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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, Feb. 2004, #49


By Dan Pronovost

 Blackjack Training software for handhelds and Windows

Dan Pronovost is the owner and president of DeepNet Technologies, makers of a wide range of blackjack training products and software. Dan recently released a new e-Book, Blackjack Count Master which uses a series of exercises based on his software to teach readers how to master card-counting in blackjack. Their web site is:

As Production Editor for Blackjack Insider, I have the privilege of seeing all content before it is published. Part of this production process are the Question and Answers e-mails we get on a regular basis. This article is a collection of interesting questions we've received over the years from our astute readers. We hope you find them as interesting as much as we did when we received them!

Burning the dealer Hole Card on a table bust…

CJ asks:

In your opinion, sir, do you think that a dealer not showing her hole card if all players bust is a significant counter countermeasure? My favorite little local casino just started this policy (at least on their d2 games). I asked about it innocently, and they explained the policy was designed to foil counters. I said "oh."

After some thought, I believe it is correct to view those unshown hole cards simply as if they were additional cards behind the cut card, which would never be seen anyway. If this is true, the casino is still very playable because even if the whole table busts 5 times per d2 shoe (and therefore I mentally add 5 cards to the size of the undealt shoe) the penetration is still much better than at any other local casino.

Am I correct? What fantastic insights do you have?

BJI Answers:

Hi CJ:

Indeed, it isn't a big deal as long as there are a few players at the table. If playing one-on-one, then this situation will happen more often.

Empirically, if it happens only a few times (i.e. a few cards) in a shoe, no big deal. Your treatment is 100% correct (treat as if still in shoe). As such, a handful or less cards played from the shoe in a double-deck isn't going to effect your player advantage very much with most penetration levels.



In regards to your article on card counter law....

TP. writes:

Hi Henry,

It was a great article on the law and card counting. I just wanted to discuss about your statement that Nevada Casinos have the right to detain and question suspected cheaters. The Casinos as any business do have the right to detain and hold for the authorities any suspected cheat or thief. In a way they have a business owner’s right to detain vis a vis handcuffing and or detaining/securing a persons body until the police arrive. The Casino yes has the right to ask questions. The one thing the person has is the right to remain silent. Since this is a legal detainment for possible arrest then the subject has his constitutional rights. The casino does not have the right to "force" any one to a search or to answer their questions. I believe that casino security are allowed to pat the external clothing of a suspected criminal for safety reasons but that is all. The Only time a person can be fully searched is after a legal police arrest or with a search warrant. A "on the street" pre-arrest search, needs "PROBABLE CAUSE". And this power is for the police only! The Casinos overstep their boundaries daily. The recent surge in law suits will surely cause the casinos to improve their security guard SOPS’s. I and the others at Card Counter.Com read every insider newsletter. We also promote others to read your articles. Keep up the good work. CC.COM Management

BJI Answers:

Hello TP:

Thank you for your excellent feedback on this article. We will post it on our Q&A section with your permission, noting of course that it is a non-legal opinion and anonymous.

Can you beat a CSM (continuous shuffle machine)?

EF asks:

I have only 1 question... I live in South Africa, where in all the casinos they use card shufflers, so counting is impossible... The question I have to pose, is it all possible to beat blackjack with only basic strategy?

The only power I have, is to choose at which table to play at. But the rules in SA isn't too bad. They allow doubling on any 2 cards, after splitting, re-splitting of Aces, and surrendering on 15 or 16 (Late surrender).

I don't use flat bets... My betting goes like this: Start with a R50 wager, if I win I go R25; R50; R75; R100 and keep at that amount until I lose a hand, then it is R50 again. If I lose I go R50, R100... If I lose at R100 I start at R50 again...

This weekend that has just passed, I won R1300 and R900 on 2 trips to a casino... So was that just "LUCKY" or is it possible to repeat these feats?

Thanks for the great newsletter...



BJI Answers:

Unfortunately, that game is not beatable with only basic strategy, which is all that is available with a continuous shuffler. No betting scheme, despite popular belief, can provide a positive player advantage over the house in a CSM blackjack game.

But the good news is that the house edge is very low, depending on the number of decks. With a two-deck game as you describe, I expect that house edge with perfect basic strategy would be very low.


Dan Pronovost

Surrender in Atlantic City…

MH asks (Jan. 23, 2004):

Are any AC casinos offering surrender?

Is there a web site or similar place where I could locate this information?



BJI Answers:


Currently surrender is not offered in any AC casino. Our AC BJ reporters Alene Paone & Frank Scoblete report on BJ playing conditions in our Blackjack Insider newsletter (if you not a subscriber go to and subscribe - subscription is free). If a casino in AC decides to offer surrender, Alene & Frank will report it. Other sites that also provide this information is (need to purchase a subscription to Current BJ News) and (paid membership required).


Henry Tamburin

European No Hole Card Option (ENHC)…

FT asks:


I have been counting for about 15 years, and have had a great advantage in Vegas where I win about 90% of my trips and fair advantage in AC where I win about 70% of my trips, I have used all kinds of Hilo system and have stuck to KO for its ease and less demanding attention.

My problem is that I go to Puerto Rico twice a year and have horrid results against there 6 deck European no Hole Game.

I have read most BJ books and found little info concerning this game. Ccan you tell me how bad is the disadvantage in this game and what should I do different.



BJI Answers:


ENHC is a very negative variable for counters. In Stanford Wong's book, "Professional Blackjack", pg. 82, he covers this game ("Lose all to Natural, S17"). The game has a 30% lower win rate than the equivalent without ENHC.

Also, note that the basic strategy and play indices are different (Wong includes the play indice for HL, and you can infer the BS from that). The most relevant cases are: 11/10: H, 11/A: H, 10/A:H. If you misplayed these, you'd make your outcome even worse.


Dan Pronovost

The Spread of 6 to 5 blackjack pay out games…

DD asks:

I read recently in Casino Player that a number of casinos in Las Vegas are paying other than 3-2 for a blackjack that is not in favor of the player. Has there been any movement against this practice or do you have any more info on this and whether it's spreading outside of Nevada?



BJI Answers:


Yes the 6:5 single deck blackjack games have spread. Some casinos in Gulfport/Biloxi, and in the mid-west are trying them. More are planning to test them. A few players have filed a petition to Nevada regulators on this change of odds for a blackjack payoff but they ruled not surprisingly in favor of the casinos. As long as players play theserip off BJ games the casinos will offer them. However, some casinos have removed them because players complained or simply not played. That was the point of my article in December Casino Player magazine -players need to take action.


Henry Tamburin

Blackjack Mini-Tournaments…

DB Asks (Nov 07, 03):


I am going to Las Vegas from December 12-19th and would like to know which casinos are offering low buy-in mini blackjack tournaments during my stay there. I'm looking for tournaments with buy-ins of $50 or under. Could you kindly send me a list of these tournaments. Thank you. Sincerely, DB

BJI Answers:


The following casinos hold BJ mini-tournaments in Las Vegas area with entry fees less than $50.

Silverton (Sunday), Cannery& Longhorn (Monday), Rampart, Longhorn, Fiesta Henderson (Tuesday), Green Valley Ranch (Henderson), Longhorn (Wednesday), Fiesta Rancho, Rampart, Longhorn, Fiesta Henderson, Sunset Station (Thursday), Longhorn (Friday), and Texas Station, Boulder Station (Saturday).

FYI. I just recently wrote a two-part column on Las Vegas BJ Mini-tournaments (including my experience in half a dozen of them) that appeared in October and November 2003 issues of Casino Player magazine.


Henry Tamburin

Knock-Out versus Highlow…

JD Asks:


I currently use Knock out and the "Illustrious 18" and "Fab 4". I've recently fallen in love with the single deck games in Reno and Carson City. I've read Don Schlesinger’s "Blackjack Attack" and it didn't provide a definite answer to my question. Here's my question. For playing the single deck game I'd like to learn a count with a high Playing efficiency, like Hi-Opt 1 or John May's Lima count. Does the "Illustrious 18" work on single deck with counts like High opt 1, or does using the Illustrious 18 instead of the full index, defeat the purpose of the higher playing efficiency?

Thank you for answering my question and all the great Blackjack information you provide us on your web site.


BJI Answers:

Hi JD:

I'll have a stab at your question... but it is very complicated... no easy answer.

I did a detailed statistical analysis of KO versus High Low in my e-book, "Blackjack Count Master" ( Using our Blackjack simulator BJ Audit (, I did a detailed comparison of the two systems. This is a tricky business, since the same bet spreads in two disparate systems does NOT mean you are comparing apples to apples. I tried to account for this in the study, and look at a number of variables.

For multi-deck, neither is a clear winner. For single deck, High Low performs better, with slightly more risk. In terms of the context of your question, High Low's better efficiency was *modestly* worth using it over KO.

One bit of advice I do give out a lot though is to caution gamblers who get too caught in choosing or comparing count systems. The reality is that playing errors by far out-swamp any minor differences between any reasonably efficient count system. As Uston said in his book, "it's by far better to play a simple system perfectly, than an expert system with errors". If you're really good a KO, and you're not ready to spend serious time in totally mastering a new system (tricky too... indices start swimming around, especially going from unbalanced to balanced), then stick to KO.

Good luck,

Dan Pronovost

Questions on KISS Count by Fred Renzey…

DS Asks:


I have been learning and trying the Kiss Count by Fred Renzey. My question is what is the best seat to sit in when you are playing on a two deck pitch game when using this kiss count ? I usually try to sit on first base so I can see the cards going over to third base and the dealer's if the dealer has to hit. I am thinking if low cards come out until it gets back over to me I have a better chance of catching a high card on the next deal. Is this right or where should I try and sit?

Also why or how does counting cards favor the player over the dealer when the count is 20 or higher using the kiss count when the cards don't know if the dealer is a player or not? In my mind I am thinking the dealer has just as good of chance of getting two high cards as the player does, so how does this count favor the player? It seems 50/50 chance between dealer and player. Can you explain why it's supposed to favor the player.

Also why is the dealer favored to win the first hand on a new deal? The cards don't know if you are a player or dealer. Once again I play the two-deck pitch game so my question is where to sit and why a card count of 20 or higher favors the player. Also is this a better game to play than a 6-deck shoe game? In this pitch game it seems like the dealer gets a ten looking at you 90 percent of the time or 9 out of tens hands dealt. I am new at this and am trying to learn to play so I can beat the casino or boat in my case. I play at Ceasar's Indiana. I have been a big winner a couple of times but always give it back to them the same day or before the week is out. When is it a good time to quit playing if you are winning? I always think I can win more or I start losing and then start betting big trying to get it back and end up losing my winnings I had and also my own money. Thank you for your help.


BJI Answers:

Dear Donny,

WHICH SEAT? Percentage-wise and on the whole, every seat will eventually be dealt the same quality cards. So for that purpose, it doesn't matter where you sit. If the other seats get low cards, you're more likely to get highs -- if they get high cards, you'll probably get lows, so that all washes out.

If you're counting though, you'll get to see just a couple of extra hit cards before you make the decision as how to play your own hand. So in that regard, 3rd base is just a trifle better than 1st.

DEALER'S CHANCE AT GOOD CARDS: It's true, no matter what the count the dealer has exactly the same chance to get a good hand as the player. But the player makes more money with high cards than the dealer. The classic example is when one or the other gets blackjack. If you bet $20 and the dealer has blackjack, she wins your $20. But if you have the blackjack, you win $30 from her. The more blackjacks that are dealt to both of you, the more money you make. All the same is true to a lesser extent with a pair of Aces, splitting other pairs and doubling down, which the dealer is forbidden to do.

DEALER HAS EDGE ON FIRST HAND: The dealer will in fact win the first hand off the top more often than the player. That's because when all the cards are intact, the house has the edge in blackjack. The house also will have the edge anytime the proportional composition of the remaining cards is the same as with a full deck or shoe, as well as when there are more remaining low cards than highs. The only time the player has the edge is when there are somewhat more highs than lows. This occurs about 20% of the time in a shoe game and around 30% of the time in double deck.

2 DECKS OR 6?: All else being equal, 2 decks has a 0.23% lower house edge than 6 decks. However, most 2-deck games have somewhat worse rules than shoe games. In the real world, there's usually about a 0.10% difference in favor of double deck.

DEALER HAS LOTS OF 10-ups: Many things seem to be that aren't. There will be stretches where the dealer has a 10 up most of the time. These you will notice. Some time later, there will be stretches where the dealer never has a 10 up. These you will NOT notice. If you doubt this, keep track of all hands dealt for at least several hundred hands. When you're finished, the dealer should've had a 10 up pretty close to 31% of the time.

Fred Renzey

When to stop hitting based on number of cards received…

FD Asks:

Following basic strategy (non-counting) I usually hit until I have 17 when dealer shows an up card of 7 to Ace. Is there a strategy that dictates to stop hitting if you have more than a certain number of cards or combination of cards? Something like three hits and no card above a five??

BJI Answers:

No, there is no basic strategy play like that that would work. The number of cards is not relevant to your advantage. If you are card-counting and using play indices, the exposed cards may affect your actions ultimately on the hand, depending on the true count, but not all experts recommend making play adjustments 'on the fly' as cards are dealt to a single hand. Play variations are not likely 'mid-hand' either.

Just play the hand out normally, based on the value.


Dan Pronovost

Reader wonders if their play will be welcomed by the casino…

GG Asks:

Dear BJ insider

I have been playing blackjack on and off or some 10 years now, both here in London and Vegas. I am not a card counter (nor have any wish to be) but play to basic strategy. I have also worked for a while on a cruise ship as a casino cashier. My observations of all these years are as follows. Many people who go into a casino are at one point or another, up on their original stake, however they do not stop and eventually walk out way down. They do not stop because they have unrealistic expectations i.e. they will try and turn 10 bucks into 100 or 1000….few people will walk into a casino with 10 bucks, win 4.then quit… the thing is, relative to their stake they have just made 40% ! - relative to how much they want however, 4 bucks doesn’t get much so they try for more, and stay longer. The longer you stay the more the house edge becomes apparent and the less likely you are to walk out ahead. Money management and discipline I think is the most important factor in most gamblers. So I have the following idea in mind, and need some feedback.

Say for example I was to walk into a Vegas casino with $30,000 and play 500 a hand (and kept it at $500 - $1000). Now say again, for example, that I managed to win 4500. (9 hands) This represents a 15% increase on my stake. And again say I was to do this twice a day for eight days straight. This would mean a theoretical gain of $72000. Remember that I am stopping as soon as I have hit 4500- even if it’s a great shoe. No card counting – just basic strategy. It might take 5 minutes, it might take 5 hours. I might lose the lot. but please assume also that the cards have been kind to me.(of course that’s a big assumption but I'm happy to take a chance and risk $30000, and no I'm not crazy!) My question is this…I am not necessarily a high roller, nor am I a card counter – as I will be playing to the same stake of 500-1000 a hand – but surely there must be a term for a player who goes in with a high stake, low percentage increase but high frequency strategy?...Also how would the casino look upon this – would they bar me?… would they comp me? Or do nothing? If I won 72000 would they tell me never to visit Vegas again? –or offer me a suite? Would/could they accuse me of being a card counter? Or would I wind up in the desert?

I have done this on a much smaller scale once in Vegas, but with the same ratios and it seemed to work fine. I normally play at the Monte Carlo but is this the place that will offer me the best environment in terms of decks/surrender etc? Or is there a better casino?

The way I see it is that I am giving them the opportunity to win 30k from me so I can’t see a reason why they wouldn’t want me there. After all they have the mathematical edge as soon a I sit down at that seat, but I need to know as much as possible befor hand in terms of their attitude towards me.

It might seem a crazy scheme but like I say I'm willing to risk my stake to try it. As much as there is on the Internet – I cant seem to find out much info on this type of approach. I know that I'm relying on a degree of chance – that’s not my main question here. I'm looking to see if I did win what would happen.

I just think that you can have the best card counting system in the world but what's the point if your money management strategy is awful. My approach is a hit and run type strategy. At one time when you play by and large you are up at some point of the evening. It's knowing when to stop.

So would this approach be welcomed by the casino, would they see me as an
intelligent player or anther sucker?


BJI Answers:


If you're not card counting, as you note above, I don't know of a casino that wouldn't be more than happy to welcome your action, regardless of the money management style. It may affect your high-roller comps (i.e. you may not get the lavish rooms, but that depends on your total losses).

Your play, at high levels, will be monitored and they will quickly tell that you're not counting. As such, they would particularly welcome your play.

Good luck,

Dan Pronovost

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