Lesson 11 – Evaluating Games

While almost all Blackjack games are ultimately beatable, the rewards to be gained from marginal situations do not adequately compensate you for your time and risk. Therefore, you must evaluate a game in several ways before playing it. Two primary areas of concern are the house rules of the game, including the number of decks used and the placement of the cut-card, what we call “penetration.”

Many rule changes require a change in your basic strategy, so don’t forget about the “Basic Strategy Engine”. Remember that rule changes may also affect your betting schedule.

Effect of Rule Variations on the Player’s Edge

(Assume 6 decks, double on any first two cards, no double after splitting, resplit all pairs, except Aces, insurance is available and the dealer stands on Ace-6. This yields a -.54% advantage to the player.)

Changes which help the playerChange in the edge
Double after split+.14%
Resplit Aces+.07%
Early surrender vs. all+.70%
Early surrender vs 10 0nly+.30%
Late surrender+.08%
Single Deck+.50%
Two Decks+.20%
Four Decks+.05%
Changes which hurt the playerChanges in edge
Dealer hits A-6-.20%
Double only on 11-.46%
Double only on 10,11-.09%
Double only 9, 10,11-.09%
No resplitting pairs-.04%
No insurance (if you are counting cards)-.40%

To determine the casino’s edge over you at the beginning of a shoe, just add or subtract the rules variations from the ‘base’ game listed above. For example, if you play a double deck game which has the same rules as the base game, the casino advantage is computed as follows.

Base game -.54%
Two Decks +.20%
_____________________
Player edge -.34%

Effect of Deck Penetration

How far the dealer goes into the deck(s) before shuffling can have a major effect on your winnings. The reason is that with a shallow penetration, the ‘high’ counts which enable you to bet more occur less often in decks where the shuffle comes early. The table below shows how often counts will occur on a percentage basis at varying degrees of penetration.

Percent Occurrence at…
True Count50%65%75%85% penetration
+115151313
+28788
+33445
+41.52.534
+51122
+6.5122
+70.511.5
+800.51
+9000.5
+10000.5

Let’s examine what I’m trying to say here. If you play at a game with only 50% penetration, out of every 100 hands, only 29 will have, on average, a true count of 1 or better. Since it requires a true count of 1 to get even with the house, only 14 will be hands on which you have an advantage. Now look at the stats for a game with 85% penetration. Here, about 37.5% of the hands will be at breakeven or better and almost a quarter will be hands on which you have an advantage.

YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME AND MONEY IF YOU PLAY AT A GAME WITH LESS THAN 65% PENETRATION.

Even if a game doesn’t offer the best rules, it can still be beaten if good penetration is available. Remember that you should leave a game when the count drops below a true of minus 1 so that you spend most of your playing time making bets in what I call the ‘profit zone.’

Homework

Calculate the player starting advantage for the following:

I’ll post the correct answers to this quiz in the next lesson.



All material in the Blackjack School is © Copyright 2007 The GameMaster Online, Inc.

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Maestro
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Maestro

“YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME AND MONEY IF YOU PLAY AT A GAME WITH LESS THAN 65% PENETRATION.”
65% is the standard for ALL games, irregardless of the number of decks?

Toledoron
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Toledoron

Enjoy reading and gaining more knowledge relative to
Playing a stronger game of blackjack.
Thank you for the good info.

stefan
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stefan

ken I wish all the best 4 you in 2017 and just wanted to express a big thank you for your time and informations on bj !!!

Stefan
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Stefan

Hello ken.any numbers of avantage of disavantage in european bj.the european no hole pick card for the dealer i think its hurts the players right?also a surrender offer in europe against all dealers cards except an ace before the dealer delt any card to the palyers its the same percent avantage like u have in usa for the full early surrender? Thanks for the answer!

Jay
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Jay

Hi Ken,

I play at a casino with the following rules (Quebec):
Table minimum is $20.

Natural pays 3 to 2
8 Decks
75% to 80% penetration
Dealer hits soft 17
Double any two cards allowed
Double after split allowed
No Surrender
Dealer peeks
Insurance available on dealer face up A
Splitting limited to a max of 4 times
No moves allowed after splitting Aces (stand,stand)
If dealer and player land a natural blackjack, the play is a push (Not sure on this last one, I may be wrong and they may still pay out 3 to 2.)

How do you recommend we beat this setup?

Jan Charles
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Jan Charles

Hi Ken,
I really love the site but there is something I cant really understand:

According to the table you get a true count of 7 or better a 0% of the time with 50% deck penetration. But in a single deck game if the first 7 cards dealt are low you already have count of a little bit over 7. So you clearly have a true count of 7 or better over 0% of the time. Is the table wrong or am I doing something wrong?

Fred M
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Fred M

Hi Ken,
First let me say I have learnt so much from your website and I am using it to play online live with favorable results.

My question is, the site I play on go to about 65% penetration before using a new shoe, with an 8 deck game. Should I only play at the table when it is a new shoe? Or is it OK to join and play even if I estimate 2-4 decks in the discard pile?

Gay Card Counter
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Gay Card Counter

Just want to be sure I understand . . . it is possible in a game with only 75% penetration (standard deck and half cut out from a six deck shoe) to have a true-count north of +9, right. It doesn’t happen that often but there have definitely been times when 1/2 of the six deck shoe has been cashed and the running count is 20 thus making the true-count – if I understand your teachings correctly – +10, right?

Alex
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Alex

Dear Sir I am 20 and I have just started playing blackjack. Your site has been extremely helpful, in the past two weeks I have gone through all the lessons and have done all the homework. I am counting five decks, ten times a day and I am also practicing game situations regularly. Tomorrow, I am hoping to try my luck at the local casino with my new knowledge. Now I think I can count without a problem at the casino because the dealers are extremely slow especially the ones covering the early shift. However, I would like to ask… Read more »

Jose
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Jose

Hi, Ken

I’m playing in a on line live casino. It is an european style, 8 decks, 80% penetration, S17, double only in 9, 10 and 11. Split only once. Double after split is not allowed. You can hit after split Aces. I type this data in the MGP’s software and the advantage is -0,63. Is it beatable if I play with TC>1?

John
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John

Love your site and tutorial. I’ve really been enjoying playing blackjack because of it. However, I’m confused or have a problem with one thing. You say to walk away when TC is -1. If I actually walked away, I’d wind up never playing. -1 occurs very very often, I don’t understand how you expect people to walk away. One time I went to the casino with my friends and we took up the whole table, so I was able to sit out a bunch of hands…when the count was negative, without looking suspicious. That was awesome. But I just can’t… Read more »

Kanatis
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Kanatis

Hello Ken I have a question about which count is more preferred. I play in 2 casinos one of which is 4deck with 75% penetration and the other one is 6deck with 85% penetration. Obviously the best casino to choose is the second one but my question is that i use Hi-Lo count, but some say that the Knock-out count is more preferred for shoe games even if it is an unbalanced count, so which of these 2 counts is the best for these 2 casinos?? I find Hi-Lo profitable and easy but i find KO count easy as well,… Read more »

Savvas
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Savvas

Hey Ken,

I just started counting cards and i found 2 casinos with good rules but i don’t know which is better. In both casinos the dealer stands on S17, double on any 2 pairs is allowed, resplitting is allowed and after splitting aces you get one card and black jack pays 3:2. But the first one is an 8-deck with 85% penetration while the other is 4-deck with 65-75% penetration. Which one should i prefer?

Jim
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Jim

Thank you very much Ken, love your website.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Dealer only has one card on table, player can surrender before the first third card deal out of the shoe.player can surrender on dealer’s ten but not A. so what is the advantage for player for this rule. if ES is +0.7%, what is the advantage for this kind of surrender?

Jim
Guest
Jim

Hi Ken,

I calculated my local casino edge based on the infor you give.
our rule is 6 decks, double on any first two cards, double after splitting, resplit all pairs, except Aces, insurance is available,dealer stands on H-17.
so my calculation is: -.54% -0.2%(H17)+0.7(ES)+0.14(DAS)=0.1% is this right? if it is right, does it mean player have 0.1% edge over casino?
thanks for all you have replied on other topic.