Just starting out :S

  • Show_Me_The_Money_:)

    Just starting out :S

    I took my friends to a local Casino a few weeks ago (needless to say they enjoyed themselves) I won £30 on the Blackjack table (bearing in mind I am a student and only took £50 out with me)
    Whilst I accept that playing £2 minimim with a bankroll (albeit a laughable bankroll :P ) of £50 was poor mathematically I was pretty happy (and got let off pretty lightly).

    Anyway having spent the last few weeks memorising basic strategy, counting through decks, reading blackjack books, getting my girlfriend to deal out cards, doing mock casino tables complete with chips in the kitchen etc I am more lost than I was to begin with for a couple of reasons.

    Firstly I started with KO as it was the easiest to learn and have also learnt HI-LO since. (Blackwood mentions in Play Blackjack Like The Pro’s that KO is more efficient than HI-LO aswell?) with the intention of learning HI-OPT I / II soon however having made no further trips to the casino’s is it worth doing the extra work at the moment?

    Secondly I would like to know how playing against multiple decks affects play. If i have grasped this concept the only difference is that a True count and Running count are needed when playing against more than one deck? How many decks is too many?

    And finally how can I tell if a game is worth playing. I know that deck penetration is important, as are the offers for re-splitting, doubling after splits and so on but are there any particular rules that are an instant deterrent or should simply be avoided at my level of play?

  • tthree

     

    Tc advantage is greater as fewer decks remain with the same TC. More decks mean playing longer before the same opportunities arise. You also must be able to maintain accuracy for a longer time before said opportunity. The authors use of more efficient is the same as the HILO players argument for HILO. It involves less work and skill not more profit. Play up to your present skill level and do as much work as time allows at the table. If you are sitting around doing nothing waiting for the game to catch up with your brain, you could be doing more to gain a bigger edge. If not stick to your current skill/effort level. HIOPT I and II generally use ace side counts to attain the BC necessary for shoe game profitability. This is not hard but many can’t or simply won’t put in the effort.

    Penetration and late surrender are important. You see higher frequencies of high TCs at deeper pen as well as a slightly higher advantage at the same TC. To take full advantage of the increased advantage high PE is important. S17, DOA, DAS, RSA, surrender and especially getting paid 3:2 on a blackjack are all important rules. Avoid 6:5 at all costs. With an extra 1/2 deck penetration over S17 makes up for H17. Surrender is more valuable to H17 but is very valuable to both games.

  • Show_Me_The_Money_:)

     

    Quote: tthree said:
    Play up to your present skill level and do as much work as time allows at the table. If you are sitting around doing nothing waiting for the game to catch up with your brain, you could be doing more to gain a bigger edge.

    Thats an easy rule to follow I’ll probably make us of that so thanks a lot.
    Equally taking notes on penetration at certain casino’s is important do you happen to know anywhere on this forum where I can get information on the different casino’s around the UK with the different rules. From most of the posts the Gala seems to get good reviews? The less time I spend finding the right casino’s the more time I can spend actually playing.

  • London Colin

     

    The rules are fairly consistent throughout the UK.

    So far as I know, nowhere offers surrender, and almost everywhere offers only even-money on your BJ versus the dealer ace, rather than insurance anytime the dealer shows an ace.

    (LCI casinos in London, and maybe elsewhere, recently switched to offering full insurance, at the same time as going from six to eight decks.)

    There are a few 4-deck games to be found in London, I don’t know about elsewhere. 6 decks is the norm.

    Penetration is really the only major variable. And I don’t think it varies all that much.

    I confess I have never gone into great detail, running sims etc., but my feeling is that few, if any UK games are truly worthwhile from a simple card-counting perspective.

    On a small bankroll, I think the best way to profitably visit UK casinos is to frequent as many of your local casinos as you can, while gambling as little as possible, but enough to get on their mailing lists for promotional offers.

    (For the most part, that’s what I do. )

  • ycming

     

    UK game 6 decks only have an House edge of 0.54 …. It just means the 2% advantges comes at a later point in terms of TC (Hi-lo approx just above TC +5). Might be worth while to learn indicies from -2 to 6.

    And true to the insurance rules. I would say it is definitly playable but not with a £50 bankroll.

    But as I have said in the past, if you are gonig to gamble anyway then might as well do the best you can !

    tthree is correct in someway, if you are still at a learning stage, might be worth while to learn a level 2 count! I found it really hard to move from Hi-lo to Zen

    Ming

  • Show_Me_The_Money_:)

     

    So what would you say is the absolute bare minimum I should be taking with me to play a 4-6 deck game with a £2 minumum bet? I’m probably going to take the advice of Ming and learn a level 2 or 3 count before playing. So I may have to go through a long learning process before actually getting stuck in. I’m willing to put in as much time, money and effort as is needed so long as it pays off. Are there any other big things that I need to know?

  • London Colin

     

    Quote: ycming said:
    UK game 6 decks only have an House edge of 0.54 …. It just means the 2% advantges comes at a later point in terms of TC

    I think there may be a danger of going over old ground from previous threads here, but the adverse impact of poor rules doesn’t vanish when the TC gets into player-advantage territory. On the contrary, it gets amplified by the increasing bet size.

    Have you used something like CVData to analyse the games you play and establish a bet spread? (A comparison of SCORE between US and UK rules would be interesting.)

    Typical penetration seems to be 67% to 75% wherever I have looked. As I said, I haven’t run any sims (don’t have CVData) but from the general reading I have done, it seems to me that the spread this would require with UK rules would be very large indeed. One good point about the UK is that you can probably get away with such a spread, with no heat. But I would think it also requires a very, very large bankroll.

  • FLASH1296

     

    That poor level of penetration combined with a House Edge that daunting equates to NO viable options for finding exploitable games.

  • ycming

     

    Quote: London Colin said:
    I think there may be a danger of going over old ground from previous threads here, but the adverse impact of poor rules doesn’t vanish when the TC gets into player-advantage territory. On the contrary, it gets amplified by the increasing bet size.

    Have you used something like CVData to analyse the games you play and establish a bet spread? (A comparison of SCORE between US and UK rules would be interesting.)

    Typical penetration seems to be 67% to 75% wherever I have looked. As I said, I haven’t run any sims (don’t have CVData) but from the general reading I have done, it seems to me that the spread this would require with UK rules would be very large indeed. One good point about the UK is that you can probably get away with such a spread, with no heat. But I would think it also requires a very, very large bankroll.

    I will run some sims tonight, but I have done in the past and is definitly playable. Pen wise,it is common to have 1 deck pen where i play (6 decks), that is 17% ?

    Apart from the lack of insurance (it is possible to get insurance play in London now) and no hole card, what rules do you think is damaging the UK game? As for the lack of hole card, our basic stratgey is different to the US, we don’t ever double 11 v 10 and as for index play we don’t double 10v10, 10vA , 9vA. I know the HE increases with the no hole card rule, but I don’t think it damgaes our EV as much as people make out.

    Another from my experience for starting out players that can find a £2 minmum game and there just wouldn’t be any heat if you spread 1-20. Makes it worth while to sit down and learn the game.

    As to the OP question, if you can have 1000unit for a £2 unit, that is pretty much the rule of thrumb! I can get you the ROR when am home.

    Ming

  • London Colin

     

    Quote: ycming said:
    I will run some sims tonight, but I have done in the past and is definitly playable. Pen wise,it is common to have 1 deck pen where i play (6 decks), that is 17% ?

    Thanks. Yes, one deck cut off is 17% (i.e. 83% penetration). It would be very instructive to compare results for those three levels of pen – 67%, 75%, and 83% – and for differing rules.

    Quote: ycming said:
    Apart from the lack of insurance (it is possible to get insurance play in London now) and no hole card, what rules do you think is damaging the UK game?

    Yes, I did mention the insurance change in one casino chain, but it came along with a change to 8 decks, which potentially puts a slight dent in the benefit. (I’m not sure of the penetration in the 8-deck games.)

    I guess it’s everything in combination that may yield a poor game, with penetration being the key factor than can overcome any worries about the rules.

    All the UK-specific rules –

    • ENHC.
    • No Insurance apart form even money (in most places).
    • No surrender.

    – must have an impact. (Though at least it is no longer D9.)

    Quote: ycming said:
    As for the lack of hole card, our basic stratgey is different to the US, we don’t ever double 11 v 10 and as for index play we don’t double 10v10, 10vA , 9vA. I know the HE increases with the no hole card rule, but I don’t think it damgaes our EV as much as people make out.

    Yes, I know BS is different for ENHC. The point is that the difference in HE for a counter is not the fixed 0.11% that it is for a flat bettor. Earlier, you seemed to be implying that once this 0.11% has been overcome by removing a few extra small cards from the deck, and we reach, say, a 2% advantage, ENHC has no more drawbacks than the US game.

    But the advantage of a high TC comes from the ability split and double (as well as receive more BJs). The fact that we can’t do these things quite as often under the modified BS of ENHC rules means that for every increment in the TC and corresponding rise in our bet size, we do not get quite as much benefit as under US rules.

    There was a thread some time ago in which it was suggested that the impact on a counter was about 0.4% (Thread) (presumably that relates to the average bet).

    Obviously the lack of insurance and surrender aren’t uniquely British, so I imagine there is more existing information quantifying the impact of these.

    As with ENHC, I think no surrender hits the counter harder than it does the BS player. In high counts, with big bets out, more hands will be candidates for surrender (due to reaching the indices for additional surrenders, and perhaps also due to a higher frequency of BS surrender hands like 16v10 appearing at those counts).

    And surrender has an impact on variance as well as EV, so will have a double impact on SCORE.

    Insurance speaks for itself in terms of EV – BS players never take it, but it’s top of the list of the I18. (I’m not sure if it has any significant impact on variance if we just use the normal insurance index.)

    Quote: ycming said:
    Another from my experience for starting out players that can find a £2 minmum game and there just wouldn’t be any heat if you spread 1-20. Makes it worth while to sit down and learn the game.

    The £2 minimum must certainly be a help. In London it is mostly either £10 or £5 (with £3 available at some places during slow times of the day).

    1-20 is about what I guesstimated the absolute minimum spread would have to be, with as suspicion that it might have to be rather higher to get any significant return. A lot comes down to the definitions of words like ‘playable’ and ‘worthwhile’.

    And if the unit size is also the table minimum, that would seem to indicate that a replinishable bankroll is very important, since you can’t resize your bets downwards after a significant run of losses. (Backcounting and only playing at higher TCs might be an alternative, but that doesn’t really work well with the limited number of tables and casinos available.)

    Quote: ycming said:
    As to the OP question, if you can have 1000unit for a £2 unit, that is pretty much the rule of thrumb! I can get you the ROR when am home.

    Ming

    To elaborate on the bankroll question – The OP was asking how much to take to the casino (i.e. the session bankroll). The thing you want to avoid is the possibility of running out of money while at the table. If your top bet is £40, you could conceivably find that BS calls upon you to make multiple splits and doubles, risking £80, £120, … maybe even £320 on a single round. Or a sustained high count might mean several rounds with your top bet out, all of which you can quite easily lose; again, you do not want to be forced to leave the table because you have run out of cash while the high count persists.

    But the much more important question, which Ming alluded to, is not the session bankroll but the overall bankroll. Or to put it another way, how much can you afford to lose? (It should be measured in thousands.)

    If you are a student, with limited funds, then I really think you should stay clear of the casinos for now, apart perhaps from the occasional bit of low-stakes fun. The very big, very real risks are just not worth the meagre potential rewards.

  • UK-21

     

    Amen to the advice and comments above.

    If, as like me, you do not have a dedicated bankroll to play BJ with, then the “how much do I need to take with me” question is a little broader. A contributor posted here in the past that he always took 40 units with him to th felt, and played for an hour, or until he’d lost the lot or doubled his money – whichever came earlier. Personally I never play unless I’ve two hundred quid with me, which represents 60 or 100 units dependent on the table min, out in the shires where I live. But if you’re going to start to do this in a regular methodical fashion (as opposed to being a casual player, with a replenishable bankroll so to speak – as I am), then yes, adopting a managed bankroll approach is the way forward.

    A couple of other one liners that may light the way . . .

    On the UK game, with ENHC, even money only etc etc, I have calculated that a 1-8 spread will give a breakeven game – in actual fact it’s slightly +EV, although the frequency of hands at TC+1, +2 etc has a bearing on the calculation. Conclusion? You need to be spreading 1-12+, and have a bankroll to cover the variance, in order to make it a worthwhile enterprise. At 2 units per hour average profit, on a £2 min table you’ll still be making less than the NMW longer term.

    The loss in EV from only having even-money rather than full insurance is not that significant, as you’d only take insurance against a dealer ace 8% of the time – and of those times you would have a proportion would lose not only the insurance bet but the main wager as well. A lot of US contributors will denegrate this loss, although it has been discussed on these boards at length. Have a look through past posts.

    Although it’s possible to get away with some hefty spreading when playing, it’s also possible to get busted and have your membership cancelled. As playing opportunities are few in the UK, bear this in mind (particularly as some casino chains’ BJ tables are now exclusively CSM dealt – the G Casino chain comes to mind).

    Good luck and good cards.

  • London Colin

    Penetration, Penetration, Penetration

    Quote: UK-21 said:
    On the UK game, with ENHC, even money only etc etc, I have calculated that a 1-8 spread will give a breakeven game – in actual fact it’s slightly +EV, although the frequency of hands at TC+1, +2 etc has a bearing on the calculation. Conclusion? You need to be spreading 1-12+, and have a bankroll to cover the variance, in order to make it a worthwhile enterprise. At 2 units per hour average profit, on a £2 min table you’ll still be making less than the NMW longer term.

    What penetration were you assuming for the 1-8 spread?

    For comparison, Arnold Snyder quotes an edge of +0.71% for a 1-12 spread with 6D, no surrender, (and presumably with insurance), S17, US hole-card rules and a pen. of 67%.

    For the same rules with a pen. of 81% he quotes +0.77%.

    I suspect 1-8 wouldn’t quite break even at 67% with ENHC.

    Quote: UK-21 said:
    The loss in EV from only having even-money rather than full insurance is not that significant, as you’d only take insurance against a dealer ace 8% of the time – and of those times you would have a proportion would lose not only the insurance bet but the main wager as well. A lot of US contributors will denegrate this loss, although it has been discussed on these boards at length. Have a look through past posts.

    The small percentage of the time you want to take insurance corresponds with your biggest bets, however.

    As I said, insurance tops the list of the Illustrious 18 strategy variations. In Blackjack Attack the value ascribed to it for a HiLo player is +0.117%, more than double the next most important – 16v10.

    Winning or losing the main bet is not really relevant (at least not to EV). There is an opportunity to make a +EV bet if the dealer should show an ace, but the rules do not allow it.

    If full insurance is worth about +0.177%, and we can only insure (via even-money) when we get a BJ, then its value must be reduced by about 95%, based on a 5% chance of being dealt a BJ. That would be +0.009%.

    Of course with higher counts the probability of being dealt a blackjack rises, so the above won’t be entirely accurate. I would think the average reduction must be at least 90%, though.

  • UK-21

     

    Quote: London Colin said:
    What penetration were you assuming for the 1-8 spread?

    For comparison, Arnold Snyder quotes an edge of +0.71% for a 1-12 spread with 6D, no surrender, (and presumably with insurance), S17, US hole-card rules and a pen. of 67%.

    For the same rules with a pen. of 81% he quotes +0.77%.

    I suspect 1-8 wouldn’t quite break even at 67% with ENHC.

    You are quite right . . . the pen will affect the outcome. I used a set of figures, from Mr Snyder’s BBiBJ if my memory serves me right, which I think were based on 75%. I haven’t done the sums to the finer point that you have, but I would think that any shoe with 67% pen or less would make a game -EV.

    Quote: London Colin said:
    The small percentage of the time you want to take insurance corresponds with your biggest bets, however.

    As I said, insurance tops the list of the Illustrious 18 strategy variations. In Blackjack Attack the value ascribed to it for a HiLo player is +0.117%, more than double the next most important – 16v10. . .

    Again, you are correct. I corresponded with Mr S personally around this issue, and he considered that the loss in EV for the even money only rule was perhaps a tenth of a percent . . . not some huge figure that some US players were claiming (“I’d never play in the UK, the insurance rule makes the game unplayable . . . yada yada”). He said that he’d never calculated it, and indeed I don’t think anyone ever has as part of earlier discussions.

    I think that the inherent variance in the game make the finer point of the EV decimals somewhat academic?

  • Nimiza

     

    Quote: UK-21 said:
    I think that the inherent variance in the game make the finer point of the EV decimals somewhat academic?

    Well no because the Law of Large Numbers says the more you play, the closer you will tend towards your statistical EV, no matter the variance. So yes, if you’re only playing a short while, then it’s unlikely to make much of a difference. But that’s equivalent to saying you once bet on red and won, therefore the negative EV of roulette is academic.

    Incidentally a friend of mine wrote a quick program to ensure that the strategy we are using (KO) has a positive expectation. It does, and it orders around 0.5 – 1%. If you can manage a larger spread, get some backcounting going, then obviously this increases…
    BTW this was programmed for British Blackjack, i.e. ENHC rule.

  • UK-21

     

    Thank you for the statistics 101. Sorry, but a tenth of a per cent on the EV (one way or another) ain’t going to make that much difference (if any) for the vast majority of people who play the game. And when you consider the conversation was around someone playing at table mins, the pounds and pence equivalent, even over the longer term (if someone ever plays enough hands for the variance to even out to the expected average) will be negligable.

  • Nimiza

     

    Quote: UK-21 said:
    Thank you for the statistics 101. Sorry, but a tenth of a per cent on the EV (one way or another) ain’t going to make that much difference (if any) for the vast majority of people who play the game. And when you consider the conversation was around someone playing at table mins, the pounds and pence equivalent, even over the longer term (if someone ever plays enough hands for the variance to even out to the expected average) will be negligable.

    1. The fact it’s a tiny amount is missing the point. Rules like hitting on 16v10 during normal play have a tiny difference in expectation from standing…but we still do it for the sake of every extra increment in EV. That’s our game.

    2. Threw some quick numbers together. Assuming a big bet frequency of around 10%, a small bet of £3 (usual table min outside of London) and a spread of 1-12. If you visited once a week and stayed for an average of 5 hours a time, managing an average rate of 50 hands per hour, over 6 months you will bet approximately £41k. So a 0.1% change in EV still represents £41. Not exactly negligible if you’re playing min bet.

    3. With a positive expectation of around 1%, proportionally speaking a 0.1% change is 10% of our edge.

  • UK-21

     

    So. . . one session a week for six months at 250 hands per session – 5,150 hands in total, spreading 1-12? £41,000 total wagered which equates to around 13,650 units. Expectation @ 1% is 136 units and the £41 you discuss represents 14(ish) units?

    As an earlier contributor stated in a posting, for casual players who are never going to play anywhere near enough to ensure that the EV averages out (and thereby it being possible to predict the max variance either side of it) the inherrent variance will “swamp” (his word not mine, but I think it sums things up nicely) the finer points of the maths – which is why I don’t think it’s worth getting too hung up about it. If you disagree that’s fine.

    It must cost me around £12 in diesel every time I visit the house of chance as the nearest one is around a hundred mile round trip- perhaps that (for me) puts it in perspective? How far do you take the +EV consideration to?

    Good cards.

  • FLASH1296

     

    The issue of e.v. can best be viewed in extremes cases.

    At one extreme on this continuum is a player who wishes

    to play for a few hours a couple of times a month.

    He can afford to lose a couple of hundred dollars.

    At the other extreme is a Card Counter relying on his skills to pay his bills.

    The former will have some fun a few times a month.

    The latter MUST show a long-term profit, while earning money as close to

    continually as is plausible.

    e.v. does NOT mean the same thing to these two players..

  • UK-21

     

    You sum it up very nicely there Flash.

    The critial issue is the variance. People frequently talk about the “long term” and some calculate the number of hands to reach “n0″ where their results, in theory, should be close to the mathematical expectation. But the truth of the matter is that the variance doesn’t just go away when this point is achieved – it just represents something different based on a different basis of measurement. The roller coaster ride doesn’t become a shunt across the flats.

    Two examples, a new player and a many years served seasoned one both set out to play a game with an EV of +1% using the same bet spreads etc etc. The new player brings $1,000 to the felt, turns it over three times and loses the lot. Expectation is a win of $30 (+1%), actual result is a loss of $1,000 (-33.3%); his loss is 100% of his lifetime wagering at that point. Variance has taken his money.

    The second player has played for many years and over this period has wagered $6m. He also loses $1,000, but this represents just 1/60 of 1% of his lifetime wagering – statistically insignificant and very different proportion of the expectation from player 1 who lost 100%.

    But . . . . they’ve both lost $1,000 playing the same game . . . . . .

    As you rightly say, it means different things to different players.

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