You have what appears the same expectations and qualifications I had when I started out nearly a year ago. I bought more than a handful of books and spent many an hour practicing KO until it became second nature.
And, I'm in your neck of the woods as well.
Here's what I didn't get and you don't get . . . that thing about "a losing session" being "rare." It won't be. In fact, you'll lose nearly as often as you win. It's not like you walk out of there ahead eight out of 10 times or anything like that. I'll take six out of ten and be thrilled. After months and months of daily play, to the point where I got at least decent, I once lost 11 sessions in a row. Now, that was ugly.
So, "rare" ain't gonna happen. Losing is a big part of the game and if you're not emotionally ready for that, it's best you don't get started.
And that 4 hour thing? Ugh, no.
Thanks for the response! Ouch...11 losing sessions in a row.
I have been practicing with the Hoyle Casino 2004 software, putting it at high speed with 4 players and trying to count as fast as possible using the hi-lo sytem. My basic strategy is getting close to second nature, but I have to pause a little with soft hands or pairs. I know that real life is different from computer programs and I am afraid I could get flustered in the real deal, but I figure if I practice enough I should get by. I did some back counting while observing a very fast dealer last time out and was able to keep up (of course I didn't need to make decisions about a hand).
As far as converting the "running count" to the "true count," what is the best/easiest way to estimate how many decks are remaining? (do you look at the discard pile? or the shoe? or actually count how many cards have been dealt? Is there are lot of guessing/hunches going on, or is it a fairly precise calculation? Should I buy six decks of cards and practice at guessing how many are in a stack?
I have wondered lately what percentage of the players at the typical blackjack table are counting. Is there a sure-fire way to tell who is counting? thanks
When I read Snyder's Playing BJ as a Martial Art, he suggested getting a bunch of decks and practicing estimating to the half deck (e.g. 1 deck, 1.5, 2 etc.). Now, I do have a lot of decks and have done that, but I have found that the Casino Verite software is a fabulous way to practice. There are counting drills, decision drills, discard tray drills, etc. The software is excellent.
The other thing about being ready for actual play is not just about strategy play, counting and true count calculation, but being able to do it with distractions (e.g. talking to dealers, other players, etc). This is not so much of an issue of cover, especially if you are starting on nickel tables, but rather an issue of being able to maintain the count in a natural way (i.e. under normal playing conditions). One thing that I have done, that has been very helpful in keeping me on my toes, prior to hitting tables was playing at home with my girlfriend dealing :) Now, she did not know how to play at all and has a fundamental basic math block :) Not only was I trying to maintain counts, make hand decisions, etc, but I had to walk through each of the hands dealt with her to explain the totals (the soft/hard hand thing was an issue for her). The fact that I had to continually converse with her about her hand totals, my hand totals, discuss strategy decisions, all while trying to maintain true count and make bet decisions, was very useful as far as working under conditions of distraction :)
Just my thoughts...you will get much better advice from some of the other people on this site, though.
Years ago, not sure where, but I read that a top notch counter could expect to win 55% of his sessions. Not sure that means too much because we all have some difference in what we call a session, but what it does mean to me, is that even the best will have many a loosing session. Over the past 7 years, I have run about 53/47, so I am not one of the best.
Like anything else in life, you get out what you put in.
Recreational bj is something many do and why not want to win while doing it? Makes sense to me. To learn basic strategy and a sound counting system is something that will take time, but remember, it's like riding a bike or learning your multiplication tables, once you know it, you know it. Only have to work hard once.
I think Wendell was speaking of KO and with KO you don't need to worry about true counting as that's the main reason most people learn KO...so they don't have to TC.
As for losing sessions. Get over the idea you won't have major losing sessions. It's gonna happen...and OFTEN!
Counting is NOT a magic formula that allows unlimited withdrawals from the casino. It don't work that way. You will have a small edge, at best. You have to be able to stomach the ups and downs as there will be many of both.
What you will find, though if you are doing it correctly...over a period of time where you get a good number of hours in, your win/loss graph will show ups and downs, but the graph will slowly rise as time goes on.
You have to think in long terms and not "sessions". Your play is one continually long "session" over months and years of play. Only then can you really determine whether you are a winning player and whether or not all that time you devoted to learning was worth it.
A good counter will have about 1.5% advantage over the house on a single bet. If the session is long enough and has enough number of bets, the session will most likely turn out to be winning at the end. So what is a session? If each session is only one hour long, it is hard to achieve 55/45 winning sessions. If each session is 5-8 hours long, it is possible. That's because the longer you play the more likely you will win in positive EV play.
If you played for 100 rounds, a fixed length of time, at a game that had SCORE of 100, so that your session was 1% of N0, then you would have about 46% of ending up in the red, and 54% chance of ending in the black.
This would be the same if you played 200 rounds with a SCORE of 50.
If you played 100 rounds with a SCORE of 50 (or 50 rounds with a SCORE of 100), you would about a 47.2% chance of losing.
For short sessions, you can use the approximation 50% + 0.16*sqrt(p), where p is the percent of N0.
However, this assumes that you are playing fixed-length sessions. Many of us don�t. If we have abig shoe, we may quit rather than have to go back to minimum bets. These stop-wins, for cover and not money management purposes, increase our percentage of winning. But they also mean that the losses that we do have are disproportionately large.