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Thread: The discard tray

  1. #1


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    The discard tray

    I'm sure you guys have noticed that if you place a stack of brand new cards together with a stack of cards that have been used for a while, the new stack appears slightly smaller than the used stack. This knowledge is especially important when counting into 6-decks, particularly when getting closer to the end of a shoe.
    I feel that my estimation of decks remaining is strong as I have practiced this at home. However, I am a little worried if there is about 3/4 - 1 1/4 decks remaining in a six deck game because obviously at this point, the difference between 3/4 decks and 1 deck for example is considerable with respect to how much to bet. The difference is much less when say only 1 deck or 2 decks have been dealt.
    So my question is, do you guys consider "card use" when gauging how many decks are left? I would like to make sure that I am accurate. This concept has led me to consider using an unbalanced count system instead of hi-lo. I suppose I could just take a good look at the stack when the dealer takes it all out to shuffle and determine how big one deck, two decks, etc. are from there.
    Thoughts?

  2. #2


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    What I would recommend is start practicing by estimating entire decks. Once you get comfortable with this start estimating to the nearest 1/2 deck (1 deck played, 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc) Progressively getting up to the point where you are judging based on .25 decks.

    If you want 100% perfection most casinos will sell previously used cards so buy cards from casinos you plan to play in and use them for your deck estimation training. Number each card and try to cut as close to a specific number as possible. (6 decks numbered 1 - 312) cut to as close to #52 (one deck) etc etc

  3. #3


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    I play a lot of DD and SD games and I use a round by round average discard count. This has is so I dont have to look at the discard tray nor make any deck estimations. With that said, I know one day i will eventually have to play 6 deck games and when that time comes i'm probably going to move to an unbalanced counting system. Its pretty incredible that some of the unbalanced systems offer the same returns as a balanced system.

  4. #4


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    Quote Originally Posted by SaulSilver View Post
    What I would recommend is start practicing by estimating entire decks. Once you get comfortable with this start estimating to the nearest 1/2 deck (1 deck played, 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc) Progressively getting up to the point where you are judging based on .25 decks.

    If you want 100% perfection most casinos will sell previously used cards so buy cards from casinos you plan to play in and use them for your deck estimation training. Number each card and try to cut as close to a specific number as possible. (6 decks numbered 1 - 312) cut to as close to #52 (one deck) etc etc
    Thank you Saul for your comments. I already do what you are suggesting. That is probably the only thing that I can do without moving on to an unbalanced system.

  5. #5


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    When I first started counting I appreciated the easiness of unbalanced system, but for me my bankroll was so small I couldn't afford to not be able to wong in/out. Unbalanced systems is somewhat of a play all approach. The positive count may never be reached in a shoe or you can potentially avoid a good opportunity in the beginning of a shoe. I know statistically systems like reko slightly out perform hilo, but the ability to get a turn count however far into a shoe you are is a very handy piece of information especially for someone with a small bankroll.

  6. #6


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    Hey counter19!

    First, please have in mind I am yet to go to a casino for the first time ever, so this may not be optimum, but that's what I do.

    A great friend of mine sent me a big set of casino-used decks from the U.S.
    I know they are used, but not that much (like they are now after I thoroughly played with them).
    So, what I did was to paint small marks on the discard tray at the specific positions I find important for my TC calculation technique.
    However, I painted them a little BELOW where they should be located based on the decks I have. With this I am trying to account for the difference one could expect from the brand new ones or even from the ones actually being used in the casinos.
    I then train myself to estimate decks-in-tray by using those marks, which I consider to be the true ones. My decks are now getting thicker and thicker as the days goes by, but I keep using the same marks to evaluate my estimations. This means I am estimating that there are more cards in tray then there actually are, thus, overbetting a little.
    In this way, I get non-optimal results while training (what doesn't matter), but keep conditioning myself to estimate decks-in-tray as adequately as I can hope for while using the same 6-deck set for a long time.
    What I also do from time to time is to check the total height of my 4.5 deck pile (that's the penetration I use to practice). When they get taller than my 4.5 mark, I remove a few cards, thus effectively reducing penetration, but avoiding that I mis-calculate decks-in-tray when deep in the shoe, because that's when we start using the distance from the cards to the discard lid as a helper.

    Well, in summary, I try to estimate decks-in-tray by a constant (hopefully real) fixed thickness, not by the actual thickness of my cards, because the latter changes as time goes by.

    I hope I have made myself clear in spite of my English.

    Great cards!
    Life's true face is the skull.” - Nikos Kazantzakis

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    Removed post to protect our game
    Last edited by ohbehave; 08-08-2014 at 04:50 PM.

  8. #8


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    Thanks guys! You know, it is always nice to know that you are already doing all that you can.

    ohbehave: I already sit at 1st base and do that very thing. I don't like to sit at 3rd base because I don't like looking down on the discard tray. I have become so used to seeing it from 1st that the angle from 3rd looks too different (plus it's not natural to look in that direction casually). In some places, they put a top on the shoe so that you have no idea what's left. You then have to rely on the discard tray. Most places don't though so I take advantage of this.
    Skull: I have not yet purchased my own discard tray for practice but I have daydreamed about doing this and marking certain places on it for practice like you said. That may be the next step for me. I would hate to change to a different technique because I have memorized the illustrious 18 along with several other index plays.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bodarc's Avatar
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    Look at the discard tray when the dealer loads it up just before shuffling. Note the top of the stack of cards in relation to the top of the shoe. Some stacks come to the top of the tray and some are an inch or so down from the top depending on the tray. If you are looking at 6 decks stacked, then half way down is 3 decks and half of that is 1 1/2 decks. It is then easy to estimate the cards in the discard tray. You don't have to move your head to see the discard tray, just a glance out of the corner of your eye does it just fine. No one can tell you are looking at it.

  10. #10


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bodarc View Post
    Look at the discard tray when the dealer loads it up just before shuffling. Note the top of the stack of cards in relation to the top of the shoe. Some stacks come to the top of the tray and some are an inch or so down from the top depending on the tray. If you are looking at 6 decks stacked, then half way down is 3 decks and half of that is 1 1/2 decks. It is then easy to estimate the cards in the discard tray. You don't have to move your head to see the discard tray, just a glance out of the corner of your eye does it just fine. No one can tell you are looking at it.
    Wow! I do that too! I guess great minds think alike. I too like the idea of seeing all six decks stacked. That's one of the only ways that I know to get around the problem of fresh decks vs. used decks.
    I occasionally play at a place with 8 decks. I hate those things. They cut off 2 decks at the end. This means though that you get 75% penetration. It's harder for me to judge how many decks remain with 8 decks. I have decided not to play these unless I wong in. Even then, I'm not sure how great 75% penetration is with 8 decks so I rarely play at that place.
    I'm probably worrying too much. I just want my count to be killer accurate.

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