November 12th, 2015 at 7:58:15 PM
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Hi folks, as I'm sure we've all experienced, sharp downward dips in bankrolls can be a nerve-wracking thing. But given the large standard deviations possible, it's a risk you have to assume to play the game. I'm wondering if there are ways to "smooth out" these fluctuations in bankroll. One idea I've been chewing on:

Have two people tag-team one blackjack table together. Each brings their own separate bankroll to the table, and places bets according to the count (heck, only one of you needs to be a card counter. The other can simply mimic your betting strategy). At the end of the session, the two of you evenly split the wins/losses.

In effect, tag-teaming tables this way and sharing any gains/losses will smooth out some of those fluctuations any individual player may experience by him/herself. This is analogous to spreading your hands to multiple spots when the count is good, in that the risk is spread across multiple spots instead of loaded on a single one. However, the extra advantage is that you're "sharing" wins/losses with someone else, rather than absorbing it all yourself.

In other words, this method "gets you into the long run faster". Whereas a single player may play 100 hands in the session, two playing with shared wins/losses in effect play 200 hands each. Your bad losing streak at the table may be offset by the winning streak of your partner, and on average, you're quicker to settle around that 1.5% advantage (major jumps and drops around that average are truncated).

I think this strategy would work best at single and double deck games. The count fluctuates enough in those games to make the "double play" on a single table still worthwhile. It probably doesn't make sense to use this strategy on shoe games - two players would probably be better off playing *separate* shoe games, and calling each other in when one goes hot (a la MIT blackjack teams).

A further advantage of two players tag-teaming one single deck/double deck table is that each partner could use a different counting method. For example, Partner A uses hi-lo for betting purposes, and Partner B mimics his/her bets. While Partner B uses 10-count for insurance purposes, and Partner A takes insurance whenever B does.

One potential downside of all this: would pit bosses get wise pretty quick if two players kept making the exact same bets? Some good cover play might be needed to avoid heat...

What do folks think of this method? Worth pursuing? What am I missing?

Have two people tag-team one blackjack table together. Each brings their own separate bankroll to the table, and places bets according to the count (heck, only one of you needs to be a card counter. The other can simply mimic your betting strategy). At the end of the session, the two of you evenly split the wins/losses.

In effect, tag-teaming tables this way and sharing any gains/losses will smooth out some of those fluctuations any individual player may experience by him/herself. This is analogous to spreading your hands to multiple spots when the count is good, in that the risk is spread across multiple spots instead of loaded on a single one. However, the extra advantage is that you're "sharing" wins/losses with someone else, rather than absorbing it all yourself.

In other words, this method "gets you into the long run faster". Whereas a single player may play 100 hands in the session, two playing with shared wins/losses in effect play 200 hands each. Your bad losing streak at the table may be offset by the winning streak of your partner, and on average, you're quicker to settle around that 1.5% advantage (major jumps and drops around that average are truncated).

I think this strategy would work best at single and double deck games. The count fluctuates enough in those games to make the "double play" on a single table still worthwhile. It probably doesn't make sense to use this strategy on shoe games - two players would probably be better off playing *separate* shoe games, and calling each other in when one goes hot (a la MIT blackjack teams).

A further advantage of two players tag-teaming one single deck/double deck table is that each partner could use a different counting method. For example, Partner A uses hi-lo for betting purposes, and Partner B mimics his/her bets. While Partner B uses 10-count for insurance purposes, and Partner A takes insurance whenever B does.

One potential downside of all this: would pit bosses get wise pretty quick if two players kept making the exact same bets? Some good cover play might be needed to avoid heat...

What do folks think of this method? Worth pursuing? What am I missing?

November 12th, 2015 at 8:50:57 PM
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wow, sounds like after 500 yrs you have rediscovered America again.

November 13th, 2015 at 12:23:05 AM
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A couple problems with two 'teammates' playing the same table.

First is co-variance. Whether two teammates or a single player playing two hands at the same tables, the two hands are not completely independent of each other because they are played against the same dealer hand. When you hit one of those streaks (that are all too frequent) where the dealer gets more than his share of BJ and 20's and seems to turn every potential bust hand into a 20 or 21, the effect is that you or you and your partner will lose twice as much.

Second issue is there is nothing quite so obvious as two players raising and lowering their bets in tandem. Even the most clueless pit and surveillance folks can spot this from a mile away. For this reason even as a mostly solo type counter, when I find myself at the table with another counter, I will exit pretty quickly. Usually I haven't identified the other counter until we both start raising wagers, so I will finish that shoe and exit at the shuffle. There are way too many negatives in the risk vs reward equation to do anything else. There are players that have been linked together in databases with other known counters and recorded as teammates when they just happened to run into one another at the same table.

If the goal is to smooth out variance the teammate approach that best does this is called EMFH (every man for himself) approach. This is where two players playing off the same total bankroll play at SEPERATE tables. This will smooth out the swings and allow you to get the elusive 'longterm' or 'longrun' quicker.

First is co-variance. Whether two teammates or a single player playing two hands at the same tables, the two hands are not completely independent of each other because they are played against the same dealer hand. When you hit one of those streaks (that are all too frequent) where the dealer gets more than his share of BJ and 20's and seems to turn every potential bust hand into a 20 or 21, the effect is that you or you and your partner will lose twice as much.

Second issue is there is nothing quite so obvious as two players raising and lowering their bets in tandem. Even the most clueless pit and surveillance folks can spot this from a mile away. For this reason even as a mostly solo type counter, when I find myself at the table with another counter, I will exit pretty quickly. Usually I haven't identified the other counter until we both start raising wagers, so I will finish that shoe and exit at the shuffle. There are way too many negatives in the risk vs reward equation to do anything else. There are players that have been linked together in databases with other known counters and recorded as teammates when they just happened to run into one another at the same table.

If the goal is to smooth out variance the teammate approach that best does this is called EMFH (every man for himself) approach. This is where two players playing off the same total bankroll play at SEPERATE tables. This will smooth out the swings and allow you to get the elusive 'longterm' or 'longrun' quicker.

November 13th, 2015 at 2:11:00 AM
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This method of play is not recommended. Why? Let me explain.

If two players are playing against the same dealer upcard there is a positive correlation in the results. That means that more than half the time the outcome of the hands are going to be the same. The measure of this dependence is called co-variance and in Blackjack it is always positive. Varying your bet size, playing with a different number of decks or changing the rule set is not going to make a significant difference. If you are card counting and using indices this co-variance is going to increase with the count because you will be splitting and doubling more hands than usual. So instead of spreading bets with a partner at the same table it would be better to put larger bets down on one box only and your partner can play at a different table. This will also lessen your chances of being identified as an advantage player.

However, there are exceptions. If you are both playing on a full table and the true count is very high then it would be better for you and your partner to stay at the same table and be dealt more cards than have the other players or the dealer get them. You could also back bet other players in this situation if you believe they are reasonably skilled because you will not be making the playing decision. Also, at a high true count if you are near the cut card then drawing more cards will increase the penetration and therefore your chance of winning the hand.

If two players are playing against the same dealer upcard there is a positive correlation in the results. That means that more than half the time the outcome of the hands are going to be the same. The measure of this dependence is called co-variance and in Blackjack it is always positive. Varying your bet size, playing with a different number of decks or changing the rule set is not going to make a significant difference. If you are card counting and using indices this co-variance is going to increase with the count because you will be splitting and doubling more hands than usual. So instead of spreading bets with a partner at the same table it would be better to put larger bets down on one box only and your partner can play at a different table. This will also lessen your chances of being identified as an advantage player.

However, there are exceptions. If you are both playing on a full table and the true count is very high then it would be better for you and your partner to stay at the same table and be dealt more cards than have the other players or the dealer get them. You could also back bet other players in this situation if you believe they are reasonably skilled because you will not be making the playing decision. Also, at a high true count if you are near the cut card then drawing more cards will increase the penetration and therefore your chance of winning the hand.

Casino Enemy No.1

November 13th, 2015 at 9:34:19 PM
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Thanks kewlj and davethebuilder, that was insightful. Is there any way to quantify the effect of this co-variance? I'm wondering what its impact to overall edge is. On second thought, it shouldn't affect the players' edge at all, right? Co-variance really factors in when calculating possible fluctuations (standard deviations) around expected value - correct?

November 14th, 2015 at 3:43:39 PM
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From a practical viewpoint, in any Blackjack game you want to look for high penetration, a low house edge, a low number of decks, low variance and low co-variance. All these factors should be taken into account, not just the co-variance.

A recreational player that never splits or doubles will experience a lower co-variance than a basic strategy player who will in turn will experience a lower co-variance than a card counter who utilises indices. So the co-variance is determined by the rule set and then varies according to your playing strategy and applies to any number of simultaneous hands played at the same table. If you are playing simultaneous hands of equal bet size then the standard deviation is the same for each hand.

The house edge is simply the ratio of average loss to the initial bet expressed as a percentage and is determined by your rule set and the number of decks used.

A recreational player that never splits or doubles will experience a lower co-variance than a basic strategy player who will in turn will experience a lower co-variance than a card counter who utilises indices. So the co-variance is determined by the rule set and then varies according to your playing strategy and applies to any number of simultaneous hands played at the same table. If you are playing simultaneous hands of equal bet size then the standard deviation is the same for each hand.

The house edge is simply the ratio of average loss to the initial bet expressed as a percentage and is determined by your rule set and the number of decks used.

Casino Enemy No.1

November 17th, 2015 at 3:07:34 PM
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Quote:harikarilordThanks kewlj and davethebuilder, that was insightful. Is there any way to quantify the effect of this co-variance? I'm wondering what its impact to overall edge is. On second thought, it shouldn't affect the players' edge at all, right? Co-variance really factors in when calculating possible fluctuations (standard deviations) around expected value - correct?

I think the co variance is something like .34 at most tables.

The information I'm guessing you're interesting in, however:

1 Player: Each bets 100% of regular bet

2 Players: Each bets 75% of regular bet

3 Players: Each bets 50% of regular bet

In other words, 2 people betting 75% of your regular bet is equivalent to one person betting 100% of your regular bet as far as risk goes. (you do actually gain a bit of EV though since you have more money on the table)

November 18th, 2015 at 2:37:49 AM
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What you are referring to is optimal bet sizing for simultaneous hands and this should only be done if you have an advantage in the game. This is a very important point because the co-variance in Blackjack is positive. The full breakdown is:

1 Box: 100% of optimal bet

2 Boxes: 75% of optimal bet

3 Boxes: 60% of optimal bet

4 Boxes: 50% of optimal bet

5 Boxes: 43% of optimal bet

6 Boxes: 38% of optimal bet

7 Boxes: 33% of optimal bet

As you can see the bet sizing is calculated relative to the size of the one box bet and the actual amount is relative to the size of your bankroll. If there are other players at the table you will have to back bet so you run the risk of not controlling the play in these situations.

1 Box: 100% of optimal bet

2 Boxes: 75% of optimal bet

3 Boxes: 60% of optimal bet

4 Boxes: 50% of optimal bet

5 Boxes: 43% of optimal bet

6 Boxes: 38% of optimal bet

7 Boxes: 33% of optimal bet

As you can see the bet sizing is calculated relative to the size of the one box bet and the actual amount is relative to the size of your bankroll. If there are other players at the table you will have to back bet so you run the risk of not controlling the play in these situations.

Casino Enemy No.1