1. ## bfbagain: Re: Concepts

See, I stepped on some toes! :-)

Only Yours, I'm afraid. :-)

(As predicted)

Self-fulfilling prophecy? Seemed like it was a good bet. But hey, we aim to please. :-)

cheers
bfb

2. ## Wolverine: Session mathematics (very long)

Thanks for the responses Don and Parker. Let?s get a few things out on the table to see if my ?assumptions? are correct, okay?

I have read somewhere, and I will go find it if I have to, that the player?s edge can be defined as roughly: the amount of + TC at the time of the deal. And, that the average player wins 43% of the hands, loses 49% of the hands, and the other 8% are pushes. If the average hands won is 43%, then obviously the only way to beat the game is to play a strategy which will put more money on the table when you have an advantage (hence bet ramping when counting). Hence, Basic Strategy (BS) evolved to allow players to come near a break even game by splitting and doubling when they have an advantage and minimizing risk when they are at a disadvantage. If there are any discrepancies in the above statements, then please correct them.

Don, you had a comment about playing with an edge. ?If you have the edge, and they will let you play, you play.? That sounds like Wonging to me. And if you can Wong, more power to you. In the play all scenario I am talking about, Wonging isn?t an option. However, knowing when to get up and leave is a very important option the player has. Hence, my money management concerns. Simply stated, if you don?t have the edge (a negative count), then bet 1. If you have the edge, bet 2. The pure mathematics of that indicate that the game has to be totally rigged against you by over a 2-to-1 margin in order for you to not break even, no? If the house wins 67% of the time, and you only win 33% of the time, as long as you bet the 2 at the right time (when you win 33% of the time) you will balance out the 67% (ok, almost balance out) the house wins when you bet 1. Oh, you don?t always WIN when you have the advantage? Why not? Oh, your advantage is very small. So you only expect to win 47% of the time, lose 45% of the time, and push the 8% when the count is positive (I?m guessing at +2 fromt he earlier assumption in paragraph 1, but fill in the correct TC to simulate that advantage) over the LONG HAUL. What happens in any one playing session with that same +2 (?) advantage? Oh, you win 43% of the time, lose 49% of the time, and push 8%. Well within the statistical norms due to the sample size taken (1 hour, 2 hours, 5 hours, X hands? vs the LONG HAUL, aka, infinity). At some point, a human being is going to need to leave the table. You cannot play the long haul ALL IN ONE SESSION! You need to eat, you need to sleep, you need to ?use the facilities? (for real). And when Parker says ?we play for the long run, so setting any sort of session goals is just silly. You cannot control short-term variance, so why frustrate yourself? In the long run, you will win your total amount wagered times EV.? But APs have session goals all the time: play for no more than 1 hour, until you are tired and can?t keep the count, play until you double/triple/quadruple your money, etc? If you set an upper limit or time limit, shouldn?t you set a lower limit (stop loss) too? And Parker just said you can?t control any one session?s variance. I agree, and that is why I?m looking for a method to decide how to play a single session! Parker states, ?Session results are meaningless, because it is all one session.? Sounds good, but is untrue. Please follow along.

Have you ever played 20,000,000 hands in a row at the same table? Is that a big enough sample size to be considered the long haul? Do you need more? Less? Oh, you move from table to table? Have you ever played 20,000,000 straight hands in ?one session?? As soon as you miss a hand (or which you *should* have played, if you are Wonging), that session is over, right? I disagree that a person?s lifetie play is ?all one session.? In statistics, there is a population. We?ll define that as every blackjack hand dealt in the world. You are taking a population sample as soon as you play in LV or AC (because that is where you physically are). Those samples are still large enough that they should mimic the population of all the hands of blackjack played in the world (but I could be wrong). When you go to a specific casino to play, you have further limited the sample down. Even more so, you have chosen a table to play your 20,000,000 hands in a row. You have chosen one table, in one casino, in one city, out of the entire world. And, over those 20,000,000 hands to be played, it is a good bet that the results from that table will correspond to the population sample of all the hands of blackjack in the world due to the large sample size. However, there can also be a statistical variance from that number, no? What happens when you don?t get in those 20,000,000 hands? What if you only get 10,000 in before your session ends? Can the statistical variance be significant enough to wipe out your bankroll? When you are up \$1,000,000 after 5,000 hands (of the 10,000), is it time to quit because you have exceeded your EV by such a statistically improbable amount you would be a fool to continue to play (if they will let you, as Don says) Oh, you walk away before you reach \$1,000,000 in winnings because you have played for more than an hour? Because the casino is getting edgy about your winnings? Because they will discover you are an AP? Or do you play the remaining 5,000 hands in your 10,000 hand session and lose it all back to even as the statistics normalize for that one table?

Parker says, ?you cannot compare blackjack with investing because unlike investing, blackjack can be reduced to pure mathematics.? I will agree with that statement on one condition, if you can play all the hands in a row. And you can?t. Because each session is an independent sample of the global population of blackjack hands, each session is a small sample. And you stated accurately that the session variance is unpredictable. I equate it very much to the stock market. The overall trend of the stock market is up over time, just as playing AP blackjack has a positive trend over the long haul. However, each blackjack table equates to an individual stock within that market. There are winners and there are losers in both at any given time. And when you play a session at a table in a casino, it is just like buying a stock and then selling it. If you market time correctly in either endeavor, you will do well. But if you market time incorrectly, you will lose, EVEN THOUGH THE OVERALL TREND IS POSITIVE! If you want to broaden the scope a little, instead of buying a volatile stock (which I think is more appropriate for this example), then buy the S&P500 index fund. Again, the trend is up, but if you market time incorrectly, you can break even or lose money easily. Hence, many people believe in the ?buy and hold? technique of investing so that they catch the good and the bad days in the market, trusting that the trend will eventually win over time. But buying a holding for 10 to 20 years is different than playing a ?session? of BJ and then leaving and then starting another session. That does not equate to the long haul. It only increases your sample size. Missing the best 10 to 15 days in the stock market for a year can eliminate any chance of making an investing profit. Missing the best ?times? on a blackjack table should, statistically, do the same thing.

If you manage to leave the table a loser after every session because of poor choices of when you leave (or have to leave), you have effectively timed yourself into losing?even though you play a ?perfect? game of BJ with your betting and index plays! That is why I am asking this question and pushing this issue so hard: what money management and psychological techniques are there to MAXIMIZE your chances of reaching a successful session outcome? If you win every session, even by 1 unit, you will become a winner over the long haul! If you lose every session, by that same 1 unit, you will be a loser over the long haul.

And I?m not even going to get started on my personal observations regarding streaks. You must have played through times when it seems you can?t win a hand, just like you play through sessions when it seems you can?t lose a hand? The sample size is so minimal it is a blip on the radar of the long haul, but in the context of the session you are playing currently, it can make or break you. Haven?t you had streaks like these? Am I the ONLY ONE? ;-)

And we haven?t even hit upon the human shuffle issue! Or the clumping of cards! It may be great to think that BJ is a statistically random game in a given session, where math is the ultimate answer to what is happening, but there is more than just math going on. Hence my curiosity to maximize profits in a given session.

As SSR says, ?I?ll duck and wait for the rotten fruit to be hurled.? :-)

3. ## Parker: Re: Session voodoo (very short)

Eventually you will realize that you are a witch doctor in a roomful of MD's, and feel pretty silly about the whole thing.

Or maybe not.

Briefly: If we are talking about 20M hands, it makes not one whit of difference whether these hands were played consecutively at one table or in 20K sessions of 1K hands each. None whatsoever. If you must think in terms of sessions, think of every shuffle as the start of a new session.

You are laboring under the common misconception that if one experiences positive variance, then one is somehow "due" for a negative swing. This is simply not true.

There is nothing new or unique in your post. We have been down this road 1000's of times before. You either accept the math or you don't. The math doesn't care either way. Neither do we.

4. ## Wolverine: Then where are the past posts?

> There is nothing new or unique in your post.
> We have been down this road 1000's of times
> before. You either accept the math or you
> don't. The math doesn't care either way.
> Neither do we.

I'm sorry to hear that you don't care. And if you have been down this road 1000 times in the past, where are the archived explanations for us "newcomers" to learn from. I am simply trying to reconcile my life experiences with the education you espouse here. To dismiss my discussion and subsequent education as you have is very disappointing.

I would hope that someone is able to shed some light on what my experiences have been. Thank you.

5. ## bfbagain: OK, I'll bite...somewhat, but first,

let's start by you telling us what you have read, and what you haven't, but think it's something that you think you should read.

There's nothing wrong with asking questions, but the truth is, the game of blackjack now has had, what, somewhere in the neighborhood of a few trillion sims run, hundreds of mathematicians conducting research, casinos bankrolling the games with the current rules for, 50 years give or take a few.

Much of the information that would seem to satisfy you is already in the public domain, and as I previously stated, for many years. But you're right, you have asked, and someone should help answer.

The only money management that works is understanding and utilizing kelly. The proper sizing of your bets with respect to your current bankroll, the game your playing, and the edge you currently have to employ optimal bet sizing is all that counts.

You cannot control variance. In other words, luck, as that's what variance is. The money management, a.k.a., kelly criterion, allows you to withstand the negative fluctuations while you build your bankroll. That's it. Maybe a little oversimplified, but that's it in a nutshell, and anything else is, as Parker aptly stated, voodoo nonsense. You may not want to hear that, and that's fine. I'm sure there are patients that don't want to be told they should quit smoking or they'll die, but that doesn't mean the Doctor's advice is any less accurate.

As I often would tell my people (once upon a time), you can talk all day long about the sun, but it still is going to rise in the east, and nothing they could say is going to change that.

It's the same with attempting to control session wins and losses, via money management. Attempts to use money management is so people who are playing a negative eV game, e.g., craps, won't lose their shirt. People like us, who are playing WITH an advantage, want to keep playing as long as possible, as we're in effect, doing the same thing as the casinos, playing with an edge. They want as many people playing with negative expectation as they can get in the door. Do they sometimes lose to those people, of course. Do you think if they had a losing month or two that they should close down? Or stop the tables at some preset point? Their shareholders would go nuts. See where I'm going here? I hope so.

Now, am I going to advise AGAINST someone who has been losing steadily, to NOT stop with a win, if it means that will help their personal confidence level? Of course not. Confidence plays as big a role as many things. However, as I have often cautioned people at the tables, my attitude can get remarkably better when I start hitting my double downs with max bets out, as well as the occasional blackjack or three with max bets.

But I have no control over that. You only lose when you QUIT, PERIOD!

The only time you leave a great game, is 1) It no longer is a great game, and or 2) You don't have enough money on hand to cover all possible bets, i.e., not enough to cover splits, resplits, and/or doubles.

cheers
bfb

6. ## Wolverine: That wasn't so hard, was it

thanks bfb, that is much nicer and clearer. And I play a winning game of BJ (now--finally! thanks to what I have learned here and practice, practice, practice), but I still have winning and losing sessions. That is what is prompting the questions. I look back at sessions and wonder why things happened the way they did. Call it an M&M (morbidity and mortality) Report on the session. If I'm up X amount of money, and the count was positive, why did I keep playing and wind up a loser? Was there something I could have done differently to affect that losing outcome? Same thing with winning sessions. What went right and what allowed me to walk away a winner? Why didn't I keep playing until I was back to even or a loser? I must have walked away for a reason, but no answer has been forthcoming from this site. I look at my investing background of dealing with variance for answers, because to me BJ and investing are VERY much related. Obviously, others do not share that view at all.

Thank you for the understanding. And I have read through the "best of the masters" and the "distinguished posts" in DD before I ever started this thread and thought process I've pursued here. Session bankrolling and variance as I am discussing it are not archived there (even though they have been discussed and dismissed a thousand times!). I have read BJA3 through once. Have read parts of it twice. I've made my own BS cards for personal use from the appendix (not with magic marker, on a computer, thank you :-) ) I have read other books on BJ too. I enjoy math and statistics. But individual session variance is an interesting subject to me (I call it money management and psychology of BJ, others disagree there are such things). I am not a pro. I have a day job which I love very much and am very successful at. I am a college graduate. I enjoy a good debate and thought provoking dialogue. Why is this such a tough topic to talk about without just dismissing it as voodoo? I talk of populations and samples, I get told it doesn't work that way. That is the way statistics work! The very thing that you all talk about is variance or S.D. in a session, and point to the fact that it is uncontrollable. I am simply begging to differ and ask the tough question: If you have the chance to walk away a winner from a session and you don't, why? If you never had the chance to be a winner and struggle to get back to even, but fail to and lose your bankroll, why? Why walk away from a session after a given period of time (45 minutes to an hour like BJA3 and other posters keep talking about) so as to not give away that you are an AP? These are legitimate questions and deserve legitimate debate! Not dismissals as voodoo session superstitions. Show me the error in my statistical logic about sessions and I will listen with open ears! When I ask about 12 vs 4 and 12 vs 6, Don points out the mathematics of the sims. And I thank him for it and continue my learning journey.

Maybe I'm missing something here, and I certainly hope to learn from it. But give me reason to learn, that is all I ask. Maybe one of my fears is from all that I have read here that much of what is published about BJ is false. That is why I have enjoyed this site so much is the brainpower and the ability to discuss things, logically and with a bent toward the mathematics of BJ. I know that I have to purchase Norm's software and begin the journey toward using sims to evaluate the game of blackjack myself.

Thank you for listening....

7. ## Wolverine: Sims

bfb,
You talk about a few trillion sims run on BJ. Yes, yes, yes. Sims are great for the long run, and help us tremendously in understanding BS, advantage play, the indices needed for each game, the Ill-18, the Catch-22, etc... Each of those remarkable discoveries were made with the help of the massive simulations achieved by the growth of computing power. No debate there whatsoever.

A trillion sims don't mean diddly in a single session other than to give you the "rules" to play by: if the game has X number of decks, can only double on 10 and 11, no double after a split, etc... The sims help to create the "best playing strategies" given that scenario for the long haul. Agreed.

But, if you are getting your butt kicked, are you willing to lose your entire (supposedly adequate) bankroll in a single session just to prove that things are going to get better with the next hand because the game is good?

And if you read my post above, why is one session (starting and stopping) different than a buy and sell in the stock market? Both have positive long term trends, but if you walk away a loser over and over again in either, you will be a loser over the long haul too! I'm trying to examine that specific issue. In investing, there is asset allocation and stop loss rules to prevent the destruction of a portfolio (can anyone say Enron 401(k)?). Everyone seems to think there is no way to stop the bleeding in BJ, because we are all playing for the long haul. I am simply asking for a logical explanation (not necessarily a mathematical simulation) for why a sample of BJ (a session) is different statistically from the stock market and how we as individuals influence the outcome of that session independent of the BJ playing skills (counting, bet ramping/ranging).

And yes, I'm looking for the sun to come up in the East tomorrow. :-) And the next day, and the next day, and... :-)

8. ## bfbagain: More on session objectives

There are many nuances that go into a battle plan, i.e., session strategies, to maximize gains. Some of these relate to exposure. Some relate to heat. Some relate to longevity. Not all the previous terms are the same, as they often relate to context.

For example, playing for no longer than 45 minutes, although normally a hard and fast rule for a high stakes player, is hardly an issue for a red chip recreational player, on a four day trip to Vegas. Likewise heat, and how it relates to longevity.

However, having a mandatory "time-out" requirement, if after playing a certain length of time or losing a pre-determined amount, e.g., a session bankroll, is perfectly acceptable. This is NOT money management. Some teams incorporate that also.

Another example would be a "win limit." If playing anonymously, and you're approaching 10K, you may choose to stop playing so as not having to have a CTR filed, where your identity would be disclosed. Again, not money management, but part of an overall strategy.

Comps also play a role. Shift changes. And essentially, the list goes on and on, for reasons that you stay and play or get up and get away.

So be careful what you read, and to what audience the post was for. If you're not sure, ask.

cheers
bfb

9. ## Parker: Re: Then where are the past posts?

> I'm sorry to hear that you don't care. And
> if you have been down this road 1000 times
> in the past, where are the archived
> explanations for us "newcomers" to
> learn from. I am simply trying to reconcile
> my life experiences with the education you
> espouse here. To dismiss my discussion and
> subsequent education as you have is very
> disappointing.

If my responses seem dismissive, it is because the overall tone of your posts make it difficult to discern whether you are genuinely interested in learning something, or merely looking for an argument, aka trolling. If the former, please accept my apologies. If the latter, I really don't have the time.

One of the things that makes advantage play difficult is that until you have been playing the game for many years, it is impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from "life experiences." Your sample size is too small and variance is too large.

You talk of ending a session prematurely in order to preserve a large session win. This only works if you intend to never again play in your lifetime. It makes no difference whether you start again in 5 minutes or 5 weeks, the odds are exactly the same regarding your subsequent success or failure.

Besides, how do you know that you will give it all back if you continue to play? Answer: You don't. It is just as likely that your streak may continue, further increasing your winnings.

We accept some constraints as far as limiting the length of our sessions, but these have nothing to do with the mathematics of the game. We keep our sessions short so we may continue to be allowed to play, and because we are human and eventually tire. From a mathematic point of view, the more hours we play, the more quickly we reach the long run, and the more quickly our results fall in line with our expectation.

We start every shoe (or pack, or deck) with the same expectation. Sure, streaks happen, but they can only be predicted in hindsight (how's that for a twisted metaphor). Ending a session has no effect on a streak, good or bad. Why is the streak any less likely to continue after you take a break, switch tables, or even quit for a few weeks? Answer: It isn't.

As for archived posts, you probably won't find them on Don's Domain, since this forum is relatively new. Try searching for "long run" on my main blackjack page.

You might also consider reading Blackjack Bluebook II, by Fred Renzey. This book contains about the best explanation of probability and the "long run" in plain English that I have seen anywhere.

10. ## Wolverine: Thank you

I am sorry if it seems I am looking for an argument, I am merely looking for some sunlight on a subject I find fascinating. I have homework to do, and I will look into the posts you are talking about and the Renzy book as well. I know I need software as well to work on sims, indexes, etc...

But your post brings me right back to my initial point I started to harp on: you limit your wins due to time and or amount won (for whatever reason). Why wouldn't you try to limit your losses as well? And I will not fire back about sessions being small samples of the statistical population of blackjack until I do more homework. Let's just say, nothing said here has given me EVIDENCE that my statistical thinking of each session as a sample of the population is incorrect. You just keep pointing to the long haul, and asking me to believe that each session will regress to the long haul mean on faith. I have a wholly different interpretation of session statistics. But I will hold my fire until I find someone who wants to discuss them, AND I have done the homework you have suggested.

I have been playing BJ using BS since at least 1990, so 14 years isn't nearly a lifetime, but it is longer than many. I have only been interested in counting for the last 4 years or so. Don, on this site and his book, has helped with my bet ranging and understanding what I am trying to do with my wagers. I have about a dozen books in my BJ library. Some are complete crap and I saw through them quickly. Others make sense and have added valuable insight into playing strategies. Thank you for your patience and discussion.

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