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Thread: *** OFFICIAL Blackjack Card Counting Thread ***

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    *** OFFICIAL Blackjack Card Counting Thread ***

    If you play blackjack and are tired of losing money, read this thread.

    Note that the information here will not automatically make you a winning blackjack player. Note that showing a profit in blackjack can sometimes take a long time, as the edge is small and the variance is high. However, you can greatly improve your odds in blackjack by just taking a small amount of time to learn the basics of card counting.

    First, learn basic strategy. Basic strategy is the "correct" strategy that nearly everyone (at least everyone besides complete morons) bases their play upon. You know... stuff like hitting 12 versus a dealer's 2 or 3, but not against 4 through 6.

    Next, read the following article that teaches you how to count cards:

    http://www.bj21.com/bj_reference/pages/9541.html

    (Do not read further until you have done the above.)

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Next, memorize the following exceptions to basic strategy based upon the count (in order of importance):

    1) If the true count is at least +3, take insurance against an ace (regardless of what hand you hold).

    2) If the true count is zero or positive, stand on 16 versus a dealer 10.

    3) If the true count is at least +4, stand on 15 versus a dealer 10.

    4) If the true count is at least +2, stand on 12 versus a dealer 3.

    5) If the true count is at least +3, stand on 12 versus a dealer 2.

    6) If the true count is -1 or less, hit on 13 versus a 2.

    7) If the true count is zero or negative, hit on 12 versus a 4.

    There are many other modifications, but the above are the most important ones. If you don't want to memorize these, at least memorize #1 and #2, as they are easily the most important to gain edge. Keep in mind that I am also giving basic numbers here, and am not accounting for minor differences that occur when playing 6-deck shoe versus double-deck, etc.

    Other strategy notes:

    - Penetration (how far they deal before reshuffling) is very important. If they cut off more than 2 decks out of 6, or 1 out of 2, it is very difficult to play a +EV blackjack game, even if you are counting.

    - The number of players matters. Try to get tables with few players, preferably one other person. Playing heads-up is great EV-wise, but bad in the sense that you get watched far more closely by the pit. If your table is full, your EV will go down, and you may not even be a favorite in a marginal game (i.e. mediocre penetration and/or mediocre rules).

    - The rules matter. NEVER play the single deck where they pay 6:5 for blackjack. It is unbeatable. Also avoid any games where you can't double on any two cards. It is advisable, especially in shoe games, to only play games where you are allowed to double after splitting. It is always to the player's advantage to have the dealer stand on soft 17 (rather than hit it), but this is getting more difficult to find other than at high-end Vegas strip casinos. Don't obsess over the hit/stand soft 17 thing, but keep in mind that it makes a difference.

    - Do not ever place sidebets on what cards will be dealt. The house has a HUGE edge on these.

    - Stay true to yourself and be disciplined. It sucks when you slam out 5 big bets in a row when the count is high, lose all 5, and then the shuffle comes before you can get unstuck. It's tempting to keep firing big after the shuffle, but that move is -EV and will kill you in the long run if you don't get that impulse under control.

    My next post will discuss the very important concept of "cover" -- i.e. making yourself NOT look like a counter.

  2. #2
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Card Counting Cover

    The biggest problem with card counting is that, while legal to do in the United States, it's against the house rules. Therefore, in all states but New Jersey, any casino can have you ejected from the blackjack game (or the casino itself) if they realize that you are counting.

    Even worse, it is difficult to hide that you're a card counter. Playing winning blackjack unfortunately requires a rather obvious and predictable betting pattern that is easily recognized by a smart pit boss. Furthermore, deviating from this betting pattern will turn you into an overall -EV player, so while you probably won't be kicked out of the game, you'll be giving money to the casino instead!

    There are, however, some things you can do to cover up what you're doing, who you are, and why you're playing. These are things I have noticed from personal experience, and many are quite effective. Keep in mind that you will still get kicked out for counting in many cases, but the below tips might be just enough to get you the benefit of the doubt....


    1) Looks matter. Like everything in life, people stereotype you. Card counters have their own stereotype. The "typical" card counter is white, about 25-40 years old, playing alone (or with other counters), and has an "intellectual" look to him -- someone you'd expect to be good at math and/or computers. While many card counters don't look like this, this is the basic stereotype the pit bosses have in mind, and matching that description will increase the likelihood that you will get extra heat. Unfortunately, I fit this description perfectly, so it's important for me to try other things to turn the heat down a bit. Who doesn't look like a card counter? Any female, anyone over 50, anyone with an "urban" or thuggish look, and anyone who appears to be filthy rich. If you fit any of these descriptions, you are already at an advantage over other counters.

    2) You are judged by the company you keep. Remember, you want to look like a typical gambler, not a calculating math nerd trying to take the casino's money. Card counters are not expected to bring their wife to watch them "work". That's something a casual gambler would do ("Hey honey, watch me play high stakes blackjack!") When I'm alone or with other guys, I get FAR more heat than when I'm with my girlfriend (who is usually assumed to be my wife, given that I'm 40.) It's also best not to play with other card counters, as your raising and lowering of bets will be nearly identical, and is a HUGE red flag. The good news: You are unlikely to run into any other capable card counters in a typical blackjack session.

    3) Exception to #2: The "protection" trick. Say that I see Jim, an acquaintance I know through poker, walking the hallways of one of my favorite casinos. I tell Jim that I'm about to play blackjack, and Jim says, "Hey, I love blackjack! Let's go play together!" Unless Jim is a good card counter, which is unlikely, he's a GREAT asset to have -- possibly assuring that you won't get barred from the game no matter what you do. Casinos often will tolerate an evil to gain a greater good. If Jim is a -EV player and he's expected to lose more money than I am expected to win, most casinos will let us both stay in the game, figuring that throwing me out will cause Jim to leave, too. While I don't encourage using your close friends this way, ("Hey, good buddy, come play blackjack and lose a fortune so I can also play and not get any heat!"), I see no problem with piggybacking onto a player who is going to play anyway.

    4) Talk up a storm. The worst thing you can do while card counting is to sit there quiet and emotionless as the hands unfold. Gamblers don't act like that. They are emotional, vibrant, and really into every card that's dealt. When I play blackjack, I like talking up each hand to the point where I'm annoying. Call for cards, comment on both good luck and bad, compliment your fellow players on their blackjacks and lucky draws, and pretty much don't keep your mouth shut. This accompishes two things: First, it makes you look like you couldn't be concentrating on the count with all the talking you're doing. Second, the talking itself distracts the dealer and pit boss from taking the time to assess the situation.

    5) Don't be good at math. If you're asked what you do for a living, never answer, "Computer programmer", "Physicist", "Mathematician", "Engineer", or any other career that has a math basis to it. These careers are most likely to be those of card counters. Instead, answer something basic like, "I work in insurance", or "I manage a restaurant", or some other BS like that. Just have something prepared beforehand so you're not blindsided by a few questions. What if you're a pro poker player? Should you admit that? I used to think definitely not, but I've changed my mind somewhat. Most poker players are seen as sick gamblers, and not likely card counters. Still, I think you're safe to just pretend you have a conventional profession. Finally, don't show too much skill in being able to add up other people's hands too quickly. If the dealer squints at a hand of A-2-4-5-A-3-2, don't quickly blurt out, "That's 18." In fact, say the opposite, like, "Man, I can't even begin to figure out what that is!"

    6) Wear your emotions on your sleeve. Be happy when you win, and high five the other players when the dealer busts unexpectedly. When you lose, play up your frustration. Complain how unlucky you are, how you always lose at this game, and how you can't figure out how the dealer always gets the better cards than you.

    7) Take advantage of the "pissed off all-in bet". With the popularity nowadays of poker, the phrase "I'm all in" has become known to nearly everyone. If the count goes really high, and if you have been losing, you can place a bigger-than-usual maximum bet by grabbing your chip stack, shoving it all onto your betting spot, and announcing, "I'm all in!" This makes you look like a frustrated gambler rather than a card counter, yet you're getting big EV by putting up such a big bet in a highly positive situation. For example, say I've been spreading $50-$300, but have lost 3 hands in a row and now have $650 left. The true count is +7. I will shove my entire $650 onto the next hand, announce (seemingly pointlessly) "I'm all in", and rarely get much heat for it.

    8) Know when to walk away. Know when to run. Unlike poker, you can't play blackjack for an unlimited amount of time in one session until you get even. At some point, you might get stuck enough to where coming all the way back to even will attract too much pit attention, and you'll get barred. This becomes a lose-lose situation, where you need to either walk away a loser or get banned from playing blackjack at that casino. Unless you don't plan upon visiting that establishment ever again, you should go with the former. Your results are not session-dependent, and you WILL lose sometimes. Often casinos will NOT eject card counters who are losing, hoping that they will eventually tilt and start playing -EV. Once you manage to start a comeback and have kept your wits about you the entire time, they will show you the door before you can get all the way unstuck. What if you are winning? Then it's especially important to leave. If you are ahead and have just completed an excellent round, leave when they get to the shuffle (or when the count drops irreversably negative).


    Questions/comments welcome.

  3. #3
    Good stuff.

  4. #4
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Many people believe a lot of incorrect things when it comes to blackjack and card counting -- even people who often believe they know a lot about both. Here are some examples:


    MYTH #1: If you get thrown out of a blackjack game for counting cards, it's probably because your "act" wasn't good enough.

    FACT #1: Acts can only take you so far. Most people are pegged as counters not by the way they look or act, but rather by the way they play. A sharp pit boss can identify a counter no matter how good their act is. If you are caught, there probably wasn't much you could have done about it, except perhaps have left earlier.



    MYTH #2: Single deck is better than double deck when it comes to card counting.

    FACT #2: In theory, single deck is better. In practice, double deck is better. There are two reasons for this. First, casinos are often very paranoid that counters will hit their single deck games -- and for good reason! Therefore, they often make the penetration (how far they deal before shuffling) horrendous, and often you will only get out 2 hands if there are more than 3 people at the table. Furthermore, they watch these games like a hawk, so it is difficult to effectively play +EV blackjack without getting ejected. While double deck also attracts its fair share of pit boss paranoia, it's not nearly as bad. Furthermore, it plays better at a full or near-full table than single deck, and there are many double-deck games on the Vegas strip with decent or good penetration. Finally, most single deck games have been converted to "6:5" games (that is, blackjack pays you 6/5 of your bet instead of 3/2), which is terrible.


    MYTH #3: It is impossible to count a 6-deck shoe.

    FACT #3: 6-deck shoes, under the right conditions, are very beatable. Since you are only keeping track of a running count, it doesn't matter if you're playing 1, 2, or 6 decks. The only problem that can occur is if you forget the count, you are stuck until they reshuffle, which can take awhile. 6-deckers with good penetration (1.7 decks cut off or less) are very beatable, especially if the rules are good. Look for shoe games with the surrender option, as that is especially helpful in high-count situations where you have a big bet and are dealt something crappy like 16 versus a 10.


    MYTH #4: It's important to make some intentionally stupid plays (or bet high occasionally during negative counts) for "deception" purposes.

    FACT #4: Betting big during negative counts kills your overall edge, as does making intentionally stupid plays. Remember that, even as a counter, your edge over the casino is small. If you really want to do things for deception, keep it to decisions that are close anyway, or involve small bets. For example, one blackjack book suggests ALWAYS taking insurance (not just on high counts) versus the dealer's ace, with the rationale being that you are only giving up value on your low bets, and that you're doing the correct thing on your big bets. Personally, I don't do this, but I can see where that suggestion makes sense as a "cheap" form of cover. However, too often I have seen counters make tilty-type bad plays, and they explain it away as "just trying to show the pit boss I'm not a counter". If you make intentionally wrong bets/plays, the pit boss might let you stay, but not for the reason you think. It's not that you're fooling him, it's that you're actually not playing winning blackjack!


    MYTH #5: If card counting, you need to fear the dealer and not piss him off. He might know what you're up to, and will report you if you don't keep him happy.

    FACT #5: It's not the dealer's job in most cases to detect card counters. Even if it is, he will usually report you if he's instructed to do so, and won't otherwise. Besides, the pit boss needs to see for himself before ejecting you. He won't take the dealer's word for it without making his own judgment. If a dealer gets abusive to you, speak up. If you're counting, you're probably one of the bigger action players, and you have some clout. I once played at the Rio, and the dealer was particularly obnoxious and nasty for no reason. He was like this from the beginning, so it wasn't because I was counting cards, and he treated the other players at the table (who weren't counting) just as poorly. Finally I had enough of it. I told him, "You are either going to shut your mouth now and let us play cards in peace, or I am calling the pit boss over and telling him that this casino lost my action forever and it's your fault. Which one is it going to be?" He didn't say another word. Remember that these dealers make good money, so they don't want to lose their job!


    MYTH #6: It's important to tip the dealer big in order to get good penetration.

    FACT #6: Tipping usually has almost zero effect on the game. Penetration is usually set by the house, often to where the dealer uses a marking on the shoe to do it the same each time. Even when some leeway is granted to the dealers, they tend to give penetration randomly. That is, some dealers give good penetration and some lousy, regardless of how much or how little they're tipped. In RARE cases, dealers will do you favors in exchange for tips, but this happens so infrequently that it's only advisable to tip extra when you are CONVINCED this is the case. Otherwise, tip very little. Feel bad for the dealer? Don't. Dealers make 100k/year at places like Wynn and Bellagio, and they make nice mid-upper 5-figure salaries elsewhere, thanks to the generous tips left by everyone else. If you overtip, again your edge will vanish.


    MYTH #7: If you don't count cards, you still should avoid the continuous shuffling machines.

    FACT #7: If you don't count cards, a lot of things don't matter. Among them include how/when the dealer shuffles and how many decks are used. Ignore those factors. If you are a non-counter, the only thing you should do is look for a game with the best rules. That's almost always a shoe game (6 decks or more), and make sure that you can double on any 2 cards, double after split, and blackjack pays 3:2. Also look for surrender, resplit aces, and dealer-stands-soft-17 rules if possible. If you don't count, at least play in a game with the best rules, in order to lessen the casino's edge.


    MYTH #8: Weird rule variants of blackjack, such as "dealer cards face up", "double after 3 cards or more", "switch cards if you are playing 2 hands", or other player-helping rule changes are always a good thing.

    FACT #8: These rule variants always come with a price. Often that price is a very costly rule change on the other side, such as player loses all ties or blackjack pays even money. These games are usually highly -EV and should be avoided.


    MYTH #9: If you get kicked out of a casino for card counting, you're obviously a winning blackjack player.

    FACT #9: Many pit bosses know the rough signs of a card counter, and don't watch closely enough to see if you're truly a +EV player. Of course, getting kicked out of MANY places is a good sign. However, the only way to really know if you're playing a winning blackjack game is to play a whole lot of it and honestly assess your results. Keep in mind, though, that the edge is small and the game is swingy, so you can be a -EV player who is up overall, or a +EV player who is down overall. That will flatten out over time. After you get a whole lot of sessions in, you should be showing a profit. If you're not, something might be wrong. Don't just blame luck!

  5. #5
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    What if you get caught card counting?

    They can ban you from the whole property, but most large casinos won't as long as it's your "first offense".


    Here are the levels of banning that exist. They can do #1-8 at any time, even for the first offense. As I said, that usually doesn't happen, though. The only one they can't do is the final one (arrest) because that involves violating the trespass act.


    LIGHTEST TO HEAVIEST:


    1) Shuffling up. Dealer immediately shuffles, instead of waiting until the normal spot in the shoe to do so. This is to prevent card counters from taking advantage of a currently high count. This can be done in any casino. It should be illegal (because it hurts the non-counters, too), but somehow it isn't. Often a shuffle-up is followed by a great reduction in penetration (the point where the cut card is placed by the dealer to indicate shuffle).


    2) One-handing. You are instructed to only play one hand at a time at the blackjack table, instead of 2 or more. They can do this in all casinos, and they are allowed to make it only apply to you and not others at the table.


    3) Flat-betting. You are required to bet the same amount for the entire shoe. You can still play any other non-blackjack table game or slot machine without restriction. This cannot be done in Atlantic City.


    4) Restriction to only continuous shufflers. You are only allowed to play at blackjack tables with continuous shuffling machines. You can still play any other non-blackjack table game or slot machine without restriction. This cannot be done in Atlantic City.


    5) Blackjack Back-Off. You are told not to play blackjack anywhere in the casino. You can still play any other non-blackjack table game or slot machine without restriction. This cannot be done in Atlantic City. This is usually what is done when "first-offense" card counters are caught at most casinos, especially major Vegas ones.


    6) Ejection. You are told to leave the premises, and escored out by security. You are not subject to arrest if you return in the future, but it is implied that you are not welcome. This cannot be done in Atlantic City. This often happens if you are caught counting for the second time.


    7) Trespass act. You are told to leave the premises, and escored out by security. In addition, security reads you a statement that you will be considered trespassing if you ever set foot on the property again. Often you are banned from the company's other properties, as well, which is often stated as the trespass act is being read. This cannot be done in Atlantic City. This often happens if you are caught counting for the second time, and will almost always happen if caught counting after being ejected for it in the past.


    8) Detention. You are detained in the back room for questioning. This should never be done to a card counter, since it is not illegal, unless he has violated the trespassing act. Still, this happens sometimes. Always resist being backroomed, as counters have been intimidated and even beaten up at times. This cannot be done in Atlantic City, unless actual cheating (not counting) is strongly suspected and can be proven.


    9) Arrest. This can only occur if you violated the trespassing act. You are detained by security and arrested for trespassing, a misdemeanor. This cannot be done in Atlantic City, unless you were kicked out for reasons other than counting.






    Which ones have I experienced? #1, #2, #4, #5, #6, and #7.


    Why can't Atlantic City do anything but #1 and #2? There was a landmark court case a number of years ago, where it was made illegal to eject card counters. All they can do is either shuffle up on you or restrict you to one hand.

  6. #6
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I have played blackjack with many self-proclaimed card counters -- most of whom also are professional poker players. Of all the poker people I've played with (or observed), I can count only three who I feel are actually +EV in blackjack. The rest are just fooling themselves, much to the delight of casinos everywhere.

    This is an astonishing situation. Poker is a subjective game. There are many right strategies to be successful in poker, and the correct way to play often varies from game to game. Therefore, it's a hell of a lot harder to become a good poker player than it is a good blackjack player. Winning blackjack is very mechanical and black-and-white. There are few tough decisions, and it's something that doesn't require a lot of practice or experience to become a winning player. I would think that any person smart enough to become a top-flight poker player should find winning blackjack to be a breeze. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Most blackjack-playing poker players understand the basics behind card counting, but most have tremendous leaks (or a lack of understanding of certain concepts) that make them clearly -EV in the game.

    Perhaps you're one of those people. You think you play a +EV blackjack game, but your results are somehow negative. Are you just going through a run of bad luck, or are you actually not a winning player? Be honest with yourself and answer the below questions to find out....

    Do you think you can beat non-live forms of blackjack, such as blackjack machines or online blackjack? If so, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you closely examine the table rules and penetration (how far the dealer deals before shuffling) before sitting down at a blackjack game? If not, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you play blackjack games with weird variations on the rules, such as 6:5 Single Deck or Spanish 21? If so, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you place side bets on the cards being dealt, such as "Lucky Ladies" or "Royal Match"? If so, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Have you ever been thrown out of a blackjack game for card counting? If not, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Have you only been thrown out of small casinos for card counting, yet seem to routinely get away with it at larger Vegas joints? If so, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you make terrible decisions at times, or place a huge bet during a negative count, simply telling yourself that it's important to do this for "cover"? If so, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you sometimes make decisions based upon "feeling", fear, or tilt, rather than based upon what mathematical analysis says you should do? If so, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you often forget the count, and make up for it by "winging it" by guessing where things are at? If so, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you find it easy to talk with friends, drink a lot, and/or people-watch while playing blackjack? If so, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you routinely get generous comps from casinos, especially those from a host who has taken a personal interest in you? If so, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you have a "tilt problem" where you erratically place large bets regardless of the count? If so, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    When you play with friends who you know are competent card counters, does your selection of big/small bets offer differ greatly from theirs? If so, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Can you immediately, off the top of your head, recite the times you are supposed to take insurance and stand on hard 16 versus a 10? If not, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    When you bet big, do most of your losses come from being dealt bad starting hands, rather than losing to big dealer hands? If so, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    Do you know the count at ALL TIMES during your blackjack play? If not, YOU ARE NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    When you raise your bets, do they tend to go up gradually, or do you often go from your minimum bet to something about 5-10 times the size? If they rise abruptly, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT A WINNING BLACKJACK PLAYER.

    ---------------------------

    Bottom line: Most casinos aren't stupid. If you play there enough, and you're +EV against them, you will get the boot. Some small casinos will kick you at the slightest sign of being a counter, but most larger operations will watch you closely and determine if you really can beat them. If you find that friends/peers get kicked out way more often than you, don't assume it's just because you have a great cover. It's probably because you're not a winning player. Keep in mind that, if I owned a casino, I'd give a personal invitation to over 90% of poker players who claim they can count cards -- and I'd let them stay indefinitely for free.

    Some poker players have watched me play and condescendingly chided me afterwards. "It's so obvious you're a card counter, Todd", they remark, and then go on to brag about how they do so much of a better job hiding what they're doing. And they probably do. Because these people are actually losing players, they do a great job at "hiding" their ability to win from these supposedly stupid casinos, while nerdy math guys like me keep getting thrown out.

    The truth is that it's impossible to hide that you're a card counter, no matter how good your act is. Sit me down with any blackjack player, and I'll tell you if he's a winning player or not within 25-30 minutes -- maybe less.

    Don't fool yourself. You may be great at poker, but that doesn't automatically translate to other forms of gambling. Many top poker pros have lost their rolls to blackjack, craps, and sportsbetting -- always assuming that they knew how to beat the house. In almost all cases, they don't.

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    love this all. Thanks! how long did it take you to learn was it more just a hobby playing blackjack and wanted to be good or was it you saying i want to learn to count so i can get max EV

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    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yaahello View Post
    love this all. Thanks! how long did it take you to learn was it more just a hobby playing blackjack and wanted to be good or was it you saying i want to learn to count so i can get max EV
    Learned how to play +EV blackjack just months before I started playing poker. This was in the fall of 2000.

    Was a lot easier to learn than becoming a winning poker player.

    I read that post by Porkbeli (the one I linked in the first post on this thread), and then downloaded a free blackjack learn-to-count software package. I played it every day on the fastest speed, and practiced counting. I played on that speed so it would seem slow and easy once I got to Vegas to actually do it.

    After about a month of this, I felt confident enough to play, so I took a trip to Vegas and tried out my skills at Imperial Palace, which had a good double-deck game at the time. I spread from $10-$50, and finished up about $1400.

    My motivation to learn card counting came from a weekend earlier that year, where I played blackjack and lost $500. I felt that I was throwing away my money to the casino by playing a -EV game, and wanted to turn the tables.

  9. #9
    Druff,

    This is amazing info! Thank you!

    What is the best way to go about learning how many decks, the casinos rules on BJ, and how big their penetration is? Can you tell this all by just watching a few BJ games before sitting down? Like are the rules all layed out easy to see and I guess you estimate the number of decks by seeing how big the stack is.

    There is a casino about to open super close to me and I think now is a great time to card count, since they will probably have all inexperienced pitt bosses who won't be able to pick up a card counter.

    Also how do you look at an hourly rate or win rate? Seems the avg edge is about 1%, so to make any good money you prob have to be betting $1,000+ when the count goes positive. You still only making $10 profit on those bets in the long term with the 1% edge.

    What is the min bankroll you would need to start card counting. I can't be betting $1K a hand.

  10. #10
    Jesus forgives a little card counting?

    )–“Shackled by a heavy burden/'neath a load of guilt and shame/ then the hand of Jesus touched me/ and now I am no longer the same.”

    So begins the popular William Gaither hymn. By popular, I mean Elvis once recorded a version of it, which is what it takes for a hymn anymore.

    When I stumbled into a church on the outskirts of Las Vegas one Sunday morning in 2007, I was shackled with my own heavy burden of sorts. I had $80,000 in cash hidden on my person. It was crammed into pockets, stuffed into socks and strapped beneath my clothes. The pastor was just getting his sermon fired up when I slipped into a back row with all the grace of a stiff-limbed Frankenstein.

    So much for going unnoticed.



    The pastor stopped midsentence and stared my way. Had he cleared his throat or even made an offhanded comment about punctuality, I would have understood. Instead, he called my first and last name into the microphone, and every head turned.

    Believe it or not, I had never been to this church. While I traveled to Vegas often, my time was spent in casinos, not churches.

    Blackjack is a beatable game. With card counting, perfect decision-making and plenty of capital, you can gain and cash in on an advantage against the house. East Coast college students, known as the MIT Team, used the method to plunder casinos in the 1980s and 1990s, inspiring books and movies and making card counting famous. But people have been employing this winning strategy in casinos for 50 years

    full article
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/0...ing/?hpt=hp_c2
    all hail Hydra



    Originally Posted by DanDruff:Since I'm a 6'2" Republican with an average-sized nose and a last name which doesn't end with "stein", "man", or "berg", I can hide among the goyim and remain undetected unless I open my mouth about money matters.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    Druff,

    This is amazing info! Thank you!

    What is the best way to go about learning how many decks, the casinos rules on BJ, and how big their penetration is? Can you tell this all by just watching a few BJ games before sitting down? Like are the rules all layed out easy to see and I guess you estimate the number of decks by seeing how big the stack is.

    There is a casino about to open super close to me and I think now is a great time to card count, since they will probably have all inexperienced pitt bosses who won't be able to pick up a card counter.

    Also how do you look at an hourly rate or win rate? Seems the avg edge is about 1%, so to make any good money you prob have to be betting $1,000+ when the count goes positive. You still only making $10 profit on those bets in the long term with the 1% edge.

    What is the min bankroll you would need to start card counting. I can't be betting $1K a hand.
    Hey Druff,

    Any advice on the above questions? I want to take advantage of this casinos opening...

  12. #12
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    Druff,

    This is amazing info! Thank you!

    What is the best way to go about learning how many decks, the casinos rules on BJ, and how big their penetration is? Can you tell this all by just watching a few BJ games before sitting down? Like are the rules all layed out easy to see and I guess you estimate the number of decks by seeing how big the stack is.

    There is a casino about to open super close to me and I think now is a great time to card count, since they will probably have all inexperienced pitt bosses who won't be able to pick up a card counter.

    Also how do you look at an hourly rate or win rate? Seems the avg edge is about 1%, so to make any good money you prob have to be betting $1,000+ when the count goes positive. You still only making $10 profit on those bets in the long term with the 1% edge.

    What is the min bankroll you would need to start card counting. I can't be betting $1K a hand.
    Hey Druff,

    Any advice on the above questions? I want to take advantage of this casinos opening...
    Yes, the edge is small, and yes, it requires a big bankroll to guarantee making any real money, and it often takes a LONG time to smooth out variance and actually make the money.

    And that's if you don't make mistakes that turn you -EV.

    But don't fret. At least this is a way you can have the fun of playing blackjack without knowing the casino will suck you dry in the long run.

    Your calculations on the 1% are wrong for a few reasons. First, the 1% edge you speak of is per hand, and of course that edge is different based upon many factors (penetration, how much you spread your bets, rules, whether you play 6-deck or double-deck, etc). Second, the edge is greater than 1% when the count is high (when your bets will be bigger), and actually negative when the count is low (when your bets will be the smallest).

    This is from Wikipedia, and describes the edge/variance situation well:

    At a table where a player makes a $100 average bet, a 1% advantage means a player will win an average $1 per hand. This translates into an average hourly winning of $50 if the player is dealt 50 hands per hour.


    With typical bet ranging and typical Las Vegas six-deck rules, a player whose strategy yields an average profit of $50 per hour will likely face a standard deviation in the neighborhood of $1,400 per hour. Therefore, it is highly advisable for counters to set aside a large dedicated bankroll; one popular rule of thumb dictates a bankroll of 100 times the maximum bet per hand.
    So someone whose average bet is $100 (note, this is the AVERAGE bet, not minimum bet. I'm guessing that a $100 average bet occurs from a base/minimum bet of $50) will typically swing $1400 every 50 hands.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    Druff,

    This is amazing info! Thank you!

    What is the best way to go about learning how many decks, the casinos rules on BJ, and how big their penetration is? Can you tell this all by just watching a few BJ games before sitting down? Like are the rules all layed out easy to see and I guess you estimate the number of decks by seeing how big the stack is.

    There is a casino about to open super close to me and I think now is a great time to card count, since they will probably have all inexperienced pitt bosses who won't be able to pick up a card counter.

    Also how do you look at an hourly rate or win rate? Seems the avg edge is about 1%, so to make any good money you prob have to be betting $1,000+ when the count goes positive. You still only making $10 profit on those bets in the long term with the 1% edge.

    What is the min bankroll you would need to start card counting. I can't be betting $1K a hand.
    Rules and decks in play just ask the dealer...the most common game offered around the country for small stakes ($25 minimum and below) is 6 deck Hit a soft 17 with double after split...2nd most is 8 decks with same rules

    Another way is to buy a copy of Current Blackjack News at BJ21.com...a single edition of the online version is $15 i think...they list the rules, decks offered for all casinos offering blackjack around the country...they also report "average" penetration (if varies by dealer) and the lowest stakes offered during a week for a game...but usually you will find higher minimums (lowest stakes are ususally weekdays during breakfast hours typcially when hotel guests are checking out---tables are usually not crowded then)

    To learn penetration, buy yourself 6 (or 8) decks of cards and place them in a single pack (or shoe) then practice estimating the number of cards behind the cut card (test yourself by actually counting the cards)

    Another skill to develop using 6 decks of cards is how many cards are left in the pack (you use that to convert running count to true count, thus determining your bet and playing strategy) Make a discard tray from a shoebox (or you can buy one from Gamblers General Store online)...then make hash marks on the side of the box at 1 deck, 1.5 decks, 2 decks, 2.5 decks (kind of like marks on a measuring cup) so you can learn to estimate how many cards have been played and how many are left in the pack (shoe)

    If you get the book, BlackJack Attack by D. Schlessinger, you can get the various betting schedules for various counts, game rules, decks etc along with playing strategy.
    Last edited by GrenadaRoger; 03-13-2012 at 07:16 PM.

  14. #14
    Thank you both for the tips and info!

    @GrenadaRoger do most 6 to 8 deck tables, allow you to Double Down on any two cards?


  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    Thank you both for the tips and info!

    @GrenadaRoger do most 6 to 8 deck tables, allow you to Double Down on any two cards?

    yes, almost all casios have games that allow the player to double down on the first two cards for 6/8 deck (aka "shoe") games...occasionally, you will get a shoe game that does not allow any double downs or allows them only on 11's and 10's....and almost all shoe games allow you to double after a split on any split cards except Aces (when splitting aces each Aces gets only one more card and then those hands are finished)

    if you play perfect basic strategy and flat bet in a H17 DAS 6 deck game the house edge is about .55%, meaing that if you played a series of hands making a sum total of $100 of bets the house would on average be ahead by $.55

    there are blackjack variants--such as Spanish 21, Poontoon or Blackjack Switch that offer other forms of double downs/rules but those usually have other features that require a special strategy different than blackjack basic strategy.
    Last edited by GrenadaRoger; 03-13-2012 at 07:11 PM.

  16. #16
    OK, so I think I'm ready for my first casino trip,

    Druff, or whoever knows
    Is there an amount where the pit bosses just don't care?
    If I was spreading 1-5 ($5-$25) units @ a $ 5 table, would that work?
    I'd probably hit Reno/Tahoe

    Also, this rule,
    1) If the true count is at least +3, take insurance against an ace (regardless of what hand you hold).

    Is that because insurance is actually just a 2-1 bet that a 10 is there and + 3 you have a 51 % chance of getting a 10?
    (I used to deal in College and always thought whoever came up w/calling it insurance was a F'ng genius)

  17. #17
    if you are in the Reno/Tahoe area, you will probably be playing single deck games...the insurance rule is 1.4+ true count....+3 true count is for shoe games

    1-5 spread is good if you are playing a single deck game with dealer hit a soft 17, double on only 11 and 10, no double after split...typical Reno rules

    need 1-6 or 1-8 if playing a double deck game H17, double on any two, double after split

    if playing a shoe game, you will need to spread to 1-12 for H17, DOA2, DAS

    here is a post over on BJ21 about playing in Reno (BJ21 is the Blackjack equivalent of 2+2 to poker)
    http://bj21.com/boards/free/free_boa...es;read=162654

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by GrenadaRoger View Post
    if you are in the Reno/Tahoe area, you will probably be playing single deck games...the insurance rule is 1.4+ true count....+3 true count is for shoe games

    1-5 spread is good if you are playing a single deck game with dealer hit a soft 17, double on only 11 and 10, no double after split...typical Reno rules

    need 1-6 or 1-8 if playing a double deck game H17, double on any two, double after split

    if playing a shoe game, you will need to spread to 1-12 for H17, DOA2, DAS

    here is a post over on BJ21 about playing in Reno (BJ21 is the Blackjack equivalent of 2+2 to poker)
    http://bj21.com/boards/free/free_boa...es;read=162654
    Thanks Roger

    So is the true count how many units you bet? In a single or double deck game.
    I don't see anything that states exactly how much to bet in that link druff said to hit in the OP.
    If the count is 1 or less, bet 1
    if it is 2 bet 2, etc

    then if it is 5 or more bet 5

    It does say to read further, and I'm pretty sure I have KO book and a stanford wong BJ book somewhere.

  19. #19
    Our humble host, Dan Druff, has indeed posted some very good strategies. I have known Dan Druff as an acquaintance for several years and can verify that he knows what he is talking about with said card counting. I'm neither a professional blackjack nor a professional poker player, but I am pretty knowledgeable about both games, and I have been kicked out of my fair share of casinos for card counting.

    I'd like to add an interest anecdote whereby I was barred from a casino, and then "unbarred."

    About a year ago, I was playing at the Bellagio in their $25 minimum, 6-deck shoe game. After about 15 minutes of play, I was down a moderate amount, about $400.

    In the middle of a shoe, a guy in a suit comes up behind me, and says "Tommy, I need to have a word with you." (Tommy is not my real name.) The suit says that I am no longer welcome on the property, and that I must leave.

    I was surprised that the suit said my name, since I had not given out a players card or any other form of ID to the dealer or pit boss when starting my session. In fact, I hadn't used a players card in over 5 years at any MGM Mirage casino (of which Bellagio is a part of). I had, however, been backed off at Mirage and Aria over the past couple of years.

    Clearly, the suit must have known my name from Bellagio's facial recognition system. The suit, by mentioning my name, was clearly trying to say "We know who you are, and you're not fooling anybody."

    I was clearly very disturbed at this turn of events, not so much because I was no longer able to play blackjack at Bellagio, but more so because Bellagio is a place where I come frequently to do non-Blackjack stuff, such as playing in their poker room, eating at their buffet, staying in their hotel, and probably most importantly, meeting friends there.

    In any case, without making a scene, I calmly say OK and ask if I can just cash out my chips. (I had been in for a grand, so I had about $600 in chips.) The suit says OK, and he and I walk over to the cashiers cage. There is a person ahead of me in line. While I wait, the suit says, "Tommy, you know, I respect what you do, but I hope you respect what we do as well."

    I then decided to pull a line out of my "public relations" frame of mind. I said to the suit, "I definitely respect what you do, and I do realize that this is private property and that you have the right to ask anyone to leave for any reason."

    The suit, who looked surprised - probably because he never heard of such a line from any card counter he's barred before - then said, "OK, Tommy, I'm not going to bar you from this property, but - and I'm being serious - you are not allowed to do any more gambling, all right?"

    I was elated to hear that he rescinded my barring, likely because I treated the suit with respect. Note: This is the Bellagio, and they like to do things in a very professional manner. There were no security guards, and, given that the suit was not accompanied by any other people, it's likely I would have been able to walk out on my own even if the suit maintained his barring decision.

    My car was parked in their self-parking garage, and just for my own security, I decided not to head there, just in case they could catch my license plate number. I had to meet a friend around that time anyway near the strip, so I just took a taxi over there. I came back to get my car later that night during another shift.

    I have not gambled in any MGM Mirage property since that time, including in any of their poker rooms. While my playing poker at the Bellagio would be unlikely to cause a problem, I don't want to take any chances just in case.

    A few lessons: Don't be antagonistic when/if you're told to leave. Calmly ask to cash out your chips, and do as you're told. (An even better alternative is to have a friend that you trust cash in the chips for you, so you can just get the hell out of the casino. Of course, this is something you'll probably have to know beforehand, and if there's any doubt that you won't be able to have a friend get your money, just cash out right then and there.)

    Don't go to the "back room" and don't give any identification.

    Don't ask for permission to come back to the property if you've been barred (although you could try something like the line I used above).

    Don't play any Blackjack at a sister property (although you can probably step foot on a sister property as long as you don't gamble there.) At the very least, they'll know your face, and they may even know your name, even if you haven't used a players card in years. Once you get into their system, you'll probably be there forever.

    I have since stayed at the Bellagio a couple of times without incident. For extra protection, I've had a friend who plays -EV gambling, get a discounted room for me, and he checks in for me under his name.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyG_415 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GrenadaRoger View Post
    if you are in the Reno/Tahoe area, you will probably be playing single deck games...the insurance rule is 1.4+ true count....+3 true count is for shoe games

    1-5 spread is good if you are playing a single deck game with dealer hit a soft 17, double on only 11 and 10, no double after split...typical Reno rules

    need 1-6 or 1-8 if playing a double deck game H17, double on any two, double after split

    if playing a shoe game, you will need to spread to 1-12 for H17, DOA2, DAS

    here is a post over on BJ21 about playing in Reno (BJ21 is the Blackjack equivalent of 2+2 to poker)
    http://bj21.com/boards/free/free_boa...es;read=162654
    Thanks Roger

    So is the true count how many units you bet? In a single or double deck game.
    I don't see anything that states exactly how much to bet in that link druff said to hit in the OP.
    If the count is 1 or less, bet 1
    if it is 2 bet 2, etc

    then if it is 5 or more bet 5

    It does say to read further, and I'm pretty sure I have KO book and a stanford wong BJ book somewhere.
    True Count is a term used with balanced counting systems...True Count equal the Running Count divided by the number of decks not yet dealt....for example, in a game with a 6 deck shoe, if 1.5 decks have been dealt, there are 4.5 decks left...and with a running count of +9, 4.5 decks left translates to a +2 true count...just how much added edge you get from each +1 of true count depends on if you are using a single level or double/triple level count....for the most basic balanced single level counting system, Hi-Lo, each change in true count of 1 point changes the house edge by .5% generally...so depending on the rules of the game, generally when the true count goes above +1, you are playing with an edge over the house and you should raise you bet levels...the higher the true count, the more you should raise your bet....usually with a 6 deck H17 DAS game, the house edge is about .6%, so you are only playing at an advantage when the true count goes about +2 using Hi-Lo...that will happen only about 15% of the time, so you need to raise your bets a lot when the count goes that high in order to make up for the 85% of the time you played with the edge against you

    balanced count systems are Hi-Lo, Zen, Alpha Omega, Hi-Opt 1, Hi-Opt 2

    Unbalanced count systems, which do not require true count conversion, are systems like KO, Red7, Unbalanced Zen...those counts make it easier to know when to raise your bets, but still require some true count conversion if you wish to use basic stategy play variations (i could never figure out unbalanced counts and play variations, so i just settled on Hi-Lo)

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