Joined: May 6, 2013
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April 24th, 2017 at 1:40:17 AM permalink
I'm comparing these games at the Cal & MSS (recent trips Oct 2016 and Apr 2017).

I've never played a shoe game. I only played pitch blackjack (5 buy-ins last Oct 2016, 2 buy-ins Apr 2017). I had small but positive returns on both occasions. My first time to successfully card-count was this past Apr 2017.


On my 3rd trip (maybe end of 2017 or early 2018), I'm thinking to myself that I should try a shoe game AT LEAST ONCE. FYI, I plan to return to stay and play at MSS, not the Cal. In between blackjack, I will go for the scratchers at the Boar's Head Bar or nearby alcoves that have 10/7 DB with 100.62% ER after factoring in 9 more coins when you get a quad.

After trying the shoe game, if I don't like it, I'll revert to pitch blackjack,
However, whether or not I'll like the shoe game, I have already planned to revise my bankroll and betting strategy so that I'm not underfunded, and have enough BR to cover double downs and positive TC counts >=3.

AFTER I'm sure I know the differences between 2-deck and 6-deck blackjack, I'll work on this strategy. Thanks to all the tips from WoV members, I've now compiled what I think is a usable table comparing 2-deck and 6-deck blackjack. I'm trying to plan my "attack" months before my trip, so that I will act as natural as possible and not attract attention.

My questions are:

1. Did I miss any elements to compare for 2-deck vs 6-deck blackjack? Again, I've never played 6-deck blackjack, so I might easily have misinterpreted tips and suggestions I've been reading on the WoV forum.
2. Any GENERAL guidelines to planning my bankroll? I am a low-roller, and my BR will be under $1,000 for 3 or 4 playing days.
3. If possible, I prefer to play head-to-head early in the mornings, at least until I'm really comfortable card-counting. I understand this means I'd have to play through negative TCs, but is there anything I might be overlooking?

Comparing 2-deck Blackjack (pitch) 6-deck Blackjack (shoe)
Bankroll still figuring out, suggestions welcomed! still figuring out, suggestions welcomed!
Bets Rapidly change, but doesn't last long Slowly change, but you'll have more rounds to continue with ramped up bet
Cards, number of 104 312
Card-counting Count hole cards when flipped over, and hit cards that come out on the felt. Start counting when players get their 2nd card, and use cancellation principle.
Count fluctuation Frequently and rapidly goes up and down; new shuffle comes quickly before you can make more than 2-3 ramped up bets. Changes more gradually, but you get more than 2-3 rounds to continue with ramped up bets.
Dealing First card is dealt face down, succeeding cards face up. Player can only hold cards with one hand Cards are dealt face up. Player MAY NOT touch cards.
Double-down (non-Ace pairs can be split up to 4x) more likely to win less likely to win
HE (WoV Survey) .60225 .78327
Max TC + (Hi/Lo) 30.075 52.174
Min/Max $5/$1,000 $5/$500
Playing time (faster if fewer players) 15-20 min for 3-4 shuffles, approximating dealer's shift time at Cal & MSS At 10-15 min per shoe, the pace is faster than pitch BJ. I've not played a shoe game, but I estimate 1-2 shoes/20 min dealer shift.

312 - 120 (2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s)=192 - 72 (7s, 8s, 9s)= RC/remaining decks = 120/2.3 = 52.174
Eat real food . . . and you won't need medicine (or a lot less!)
Joined: Jul 22, 2014
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April 25th, 2017 at 10:03:00 AM permalink
A few things...

- You're reading a bit too much in to it. While yes, you must understand the differences between 2D and 6D, if you have a winning game with Hi/Low you can play either. The biggest differences you're looking at from your perspective (downtown DD) is nDAS I believe. That hurts the player to the point where it's no longer <.5% and it actually changes the strategy a bit too.

- Hi/Low is actually going to perform better on 6D and 8D than compared to 1D and 2D. For the lower number decks, if you're going to specialize in just those, then there are other counts that more specialize with the shorter number of decks.

- 1D and 2D are going to come with a lot more heat whenever you get to a point where you have a spread that can make any kind of decent money (even $10-$20/hour). Especially in vegas, and downtown, just messing around with my younger brother and betting $5-$60 I've been shuffled on. Even with a $5-$60 spread on those crappy games (nDAS) that still only comes out to like $5/hour EV. So you could imagine how you'd have to either spread a ton more, up your base bet, or find a better game to get your EV up to something where you could make any kind of okay money.

- Card fluctuation is a bit misleading as well. The fewer number of decks the more each card has an impact on the TC, yes. However, I've sat down at 6D games, and raised my bet after the first round, raised it again after the 2nd round, maxed at the 3rd round and kept it at max bet for half the shoe. The cards don't always come out evenly, which is a good thing for counters, so it doesn't always "gradually" go up and down (just like it doesn't in DD). From my experiences, DD is good for hit and run because of the fluctuations, where as 6D is better for getting a lot more big bets out in a good shoe. You might see them a bit less frequently, but you'll also have good TC's to bet in for a lot longer than crapy PEN DD games. I'd think in your situation you'd rather be able to play for a while than to play for 5 min, show your max bet at a DD game, then have to decide whether to leave or take a chance getting backed off at one of your favorite places. At 6D games you can sit around for a while and "camp out" more with a lot less heat. Aka You'd get better comps playing 6D as well.

- Your "less likely to win" double-down statement is a bit misleading. The reason the shorter number of decks are "more likely" is due to the concentration of the cards. This is why we use a true count, but when there's a ton of decks left there's a bit more room for variance. Yes, that's a bit of a word salad, so let's look at examples...

1) Let's pretend you have 11 (8-3), the dealer has a neutral card, and you're doubling down at a 2D and a 6D game just after the shuffle...

2D... What are your odds of getting 21? Well, there are 32 face cards out of the remaining 101 cards (your 2 and dealer up card). Your odds of getting a 21 at this point would be 32/101 = 31.6832%

6D... What are your odds of getting 21? Well, there are 96 face cards out of the remaining 309 cards. Your odds of getting 21 at this point would be 96/309 = 31.068%.

So while you "technically" are "more likely to win" with the DD double down, the difference is about half a percent (.5%). In "general" saying you have about a 31% to win your double on either game is an accurate statement. Thus, I think to have an entire category to stating you're more likely to win on DD and less likely on 6D is vastly misleading to your train of thought, while technically correct.

The best way to compare the games is going to be:

Comparing 2D Blackjack 6D Blackjack
Heat A lot more heat generally. Any spread with decent money you won't play too long, nor get comps/offers after being backed off. A lot less heat generally. Can get away with decent spreads that earns some okay EV, stacking on better comps/offers.
Penetration Usually pretty bad. Especially downtown, you get 50% most places, maybe up to 60%. Standard PEN last I checked downtown (1.5/6 = 75%). Even on the strip there are 3:2 lower limit ($10 or $15) several places that cut 1D on 6D (83%).
House Edge Downtown games aren't very good... 3/2 H17 DD, SP4, nDAS = .6% HE Even with 3/2 H17 SP4 DAS = .63% HE, if you're going off strip you can find plenty of places with better low limit rules. So the big difference here is .03%, which is negligible for your situation.

You're looking at a lot of categories where, yes they're good to "know," they should be really erroneous to your decision on what to play. You should be looking for the lowest heat, best PEN, best rules (in that order in my opinion). To reiterate again too, if you're going to use Hi/Low it actually performs better at 6 and 8 deck games than 1 and 2 deck games. There are old threads on here and definitely a lot of threads on other forums (that like to compare counting systems a lot - hint hint) that you can read up on why.

If you love 2D games, and that's what you want to play, then do it. But if you use Hi/Low you'll lose a tiny bit of your edge, and you'll eventually come in to a lot more heat when you start betting any kind of decent action that could earn you even $5-$10 per hour (at least downtown).

EDIT: Both games have their purpose and merits. If you're only going to be in town once per year and for a couple days, then perhaps burning up the DD's at the places you're not staying isn't too bad an idea, even if you lose a slight bit of edge from counting 2D with Hi/Low. In the end it's what you want to do, but I don't think you've ever even played a 6D game, correct? When you get backed off from your first DD game, play an even bigger spread at a 6D game and watch how no one seems to care/notice. Then realize you're getting better comps/offers too as you'll be able to play longer and "camp out" a bit more to get more hours/hands in.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.

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