Counting vs Progressions
  • Ted, the suit doesn't matter, you could just as well count all the reds, or just the clubs and diamonds. Iguess black twos were just convienient. Its as Fred says above, throwing in an extra half rank of low cards. I don't have the mathematical mind to know why this'unbalancer' lets you not have to worry about converting to a true count based on the number of decks still to be played, I do know that its a whole lot easier to count if you don't have to do that calculation in your head. You should get a deck of cards and keep them in your pocket, start running the KISS count on them, after awhile it becomes second nature which cards are in the count and which are neutral, then stand behind a table at the casino and count down a couple of shoes, it gets easier, but only with lots of practice.
  • Thanks, Fred. I'll look at this more closely later. Quick observation -- maybe I'm wrong but it looks as though by starting at ten, having 3.5 "plus" cards vs 3 "minus" cards, and the "increase your bet" point somewhere around 19 or 20 or so, you avoid having to do mental arithmetic that jumps you back and forth from negative to positive numbers, which happens a lot in hi-lo and is one of my weak points. (That "D" in high school math.) Am I right?
  • DOG: That's right. So the KISS Count family does three things that no other count does all three of to make it more user friendly.
    1) You virtually avoid encountering "minus" running counts.
    2) No "count per deck" converting is needed.
    3) It has a complete table of "running count" index numbers for when to play 20 key hands contrary to basic strategy. For examples; you double with 8 against a 6 at "21" or higher; You double with A/8 against a 4 at "25" or higher, etc.
  • Used KISS II at casino last night. It's easier to backcount and then jump in when the count is good, rather than trying to keep count while playing. It's interesting to see how the players mostly get clobbered when it's low and mostly do all right when it's high.

    One guy who has this attitude of knowing what he's doing (his basic strategy is fine) was increasing his bets and playing two hands at exactly the times he shouldn't have, so he wasn't such a pro after all. He left the table to find the ATM at exactly the point when the count suddenly jumped high. I took his spot, won two hands near the end of a shoe, and left. :D
  • Ironically, the typical player often does raise his bet at exactly the wrong time and leave the table when he should stay and bet more. This is because a string of 19's, 20's and 21's by the players tends to instill confidence in them at a time when their chances are actually growing worse.
    By the same token, a rash of "low only" cards in one round often "kills" the players -- such as when they have say, 6/5; another has 7/3 etc; they both catch small cards on their doubles, then the dealer rips off a five card 20 or 21. This usually causes them to retreat into their shells, or get up and leave.
    Both reactions are perfectly counterproductive.
  • We have a five step progression and lets think about the third bet.
    It does not matter that the third bet is surrounded by many 1,2 or 4,5
    bets. The same laws of probability apply to this bet as if it were a
    single flat bet from now until eternity(.05 disadvantage, win 43%).
    The same rule applies to all other bets regardless of there position
    in the sequence. The situation is the same as five different payers,
    making five different bets at five different tables provided they each
    make the same number of bets as their position in the progression made
    in the first case. Both bottom lines will be the same with a slight SD.
    This simple logic will apply to any progression, be it positive,negative,
    sideways or somewhere in -between.
    One can see from this simple example that progressions are nothing
    more than pseudo-science. They appeal to our inherent insecurity;
    they give us reason to believe; ill advised as that reason may be.
    They also sell books and other such come-ons.

    Blackjack is about "probabilities,statistics,and queueing theory".
    Something like this: probabilities proven by a mountain of statistics
    and altered only by a knowledge of the queue.................
  • Desert Dog, interesting story. Ray, I understand and accept what you are saying about progressions in relation to folks looking for a magic system, or appealing to insecurity etc. With that out of the way, lets take another example: Everyday Joe likes to hit the casinos occasionally and blackjack is one of his favorite games, he understands that the casinos maintain an edge that is constant and all pervading (except for good card counters), he knows basic strategy but doesn't have time to learn to count. He is playing for fun, comps and the occasional nice tag. You can't tell me that this kind of player shouldn't play a progression. He will never get the opportunity for a nice payday at flat betting. With all the math, science and analysis out there everyone seems to forget about luck in blackjack, and how it feels to have that lucky day. Another way to look at it is if my two hobbies were fishing and blackjack I would rather be lucky at blackjack and skillful at fishing, because no matter how skillful you are at gambling its always going to be gambling. Being able to play the game well is fun for me, thats why I'm going to keep trying to get better, but to those players who are not going to take the step to counting but want to play strong, its my opinion that a well thought out progression played with discipline is an inherent part of that strength.
  • Doc, I will agree that people should play the game and have fun doing
    it. I hope I did not give the impression that they should do otherwise.
    I know from experience that most people can learn and appreciate the
    game at a much deeper level and gain an additional level of skill and
    personal satisfaction.

    Sometime around 1980 I attended a High tech product show in LV and
    got my feet wet for the first time in blackjack. Right off I found out that
    I was completely game stupid. The books I read were all simple enough
    until one reaches the card counting chapters. All the existing systems
    were so counter intuitive and overly complicated that I decided to
    invent my own, with my methods, using my science. I knew if I took
    that approach that I would remember it all and it would/could be very user
    friendly. If you like, I can jot the thing down sometime(the basics) and
    e-mail same. Once again, hope I didn,t offend with my attack on progessions. Ray
  • Not at all Ray, I've found your comments to be very interesting, and your style enjoyable, just the kind of people we like to here from on this site. The people I have learned from most on this board are like you, huge amounts of experiance and nice enough to share. I'm sure everyone here is interested in your particular style of play, I'll PM you my email as I am open to any perspective, but you can also post it as a new topic. Let the 'old school' guys here crunch it out, which they will do, and give an honest critque. Cheers.
  • Ray and Doc -- such civility! In the "old days" of this board, you would have accused eachother and one another's ancestors of all types of degeneracy, and several others would have gotten in to the act. Must be the two new sheriffs we have in town.
  • I'm almost nostalgic for a good ol brawl Desert Dog but I think we'll learn more about this darned game this way. One thing I've run into with the limited times I've used the count and my drills on Casino Verite is, with the progression I've been using and my strict win/loss limits that I use, I have a real sense of control, but when counting even when I know I have an advantage, when you have to bump that bet up I feel really vulnerable to having a very bad day, after all the advantage you have is very slim and you aren't out there 24/7 with it like the casinos. This is an unexpected hurdle I'm going to really have to think about. Parentheticaly with your kid in Tucson, I happen to be the older brother of one of the best surgeons in town so let me know if you ever have any problems in that vein (or artery).
  • Doc - Your post "...Everyday Joe likes to hit the casinos occasionally and blackjack is one of his favorite games...." EXCELLENT. Let me also add that the proof is truly in the pudding and if I can win 67% of the time with my 007 progression versus the mind numbing boredom of counting (while only adding a very small edge)---I'll take a good ole progression any time!
  • Someday, when my days are over I will go to the big casino in the sky. I have promised myself to get an answer to this counting/progressive debate. I will ask St. Peter for a private audience with the man himself.
    My question will be, "sir, I have heard of many blackjack systems, counting methods subdivided by slight differences depending on who figured out that counting sytem in the first place. There are also progressive systems subdivided by who designed the betting formulas. Which one is best? Please tell me. Is one method better than the others"?

    I am certain that he will say to me: "My boy, I have put upon this Earth all manner of people. Black, white, red, brown and yellow. Maybe a few assorted colors. But, in the final analysis I have found that each group of people is as good or as bad as another. The same is true of blackjack. Bet progressively if you like, or count if you like. In the end you'll all get hammered".
  • Ted and SLD007: Please understand that I am not trying to meddle -- only inform, and acquire information that I might not already have.
    Although I cannot personally testify as to the end result of betting progressions, it's critical to understand that accomplishing a high session win rate percentage is no big trick. 80% is even possible with the briefest and most direct money management methods -- but -- these methods still lose money at the bottom line. So I again ask whether this 67% win rate for the progression you speak of has garnered a "net gain" over the course of at least 500 hours. I keep driving this question home because under mathematical analysis, all betting progressions cancel themselves out in the end.
    Next, card counters who implement their systems capably, as a whole do not get hammered in the long run, but actually do grind out a long term profit.
  • The MIT gang didn't make several million dollars on progressions. They counted cards. That's a book that the studios will never allow to be made into a movie.
  • Ted said:
    Someday, when my days are over I will go to the big casino in the sky. I have promised myself to get an answer to this counting/progressive debate. I will ask St. Peter for a private audience with the man himself.
    My question will be, "sir, I have heard of many blackjack systems, counting methods subdivided by slight differences depending on who figured out that counting sytem in the first place. There are also progressive systems subdivided by who designed the betting formulas. Which one is best? Please tell me. Is one method better than the others"?

    I am certain that he will say to me: "My boy, I have put upon this Earth all manner of people. Black, white, red, brown and yellow. Maybe a few assorted colors. But, in the final analysis I have found that each group of people is as good or as bad as another. The same is true of blackjack. Bet progressively if you like, or count if you like. In the end you'll all get hammered".


    Actually, what He'll say to you is more like this: "What, you're a gambler??! Hold on a second... [picks up phone] Hey Satan, I think one of yours got sent here by mistake. I'm sending him down to you." :wink:
  • Fred, again wise advice. But I'll ask for a little consolation, the standard deviation of counting is scary, it entails a strong commitmant to a significant amount of money. For the short term recreational player you have given us, in your book, a very strong way to play before counting, do you reccomend that these players play those techniques with a progression betting style or not, to get the most bang for the buck. Reading your poker book now, and hope to get your autograph on both in Tunica in the fall.
  • DOC: If you're speaking of the "Mag 7" and "Hand Interaction", it should make no difference whether you flat bet or use some form of progression. If you're speaking of reacting to "High card / Low card Layouts", a betting progression will often run contradictory to these, since High card / Low card layouts are merely a brief "freeze-frame" snipet of card counting.
  • Desert Dog...I was going to make the same response to Ted. You beat me to it. Ha! Renzy, just got your book in the mail. Wish me luck. I haven't had the attention span for other methods, I'll have to try it here in Detroit a few times before my Vegas trip in October.
  • OK gang. Has anybody tried counting down a 52 card deck and done it successfully (meaning ending at a correct number) in 30 seconds or less? My best time yet is 30.47 seconds. (I'm doing the KISS II count, and yes I use a stopwatch that shows hundredths of a second.) When I first started trying I was up around 45 seconds, then got stuck in the 37 - 38 range for a while, and now I'm regularly hitting 32 or 33. But that 30 second mark is a tough barrier. I've tried flipping two cards at a time out of my hands WITHOUT counting them as they fell and that still took 20 seconds!

    In real life, you can't ask a dealer to go slower, can you? :)
  • DOG; If you did 45 seconds right out of the box, you'll have no trouble eventually getting down under 25 seconds -- no sweat. It's just going to take more drills. Most folks are well over a minute their first few times.
  • Here's an excellent way to combine physical and mental exercise: When doing weight training, you have to take a 60-second break between sets. So after a set of bicep curls or bench presses or whatever, that 60 seconds in between has always been a tedious bore. But now I make good use of that time. I move over to a table, start the stopwatch, and deal down a deck of cards in a card-counting exercise. That takes somewhere between 31 and 35 seconds, and then I gather them up and shuffle them ready for the next time. That usually takes another 25 seconds, and then back on the weight machine for the next set.

    NOTE: Do not try this at your local gym. This is best done using home weight equipment.
  • Dawg - I use a very similar routine, and I also take a 60 second break between sets......Something like this:
    1. Do one 10 lb. curl with right arm......now rest for 60 seconds.
    2. Take a couples slugs of Budweiser = 10 seconds.
    3. Count down a deck of cards - 20-25 seconds.
    4. Take a couple slugs of Budweiser = 10 seconds.
    5. Reshuffle cards = 20 seconds
    6. Do one 10 lb. curl with left arm.....now rest fo 60 seconds
    Repeat steps 1 - 5 above.

    Grif'
  • Grifter -- and when the beer can is empty, this being the 25 year anniversary of Animal House, the proper end of this exercise routine is to crush it against your forehead, right? :wink: Just kidding, Grif.

    One of the articles on Snyder's site suggests that counters walk around with a tall glass of O'Doul's to make it look like they're drinking, order a real beer from the waitress just before it's time to move to another table, empty the real beer somewhere out of sight of the eyes in the sky, get another glass of O'Doul's, and then sit down at another table. Make sure that the bar that pours you the O'Doul's is not too close to the casino floor or under the cameras.
  • Grif: A couple modifications to your system -- I substitute Coors Lite for Bud, and add four more slugs by eliminating that silly card-counting exercise. :wink:
  • Fred, in your book you say that for a six deck shoe, at one and a half decks in if the KISS count is 4 or lower, walk away. Are there other numbers you suggest for later in the shoe? I've had some with okay numbers at the 1.5 point but later say halfway or beyond, they're hovering around 8-10 and I wonder if that's a time to walk too.

    One of the funny things about counting is you can win on a bunch of good cards coming out, and instead of being happy about winning your bet, you think "Darn, the count just went way down!" And vice versa, losing on a whole slew of bad cards has me thinking "Hey great, the count just jumped high!"
  • Another question, Fred: When counting cards at a table with several other players, wouldn't you want to be at first base? Here's why I ask. Say the count is 23, meaning bet highest. If you're at third, by the time the dealer gets to you, a few high cards to the other players could bring it down to 19 or less. Meaning you've got a high bet out on a count that has just gone south.
  • Desert Dog- As you must place your bet before any cards are dealt, it should not matter. If the count changes for third base, as more cards come out of the shoe, it also will change for the player at first base, unless I missed something.
  • midnite said:
    Desert Dog- As you must place your bet before any cards are dealt, it should not matter. If the count changes for third base, as more cards come out of the shoe, it also will change for the player at first base, unless I missed something.


    Makes sense. Just wouldn't feel like kicking myself if the count changed after I had gotten my first card rather than before.
  • DOG: It would also be appropriate to walk with 2 decks in the discard tray at "5" or lower - and with 2.5 decks at "6" or lower. Once 3 decks are in the tray, you've usually endured around 70% of the shoe, so you might as well finish it - unless you can "conveniently" answer a cell phone call, turn around and blow your nose, etc.
    Lots of beginning counters have asked your 1st base/3rd base question. Answer that for yourself by considering this scenario. You're about to enter a table that you've been watching from the get-go. The count has shot up to "25". Both 1st base and 3rd base are open. So you jump in at first base where you're sure to get your first card from a "25" count. But just before the dealer starts to deal, she pulls the next 22 cards out of the shoe (the average number for a 7 player round), reverses their order and puts them back in the shoe. Where do you want to sit now - at 1st or 3rd? Which order of the cards has more big ones near the front?
    Here's all you know. When the count is "25", the shoe IN ITS ENTIRETY contains 34% tens. They might all be behind the cut card, right up at the front of the shoe, or strewn throughout. You really don't know where they are. Every remaining card has a 34% chance to be a ten! It's exactly the same as if the dealer put in a fresh shoe plus all those extra tens, shuffled thoroughly and got ready to deal. The fact is, you'd be just as happy to be dealt two cards from the back as from the front. All you should be thinking is; "Gimme two cards!"
  • First post. Read about site in Fred's collum in Herald. Have bought all editions of Blackjack Bluebook. Have enjoyed reading them.

    My question is this: I am retired and not comfortable with the standard diviation of counting. Even Fred's Ace-ten front count takes a pretty big bankroll if the spread is 1-6 or so. I have been using the Ace-Ten front count in Chicago area casino's at the $10 tables. When the first two decks have delt 36 or fewer Ace-Tens my next bet is $20 , not $40 or $50. The bet after that I go to $30 and stay there for the rest of the shoe. That method of betting is not enough to make me a winner, but over a years time it is pretty close. Last year for example down just under $1000. About 160 to 180 hours a year

    gambling. Cash back and free meals reduce that loss further, but not to being profitable. This year so far is running about the same. All in all it makes playing blackjack a not too expensive hobby.

    If Fred sees this I would appreciate what he thinks of my method and how he thinks it could be improved without raising the standard diviation a lot. I am really pretty risk-averse. Also would like to hear the ideas of anyone else who reads this. All ideas appreciated.

    Charles
  • TUFFY: I remember your letters and Tipsheet subscription. Well, without getting more money in the betting circle when you have the advanatage than when you don't, you can't cross over the magic threshhold from underdog to favorite. Here are a few adjustments that can help that without raising your standard deviation (volatility).
    1) First, are you religiously walking away from any front count of "42" or higher? Bouncing up and down from table to table becomes somewhat of a drag doing this, but it does keep you away from all that gradual percentage drainage.
    2) Are you making all the recommended basic strategy adjustments at front counts of "36", "35 and below"?
    3) You can keep tallying the Ace/10's beyond the first two decks and take "hi/lo" inventory at two other checkpoints - the 3 deck mark and the 4 deck mark. With 3 decks in the discard tray, keep betting multiple units only if your tally is "56" or lower - otherwise retreat to 1 unit. At the 4 deck discard tray mark, bet multiple units only at "77" or less.
    4) Now that you'll be lowering some bets on good 2 deck front counts that have gone bad, you can increase some others beyond 3 units on those that remain strong and experience no more overall volatility. So at the 3 deck mark when the tally is in fact "56" or less go to 4 units. At the 4 deck mark when it is "77" or less, bite the bullet and bet 5 units - you may get in only one or two more rounds before the shuffle here, but it's an important juncture in the shoe.
  • Fred;

    Thanks for your prompt reply. I had not considered continuing the Ace-Ten front count beyond two decks. Will try it when I go to Victoria Casino tomorrow or Wednesday. I don't want to make it too hard. Mainly just a recreasional player. Still would like to cut the house edge. I know that Victoria's 0.63% house edge is a little high but they do penitrate 5 decks most of the time, and it is far closer to where I live than the casino's in Joliet. Again thanks for the prompt reply.

    Charles
  • Renzey said:

    2) Are you making all the recommended basic strategy adjustments at front counts of "36", "35 and below"?
    .


    are these easy to explain or could I find this in your book Renzey?
  • jedi- Lots of good info in Renezy's book. Suggest you buy it, if you don't have it. That of course is up to you, just a suggestion.
  • Jedi, I'm not Renzy, but the changes in BS are in his latest edition of "Blackjack Bluebook". It is a very good blackjack book, even if you are not a card counter.

    Charles
  • Ment adjustments in BS, not changes. BS still correct play in almost all cases.

    Charles
  • Ted, you've posted this before, but I didn't get a chance to be the first to answer, so I'll do it here:

    Here's your quote "...The counter's first bet is $25. He bets the minimum because he is waiting to pick his spot. OK? When exactly is his spot. How many hands would have to be played before a counter feels the deck is rich in 10's. How many 10's would have to left so that a counter would consider the shoe "rich" in 10's? How many times in a given shoe would a counter make his big move?"

    First of all, I've never heard the phrase "pick his spot" so you'll have to educate ME - can't help you here.

    Second, the counter doesn't "feel" like the deck is "rich" in 10's, he "knows" the deck is "rich" in 10's.

    here's an example.....

    If one hand is played, and eight more low cards come out that big cards, the running count will be +8. There are about 8 unplayed decks, so the TRUE count is about +1. (There are different systems, so I'll make one up here for Norm, a counter) Norm bets one unit at <+1, and bets 2 units at +1. So he increases his bet to 2 units.<br />
    In the next round, 8 low cards come out and zero high cards come out. Now the running count is +16 and the TRUE count is +16/8 =+2. Norm bets 4 units. Next, 5 low card come out and zero high cards come out. The Running count is +21, but now only 7 decks remain, so the TRUE count is +21/7=+3. Now Norm bets 6 units. Now, a phenominal 14 low cards come out and still no high cards. The true count is +35/7=+5. Norm makes his max bet: 10 units. Finally 5 high cards come out reducing the running count to 30. Norm gets BJ (hooray!!). But there are now 6 decks left. The TRUE count is 30/6=+5. Norm bets 10 units again. 10 high cards and 4 low cards come out. Norm gets 20 vs dealer bust! (Hooray) The running count is 24, the true count is +4. Norm bets 8 units.

    The above is a counters dream. You'll see a shoe like that maybe once in 20 hours (or more!) of play.

    - A "rich" shoe is a subjective phrase. (if you won $100 are you "rich", what about $100,000. My 5 year-old would be rich with $100, Bill Gates wouldn't notice $100,000)

    - What is a counter's "big move"? A counter bets his max when the count calls for it. Counts of +3 or more are rare (maybe every 3 shoes or so) a count of +5 is even more rare (maybe every 10 shoes?) I'm making these numbers up - I could be off.

    - About 1/3 of the time, the count gets so low, Norm won't even play the whole shoe. Another third of the time, Norm plays his minimum bet, waiting for a good count. The other third of the time, he'll increase his bet, but he progresses through +1, +2, sometimes even +3 or +4...once in a while the shoe will get all the way to +5!

    I hope this helps!
  • no problem, thanks fellas, I have a big vegas trip coming up- I'll pick up the book.

    Interesting post Mr. Ed
  • Just thought I'd brag about counting down a 52 card deck today in 27.4 seconds. :D The Griffin Book can use this emoticon as my portrait.
  • When they say you have to be able to count down a deck in under 30 seconds, is that by turning one card over at a time or 2+ cards at a time?
  • The benchmark is to remove one blind card from the deck, then count down the remaining 51 - one card at a time in 30 seconds or less and name the category of the unseen card. Most people can do it somewhat quicker if allowed to turn over a couple of cards at a time.
  • Renzey said:
    The benchmark is to remove one blind card from the deck, then count down the remaining 51 - one card at a time in 30 seconds or less and name the category of the unseen card. Most people can do it somewhat quicker if allowed to turn over a couple of cards at a time.


    I was doing it two at at time because that's how I'd do it in a casino.
  • Then you shouldn't be bragging in the first place since you're not even doing it PROPERLY and thus are CHEATING. :evil: :x :shock: :twisted: Double the time since you doubled the cards and that's entirely TOOOOOOOOOOOOOO long, almost a MINUTE!!!!!!!!!!!! :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: .. I could be rolling Bughouse opps in that time!! Personally I do it routinely in about 13 secs. Can anyone top that?

    YOU FAIL!!!!!
  • Well sinced you asked..... 9.485 seconds is my personal best. I average around 11 seconds per deck.
  • I'm putting on my high top boots. The dukee is getting deep....
  • I find one card at a time easier than two at a time because with two you are evaluating both of the card's relationships as well as the total count, one card at a time you just have to gauge the count, so its not cheating turning two, but getting to a more realistic level of counting. In fact as you get better you should throw mixed sets of 3, 4 and 5 cards off the deck because that is what you see in the casino. I have got my deck drill speeds down to about what I think is a maxium, that is I don't think my brain is going to improve much more, just as I think my hitorstand speed game numbers are at a maxium, about 20, I dont think I'll ever get much better than that.

    This brings up a new point, I need help with 'patterns' of counting that people find easier to use in actual casino play, this is my main problem now and the major reason I lose count during the game. What I have been doing is counting the small cards out of the deck as they are dealt, except for the dealer cards, when the dealer is through with the players I scan for the big cards subtract them and then add or subtract the dealer totals as she finishes off her hand. This doesn't seem to be working to well, I get the ol 'mind mush' a lot of the times. Anybody have any suggestions as to a smoother way?
  • Doc, I usually count all the initially dealt cards, two at a time (as they appear in front of each player), plus the dealer's one card up. To avoid confusing myself I look away from the table as the first cards are being dealt and wait until the second cards get dealt. I hold this number in my head as the "interim count". Then I watch each additional card that's dealt on the "hit" round, then the dealer's. That's the "final count" for the hand. Best seat so I'm not looking left and right is to be either at first or third base.

    And Bug: Let us know how you're doing counting using ANY method.
  • Bug: don't reply, I've just re-read your post and see you said 13 seconds. I'm glad they allowed you to have a deck of cards wherever you were during that stretch that we didn't hear from you.
  • Desert Dog said:
    Bug: don't reply, I've just re-read your post and see you said 13 seconds. I'm glad they allowed you to have a deck of cards wherever you were during that stretch that we didn't hear from you.


    We know it wasn't AC or Tunica as he wouldn't know where to find them...

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