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Tens Ratio, Shoe signature

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One of the new members Emailed me a week ago asking about Tens ratio, shoe signature, and tapes available. Because hotmail kept crashing, that Email and my reply went to never never land. So I'll reply again here and you pros can add your comments as well. First, anyone Emailing me should use my ellis@beatthecasino.com address.

Tens ratio: There are 4 tens for every 13 cards. These tens will seldom be evenly distributed. NBJ is mostly about tens distribution. You will see the best (most even) distribution of tens throughout the deck with new cards IF that casino used a random producing card prep. Some casinos do and some don't. Some go for what we call boxed card order clumping and some go for random. But whatever prep procedure a casino uses they tend to keep the same procedure for a long time, usually weeks. This is the strongest "tell" in BJ. That is why we note what a casino's card prep produces.

The more even the tens distribution, the more we favor NBJ third base play and the more we favor basic strategy. The more even the tens distribution the more the dealer will break. Basic Strategy was designed with random cards and therefore every play is based on a 28% dealer break ratio. This seldom occurs except with early morning cards when a random prep was used.

The less even the tens distribution the more we favor NBJ first base up until the tens are too clumped to be playable. Over clumping usually is most frequent in 8 deck but I've seen shuffles that even produce over clumping in 4 deck. So 6 deck over clumping is rare but not out of the question. Early morning cards are almost never over clumped. This is because over clumping is caused by play. The more the cards are played and the more players at the table, the more the cards get clumped up to what we call saturation.

Tens ratio, usually changes throughout the shoe. You are at your highest advantage when the tens ratio is even or 4 out of 13. That causes max dealer breaking. Much higher than that, you will be pushing 20's with the dealer. Much lower than that you will be trying to make a hand out of too many cards. This points out one of the major fallacies of card counting. They think that the higher the count the better. Not true at all. You are at your highest advantage when the count is hovering around zero.

Shoe signature is closely related to tens density but not the same thing. If we call 2 thru 7 low and 8 thru K high and call Acas high when they follow a high and low when they follow a low we would have a balanced count: 6 highs, 6 lows with aces swinging. We do this with Aces because Aces are not a good tens prognosticator. Aces run with lows just as often as they run with highs because Aces are played low as often as they are played high. Another fallacy of card counting.

Now, if we were to plot an entire shoe (including the cut off cards) on graph paper about a horizontal 0 axis line going over one space for every card and up one space for every low and down one space for every high our graph would end up precisely balanced. Our sign wave loops would create just as much area above the axis as below the axis. That creates the shoe signature. Clumped shoes will have a few large waves above the axis and a few below the axis. The greater the clumping the fewer the number of waves and the larger the waves are. The more random the cards are the smaller the waves are and the more there are.

This is how we think of the game while we are playing. The better we can picture the sine wave being produced, (the signature) the fewer mistakes we will make. And the more we practice the better we can "see" the sine wave. We call this abstract thinking. This points out yet another fallacy of card counting. There is no abstract thinking in card counting. In fact they are trained to not think at all. Now, I ask you: What job pays you to not think??? Well, neither does Blackjack. Blackjack only pays thinkers. We are teaching you the best way to think.

Some good NBJ players like to think of it as the ocean surf on a windy day. The greater the wind (clumping) the greater the waves and the greater the troughs. Whatever suits your fancy.

Tapes. Keith and I have decided to put ALL the tapes on computer where you can access them from the private BJ forum. This includes the NBJ and WCB audio tapes as well as the home practice video. In fact I'm mailing Keith the tapes today for that purpose. So, the only reason to buy them is if you want to be able to listen to the cassettes in your car (esp. on the way to the casino - I always do this and so do many NBJ players) and/or if you would like to be able to watch the video on your TV via VCR rather than your computer. They aren't on CD but you can always transfer them to CD yourself. I have only a few sets left but I can mail them to you at $150 per full set. There are 4 NBJ audios, 4 WCB audios and one movie length home practice video per set. Remember, use ellis@beatthecasino.com.

I'm sorry I was not able to reply sooner.

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Guest CarlosM

As always Ellis! Excellent post. I still listen to the NBJ and WCB tapes today. The WCB cassettes are great in the car stereo for the drive up to the casino. It helps with my jitters. The video I watch every so often. The Tens Ratio is so useful for so many things in the game. To know when to bet big. To know when to suspend a big bet due and just bet small for that round. Forecasting dealer breaks. Hole and hit card read. I can keep going!

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Thanks Carlos, here is an Email reply:

From: dbaker7@woh.rr.com

To: ellis@beatthecasino.com

Subject: Tens Ratio, Shoe signature

Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 20:32:00 -0500


Thank you for your response to my questions.

Welcome to the group Donna! I'm relieved that I discovered who wrote that Email I lost. At least I remembered what it said.

I was practicing blackjack at home last night and in one shoe the tens ratio was very consistent with 3 or 4 tens (6 deck shoe with 6 practice players) every round until the last 2 or 3 rounds when the ratio suddenly dropped. So am I correct in thinking that the “Waves†were small and that I would be better off playing more with basic strategy in this type of shoe. And, if given a choice, choose to play 3rd base? Also, how would you recommend betting in this type of shoe?

Very good Donna! This was a good third base game. While good 6 player games usually don't stay good very long this would be a good hit and run game to hit while the iron is hot. Your focus here would be to expect and watch for game deterioration. You should have one foot on the floor ready to leave quickly at the first sign of deterioration but you might get several good shoes out of it. Signs of deterioration here would be first, of course, the tens ratio going South. But you would also watch dealer first card tens. Is she starting to get more than her fair share of 4 out of 13. And dealer breaks: She will probably be breaking about 1 out of 4 while the tens ratio stays healthy but as the tens ratio deteriorates she will break less and less. Is the dealer still breaking when she should or is she beginning to make good 4,5,and 6 card hands? You know that eventually you will start losing in such a game so the idea is to get out before you do while staying in as long as you can.

Yes, you should definitely be at third in such a game. But that many players will develop a dealer bias quickly. For a while, hopefully several shoes, her hands will be very similar to your's. That's good because you always have 3 hands to beat her. But watch for her hands to start getting better than yours.

I would start with a 112 prog but quickly move to 123, 134 and 146. I would move up quickly while the game stays hot. Often in such a game you find yourself winning every other hand. Watch for this and if it occurs, reduce your prog to 2 bets instead of 3 to stay in sinc with what is happening. 6 players plus the dealer is a very dangerous situation. Too dangerous to go higher than 1,3 or 1,4 at the most. This is no place to start making 5 bets. Save those for fewer players.

If possible, I would try to reduce the players in such a game to reduce volatility. They don't let you shoot anybody but sometims remarks work. Like hey man, nobody has been able to win in that seat all night long. That seat is jinxed. Or if somebody starts playing 2 hands I'd say, you know, this game was a whole lot better when you played ONE hand. Sometimes I wink at the guy next to me. THAT ALWAYS WORKS!

Thanks for your patience with me. These concepts are so new to me. I really have a lot to learn.

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One thing I failed to mention D, perhaps the most important thing.

You mentioned that the tens ratio dropped off at the end of the shoe. This provides a good picture of how the signature is used to your advantage. First, recognize that the drop off could have been anywhere in the shoe. It happened at the end only accidental to where you happened to place the cut off card.

Now that drop off in tens ratio created an imaginary large trough below the axis line. This means that there is an equal and opposite "wave" above the axis line. If you didn't see it that is only because it fell in the cut off section. But it is still there someplace. For every low there is a high. For every bunch of lows there is a bunch of highs. The highs HAVE to be there someplace.

How do you USE this information? OK, you now KNOW that the shoe is mostly random. But you also know that at some point there is a large wave of highs and an equal large trough of lows. You are interested in both abnormalities and you watch for them in the next shoe. It is close to impossible to shuffle these abnormalities out. In fact they tend to "grow" from shoe to shoe.

OK so as soon as lows (or highs) start getting abnomally plentiful you recognize that you are in that section of the shoe from the sine wave you committed to memory and you react accordingly. In the low trouth you will want to bet less and hit more and avoid double downs and splits. You would also avoid any third bets in the low trouth. Give her a run for her money. You will be the only player at the table doing so. In the high wave you want to bet more and hit less. But NEVER go more than three bets in your prog. That is suicidal. As you practice, make a conscious effort to stay in sinc with the shoe signature. This does 3 things: It optimizes your hands won ratio, minimizes money bet on losing hands and maximizes money bet on winning hands.

This may seem nonsensical and coincidental when you first start but as you go, track your hands won rate and watch it grow. This provides incentive to carry on. Right guys?

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Recognize one more thing. When I said, "give her a run for her money" this is what I mean. In a low card or mostly low card section of the shoe the dealer is at her finest. She is very unlikely to break and most likely to make 5 and 6 card hands. She CAN'T break on cards below 6 and almost never breaks on 6's or 7's. She is MOST likely to have a low card up. This is where Basic Strategy is at its weakest. Against the inevitable low up card, Basic Strategy says STAND. Any time you stand with less than 17, you are, in fact, betting one thing and one thing only. YOU ARE BETTING THE DEALER WILL BREAK! WHY in the world would you bet the dealer will break in low cards precisely where the dealer is LEAST likely to break. Stupid isn't it. Give her a run for her money! Hit! We play high cards pretty much the same as everybody else. What separates the men from the boys is WE don't give up in low cards like Basic Strategy demands. Why give up when the dealer is at her strongest? The cards don't know who is dealing. YOU aren't any more likely to break than the dealer. OK so you break against a low now and then and think you look foolish. Nobody looks foolish with lagre piles of chips in front of them. WE are so very, very often the only winner at the table. It has little to do with high cards or double downs. It's because we are the only players at the table who challenge the dealer in low cards. You know what else this does? It destroys dealer biases. You are stealing her lows right in front of her.

Basic Strategy was not writen by the casinos but for all practical purposes it might as well have been. EVERYBODY knows how to play their 19s and 20s. There is no choice. The MONEY is about how you play your lows and the money goes to the player who doesn't sit there and mindlessly bet that the dealer will break precisely when she won't. Starting to see the picture? It's all plain old common sense. Nothing up my sleeves.

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Guest CarlosM

I find that basic strategy stands more in low sections and hits more in the highs section. We hit more in the lows like you mentioned and we also hit less in the high sections. A lot of times we stand on our stiff against a high up card, not always. Basic strategy would NEVER stand on a stiff, maybee sometimes a 16 because of fear, they ALWAYS hit their stiff against a dealer high up card. This would be when we read the dealer weak with a high up card and we are stiff and highs are running. So, even in the high sections we play differently than B.S. players. In high sections we play the same sometimes. I would say we play more close to B.S. all the time or most of the time like they do is in random sections, neutral Tens area/rounds. It's funny how people at the table start yelling at you, then they all remain quiet the rest of your time there because, they see you breaking the dealer when she is not supposed to and now these players at your table are thankfull or they are quiet because they see you killing the dealer and notice how poorly they really play. The latter usually has the player/players leave the table!

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Eventually Carlos, your reputation precedes you. Again I remember that night at the Sands. I blew a play at third hitting a stiff against a low and made the dealer's hand in a very high stakes game. The lady at first swung her long handled 25 lb. pocketbook across the whole table and knocked me clean out of my chair. The pit boss ran over swearing at her. "What the hell are you doing? You just knocked the best player in Atlantic City out of his chair while YOU can't play for shit!" But they get fewer and fewer as you show your wares and soon enough they dissappear altogether.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest CarlosM

Has anyone else noticed this! Ellis, Keith, Char, Mad Dog, Vegas, etc...

We keep track of how often are we seeing low TR rounds in a row. Same for high rounds. We never want to bet into a suspected low round. Say we never see more than 3 high rounds in a row and we are usually seeing 2 low rounds in a row but, not more. We are playing a 1-4-6 and just won the 1 on first high round and again in second high round but, lose our 1 bet on the third high round. Based on consistent history, we expect the next 2 rounds to be low TR. Now we are betting a 4 and 6 and both of those bets are due to fall in the history's suspected low rounds. So, we would suspend and bet 1. Then we go 4-6. But, I have noticed even in these games, we still are never losing a full 1-4-6 prog even if lost in a high round or betting a 4 or 6 in a low round. These games I don't put much importance in the TR rounds because I am winning no matter what round I am betting a 4 or a 6! Or is this rare and almost always in any game betting a 4 or a 6 bet into a suspected low round should always be suspended?

Second, I notice some games when using the number of high rounds and low rounds in a row for our betting, that some games work better if we go by the TENS (10,J,Q,K) only and other games it works best to use all Tens and nines and high Aces. And 8 and 2 if proven in that game? What do you guys think?

Or even though 2 may be running with highs a lot, just use tens, nines, eights for high rounds when in that game it works better than just TENS ONLY for tracking high/low rounds to adjust betting? Do you guys do this, when you see hit cards before your hit decision and it is highs but, not solid clean, and say it's like this, 10, 9, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7. the seven being the last card before I hit. I notice either 7 almost always has a high after it only if a high is before it. Or I notice 7 runs equall, si it is neutral, I ignore it like it is invisible. Even though 7 is the last card, because of all the ones before it, after that 7, I will not anticipate a low but, rather a high! Do you guys do this?

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Guest CarlosM

Is anyone out here? I know Ellis has gone away for a bit. But, I haven't heard from Char or Mad Dog on here for awhile! How are you guys doing? What's your input in what I wrote above? Keith? Ellis? Anyone?

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