harikarilord
harikarilord
Joined: May 24, 2015
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October 18th, 2015 at 11:44:01 AM permalink
Hi folks, do any of you know of any good resources that compare the relative advantages/disadvantages of different card counting systems?

I currently use hi-lo, but am looking to learn another method. Before I invest time/energy into learning a new system though, I'd like to weigh my options.

Recommendations on articles/books that compare things like playing efficiency, betting efficiency, difficulty of learning, etc would be much appreciated!
kewlj
kewlj
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October 18th, 2015 at 12:00:55 PM permalink
Page 172 of Norm Wattenberger's Modern Black (available free at his website) appears to be just what you are looking for. I have posted a link, which may or may not be permissible and may be removed.....I don't know.

https://www.qfit.com/book/ModernBlackjackPage172.htm
kewlj
kewlj
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October 18th, 2015 at 12:10:53 PM permalink
Can I ask a couple questions pertaining to your consideration to switch counts?

What kind of games do you most often play? (single deck, double deck, shoe)

What stakes are you playing?

What kind of improvement are you thinking you might realize?

I ask this because in my opinion, Hi-lo is more than adequate for the vast majority of players and that includes professional players such as myself. As a matter of fact most professional or serious players that I know, use hi-lo and of those that do use a so called 'higher' level count, many are older, long-term players, who are using a count they learned a longtime ago, when their may have been more benefit from using such a count.

One famous author of a well know book that "attacks' Blackjack (lol) has stated that while he still plays level 2, Revere Point Count, which he learned decades ago and still plays like 150 index plays, becaue having learned them, he can't "un-learn" them, IF HE WAS STARTING OUT TODAY, he would play hi-lo and learn and play far few index plays. That's the kind of statement that speaks volumes, IMO.

In today's world, with worse conditions, any such benefit of a so called higher level count, really shrinks to almost nothing. I believe you are better off keeping things simple, with hi-lo or another level one count, and ESPECIALLY if you already know and play such a count. There just is minimal if any benefit to switching.
harikarilord
harikarilord
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October 18th, 2015 at 5:21:31 PM permalink
Thanks for the replies kewlj. I play mostly double deck, with $10 to 25 mins, spreading to $75- $150.

The wild swings possible in the game make me pretty nervous (hence the spreads erroring on the conservative side). I'm hoping one way to smooth out the fluctuations is by using a more accurate counting method.
Romes
Romes
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Thanks for this post from:
LostWages
October 19th, 2015 at 7:01:40 AM permalink
Quote: harikarilord

Thanks for the replies kewlj. I play mostly double deck, with $10 to 25 mins, spreading to $75- $150.

The wild swings possible in the game make me pretty nervous (hence the spreads erroring on the conservative side). I'm hoping one way to smooth out the fluctuations is by using a more accurate counting method.

Your counting method might net you some more "change" per hour, but the variance you're going to inevitably see in the game doesn't care about your counting method. Standard Deviation = 1.1*AvgBet. Standard Deviation for any number of hands = OriginalSD*Sqrt(NumHands). Notice these have absolutely nothing to do with your counting system but more your spread (affecting your AvgBet), which inevitably needs to be a certain amount to be profitable, regardless of the system you use.

If you're thinking about switching to lessen the fluctuations, I wouldn't switch... Just my opinion.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
kewlj
kewlj
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October 19th, 2015 at 9:04:56 AM permalink
Quote: Romes


If you're thinking about switching to lessen the fluctuations, I wouldn't switch... Just my opinion.



I completely concur.

I have been involved in more 'which count' debate/discussions than any other topic on blackjack sites that I am on. This is a hugely polarizing topic, with knowledgeable and successful players deeply dug in on both sides of the debate. I am a proponent of simplicity as I honestly believe Hi-lo or K-O or another similar level one count (not A-5 or speed count) is more than adequate for 99% of players, including players that play professionally, like myself (most professional players and teams that I know or know of use hi-lo).

But in reality, it is not so much that I am a proponent of hi-lo, which has served me well, it is more that I am an opponent of the false and misleading information out there, influencing players to switch counts in search of unrealistic expectations and gains in profit or reduction in variance and swings. Claims made by proponents of higher level counts are just not realistic and often they will go as far as to cherry pick data and use flawed simulations to exaggerate their points.

Just yesterday on another site, one of the proponent guys used a sim, to compare two different counts, or in this case it was actually a variation of a single count, Hi-lo vs hi-lo lite (hi-lo lite is fewer and rounded index plays). Honest simulations show the difference in these approaches to be negligible. A difference of pennies. But this guy's simulation showed a difference of 15%, which would be significant. He then revealed that he used different betting ramps, betting more money at the same advantage of the position that he wanted to show in a favorable lite than the other position. Give me a break! That's apples to oranges, in no way a fair comparison.

Another commonly used tactic by the proponents of higher level counts is refusing to acknowledge the existence of higher error rates with higher level counts, involving adding or subtracting 3 or 4 numbers as opposed to 2 numbers, or side counting additional numbers. Scientific evidence confirms that the simpler the task the lower the error rate. As a task grows more difficult, even slightly, the error rate increases.

These people not only refuse to accept this standard recognized fact, but counter with things like "with enough practice, I can play just as efficiently" or "more complex tasks keep their mind sharper". Sounds great, but it's just not factually true. If you are not going to account for some sort of higher error rate, which will reduce or eliminate any gain, you are not being honest as to real life expectations.

So, I am really a proponent of having accurate information for players, especially newer players to look at and not some cherry-picked data or information that will wrongly influence them. At that point if they choose to play a higher level count, that's fine and dandy. Just have reasonable expectations. For most players doing so won't be beneficial and for almost all players that currently know and play another count like hi-lo, of K-O efficiently, it will not be beneficial, as they will realize little if any difference in real world play.
harikarilord
harikarilord
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November 3rd, 2015 at 8:42:03 PM permalink
Thanks again for the replies Romes and kewlj. I want to poke at the question of standard deviations one more time. I'm not an expert at the math, but intuitively I would think a level-two count system would help smooth out bankroll fluctuations.

Reasoning: with a level-two count system, your knowledge of the remaining deck composition is more nuanced. Therefore, when the higher-count method tells you that you have an advantage, it's more likely to be accurate. So, *when you place your big bets*, you're more likely to be placing them at a point when you have an advantage. In other words, big-bet losses are less likely with a higher count system. Which translates to less extreme fluctuations in your bankroll.

Is this reasoning sound?
davethebuilder
davethebuilder
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November 4th, 2015 at 2:12:05 AM permalink
In general, using a level 2 counting system is more accurate than a level 1 system but more error prone. The advantage is approx. 5-10% and you will experience a slightly lower standard deviation because your advantage is more accurate at each true count. You will need to size your bets accurately and ideally bet proportionally to your advantage to maximise your win rate. For this to work you will need to select the right game, calculate your bankroll requirements so you can survive the downswings and minimise your risk of ruin. If you are able to do all of this accurately, count error free and apply the relevant indices at the correct true count in a casino environment then in theory you should enjoy a slight advantage over a level 1 system in the long run. Good luck.
Casino Enemy No.1
RS
RS
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November 4th, 2015 at 3:53:12 AM permalink
Not sure what kewlj wrote, but I agree with whatever it is that he did write. He's probably (actually no, he IS definitely) the go-to guy around here when it comes to card counting in BJ.

Here's a comparison chart of different counts: https://www.qfit.com/card-counting.htm

Hopefully my post won't be too long, but chances are, it will be long. :(

Depends on what kinds of games you play. If you're playing only single/double deck games, IMO, you're going to want to improve your counting system [at least, I would]. IMO, HiOpt I or HiOpt II is a great system for pitch games (single/double deck). You'll probably also want to side count Aces along with it. For me, I don't know if that's worth it (mostly because I don't play much BJ anymore).

If you play shoe games, you're almost certainly going to want to stay with HiLo. Lots of players look for "better systems" to win more money....but you're not going to be winning a bunch more money with a super complex system. Instead, and it depends on your circumstances, you'll be far better off:

-Joining a team that plays HiLo (any team I've ever heard of, uses HiLo)
-Learning to back-count multiple tables
-Count the table you're playing (obviously) and count the table beside your table. If your table gets cold and the other is better, hop on over there [it doesn't have to be +EV to jump over...but it's better than a real cold TC].
-Learn more advanced strategies, like shuffle tracking, Ace-sequencing, etc.

Each of those depend on your environment. Are you looking to take BJ more seriously, or do you play every now and then? Are you interested in joining a team? What kind of a network do you have with other APs? Do you travel to play BJ, or do you play at the same local casino any/every time you go [if so, are there good conditions at your local casino for some of those opportunities]?


Being able to back-count two tables doesn't help you if you're playing single deck games. And having a HiOpt II w/ ASC doesn't help you if you're trying to back-count two tables.


Or perhaps you play a mixture of shoe games as well as pitch games. I used to play both, so I decided on switching to an "easy" level-2 count (Zen). It's easy enough and not so convoluted for shoe games, while maintaining good strength for pitch games.


Remember when you first starting learning BJ, learning how to count HiLo, learning basic strategy, the index plays, true count conversion, etc.? Frustrating, wasn't it? Well, it's similar when you move up to a different count (ESPECIALLY if you're trying to side-count (aces for ex.)].


Being able to count 2 tables at once (with HiLo) is significantly better than playing one table with some advanced counting system. You'll be getting much more of those juicy +TC counts where you make your money. So what if you miss a card or 2 on the other table every now and then. Those ultra-fancy counts look cool on paper, but don't delude yourself into thinking you're going to be unstoppable, everything's going to turn around, you'll be a winner every session or even more frequently.


But.....it all comes down to you, what you're motivated in doing, your conditions, how you want to proceed, etc.


IMO: Check out some different counts, read about them and figure out what they're good at and worse at. But don't start learning anything new. The link I posted has some good stuff. Also read into side-counting (aces, probably), and the benefit it provides (it's usually something like...you only use the side count of Aces when making an insurance decision, for example). But ALSO try counting 2 separate decks at once and see if you can handle it. Obviously don't go super fast, go super slow if anything. It doesn't take much practice to get a decent grasp on how to do it. Then go to the casino, and give it a shot...see if you can back-count two tables. Don't need to do it seriously or have any intentions on wonging in to either game...just practice! The shoes don't need to be fresh and new, just try it mid-shoe FOR PRACTICE. Remember, it's common enough for one to go positive and the other to go negative, and once the negative one goes negative-enough, you can abandon counting that table.


Good luck, and don't make a decision too soon.

EDIT: Another benefit of a simpler count is...it's easy! You don't have to concentrate on every card, adding or subtracting larger numbers at a time, etc. Not that I'm saying to use HiLo because it's easier...but because you can focus on other things at well. You can talk to other players, chat with the dealer, take notice of what is going on in the pit (boss going to phone, floor people huddling up, supervisors taking notice of you, a team of security guards and shift supervisor approaching your table, etc.).
Romes
Romes
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November 4th, 2015 at 7:08:37 AM permalink
Quote: harikarilord

Thanks again for the replies Romes and kewlj. I want to poke at the question of standard deviations one more time. I'm not an expert at the math, but intuitively I would think a level-two count system would help smooth out bankroll fluctuations.

Reasoning: with a level-two count system, your knowledge of the remaining deck composition is more nuanced. Therefore, when the higher-count method tells you that you have an advantage, it's more likely to be accurate. So, *when you place your big bets*, you're more likely to be placing them at a point when you have an advantage. In other words, big-bet losses are less likely with a higher count system. Which translates to less extreme fluctuations in your bankroll.

Is this reasoning sound?

Your main issue is you think as the count gets higher you're "more likely to win"... or I suppose "less likely to lose." Not only are some of the differences in betting correlation negligible, but again each system tells you when you have an advantage, and that doesn't mean you'll win more / lose less FREQUENTLY. The dealer hand is just as likely to get blackjack as you. Where you make your money in the game is you get paid extra for blackjacks, the dealer does not. You can split and double to poor dealer cards, and in higher counts they will bust slightly more often. This helps you get paid more, NOT win more frequently. This is how you beat the game of blackjack... with blackjacks, doubles, splits, and dealer busts... not with a "high count winning more often."

Different counts don't effect the standard deviation of blackjack (to a worthwhile amount, in my opinion), and your EV (as discussed before) is: EV = AvgBet*NumHands*AvgEdge. With your Standard Deviation being SD = OriginalSD * Sqrt(NumHands) = (1.1*AvgBet) * Sqrt(NumHands).

I again hope you see in these equations where the only variable you COULD be manipulating with a different counting system is the AverageBet... which if you have a more accurate system perhaps it tells you to bet more, more often... which would actually RAISE your SD's and fluctuations!

Your level 2 and level 3 count systems sound 10x more sophisticated. I've done multiple counts, and they're quite similar all around. Other than being more error prone with a higher count, they really only get you pennies on the dollar more. Remember, just because you've "more accurately" deciphered you have an advantage doesn't mean you're more likely to win the hand.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.

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