Mathematics in today’s blackjack games

  • kewljason

    Mathematics in today’s blackjack games

    It seems to me, the advanced mathematics angle has really been pushed on this site lately. Maybe it is my lack of a mathematics degree and/or background that prevents me from not appreciating this angle as much as others.

    Someone visiting this site for the first time and reading through some of these threads, will conclude that to succeed in card counting today, you must play an advanced level 2, 3 or higher count, with multiple side counts, and hundreds of strategy change indices for both the primary count and side counts and that is just not so. I actually believe that in today’s game the mathematics is less important than it used to be. The math guys want to run sims showing that a multiple level count will improve your results by .xx percent or two side counts will with hundreds of play variations is worth an additional .xx percent. Some of these guys, I think the majority of their blackjack experience takes place on their computer. They think Qfit’s products or even their own programs are their blackjack career instead of a tool to aide in their actual play.

    I am not disputing that these advanced card counting ideas don’t improve performance. I do believe the value of this ‘gain’ is overstated, the error rate understated and that it just doesn’t translate fully in actual play. I am questioning the value for the majority of players in the real world of play. In the real world there is so much education that must take place on the ground, rather than the computer screen that seems to be overlooked. Things that can result in far greater improvement to your results than higher level counts and side counts. Sniffing out and taking advantage of better games and opportunities. Learning what is and isn’t tolerated at different places and tayloring your play to these guidelines and levels. Even learning these tolerance levels for different pit personnel and co-ordinating with their schedules. All these advanced math techniques don’t mean squat if you aren’t able to apply them anywhere but your computer.

    So while, you guys can fight over the merits of such gains in threads that run 15+pages, I want to go on record to say to anyone reading these threads for the first time, or the umpteenth time, whatever your level and intent, from recreational player to supplementing your lifestyle/income, to full-time player, “you don’t have to be Newton or Einstein to succeed. You can still do just fine learning the basics”.

  • tthree

     

    I am probably the big offender for talking up both the math side and the practical side in the OP. I think it is important to note here for the noobs exactly who Kewljason is. Unless I am getting him confused with someone else he started at the bottom with a small bankroll and ran the gauntlet to become a true pro with a bankroll the way that should earn respect from everyone. He won it with smarts, hard work and luck. His story would be a good one to hear for all who aspire to follow in his footsteps. He has a lot to offer in the real world AP blackjack that many big pros never had to experience. I for one wouldn’t mind hearing him talk some about what it took to succeed at what so many are attempting to do. He has as much to offer in improving ones prospects at growing a bankroll as getting math on your side. Sorry if I am putting you on the spot KJ but your wisdom that has been glimpsed at in the OP is at least as important as the math. I hope I didn’t get you confused with someone else. Please give those trying to walk down the path you already know some incites that will help our prospects. I am sure you have some entertaining and informative anecdotes.

  • Sucker

     

    This post, with only a LITTLE bit of editing; could and SHOULD be made into a “sticky”.

  • London Colin

     

    Well, the various sub-forums exist to help keep these things separate, although some topics can be hard to choose a home for.

    Has there really been much posted in ‘Card Counting’ that belonged in ‘Theory and Math’?

  • psyduck

     

    Quote: kewljason said:
    I am not disputing that these advanced card counting ideas don’t improve performance. I do believe the value of this ‘gain’ is overstated,

    The value of the gain is what I have been trying to quantify. Do you have a number for it to show it is overstated and by how much? I think it is better to show the numbers and let others decide what to do with them.

  • 21gunsalute

     

    Well I for one honestly don’t understand what advantage a higher level count has over a lower level count. I keep hearing it gives “additional information,” but it seems to me all it gives is a different number to work with. I don’t see where that really gives any additional information. I can see where side counts can give some additional information, and I have started to side count aces when playing DD, but I can’t really see where you can garner any additional info from a higher level count. PE and BC may be different between different level counts but quite often one may be traded off for the other. When you add in the complexity of learning some of these counts I just don’t see where it’s worth it, but to each his own I guess.

  • 21gunsalute

     

    Quote: psyduck said:
    The value of the gain is what I have been trying to quantify. Do you have a number for it to show it is overstated and by how much? I think it is better to show the numbers and let others decide what to do with them.

    Uh, how’s your reading comprehension?

    Quote: kewljason said:
    It seems to me, the advanced mathematics angle has really been pushed on this site lately. Maybe it is my lack of a mathematics degree and/or background that prevents me from not appreciating this angle as much as others.
  • 21gunsalute

     

    Quote: kewljason said:
    “you don’t have to be Newton or Einstein to succeed.

    Newton must have been a positive progression player, causing him to discover that what goes up must come back down. He obviously wan’t a negative progression player because what falls to the ground never goes back up.

  • kewljason

     

    Quote: tthree said:
    I am probably the big offender for talking up both the math side and the practical side in the OP. I think it is important to note here for the noobs exactly who Kewljason is. Unless I am getting him confused with someone else he started at the bottom with a small bankroll and ran the gauntlet to become a true pro with a bankroll the way that should earn respect from everyone. He won it with smarts, hard work and luck. His story would be a good one to hear for all who aspire to follow in his footsteps. He has a lot to offer in the real world AP blackjack that many big pros never had to experience. I for one wouldn’t mind hearing him talk some about what it took to succeed at what so many are attempting to do. He has as much to offer in improving ones prospects at growing a bankroll as getting math on your side. Sorry if I am putting you on the spot KJ but your wisdom that has been glimpsed at in the OP is at least as important as the math. I hope I didn’t get you confused with someone else. Please give those trying to walk down the path you already know some incites that will help our prospects. I am sure you have some entertaining and informative anecdotes.

    Yes tthree, you were a good part of the inspiration for this post, but there have been many before you and many similar discussion.

    As for the rest of your comments, maybe you are confusing me with someone else. You make the journey sound better than I remember it. In the AP world, we don’t like to use the word, luck, but I truely had a great deal of good fortune and things break right for me in my climb from an disasterously underfunded low limit player to a mid level player. I hope I am not inspiring and certainly am not encouraging anyone to take that route.

  • 21forme

     

    KJ – I agree with you 100%. In theory, a higher level count is better. Unless someone plans on playing a billion hands, it doesn’t matter. I’d much rather be able to backcount 2 tables at the same time while talking to someone, then worry about making a mistake in a multi-level count.

    Here’s a semi-related story, told to us in physics class in college:

    There was an old-time physics professor who had a strange habit upon entering the classroom every day. He’d walk in, go to the chalkboard, take a piece of chalk, hold it out in front of him and drop it. As he dropped it, he’d look up.

    This would go on day after day, and finally one brave student stood up and said, “Professor, every day, you take a piece of chalk, drop it, and look up. Why?”

    The professor answered, “Young man, according to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, there is a 1.05457168×10(exp)-34 chance that when I drop this piece of chalk, it will go up instead of down. When it happens, I don’t want to miss it!”

  • tallmanvegas

     

    Quote: kewljason said:
    It seems to me, the advanced mathematics angle has really been pushed on this site lately. Maybe it is my lack of a mathematics degree and/or background that prevents me from not appreciating this angle as much as others.

    Someone visiting this site for the first time and reading through some of these threads, will conclude that to succeed in card counting today, you must play an advanced level 2, 3 or higher count, with multiple side counts, and hundreds of strategy change indices for both the primary count and side counts and that is just not so. I actually believe that in today’s game the mathematics is less important than it used to be. The math guys want to run sims showing that a multiple level count will improve your results by .xx percent or two side counts will with hundreds of play variations is worth an additional .xx percent. Some of these guys, I think the majority of their blackjack experience takes place on their computer. They think Qfit’s products or even their own programs are their blackjack career instead of a tool to aide in their actual play.

    I am not disputing that these advanced card counting ideas don’t improve performance. I do believe the value of this ‘gain’ is overstated, the error rate understated and that it just doesn’t translate fully in actual play. I am questioning the value for the majority of players in the real world of play. In the real world there is so much education that must take place on the ground, rather than the computer screen that seems to be overlooked. Things that can result in far greater improvement to your results than higher level counts and side counts. Sniffing out and taking advantage of better games and opportunities. Learning what is and isn’t tolerated at different places and tayloring your play to these guidelines and levels. Even learning these tolerance levels for different pit personnel and co-ordinating with their schedules. All these advanced math techniques don’t mean squat if you aren’t able to apply them anywhere but your computer.

    So while, you guys can fight over the merits of such gains in threads that run 15+pages, I want to go on record to say to anyone reading these threads for the first time, or the umpteenth time, whatever your level and intent, from recreational player to supplementing your lifestyle/income, to full-time player, “you don’t have to be Newton or Einstein to succeed. You can still do just fine learning the basics”.

    This is probably one of the best postings ive seen on this site. Nice job

    Tallman

  • kewljason

     

    Quote: 21forme said:
    KJ – I agree with you 100%. In theory, a higher level count is better. Unless someone plans on playing a billion hands, it doesn’t matter. I’d much rather be able to backcount 2 tables at the same time while talking to someone, then worry about making a mistake in a multi-level count.

    I didn’t even get into time management, which can be a huge boost to results, but this is a great example 21. I am always tracking nearby games as well. The small advantage of an advanced count with several side counts, can’t compete with the advantage of exiting your game with a nuetral or even mildly positive count to jump into the game at the next table where the true count has gone +7 only 2 decks into a six deck shoe. Who has higher EV for that segment of time?

  • tthree

     

    Quote: 21gunsalute said:
    Well I for one honestly don’t understand what advantage a higher level count has over a lower level count. I keep hearing it gives “additional information,” but it seems to me all it gives is a different number to work with. I don’t see where that really gives any additional information. I can see where side counts can give some additional information, and I have started to side count aces when playing DD, but I can’t really see where you can garner any additional info from a higher level count. PE and BC may be different between different level counts but quite often one may be traded off for the other. When you add in the complexity of learning some of these counts I just don’t see where it’s worth it, but to each his own I guess.

    I will try to explain how a higher level count has more USEFUL information. The removal of different cards has different levels of significance to the player. This difference varies with each hand match up. A level one count makes removing a 3 look like as removing a 5. No matter what stiff the dealer or player has a 5 makes his hand. That is not the case for the 3. Forty percent of stiffs are still stiffs when it draw a 3. This added information that either a five or 2 weaker cards have been removed to move the count as much as a T is valuable information. It better correlates your bet size to your true advantage for playing purposes. Proper bet sizing is not just flagging when a blackjack is most likely but also factoring in the profitability of doubling and splitting opportunities as well as but in a small part your win loss ratio for straight hands. By flagging these extra opportunities to make money on bigger bets, getting bigger bets out there when you will have more and better doubling and splitting opportunities, you increase your profit while decreasing your N0.

    Ace neutral counts with an ace side count avoids this trade off issue. When playing a pitch game you would be happy to trade BC for PE. When playing a shoe game you would be happy to trade PE for BC. When playing with an ace neutral count with an ace side count their is no need to trade off. It is strong in both.

  • tthree

     

    Quote: kewljason said:
    I didn’t even get into time management, which can be a huge boost to results, but this is a great example 21. I am always tracking nearby games as well. The small advantage of an advanced count with several side counts, can’t compete with the advantage of exiting your game with a nuetral or even mildly positive count to jump into the game at the next table where the true count has gone +7 only 2 decks into a six deck shoe. Who has higher EV for that segment of time?

    No one should argue with you on that point. It is not to applicable when the casino area you are forced to play in is crowded though. I don’t struggle to keep a level 2 count. The fact that I use an ace neutral count would make the task of doing what you are talking about for shoe games impossible, for me anyway. For pitch games I could jump in without an ace side count and do fine with my level 2 count. I would still easily keep my side count at the table I was playing at while counting the neighboring tables. But the shoe game depends to much on the ace side count for playability for me to think counting other tables would be worth the effort.

  • Richard Munchkin

     

    What’s really amazing is that people have been arguing this stuff for 30 years. I would be amazed if you could find one really successful player (7 figure lifetime winnings) that would attribute it to using a higher level count.

  • KenSmith

     

    I’m in full agreement with kewljason. I’d even go further and say that learning strategy variations should be considered optional. You make money counting cards at blackjack by putting your money in the circle when you have the best of it. Everything else is just tweaking.

    I like the recommendation that this post be stickied. Done.

  • kewljason

     

    Quote: KenSmith said:
    I’m in full agreement with kewljason. I’d even go further and say that learning strategy variations should be considered optional. You make money counting cards at blackjack by putting your money in the circle when you have the best of it. Everything else is just tweaking.I like the recommendation that this post be stickied. Done.

    Excellent! “Everything else is just tweaking” is a great way to phrase it, Ken. It isn’t that these concepts aren’t mathematically valid. It’s just in the grand scheme of things, the value is minimal. I also think Richard Munchkin makes a good point.

  • QFIT

     

    Higher level counts are not needed. The math and the discussions thereof are important, but need not be fully understood by all players. But, a basic understanding of the mathematic principles, particularly behind risk, and an understanding of the effect of side bets, promotions, bonuses, exploitable errors, etc., can be of enormous value.

  • psyduck

    funny

    to have a “mathematics” thread based on personal beliefs and feelings without any data.

  • paddywhack

     

    Quote: psyduck said:
    to have a “mathematics” thread based on personal beliefs and feelings without any data.

    Have I entered the Twilight Zone???

  • zengrifter

     

    Quote: kewljason said:
    It seems to me, the advanced mathematics angle has really been pushed on this site lately. Maybe it is my lack of a mathematics degree and/or background that prevents me from not appreciating this angle as much as others.

    Someone visiting this site for the first time and reading through some of these threads, will conclude that to succeed in card counting today, you must play an advanced level 2, 3 or higher count, with multiple side counts, and hundreds of strategy change indices for both the primary count and side counts and that is just not so. I actually believe that in today’s game the mathematics is less important than it used to be. The math guys want to run sims showing that a multiple level count will improve your results by .xx percent or two side counts will with hundreds of play variations is worth an additional .xx percent. Some of these guys, I think the majority of their blackjack experience takes place on their computer. They think Qfit’s products or even their own programs are their blackjack career instead of a tool to aide in their actual play.

    I am not disputing that these advanced card counting ideas don’t improve performance. I do believe the value of this ‘gain’ is overstated, the error rate understated and that it just doesn’t translate fully in actual play. I am questioning the value for the majority of players in the real world of play. In the real world there is so much education that must take place on the ground, rather than the computer screen that seems to be overlooked. Things that can result in far greater improvement to your results than higher level counts and side counts. Sniffing out and taking advantage of better games and opportunities. Learning what is and isn’t tolerated at different places and tayloring your play to these guidelines and levels. Even learning these tolerance levels for different pit personnel and co-ordinating with their schedules. All these advanced math techniques don’t mean squat if you aren’t able to apply them anywhere but your computer.

    So while, you guys can fight over the merits of such gains in threads that run 15+pages, I want to go on record to say to anyone reading these threads for the first time, or the umpteenth time, whatever your level and intent, from recreational player to supplementing your lifestyle/income, to full-time player, “you don’t have to be Newton or Einstein to succeed. You can still do just fine learning the basics”.

    Forsooth Brother Kewl, forsooth! zg

  • tallmanvegas

     

    Less is more
    Say less and mean more
    Keep it simple

    Tallman

  • zengrifter

     

    Quote: Sucker said:
    This post, with only a LITTLE bit of editing; could and SHOULD be made into a “sticky”.

    Go ahead and add your little bit of editing here.
    Better yet, lets turn the KJ sticky post into a wiki and we can all hack at it! zg

  • Gamblor

     

    Fill your bowl to the brim
    and it will spill.
    Keep sharpening your knife
    and it will blunt.

  • QFIT

     

    Quote: psyduck said:
    to have a “mathematics” thread based on personal beliefs and feelings without any data.

    Psyduck, I gather by your avatar you have a fondness for water either strained through dried dead leaves or beans.

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