The Power of Backcounting and Optimal Departure

ZenKinG

Well-Known Member
#1
These forums are littered with so much garbage of which ultimately never adds much profit to someone's game or in fact it actually hinders a player's performance; things such as costly cover plays, count debates, index plays, worrying about heat, playing into too many negatives for no reason with the excuse of more rounds per hour, etc. Yes, these things SHOULD be discussed and have their place, but at the end of the day, they add pennies instead of dollars and sometimes even actually hurt you when you simply could've avoided the nonsense. On the other hand here's something that needs much more attention on these forums and needs to be discussed much more often and that's the power of backcounting, but not ONLY backcounting, the COMBINATION of backcounting AND optimal departure.

Before I proceed, I need to thank Don for his stellar work on optimal departure along with everyone who contributed to the numbers that he mentioned in his book such as Grosjean and others. In my opinion it's one of the most under appreciated subjects in the game of blackjack and that's because of the amount of effect it will have on your results and probably whether you will succeed or not. If you further enhance optimal departure and combine it with backcounting, the results speak for themselves.

Just so everyone knows, backcounting actually outperforms everything, yes even a 75% DD game 'IF' there are a lot of tables to backcount in the casino. If you're in a place with 20 or more blackjack tables, backcounting will outperform a game even as good as a 75% DD game, yes I know hard to believe right? And when I say outperform, I mean literally every metric. The only metric that a good DD game can outperform on against backcounting with optimal departure would be the win rate if the player is getting a crazy amount of rounds per hour(200+) on a good DD game. Otherwise backcounting with optimal departure is the best way to extract money from the casino while preserving longevity and maximizing EV per store.

What people don't realize is that not ALL rounds are the same. Backcounting and optimally departing at -1 and observing pointless rounds that likely won't come back and make a difference in your win rate, is much different than rounds starting fro ma fresh shuffle at 0 that has a higher chance of going positive and having an affect on your win rate. That's why optimal departure is such a huge benefit to the player and if you combine it with backcounting, it's deadly. Also if you do it right, a 1-3 or 1-4 backcounting spread will immediately label you a non-threat. Most floormen and even shift managers are given a checklist to sweat you, of which one of the biggest is the size of your bet spread from minimum to maximum. No amount of cover plays will be the reason you will last at a certain store without getting the boot, it will be because you're moving your money with the count. Don't forget, 99% of the time, heat generates from the pit. Surveillance won't be watching you stand behind a table unless the pit tells them to skills check you. What people don't understand is that these pit bosses, even if they see you being suspicious standing behind a table, most don't actually understand the game and if you don't run into their stereotypical checklist given by their bosses, they will still think you need a huge spread to beat the game and wont call the shift manager, casino manager, or surveillance for further evaluation.

I haven't even been simming my correct backcounting EV this whole time, but the funny thing is it's actually probably still close to the regular sim with departure adjustment turned off, due to me not always being able to quickly find a shoe and being able to take advantage of the departure adjustment. It's good to know though that my EV is potentially higher and that I've just been running possibly even worse. I've always noticed that I was using optimal departure when backcounting, but never realized the N0 on CVCX from a backcounting sim is accounting for observing EVERY round of that shoe. If you optimally depart from the shoe as described in Blackjack Attack, you're boosting your win rate and cutting the N0 in half. Just take a look at these stats below.

The departure point for a shoe game depends on the penetration of the game but is usually around TC -1 and is a good number to go by for all levels of penetration whether it's an 8 deck game or a 6 deck game. If you are optimally departing, you MUST use the departure adjustment feature on CVCX. If it takes 6 rounds to find a new table, you input 6 and it skyrockets the win rate and cuts the N0 in HALF to about 8k on an average shoe game with surrender. If it takes 15 rounds to find a new table, you enter 15, which STILL puts the N0 at around 10k. Then keep in mind you're only actually PLAYING 25% of those rounds. So a N0 of 8k is actually ONLY 2k. Let that sink in. A 2k 'playing' N0 for backcounting. The best DD games are only 6-8k and youre playing ALL of those rounds and never observing any of them and that's only if you also wong out aggressively.

Not everyone can fully understand counting theory like me, but thats why im here. You never see this discussed in the forums, but it definitely needs more attention.
 
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Stevel96a1

Well-Known Member
#2
what the hell are you doing back counting for?? its a waste of time, all my computer emulations show the bank rolls come to with playing thru like you did in sands pa

why not just play your old way and stop letting vegas shuffles get to u
 

BoSox

Well-Known Member
#3
Stevel96a1 said:
what the hell are you doing back counting for?? its a waste of time, all my computer emulations show the bank rolls come to with playing thru like you did in sands pa
Steve, you must be a real idiot.
 

Stevel96a1

Well-Known Member
#4
a real idiot for pointing out the obvious? the pit boss knows your back counting, back count for 4hr lose 1,000$ get told by the casino we know what your doing

i already mapped out and catalog any future back counter on here the story always ends the same bad game...
 

ZenKinG

Well-Known Member
#5
Steve is a fucking troll and doesnt know shit about backcounting. Everyone bad mouths backcounting based on what they 'hear' about it but never have actually done it for themselves to see how it actually works since no one has the patience or true understanding of the practice. Im willing to bet 99.9% of players dont play how I play. That already makes it +EV for me because the pit is not prepared of how to prepare for my style of play.
 

Stevel96a1

Well-Known Member
#6
im a fucking troll? your a retard whos getting lucky at gambling! im certain you will go broke in 1-2 years once house edges catches up to you

try back counting try losing 400$ easy when the true count goes up and the floor managers watching what you are doing haha good luck man your gonna need it
 

KewlJ

Well-Known Member
#7
Ahhh….yeah, Steve is a troll. I think tat is unanimous by now. Luckily I don't see his posts unless someone quotes him. (so please don't lol)

AS for back counting, here are my thoughts:

In todays 6/8 deck games that most of us play, you just can't play the old play-all approach. If you try to play all, you just waste a lot of time playing through all the negative counts and you need a really big spread to overcome that. You have to get out of at least some of the negative counts.

The best way to get out of negative counts is back counting with a pure wong-in approach. That way you are only playing +EV situations and can use a very small spread or even flat bet if you want. You won't get many rounds with backcounting / pure wong-in approach, but every round will be +EV, some more than others.

The bigger problem for me (than minimal rounds) is I haven't found a way to do it that looks natural. You can't do it in crowded conditions, because after you spend time backcounting, the seat you were going to jump into might just disappear at the last moment. And even if it doesn't, wonging into a crowded tables reduces rounds. Who wants to go to all that trouble, and wong in for a couple rounds?

If it is not crowded conditions, standing behind a table for any length of time, just doesn't look natural. I see both pit, dealers and even other players notice such a player. I can't help but think surveillance also notices. So I personally don't like backcounting.

The less advantageous way is to play off the top but escape at least some of the negative rounds. That is the compromise position I took when I moved to Vegas and it seems to work pretty well. It allows you to play with not the huge spread necessary for play all and coupled with some other exit triggers (besides just escaping some of the negative counts), ensures short sessions, which prevents showing too much information in one sitting.

And if you can master "backcounting" while playing, in other words tracking a second table, even better. The best of all worlds. :)

So that's my opinion. Maybe there are some who can master back-counting and make it look more natural than I can. :rolleyes:
 

Stevel96a1

Well-Known Member
#8
If it is not crowded conditions, standing behind a table for any length of time, just doesn't look natural. I see both pit, dealers and even other players notice such a player. I can't help but think surveillance also notices. So I personally don't like backcounting.


so what do you do Kool jay? pleas enlighten us

my experience back counting is waste of time and expose yourself faster within 15minutes the house eyes on u!
 

JJP

Well-Known Member
#10
I'm all for Wonging out when one can, but doesn't it look suspicious at some point? I stopped exiting at minus 1 TC, and you know what? It hasn't hurt. First off, I've seen too many instances where the negative one TCs turn positive. At a full table, that can be pretty fast. Secondly, I swear my results in smallish negative counts have not been bad at all. I'm betting table minimum in these hands, so I'm not getting hurt bad in the hands I lose.
 
#11
Obviously Wonging is an advantage in the APs arsenal, esp. with team play. There's also shuffle tracking (if possible) and cutting areas of small cards out of play, then starting the shoe at a positive count based on your tracking abilities accuracy. That's what really throws off the count IMHO. If an AP unknowingly cuts a significant amount of 10's out of the game, he or she might be starting @ a running count of -24 or greater (depending on what system one is using) and be mislead into thinking it's a positive shoe if small cards are coming out of the gate for several rounds. I was speaking to a pit boss the other day about backing off counters. His reply was he don't care about counters, and that they can't beat these shuffling machines. Now that statement makes you wonder what he had meant by that? I profiled certain machines at certain casinos... looking for consistency in how the cards fall. If I cut at the back of a shoe... it's amazing how many times a plethora of 10s and bunched up Aces come out all at once. Now right there that'll throw off the game or be a signal to leave. Simply put, one cannot beat cards that are bunched up into like ranks via BS/Counting strategies, and a sector in the casino industry had known this for quite some time. There are objective and subjective aspects of blackjack that simply cannot be ignored, and when combined properly, can be a powerful advantage over the casino.
 
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#12
I just came back from wonging tables today at Pechanga and lost my ass :( one of those days... That puts me down about 12000 for the year. I use the HI OPT II w/ side count of aces. Then I went over to the 2 Deck 25 min pit. A bunch of small cards and aces come out for nearly 1/3 the shoe... then the tens just drop and I pushed 3 twenties in a row... I left. So you can see how that shuffler can manipulate the deck in the houses favor and exploit BS.
 
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#14
Nightshifter said:
I just came back from wonging tables today at Pechanga and lost my ass :( one of those days... That puts me down about 12000 for the year. I use the HI OPT II w/ side count of aces. Then I went over to the 2 Deck 25 min pit. A bunch of small cards and aces come out for nearly 1/3 the shoe... then the tens just drop and I pushed 3 twenties in a row... I left. So you can see how that shuffler can manipulate the deck in the houses favor and exploit BS.
The clumping problem is getting worse. Not only I found more and more ASM clump cards, but I also found a problem in hand-shuffled games, too.

This used to be my safe haven because they hand-shuffle cards on weekends. So I waited for a table finally opened. (The casino opened extra tables without ASM to save the rental fee on weekends.) The dealer did not fan out the cards. I asked if this is pre-shuffled. She said it is from an ASM which is used to shuffle cards initially then brought to all tables. I discovered the cards are as clumped as all ASM serving for the same purpose. And the dealers use coarse shuffling technique to shuffle the eight deck shoe in three or four minutes. So after playing for 2 hours, the tens and small cards still weren't mixed well. On face card clump, I pushed 20 to the dealer's 20. On small card clump, dealer easily made hands when my hand is 12 to 16 vs dealer small upcard. Saw most people playing Basic Strategy get killed at this table. The house edge is like 20% so it sucks people's money fast. Only winners are ploppies who don't play by the book. But if they play more than 20 minutes, they will lose all their money, too.
 
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#15
BJgenius007 said:
The clumping problem is getting worse. Not only I found more and more ASM clump cards, but I also found a problem in hand-shuffled games, too.

This used to be my safe haven because they hand-shuffle cards on weekends. So I waited for a table finally opened. (The casino opened extra tables without ASM to save the rental fee on weekends.) The dealer did not fan out the cards. I asked if this is pre-shuffled. She said it is from an ASM which is used to shuffle cards initially then brought to all tables. I discovered the cards are as clumped as all ASM serving for the same purpose. And the dealers use coarse shuffling technique to shuffle the eight deck shoe in three or four minutes. So after playing for 2 hours, the tens and small cards still weren't mixed well. On face card clump, I pushed 20 to the dealer's 20. On small card clump, dealer easily made hands when my hand is 12 to 16 vs dealer small upcard. Saw most people playing Basic Strategy get killed at this table. The house edge is like 20% so it sucks people's moneyh fast. Only winners are ploppies who don't play by the book. But if they play more than 20 minutes, they will lose all their money, too.
That's exactly what I encounter all the time. Yes some dealers do a tight wash on hand shuffled games which bunches like cards... and that coarse shuffling to perpetuate the clumps of cards. I believe the house edge is even greater when it becomes so out of hand, the RC reaches over plus 40 or even plus 60 and the 10s just never show or at the very end of the shoe! Happens even more during crowded conditions. I'll watch (because I know) where to cut on a single deck as well. I follow the dealer as they slug the 10s off and get them to the bottom.. i'll cut right into them and presto! Everyone has a 20 with 3 or 4 people playing... terrible! Then you'll see this run of all low cards that just wipes everyone out because they think the dealer has a high chance of breaking with that 5 or 6 up. This totally subverts basic strategy... as if you gotta play like the house just to stay afloat.
 

KewlJ

Well-Known Member
#17
LC Larry said:
No, I can't see anything here.
LC Larry, you are not seeing anything because you don't want to see anything. You have already made up your mind. I hope it doesn't bite you in the ass.
LC Larry said:
You 2 and your ploppie beliefs are dangerous.
Well add me to the list. I am anything but a ploppie, now in my 16th year of supporting myself from blackjack card counting play. For a number of years, I too dismissed claims of possible casino cheating. "It is a thing of the past". "Too much too lose (for the casino)". But personal experience has changed my mind.

Not every casino cheats. Most don't. It isn't widespread. But there is the possibility with this technology and anyone that closes their mind to this possibility refusing to even consider the evidence is an idiot in my opinion.

I know for a fact because I had access to an ASM that had that capability. I passed that machine along to another AP (at cost) who surely learned more than I was able to and exploited it. So others know, but it isn't in their interest to speak up. I learned that when I spoke up and was strongly criticized by members of the AP community that not only knew but were working this angle.

The only thing I was sort of wrong about was when I implied or stated that the machines left the manufacturer with the capability to cheat by organizing the cards in specific orders. While that is not true, it is not difficult to reprogram machines to do that and I am convinced the manufacturers did what they needed to protect themselves, but still provided this option for clients (casinos).

It has also come to light that there are other manufacturers of an ASM, beside the popular manufacturer in the US that has also gotten in on this, They have a model that they will only provide to US Indian casinos and casinos in other countries outside the US (with lesser regulatory oversight).

You and anyone else can choose to believe or not believe whatever you like. You can call me and others whatever names you like. And I still issue a warning to players to be vigilant with these machines, especially when playing jurisdictions like Indian casinos or foreign countries with lesser or no regulatory oversight. Use your experience just as I have to know when something doesn't feel right and avoid that situation, even if you haven't yet figured out exactly what is going on.

You people refusing to accept this possibility in the face of growing evidence are simply earth-is-flater, refusing to believe the earth was round.

The technology is available. Anyone who doesn't think that there aren't some that will use it, doesn't understand human nature and human greed.
 

KewlJ

Well-Known Member
#18
OH and someone mentioned one of the big clues. It is the mentality of the pit folks. Their mentality changed 180 degrees to "yeah, go ahead and spread to your hearts content".

Again, the warning is when something seems wrong, I mean really seems wrong, trust your gut. Trust your experience.
 
#19
It isn't happening, period. For some reason, it's only you card counters making these ridiculous cheating claims. You all really need to learn that even a thoroughly shuffled deck(s) of cards WILL sometimes, even numerous times in a row, have a bunch of small or large cards next to each other. I'm convinced that if any of you play video poker and were dealt AAAAK followed by JJJJ10 on the very next hand, you would say it's rigged or is cheating.
 

KewlJ

Well-Known Member
#20
LC Larry said:
It isn't happening, period. For some reason, it's only you card counters making these ridiculous cheating claims. You all really need to learn that even a thoroughly shuffled deck(s) of cards WILL sometimes, even numerous times in a row, have a bunch of small or large cards next to each other.
There is some truth to what you are saying. Clumping DOES occur naturally. That is why it takes a player with significant experience to see when it is not naturally. Card counters who play 10's of thousands of rounds a year are just that kind of experience. So when someone like me who plays 100k rounds a year or Stealth from the other site...we know what we are talking about.

We are players who understand variance and normal distribution of cards. Don't put us in the same boat as some of these other players that seem to have selective memory and frequently rant about variance when there is nothing really to rant about.
 
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