casino when there may only be 2-3 BJ tables.
  • Hi 123, it probably does affect my judgement a bit, emotions can do that to you.

    Regarding detection, as I don't count cards, yet, it's not really a problem for me. I am currently playing for fun, and learning to play at home.

    I think that you are probably right on the detection front though, however, given the small number of tables, it's often not possible (especially at the weekend) to watch a table and join when you want, they are often full. At weekends, I think, you would have to play minimum bets and then ramp up when the cards are in your favour, obviously you could only do this a couple of times before suspicions are aroused.

    I've only been to vegas once, but their dealers and pit bosses seem miles ahead of the UK ones in sharpness. The casino I visit tends to change dealers and supervisors every hour or so, so if you're careful maybe it's not too hard.....
  • I can only really comment on what going on in Glasgow as I've yet to play else where yet in the uk,
    In the Casino V
  • Yeah they do a 'beginners' table after all, in operation on Fridays nights from 8-10pm. here in their Glasgow casino, just not noticed it before now, The minimum bet is 50p they pay the blackjack with a 50p and a little 25p chip LOL :lol:
  • I agree that Bringing Down The House is a bit sensationalized. Counting cards is not as easy as just learning a count and then running to the closest casino thinking you can make a lot of money [right away]. It takes a lot of time and effort. There are more things to learn other than count numbers for card values (like +1 for 2-6 and -1 for cards valued at 10 or aces as with the hi-lo count). One needs to learn how to use the information properly such as how to deviate from basic strategy when the count dictates that you should. One needs to learn different strategies such as back spotting tables and wonging in or wonging out of situations. Other things to learn include finding out what the SCORE is or what optimum departure should be (read Blackjack Attack). There are things to be aware of such as kelly betting, risk of ruin (ROR), how to cover bet w/o giving up too much, and a number or other things. Then adding in team play adds another list of things to learn. If the bankroll is small, be very careful. There is a lot of variance in the game and one can see the bankroll diminish quickly, even with a decent bankroll. If I remember correctly, in Bringing Down The House, one of the guys loses about $100,000 in one session. It is pretty hard to stomach those large swings. I've had my fair share and I'm sure plenty of other counters have as well.
  • s/back spotting/back counting/

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