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Thread: Don Schlesinger: Just what is "Basic Strategy"?

  1. #11
    ET Fan
    Guest

    ET Fan: An analogy

    When an architects is planning a house, he needs to know the precise dimensions of every room, the size and strength of the floor boards, the types of nails, etc. Once the house is built, the people planning to live there will need to know how many floors there are, how many rooms, etc. -- much more general information.

    Which level of detail is more "basic"?

    What some people don't realize is that in order to construct "total-dependant" basic strategy, the experts generally first build an extremely detailed composition-dependant basic strategy. It turns out it's easy to build BS that way, because there are precisely 3082 to create integral totals not exceeding 21, with no term greater than 10. 3082 is not a number of cases easily handled by humans, but it's very tractable for a computer. So it's a case of "the easiest (and most accurate) way to see the forest is to count all the trees!"

    Theoreticians, such as Peter Griffin, considered total-dependant basic an approximation of composition-dependant basic, simply because that's the simplest way to look at it. Yet I doubt even Griffin had all the 3 card exceptions to t-d basic memorized, let alone the 4 card, 5 card ...

    So what definition should we use? I say we leave it up to the architect. For example, should we consider a large walk-in closet a "room"? Different architects will operate under slightly different disciplines which the average home owner would consider trivial and arcane. If the architect says it's a room, let it be so. If you buy your home from another architect, use his terminology.

    Naturally, we would like to be sure our architect is highly competent. But we recognize there are different schools of thought on the minutiae of house building.

    Getting absolute agreement on the definition of "basic" will not advance the state of the art, because there will always be this dichotomy between what the architect must know, and what the user should know. Indeed, once a basic is built, after a period of time, the architect forgets much minutiae and simply becomes an above average user.

    I'm confused by your statement: "What do we do about pairs? I think we need to accept that, for pairs, we shouldn't consider 6,6; 8,8; or 3,3 as "composition" of the hand. We need to specify, right at the outset, that these simply are not 12, or 16, or 6. So, pairs get a kind of exemption; they're "excused" from being "composition-dependent," in the strict sense of the term."

    This only makes sense to me if I reword as follows: "What do we do about pairs? I think we need to accept that, for pairs, we should consider 6,6; 8,8; or 3,3 as "composition" of the hand. We need to specify, right at the outset, that these simply are not 12, or 16, or 6. So, pairs get a kind of exemption; they're "excused" from being "total-dependent," in the strict sense of the term." That's what 12, 16 and 6 are, no? They're totals.

    Perhaps the simplest answer to your question: "just what would you want us researchers and authors to call `basic strategy'? " would be to call infinite deck basic the true "basic strategy," and list all composition-dependant departures as exceptions. Then we could have just ONE BS for any given set of rules, at least.

    ETF

  2. #12
    BruceTC
    Guest

    BruceTC: Re: An analogy

    > Perhaps the simplest answer ... would be to call infinite deck basic the true "basic
    > strategy," and list all
    > composition-dependant departures as
    > exceptions. Then we could have just ONE BS
    > for any given set of rules, at least.

    I like this idea. After all, if I understand correctly (which of course, I may not!), these c-d rules are based on the fact that certain cards have been removed from the remaining deck, thus changing the probability of what will be dealt next. This, really, seems to be a form of counting.

    Well, BS by definition is the best possible strategy that can be used SHORT of counting. So wouldn't it make sense that we would consider the deck infinite, making remaining-deck composition irrelevant?

  3. #13
    Cacarulo
    Guest

    Cacarulo: Re: My definition

    > Does that mean that, when playing each hand,
    > I am NOT allowed to "remember" the
    > other card that it was originally paired
    > with?

    Correct. Say you get 10,2 vs 6 on your first round and you STAND. Next round you receive 10,2 against a dealer's 4. Would you consider the cards dealt on the previous round? BS says NO!
    Let's look at the above example: 1D,H17

    10,2 vs 6 you STAND.
    Dealer gets two 9s and busts.
    Now you get 10,2 vs 4
    What would be the optimal play? The optimal play would be to STAND!
    What would be the correct BS? The correct BS would be to HIT!

    See what I mean? The same goes for splitting pairs.

    I think the confusion is on the name "Basic". I would call it "Non-Counter Strategy or Non-Memory Strategy". Among all these NCS or NMS we need the one that gives us the best EV and at the same time it has to be something easy to remember.

    Sincerely,
    Cacarulo

  4. #14
    Don Schlesinger
    Guest

    Don Schlesinger: Re: My definition

    I'm actually surprised to learn this. The difference with the pairs, in your analogy, is that the other card, which is now split away, is, nonetheless, a card from my ORIGINAL hand!

    And, some describe BS as the EV-maximizing play, given knowledge of nothing more than the dealer's upcard and the cards in your original hand!

    See the problem?

    Don

  5. #15
    Don Schlesinger
    Guest

    Don Schlesinger: Re: An analogy

    > Well, BS by definition is the best possible
    > strategy that can be used SHORT of counting.
    > So wouldn't it make sense that we would
    > consider the deck infinite, making
    > remaining-deck composition irrelevant?

    You'll pardon me, but I have a quirk, which is to despise infinite-deck BS as being utterly useless.

    When I would know infinite-deck BS, what would I know that would help me play real-world BJ?

    I just never have remotely warmed up to the notion.

    Don

  6. #16
    Cacarulo
    Guest

    Cacarulo: Re: An analogy

    > I like this idea. After all, if I understand
    > correctly (which of course, I may not!),
    > these c-d rules are based on the fact that
    > certain cards have been removed from the
    > remaining deck, thus changing the
    > probability of what will be dealt next.
    > This, really, seems to be a form of
    > counting.

    You can use whatever strategy you want. For example STAND on any two cards against any dealer's upcard.
    The idea is to use among all these strategies the "one" that gives you the best EV. Since we can't play the "optimal" strategy the best we can do is to memorize a c-d strategy for the rules we're going to face. When I say c-d I mean c-d/t-d (c-d for the first two cards and t-d for the rest).

    Sincerely,
    Cacarulo

  7. #17
    BruceTC
    Guest

    BruceTC: Re: An analogy

    > You'll pardon me, but I have a quirk, which
    > is to despise infinite-deck BS as being
    > utterly useless.

    > When I would know infinite-deck BS, what
    > would I know that would help me play
    > real-world BJ?

    > I just never have remotely warmed up to the
    > notion.

    > Don

    Don,

    Would infinite-deck BS really be that different from, say, 6-Deck BS, given the same rules?

    I took ET Fan's post to mean that infinite-deck BS would not be that different, and as such, could be adapted to any real game by means of a few strategy adjustments.

    BruceTC

  8. #18
    ET Fan
    Guest

    ET Fan: Answer

    > When I would know infinite-deck BS, what
    > would I know that would help me play
    > real-world BJ?

    You'd know everything, save four marginal exceptions, that many players know as "generic basic." The basic recommended by Wong in Basic Blackjack.

    The exceptions are T2 v 4, A2 v 5, A4 v 4, and surrendering 87 v T. Standing on the first (the inf deck play) would be considered "counter's basic" by MathProf, I believe. Doubling the second and third are incorrect anyway, from a risk-averse point of view (inf basic is hit), at least for four or more decks. (Not sure about one or two decks.) It may even be possible surrendering 87 V T is correct r-a basic for four decks.

    In other words, pending further study, my guess is you're probably better off using infinite deck basic against a shoe, than using either the c-d, or the c-d/t-d (as outlined by Cacarulo) basic tailored for the number of decks at hand.

    ETF

  9. #19
    BruceTC
    Guest

    BruceTC: Re: An analogy

    > The idea is to use among all these
    > strategies the "one" that gives
    > you the best EV. Since we can't play the
    > "optimal" strategy the best we can
    > do is to memorize a c-d strategy for the
    > rules we're going to face. When I say c-d I
    > mean c-d/t-d (c-d for the first two cards
    > and t-d for the rest).

    I understand, Cacarulo, and that is what I do for actual games. I know the c-d rules for single-deck, but I have yet to learn and memorize the specific c-d rules for 6-Deck. Right now, I use only t-d BS for 6-Deck (except for, of course, splitting pairs). I will make a point of learning the rest. Thanks :^)

    > You can use whatever strategy you want. For
    > example STAND on any two cards against any
    > dealer's upcard.

    Ahh.... You must be referring to the "Austin Powers" method of Blackjack. ;^)

    BruceTC

  10. #20
    Cacarulo
    Guest

    Cacarulo: Re: Answer

    > In other words, pending further study, my
    > guess is you're probably better off using
    > infinite deck basic against a shoe, than
    > using either the c-d, or the c-d/t-d (as
    > outlined by Cacarulo) basic tailored for the
    > number of decks at hand.

    Yes but if you're playing shoes (say 8D) then my c-d/t-d won't be any different from using the infinite deck basic.
    The question is: When do we need BS? If we are playing against a slot machine with some advantage off-the-top I'll try to do my best even if I have to memorize 2-card and 3-card composition plays.

    Sincerely,
    Cacarulo

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