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Sometimes it just all goes right

October 23rd, 2009 by bwin Casino Blog

When I wrote my book “Princes of Darkness :The World of High-stakes Blackjack” I mentioned how things went wrong constantly and the end of the struggle was around May 1999 the following year. There is a big difference between knowing the theory and running a team with five members. Each member has their own individual emotions and goals and objectives.

Also as I have mentioned earlier, there is also the trust issue as well and this was definitely something that we had to come to terms with. It wasn’t until we dropped certain team members and replaced them with others that the entire venture really started to make progress. We had been operational for eight months before the teething troubles finally subsided.

It all sort of came together all of sudden based on one session of play where we won about two grand. It wasn’t the amount that was satisfying but the professionalism of the entire operation. Everything was working perfectly and even the mobile phone technology had improved.

On this particular occasion I was there with them as a non playing observer. We were not shuffle tracking as this process was done by me being at home with the laptop utilising shuffle trak. But I needed to see a new team member in action and it worked like a charm. Not also was this guy younger than the other member but he was more eager to take part and also turned out to be far more honest.

It was quite an amazing experience to see a team in operation with two counters, a big player and their partner all working in unison after having been trained up by me. The good thing about using known big players is that the casino tolerates them. In many cases they cannot intervene for the simply reason being that this person isn’t doing anything that they haven’t done in the past. So when a big player who is perhaps losing 50k a year starts winning then it is simply tolerated because no casino would risk losing that kind of business :-)

Now you can see why it is so powerful

Carl “The Dean” Sampson

Time to get back to basics

October 20th, 2009 by bwin Casino Blog

It was around October 1998 when we first started having problems with losing the signal on our mobile cell phones. Cell phone technology was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is now. I certainly did not like the thought of the team acting on their own. The two “counters” that “Steve” had brought with him just knew basic counting and no more and both of their careers had hardly been filled with success.

I certainly couldn’t trust them to visually track the deck as they simply didn’t have the experience despite being counters for a good few years. I hated not being there in person although I did go along to scout a few casinos every now and again. We had a particularly brutal session in October that hit our confidence badly.

We had lost over £7000 and received heat doing it, always a terrible combination. It is bad enough losing money but when you lose money and get heat then there are problems. This had to be sorted and quickly as getting heat is the first step in getting barred.

They were obviously not doing the things that I had taught them to do and when. We obviously needed another big player as “Steve’s” cover was severely compromised. Any casino should be happy to have taken your 7k and especially when the team had never been ahead at any stage of the session.

When I asked the team what sort of “heat” it had been, it was a combination of “subtle sly looks” and “cutting deeper shoes”. Casinos do this basically when a player is winning money even if they don’t suspect that a player is counting. They would never have suspected shuffle tracking because there is just no way that they would have had that kind of knowledge. So this meant that the team were looking like conventional counters, this was precisely what I had warned “Steve” (our financial backer) about before we even started.

These two associates of his were set in their ways as far as I could tell but they were all we had at the time and this could only be done by a team. If I hadn’t let these guys come along then the entire thing would have been a non starter. It was definitely time to get back to basics and this meant more training sessions which would not have gone down too well……more on that later.


Carl “The Dean” Sampson

Do you need sophisticated counting systems?

October 16th, 2009 by bwin Casino Blog

There has been a long ongoing debate about the merits of particular card counting systems down the years. The easiest ones to use are the level one systems along with some unbalanced systems like Fuchs and Vancura’s KO counting system for example.

In fact the KO system is one that I would recommend to any novice counter as a starter system. I have never used it personally for the simple reason being that balanced counts are better for shuffle tracking. My own personal favourite was the most well known of them all and that was the high/low. This simple system managed to grab most of the betting opportunities that were presented but its simplicity allowed you to do other things.

Like interact with casino staff like a real punter and not have to act like some emotionless android from the planet x. It also allowed you to shuffle track as well and to also watch for suspected heat. In short then it game you one very importantand valuable thing as a blackjack player……time.

This was just what many blackjack players simply didn’t get when they read my book Princes of Darkness : The World of Highstakes Blackjack, sophisticated counting systems are very tiring when done for hour after hour, simple systems are far better and this gets back to the concept of time once again only this time, you are creating longer playing time.

In fact I dare say that there were few people who properly understood my position as in many instances I was approaching things from a direction purely based on what I knew about the internal structure of casinos and how they operated. So my answer to this question is that I wouldn’t touch sophisticated level three and level four systems with a barge pole for the simple reason that you would spend so much mental energy keeping the count that you would miss the crucial other aspects of advantage play blackjack that contribute towards getting you a meaningful edge and not something that was very marginal.

Personally I have never much fancied playing blackjack for an edge somewhere inbetween 0.5% and 1.0% and all of the assorted variance that comes with it.

Anyway….take care and see you soon.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson – author of Princes of Darkness : The World of Highstakes Blackjack

Play blackjack online at bwin.com!

Ever seen this before?

August 7th, 2009 by bwin Casino Blog

Do you remember when I mentioned about imagination and creativity always being able to defeat casinos. Well I would like to tell you a story of when we experimented with using silent vibrating cell phones to signal in the big player. We were inside a casino where they had an upstairs bar area.

In that bar area they had numerous screens showing people the action from the gaming tables on both blackjack and roulette. The pictures were crystal clear and I suddenly had the idea to see of I could count the cards from the bar area…..I could do it easily.

The problem was that when the count went positive, getting down the staircase into the pit and then placing the bets would have taken too long. Suddenly the information seemed useless until I came up with the idea of using a silent vibrating mobile cell phone to call the big player who was down in the pit.

He would have the phone in his pocket and when it rang, he knew that he had to approach the table. There was only one table in operation so we couldnt make a mistake by signalling him to the wrong table. We had one ring for when he had to move in and one for when he had to move out when the count went negative. We purchased a new phone for this very purpose so no one else had the number.

The next thing that we had to ascertain was whether or not these pictures that I was seeing were live or not. We found that out by getting the big player to reach out across the table (the camera was above looking down). We had synchronised our watches to the nearest second and there was next to no time delay.

I would like to report that this idea worked but unfortunately we were plagued by not always being able to get a signal on our respective phones as cell phones around 2002 were still in their relative infancy. Still though, it was a fantastic idea looking back and one that I am very proud of to this day.

It also gives me great pleasure to relate that story as well but I have always believed that if you look hard enough, you will eventually find the answers. It always used to give me a real kick to play blackjack, it was the underhandedness (is that a word?) of it all.

I hope that everyone is enjoying my blog so far and I am really enjoying being with bwin.

take care


More than you think

August 5th, 2009 by bwin Casino Blog

Most people who come into blackjack tend to think that there is only one counting system….the high/low. This is the most common counting system and counts low cards 2-6 as +1, cards 7,8,9 as Zero and tens and aces as -1. Just like to point out here that low cards are plus and high cards are minus. This tends to confuse a lot of people as high cards are obviously advantageous to the player.

But remember that you are calculating the effect of cards that are left IN THE SHOE and not cards that have been dealt. If the first twenty cards that have been dealt have been aces and tens then that can hardly be a positive for the player seeing as they have now gone and the player cannot use them to form an advantage….perhaps now you will be able to see why low cards are plus.

I have often been asked which counting system is the best. Years ago of course there were massive debates about this. Some very fine mathematicians argued this point aggressively. I am not a mathematician (far from it), but I do know how to make money (there is a difference).

The actual efficiencies with regards playing and betting were hotly debated until it was found that betting efficiency was by far the most important concept of the two. This was why they best systems were basically on a par with each other from a betting efficiency of around .97 for the high/low. Only four counting systems were proven to be superior and they were the KO system, The Wong Halves, The Red 7 and Lawrence Revere’s count.

Some of the other systems with ace side counts came close but the four that were clearly better were only showing .98 and .99 efficiency. But the true genius of the high/low was that it was so simple to operate that you could do other things like shuffle track and interact.

At one stage though we even used the level four system of Revere’s in the belief that we were doing something smart. This count used the following numbers

2…… +2

3…… +3

4…… +3

5…… +4

6…… +3

7…… +2

8……  0

9…… -1

10…. -3

A…… -4

Now try keeping that count for even one round of play under actual casino conditions :-)

Seriously though, the high/low does a great job and for anyone who wants to play blackjack then I recommend using this over any other system. This is especially the case with recreational players.

see you soon and take care

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