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# Any Blackjack card counters out there?

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I read a post a while back where someone referenced counting cards in Blackjack to some golf theory. I learned to count cards a number of years ago and just wondered if anyone else does this, how you learned, what your counting system is (ex. Do you keep a running ace count), what your success rate has been, and how often you gamble. At the risk of no one responding, I won't bother giving my thoughts yet...

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I don't play cards, but the concepts behind card counting are pretty simple, are they not?

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Blackjack is one of my more favorite games to play. No Casino in Ohio till this past year, so no chances to gamble. I do not card count. Honestly it is nearly impossible to if they are shuffling through a ton of decks at table. Get 6 decks of cards and the probabilities get much tougher to calculate.

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I do not card count. Honestly it is nearly impossible to if they are shuffling through a ton of decks at table. Get 6 decks of cards and the probabilities get much tougher to calculate.

Exactly. AFAIK, counting cards isn't as viable a strategy anymore because they're playing multiple decks simultaneously, and they change out before the stack is finished.

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When I was a bit younger, I had a buddy that got obsessed with the idea of counting cards. He was one of those guys that would get really into random things for short periods of time. He is also a grade-A genius, so it's quite possible he knew exactly what he was doing. We would go to casinos with a another mutual friend to play blackjack. Said mutual friend and I would go and sit at a table together. My genius friend would then come to the table just to watch the game and count. He would start by standing at the middle point around the table (directly facing the dealer). He would then move left or right around the table depending on if the count was negative or positive (respectively). The farther he moved around the table, the more or less positive/negative the count was. Mutual friend and I would bet accordingly. We did this on about 10 different occasions and always left the casino up several hundred dollars (except for one time when we lost and then left). I never learned to count myself, so I'm not sure if he knew what he was doing or if it was just dumb luck. It was pretty entertaining at the time though.

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When I was a bit younger, I had a buddy that got obsessed with the idea of counting cards. He was one of those guys that would get really into random things for short periods of time. He is also a grade-A genius, so it's quite possible he knew exactly what he was doing. We would go to casinos with a another mutual friend to play blackjack. Said mutual friend and I would go and sit at a table together. My genius friend would then come to the table just to watch the game and count. He would start by standing at the middle point around the table (directly facing the dealer). He would then move left or right around the table depending on if the count was negative or positive (respectively). The farther he moved around the table, the more or less positive/negative the count was. Mutual friend and I would bet accordingly. We did this on about 10 different occasions and always left the casino up several hundred dollars (except for one time when we lost and then left). I never learned to count myself, so I'm not sure if he knew what he was doing or if it was just dumb luck. It was pretty entertaining at the time though.

Its basically a plus or minus system. Basically you count the number of certain type of cards and the more pluses you have the better odds of a card being in your favor. If you count negative then the odds are less likely. The problem is still with multiple decks. It makes it more conservative because you can have 16 face cards go, but there might be still 80 of them left in the deck if they are using 6 decks (I included the 10 being it is the same value). See how that becomes a problem now.

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If I'm at a casino and see a single deck table, I'll sit down for a bit. I can count cards, but I usually don't keep a running total, just recognize when the table heats up or cools down. But these days, single deck games are hard to come by, at least at the casinos I've been to.

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I don't play cards, but the concepts behind card counting are pretty simple, are they not?

Yep, but most people don't understand the real concept.  I used to play quite a bit when I was stationed out in CA and we'd run up to Las Vegas on the weekends.  Back then, you could find single deck tables and even the multiple deck shoes were only 3 decks and manually shuffled.  Another big key was that you could still find \$1 and \$2 minimum tables.

The basic concept used by most skilled players, isn't counting every card, but rather tracking the % of high cards to low cards remaining in the deck.  It's mathematically to the player's advantage when there are more high cards remaining.  He has the option in how he plays his hand based on what he has and what the dealer is showing while the dealer must hit on 16 and less and must stand on 17.  More importantly though, he has the option to vary his bet based on whether the deck is favorable (more high cards remaining) or unfavorable.  That's why the lower minimum tables are important to those of us who aren't loaded.  You have to be able to sit down at a table with a big enough bankroll to be able to significantly increase your bet when the deck is favorable, and reduce it when it isn't.  I always considered an absolute minimum bankroll for a single session to be 100 times my "standard/neutral deck bet.  For a base bet of \$2, that's a minimum session bankroll of \$200.  These days, it's almost impossible to find anything less than a \$10 minimum table and \$25 minimums aren't uncommon.

Blackjack is one of my more favorite games to play. No Casino in Ohio till this past year, so no chances to gamble. I do not card count. Honestly it is nearly impossible to if they are shuffling through a ton of decks at table. Get 6 decks of cards and the probabilities get much tougher to calculate.

Plus the decks are constantly reshuffled, every couple of hands.  There are still single and double deck games to be found, but they're few and far between.  Played properly, Blackjack still offers some of the best odds in the house.....most people lack the discipline to play it properly though.  Let's face it, it's tough to hit 16 when the dealer is showing 7.....but you should.

I've moved on to craps, which, for those that understand how to play properly , offers the best odds in the house outside single/double deck blackjack played by a counter.

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Yep, but most people don't understand the real concept.  I used to play quite a bit when I was stationed out in CA and we'd run up to Las Vegas on the weekends.  Back then, you could find single deck tables and even the multiple deck shoes were only 3 decks and manually shuffled.  Another big key was that you could still find \$1 and \$2 minimum tables.

The basic concept used by most skilled players, isn't counting every card, but rather tracking the % of high cards to low cards remaining in the deck.  It's mathematically to the player's advantage when there are more high cards remaining.  He has the option in how he plays his hand based on what he has and what the dealer is showing while the dealer must hit on 16 and less and must stand on 17.  More importantly though, he has the option to vary his bet based on whether the deck is favorable (more high cards remaining) or unfavorable.  That's why the lower minimum tables are important to those of us who aren't loaded.  You have to be able to sit down at a table with a big enough bankroll to be able to significantly increase your bet when the deck is favorable, and reduce it when it isn't.  I always considered an absolute minimum bankroll for a single session to be 100 times my "standard/neutral deck bet.  For a base bet of \$2, that's a minimum session bankroll of \$200.  These days, it's almost impossible to find anything less than a \$10 minimum table and \$25 minimums aren't uncommon.

Plus the decks are constantly reshuffled, every couple of hands.  There are still single and double deck games to be found, but they're few and far between.  Played properly, Blackjack still offers some of the best odds in the house.....most people lack the discipline to play it properly though.  Let's face it, it's tough to hit 16 when the dealer is showing 7.....but you should.

I've moved on to craps, which, for those that understand how to play properly, offers the best odds in the house outside single/double deck blackjack played by a counter.

Its tough to find low minimum games. If I had some spare cash, I don't mind \$5 dollar games. I still think a few tables of those are still around. Yea, to gain the advantage you need time for the deck to clear out a bit. That does take some capital.

I agree, staying patient to actually play the game in the most optimal manor is tough. Its why I think slots are so popular.

http://gaming.unlv.edu/casinomath.html#tables

Just some common games to play.

For Blackjack,

 Blackjack Card-Counting -1.00% Blackjack Basic Strategy 0.50% Blackjack Average player 2.00% Blackjack Poor Player 4.00%

It is kinda crazy, but video poker really has GOOD odds. I was on a Casino boat in Myrtle Beach. I lost so much money on slots, but made it all back and more on video poker and blackjack tables.

Craps is a good game as well. Especially if you know how to play. Though real poker is a good chance as well. Just skill at being able to out whit your opponent can lead to a serious edge, and you are not playing against the house.

And it looks like Baccarat is a pretty solid game to play as well.

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Also casinos catch on to these betting patterns and ask you to leave kindly the first time, what they do after that may be anybody's guess but I'm sure the kind talk is over.

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Although I knew how, I never had the desire to count cards. You have to continuously watch everybody's cards, which takes away from the "fun" of playing.

Employ basic strategy correctly, incorporate a good progressive betting system (I used 1-1-2-3-5 or 1-2-3-5 depending on whether I was up or down) and KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY .

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Also casinos catch on to these betting patterns and ask you to leave kindly the first time, what they do after that may be anybody's guess but I'm sure the kind talk is over.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I want my body to leave Vegas alive

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I don't play cards, but the concepts behind card counting are pretty simple, are they not?

Yep.  David already explained it pretty well below.  The only thing I'd add, though, is that even if you found the right situation (single or double deck, friendly or lazy dealer who went fairly deep into the deck, etc) to actually do it at real casino speeds is a lot harder than it seems.  You have to partition your brain into 3 parts:

1.  The part that is doing the counting.

2.  The part that is registering what to do based on the count.

3.  And, most importantly, I think, the part that makes it appear as though you are doing nothing other than sitting there having fun.

I've just tried keeping a count at Vegas dealer speed, without even adjusting my betting or trying to disguise it, and I couldn't even do that for more than a couple of hands.

Yep, but most people don't understand the real concept.  I used to play quite a bit when I was stationed out in CA and we'd run up to Las Vegas on the weekends.  Back then, you could find single deck tables and even the multiple deck shoes were only 3 decks and manually shuffled.  Another big key was that you could still find \$1 and \$2 minimum tables.

The basic concept used by most skilled players, isn't counting every card, but rather tracking the % of high cards to low cards remaining in the deck.  It's mathematically to the player's advantage when there are more high cards remaining.  He has the option in how he plays his hand based on what he has and what the dealer is showing while the dealer must hit on 16 and less and must stand on 17.  More importantly though, he has the option to vary his bet based on whether the deck is favorable (more high cards remaining) or unfavorable.  That's why the lower minimum tables are important to those of us who aren't loaded.  You have to be able to sit down at a table with a big enough bankroll to be able to significantly increase your bet when the deck is favorable, and reduce it when it isn't.  I always considered an absolute minimum bankroll for a single session to be 100 times my "standard/neutral deck bet.  For a base bet of \$2, that's a minimum session bankroll of \$200.  These days, it's almost impossible to find anything less than a \$10 minimum table and \$25 minimums aren't uncommon.

Plus the decks are constantly reshuffled, every couple of hands.  There are still single and double deck games to be found, but they're few and far between.  Played properly, Blackjack still offers some of the best odds in the house.....most people lack the discipline to play it properly though.  Let's face it, it's tough to hit 16 when the dealer is showing 7.....but you should.

I've moved on to craps, which, for those that understand how to play properly, offers the best odds in the house outside single/double deck blackjack played by a counter.

Me too!  Not to get too far off topic, but I read a book somewhere that said the "proper" way to play was a pass line bet, and 2 come line bets, all with full odds (any more come bets gets you beyond the point of diminishing returns) and unless I'm drunk or have a stupid friend egging me on I stay away from the middle of the table.

Does that jive somewhat with the proper way you play?

You have to continuously watch everybody's cards, which takes away from the "fun" of playing.

Bingo!!  I don't go to Vegas to win money, because I don't go very often (well, who am I kidding, I don't go there at all anymore).  So when I do go, I go to have fun!

It's the same reason why I don't play poker there anymore either.  Everybody is serious and trying to win money.  Nobody's talking, or trying to be friendly ... they're all just a bunch of sharks trying to take my two dollars.

When I go now, it's blackjack (no counting!!) and craps.  Maybe a little pai gow if there is a \$5 table.  (Not a lot of those for any game anymore though)

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Me too!  Not to get too far off topic, but I read a book somewhere that said the "proper" way to play was a pass line bet, and 2 come line bets, all with full odds (any more come bets gets you beyond the point of diminishing returns) and unless I'm drunk or have a stupid friend egging me on I stay away from the middle of the table.

Does that jive somewhat with the proper way you play?

Pretty much.  Play pass/don't pass and come/don't come......either way you prefer.  Like most people I like the pass/come lines because that's the way most of the table will be betting and a lot of the fun is being part of a hot roll when everyone is making money, rather than betting against everyone else.  Once the number is established, immediately place the 6 and 8.  Then take at least another 2 come bets.  You MUST take full odds.  That's the only place in the casino where you're getting the actual odds with no house advantage.  The trick comes in when you're willing to pull everything down.  Leave it all up and make money on a good run.....pull it early and cut your losses, but potentially miss some opportunity.  I tend to pull down a little sooner than some, and then start playing the come again.

Don't be pulled into any of the center table bets.  They're all bad.  Throw a couple of bucks onto a hard ways or "yo" for the dealers every now and then just for fun, but never any for yourself.

For craps, I also use at least 100 times the minimum table bet as a session bankroll.

That's where the casinos are killing the average guy with the bigger table minimums.  They don't have a big enough bankroll to play properly and ride out the inevitable bad runs.  Then they start cutting back or playing incorrectly....not doubling down, standing on 16 against a dealer 8, not taking full odds on craps.  I call it playing with scared money.  Scared money ALWAYS loses.

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For craps, I also use at least 100 times the minimum table bet as a session bankroll.

That's where the casinos are killing the average guy with the bigger table minimums.  They don't have a big enough bankroll to play properly and ride out the inevitable bad runs.  Then they start cutting back or playing incorrectly....not doubling down, standing on 16 against a dealer 8, not taking full odds on craps.  I call it playing with scared money.  Scared money ALWAYS loses.

Yeah, that's part of the reason I don't go there that often.  \$500 or so for an ENTIRE weekend is a perfectly fine amount for me to lose, but not for one session of craps.  I'll do 200 at one sitting, but then you risk (and this happened last time) losing it all VERY quickly.  I think it took about 7 or 8 minutes that time.  LOL.

This is the upside to Blackjack or Pai Gow ... you can't lose nearly as fast.  Of course, you can't win nearly as fast either, so ....

Next time, I think I'll take that \$500 and go to Pebble Beach instead! ;)

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When I was fresh out of college, my first job took me to a city that was just 30 minutes from a riverboat casino.  It didn't take long before my friends and I started going every couple of weeks to have some fun and gamble.  I quickly took to Blackjack and figured I may as well learn how to play it well if I was going to play that often.  So, I bought a book and learned how to count cards, memorized every move that should be made based on the count, and have a betting strategy that maximized potetential winnings. Back then, they didn't utilize 6 deck games.  Most of the ones in the particular casino I went to were either 2 or 4 deck games.  Also, I just played the \$5 tables where my bets were \$5-\$10-\$20.  Boy, when I had a \$20 bet and doubled down, my heart was really thumping.  It's funny that in today's world, \$10 is the minimum at most places and even \$25 at a few.

I've since relocated a number of times and currently live a 2 1/2 hours from the nearest casino with table Blackjack.  I usually get to the casino 3 times per year...

Quote:

Originally Posted by David in FL

I always considered an absolute minimum bankroll for a single session to be 100 times my "standard/neutral deck bet.  For a base bet of \$2, that's a minimum session bankroll of \$200.  These days, it's almost impossible to find anything less than a \$10 minimum table and \$25 minimums aren't uncommon.

The increased miminums do require a bigger bankroll.  For each session I play, I limit my bankroll for that session to 30 times whatever my minimum bet will be.  With \$10 minimum tables being the lowest at the casinos I go to now, that means \$300.  It's pretty rare that I lose my entire session bankroll.  If it's just an unusually bad outing, I will call it quits early...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious

Although I knew how, I never had the desire to count cards. You have to continuously watch everybody's cards, which takes away from the "fun" of playing.

Employ basic strategy correctly, incorporate a good progressive betting system (I used 1-1-2-3-5 or 1-2-3-5 depending on whether I was up or down) and KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY .

For some reason, counting cards increases my enjoyment of playing.  Before I counted, my bets were flat.  Now, I usually bet 1-2-4.  So, during those mini-runs when the count and cards fall just right, I can win a couple of hundred dollars in a matter of minutes.  Of course, the opposite is true, too.  The count is great, you get to your max bet, then lose a number of hands in a row...  Still much more exciting to me than just plunking out \$10 every single time and watching my stack barely move one way or the other.

Your odds in Blackjack are pretty much set based on your skill level.  I know that; however, I totally agree about knowing when to walk away!

Quote:

Yep.  David already explained it pretty well below.  The only thing I'd add, though, is that even if you found the right situation (single or double deck, friendly or lazy dealer who went fairly deep into the deck, etc) to actually do it at real casino speeds is a lot harder than it seems.  You have to partition your brain into 3 parts:

1.  The part that is doing the counting.

2.  The part that is registering what to do based on the count.

3.  And, most importantly, I think, the part that makes it appear as though you are doing nothing other than sitting there having fun.

I've just tried keeping a count at Vegas dealer speed, without even adjusting my betting or trying to disguise it, and I couldn't even do that for more than a couple of hands.

When I first started to count, I would actually practice at home.  If you can get to the point of being able to accurately count two decks shuffled together when you rapidly turn four cards over at a time, you'd be plenty fast enough to keep up with any dealer.  Plus, the more you do it in a casino, you more it becomes second nature.  I can carry on conversations with my playing partners while maintaining an accurate count.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saevel25

Blackjack is one of my more favorite games to play. No Casino in Ohio till this past year, so no chances to gamble. I do not card count. Honestly it is nearly impossible to if they are shuffling through a ton of decks at table. Get 6 decks of cards and the probabilities get much tougher to calculate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billchao

Exactly. AFAIK, counting cards isn't as viable a strategy anymore because they're playing multiple decks simultaneously, and they change out before the stack is finished.

Yeah, the more decks being played, the lower your advantage and the more mundane the game can be.  According to the mathematical models, 6 deck games are nearly impossible to beat.  With 6 decks, the best you may do long-term is break-even.  5 decks or less, though, and you can still win more than you lose (with the fewer the decks the more you'll likely win).  Also, the more decks you have, the less you'll see the true-count (which is what you base your bets on) be positive.  The running count of all cards already played has to be divided by how many decks are left in the shoe to get a true count.  So, if it's a 4 deck game and after one hand the running count is +2, the true count is +1/2 because there are still basically 4 decks left in the shoe.  Thus, your opportunities to bet your maximum units comes around much less often compared to a 1 or 2 deck game.  The other thing that happens with more decks, and others have mentioned this as well, is that they don't deal into the shoe as deep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flopster

Also casinos catch on to these betting patterns and ask you to leave kindly the first time, what they do after that may be anybody's guess but I'm sure the kind talk is over.

This isn't necessarily true.  I've never had a dealer, pit boss, or any other casino employee say anything to me.  I'm sure it's because I don't play for big dollars.  Having said that, I still do try to disguise it when I am having a good night.  For example, if I buy \$150 worth of chips and my stack gets to \$250 early on, I'll sneak \$150 worth of chips in my pocket so it looks like I'm actually down.  If things continue to go well and I get up even more, I'll sneak a few more chips in my pocket.  Doing that also makes it look like I've lost money if I "color up" and move to another table.  Again, I don't go enough or bet enough for the casino's to care, but it's just what I've always done...  I do think a high roller would risk being escorted out.  The pit bosses keep a much closer eye on those players with betting patterns of, say, \$100 - \$200 - \$400.

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The other thing that happens with more decks, and others have mentioned this as well, is that they don't deal into the shoe as deep.

Yeah, I also just remembered that it's getting really popular at the Vegas casinos to use automatic shufflers, and only go about halfway in before swapping.  That game is probably unbeatable, huh?

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Yeah, I also just remembered that it's getting really popular at the Vegas casinos to use automatic shufflers, and only go about halfway in before swapping.  That game is probably unbeatable, huh?

I don't know all the mathematics, but I do know what you describe gives an advantage to the house. Another thing I've seen popping up is Blackjack using a video screen to show your cards instead of real, physical playing cards. Now THAT would be impossible to beat as I'm guessing a new "deck of cards" is used for every deal.

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