Lesson 7 – Money Management – Part 1

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

A Sermon

I do a little bit of preaching on the pages of The GameMaster Online every so often, primarily because I hate to think of people handing their money to casinos. I’m not saying I don’t lose, because I have my bad days as well, but what I am saying is that the casinos have to fight me for every penny they get. You need to develop that kind of attitude and just the fact that you’re reading this now shows me that you’re willing to learn, so you’ve got a good start. Casinos make money because the players allow them to make money. Even if you’ve learned everything I’ve taught you up to this point, you’re still not ready to play, so forget about it and start building your bankroll towards the day when you WILL be ready. You cannot expect to win at Blackjack if you’re betting the rent money. You must have a sum of money set aside which is “extra” — money which, should you lose it, will not affect your lifestyle in any way. By doing it that way, you’ll bet what needs to be bet and play the hands as they need to be played. That’s what gets the $$$ at the casino. ‘Nuff said.

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What is Money Management?

As it applies to playing Blackjack as a card counter, money management is a method of betting which will minimize your losses and maximize your gains. Playing Blackjack carries with it the risk of loss. The advantage a counter has over the casino is small and the fluctuations in a player’s bankroll can occur with frightening speed. Proper management of your funds is required in all aspects of the game to give you the best possible chance of reaching that elusive “long term”. Some of you will begin your careers as counters with a big win and you’ll never look back. Most of you, however, will begin with a loss and it will take more hours of play before you start showing a profit; that’s just the reality of the situation. What I’m going to teach you in the next four or five lessons is how to survive at the game until your long term edge begins to have its effect and then show you how to keep the profits you make.

The True Count

All of our betting decisions will be made on the basis of what is known as the “true count” or more accurately, the “count per remaining deck”. While most of this applies to those who will be playing at multi-deck games, you single-deckers pay attention, too — you’ll need to know this as well. If six small cards come out on the first hand in a game, we will have a running count of 6. For the single-deck players, you will have a true count of just over 6, since there’s just a bit less than one deck remaining to be played. If you’re at a six-deck game, the count per remaining deck (the true count) is just a bit over 1, since there is just a bit less than 6 decks remaining to be played. See how that works? We are “standardizing” the count by dividing the running count by the total number of remaining decks. Let’s try another example to see if you understand the concept. At a single-deck game on the first hand, a running count of 2 (remember, I don’t use “+” to indicate a positive number) converts to a true count of 2, when rounded off. In a six-deck game and a running count of 12 after the first hand, the true count converts to 2. Both true counts are 2 , but it takes a much higher running count to achieve that in the six-deck game.

TO DETERMINE THE TRUE COUNT, DIVIDE THE “RUNNING” COUNT BY THE NUMBER OF DECKS REMAINING TO BE PLAYED.

Don’t let that statement confuse you. What this means is the number of decks left, whether they’ll actually be played or not. In a six-deck game, a deck or more may be cut off by the dealer, but that means nothing when computing true count. The basis for the calculation is the total number of decks in the game which is adjusted by the number of decks which have been played. An example: in a six-deck game where two decks have been played and put into the discard rack off to the side, a running count of 8 translates into a true count of 2 because there are four decks left in the shoe. The dealer may shuffle before all four of those remaining decks have been played, but for true count conversion that doesn’t matter.

Take this little test with me to see if you understand the principle.

Deck RemainingRunning CountTrue Count
1.482
2.2105
3.551
4.3124

Estimating the Number of Remaining Decks

The casinos are very nice about providing us a device to determine just how many decks there are remaining to be played in the shoe. No, that device is not the shoe, but the discard tray which can be found on virtually every table where a multi-deck game is played. As cards are used, the dealer places them very neatly in the discard tray where everyone can see them so counters use that, and a bit of subtraction, to determine how many decks are left to be played. At a six-deck game, if there are two decks in the discard tray, there has to be four decks left in the shoe, assuming no cards are on the table. What we strive for is to be accurate to within a half-deck for our estimation. Just exactly how to train for that is one of your homework assignments, so don’t worry about it for the moment. What’s more important at this point are the mechanics used to calculate the true count by that method. Let’s walk through a simple explanation together.

We’re at a six-deck game, the running count is M-6 and three decks are in the discard tray. That means three decks remain, so we divide the running count by 3 and our true count is M-2. Yes, this works for negative decks as well — exactly the same way. Got it? Try this test to see if you do.

Assume we’re at a six-deck game. I’m only going to give you the decks in the discard tray, so do the calculation to determine the number of decks left in the shoe.

Decks PlayedRunning CountTrue Count
1.24?
2.48?
3.55?
4.15?
5.2.57?
6.20?
7.3.5M-5?
8.1.59?
9.3M-3?
10.4.52?

The Answers

1. One (2 decks played, 4 decks remaining, 4 divided by 4 = 1)

2. Four (4 decks played, 2 decks remaining, 8 divided by 2 = 4)

3. Five (You’re on your own now, kid.)

4. One

5. Two

6. Zero

7. M-two

8. Two

9.M-one

10. A bit over one (but we always round “down” in order to be conservative, so we’d call this “one”.)

I can see some eyes glazing over out there, so we better stop for this week. But don’t be discouraged; you can learn this — it just takes some practice. Speaking of practice, pick up your homework assignment and practice “calibrating” your eyes.

Homework

Estimating the number of decks remaining in a discard tray is really just an exercise in repetitive staring. If you look at a deck of 52 cards long enough, you can tell if 10 or 12 cards have been added to it. So, that’s how we calibrate our eyes. Begin with a single deck and look it for a while. Then, put another deck on top of it and look at that for a while. Now, put a third deck on top and look at that for a while. Finally, pull one deck off — don’t count the cards — just estimate how much a deck is, pull it off and then count it to see how close you were. Now, put that deck back on top and pull off two decks, count them for accuracy and put them back on top. Now, build your stack up to five decks and pull off a deck and a half, then three decks and so on. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ve begun to recognize how many decks are in a pile. A nice variation to this exercise is to have a friend set up piles of various sizes (within a half-deck accuracy) while you’re out of the room and then you come in and recite the size of each pile.

Keep at it, because you’ve got to be accurate at this. Your money will be riding on it.

See you here next week when we discuss how to bet by using the true count.



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Tyler
Tyler
3 years ago

So I have a question about betting. I am still very new to blackjack in general, but I’m interested in using the methods taught through this course to make some winnings. I’ve been watching videos and one I can recall from Howcast, explains different methods of betting. One method used was progressive, where you’d bet $100 and win, then next you bet $200, then $300, and so on. You lose a bet and as long as you have caught a pretty good winning streak, you still have some winnings. Just everytime you loser you go back to your minimum bet. I’ve been practicing that method myself at home a Little more conservatively. I’ll bet $10, then $15, then $20, then $30. I never double my bet but I increase it by about 50-75% roughly until I lose then drop back to $10. I’ll keep doing this with no maximum, even if I get to betting $1000’s at a time (almost never get that far) but is that still a red flag to casinos? It’s not like I’m going from a $10 bet to $500, I just gradually increase it as I’m riding a winning streak. And when my streak ends and I lose a “big” bet, I still come out ahead. Let me know if this is a good or bad idea to do in real casinos and why. Thank you.

Denis
Denis
4 years ago

Ken i have a question. I ceep track of the running count each hand and in the end i find the real count. The next hand i add my running count to the real count and than devide ??? plz anser cuzz i am lost at this part

Mark
Mark
4 years ago

7 and 9, your answers are wrong. 7 is 0.4*M-2 and 9 is M/3-1. You forgot to divide your variable M by the number of decks left too.

Stefan
Stefan
4 years ago

Ken when the tc is at least +2 i dont rase my bet i just betting also behind someones bet.u think this looks suspicious?

Dylan
Dylan
4 years ago

Thanks will let you know if i have any luck thanks for the lessons

Dylan
Dylan
4 years ago

I just also want to ask how do i know if they use a csm or asm for shuffling and will i still be able to have that edge in counting if they use a asm?Sorry for all the questions i am a student that is really interested in this and would like to invest lots of time and practice counting.

Dylan
Dylan
4 years ago

This sucks,how can it be possible that my casino in south africa is more prepared against card counting than the more advanced countries.I understand what you are saying this really sucks basic strategy isn’t going to bring the profits.

Dylan
Dylan
4 years ago

How do i calculate my true count if my casino only lets about 20 cards in the discard then puts it back in the shoe?I can calculate running count but not true count.I think it is a 6 deck game i am not sure,and how do i determine how many decks the casino uses.

luke
luke
4 years ago

Hello bud, just a quick question..

At what rate do you increase your bet?

If im playing £5 stakes on a 6 deck game do I increase my bet to £10-£30 with a true count of 1? Or 2 or 3 or 4 ect ect.

There must be a system you use to determine step up points?

Thank you luke

Mark
Mark
4 years ago
Reply to  luke

The answer is it depends on the parameters of the game. Where the cutcard is. If you’re giving the money in pounds, you’re probably playing by different rules, in England don’t they check for blackjack after you double down? In America you don’t even have an opportunity to double down or split if the dealer has blackjack. In the US though, if the cutcard is 1 deck before the end, if the dealer checks for blackjack first, if double after split and resplit aces is allowed, then the correct answer is to add 3 times the minimum bet for each 1 the truecount gets past 1.8. You bet the minimum bet as long as the dealer has the advantage. You add to it when you start having the advantage, which is at a truecount of 1.8, that’s the breakeven point. So if the truecount is 0, you bet the minimum. I the truecount is 1, you bet the minimum. If the truecount is 2, you bet the minimum, if the truecount is 3, you bet 4 times the minimum, if the truecount is 4, you’d bet about 7 times the minimum. This is how you minimize risk of ruin. If you want to maximize statistical expected return on a linear scale without concern of ruin, you would bet the minimum bet whenever you have the disadvantage and the maximum bet whenever you have the advantage, however slight, with nothing in between, and if you can do that, you can expect to lose all your money in a hurry and if you don’t, you can expect to be thrown out of the casino in about 20 minutes.

Gijs
Gijs
4 years ago

I do have a question, After calculating the true count, will you continue counting with the true count or the running count?
for example:

1 deck is been played in a 6 deck shoe, and the running count is 5, you divide 5 /5 = a true count of 1. after the dealer begins to deal again, will you continue the running count of 5 of start with the true count of 1?

Ram
Ram
5 years ago

How can you estimate the T/C in DD that the dealer the never dealt hte whole 2 decks of the shoe?

Ram
Ram
5 years ago

It seems 2decks remaining on the shoe with +5 or above is the best time to bet 1to8 in $10 table games.And how much money do i need to bring with me in $50 minimum DD in 1 session?thanks

Luigi
Luigi
5 years ago

How often do you calculate the True count? After every hand?

Luigi
Luigi
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

thanks

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

Does that mean say the true count is +4 after the first two hands in a 6?decks game, you increase your bet even though there is almost 6 decks left ?

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

Ken,
I can’t thank you enough for the prompt answers !!! I honestly think you are saving us beginners lots of money and heartaches 🙂
I am the same guy who asked about KO and penetration in another post few days ago. Following up on your answer above … Using KO in a 8 deck game and starting at 0 .., the count rarely gets to the point where it is now even ( starting with 0 and subtracting 28 ) to get to a positive 0 count … Should I focus on learning Hi Low instead … It seems more plausible to get a running count of say + 12 that you divide by say 4 ( 4 decks remaining … Do you actually count the cards that would not even be used ..especially in poor penetration ??) to get a true count of +3 after only the first few hands … With KO , it just never seems to happen !

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

Always follow basic strategy first when i give you a balance count for the ko count. 2-7 is a +1 and 10-k
Make the Ace neg-2
The cards are not balanced 6 cards versus 5. But the point value to both positive and neg cards as two groups are balanced.
Aces are -2 . But the aces are also more valuable of a card. That normally pays 2-1 for blackjack. So
As the 5 cards high 10,j,q,k,a represents 100% divide 100% by the six points . 4 points represent “66.6% . 10,j,q,k”
The aces 2 points represent
” 33.3% “A’s”
Never over risk your bank roll
On the little extra advantage. Cause
Remember. If multi-aces come through at the beginning. You will plunge fast into the negative count.
And takes more to get back to the positive. Why need to exacute basic strategy and follow like the bible. Deviation play can be a bit trickier than compared to hi-low. Count. Good luck….