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Battle of the Blackjack Teams28 September 2001
I like to investigate "what if" scenarios. Many of my articles, plus much of the content of my book Twenty-First Century Blackjack are based on what happens when different types of blackjack players all play the same exact hands against the same exact dealer hands.
So here's a new one: What if a team of four Thomason 4-Step Progressive bettors, a team of four "flat" bettors, and a team of four KO card counters all played the same hands against the same dealer hands? What if they all played the same Basic Strategy (which would result in the same number of hands/bets won or lost) and then compared the net results for each team? The only difference in their play would be their betting styles.
Let's be more specific: Twelve blackjack players - four 4-Step Progressive bettors, four flat bettors, and four KO counters - went to Vegas on a three-day junket, and each team of four played 75 shoes of blackjack. The four flat bettors played four spots in a six-deck game. Each flat bettor bet $30 as his initial wager on each hand. A neutral party (more about him later) recorded the win/loss record for each player for each hand, then totaled the win/loss results for each player at the end of each shoe, then calculated the net win/loss results for the team for each shoe, and then calculated the net monetary result for the team at the conclusion of 75 shoes of play. The final dollar figure indicated the amount collectively won or lost by the team.
Enter the Four-Step Positive Progressive bettors: These four players honored the win/loss record established by the flat bettors, essentially took the same seat at each spot at the table, and played every hand played by the flat bettors. But instead of wagering $30 on each initial hand, the progressive bettors bet from $20 to $50, based on the method of play expounded in Twenty-First Century Blackjack with the "Quit Point" plan. Each player quit the shoe - dropped out of the game until the start of the next shoe - if he lost money on four consecutive hands. After completing the 75 shoes of play, they calculated their individual and net wins or losses.
Enter the KO counters: This team traded places with the progressive bettors, and played the same hands. But since the progressionists applied Quit Points, and weren't required to play every hand in each shoe, the KO counters chose to "back count" and only play those hands when the count was -4 or better (based on an initial count of -20) using a bet spread of $40 to $200, depending on the count. This allowed the counters to skip any upcoming hand when the count was not in their favor. They played the same 75 shoes and calculated their net win/loss results.
The "neutral party" that supervised this contest, the person that dealt the 75 shoes and tabulated win/loss results is not currently employed in a casino, and it's obvious that this contest did not really occur in Vegas. The 75 shoes used in this comparison are the first 75 shoes in Bob Hubby's book entitled Blackjack Tracker (Morris Publishing, May, 2000), which tracks the win/loss results of four players at one table for over 50,000 manually dealt hands of blackjack. Bob has no potential biases regarding any betting scheme, so there's no way that his published results would favor any particular betting plan. Nor was there any way that I could selectively use his data, since I started with "Hand 1" and compared the three teams using the first 75 shoes in the book.
So what happened? Anyone familiar with traditional blackjack theory would predict that the flat bettors and the progressive bettors would both lose the same amount of money, since many experts claim that progressive betting can't overcome the casino's built-in advantage (approximately 0.5 percent in this case) and subsequently would lose about the same amount as the flat bettors. The KO counters, based on long-term computer simulations conducted by these same experts, would be expected to have an advantage over the house and show a profit from play--especially since they don't have to play every negative hand.
Both of the preceding assumptions would have been incorrect on our three-day junket, as the results in the table that follows show clearly.
So, what are we to conclude based on these 75 shoes that were manually dealt?
Final Note: It is not the intention of this article to discount the merits of KO counting, or card counting in general. It is the intention of this article to proclaim the merits of my 4-Step Positive Progressive betting system when compared to flat betting, and to illustrate that progressive betting is often superior to card counting in short-run situations.
For more information about blackjack, we recommend:21st Century Blackjack: New Strategies for a New Millennium by Walter Thomason
The Ultimate Blackjack Book by Walter Thomason
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of Walter Thomason