Team member types
The sum total of a diverse advantage play team is far greater than its parts. A team can be comprised of just one person, or just one player with support staff behind. All forms of AP have the need for more skills than just the obvious one in play at the table. When you boil them down, I think there are a few key skills that they have in common. Here's my rundown of the different components that create a strong AP team:
The Numbers Guy
Advanced Statistical Analysis is not as advanced as you might think, but for many it is daunting. Luckily, tools like Excel and YouTube can speed the plow through this field in no time. Your Numbers Guy should be able to understand how to do a fundamental analysis on both the target of the play as well as the results. Programmers are cheap -- there are plenty of websites you can go to and hire programmers in India on the cheap. However, finding a programmer to build a simulator is a very tricky process. There are many intricacies and nuances to gambling that don't translate well to a computer simulation. It's very unlikely you'll find a random programmer in India who would understand these well. Most AP's rely on pre-built software to handle their simulation needs. In my opinion, that will get you through 95% of the scenarios you encounter. It may not be worth the time and risk to find an outside programmer for sim needs.
Where your Numbers Guy really must shine is in analyzing results. You can find this Numbers Guy hanging out in your mirror. You should be comfortable with the differences between Binomial Distribution and Normal Distribution. You should know how to calculate variance and standard deviation. Anyone fascinated by Bayes Theorem really should read more or pick up a college level Statistics textbook and browse YouTube. You can literally take college level classes for free on YouTube. Confidence intervals, Z-score, least square regression testing -- these are tools that are useful in analyzing not only your past performance, but the historical performance of angles. If you have a guy that is comfortable in using pre-built software for simulation and knows his way around Excel, and maybe can do some basic scripting, you have a Numbers Guy.
The Logistics Guy
A lot of money gets wasted in AP pursuits in the pursuit of the pursuit. Whether that be travel, other expenses, redundant efforts, opportunity cost from wasted time, or overall poor planning. Obviously, there is a direct correlation between the size of the team and the amount of inefficiency. However, even small operations can suffer from this plague. If you're a travelling AP, you better have a Logistics Guy or be able to competently wear that hat. Last-minute airfare is a brutal expense; however, there are plenty of ways to advantage-play that system. Same with rental cars and hotels. Beyond that, you can take advantage of frequent flyer clubs and credit card bonuses. There are many sources on the web for getting the upper hand on travel expenses. Planning out who should be where and when is crucial to eliminating the opportunity cost that comes from downtime. There is really no minimal level to which logistics planning can't be applied. Some might refer to the Logistics Guy as the Team Manager, but beyond that, The Logistics Guy also needs to be the guy who knows how to procure things that not everyone might have access to. He's the guy with connections to other teams and other players in case you need an emergency favor redeemed. Remember, a dollar saved is a dollar earned. Anyone can become a Logistics Guy but it definitely takes a managerial mindset to do it efficiently.
We all know the value in scouting. Anyone who relies on public information to find their treasure chests will spend all their days chasing rainbows. The Scout finds new opportunities and puts together basic information relating to the play. The Scout tests theories and makes small wagers to see what tolerance abounds. The Scout also keeps close tabs with other players and teams to not only see what they're doing, but also to see what heat they're encountering. Without scouting, all the other key members of your team can't do their jobs. The nice thing about The Scout is that he is often not a heat magnet. When someone gets heated up, they can often play the role of The Scout for a while until their heat dies down. The importance of having a good Scout is usually manifested in a first-mover advantage over other teams or over casino countermeasures.
This is the guy that asks, "What if..." We all should have a little Dreamer in us; if you rely on a teammate to do all your dreaming, you probably need to think outside the box a bit more. Some are better than others, and it always helps to have a strong Dreamer on your team. The Dreamer should always be coming up with new ways to beat a casino; some practical, many impractical. Sometimes The Dreamer is just a guy within your networking circle, but you'll want to find ways to make a good Dreamer work solely with you in the future. A good Dreamer understands the proper procedures of everything in a casino. Everything. My favorite hat to wear is that of the The Dreamer. It doesn't directly make me money or save me money, but it has kick-started more of my AP income than anything else.
Switching analogies slightly, there was a guy on the A-Team who was simply called Face. He was quite literally, the face of the operation. On an AP venture you might think that a BP might be the face of the operation. That's true to some extent, but with so many AP's being, by nature, introverted, you need an extrovert. You need someone who is comfortable asking questions in a disarming way that gets answers. You need someone who doesn't look like a stereotypical AP. Some have suggested that a female, or an Asian, works best in this role. However, you work with what you can get. At some point, you need a Face to either go unnoticed or to be unsuspected.
In summary, you could wear all these hats yourself … but you'd likely be a jack of all trades and master of none. When you find someone who fits one of these roles, cultivate that relationship. Especially if that person doesn't recognize their own gift. This is the true value of networking.
Originally published on bj21.com Green Chip, edited for this format.
"Team/partner blackjack play", bj21.com
"Investing in Others", bj21.com
"Making money as an Advantage Player", bj21.com
"Solo play vs. team play", bj21.com
"“Encountering” another counter in a casino", bj21.com
"Playing Blackjack in Teams : Things to Consider", blackjackinfo.com
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