ArtooDetoo
ArtooDetoo
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June 21st, 2015 at 1:31:43 PM permalink
Hey all,

So a couple of weeks ago, I made this post:

https://wizardofvegas.com/forum/gambling/blackjack/22244-first-time-counter/

Asking some stuff about counting. I went to Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore yesterday, Saturday 6/20/2015, and counted for the first time.

I was pleasantly surprised to find $10 stakes around noon when I arrived, but they went up to $15 after about an hour or so, and then only a shoe later it went straight up to $25, which was out of my bankroll. Rules were great, dealer standing on soft 17 and surrendering being available along with the usual double on any two cards, etc. House edge for this is about 0.38%.

I was pretty nervous when I first sat down, and it didn't help that my Asian dealer dealt very fast. Of course this is what you want as a card counter, but I felt pressured to make fast decisions to avoid slowing down the table.

Which wasn't good, because there were 3 mistakes I caught myself making.

1) I hit 12 against a 5 when I didn't take my time counting my hand total, which luckily for me didn't make a difference to me or the table.

2) I didn't take insurance since the dealer asks for insurance quickly and I didn't stop him to let me think and calculate the true count, and only after I calculated it did I realize I should've, and unfortunately the dealer had blackjack.

3) I doubled 11 against an ace when the count was over 1, but when it came to me it went under 1 and I already had my bet placed. Unfortunately, I lost this hand as well.

4) After the stakes went up to $15 I accidentally bet $90 instead of $75 and effectively played 6-1 spread instead of 5-1, but I don't entirely count this as a mistake since I was getting my money in at TC >= +2, I just need to stop playing when it goes up to $15.

I got pretty into it quickly though, and found myself counting pretty comfortably, although I did get a call from my wife in the middle and had to take it, then lost count when I got back to the table and just flat min bet the rest of the shoe.

Dealer was running so hot though, I ended up losing $700 in 2 hours. Considering I played a couple of hours and played 6-1 spread at $15 stakes, I'm guessing this is standard variance, just getting unlucky. Sucks as my first session especially considering I won't be able to get a lot of chances to go, but I do have a bankroll of $5,000, so I'm hoping fixing my leaks and staying at 5-1 spread at $10 will not get me this low (please give me some confidence).

Anyways, I will have to work on estimating the number of decks and playing faster, but all in all, a confidence building if unfortunate first session before I go to AC with my friends in a little over a month.
GoodEyeMight
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June 21st, 2015 at 2:54:41 PM permalink
Quote:

but they went up to $15 after about an hour or so, and then only a shoe later it went straight up to $25


They didn't grandfather you in at the $10 rate?
vendman1
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June 21st, 2015 at 3:23:34 PM permalink
Horseshoe Baltimore is my home casino at this point. For whatever reason they pretty much don't grandfather people in when they raise the table limits, I can't say for sure I've never seen them do it. But I remember other players asking and being told no. I know that's customary other places...Vegas and AC. But not in this joint. They make up for it with good BJ rules though. State of MD mandated house rules. There is a proposal to allow H17 BJ though. Which would I suspect they would use at all the $10 and $15 tables. I suspect there is enough competition around that they might keep S17 at $25 and up tables.
1BB
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June 21st, 2015 at 4:13:02 PM permalink
It looks like you are progressing well, ArtooDetoo. With more practice you will become proficient at deck estimation, maybe even to a quarter deck. You will also be able to take phone calls while keeping the count and your mistakes will lessen.

From the house edge, which I think may be slightly lower, I'm assuming 6 decks and if so a 1-5 spread is low. It's also all that your bankroll will comfortably allow. Just something to keep in mind.

Finally, do not be intimidated by your dealer. I know it can be easier said than done in a live game but you control the pace. I'm trying to find something positive to say about AC blackjack but I can't. How about you won't have to worry about the Fab 4 there? Nah, that's no good.
Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth. - Mahatma Ghandi
GWAE
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June 21st, 2015 at 5:00:33 PM permalink
Estimating decks and true count is why I can't use hi lo. I can count it well just can't estimate the decks left well enough.
Expect the worst and you will never be disappointed. I AM NOT PART OF GWAE RADIO SHOW
ahiromu
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June 21st, 2015 at 5:11:33 PM permalink
Quote: vendman1

Horseshoe Baltimore is my home casino at this point. For whatever reason they pretty much don't grandfather people in when they raise the table limits, I can't say for sure I've never seen them do it. But I remember other players asking and being told no. I know that's customary other places...Vegas and AC. But not in this joint. They make up for it with good BJ rules though. State of MD mandated house rules. There is a proposal to allow H17 BJ though. Which would I suspect they would use at all the $10 and $15 tables. I suspect there is enough competition around that they might keep S17 at $25 and up tables.



This isn't necessarily true at CET properties in Vegas. I think PH is fine with it, but I remember for a fact that Flamingo did as you described (told people to meet the new min or leave).

Edit: All MGM properties allow grandfathering in without exception. Most (I think) CET do not, but the floor has discretion (seen it enforced and not enforced at CP after thinking about it).
Its - Possessive; It's - "It is" / "It has"; There - Location; Their - Possessive; They're - "They are"
surrender88s
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June 21st, 2015 at 5:45:49 PM permalink
Nice report. Thanks for beong honest about your errors. As you can see, those few errors can just kill your EV. Playing for 2 hours perfectly at that spread, you maybe should expect to make something like $40. You definitely got some bad luck/variance, but you also caught a few things you can work on.

Also, if my wife calls and the count is high, I don't think i would take the call :-P
"Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1." -Warren Buffett on risk/return
CallSaul
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June 21st, 2015 at 6:08:26 PM permalink
Thanks for the trip report, R2D2. Horseshoe Baltimore advertises that it has $10 BJ 24/7 on the first floor near Guy Fieri's resturant during the day and on the second floor by the cashier cage at night. (https://www.caesars.com/horseshoe-baltimore/casino) Did you see those tables? Are they CSM or shoe?
ArtooDetoo
ArtooDetoo
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June 22nd, 2015 at 6:44:52 AM permalink
Quote: CallSaul

Thanks for the trip report, R2D2. Horseshoe Baltimore advertises that it has $10 BJ 24/7 on the first floor near Guy Fieri's resturant during the day and on the second floor by the cashier cage at night. (https://www.caesars.com/horseshoe-baltimore/casino) Did you see those tables? Are they CSM or shoe?



I didn't go downstairs myself, but I have heard from enough reliable sources in previous threads on here that they're all CSMs. Also when they raised the table limits up to $25 I asked them if there were any $10/$15 left and they said "downstairs," basically confirming they're CSMs.
Romes
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June 23rd, 2015 at 7:32:35 AM permalink
Glad to hear you finally got to dip your toes in the water r2d2! As you noticed the real deal is a bit different, but as soon as you relax it's just like practicing at home (and hopefully easier). The counting will just continue to get easier with practice/time, so no worries on that front. From your story, I'd like to look at some numbers though...

At a .4% HE 6D $10 game and a 1-5 spread ($10-$50), your EV is about: $6.48/hour. This isn't even minimum wage, but yes, I understand this is all your bankroll allows (for now). Are you willing to commit another $5k if you lose this $5k? If so, you don't have to have the $10k now, but you can play as though you have a $10k bankroll right now (so long as you are indeed willing to commit the 2nd $5k). This will also enable you to up your spread (which you will eventually NEED to do if you're going to actually try to make any kind of money at this).

So you said you played for about 2 hours... Let's give you the benefit of the doubt at the $10 tables (probably a bit crowded) and say you got 100 hands per hour. That's 200 hands. Your EV for your session was: $15.32 (200*GainPerHand). You'll notice this isn't $6.48*2 because not only is that based on 84.55 hands per hour, but also because you should always calculate your EV from your hands, not time; you may get 50 hands per hour today and 100 hands per hour tomorrow, so 1 hour could mean something different.

So your EV was $15.32... how about your standard deviation? Well, also shown in the thread I linked you to prior is that info too.

Standard Deviation (SD) for 1 hand = 1.1*AvgBet. Assuming your Average Bet is $16.67 (I have your max bet $50 out at TC +3), then your SD for 1 hand is 1.1*16.67 = 18.34. For any number of hands your SD = Sqrt(NumHands) * SD1Hand = Sqrt(200) * 18.34 = $259.37.

This means you expected to make about $15, give or take $260 in either direction, for one standard deviation (66% confidence). 2 SD's give 95% confidence (meaning for 2*SD you can be 95% sure your results will fall in to that realm)... Thus, with 95% confidence, you expected to make $15, give or take $520.

As you can tell this means you were outside 2 SD's. 3 SD's is 99.9% confidence. Thus, with 99.9% confidence, you expected to make $15, give or take $780, which yes, you fell in to this realm of numbers. So what does this mean? Well, being nearly 3SD out means you got quite unlucky. If this happens consistently I would absolutely re-evaluate my play to make sure I wasn't making major mistakes. If your play is solid, then you just got very, very unlucky and fell on the left side of the bell curve. In the long run of course, this means nothing. You're playing for the pennies per hand getting put in to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and you can collect all that money when you hit the long run (after you've played enough hands that SD's shouldn't matter, you'll be up no matter what).

I hope you see why all of this information and being able to understand the math is so important. If you were 5SD out after 20-30 hours, then I would say with confidence you are playing wrong, or you're getting cheated. Understanding these numbers gives you a ton of information and kind of a "review" of your game. It's the difference between thinking you have a winning game, and knowing you have a winning game! =)
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
ArtooDetoo
ArtooDetoo
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June 23rd, 2015 at 7:43:10 AM permalink
Hey Romes, thanks a lot, you've been a big help to me on these forums.

The $700 also includes too many $15 hands where I spread 1-6 because I was nervous and for some reason thought 5 * 15 = 90 due to not expecting to have to play $15 hands, so it's not outside 2 standard deviations since I did lose a doubled hand there. Also I did make 3 mistakes as I posted so the EV was expected to be lower.

I'll be honest, I probably won't be playing that much, like not even once a month, so this really is all for good fun.
surrender88s
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June 23rd, 2015 at 8:57:30 AM permalink
R2, it certainly is fun. It's hard to get bored playing blackjack with the challenge of beating the game. I know when i was first starting out, the spread I started with gave too much variance. I was spreading up to 75 and split 7's and then doubled down on one hand. I lost 225 in one hand and decided to back off and use a smaller spread(giving up EV) while working on my game. Good cards to you...
"Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1." -Warren Buffett on risk/return
ArtooDetoo
ArtooDetoo
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June 23rd, 2015 at 10:17:35 AM permalink
For those who are wondering, my betting strategy is:

TC <= -1: Sit out (they allowed me to do this pretty easily, especially after I appeared frustrated from losing a hand or so)
TC +0: $10
TC +1: $20
TC >= +2: $50

The worst luck was a hand where all of us at the table basically got a 20, but the dealer flipped up blackjack. Such wasted counts.
Romes
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June 23rd, 2015 at 1:13:11 PM permalink
Quote: ArtooDetoo

The worst luck was a hand where all of us at the table basically got a 20, but the dealer flipped up blackjack. Such wasted counts.


Oh yeah, you'll see this more than a few times in your blackjack career =p... Or if you're heads up, you spread to two hands, get 20 and 20, then the dealer has 20... -6 to the RC and nothing gained from it. The dealer hand is just another hand at the table, so in higher counts they too will get more 20's and blackjacks. The benefit is that you get paid extra on yours, you can split/double, and you don't have to hit until you have 17 or better.

I like that your spread is aggressive, even though it's a weaker spread at only 1-5. With that spread at a 6D .4% HE game you're looking at an hourly EV of $8.49... Probably about the right amount to cover you on mistakes and have fun playing the game with a very small profit. Even if you're playing for fun be sure to use up any mailer free/match plays, etc you can!

For a recreational play I think you have all the tools you need, other than a bit more practice =), but that comes with time. Have fun and good variance! We'll be here if you have more questions =D.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
Sandybestdog
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June 24th, 2015 at 11:33:54 AM permalink
I go to the Horseshoe a couple of times a week. I like that all of their minimums are predictable ahead of time. They have $5 3 card poker, Mississippi Stud, and Ultimate Texas Hold'em all week and Friday-Sunday until at least around 5, sometimes later. They had $10 blackjack from csm's from 10-10 downstairs. They have changed this to 24/7. So that means around 2am when the downstairs closes, they lower the minimums upstairs on at least 2-3 tables to $10. This goes until presumably 10 or 12 in the morning. The good thing about Horseshoe is that it is so corporate run that as long as something follows procedures, they don't care what happens or how much they lose. I've never seen the pit boss ever comment on how anybody played any hand. So I think you will be heat free probably at least as long as you don't play black chips. If you want to count, you really need to stay away from the Asian dealers, especially the men. They are too fast and too good. They will never make a mistake. The good news is there are a fair bit of shall we say "senior dealers" that deal a little slower. I'm a low stakes gambler, so I like this place.

On a separate note, I also seem to be having quite bad luck lately. I have been playing a little over a year and all in all pretty much break even. Anytime I was down, it always seems to come back. My past few blackjack seasions have been -$400, -$800, -$300 and -$100. I finally broke the streak winning $50 and $250 the last 2 times. This was just flat betting $10 or $15 on one or two hands at a time. Probably about 75% of this was on the csm's. I estimated the time and approximate total wagers and found a chart that said this amount of drawdown has a probability of only around 2%. I don't think there was anything funny going on, just a lot of bad luck. Everytime the dealer had 16, somehow they got a 5. It wouldn't even be a 3, it was always a 5. Then every 11 I had would draw an ace. You guys know the deal. I was playing with somebody who said she is a dealer at Maryland Live. I mentioned I don't go there anymore because they rarely have $10 tables. She said that is because I guess they don't see it as worth their time if they stand on 17's. I thought that was odd but now it makes sense if there is a proposal to change it. I hope they don't but won't be surprised if they do. Just like when they went to half csm's, nobody is going to care or boycott them. All these people care about is the if they get a 7 with their 9 so they can get a 3 card straight and a 1 card In-bet! I look over and wonder what they're so excited about, they have a 16?
100xOdds
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June 24th, 2015 at 12:37:03 PM permalink
is there any $15 6deck shoe games here?
or all 8?
Craps is paradise (Pair of dice). Lets hear it for the SpeedCount Mathletes :)
Sandybestdog
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June 24th, 2015 at 1:40:23 PM permalink
Quote: 100xOdds

is there any $15 6deck shoe games here?
or all 8?


I believe they are all 8 decks. You can find plenty of $15 shoe games during the week. On weekends starting around 5, most if not all shoe's go to $25.
RedJack
RedJack
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June 24th, 2015 at 8:05:32 PM permalink
This is might be a bit off-topic in this thread, but are there any states other than MD and PA that mandate S17 as well as 3-2? I think I may have seen somewhere that DE is also the case, or could be some other state?
CallSaul
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June 25th, 2015 at 9:22:28 AM permalink
Sandy, thanks for the intel. Very helpful.

One follow up question on the $10 tables. After they close the downstairs around 2am and add 2-3 $10 tables upstairs, are those CSMs, too? Or are the upstairs $10 tables dealt from shoes?
ArtooDetoo
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June 25th, 2015 at 9:38:14 AM permalink
Upstairs are all from shoes.
Sandybestdog
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June 25th, 2015 at 12:24:10 PM permalink
Yes upstairs is all shoes. I went last night. Bought in for a total of $500 and played 2 hands of $10 on the csm's. I just play basic strategy, no side bets. I lost $400. Every step forward was met with 2 steps backwards. I went upstairs and played 1 hand at $15 and made back $150. Went back downstairs, was down $150 before managing to bring it back to even.

I am not a conspiracy theorist and see no reason that the csm or the casino would cheat. Players play so badly they don't need to. But my results in the past couple of weeks are consistently falling in the less than 5% of probabilities. The other day when I finally broke my losing streak and won $250, that was on a shoe. I guess I just need to add csm's to my list (online gaming, video poker, e-blackjack, roulette, limit poker, and Mississippi Stud) of games that I need to self ban myself from playing.
Avincow
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June 25th, 2015 at 3:01:56 PM permalink
Quote: Sandybestdog

Yes upstairs is all shoes. I went last night. Bought in for a total of $500 and played 2 hands of $10 on the csm's. I just play basic strategy, no side bets. I lost $400. Every step forward was met with 2 steps backwards. I went upstairs and played 1 hand at $15 and made back $150. Went back downstairs, was down $150 before managing to bring it back to even.

I am not a conspiracy theorist and see no reason that the csm or the casino would cheat. Players play so badly they don't need to. But my results in the past couple of weeks are consistently falling in the less than 5% of probabilities. The other day when I finally broke my losing streak and won $250, that was on a shoe. I guess I just need to add csm's to my list (online gaming, video poker, e-blackjack, roulette, limit poker, and Mississippi Stud) of games that I need to self ban myself from playing.



I agree, never play a CSM, tell everyone you know!
ArtooDetoo
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June 25th, 2015 at 3:56:06 PM permalink
The Wizard showed that basic strategy is better on CSMs than shoes though.
Avincow
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June 25th, 2015 at 4:05:59 PM permalink
Quote: ArtooDetoo

The Wizard showed that basic strategy is better on CSMs than shoes though.



If a bunch of little cards come out, how are you going to know when to raise your bet if the cards are shuffled every round?
1BB
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June 25th, 2015 at 4:07:51 PM permalink
Quote: ArtooDetoo

The Wizard showed that basic strategy is better on CSMs than shoes though.



The house edge is slightly lower but you play more hands per hour. If you must play these machines, the key is to take more breaks.
Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth. - Mahatma Ghandi
surrender88s
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June 25th, 2015 at 6:50:46 PM permalink
How often do you see all the cards in a CSM? Is there ever a full reveal or change? How are you to know that they haven't taken cards out? Yeah, i don't trust CSMs.
"Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1." -Warren Buffett on risk/return
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