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  #21  
Old June 7th, 2009, 11:07 AM
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Default Reasons to play ap bj

There may be different reasons to be a counter over just playing the game like everyone else at the bj table. The number one reason should be is that you know what the real score during the game. I for one fit the profile of a counter because I want the inside info on whats going on with the game. We all have had tough sessions that to seem rattle our very sense of what we are suppose to be about.

This is a game of nerves and sometimes we are tested beyond our limits.This is when we need to take a break and review the past and plan for the future our break or breaks may be short or long but a break is needed. If it is a job for you then you have a achieved a level of playing some of us could only imagine.

I'm glad you came back to playing and hope your're enjoying the game more now than before. It seems we enjoy something more if we take a break then go back to it after a break. blackchipjim
  #22  
Old June 7th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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Default Mitch Hedberg quote

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Originally Posted by tribute View Post
On this, I concur. Sometimes I ask myself, "What is the reason I am willing to drive 5.5 hours for an opportunity to play a few hours at a simple game with high variance, sit next to cigar smokin', intoxicated, sometimes rude beings, and hope to be able to take a little more cash away than what I brought?" It must be due to:
1) Pure enjoyment of the game.
2) The challenge and satisfaction of beating the house, at their game, on their own playing field, where the odds are tilted toward them.
3) To escape from the weekly "routine"
4) My compulsive nature (Maybe I'm just hopelessly addicted)
5) Win or no win, the house still pays for my room and food, sometimes extra cash.

What better form of entertainment could be found?
I could not resist posting this Mitch Hedberg quote after reading your #4.

"I like to play blackjack. I'm not addicted to gambling. I'm addicted to sitting in a semi-circle."
  #23  
Old June 7th, 2009, 02:33 PM
matt21 matt21 is offline
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Originally Posted by blackchipjim View Post
This is a game of nerves and sometimes we are tested beyond our limits.This is when we need to take a break and review the past and plan for the future our break or breaks may be short or long but a break is needed. If it is a job for you then you have a achieved a level of playing some of us could only imagine.

I'm glad you came back to playing and hope your're enjoying the game more now than before. It seems we enjoy something more if we take a break then go back to it after a break. blackchipjim
I'm enjoying the game when playing it and when i think i am not getting too much heat. What I am not enjoying is the essential double-life that I am leading - the silence (or lying?) to friends and family as to how and where i spend my time, and trying to organize my playing schedule from day to day and week to week. And the loneliness of it all. At least my actual playing results are pretty close to my EV and not two standard deviations below it.

Anyways I am putting together some medium term plans now to ensure that i dont become a dinosaur too quickly (and trying to simultaneously get another business started).
  #24  
Old June 18th, 2009, 01:03 PM
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Cool to be or not to be, that is the question

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Originally Posted by matt21 View Post
I'm enjoying the game when playing it and when i think i am not getting too much heat. What I am not enjoying is the essential double-life that I am leading - the silence (or lying?) to friends and family as to how and where i spend my time, and trying to organize my playing schedule from day to day and week to week. And the loneliness of it all. At least my actual playing results are pretty close to my EV and not two standard deviations below it.

Anyways I am putting together some medium term plans now to ensure that i dont become a dinosaur too quickly (and trying to simultaneously get another business started).
the great thing is that the intelligent, savvy and chic magnet gentleman that you are, well you just are not the type to become mired in any sort of self destructive addiction. so you can and i'm sure will decide and determine how AP stuff is going to fit into your life.

just a note on the 'double-life' sort of thing, i would just say i know what you mean. it can be an uncomfortable sort of way to have to conduct one's self. it was my observation at the bj-bash that leads me to believe imho us AP's have a tendency to lend to much import to the the prospects of heat and that doesn't mean we should be careless and rub the casinos noses in our business, lmao. just it's a battle and we are warriors and warriors don't let spies infiltrate their ranks, lol. so what ever, to me it's just a long way of saying, much like anything else in life there are things we say and do and things we don't.
so lmao, i must be pretty good because do you remember having to ask if that little incident at the table between Y and me was an act or not?
the answer is, it was and it wasn't. it was her really upset with me, but it was me using the incident for the viewing and listening pleasure of the dealer and the pit. did you and the dealer have a good laugh over that?
point being, an 'act' can be real, we just as we take advantage of the nature of the game of blackjack, we take advantage of the game of life.
what ever, lol, but just a bit more on this 'double-life' sort of stuff. have you ever watched the gamblers in the casino? you know like at the craps, roulette tables or slot machines. they haven't a care in the world other than maybe losing or winning, they are for the most part gambling and having fun. i just want to say this about that, at some point in my blackjack AP endeavors i realized my discomfort that you allude to and i saw that the gamblers in the casino don't suffer from that. then i had a horrific losing streak where i lost one seventh of my meager bankroll. there upon i took a blackjack sabbatical and considered it all with a bit of self reflection. i concluded that AP in the very least is gambling in the short run, and infact due to the nature of our AP play being dependent on probability in the long term is really still a gamble. the point being, there is really no reason that i shouldn't be just as happy and carefree as the rest of the gamblers in the house.

so anyway, where ever or what ever you decide about your AP endeavors, i'll just say it was a pleasure sharing the tables with you.
  #25  
Old July 24th, 2009, 01:22 PM
matt21 matt21 is offline
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Bump…
Another five months have gone by since my “final conclusion” post! I have again come to some kind of decision-making point. But before I explain why a decision is needed here are some of the things that have happened in the last 5 months:

- After doubling my allocated investment to this venture I ramped up my standard unit from $25 to $50 – allowing me profitable access to $25min tables and consequently mostly heads-up play as well as ability to request dealer changes, table openings and re-shuffles.
- Session swings have increased dramatically (naturally!). Both biggest loss biggest gain are above $6k – and there are regularly shoes with swings of several thousand dollars.
- The first 170 hours were superb - my ‘career’ profit+loss went from $7k to $40k in three months, running 10-15k above expectation most times.
- Next I got very paranoid about heat (since I was winning a lot), even though to date there have been no back-off’s or warnings.
- So I made several changes to my game – further statistical analysis and simulating, experimenting with various betting ramps, increased accuracy in assessing playing conditions, reduced session lengths, hunted for new venues and increased cover.
- Recently I have lost about $12k (some 240 units) over 35 hours of play. For the first time (in the $50 unit zone) my actual return is below EV. Incidentally the start of the losses has coincided perfectly with the time that I changed my ‘better cover’ betting approach (i.e. Burning Tables in Las Vegas).
- This last losing streak is only halfway to my losing streak from 2008 where I dropped about 440 units over 126 hours, although that one was 'worth' only $3k (in the $10 unit zone) and I was playing at most half as many hands per hour as I am playing now.

So now I am hurting. Even though my return is pretty close to the expected return I am obviously feeling as if I am giving my hard earned money back to the casino’s coffers. And I feel that negative variance. All the worst possible card combinations are coming to the dealer’s hand and the black chips are quickly making their way back into the dealer’s rack!

I am suddenly realizing that the $27k of remaining profits could realistically (and statistically) evaporate if I just happen to continue to have negative variance fall my way. Fear has come into the equation. Even though, I am just actually now getting the swings that I statistically should be getting.

I have thought of several actions to take:

- Carry on fearlessly, objectively and aggressively and simply accept these variations as part of this profession
- Reduce my bet ramp for some time until I regain my confidence at the table and actually mentally believe that I am able to win
- Carefully review all the simulations and calculations I have completed to check whether my expected rate of returns are indeed correct (according to them I could still make money if the penetration in shoe games falls into the low 60’s!)
- Stop playing altogether/color up for good – take the $27k cash and put it into the bank and/or the next business opportunity
- Move beyond counting – and focus on advanced techniques
- Other suggestions?

I have made some experiences in the sporting world this year where I have learned that I need to be very persistent in order to achieve success and to work very hard. Tasting failure in this was a very valuable lesson. I generally also believe that one needs to decide what they want to achieve and then stick to that decision! Is it foolish to apply this lesson here in the realm of professional gambling?

I would really welcome some advice/suggestions from like-minded folk here...

Matt

Last edited by matt21; July 24th, 2009 at 06:41 PM.
  #26  
Old July 25th, 2009, 04:28 AM
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UK-21 UK-21 is offline
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I have read through your most recent post several times - it touches on some profound stuff re winning, long term returns, EVs and so on.

For my two bob's worth, I think you should take your $27K of profit and do something with it that will remain with you always; undertake a world tour, build a school in some out of the way place in Africa where the expectations of the kids are poor from the day they draw their first breath; spend it on something that will change the lives of an under-priviliged person for the better (pay for a scholarship of some kind?) etc etc etc. Don't just give most of it, and maybe more, back to the casino (as the maths suggest you will).

Do this and you'll forever be a winner. By all means continue to play BJ but reduce your mins down and use the surplus over the adequate capitalisation mark for something useful. Carry on playing at higher stakes ($50) and the maths suggest a big chunk of it will go back from where it came. Allow this to happen, and it'll mean that, AP or not, you'll be just another one of the punters who regularly visit the houses of chance, albeit to play with a marginal edge over the house in the longer term.

Money's a wonderful thing if it's used for some good - you have the opportunity to be part of that, or you can just carry on playing as before.

Your call . . . .

Best wishes.

Newb99
  #27  
Old July 26th, 2009, 08:27 AM
3aces 3aces is offline
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Default retirement?

Matt, excellent thread, with lots of things to contemplate for those of us who are thinking of retirement from counting. I noticed over on bj21.com that MathProf is at that point after a couple of down years.

Also, thanks for your help in another thread calculating the probability of losing $15K with a win rate of $128 and SD of $1808 in 15 hrs. of play. As you figured, the probability of that happening is once in every 128 trips. I had over-estimated my actual number of trips (seemed like 50 but it is actually 29 in 2.5 years with 500 hrs. of play).

So my -$15K trip from hell hit me a bit hard. As you figured, I should win $10K or more once every 8 trips and I have done so once overy 14. And you nailed my actual career win of $47K, though your calculations would have been a bit different with the lower trip total.

As you did, I have tried to assess the pros and cons of continuing. My track record:

-Starting with blissful ignorance and a hail mary bankroll of 5K, I played fearlessly at DD with a spread of 50x400, with some wonging in and lots of "breaks" in high counts. It was a strong game and I won pretty big. Got backed off twice. Bankroll went to $40K.

-Realized I wanted to protect longevity so I switched to a slightly weaker, but still profitable, strategy of agressive 6D wonging, in and out. Some good wins.

-As you mentioned, the lonely grind began to take its toll. And THEN, I met a tall blond who became my partner. And it made the travel and grind much more bearable. Had some great times, wonderfully fun "drunk couple" cover opportunities. And many other benefits

-Of course, I shared some winnings with Blondie. And expenses mounted. And I began to fear back offs and play more conservatively, since I did not want the expense-paid fun with Blondie to end. And my trips began to show little net profit.

-And then the market crashed and my 40K bankroll and $400 max bet started to worry me. I vowed to quit if I ever fell to a point where I had zero net profit from the whole counting experience.

-And then the trip from hell - lost $15K, also lost $3K at slots (overall I have some lucky profit from slots and roulette, using them as cover - I know that is a marginal idea). AND, the night before Blondie was to arrive, I chanced upon another young filly - was not a hooker, wanted no $, got naked and ****ed me all over the suite. And stole $4800 from my stash. I confronted her but she got out of the hotel before I could alert security. So it was a
-$24K trip and I now have zero bottom line profit from 2.5 years of hard work.

Headed to Blondie's town soon. Will scale back max bet. May try to continue to finance free trips with modest wins. May bag it. Been a great ride.
  #28  
Old July 26th, 2009, 10:09 AM
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If you lost 5K to a "philly who wasn't a hooker" but releived you of 5K. (what's the differnce) and 3k to slot play. It sounds like you may have a bit of a discipline problem to me. Sounds like on more than one occasion, you have forgotten the purpose of your trip. Discipline is the number one rule to long term success. You are supposed to kept your blackjack bankroll seperate from all other funds, including slot and roulette "gambling money's", and especially out of reach of "playmates". Since you are not being disciplined in these areas, I am wondering how disciplined you are being with your actual play? Am wondering how much additional of your bankroll has been lost to slots and roulette over the years that you didn't mention. You need to decide if your goal is to break even, while enjoying expense paid vacations or to make money. If you opt to continue, I suggest you get much more serious about your play. Seperating your vacations and play time from your blackjack play might be a good start.

Last edited by kewljason; July 26th, 2009 at 10:25 AM.
  #29  
Old July 26th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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Kewljason,

Of course the gal turned out to be a criminal/scam artist and probably just a plain hooker in her spare time. But when she did not want $ up front, it appeared I might have just gotten lucky. She had a long, detailed cover story, was quite an actress, a total hammer, and devoted a lot of time to the scam - drinks, dancing, long intelligent converstion. A real pro and fooled this guy.

Long story related to check in, but I failed to secure my $ in the room safe as I always do. And when the thong came off, I got a bit distracted

I started the slot/roulettte cover strategy to try to flesh out my rather obvious player's card record of BJ grinding, hit and run wonging, very brief sessions, lifetime win history. I devote 1 or 2 BJ max bets per trip to this attempted slot/roulette cover. But I had won a 15K slot jackpot on my previous trip, so I pissed away 3K of it during the trip from hell. And I have no reason to fib, over my career I have won some money at slots (3 jackpots over 8K) and roulette. Dumb luck. I went into it just planning for the slot/roulette bets to be an expense item.

You raise a good point. I think lots of APs have a gambling problem just under the surface and it rears its ugly head at times. I did not gamble before counting and would be horrified at the idea of gambling on sports or in casinos, after learning how to play BJ with an edge.

I just try to use slots/roulette as a way to show the pit I am a typical degenrate customer and it gets me out of the surveillance eye when I have done some obvious wonging, but am not quite ready to head to the next casino. Take a break and get in one more shoe after a bit of slots.

You mentioned forgetting the "purpose of my trip". Well, for a good while, I was very focused only on BJ grinding. And I think my actual BJ play is highly disciplined, with skillfull counting, betting, departures, heat avoidance, game selection, and use of sims.

That single minded purpose/focus may work for you and many others. But the appeal of that process for me ran its course. If not for the limos, suites, pools, spas and women, I don't think I would be interested in continuing the grinding chase of BJ profit. It just would not be a way I would want to spend my time. Maybe that's a lack of discipline or maybe it's just good free fun. Sure would like to have that $4800 back, though

You suggest separation of vacations and AP play. That may be best for you and some others, but for me, it has become attractive to combine the two.

Anyway, sorry for the long posts, but my purpose was to try to contribue to Matt21's musings about the pros and cons and trials and tribulations that lead one to continue or give it up.
  #30  
Old July 26th, 2009, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bj42 View Post
Kewljason,

Of course the gal turned out to be a criminal/scam artist and probably just a plain hooker in her spare time. But when she did not want $ up front, it appeared I might have just gotten lucky.

You suggest separation of vacations and AP play. That may be best for you and some others, but for me, it has become attractive to combine the two.

Anyway, sorry for the long posts, but my purpose was to try to contribue to Matt21's musings about the pros and cons and trials and tribulations that lead one to continue or give it up.
Well the appeal to combine the two has cost you $4800. You apparently were willing to take that risk for the reward of getting laid, so I don't think it proper to bitch about it after the fact, especially since you seem unwilling to learn by the mistake.

As far as Matt goes, he has reached this crossroad before. We all occasionally question where we are at during those times when variance rears it's ugly head in the most negative of swings. I have complete confidence that Matt will once again come to the conclusion that the mathematics are on his side.
 

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