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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Playing Advantage Blackjack takes discipline and money

10 March 2007

Keeping track of the cards that have been played has proven to be a way to beat the house at blackjack. Those who can play at that level are called "advantage" blackjack players. Most standard card counting methods however are much too technical for the average player to use.

But ever since blackjack simulation software made it possible to deal out millions of blackjack hands and check the results, people have been developing easier methods of counting the cards. These "easier" count systems usually ignore the less important cards and just focus on key cards as they're dealt. In their simplicity, the simpler systems still wring out a net advantage for the player – although substantially reduced. Today, these new "mini-systems" bring "advantage" play within the reach of many recreational blackjack players.

There's both good and bad to this new blackjack opportunity. Before, if somebody had to practice and memorize for 100 hours to get a full-scale counting system down pat, he was probably dedicated enough to apply his skills with the required discipline. After all that practice, he also was probably willing to finance his play with the necessary dollar cushion to cover the violent swings of Lady Luck. This was a recipe for overall success.

This new breed of "EZ" count systems, however, can be mastered within just a few hours of familiarity. Maybe that's too easy. It can put a potentially dangerous tool into the hands of irresponsible gamblers who feel that their newfound power gives them a guaranteed key to riches.

If there's one thing card counting is not, that's it! Let me put things in perspective here. With a $25 averaged bet size, a highly skilled, full-scale, semi-pro card counter can expect to win $15 to $20 per hour over the long haul. But there will be days when he loses $1000 or even $1500 and sometimes he'll be in the red for months on end. For him, that's okay. He knows this is just a small piece of the long run and he's financed well enough to handle the ride.

I don't know that a guy who picks up one of these super-easy count systems and learns it in a jiffy is going to approach things that responsibly. On top of it, he'll have an edge in the game considerably smaller than that of the semi-pro – provided he's disciplined enough to play the system as directed.

If you're inclined to delve into "advantage" blackjack play with one of these new super-easy count systems, that's great. You'll be taking your game to a higher level. Just understand that blackjack will no longer be devil-may-care fun-and-games. It becomes serious stuff. At times, you'll increase your bet at least sixfold, and you'll need to have a dozen of those six unit bets in your pocket at the start of each day. If you come with any less, you're just hoping not to get unlucky. Sometimes you'll lose several of those six unit bets in a row.

Yet, when your system says to leave the table, you must leave and find another. When your system says to bet your max, you must do it, even if you've been getting pounded all day. Your freedom of choice will have been relinquished. Your counting system will seek and find opportunistic shoes and tell you to bet them when they come. If you lose – you lose. If all this doesn't sound like your cup of tea, then you're probably better off remaining a strictly recreational player and planning on getting gradually ground down by the house.

I'm painting this somewhat cynical, yet realistic picture because I've been offering the "Ace/10 Front Count" booklet to players who want to take their game beyond basic, just barely into the realm of advantage play. The Front Count is the easiest of the easy systems, but it's also the weakest. It'll give you a tiny long-term advantage if you apply it religiously – and it will be a rough ride at times. If you "fudge" the system, though, it will probably crash and burn. So before you take that step, decide whether you want to just play blackjack – or work at it.

For Fred's 13-page booklet, "The Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to, Fred Renzey, PO Box 598, Elk Grove Village IL, 60009.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey