camz1969
camz1969
Joined: Dec 6, 2016
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December 6th, 2016 at 9:06:55 PM permalink
New member here.

I am able to play blackjack at a local casino that is 8 deck, 3:2 BJ, S17, DAS, double any 2 cards, no RSA, Split aces only get one card, no Surrender. Using the Ace-5 count, what spread would I need to at least break even or have a tiny advantage? I do not have good sim software to test. I know other counts are more effective, but I can literally do this count 100% without practicing at all. I know perfect basic strategy based on the 4-8 deck chart (I've been playing a while). Thanks for any advice.

-Mike
Romes
Romes
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December 7th, 2016 at 7:23:09 AM permalink
Hi camz, and welcome to the forums!

This seems to be a repeating question lately with some new members. I'll quote myself from another thread just below yours with the same question (for the most part). But... for you specifically... You should know that the Ace-5 count is considered a "simple count" but in fact there's not a lot that's simple about it. You STILL must understand bankroll management, risk of ruin (RoR), and things such as bet spreads and expected values (EV). Most people seem to jump on the Ace-5 count train because they think it'll be half the work of normal counting, but it's really not. You still have to track cards and you still must know all the other little pieces and parts. The only difference in learning another count is how you track the cards, and in stead of ace-5 it's just +1's and -1's with Hi/Low.

I highly recommend if you're going to take the small time investment to learn these things to just learn a MUCH MORE powerful count that is also VERY EASY called the Hi/Low. It's mentioned and linked to my articles below.

Quote: Romes

Hi Pelicanbrief, and welcome to the forums.

The small advantage obtained by the Ace-5 count can't be changed, but you can change your expected value (EV) return... Let's break it down...

The reason you have an advantage is you're tracking certain key cards and because of the effect of card removal and the rules of the game and simulations that have run hundreds of millions of hands, we know you have X% advantage when so many of these certain cards are removed. So let's say when all the 5's are gone you have a 2% advantage. How would placing another bet make this go up, considering you need to remove more 5's to make the % go up? It won't. So while the advantage is swinging back and forth pending the cards removed, your advantage at any one point in time will NOT be affected by you sitting out or placing more bets.

HOWEVER, you most certainly can effect your return (EV) by doing these things. When you have a 1% advantage and place a $100 wager, you can expect (in the long run) to make $1 net profit every time this situation occurs. If you were to place 2 wagers $100 every single time you have a 1% advantage, then you would expect to get more net profit back. Be careful though... because of CoVariance your wagers aren't exactly one for one. Two wagers of $100 is the same as one wager of $150. So you're expectation of 2 hands of $100 (in the long run) would be $1.50 net profit per round. So yes, you just increased your expectation for that situation by 50%, but again no you did not change the house edge... You just took "more" advantage of it by betting more. Similarly when the count is negative, you're at a bigger disadvantage and you'd expect to lose $X per hand you play at -3... So by NOT playing at -3 you're "saving" that money and thus you would see more in your overall return (EV).

***NOTE: If you are willing to put some effort in to counting, you REALLY should just learn Hi/Low. The edge you get from A-5 is MINIMAL and to boot you STILL must understand concepts such as Bankroll Management, variance/co-variance, and Risk of Ruin (RoR) in order to have a winning game. You're not going to be able to "cut corners" and use this "simpler" count to make money in blackjack. It's just another counting system... in which you must still understand all of the other concepts. So simply by learning Hi/Low (another VERY EASY count) you'll be able to gain SO MUCH MORE of an accurate advantage and actual advantage (you can then use the I18 to properly take insurance, etc, etc). I definitely recommend you learn Hi/Low. It will take the same amount of time to master as the Ace-5 count but you will see MULTIPLES more profit in the long run.

If you're interested, I wrote 3 articles that are available on this site... Read and reread them, and I assure you with some practice you will have a winning game!

http://wizardofvegas.com/articles/A-to-Z-Counting-Cards-in-Blackjack/
http://wizardofvegas.com/articles/A-to-Z-Counting-Cards-In-Blackjack-2/
http://wizardofvegas.com/articles/A-to-Z-Counting-Cards-in-Blackjack-3/

Playing it correctly means you've already won.
camz1969
camz1969
Joined: Dec 6, 2016
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December 7th, 2016 at 4:33:08 PM permalink
Hi Romes,

Thanks for the response. I have practiced Hi/Low but I would not consider it easy to stay accurate in a real casino environment. You have to keep a lot more in your mind versus Ace-5 (running count, true count, basic strategy, l while looking "natural" and managing bankroll). I would rather be 100% accurate every time on a less effective count than make a lot of mistakes with a more effective count.
Hopefully we do not all come off as lazy for wanting to use Ace-5, but for some of us it takes practicing Hi/Low every day for months to even keep a 100% accurate running count for hours with distractions around you. Non-professionals may not have that kind of time but still do not want the house to have a long term edge over them when they play. Ace-5 is almost immediate if you have perfect basic strategy already. I actually have a little trick that is not visible to people or cameras to where I don't even have to keep the count in my head.
I definitely have bankroll management. Basically the reason I am wondering what my break even or slightly positive spread would be is I want to minimize variance until I am up (until I hit some positive variance). Assuming I play a break even (0% house edge) game, over the long run I realize it will swing up and down and I do have the bankroll to ride out the downs. On the ups I would then bet bigger (with their money) in positive counts and increase my edge. I just do not want to play with a negative edge at any point.

-Mike
Romes
Romes
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camz1969
December 7th, 2016 at 8:02:50 PM permalink
Quote: camz1969

Hi Romes,

Thanks for the response. I have practiced Hi/Low but I would not consider it easy to stay accurate in a real casino environment. You have to keep a lot more in your mind versus Ace-5 (running count, true count, basic strategy, l while looking "natural" and managing bankroll). I would rather be 100% accurate every time on a less effective count than make a lot of mistakes with a more effective count...

With literally 1 hour per day for 1 month every thing you mentioned is like breathing. It takes practically little to no effort at all, and to boot you still need to learn EVERYTHING else that goes along with card counting to use Ace-5... you're just using a weaker count. That's why most (including myself) don't believe the Ace-5 count is worth it if you're actually trying to make money. It is a very good way to have fun while recreationally gambling and trying to still pull what you can from the game... But I can pretty much guarantee you that NO real or serious counter uses Ace-5, and when I say real I even mean the people who only play weekends or on trips but want to definitely win money in the long run. None. So it depends on what your intent of the count is I suppose.

Even with Ace-5, you must 100% memorize basic strategy. You must look natural while you're doing it. You must understand the different points in time to bet different amounts (i.e. advantage over spread - the same as true counts and bet amounts). You must understand Risk of Ruin (RoR). You must understand bankroll management... and the list goes on. The ONLY difference is the count, which is a much weaker count than the Hi/Low... all for the trade off of tracking 2 cards instead of using +1 and -1... and all to make far less money in the long run (assuming you're doing all of the above correctly 100% of the time).

Quote: camz1969

Hopefully we do not all come off as lazy for wanting to use Ace-5, but for some of us it takes practicing Hi/Low every day for months to even keep a 100% accurate running count for hours with distractions around you. Non-professionals may not have that kind of time but still do not want the house to have a long term edge over them when they play. Ace-5 is almost immediate if you have perfect basic strategy already. I actually have a little trick that is not visible to people or cameras to where I don't even have to keep the count in my head...

It doesn't come off as lazy. I understand that you're trying to weigh each system and their time investment. All I'm trying to show you is that you're not saving much time at all. You must still research all of the things above. So you're still investing quite a bit of time in to Ace-5, and for a fraction of more time you can do something that returns so much more.

Another thing I love to remind people of... Yes, it will be hard work and practicing for 1 month, and then, then you have a skill you can use the rest of your life. That is a penny drop in the bucket investment if you ask me, and you have to do it either way! So why not pick practically any other count that would make multiples of what Ace-5 would make?

Quote: camz1969

I definitely have bankroll management. Basically the reason I am wondering what my break even or slightly positive spread would be is I want to minimize variance until I am up (until I hit some positive variance). Assuming I play a break even (0% house edge) game, over the long run I realize it will swing up and down and I do have the bankroll to ride out the downs. On the ups I would then bet bigger (with their money) in positive counts and increase my edge. I just do not want to play with a negative edge at any point.

-Mike

That's the other struggle. If you're playing (let's say) $10-$50 spread with Ace-5: I hope you realize your EV is maybe $1-$2 per hour. And this means ZERO mistakes with basic strategy, betting, etc, etc. You will make mistakes, everyone does. So at this point you're not playing a game that will have you "until I'm up" so you can bet even more. You're looking to get a lower variance cushion until you get some winnings, but since you're already spreading low and combine that with the weak count, you're going to struggle to get that cushion for years potentially... vs adding a fractional amount of time and effort in to learning any other more powerful count.

Here's an example... A Hi/Low counter spreading $10-$50 (optimized honestly by me), at a good game (.36% house edge), wonging out at TC -1 (which you won't be doing), and playing PERFECTLY... will make ~$7-$8 per hour. Add in a few mistakes and even they are playing a barely head above water break even game... and don't forget, this is a $5/hour they'll realize in THE LONG RUN (~75k hands). So if they don't play very often then they won't see this $5/hour for years. Now, let's think about how that applies to your situation with using the Ace-5 count and earning far less per hour in EV. The "cushion" you're looking for literally might not come to you for years and years.

You're bringing great topics and view points to the table, and I understand where you're coming from - I really do. IF you're going to delve in to the counting world, with any count, you're going to need to put in some time and effort. I just wouldn't want you to put in 20 hours of training for X/hour when 30 hours of training could get you a multiple of that (for the rest of your life). That's all I'm trying to mention and make clear with the experience I've had and seen.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
PhilippeB
PhilippeB
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camz1969
December 8th, 2016 at 2:26:15 AM permalink
EV from CVCX, 6 decks, S17, no surrender, no RSA,
$10-$50 : $-0.64
$10-$100 : $3.73
$10-$150 : $7.43

BTW, what The Wizard say:
I recommend playing only on games with liberal Strip rules, which are as follows:
4-8 decks
Blackjack pays 3 to 2
Dealer stands on soft 17
Double after split allowed
Late surrender allowed
Re-splitting aces allowed
75%+ penetration
camz1969
camz1969
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December 8th, 2016 at 1:18:57 PM permalink
Thanks for the info. I understand where you're coming from as well. The bottom line, if I want to really make some $$$ learn Hi/Low or at least KO or something relatively strong. I am basically a recreational player that likes the idea of the house not having an edge over me. I go through periods where I'll play a lot, but then I won't play for months. However, the idea of making a lot of money is always nice too. Maybe if I have a month of motivation to get near 100% accurate running count consistently I will use it and become more of a professional. I do appreciate your quick responses and this website. It is a good source.

I know that Hi/Low is your #1 go to, but are there any others that may be easier that are more effective than Ace-5? What is your opinion of Speed Count?
Romes
Romes
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Rigondeaux
December 8th, 2016 at 2:15:57 PM permalink
Quote: camz1969

...I know that Hi/Low is your #1 go to, but are there any others that may be easier that are more effective than Ace-5? What is your opinion of Speed Count?

Without being rude, and especially to a former great member (AceOfSpades) Speed Count, if you're actually trying to make any kind of money, is a joke =/.

There are a BUNCH of systems that all provide a good return (one of the first links in my articles is to all of the different systems). The system you make the least amount of mistakes with, so long as it's a "main stream" system, is the one that's right for you. Hi/Low might not be right for you, but it usually is because it (in my opinion) packs the most bang for the your buck (effort). KO is supposed to be pretty easy as well. Past that you start to get in to some counts that deal with different values for different cards, so that's why I think Hi/Low is in the sweet spot of ease (+1 and -1, which half the time they cancel each other out) and a good return.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
camz1969
camz1969
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March 12th, 2017 at 10:30:42 PM permalink
Update: I've practiced hi/low a lot recently and I am getting pretty good at it. Thanks for steering me back towards it. I actually realized that the "trick" I used for keeping ace-five helps with hi/low as well. Basically I move my thumbnail slightly to different spots on my fingers on my left hand. I can mark from -3 to +3 on my first finger alone. I usually have that hand covered somehow or under the table, but even if it's out it's not that noticeable. It really helps if I get distracted for a few seconds. I know right where I left off.
bbvk05
bbvk05
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March 13th, 2017 at 12:40:06 AM permalink
Ace five sucks... the spreads you need to keep it decent are huge. Probably 10-11 to 1 on your game.

Just learn reKO; it's a much better count and it removes the need to Do a true count.
Romes
Romes
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camz1969
March 13th, 2017 at 10:25:04 AM permalink
Quote: camz1969

Update: I've practiced hi/low a lot recently and I am getting pretty good at it. Thanks for steering me back towards it. I actually realized that the "trick" I used for keeping ace-five helps with hi/low as well. Basically I move my thumbnail slightly to different spots on my fingers on my left hand. I can mark from -3 to +3 on my first finger alone. I usually have that hand covered somehow or under the table, but even if it's out it's not that noticeable. It really helps if I get distracted for a few seconds. I know right where I left off.

Nice to hear you're having some good progress with the count. While your trick may help you for now, it's a crutch you should be able to play without =).

The best way is to train at home:

1) Get 1 deck, remove 1 random card, and count the deck down with your count and at the end name the value of the removed card (high, middle, or low). When you can do this CONSISTENTLY (key word) under 30 seconds then you should move to step 2.

2) Step 2 is the same as step 1 with an exception. Remove a random card and this time when you count down the deck flip over 3 cards at a time. This should teach you the famous "cancellation principle." Quite often when cards come out they will "cancel" with one another and result in 0 or nothing (however your mind wants to perceive it). So if you flip over 3 cards and see 3-7-K, you can quickly just ignore that pack and move on to the next 3. With a little practice this method should allow you to count 1 deck down even faster than your 1 card time. Again, consistence is the most important factor. Do this under 30 seconds (and ideally under your previous time) then move on to step 3.

3) Get 6 decks from the dollar store, shuffle them up and get a cut card and give yourself about 80% penetration. Play 4 hands (or more if you want) and deal through the shoe just playing basic strategy and counting. Every deck or so STOP and count down the discards to check if your count is accurate from the last time you've double checked yourself. When you can do this for a shoe or two in a row consistently (that key word again) then you can move on to step 4.

4) Deal yourself your 6 deck shoe as before, but this time play with chips on just one hand. Bet according to your count dictated spread while you play (still stopping to check the discards occasionally). When you can do this CONSISTENTLY you're ready for step 5.

5) Deal yourself your 6 deck shoe, bet 1 hand, but now add your deviations (I18 is a must at a minimum). Check your count as before periodically (if you find your counting is pretty solid here, you don't have to check, but after you hit the cut card and end the shoe you should always be counting down the last deck or so to make sure your count was right - should always balance to zero on the last card). When you can play well betting and using deviations you get to go to the last, and most important step... 6.

6) This is where we put it all together, WITH DISTRACTIONS! So many people I've trained play by themselves on their diningroom table with no music, tv, or really any noises at all. They just quietly deal and practice. That's great when you need to focus on learning the skills (BS, counting, betting, deviations). However, now is when you take the training wheels off and become a pro. Now you need to put a TV show or movie on, and try to watch it a bit. Now is when you also pull up YouTube on your phone and type in "slot machine noises" and play that while you play (you'll hear these non-stop in a real casino). Then, if you have a friend or significant other, have them deal to you and talk to you while you play. As you get better and as they get better at just dealing the cards you should be able to do this FASTER and FASTER. Eventually you'll be blasting through a 6D shoe, making 0 mistakes, betting correctly, and playing your deviations correctly =). When you can do this all at home, you'll find walking in to a casino IS SO MUCH EASIER it's a joke. You don't even have to 'try' to count and you can just do it with east.

All of these steps can be completed in just a couple weeks... for a skill you'll have the rest of your life =).
Playing it correctly means you've already won.

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