How to cover effectively

#1
I am new to card counting. I will be starting with a bankroll of between $5,000 and $10,000 after I am able to do perfect play with, at bare minimum, I18 in a home practice setting playing with a shoe. I have absolutely no idea how to effectively cover myself, though. From how people post here, on forums, on videos, and everywhere, it seems like just about everything gets you thrown out, and it actually makes me wonder how people even make money doing this. The list of things I've been told can easily get you kicked out...

Backcounting/Wonging
Bet spreads
Splitting tens
Doubling softs, especially soft 20s
Doubling hard twelves
Surrendering 15 (basic strategy?)
And various other combinations of actions.

So what can I do that can actually generate money at the blackjack table that *doesn't* get me kicked out? My living location only has me within a 1-3 hours drive of 10-15 casinos, so it would be a pain in the ass to get kicked out of all of them. Any advice for starting up?

My bankroll makes me desire a playstyle of simply Wonging in and out while flat betting, but apparently excessive Wonging leads to a lot of heat. Do you think bet spreads would actually be more inconspicuous? Obviously, as a card counter, you kind of have to pick your poison (unless you're using team play). So what should I do?
 
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johndoe

Well-Known Member
#2
Access to 10-15 casinos is actually pretty great.

You need to do all of those things above, and pretty aggressively too, because card counting doesn't make much money otherwise. If you're giving up reasonable profits to not get thrown out, why bother?

Don't flat bet, you can't afford that. Have a good ramp, at least 1-16 if it's a shoe game. Top bet should come out at +4 or +5.

A few tips -

Blend in. Play like the other gamblers do.
Leave the table after your top bet comes out (when the count goes down or the shoe ends). Dropping back immediately is kind of a signal. Ramping up isn't so bad.
It's easy to leave the table when the count tanks. Take a call/text, use the bathroom, whatever.
Short sessions if you can (at least take a break and move around every hour or so, don't camp)

And if you get backed off, big whoop, go to one of the other 14 for a while and come back in a few months. Or just return on a different shift.

I'm sure others will provide additional advice.
 
#3
imarho said:
From how people post here, on forums, on videos, and everywhere, it seems like just about everything gets you thrown out, and it actually makes me wonder how people even make money doing this.
It's because experienced players WON'T post those little things that keep them playing. This is not something you learn on open boards... Read, read again and read some more all you can find on the game and as you get some experience actually playing it, think, think again and think some more ;-) This is where you'll find YOUR longevity tricks.

The list of things I've been told can easily get you kicked out...
Some will certainly do but others....

Backcounting/Wonging: If well done, no it won't get you back off
Bet spreads: Again, what spreads in what games and HOW...
Splitting tens: Probably in North America
Doubling softs, especially soft 20s: Nope.
Doubling hard twelves: This is such a bad moves that it will gives you many playing hours... How can you think that playing ugly can get you backed off??
Surrendering 15 (basic strategy?): Not at all.
And various other combinations of actions: This is like saying you can go to jail for doing various things...

So what can I do that can actually generate money at the blackjack table that *doesn't* get me kicked out? My living location only has me within a 1-3 hours drive of 10-15 casinos, so it would be a pain in the ass to get kicked out of all of them. Any advice for starting up?

My bankroll makes me desire a playstyle of simply Wonging in and out while flat betting, but apparently excessive Wonging leads to a lot of heat. Do you think bet spreads would actually be more inconspicuous? Obviously, as a card counter, you kind of have to pick your poison (unless you're using team play). So what should I do?
If you have 10-15 playable casinos in your area, spread your action between all of them in small sessions and do not flat bet unless you have very large unit... Use a 1-3 or 1-4 spread and it will do the job.
 
#4
So you don't think flat betting is viable even if you Wong in at high counts and Wong out at low counts? You still recommend using a spread despite only playing with advantage?

How do you backcount and Wong well enough not to get backed off for it? You said that doing it well won't get you backed off; can you offer an example of a typical successful and effective backcounting/Wonging session? How can you backcount inconspicuously? I imagine the fact that you must clearly see every single card that exits the shoe means that it's pretty much impossible to count the cards inconspicuously. You're basically forced to sort of peer at the table in order to catch every card that rolls out of the shoe. That alone should make it obvious, shouldn't it?

Perhaps I simply overestimate pit bosses, or I underestimate the frequency of regular old degenerate gamblers doing more or less the exact same thing, but it just seems quite difficult to actually get away with.
 

johndoe

Well-Known Member
#5
If you flat bet, you're either going to increase your variance substantially (you don't have the bankroll to support that), or you're going to spend A LOT (>70%) of your time waiting around to get into a game. Or both. That's a bit much to get away with, even with a good act. Back count until +1 or +2, ramp up to your top bet at +4 or +5, and move around a lot.

But if you stick with this aggressive backcounting strategy you could get away with a much smaller spread, maybe 1-8. I wouldn't recommend 1-4 for shoe games.
 

johndoe

Well-Known Member
#6
Just to elaborate, your mathematically optimal bet is proportional to your advantage, that's why you ramp. Otherwise, you're either underbetting, or you're increasing your variance/risk. If you're ok with either of those tradeoffs, well, have at it.
 

BoSox

Well-Known Member
#7
imarho said:
How do you backcount and Wong well enough not to get backed off for it? You said that doing it well won't get you backed off; can you offer an example of a typical successful and effective backcounting/Wonging session?
Wonging only works well if the crowd conditions in the blackjack pit are ideal. Meaning having the ability to move around to various tables while looking natural, and not like some idiot who stands out with a blinking sign on his back. When conditions are good for wonging you will immediately recognize it. I believe it is hard to do now that seating is limited to only three people playing on a table, and with plenty of closed pits. Using a 1 to 4 spread is fine. If you are worried about using a spread you could limit yourself to only raising your bet, not only by the count, but if you also won the previous hand., and don't Wong out of a shoe if you won the previous hand. Anyway backcounting is only meant to be done for short periods of time as this not only gets noticed by the eye upstairs, BUT GETS OLD Quickly "upsetting the flow" with the very superstitious ploppies. If you also happen to Wong in on another counter it may get nasty.
 

MJGolf

Well-Known Member
#8
Agree with BoSox above as to advice. But in this Covid day, it is EXTREMELY difficult to back count any longer. They are using social distancing to stop players from standing around tables, so you will need to have very good vision to be far enough away to back count. I have also found that those places that have plexiglass shields seem to make viewing cards more difficult. You can see close up but farther away light reflections seem to make it harder to see the cards.

In any event, before you worry about being "thrown out", other things will happen first. The pits tend to DISCOURAGE play before actually trespassing you. As a newbie, I would play for awhile to get your "feet wet" so to speak FIRST. You are going to find that counting in a casino for real money and in a real game is SUBSTANTIALLY different from practicing and playing at home. Try it first for awhile at your level of play (max $50 to $100) depending on the bankroll you come to play with. That level of play doesn't generate a bunch of suspicion or attention from most pits..............unless you are playing a specially sweaty place like the El Cortez. I don't know exactly where your 10-15 casinos are but make sure you pick ones you "blend in" the most with as to your style, demeanor, and playing limits. You can get away with quite a bit without truly worrying about cover.
 
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