Successful, Conservative Play

#1
I have been successfully playing BJ for about 10 years, more seriously for the past 3 years, and very seriously for the last 7 months. I have faithfully kept a log of all my play for the past three years.

I have not been in an overall negative position since I started my log. I won $300.00 the first time, been up and down from there but never dropped back to zero.

First off, I should mention my counting. I learned the Hi-opt system but found it was too much work. I have just used a basic watch of the cards to determine if they are positive or negative.

I have basic stategy totally memorized for both 8 deck and 2 deck play.

When really negative I leave - unless there are few hands left before the shuffle. A slight negative I ignore, but keep my bet to a minimum.

I have no problem leaving before a "streak" has ended. If the remaining cards are really negative I leave - even if I just won five hands in a row. This really takes discipline (and I have failed at this more than once)!

When positive I bet 1.25 to 1.5 times my normal bet.

My lower level play ($10-$15/hand) netted me about $7,500 over 2 1/2 years (72 sessions). This year I decided to try higher stakes with more favorable advantage ($100-$150/hand). After 80 sessions (7 months), I am up another $25,000 plus.

Does anyone else use a conservative betting strategy like this? My concern about the ones I see here is that they can produce huge swings in your bankroll - I hate losing! The other problem I see is that with 5X your basic bet you may be in a "super loaded" position and see no gains when you are assuming the maximum risk.

The other question I have is about getting barred. One pit boss knows my player card number by heart. Secondly, when the dealer was counting out my chips this morning a dealer from another table yelled over: "Why don't you just give him another thousand and let him go." (I frequently leave with $1,000.00, never more than $3,000 in any one seating)".

To date I have had no problems - all rooms and meals are comped, plus some other stuff. When do I have to start worrying?

-Buzzer
 

KenSmith

Administrator
Staff member
#2
It sounds like you have the beginnings of a successful plan here, and you've definitely taken the first step in realizing that streaks have nothing to do with a winning game. Also, knowing basic strategy is a prerequisite that you have down pat it sounds like. But, I must caution you in a couple of areas:

A 1 to 1.25 or 1 to 1.5 spread just isn't nearly enough to actually beat the games, ESPECIALLY the 8 deck game. Certainly it's better than nothing, but your success so far is more about luck than math. The problem is that your big bets must have enough profit in them to offset the negative expectation of all your waiting bets.

"Card watching" can work, but it's definitely weaker than any true counting system. If you're uncomfortable with Hi-Opt or Hi-Lo at first, why don't you give KO or Golden Touch a try. They're easier, yet effective. (Please don't derail this thread into a Golden Touch diatribe. I know it's controversial, but I think it has an appropriate target market, and this sounds exactly like what is called for here.)

You've identified the biggest challenge in playing a winning system. It's staying welcome. You ask when you should start to worry. The easy answer is this... If you keep your bet spread where it is now, you'll never have to worry about being barred (unless this particular casino's personnel are inept!). That's because you're still not playing an overall positive game.

Once you increase your bet spread though, you'll be running new risk in two areas. First, you accurately identify the fact that your losses will be bigger when they occur. Second, the casino now has something to worry about, especially at the black chip level.

It's a tricky proposition.
 
#3
When will it stop being luck?

At the lower limit tables I figure I've played approximately 6,480 hands. At the higher limit tables I've played approximately 7,200 hands. I'm not sure when the law of large numbers kicks in, but 13,680 hands seems like at least a good start.

My idea of luck is winning 7 hands in a row, or the 17 straight sessions I once won. My other observance of luck is that it changes, my play log is fairly consistent in it's ups and downs.

In terms of units returned per hand played I was actually MORE successful on the 8 deck games. I attribute this to my being more conservative about going from 1.25 to 1.5 units on the high limit ($100.00 min) 2 deck games. It was never a concern throwing in another $5.00 chip, but I am a bit more timid when throwing another $50.00 on top of the $100.00 I already have up.

What number of hands would quailfy as a large number in terms of the law of large numbers?

In regards to getting barred - I've read that some casinos will bar a player simply because he does not lose, or does not lose enough.

Appreciate your response to my post!

-Buzzer
 

Canceler

Well-Known Member
#4
Here's a quote from this article by Fred Renzey:

"A perfect basic strategy blackjack player has a 1/2% disadvantage to the house. But that 1/2% is so small and gambling is so volatile that there's still a 10% chance of his being a winner after 80,000 hands —- even though he's playing a losing game!"
 

EasyRhino

Well-Known Member
#5
So, are you using any particular counting system? If not, and you're just keeping an eye out for cards, are you actually maintaining some sort of running count?

I would like to make sure I've got your bet spread right... you're talking about a $10 little bet, and a $15 max bet (or $100 min and $150 max?).

I know know it for KO off the top of my head, but even a full 1 to 2 spread is a negative expectation game, and barely positive in single deck.

I would expect that using no particular counting system with a 1.5x bet spread would result in a game which is still -EV. I won't quibble with your results though, I hope mine can be as good.
 

ScottH

Well-Known Member
#6
I don't like the idea of "card watching". I think it's a very unreliable form of card counting, expecially in 8 deck shoes. Since you found Hi-Lo too hard, give KO a try. Read Knockout Blackjack by Ken Fuchs and Olaf Vancura.

If I were you I wouldn't fall into the trap thinking, "It's worked for me so far, so I'll just keep doing it." I think you should at least give the easiest counting systems a try. If they are still more than you want to learn, then keep doing what you're doing, and hope the luck keeps going your way.
 

Sonny

Well-Known Member
#7
It looks like you’ve already gotten most of the advice that you need, but I’ll throw in a bit as well.

I'm not sure when the law of large numbers kicks in, but 13,680 hands seems like at least a good start…What number of hands would qualify as a large number in terms of the law of large numbers?
It will depend on your playing style (EV, SD and bankroll size). In general, you should start to see reliable results around 40,000 hands (about 400 hours of play). After 80,000 hands you have a good chance of overcoming the variance. Those numbers are just ballpark figures but they will give you an idea of how massive the variance is.

Does anyone else use a conservative betting strategy like this? My concern about the ones I see here is that they can produce huge swings in your bankroll - I hate losing!
I’m afraid you’ll have to get used to it. :( You will lose the about 53% of the hands you play no matter how good you are or what the count is. You are going to lose a lot and be disappointed the majority of the time. The swings are going to be huge in both directions. That’s just a fact of life in the gambling world.

The other problem I see is that with 5X your basic bet you may be in a "super loaded" position and see no gains when you are assuming the maximum risk.
If you have sized your bets properly then you don’t have to worry about being super loaded (except from the martinis! :p ). Keeping your max bet at around 1% of your bankroll and adjusting your bet size often will allow you to maintain a reasonable risk of ruin so that you will always be able to make a comeback no matter how many consecutive losing sessions you have. A good player will use a betting strategy that maximizes his gains while minimizing his risk.

These are all fairly advanced topics but you can find more information at http://www.bjmath.com (Archive copy) if you want to know the formulas. Look for topics like Risk of Ruin (ROR), optimal betting (Kelly Criterion/proportional betting) and Brett Harris' N0 (number of hands needed to overcome variance).

-Sonny-
 
#9
Buzzer if you like conservative play with a flat or nearly flat bet, backcounting might be for you. What you do is simply watch a table without playing until the count goes up, then you put your black chip down. When the count goes to negative EV, you stop playing.

The wonder of this technique is every hand you play has positive EV, so it doesn't matter what your spread is. You won't need a spread at all. It's a popular technique in AC where the games are poor and there is little if any heat so you never need play a negative EV hand.
 
#10
Careful QFIT that sounds like diatribe. Golden Touch does not advertise being anywhere as strong as some of the other more complex systems. And Ken, I thought that since you sold that book through Bayview Strategies that you stood behind it as accurate gambling advice. I bought it and it seems to be pretty much what it advertised.
 

QFIT

Well-Known Member
#11
Careful QFIT that sounds like diatribe. Golden Touch does not advertise being anywhere as strong as some of the other more complex systems. And Ken, I thought that since you sold that book through Bayview Strategies that you stood behind it as accurate gambling advice. I bought it and it seems to be pretty much what it advertised.
Alas Dr. FG, that's the problem. GT advertises that it is "70 to 95 percent of the positive edge of professional systems." (I pasted that from the GT site.) In fact it SCOREs about 35% of KO. I don't think this is a diatribe (i.e. thunderous verbal attack) or derailing the thread. I think it's important to know the difference between GT and KO before one makes a choice. I'm just supplying the numbers. People are free to decide what they will.
 
#12
I have been successfully playing BJ for about 10 years, more seriously for the past 3 years, and very seriously for the last 7 months. I have faithfully kept a log of all my play for the past three years.

When do I have to start worrying?
NEVER, because you are NOT playing a winning game, period. zg
 
#13
Speed Count Works

I also agree that the Speed Count System works and is a positive move for the recreational blackjack player. It's better than no system at all, and personally I have had success using it the last two times I played. Ken, you are the only Board Owner who is not "laying a dime" on this system and I commend you for that, and please don't let the "Book Sellers" intimidate you with their negative comments about system.

Thanks,
 

tribute

Well-Known Member
#14
Non-counter success

This reminds me of the year I kept accurate records of my trips. Not using a counting method, I averaged just under $18.00 per hour, for the year, net. I have not kept records like that since, and I don't remember having many winning sessions since then, either. Maybe there IS something about keeping track that enhances results. I also limited my sessions to about an hour each and changed tables after losing three or four hands in a row. I know these factors should not influence the outcomes, but it is something I have not forgotten.
 

Sonny

Well-Known Member
#15
I also agree that the Speed Count System works and is a positive move for the recreational blackjack player. It's better than no system at all...
I think we all agree with that. The GT system is effective, just not nearly as effective as it claims to be. It is better than nothing and is fine for recreational players who just want to beat the house and aren’t concerned with getting a big advantage or lower variance. This system is perfect for players like you for whom “Money is not a consideration in my play” and who want “to achieve a level of play that basically lets me travel and enjoy the game with limited cost of entetainment.”

However, serious players should use a serious system. I think everyone should be aware of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each system before choosing one. Since Buzzer is just now becoming very serious about playing I think he should look at simple yet powerful systems like Hi-Lo and KO which are much easier than the Hi-Opt systems that he tried before. He is much more likely to have success with these systems than with GT.

please don't let the "Book Sellers" intimidate you with their negative comments about system.
Has Norm (QFIT) ever written a book on BJ? Nope. And why would you denounce “book sellers” while supporting system sellers? Or is it just this particular system that you are shilling? In fact, I seem to recall you saying that all authors/software developers/system sellers were “snake oil salesmen who publish books and software.” Your loyalties seem to be waning. It seems odd that you would endorse any system at all, especially one with claims that have been publicly disproven. You’re also the guy who thought that Snyder was “selling bogus gaming systems (on the side) in California” which isn’t true. Maybe a little more research would do you some good.

Elsewhere you have said "My AP experience is limited to three years…", “I haven't achieved a break-even point todate” and “The game today can't be beat.” Perhaps you should do a little more research and a lot more practicing before endorsing someone’s system. I know that you mean well but I think you may be somewhat misinformed about this topic.

-Sonny-
 
#16
How much improvement can I expect?

Quick note on keeping a log. It is very easy for the mind to forget losses or wins. If you don't keep a log it seems to me that you run the risk of continuing to play in a style that is costing you money. My system may not pass mathmatical analysis, but I've been enjoying the wins for 3 years. In the past six months I've been enjoyng the money too!

The reason I stopped counting was not because I couldn't do it. It was just too much work. I make a good living so there's no reason to trade it for another job. The methods I use keep it fun, and it has been consistently profitable (made 2 more trips to casino since original post and won over $2,500).

Just calculated my win percentage and it comes out to 70.03% (based on number of profitable trips vs losing ones). Largest win is $4525; largest loss is $3,000. I have recently modified my play so that I only take $2,000 to casino. On $100 tables this session bankroll forces me to play tight, too easy to drop it all. It also limits my maximum loss to $2,000 which is less than 10% of my current bankroll.

My current system has produced a 70.03% win rate on trips, and an overall return rate of 7.08% based on units bet/won.

It would be misleading for me to say that I don't use any kind of counting system - I just don't keep an accurate count. To be worth the extra return it would have to give me a return of about 9-10% based on the amount bet and percentage won. I'm willing to give exact counting another shot, but I wonder how much it will improve my overall return.

My orignal reason for posting was to see if anyone else uses a similar system - guess the answer is no.

-Buzzer
 
#17
How much improvement can I expect?

Quick note on keeping a log. It is very easy for the mind to forget losses or wins. If you don't keep a log it seems to me that you run the risk of continuing to play in a style that is costing you money. My system may not pass mathmatical analysis, but I've been enjoying the wins for 3 years. In the past six months I've been enjoyng the money too!

The reason I stopped counting was not because I couldn't do it. It was just too much work. I make a good living so there's no reason to trade it for another job. The methods I use keep it fun, and it has been consistently profitable (made 2 more trips to casino since original post and won over $2,500).

Just calculated my win percentage and it comes out to 70.03% (based on number of profitable trips vs losing ones). Largest win is $4525; largest loss is $3,000. I have recently modified my play so that I only take $2,000 to casino. On $100 tables this session bankroll forces me to play tight, too easy to drop it all. It also limits my maximum loss to $2,000 which is less than 10% of my current bankroll.

My current system has produced a 70.03% win rate on trips, and an overall return rate of 7.08% based on units bet/won.

It would be misleading for me to say that I don't use any kind of counting system - I just don't keep an accurate count. To be worth the extra return it would have to give me a return of about 9-10% based on the amount bet and percentage won. I'm willing to give exact counting another shot, but I wonder how much it will improve my overall return.

My orignal reason for posting was to see if anyone else uses a similar system - guess the answer is no.

-Buzzer
 
#18
tell me more about your system

I like to keep up with how the game momentom is going. I use simple marks to indicate wins and loses. What system do you use that you feel increases your odds?
 

EasyRhino

Well-Known Member
#19
Buzz, I'm interested in your system, or lack thereof. I mean sure, it's been poo-pooed on the board, but when you're saying you're not keeping an "accurate" count... what exactly are you doing? Are you using Golden Touch? Are you only looking at cards on the table at the moment? Are you just betting more if it "feels like" there have been more little cards out in the past?

And I'm also curious about your betting. Did you really stay with just $15 max bets until your bankroll got to 7200 (and that was from a starting point of under 1000?). And when you started betting bigger, was it a sudden leap to $150 max bets? What's the worst negative flux you've experienced?

The Rezney factoid says that a small percentage of non-advantage players will be up after a huge number of hands... but I wonder what the odds are of having your bankroll grow 20 times higher. I suspect much slimmer.

What I'm getting at is, maybe you're doing something right, and you don't know it, or you're just not telling us?

Regardless, assuming you're not playing with a mathematical advantage, I like the idea of limiting your trip bankrolls. Cuts the damage that a catastrophic session can do to you.
 
#20
System - No System, Count - No Count

I keep in my head something like negative, very negative, normal, positive, very positive. I can quickly scan the cards and determine what the current round is, and I combine that with the previous rounds to come up with an overall "count". You could say I use the "feels like" method, although I think I would be pretty close if I were to guess the count at any given point.

If I lose track or am not sure I just ride my minimum bet out until the shuffle.

One thing I use liberally is geting up from the table. In double deck games I can fairly accurately estimate the cost of countinuing - this probably sounds like pure bunk but it is true. Some times I say to myself - "It might cost $300 to ride this one out". In such a situation I usually leave though I might stay if the cards had been running particularly good (already up over $1,500).

I believe a lot of my success has to do with playing only slight house advantage situations and any player advantage situations. My "advantage" may exist purely from refusing to play negative situations. Many recognized systems have people playing through negatives. I find it ironic that they will tell people not to play 6:5 blackjack or other non favorable rules, but will have the player conitnue in play with a count which may produce a similar disadvantage.

One week I had 2 day trips which lasted less than 1/2 hour each. First one I won $1,250 in 20 minutes, on the other $2,200 in about 1/2 hour. Left the casino immediately after each of these wins.

Frequently I take a break, at $100 tables I may get up with a win as low as $150, only to come back to the same table in 1/2 hour.

I have my own cutting strategy which I won't post here because it can't be supported mathmatically, but it does seem to work for me. A 10 year old could do it - very simple.

I often leave when another player is playing foolishly. I don't believe it effects my chances of a winning or losing a hand, but i do believe it ruins my concentration.

Ocassionally I will up my bet at the bottom of my bankroll. Say I start my play with $1,000 and I get down to $200 or less I go "all-in" if the "count" is positive. I would rather take a shot at getting back to $400 than ride the bottom too long. I know this contradicts my statement that my range is $100 to $150, but I consider this a special situation.

If I need more of a blackjack "fix" and I've already won, I go and play the $10 tables where my risk of losing a $1,000 or more is pracitically nill. Basically I use the $100 tables to win and the $10 tables to relax and enjoy the game.

That's all I can think of in my playing style.

My start at the $100 tables was mostly chance. I was there with a friend who was there for his birthday. In his honor I decided to try $1000 at the $100 table - won $1,200. The next week I stopped at the $100 table on my way out of the casino (had been playing the $10 tables) - won $900. On the following trip I went right to the $100 table - won $2,300. From there I was soon over $10,000 total.

I had my total up over $14,000 before my birthday, got a little crazy on my birthday and dropped a lot. the world is unfair!

At one point I was up $18,000 and lost back-to-back $3,000 sessions. One session I lost $3,000 in under 45 minutes, never got up from table when I should have. After this I took a month off from playing and reduced my session bankroll to $2,000. When my play resumed I won 17 straight sessions and got my total back up past the $25,000 mark. Had some ups and downs since but am currently beyond this point. Reached a new high within the last week.

I'm now trying to keep my play tight in getting up from losing situations and cashing in frequently on positive ones.

One other note - I started with a bankroll of $200 three years ago. I won $300 on my first trip and have been in a positive overall poisiton ever since. Beside the one month break above I took six months off after dropping my total from $8,500 back to about $7,000 on the $10 tables. I stopped both of these times because I was not playing smart - either over confident or just sloppy.

Current total over $33,000, haven't changed anything. Better to be a dumb winner than a smart loser!

-Buzzer
 
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