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Jackknifed Juggernaut
02-20-2008, 05:42 PM
While craps is my game of choice at casinos, I occasionally will sit down at a blackjack table just to slow the night down a little bit. And from years of playing, I'm quite familiar with the strategy chart, which should maximize your chances to win based on your cards and the dealer's up card. For those not familar, here (http://www.tedmontgomery.com/bljkcrps/index.html) is an example of chart.

But I think that the underlying assumption when using this chart is that you have no knowledge of any other cards that have been used, or are being used, from the shoe. But the fact is that you're usually playing with several other players and are able to see their 2 cards, along with your 2 cards and the dealer's up card. No matter how minimal, these other cards change the conditional probability of your next potential card. Of course, if you're able to remember all of the cards from previous hands you can gain a big advantage. This is known as card counting and is very difficult to do. But my point is that even the cards that are in plain sight on any given hand should be able to help you. Clearly, having 6-8 decks in a shoe reduces this potential impact. But still....

Is there anyone who actually does this? As a simple example, let's say you're playing on a table with 6 other players. if your two cards total 15, and the dealer has 7 showing, the chart advises you to hit. The assumption is that the probability of your next card being a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 is enough to maximize your odds against an X-7 hand (X is the unknown dealer's card). But let's just say that all of the other players' cards are all between 2 and 6. Thus, you have 12 fewer 2's through 6's available to help your hand. In a 6-deck shoe, 12 of the 30 cards that might help you are already gone. At this point, maybe the odds change and maybe you really shouldn't hit that 17. I'm just curious if anyone accounts for these other cards when they play. If so, are there any rules of thumb that you follow?

Second question: Another underlying assumption that seems to prevail at a blackjack table is that the dealer's hidden card is a 10. Since 5 of the 13 cards have a value of 10, it has the greatest probability of coming up at any given time. But if you assume that X is always a 10, then shouldn't you also assume your next card is also always a 10? Thus, shouldn't you always stand on anything higher than 11, assuming you don't have a "soft" total or an available split?

lobotomyboy63
02-20-2008, 05:50 PM
While craps is my game of choice at casinos, I occasionally will sit down at a blackjack table just to slow the night down a little bit. And from years of playing, I'm quite familiar with the strategy chart, which should maximize your chances to win based on your cards and the dealer's up card. For those not familar, here (http://www.tedmontgomery.com/bljkcrps/index.html) is an example of chart.

But I think that the underlying assumption when using this chart is that you have no knowledge of any other cards that have been used, or are being used, from the shoe. But the fact is that you're usually playing with several other players and are able to see their 2 cards, along with your 2 cards and the dealer's up card. No matter how minimal, these other cards change the conditional probability of your next potential card. Of course, if you're able to remember all of the cards from previous hands you can gain a big advantage. This is known as card counting and is very difficult to do. But my point is that even the cards that are in plain sight on any given hand should be able to help you. Clearly, having 6-8 decks in a shoe reduces this potential impact. But still....

Is there anyone who actually does this? As a simple example, let's say you're playing on a table with 6 other players. if your two cards total 15, and the dealer has 7 showing, the chart advises you to hit. The assumption is that the probability of your next card being a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 is enough to maximize your odds against an X-7 hand (X is the unknown dealer's card). But let's just say that all of the other players' cards are all between 2 and 6. Thus, you have 12 fewer 2's through 6's available to help your hand. In a 6-deck shoe, 12 of the 30 cards that might help you are already gone. At this point, maybe the odds change and maybe you really shouldn't hit that 17. I'm just curious if anyone accounts for these other cards when they play. If so, are there any rules of thumb that you follow?

Second question: Another underlying assumption that seems to prevail at a blackjack table is that the dealer's hidden card is a 10. Since 5 of the 13 cards have a value of 10, it has the greatest probability of coming up at any given time. But if you assume that X is always a 10, then shouldn't you also assume your next card is also always a 10? Thus, shouldn't you always stand on anything higher than 11, assuming you don't have a "soft" total or an available split?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_Blackjack_Team

MIT had a team do this and they won. They had a complicated setup.

I saw the documentary about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_Vegas

They had a whole team pretending to be strangers but actually working together. I doubt one person could do it.

Hal Briston
02-20-2008, 06:03 PM
You're quite correct in that there is a ton of data being passed in front of you the entire game -- data that you can use. Here's the way I learned it:

You need to keep a running count in your head. Start at "zero". Every time you see a 10-value card, subtract one. Every time you see a 2-6, add one. Once you have either a very large positive or negative number going, you have a decent idea of how you can make a play.

Large positives mean there is a greater number of 10-values in the deck -- you have a better chance of getting blackjack, and you are in a better position to hang back and let the dealer bust.

Large negatives mean there is a greater number of low-values in the desk -- a less desirable situation, but you can still make it work to your advantage (as long as you can deal with people who think they know all about the game berating you for hitting a 13 when the dealer is showing a four....funny thing is they never change their tune, even when you draw a six on that hit).

That's the basic way of doing it. For a more accurate number, you should divide your running total by the number of decks remaining in the shoe (estimated, of course).

Using these methods, I'm up about 7 grand in Atlantic City.

Jackknifed Juggernaut
02-20-2008, 06:09 PM
Counting cards is very well-documented, but is very difficult to do (legally) for extended periods of time. I'm talking about just using the information available to you on a single hand with multiple players.

jsc1953
02-20-2008, 06:17 PM
Your basic assumptions are correct. If you're counting cards, you take into account all cards you've seen: your hands, the dealer's hand, the other player's hands. In practice, it's easier to account for the other player's hands after they turn both over (if playing face down).

Re: expecting your next card to be a 10...it's all math. Yes, it'll probably be a 10, but the people who put together the strategy cards have done the numbers, and (for example) determined that you're better off hitting a 14 against a dealer 10 than standing.

cormac262
02-20-2008, 06:22 PM
The answer to your first question is "yes" people try. And because of this, casinos look for it. The "Bringing Down the House" about the MIT team explains how they did the card counting. It is technically not illegal to do this, but likewise casinos can kick out whoever they want and forbid them to play.
The kick with card counting is that the way the card-counter bets is the dead give-away. It was this aspect that the MIT team figured so clever a means around.

But as Hal Briston points out, you can also use card-counting to determine just how you play (and stick with your usual bet) to increase your odds. It isn't as fast a method to increase your winnings, but the casinos likely won't catch on to you either.

As to your second question, the reasoning that the dealer's downcard is a 10 is used to determine whether you should take a hit or stand. If the dealer is showing 6 or less, then you know they have to take a hit and therefore increase their chances of busting. So (unless you are counting as Hal B does), you would opt to stay on your 12 or whatever.
But if the dealer is showing a 7 or better, and you have 12 to 16, then you're correct that there is a good chance that you will hit a 10 and therefore bust. But if you stay, sticking to the same "downcard is a 10" reasoning, then you are conceding defeat - the dealer already has you beat. So though the odds may be against you, it is a worthwhile risk to take the hit - you can lose by busting, but you may also get lucky and pull a card that helps you.
The other way to look at it is this: the dealer must take a hit on 16 or lower, and look how many times they win having to do this. Since the dealer has no say in this, it must be a reasonable way to play.

I am always surprized to see how many people stay on 15 or 16 when the dealer is showing a 10 card. It is as though it is better to lose by not busting, than to bust (less humilation in having to have your chips pulled away in front of your co-players ?).

peekercpa
02-20-2008, 06:28 PM
My strategy at blackjack:

Drink beer, Lose mostly, win occassionally. Repeat until out of money.

lobotomyboy63
02-20-2008, 06:39 PM
The answer to your first question is "yes" people try. And because of this, casinos look for it. The "Bringing Down the House" about the MIT team explains how they did the card counting. It is technically not illegal to do this, but likewise casinos can kick out whoever they want and forbid them to play.
The kick with card counting is that the way the card-counter bets is the dead give-away. It was this aspect that the MIT team figured so clever a means around.

That really chaps my ass, too. It's all fine with the casinos if mathematically-challenged people want to make bad bets, but let someone with a brain show up, let the brainiacs outwit the casino, and suddenly they're kicked out. Bullshit, IMO. "We don't want to play anybody who's smarter than we are...we might lose money!"

As to your second question, the reasoning that the dealer's downcard is a 10 is used to determine whether you should take a hit or stand. If the dealer is showing 6 or less, then you know they have to take a hit and therefore increase their chances of busting. So (unless you are counting as Hal B does), you would opt to stay on your 12 or whatever.

One of MIT's strategies, if memory serves, was to wait to make larger bets till the end of the shoe so that they had an excellent idea which cards were left. Most games, e.g. craps or roulette, have unchanging odds so to speak---he odds of rolling a seven is the same with each independent trial. Not so with blackjack, and that's the edge they wanted to exploit.

peekercpa
02-20-2008, 06:48 PM
But wern't the MIT dudes using computers to help? I mean if I had a laptop helping me I'd feel a lot more comfortable than using my Vodka Tonic analysis.

peekercpa
02-20-2008, 06:50 PM
Sorry newbie mistake. No hijack intended. My bad

cormac262
02-20-2008, 10:02 PM
One of MIT's strategies, if memory serves, was to wait to make larger bets till the end of the shoe so that they had an excellent idea which cards were left.

No, the key to the MIT strategy was:
To have a different person counting than is making the big bets - it was team card counting. If you wait until the shoe is in your favor to start upping your bet, this is how the casinos spot a counter. So the MIT guys would set counters at the tables, and they would (secretly) signal the big bettors when the shoe became favorable. The big bettors would then join the table and start raking it in. Not only did they "hand off" the shoe, but they would also communicate the relative state of the shoe (it's complicated), and the big bettors could then "pick up". What is most amazing is that they learned how to "predict" the state of the shoe beyond the next shuffle !

The MIT guys did NOT use computers. A few people have come up with pretty ingenious ways to utilize computers (especially considering the technology at the time - WAY before PDA's and laptops). But again, the change in betting gives them away.

Lok
02-20-2008, 10:20 PM
And while card counting is not illegal, using any kind of aid to do it is. So you don't want to be caught doing it.

Frank
02-21-2008, 06:12 AM
Moved from IMHO to GR.

lobotomyboy63
02-21-2008, 06:22 AM
No, the key to the MIT strategy was:

As I posted earlier, they were a team. Couldn't remember all the details but that's why I said one person couldn't do it.

BTW these guys also flew all over the world to casinos b/c when ppl win big, they come on the casino's radar. If they do that week after week in one place, they'd be asked to leave. But by going to Monte Carlo one week, Vegas another week, etc. they avoided detection longer.

jsc1953
02-21-2008, 10:07 AM
I am always surprized to see how many people stay on 15 or 16 when the dealer is showing a 10 card. It is as though it is better to lose by not busting, than to bust (less humilation in having to have your chips pulled away in front of your co-players ?).

Hitting a 15 or 16 against a dealer's 10 is always a long shot, but a better play than standing....unless you're counting cards, and know that the deck is rich in 10's. If the odds have increased that the next card is a 10, then standing on 16 is the right play. (basically, you're crossing your fingers and hoping that the dealer's down card is a 6 or lower).

And a movie (http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809834187/info) about the MIT team (loosely based, probably) is about to hit the theaters.

jsc1953
02-21-2008, 12:31 PM
No, the key to the MIT strategy was:
[...The big bettors would then join the table and start raking it in.

The casino's counter to this strategy now is to not allow anyone to sit down in the middle of a shoe. You wanna play? Great. Wait until we shuffle.

(This appears to be the norm in Vegas, but not in Reno.)

Peter Morris
02-21-2008, 01:25 PM
But the fact is that you're usually playing with several other players and are able to see their 2 cards, along with your 2 cards and the dealer's up card. No matter how minimal, these other cards change the conditional probability of your next potential card. ... Is there anyone who actually does this? ... I'm just curious if anyone accounts for these other cards when they play.

Yeah, I've written a computer program that does this, which I've used while playing online casinos. You couldn't possibly do it in a real casino.

[Arghh, computer crash a few days ago, lost it, backup corrupted, don't have it currently. Trying to recover it.]

It rarely makes a difference anyway. Most of the time the option on the strategy card is the best option, anyway. My program hardly ever advised me to play differently to the strategy card. When it did, the difference was only a couple of pence in the pound. It gave me, maybe a half of a percent advantage, which would only matter if I was playing for high stakes.

Second question: Another underlying assumption that seems to prevail at a blackjack table is that the dealer's hidden card is a 10.

Never heard of that one, and it's not a valid assumption.

Since 5 of the 13 cards have a value of 10, it has the greatest probability of coming up at any given time. But if you assume that X is always a 10, then shouldn't you also assume your next card is also always a 10?

No.

Thus, shouldn't you always stand on anything higher than 11, assuming you don't have a "soft" total or an available split?

No. You'll lose a lot that way. Yes, there's a high chance of busting if you draw to a twelve, but it's still often the best option.

For instance, if you have 8+4, and the dealer shows a 7, you will lose about 21% of the time if you hit, but you will lose about 47% of the time if you stand.

OneCentStamp
02-21-2008, 01:31 PM
And a movie (http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809834187/info) about the MIT team (loosely based, probably) is about to hit the theaters.At the very least, I guarantee you the MIT team was not nearly that good-looking or well-dressed. :D

Bryan Ekers
02-21-2008, 02:04 PM
Canadian movie (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0419909/) based (very) loosely on the MIT kids.

Cyberhwk
02-21-2008, 08:16 PM
But let's just say that all of the other players' cards are all between 2 and 6. Thus, you have 12 fewer 2's through 6's available to help your hand. In a 6-deck shoe, 12 of the 30 cards that might help you are already gone. At this point, maybe the odds change and maybe you really shouldn't hit that 17. I'm just curious if anyone accounts for these other cards when they play. If so, are there any rules of thumb that you follow?You are talking about "Composition Dependent Basic Strategy." Single Deck Rules (http://wizardofodds.com/software/bossmedia-apx1.html) ... Double Deck (http://wizardofodds.com/blackjack/appendix3b.html)

gonzomax
02-21-2008, 08:39 PM
Even skilled counters will lose. You still need luck. You can cut it down but not eliminate it. That is why the MIT people required a big stash to play.
A casino in Windsor Canada took a counter to court. They lost when they explained even counting ,he could lose. The judge says it is just gambling. But Casinos have the right to refuse them the right to play.

Nars Glinley
02-21-2008, 10:04 PM
The casino's counter to this strategy now is to not allow anyone to sit down in the middle of a shoe. You wanna play? Great. Wait until we shuffle.

(This appears to be the norm in Vegas, but not in Reno.)
It's been about a year since I was in Vegas, is this a new policy because I've never seen it happen.

Jackknifed Juggernaut
02-22-2008, 10:08 AM
They have a few "no mid-shoe entry" tables in AC. At the Borgata, they're only at the high minimum tables.

Cheesesteak
02-22-2008, 10:38 AM
"We don't want to play anybody who's smarter than we are...we might lose money!"In order for Blackjack to remain the game it is today, card counting MUST be "illegal". Current Blackjack rules, when combined with card counting, is a net negative to the casino. Casino's are in business to make money, not lose money, they can't have games that lose money on average. They can lose money on individual players, and individual bets, but not on average.

If card counting is made "legal" then card counting will become the standard method of play, just like the basic strategy card is today. Card counting is trivially easy to do, if you don't have to hide the fact you're doing it. One guy at the table counts outloud for everyone, everyone knows the count, and they all adjust their play according to the "basic strategy + counting" card. Everyone plays that way, the whole table (and every table in the joint) is a money loser.

A game that statistically loses money is a game that won't be offered anymore.

jsc1953
02-22-2008, 11:02 AM
In order for Blackjack to remain the game it is today, card counting MUST be "illegal". Current Blackjack rules, when combined with card counting, is a net negative to the casino. Casino's are in business to make money, not lose money, they can't have games that lose money on average. They can lose money on individual players, and individual bets, but not on average.

If card counting is made "legal" then card counting will become the standard method of play, just like the basic strategy card is today. Card counting is trivially easy to do, if you don't have to hide the fact you're doing it. One guy at the table counts outloud for everyone, everyone knows the count, and they all adjust their play according to the "basic strategy + counting" card. Everyone plays that way, the whole table (and every table in the joint) is a money loser.

A game that statistically loses money is a game that won't be offered anymore.

Court rulings have confirmed that card counting is legal; they've also confirmed that casinos do not have to deal to players they don't want to deal to. So they can't put a counter in jail; but they can keep him from playing.

This has been the legal status quo for over 30 years, and yet casinos keep making money hand over fist, and blackjack remains the single most popular table game.

I don't think casinos are losing sleep over counters, because (a) it is not trivially simple -- it's quite difficult to do, especially when it's done secretively (see above legal point); and (b) most players don't do it, can't do it, and lose money. So the game may "statistically lose money" (perfect counting changes the house advantage of < 1% to a disadvantage of < 1%, btw) to an insignificant percentage of players. Big deal. It's not worth killing the golden goose over.

And this is not even taking into account the casino counter-measures: 6 deck shoes with shuffle half-way through; no mid-shoe entry; perpetual shuffle machines.

Cheesesteak
02-22-2008, 11:44 AM
I don't think casinos are losing sleep over counters, because (a) it is not trivially simple -- it's quite difficult to do, especially when it's done secretively (see above legal point); and (b) most players don't do it, can't do it, and lose money. This is because the casinos have made it "illegal" (in quotes because they can only kick you out, not arrest you). I believe that counting is very difficult to do secretly, but would be easy to do if it were openly allowed. Being able to call out the numbers as each card is shown ensures that everyone knows the count, and makes it easy for all players to help keep the count current, and provide tips of when to change play. Having to count secretly means you can't be obvious about counting, you can't vary your bets/play as much as you would otherwise want, and you're always one tap on the shoulder away from being booted.And this is not even taking into account the casino counter-measures: 6 deck shoes with shuffle half-way through; no mid-shoe entry; perpetual shuffle machines.Unfortunately, countermeasures are the sort of thing that casinos have to bring out to keep the table profitable, but affect the enjoyment and playability of the game.

jsc1953
02-22-2008, 11:51 AM
Unfortunately, countermeasures are the sort of thing that casinos have to bring out to keep the table profitable, but affect the enjoyment and playability of the game.

Actually, a 6-deck shoe game is more enjoyable and playable, for the non-counter. You spend more time playing and less time waiting for shuffles. And shoe games tend to have more liberal rules (double-down after split, eg) than single or double-deck games. For the counter, though, they suck.

Personally, I wish all games were hand-dealt single-deck with DDAS, surrender, and dealer must stand on soft 17. I wish I had a pony, too.

Nars Glinley
02-22-2008, 11:59 AM
Personally, I wish all games were hand-dealt single-deck with DDAS, surrender, and dealer must stand on soft 17. I wish I had a pony, too.
And everyone gets a BJ!

What?

Cyberhwk
02-23-2008, 01:04 AM
A game that statistically loses money is a game that won't be offered anymore.Card counters tend to overlook this minor point in favor of whining about how they're discriminated against because of their "greater skill."

If casinos were prevented from kicking out counters their only recourse would be to have nothing but games with rules that are so incredibly bad, it would be impossible to count. Thereby completely eliminating their entire line of work.

aptronym
03-10-2008, 10:07 PM
MITI feel the need to be a killjoy. The first thing you need to realize is that the "MIT Blackjack Team" in the book "Bringing down the house" and in the movie "21" is entirely fictional. There was never an official MIT Blackjack Team - there were multiple teams that operated between 1975-1995, some of which overlapped.

The book, and the subsequent movie, are fictionalizations based on (but not duplications of) the most interesting moments of every team. So, yes, there was a blackjack team from MIT that made a lot of money in the same way as some World War II veteran saved Private Ryan or some poker player entered an online tournament for \$40 and won \$2.5 million.

If all you know about counting cards comes from the book or the movie, you're going to be misinformed.

Is there anyone who actually does this?Short answer: Yes.

You need to understand that the effects are really, really small. If you play proper basic strategy, without counting, you'll expect to win about 43%, lose 50%, and tie 7%. With counting, it'll look something like win 44%, lose 49%, tie 7%. You'll, statistically, need to play for several thousand hours before you can actually have a winning percentage - your advantage over the casino will come from doubling and splitting your winning bets (and surrendering your losing bets).

What you're talking about here is changing the odds from the casino winning 5 cents for every \$10 you bet to you winning 5 cents for every \$10 you bet. Unless you've got a few million to risk (which various teams did have, don't get me wrong) you're not going to make a lot of money.

Don't get me wrong - it's fucking fun. :p

But be realistic about your expectations, and you'll get the most out of the experience. If you're interested in the subject, I'd recommend these three books. There's a lot of crap books on the bookshelf, so beware.

Professional Blackjack, by Stanford Wong
The Big Book of Blackjack, by Arnold Snyder
Blackbelt in Blackjack, by Arnod Snyder

My rule of thumb is this: take your hourly wage at work. Divide it by 10. That's realistically what you stand to make at blackjack, based on a prediction of how much disposable income you'll have as a bankroll and how smart you are.

Second question: Another underlying assumption that seems to prevail at a blackjack table is that the dealer's hidden card is a 10. This is an easy way to remember basic strategy, not an assumption mired in reality. It's like "righty tighty, lefty loosey" - it works 90% of the time, and it's convinient to remember, but there's nothing about "right" that makes it "tight".

It's a correlation, not a cause.

aptronym
03-10-2008, 10:11 PM
If casinos were prevented from kicking out counters their only recourse would be to have nothing but games with rules that are so incredibly bad, it would be impossible to count.This is exactly what happened in Atlantic City. 8-deck shoes, no mid-shoe entry, 50% penetration ... ugh.

Las Vegas is doing it too for all the single and double deck games - the rule "blackjack pays 6:5" essentially means "fuck off, you'll be counting for hours before you have any chance at advantage play".

Atrael
03-11-2008, 08:54 AM
To go way back to the OP, yes that is exactlly how I play as well. I look at the cards that have been delt to the table for that hand and make my determination on how to play. Everyone has a 10 or higher for their second card at the table? Good guess is that some lower cards are going to be coming up. Sure it's not all mathmatical, but I win more often than I loose, and always walk away with money in my pocket. It's called gambling for a reason.

I also use those cards to decide if I should split or not. I have a pair of 10s bunch of low cards showing on the table, and the dealer has a 6 or less showing? You betcha I'll split. Chances are I'll get a couple of high cards. It also means that if there are a few low value cards still kicking around I'll get them before they get to the dealer. It also matter how everyone else is going to play. Most people will sit there quite happily and not hit if the dealer is showing a 6 or less....so that means they can't screw you up. *shrug*...as all the other posters will undoubtedly point out, this is about the most unmathmatical method of play...but hey, it works for me.

Mosier
03-11-2008, 09:20 AM
Counting cards is very well-documented, but is very difficult to do (legally) for extended periods of time. I'm talking about just using the information available to you on a single hand with multiple players.

There are quite simple methods of card counting. One easy way is to keep a single total in your head by adding or subtracting 1 for each card you see. You add one for cards 10-A, and subtract one for cards 1-9. The total that you have in your head gives you an idea of the relative strength of the cards. If you have a positive number in your head, the deck will tend to have lower cards, so you can "hit" a 15 or 16 more safely. If the number in your head is negative, it's not as safe to hit in the same circumstances.

From what I understand, Casinos catch card counters by watching the variations in their betting. If a person suddenly starts increasing their bet to take advantage of a "hot" deck (which has more 10-A than a new deck) the casino will ask them to leave. I haven't heard of a casino busting someone for card counting who never increased their bet like this, though.

Peter Morris
03-11-2008, 09:25 AM
Never, ever, under any circumstances, should you split 10's. You are likely to turn a winning hand into two losing hands.

I Love Me, Vol. I
03-11-2008, 09:50 AM
Never, ever, under any circumstances, should you split 10's. You are likely to turn a winning hand into two losing hands.
I believe it is possible that a shoe (or deck) could get to the point that it's so rich in tens (or aces) that it's statistically advantageous to split tens instead of staying on the 20. You would have to be card-counting utilizing a good, accurate system to know this, of course.

jsc1953
03-11-2008, 10:07 AM
I believe it is possible that a shoe (or deck) could get to the point that it's so rich in tens (or aces) that it's statistically advantageous to split tens instead of staying on the 20. You would have to be card-counting utilizing a good, accurate system to know this, of course.

Probably the more accurate statement is that it is ALMOST never a good idea to split tens. You'll turn your near-unbeatable 20, into an 18 and a 17. And it's pointing a big arrow at your head, saying either "CARD COUNTER" or "IDIOT!!!".

Lok
03-11-2008, 11:05 AM
Probably the more accurate statement is that it is ALMOST never a good idea to split tens. You'll turn your near-unbeatable 20, into an 18 and a 17. And it's pointing a big arrow at your head, saying either "CARD COUNTER" or "IDIOT!!!".
Playing in Melbourne 10 years ago there was a woman at my table that was constantly complaining about my playing. "If you hadn't taken that hit the dealer would have busted!" "You are playing so stupid!", other stuff like that. When she said this, I was up \$150, so I didn't really care, but she was annoying. So I looked at her, smiled, and split 10s. Was dealt a 10 and Ace. :p I though her head was going to explode. :D She finally shut up and left and I ended the night up \$300.

Fear the Turtle
03-11-2008, 12:50 PM
Is there anyone who actually does this? As a simple example, let's say you're playing on a table with 6 other players. if your two cards total 15, and the dealer has 7 showing, the chart advises you to hit. The assumption is that the probability of your next card being a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 is enough to maximize your odds against an X-7 hand (X is the unknown dealer's card). But let's just say that all of the other players' cards are all between 2 and 6. Thus, you have 12 fewer 2's through 6's available to help your hand. In a 6-deck shoe, 12 of the 30 cards that might help you are already gone. At this point, maybe the odds change and maybe you really shouldn't hit that 17. I'm just curious if anyone accounts for these other cards when they play. If so, are there any rules of thumb that you follow?

I just wanted to point out the bolded part. In a 6 deck shoe there are 6 (decks) X 4 (suits) X 5 (numbers), or 120, 2-6s. So 12 of 120 cards that may help you are gone. And yes, I use these cards to influence (but not totally dictate) how I play a hand. No hard and fast rules, tho, more of a gut feeling that a 10 is "due" (or vice versa if a lot of face cards are showing).

Like Atrael, I do OK. I've never split tens tho, but did double down once on A-9 (dealer was showing a 6 and I was on a roll). The Dealer chastised me somewhat, but then he paid me :D

Don't Call Me Shirley
03-11-2008, 03:28 PM
Anybody know how to run the numbers on this one?

I was recently playing in Vegas and a guy sat down next to me who had all sorts of "tricks" that he took great pleasure in sharing with the rest of us. He was surrendering like half his hands so I didn't take him too seriously but he did one thing that I thought was very interesting. He split tens, got an Ace on one of them, and doubled down on that hand. The dealer balked, but the pit boss confirmed that it was a good strategy. He said the casino doesn't pay 3:2 on a blackjack because they're nice guys, they do it to get you out of the game so you can't double down on A-10. According to him, you would end up better off than 3:2 if they allowed you to double on a blackjack hand. Can anybody do the math on this and confirm it?

borschevsky
03-11-2008, 04:31 PM
Can anybody do the math on this and confirm it?I ran a very quick simulation of the case where the dealer has a 6 and the player blackjack. Doubling down, I get:

Player wins: 63%
House wins: 30%
Push: 6.5%

So the expected outcome is: .63 * 2Bet - .30 * 2Bet = +.66 Bet.

As opposed to blackjack, which is a +1.5 Bet. So no, don't double blackjack.

Fear the Turtle
03-11-2008, 04:35 PM
But if you split tens, then get an Ace - does it pay 3:2? or just even?

Santo Rugger
03-11-2008, 05:02 PM
I ran a very quick simulation of the case where the dealer has a 6 and the player blackjack. Doubling down, I get:

Player wins: 63%
House wins: 30%
Push: 6.5%

So the expected outcome is: .63 * 2Bet - .30 * 2Bet = +.66 Bet.

As opposed to blackjack, which is a +1.5 Bet. So no, don't double blackjack.

How does the house win if the player has blackjack?

borschevsky
03-11-2008, 05:12 PM
If you double a blackjack, then it's not a blackjack anymore. For example, you could draw an ace for 12, when the house wins as long as the dealer doesn't bust.

Also, for a blackjack after a split, you are only paid 1:1, not 3:2; I was looking at the claim made that doubling blackjack gives better than 3:2.

aptronym
03-11-2008, 05:13 PM
don't double blackjack.There is one exception - you're playing in a blackjack tournament, either you or the person ahead of you will be eliminated this round, and you have between 33% and 40% of his stack.

In this case, if you take the blackjack, you won't beat him and you get eliminated, but if you double and win, you'll beat him and he'll be eliminated.

But if you split tens, then get an Ace - does it pay 3:2? or just even?Even. If you find a place that pays 3:2 for BJ after split (possibly as a temporary promotion), count your lucky stars.

How does the house win if the player has blackjack?If you are dealt Ace-Ten and decide to double, you no longer have blackjack.

Edit: Beaten like an old mule. :mad:

aptronym
03-11-2008, 05:37 PM

There are also unbalanced counts, in which you count sevens in with the low cards. This tends to drift your count upward, but you start negative. The advantage of an unbalanced count is that at a certain, specific count (known as the "pivot") the running count is equal to the true count. This means you don't have to estimate the number of decks remaining.

Casinos catch card counters by watching the variations in their betting.That's probably the most basic way of busting someone. You can also watch composition-dependent strategy (e.g. whether a player hits hard 16 vs. dealer 10 at low counts and stands on high counts).

The first thing that happens if they suspect you're counting is that they get a nice picture of you and see if you match up with anyone in their database. If you do, you're booted whether you're winning or losing or even playing in their casino for the first time (casinos share information).

Next, they do a basic strategy check. If you do not play basic strategy correctly, any advantage you have by counting cards is pretty much negated. More than 1 or 2 basic strategy errors per hour will wipe out your profit. In particular, hitting soft 18 vs. dealer 9, 10, A is one of the most diagnostic plays - you can't win long-term if you don't hit those.

The last thing that they'll do is note your composition-dependent play and betting history. Remember, all your past footage is archived upstairs. It's tedious, but they'll do it if they need to.

I haven't heard of a casino busting someone for card counting who never increased their bet like this, though.I'm pretty sure once the movie "21" comes out this won't even be an open secret any more, but you don't need to vary your bets at all in order to win.

(1) Let's say you just hang out behind a blackjack table and just keep counting until the count goes way up. Then you plunk down \$100. You're technically varying your bet from \$0 to \$100, but you won't vary your bet once you're at the table. Once the count drops, you pick up and leave. This is known as "Wonging" after Stanford Wong who popularized it in the 1970's and 1980's.

(2) Let's say you get a friend to do (1) for you. He gives you a signal and you charge in to bet \$100. Now you're spreading \$0-\$100 without even having to lurk around at a table. This is the style of team play that Tommy Hyland popularized in the late 1970's and from the trailers I've seen, what "21" is all about.

And in case you didn't note the subtle hints, casinos have been well aware of these techniques for a long time, so if you're considering using them, you've got to be a little creative.

Cyberhwk
03-11-2008, 07:04 PM
I'm pretty sure once the movie "21" comes out this won't even be an open secret any more, but you don't need to vary your bets at all in order to win.Casinos are probably SALIVATING over this movie coming out. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry are going to take out \$500 and hit the casino to try their hand at counting. :D

Good post Aptronym. You seem to know your stuff.

I've heard the new system is rather to team play but have everyone vary their bets INDEPENDENTLY, but directly with the count. So three partners might start off betting \$10, \$15, \$10. Count goes a little higher: \$20, \$15, \$20. Count goes higher, \$15, \$30, \$20. Higher...\$30, \$25, \$60. Lower...\$10, \$30, \$15.

So that the team's AGGREGATE BET follows the count, but no individual bet exactly correlates.

aptronym
03-11-2008, 07:35 PM
Casinos are probably SALIVATING over this movie coming out.I think so too. Snyder says something like 99% of the general public and 95% of card counters are net losers.

You seem to know your stuff.Thanks.

I've heard the new system is ...That sounds pretty cool (and novel). Maybe I'll see if my friends want to do that next time we're in Vegas. :)

Honestly, though, I think the days of counting cards are limited.

The bottom line is that there is one thing you can't hide - long-term winnings. If the casino could track you and your chips - with facial recognition and RFID technologies improving, this may be soon - they won't even need your identification or watch you play to figure out you're a counter. All the facial recognition software that people make to pick out disguised terrorists will eventually make its way into the gaming market as anti-cheater/counter software.

Plus, everyone's moving to those damn autoshufflers. :(

Santo Rugger
03-12-2008, 12:59 AM
Thanks for the info guys!

If aptronym's right, it sounds like sitting at the blackjack table is one day going to be just like sitting at a slot machine. :( (But we give you 95% of your money back!)