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Best of John May

Gaming Guru

 

The Ultimate Blackjack Team?

6 November 2004

If you can count cards and play with an edge at blackjack over the casino, why would you want to join a team?

Here is why. The more hands you play as a card counter, the more likely you are to win. The results of two counters of equivalent skill each playing 5,000 hands are the same as one counter playing 10,000 hands.

The chance of a card counter being behind after 500 hours of play, assuming a typical six-deck game with ordinary rules, and the counter employing a typical bet spread, is roughly 20%. With nine friends, obviously, each only needs to put in 50 hours to have the same 20% likelihood of being behind. The same result can be achieved in a month instead of a year. By reducing your risk in this manner you can also bet more and win more than you could playing alone.

This is similar to how casinos make money. By having numerous different games, they may lose out on, say, blackjack or roulette, in an evening or perhaps for even a week or more, but overall they will grind ahead. The envelope of possibilities collapses. Sure, casinos have negative fluctuations like professional gamblers do, but who cares if you only win a million dollars some days instead of one and a half million?

All this is well-discussed in blackjack literature. Less well known is the implications of the simple theory behind pooling bankrolls.

Firstly, the general deterioration in blackjack conditions over the last year has killed off a lot of lone card counters who can no longer get an acceptable return on investment. However, poor rules makes much less difference to large teams. Provided an edge can theoretically be obtained at a game then a large team can get a worthwhile return on investment. Pooling bankrolls reduces fluctuation to such an extent that the team can afford to use massive bet spreads in poor games thereby making the worst games of beatable. (Let me add that I am not recommending any team attack a poor game).

Second, even quite poor counters who may have only a small edge over a game of blackjack are largely protected by sheer weight of numbers. If I had 500 players capable of using basic strategy and the simple ace-five system, I could bankrupt an entire chain of casinos in a relatively short space of time. Incredible, but true.

You may ask, reasonably, if this is the case, why some enterprising team manager hasn't actually done this? Largely because training 500 players to do this would be almost impossible as a practical matter.

A random sample of 500 players would almost certainly include half a dozen individuals with no scruples about ripping off the team bank. The logistics of training that many players are convoluted. You'd need to cover a whole bunch of expenses smaller teams don't have to bother with. To train five friends I only need a kitchen table. To train 500 I'd need a football stadium. Distributing a bankroll amongst that many players fairly could take several months.

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May