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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, June 2004, #53

Inverse Hand Spreading/"The Grifter's Gambit"

Introduction

Dan Pronovost is the owner and president of DeepNet Technologies, makers of a wide range of blackjack training products and software. Their web site is: www.HandheldBlackjack.com, and all products are available for free trial download. Dan is the creator of the new card counting system Speed Count, which is being taught in the Golden Touch Blackjack courses by Henry Tamburin and Frank Scoblete: www.GoldenTouchBlackjack.com. Check out the great feedback from students in the first two GTB courses: http://bjinsider.com/gtb_course_feedback.shtml.

Inverse Hand Spreading

In last month's May BJI newsletter, LV Pro interviewed "The Grifter" (http://www.bjinsider.com/newsletter_52_grift.shtml). In the interview, The Grifter talks about an interesting card counter's technique called the "Grifter’s Gambit" (honorably titled after the creator). The strategy refers to flipping the normal card counter's strategy of spreading to more hands as the count becomes advantageous for the player, and instead playing less hands. In the Gambit method, you start by playing three small bet hands by default, and reduce to one much larger bet hand as the count increases. This method can be applied to any card counting system.

I was intrigued by the Grifter's Gambit, and decided to run my own simulations using Blackjack Audit, my company's own professional blackjack simulator (www.HandheldBlackjack.com/bjaudit.html). While Grifter provided excellent background and information about his method, I wanted to see more analysis. My simulations show that this method indeed works as the Grifter documents, but there are many practical caveats counters should be aware of before throwing this technique in their bag of tricks!

How does it work?

As all counters know, the basic principle of card counting systems is to track the player's advantage (and disadvantage) over the casino, and simply bet more when the odds are in your favor and less otherwise. All winning card counting systems can be boiled down to this simply principle, regardless of the method they use to track the player's advantage.

A common method of getting more bets out when the advantage is very high in the player's favor is to play more than one hand with a large bet. Since this is commonly known as hand spreading, we'll refer to the Grifter's Gambit as inverse hand spreading.

To understand inverse hand spreading, let's look at the High-Low count system, and a typical setup in a common six-deck game:

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