Master Counters....+1.5%
  • Let's assume this is as good as it can get. I read somewhere that to attain this high player percentage, the player would have to spread bets 1/16. The article stated that they pick up .5% for this betting spread. I could never do it and get away with it. So is it safe to assume I can still reduce the house edge of .5% to say even with perfect counting and BS plays accordingly?

    Appriciate any input...Jim
  • yes you can, but there is a price to pay...................With a good level
    one sys, normal bet spread, and all index numbers you can expect to
    attain about .75 adv on average. When you drop the use of index plays
    the cost is related to number of decks and the importance of card
    removal as you might expect.

    According to sims the cost is: SD=.5, DD=.35, Six 6D=.20, and 8D=.15

    If most play 6D shoe games: (.75-.20=.55) average advantage.

    Is that what you were looking for?
  • This is not really clearly explained by most authors.

    Your advantage comes from knowing the remaining deck composition, which allows you to vary your play with BS departures, and bet big when you have the advantage and small when the house has the advantage.

    The "advantage" you have is based not on your bet, but on your skill and the accuracy you use in playing. You can win as much or as little as you want, by controlling your bet. For example, in a very good 1deck game, you can win without spreading your bet at all, albeit you will win more slowly than if you do spread your bet.

    Now if you choose to compute your advantage as a percentage of your total action, knowing that in a typical BS-only game the house will win about .5% of your total action, then your spread makes a difference. If you play for an hour, with a total action of (say) $10,000, and you win $100, then you could say you have a 1% advantage. And if you spread your bets much more significantly, you could stretch that to 2% or 3% or whatever you can get away with.

    To get a rough idea, you could figure like this:

    1. use something like CVCX/CVData, which will give you a list of true counts, and the percentage of hands you will play at that true count.

    2. To be a "break even player" all you have to do is solve the equation

    minbet * %house advantage = maxbet * %player advantage

    minbet is the minimum you ever bet, always when the house has any edge whatsoever, as in all cases of TC <= 0. That will tell you how much you will lose per hour. All you have to do is make the right hand side of that equation equal to the same dollar amount, and you wlil break even. Hardly anyone just has a low and high bet, so you have to do a little work.<br />
    fill in the following table:

    TC advantage bet percentage
    0 -.34% 1 33%
    1 +.31% 2 12%
    2 +.74% 3 10%

    Etc. (note that the above are not real numbers, they depend on the exact rules/penetration/etc you are playing against.

    For any negative advantage, and there will be more numbers than the above, because TC=-1, -2, also happen and have more negative player advantages, you simply multiply advantage * bet * percentage. All the negative numbers go on the left in the equation above. For any positive advantage, compute the same but put it on the right hand side. Notice that the right-hand-side is influenced by the bet amount, and there is an exact bet amount which will make this a "break-even" game so that the two sides balance. Note that betting any higher when at a + advantage will increase the right-hand-side without changing the left-hand-side, which increases our hourly win rate into the positive zone. You push it as far as you believe you can get away with, and try to balance what you can get away with vs what you want your win rate to be...

    There are lots of variables. Penetration determines how high the TC will go and how often it will get there. Ditto for total number of decks. And then there are different rules for different games (LS or no LS, RSA, no RSA, DA2 or D9/D10, etc.)

    CVCX lets you set all of the rules up, run a sim, and then by varying your bet you can see your expected hourly win rate instantly, so that you know what a particular ramp will do to your win rate.

    Note that the .5% from bet spread is obviously wrong, because in a 6D game, flat-betting has a 100% risk of ruin, even with BS departure plays based on the count. It takes a significant spread to beat a 6D game if you play every hand and do not use WI/WO. If you do WI/WO, then effectively your spread is much bigger since you bet 0 at negative counts. This happens because in a 6D shoe, 1/3 of the counts are negative, 1/3 are zero, so 2/3 of the hands are played at negative player advantage. Playing perfectly still sees you playing at a -.5% advantage or more, 2/3 of the time.

    If you want to make a _lot_ of money, find a good SD game and spread 1-100. Not that you can get away with it for more than one hand of course, but for that one hand you will play with a greater than 1.5% advantage.
  • LOL....Stainless, I am now completely lost but I believe you are telling me that I have to spread for counting to be successful. I play green and feel I can successfully spread 4/1 without being too obivious.

    Thanks Guys for the input.

    Take care, Jim
  • I assume you are playing 6 deck.....A 1-4 spread will get you "even", but just barely, and even that will depend on how you use your ramp. I will post more later about that.

    Everything SS and Ray have said is correct, but there is even more to it; more then you will generally find in most books (as SS stated). or doing sims.

  • Spreading...

    Rough (ROUGH) guidelines:

    single-deck. 1-4 if possible, although on very good SD games, you can produce a small edge just by counting and using BS departure indices properly. But I do mean small edge.

    double-deck. 1-8 if possible. Again, you can make money at 1-4, but here's the issue. If you spread 1-8 with a $5 unit, or 1-4 with a $25 unit, the 1-4 will produce a larger per-hour win rate. But notice the "cost" in that it requires a pretty hefty bankroll to stand the negative swings you will encounter.

    six-deck, 1-12 will work, 1-20 is better. I've not had trouble at 1-20 using a $5 unit. If you are using green or black, that will tend to attract more attention. If you can spread $5-$100 at the same table with someone that is betting black, you probably will not be noticed.

    The basic plan here is that about 2/3 of your hands are going to be played at a disadvantage. That 1/3 (or less depending on the game, the penetration, the rules, the you-name-it) is going to be where you have to (a) make up for the losses in the rest of the hands and (b) make a profit to make the game playable.

    Playing a "play-all" 6-deck game is a miserable experience. You can play shoe after shoe with nary a positive count, letting the house advantage of -.5 and worse (it gets worse as the count goes negative) whittle away your bankroll. When the count finally goes up, you have to first make up all the lost ground from the negative shoes. And then there is no guarantee you will win in a positive count. You will win more often than you lose when the count is up, but that is little comfort to someone that has been betting $5 to $100 watching $1000 go into the dealer's tray because of an unlucky streak of cards... Betting bigger can reduce your spread, but increase your risk unless you have the BR to support that.

    Personally, I am usually a $5-$40 or $50 player on DD games. I have on occasion gone to $25-$100, but let me warn you, it is not for the faint of heart. You can play 10 hands and be down a thousand bucks. That might take no more than 10 minutes. It is painful and will test your ability to play up there. $5 units seem cheap, because most bets are $5, but wait until you ramp up to $100 in your 6D game and you get the stiffs and the dealer gets the 20's. Then you'll see. :) or should I say :(


    That's why for shoes, I prefer to wong. If you back-count and play when the count goes to (say) +2, you can bet $10 and make a little money. When the count drops below 1, you leave. Your spread is effectively "infinite" since your small bet is zero.

    Of course, some games say "no mid-shoe entry" to stop that. Other games are so crowded (particularly $5/$10 tables) that you can't find a seat to play when the count rises. If you aren't careful, you get noticed for standing around an uncrowded table unless you have some reason for doing so (talking to someone, etc).

    It's a challenge, to be sure.

    Grifter has previously said that I, and a couple of others, are "insane" for our spreading levels. He is probably right. :) I suppose it has to do with (a) can you get away with it and (b) are you greedy. If the answer is "yes" to both, let 'er rip. :) But of course, keep your eyes open, and be careful how you spread so that you don't suddenly find the pit boss picking up the cards in the discard tray, counting them down, while giving you a dirty look...
  • Now I get the picture. I would first of all be better off betting red until my bankroll justifies an increased bet, in addition to mastering the count.
    I certainly appreciate all the valuable input.

    Best of Cards, Jim
  • An intriguing thread... my 2c FWIW.

    Personally, I've always judged the effectiveness of a method and spread as a balance of the two. I find a method that adds 1.5% to the Player Avantage of -0.5% with a 1-16 spread useless at a $5 base and too strong at a $25 base. Should a 1-8 spread give the player a 1%advantage to the situation above, then base bet becomes more important (re the -0.5% PA is now +0.5% PA). Now the kicker... would I do this at a 1 or 2 deck game nowadays? Probably not. At a 6 or 8 deck shoe... most likely.

    A good example from my own back-yard. The game is 6D DOA DAS RS4 noRSA LS. Player Advantage -0.33%. At a $10 table mid-week in the AM, I would very well spread 1 to 8 or even 1-10. Make it a $25 table and all I really would need is a 1 to 6 spread, and I might go 1-4. The balance of the base bet and conditions and spread need some form of maintanence.

    I guess my general tastes are 1 to the # of decks for 4 or more decks, 1 to 4 for double-deckers and 1-3 for single deck. I might opt for 1-6 in a 4 deck game.
  • Here are some CVCX numbers for a 6D game... I am asuming S17 since I didn't see that in your comments...

    First, for the $5 unit bettor. Spread 1-4 for $3.61 per hour. Or flip burgers for more income. :) 1-8 is $8.66 per hour, past min wage here. 1-12 is $13.04 per hour, 1-16 is $16.85 per hour, and finally 1-20 is $20.28 per hour which is beginning to sound like money.

    Now for the $25 bettor. 1-4 now produces $17.78 per hour. 1-8 is$42.39, 1-12 is $63.88, 1-16 is $84.31 and finally 1-20 is $101.89, some real money.

    Now for the other side of the coin. What kind of bankroll do you need to keep an acceptable ROR for those betting levels?

    For the $5 bettor, assuming a 13.5% ROR target, 1-4 needs about $3700, 1-8 needs about $3500 (yes, bigger spread needs smaller BR) 1-12 needs about $4000, 1-16 needs about $4600, and 1-20 needs about $5000.

    For the $25 better, hang on to your wallet. 1-4 needs about $18,000, 1-8 needs about $18,000 also, 1-12 needs $20,000, 1-16 needs about $23,000 and finally 1-20 needs about $26,000.

    What is the moral? Two people can play the same game, with the same spread, and the bigger bettor will walk away with way more money. Any surprise there? No, except for the required BR amounts to support that betting level. 13.5% ROR means that if you start playing with that bankroll, 13.5 times out of every 100, you will go broke before you double the bankroll... Not a "sure thing"...

    As I had previously mentioned, bigger units can cut the spread required, but the typical beginner is not going to have $20K and up available. For fun, take that 1-8 spread at $25 betting units. The typical hourly result will be about $42 per hour. But the standard deviation per hour is 34.3 units or about $800. That is you could except to win $42 +/- $800 per hour, 68% of the time. Over the long term, that will average out to $42 per hour, period. But over a 5 hour playing session, you could be up $4000, down $4000, or anywhere in between, 2/3 of the times you play.

    That will be one wild ride. Move up to black and things get even more interesting...
  • I'll take method and bankroll over any spread considerations everytime.
    It is all about the way you play and the type of game. If your BR is such
    that you can tolerate the swings then bet spread is not that big of a deal.

    BR and bet spread to offset long disadv. time is a losing strategy, in my
    opinion. In other words, the method is the problem. Others may not agree. Now Grifter....tell us what you think.
  • First of all, I am not disagreeing with anyone or anything posted above. In fact I think they are excellent. I’m sure all the numbers are correct from everybody. The problem is that many of those numbers are meaningless in a discussion about determining EV, and that was the original question of this thread.

    Almost everything above is about “spreads”, and that is fine except that is only the tip of the iceberg. What is not being taken into consideration above is the fact that penetration and how you implement your bet spread are just as critical, or more so, than the basic spread.

    Let me use some of SSR’s numbers just as an example: “First, for the $5 unit bettor. Spread 1-4 for $3.61 per hour. Or flip burgers for more income. 1-8 is $8.66 per hour, past min wage here. 1-12 is $13.04 per hour, 1-16 is $16.85 per hour, and finally 1-20 is $20.28 per hour which is beginning to sound like money”. I’m 100% sure these numbers are accurate for one set of parameters, but:
    1. Depending on penetration and ramp implementation, these numbers will vary 300% or more…..or to put it another way,
    2. You could vary the penetrations and ramp implementations of the above spreads and make the results all come out equal.

    My point is this…..Determining EV is critical to your success if you intend to play serious blackjack and a lot of it, but the variables in real play make it a moving target that you have to be acutely aware of.

    Personally, I use a notebook that I put together about twenty years ago. It contains the EV’s and SD’s of 300 combinations of spreads, spread implementation, and penetration. 300 sure isn’t optimum, but it let’s me make a solid evaluation of how I want to play and bet any given game.

    Just my two cents worth, and I hope it helps someone.

  • reasonable advice. Rather than a "notebook based on graphite (pencils) I carry my Sony notebook (laptop) with me. When I scout games, since I stick to SD/DD when possible, I count penetration to the card rather than estimating, then I use a canned sim in CVCX, plug in that exact set of rules and penetration, to see how the game looks. I hope that I one day own a PDA and someone has a piece of software to do this on that platform so that a pocket-sized device can be used to compute the EV on the spot, as well as take notes about the game itself for future reference...

    As far as spreads go, there are spreads and there are spreads. I've played games where I can spread right by the count with no attention, but I really don't try that very often and use more of a "gambler's betting" approach, such as rarely increasing my bet on a loss, rarely decreasing on a win even if the count drops (if it drops a lot I might reduce by 1/2 but not every time) and so forth... All of that factors in to the EV of course, since every departure from an optimal bet size hurts in some way...

    I play enough to use two modes. "perfect bet by count" and "cover bet based on normal gambler behavior." I can do 'em without thinking, and without making errors, which is important in a casino setting, particularly on those optimal heads-up opportunities. I fully subscribe to "dance with the one what brung ya" to avoid making additional errors at the table, or losing the running count while reciting all the different bet ramp values to choose the right one... that can _really_ zap EV.

    I certainly hope I didn't suggest that penetration was not important. To me it is critical, moreso than other aspects of the game such as LS/noLS, and the like. There's one place I play with very good DD rules, but 50% pen, and I just don't play the game. I'd hope any aspiring counter understands the penetration aspect. If not, they ought to buy CVBJ and play the same game every night, and systematically vary the pen from 50 to 60 to 67 to 75 to 80% and see what it does. Or use CVCX and see the hourly win rate change as the pen is changed. First time I did that I was amazed in the hourly win rate more than doubles at about 67% pen (from anything less). The reason is that at 67% pen and beyond, using the same bankroll for both, your ROR drops markedly by the time you hit 67% and suddenly you can bet 2x the amount at 67% pen as you can at 50% pen, with double the hourly win rate, and the same ROR. Once I noticed that, I became a "pen freak". :)

    It is also useful to use CVCX to calculate the "optimal bet ramp" and then for you to figure out "how do I get there?" And you can enter your "workable bet ramp" into CVCX and see a side-by-side comparison with the optimal ramp. I also find that very useful, in that I know whether to ramp at TC=1 or TC=2 depending on the rules/pen, I know the optimal ramp, and can factor in my "gambler's ramp" to make it more believable without killing my EV.

    So obviously you are right on about how all aspects of play factor in. For those doing 6D shoes, getting the money on the green when they have an advantage is where their edge comes from. For SD/DD there are more issues about play, as the BS departures become more important.
  • Stainless – I would sincerely hope my post goes beyond “reasonable advice” to “mandatory advice” for you and others who want to be, or are on their way to being, a “player”…….Grifter
  • Grifter-That is worth at least an 8 pack......I'm not supprised that you use
    notebooks......I still do and I'm probably the last person in the world
    that you would think that does.

    Now the real reason I called!

    Have you got the madness picks yet? I may need help Sunday with a
    big ass pool.

  • Grifter:

    OK. "mandatory advice". :)

    I sincerely believe that 90% of the wannabe-counters fail by making one or more of those mistakes.

    not understanding the spread needed to beat a game

    not understanding how the rules affect potential advantage

    not understanding how critical penetration is to a counter

    not understanding how to ramp his/her bets without raising a red-flag everyone can see

    doing things that make him/her "stand out" so that the pit decides to ask for some scrutiny to see if everything is on the up-and-up.


    There are many ways for a card counter to lose lots of money, in addition to normal variance. There are even more ways to get bounced out into the parking lot which is just as bad...
  • Stainless – Good list of mistakes. I especially agree with the last two, and add this to them. I don’t think most players today have even remotely enough actual table experience before they try to play using a count. Things like rules, dress, demeanor, etiquette, procedures, how a casino works, casino hierarchy, comps, toking, etc., etc. etc. should all be things you never have to think about.

    Ray – Nope, doesn’t surprise me at all that you use a notebook. I don’t know many serious players that don’t. You should have that kind of data at your fingertips, not have to boot up a computer to get it……I have “modernized” to the extent I do keep it on a PDA now. :wink:

    I’ve collected a bunch of data for the ‘big dance’, but won’t get serious about any picks till after the selections are made this afternoon.

  • I agree with the experience part.

    And I did omit the #1 reason new counters fail: variance. They are simply not prepared to go out and lose hand after hand, big-bet after big-bet, and end up _way_ in the hole for a day or weeks, since they knew that they never saw anything like this just playing BS and flat-betting or using a small progression.

    If you start off on the right of the mean (+ std deviation territory) things look good. But you can just as easily start off to the left. In fact, for reasons I never understand, it seems like _most_ of my sessions start off bad, and then I come back and pull ahead (if that is to be an "ahead" session of course, sometimes I never pull back up). But if you have faith in the numbers, faith in your ability to count, faith in your ability to play and bet correctly, and you can stay under the "counter radar" then you have every chance to succeed. But it really takes a sort of "iron will" much like the marathoners talk about at "the wall" they all encounter at some point in the race. They know to push through and they'll finish.

    It's fun to win big and win quickly. It's not fun to lose big and quickly, (or to lose big and slowly for that matter). But the numbers will work out, if the counter does his part... Not knowing the game EV, how the betting spread/ramp effects the EV, failing to ignore degrading penetration, all contribute to failure. I played somewhere in Vegas (very short session) where they burned a bunch of cards after the shuffle. I assume to confuse the counters since the discard tray now contains some of the "cut cards". Never bothered me at all to remember "OK, 1/4 deck (or 1/2 deck or whatever it was) has been cut to the discard tray, so when estimating unplayed cards, remember to add that back in... Of course if they also cut off a bunch on the back-side, then the game might be unplayable..

    If you are uncomfortable at the table, things get overlooked, or cause errors, right and left... and if you are betting nickles and push out $50 or $100 when the count goes up, you need to be focused on the game to not lose the count and what you are supposed to be doing. One new counter I once played with could not deal with that. When he would bet big, he would get so focused on how the cards were falling, he would have no idea of the count after the hand was over... :)
  • I think I'll now go back to playing golf five days a week. The last few posts are certainly BJ Reality....Maybe I should just go back to playing golf 7 days a week.

    I have been reading, practicing and playing (non-count playing) for about six months now. I never had the intention of being a professional card player, but I did want to lower the house edge. I learned BS. Great start...I just want to continue to attempt to lower house edge so I can basically play the comp game plus maybe a - .25 house edge by doubling my bets only on +3 counts or higher and lowering during negative count. Is this possible?

    Thanks everyone for their contiribution to this thread....It has been very enlighting. Jim
  • First of all, I don't have the balls to spread my bets to maximize the full benefits of counting. Does the following formula make any sense in reducing the house edge assuming I know BS perfectly and can keep the count.
    Orginal bet $25...and play in the following manner.

    Even $25
    +1 25
    +2 35
    +3 50
    +4 50, et..

    -1 $25
    -2 15
    -3 10
    -4 10, etc.
    Would this lower the house edge from .05% given favorable house rules.
    In addition, will this changing bets frequently bring down heat enough to get a tap on shoulder? In short, does it make any sense?

    Thanks again....Jim
  • jimpenn - This is in response to your post right above your last one.

    The discussions/posts you are referring to are for very, very serious blackjack and getting the last drop of EV blood out of the game. In other words, for maximum profit.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with your goal of "I just want to continue to attempt to lower house edge so I can basically play the comp game plus maybe a - .25 house edge by doubling my bets only on +3 counts or higher and lowering during negative count. Is this possible?" . In my opinion, this is a more realistic goal for 99.9% of people who think they want to be "counters".

    Is it possible?....Absolutely it is (referring to the EV part), and here is something you might try that matches your +0.25 goal. Fred Renzey's book "Blackjack Bluebook II" has a method in it called the "A-10 Front Count". This method is extremely easy to learn and use, and will give you about a +0.25 EV with a typical six deck game.

    Hope this helps, and if you have any questions about it, send me a PM.

  • Many thanks...I will purchase the book today. I will take you up on your offer of a PM when I read the book and have a question.

    Enjoy your day, and Good Cards....Sincerely, Jim

    Stainless...also many thanks
  • Here's another possible idea:

    BJ is a "high-variance" game. For example, you can flat bet red, at a shoe game, which will give you maybe $500 of action per hour, and you can, due to variance, win or lose a major portion of that action. Being down $50-$100 is not that far outside the mean expected value, nor is being up the same amount. Of course, a BS player would expect to lose about 1/2% or $2.50 per hour, but the standard deviation is about $75 per hour so you could expect to be up or down $75 or less after playing one hour, 68% of the sessions you play (about 2/3).

    When you count, that goes up because suddenly you start pushing out multi-unit bets when the count goes up which puts more money at risk, increasing the variance of your result...

    There are games with less variance. Pai Gow poker is an example, since 2/3 of the hands end in a push, and since the game goes much slower than blackjack, the additional house edge turns into a slower way to lose money overall.

    For BJ, one way to decrease the variance is to play the games with a side-bet. One I have seen is a combo of BJ and 3-card poker, where your 3-card poker bet is based on your first two cards, plus the dealer's up-card. The payoffs and analysis of winning/losing hands slows the game down, and the fewer hands per hour, the lower the variance.

    Ending this, I'd remind you of one issue, again, that of variance. A counter can get an advantage of maybe 1.5% if he is good. That will still see his session bankroll tank from time to time, more often than any of us would like to see... If you go for a smaller advantage, which usually means spreading your bets less, you decrease the variance as you decrease your average bet. But it never goes away... Flat-betting BS players see swings up and down also...
  • If I were guessing I'd say 99.5% of players are losers because of one little problem with their play. MONEY....When you play to win, you
    want to create the situation where large variance is possible. Most people
    can't deal with that reality and play conservative blackjack and lose.

    The old saying that you must spend money to make money is oh
    so true. Statisticians will tell you that you need to make a few large bets
    and zero small bets to increase your chance to win. Somewhere close
    to 12-18 large bets and as close to zero small bets as you can get in a
    typical session. If you play shoe games this is the only way to beat the
    game. "Play all" is a losing strategy in shoe games unless you are a very
    lucky player.
  • Let me correct what I just said.......You can determine a bet spread that
    theory and sims say will beat a six deck game when you play all. Can you get away with it? Maybe and maybe not. The margin for error is very
    small because of the potential to play very long periods without much
    action (money) in the game. Single and DD is far better if you plan on
    sitting down and staying at one table for long periods. We have two pitch games (25/50) and there is heat at both. At this one place they have
    this floor guy who goes around these tables often. He stands back close to the monitor and backcounts these tables while watching the action.
  • jimpenn...

    For a few years I've offered the Ace-Five method. Same +0.25% but with a spread of 1 to 8 for the 6-deck S17 game WITH surrender. A spread of 1 to 6 is +0.20%. Works like a charm for double deckers betting 1-2-4. Click on the www button below this post.

    I don't recommend that you bet more than your minimum bet ANY time the house has an advantage. Delay that decision to at least a break-even score.
  • Ray, your exactly right. At this point in my BJ learning, without proper counting, I do find myself playing concervative. It's not that I don't have the money, or afraid of the increased's a lack of confidence in my ability at this point. I certainly appreciate the help from you, Grifter and Stainless and I can assure you I will give it my best. I'm obsessed with this game, and I will at some point down the road learn. I practice with CVBJ for four hours daily and have no intention of not mastering this game to my potential.

    Again, I certainly appreciate the help and advice.

    Sincerely, Jim
  • If you practice with CVBJ for four hours every day, in 6 months you will be able to back-count a table with your back turned. :)

    Just remember, confidence is the first thing you need. So that you don't "skimp" when the count says "push it out".
  • I am also practicing with cvbj.

    It became apparent real quickly how much you can lose even with the count way in your favor.

    I had a good shoe which included a couple of hands with a count of around 30 (kiss II) with 10 units ($150) out and then got some of the worst hands dealt you could believe. Was able to surrender one of them. Down about $650 in one shoe.

    Time to start increasing that bankroll :roll:
  • There is nothing wrong with using software to learn to count cards and
    it does sort of automate the process. However, real live games have a
    degree of randomness that is hard to duplicate. How you count cards can
    help to prepare you for those situations:

    After you think you have gotten good at the sport, try this little routine:
    Take an older deck that is not so slick and place half in your left hand.
    Transfer a random amount of cards from your left hand to your right
    as quickly as possible. The object is to count what you see and it could
    be 2,3,4,5, etc. Can you do that in 6-10 seconds? Yes you can and don't
    this describe what you might need to do in a pitch game or backcounting
    or any other situation that might arise.

    You can do this in a chair, on a plane, in a car non-driver,etc
  • Chuckn...This just happened to me this morning playing CVBJ. I started by Table Stakes with $400 and had increased it to $875....the count went to +5 with two decks remaining and I lost $600 quicker than I believed it could have happened. Yes, a big bankroll and balls are necessary.
  • Here's another take on Ray's drill:

    Get someone (I usually worry my wife into doing this) to take a deck of cards, toss 10-15 cards face-up on the table, without trying to neatly arrange or even separate them. Then immediately scoop them back up. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get the correct count. That is not unlike what happens in a pitch game where the dealer has a 10 up, and flips over the Ace and everyone tosses in their hand-held cards at once, with cards hitting the table in a very unorganized manner...

    Of course, CVBJ's drills can do this as well, since you can ask for a counting drill based on "scattered" cards. You pick the number to scatter and CVBJ will scatter them all over the table for you to count.

    My counting speed has been "OK". I usually have CVBJ use a 6D shoe for the counting drills since that lets the counts swing a bit farther in each direction, and requires more care in not losing the count. I have the thing set to show me two cards at a time, and complete the entire shoe in 110 seconds. I'm slowly decreasing the "flash time" to reduce this further. Note that this is harder than hand-counting, because if you "stumble" you can pause to catch up, but with this particular drill set up in this mode, you get .7 seconds or so per pair of cards and then they are gone and replaced by the next pair. If you stumble, you are lost. If you match that up with a full-table drill which helps with hand-cancellation like the two-card drill helps with two-card cancellation, you can keep up without really getting tired at all, so that when you hit the casino pit, things seem to be going on in slow motion, which is nice since you now have time to count at a glance, complain about the cards, chant for an Ace or Ten, grumble when the dealer pulls one of those N-card 21's, think out loud about an insurance offer with a big bet out, do the TC conversion to make betting/playing decisions, think about cover bets, etc...
  • I did three 100 card sessions where I stopped playing when the count reached -3 and above. I doubled my BR with ease by not playing the -3 or greater minus counts. Showed me how important it can be to leave the table for some reason when the count swings against you. Bathroom, cell call, etc. I understand you can't do this all day, but I sure now know the benefit of not playing during high minus counts.

    I'm just doing some experimenting and realize how cover is as important as BS and counting.

    Cheers, Jim
  • You got it, Jim......Heck, the actual counting process is probably about one tenth of the total picture.....G.
  • Grifter- Now I know how you know if the deck is good or bad without
    trying too hard.........I was wondering about that. I tried a few experiments
    in observation to see for myself.

    PS...Villanova is the best long shot in the field.....I just entered my picks
    in the big one.
  • Ray... just exCUSE my Orange Crush Pick to win it all.
  • Nickels- You may have a point....Both CUSE and UCONN have a near
    term legacy. They know how and some on previous teams remain to
    show the way. We fanatics factor in all variables and other mystic stuff.
  • I agree with you Ray about SLEEPER! Since my Daughter attends I had no
  • To Anyone:

    Could someone tell me the best software to purchase in learning blackjack counting better?

    Also, when counting the very first round of blackjack: Could someone tell me if at the end of that hand should there be a MINUS or PLUS to make a larger bet for the next hand?

    Hopefully, I've made myself clear...........hee, hee
  • Ray said:
    Grifter- Now I know how you know if the deck is good or bad without
    trying too hard.........I was wondering about that. I tried a few experiments
    in observation to see for myself.

    PS...Villanova is the best long shot in the field.....I just entered my picks
    in the big one.

    Look at the teams in the Albuquerque bracket for the long shot. The rest of the regions are loaded with at least two power houses. I personally like Louisville to make some noise....

    IMO, there is no way Villanova survives in that tough region with Kansas, NC, and Uconn... Probably the toughest region.
  • cjoy:

    1. go to and download their trial version of "CVBJ". Try it. You'll like it. It is a fully-functional program except that all 5's have been replaced by 10's so that it is not so useful for real practice. But once you try it, you'll see the advantage to buying the full version without that limit. It is more than worth the money.

    2. + counts mean increase your bets, more big cards are left than small cards...
  • Thanks Stainless Steel Rat, for all your help.

    I don't go to the casinos often as they are 300 miles away from me. However, I've been counting cards for awhile now and always end up with a zero at the end of the decks, but wasn't sure about when to bet higher when playing for real money. I know, I'm not a great counter but would like to try something different this time, I go.

    What I ususally do, is bet about $5.00 and if I lose that $5.00, I will bet $5.00 again. If I lose the second $5.00 I will bet $25.00 next time and continue to go little higher until I get my money back, plus. It works most of the time as I take plenty to money to fight to get my money back.

    However, I know I can't continue doing this and be a winner. I have to know when to quit or I will get bit in the real end..........smiles to you Thank you kindly!!!!!!!!
  • There are two pieces of software you ought to buy. They are not very expensive.

    1. CVBJ. It will drill you, 6 ways from Sunday. It will make sure you can keep the basic count, estimate remaining decks, do the TC conversion (if you use a balanced count), bet correctly according to your custom bet schedule you enter, play correct BS, use the BS departure indices you want to use, etc.

    2. CVCX. The advantage we have over the house is thin. _very_ thin. The best way to lose it completely is improper betting. CVCX will allow you to supply the actual rules and penetration for the game you play, set the min bet unit, and it will show you the "optimal" bet ramp based on the TC. That optimal ramp is usually unplayable due to odd amounts, so you have to make it playable. And in doing so you lose accuracy. But CVCX will let you enter a custom bet ramp to go along with its optimal ramp, and it will show you the difference between the two in terms of hourly win rate. You don't want to go to the trouble of keeping an accurate count, only to toss your advantage away with a conservative bet ramp.

    The only thing these packages won't do is teach you what you can actually get away with in the casino. You have to decide that based on your playing results. But at least you will now know whether a game is a winnable game or a losing game, before you find out the hard way.

    Depending on the dealer/pit crew, how you bet can vary. Most of us end up using some sort of "progression-like" scheme based on the true count. You can't ramp directly with the count every time it changes or you will be caught and tossed quickly. No gambler will bet $40, double and win $80, and then drop back to $5, just because the count tanked. It doesn't look natural. You might drop back to 50% of your previous at times, or sometimes you don't drop back at all. You can't always insure at +2 in DD, you need to insure some at lower counts as well for cover...

    the counting part, as Grifter said, is a small part of the "total package". The good news is that generally, if you start at a $5 table, you can get away with a lot more than you can betting green/black, so you have time to "learn the ropes" before you get hung by the ropes at higher limits.
  • Stainless Steel Rat: As always, I thank you for your response.

    I emailed questions regarding purchasing the software and no doubt, I will purchase both today. I also, downloaded CVBJ and played for a couple of hours and quit. When I went back to play again, the darn thing wouldn't let me play but it wanted to reload again time and time. Oh well, don't know what went wrong there.

    I understand exactly what you mean about a real gambler.....LOL not playing $40.00, $80.00 and back to $5.00. I was laughing as I read your message because, I have gotten caught up in traps not winning the DD, doing as I mentioned. Yes, I have lots to learn alright.....smiles

    What BJ book would you recommend for a BJ weak person as myself?

  • To Anyone:

    What do you people think of the Automatic Shuffling Machines in the casinos? Go with them or not?

  • I would recomment Fred Renzey's "Blackjack Bluebook II". It is an excellent primer for both beginning and intermediate players. If you were to learn everything in that book, you could sit down and play "solid" blackjack any casino in the U.S.

  • Grifter:

    Thank you kindly for your response. I will certainly check out this book and thank you for recommending it.

  • To Anyone:

    I never got a response from anyone regarding the Automatic Shuffling Machines. Are these machines liked by most people or do you think the michines would be against us in some way?

  • There are two varieties, automatic shufflers and continuous shufflers...

    automatic shufflers are OK. They shuffle one pack of cards while the dealer is dealing the other. Cuts table down-time since no shuffle-time is required.

    continuous shufflers are bad. played cards are re-introduced into the machine every round or two. Which means that counting is impossible. Avoid these...

    with an ASM, the dealer transfers cards from the shuffler to the shoe (or to his hands if it is a dd hand-pitched game, and transfers the discards to the shuffler to be shuffled while this pack is being dealt... A CSM is somewhat like an "infinite deck" since there is no significantl card build-up in the discard tray...
  • Stainless Steel Rat:

    I've played at two casinos that used the Automatic Shufflers and was please with one and not the other but I'm sure it just wasn't in the cards for me. However, I will try it again.

    I did notice it is much faster than manual dealing but wasn't sure if I should trust them or not, with the technology these days, anything is possible. I only play 6 deck tables and these machines shuffled all 6 decks very fast. Money maker for the casino, no doubt.

    Stainless Steel Rat, I sure you can tell by me post that I'm not a fast counter by any means. However, I've played several simulators at home and always seem to do pretty good with the winnings. Well........What I think is pretty good for a beginner........chuckle.

    Tell me your honest opinion. When I take very short trips to the casinos which is 300 miles away from me. I usually bring back around $300.00 to $500.00 just using BS. However, I've been rushed as I have any people with me. I can only count 3 rounds with a dealer as my mind gets distracted.........Makes me mad!! I really want to do better though.

    When playing these simulators at home I've recently started timing myself and I'm making anywhere from $150.00 to $500.00 in 15 minutes. Do you think it's possible for me to do that well at the casinos too or am I just fooling myself?

    I hope I'm not bothering you too much as I really appreciate any help I can get.

  • Your question is hard to answer.

    I play (practice) with CVBJ a lot myself, as I am always fooling around with my "betting strategy" to improve it for a specific game. The problem in looking at the win rate is in "hands per hour". I can play _way_ over 600 hands per hour heads-up on CVBJ. In a real DD game, 100 hands per hour seems too high, even heads-up. So if I were to base my hourly win rate on CVBJ, it would be way higher than what I would see in a real casino, not because CVBJ gives me unrealistically good hands, but because I practice with everything at "full-speed". (animation, payoffs, dealer speed, etc) which makes counting much more difficult and gets my speed to a faster level with fewer errors). This means I play an utterly unrealistic number of hands per hour.

    I have played 6D shoes where 60 rounds per hour would be fast, because the dealer was slow. DD is slower anyway because of more frequent shuffles. CVBJ is good for practice. But rather than looking at how much you win after an hour or two, go to the "options" "history" and look at the playing log to see how many hands you played. Look at your total dollars won, and divide that by the number of CVBJ hands you actually played, and then multiply by the number of hands you normally play per hour.

    hourly_win_rate = total_won / (total_hands_played / usual_hands_per_hour)


    win_rate = (total_won * total_hands_played)

    Hope that helps. No need in having artificially inflated win expectations just because you can click a mouse and the computer can deal/payoff faster than a human dealer can. :)

    Here's a way to improve your counting. Don't worry about the speed in this drill, just the accuracy.

    Use CVBJ, and find a TV program you like to watch. Watch and play BJ. And count. You don't have to play continuously, you can stop, but you must remember the count, you can't "peek" to see what it is. Or if you are married, get your wife to sit down with you and have a conversation, while you are playing/counting. While the cards are being dealt, you have to count, but there is plenty of time to keep up a conversation during the round. Again, count, converse, and no peeking allowed...

    Until you can do this, you probably should not do more than flat-bet at a real table, because you will look like a counter if you don't participate in the "table hysteria" that happens here and there...

    Good luck and hope that helps...
  • Stainless Steel Rat: Do you believe in surrendering your 16 to an A's, etc.? Double 7's to 10 or A's and so on.


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