First off, I love the game of blackjack. I am a recreational blackjack player. I play 4 - 6 times a year and play at the nickel table. Up until last summer, I played KO and HiLo with unspectacular success. Seemed I would win one trip and lose the next.
Last summer I was intrigued by a system offered by The Pro called "The Count Without Counting Cards". The Pro has since renamed it "The Hand Count Without A Running Count". At first glance it seemed this couldn't possibly work. Counting pat hands and non-pat hands seemed to go against the experts here. It was certainly novel in design. I learned it, practiced it on a simulator, and then tried it in casino play.
The first trip, I won $350. Not bad for a nickel player.
The second trip, I lost $275. OK, I am used to the back and forth results in blackjack from my KO and HiLo experience.
The third trip, I won $200.
Now I know 3 trips do not make a sustainable pattern. But it did show promise and motivate me to test the system more. Following are my tests:
I simulated the Hand Count with Sage Blackjack Version 3.5. I simulated it playing the casino game I prefer the most which is Double Deck, S17, DA2, DAS, RSA. I set the penetration at 50% which is about average or maybe slightly worse than I usually see at the casino.
I set the table up with 4 players: First Base was playing HiLo. Next to him was playing KO. The Hand Count player was sitting in the middle. The 3rd base player was playing Red Seven.
The HiLo, KO, and Red-7 players were spreading $5-$50 on counts from +1 to >+9. The Hand Count Player bet $5 on <+2, $15 units on +3, $25 units on +4 & +5, and $40 on >+5. There was no wonging. Every player played every round.
Trips and Sessions Simulated
Since you cannot computer simulate a hand count using Sage, I had to manually play the Hand Count. I have simulated 3 trips so far. Each trip consists of 100 sessions. Each session consists of 10 shoes. During a trip each player played over 4,000 hands. A total of 12,343 hands each were played by the 4 players (Splits counting as 1 hand) for the 3 trips. There were no deviations from Basic Strategy during play.
Hand Count +$1,701
Red Seven +$3,213
KO +$ 43
Hand Count +$1,052
Red Seven -$ 50
HiLo +$ 507
KO -$ 450
Hand Count +$2,860
Red Seven +$ 80
Hand Count +$5,614
Red Seven +$3,244
Despite the lower bet spread, the Hand Count put more money on the table per session averaging around $600 total bet per session vs. around $400 for HiLo and KO and $450 for Red Seven.
In these 3 trips simulations, the most the Hand Count was ever down was $395.
During the 1st trip, then Hand Count turned positive for the duration of the trip on the 25th session. The highest point was on the 85th session at $2,256
During the 2nd trip, it didn't turn positive for the duration until the 65th session. The highest point was oddly on the 100th session.
The 3rd trip the Hand Count started off strong and never got into the negative. The highest point was on the 95th session at $2,907.
Before the mathematicians jump on my case: I realize that 12,143 hands played is not a statistically sound sample. Maybe it is an aberration.
But I think this system deserves some study because:
1) It seems to perform comparable to the level 1 counting systems
2) It is easier to play than any counting system I am familiar with.
3) It offers excellent cover because there are numerous times where the hand count is positive (>+2)when the running and true counts are negative.
While playing, I observed the counts on the other systems. Most of the time, the Hand Count mimicked the other counts. But even when the Hand Count was positive and called for a higher bet and the Running Count or True Count was negative...the Hand Count won more often than it lost.
I have also simmed this method playing heads up on double deck. The results have not been as encouraging. Simulating 7,025 hands playing heads up double deck yielded a whopping $10 win. Simulating 2,923 hands each spot, playing 2 hands using the Hand Count playing heads up in double deck yielded a loss of $190.
I am working on a simulation for 6 deck playing with the above 3 counting methods. This obviously takes longer. So far, here are the results
6 Deck w/75% pen - 1,395 hands played each (incomplete)
HiLo -$ 262
KO -$ 128
Hand Count +$ 352
Red Seven +$1,088
Can this system compete with other counting systems?
If it can, it sure offers some advantages like:
1) You can carry on a conversation without fear of losing the count since the count starts over after each hand. Perfect for a non-multitasker like me.
2) If you do lose the count...it is lost for 1 hand, not for the whole shoe.
3) It sure is easier to count pat hands and non-pat hands rather than individual cards.
4) You don't need as big of a spread as with KO in particular to get a comparable result.
It also appears to have limitations from my experience.
1) It seems to work best at a table of 3 - 5 players.
2) The swings will be greater with 6 deck
3) Best suited for the Double Deck game.
Are my sims an aberration? Do I need to report back when I have simmed a billion hands? Is there a blackjack simulator that can computer simulate a hand count on the market? I will gladly buy it and test it further.
Your thoughts please!