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The art of doubling

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Hi Zenwin and Merry Christmas. This is an excellent question so I'll transfer it over to the Pro BJ forum.


> To: ellis@beatthecasino.com

> From: pyuen1948@gmail.com

> Subject: Doubling Down Questions

> Date: Sat, 22 Dec 2007 22:39:47 -0500


> Dear Ellis,


> I am reading your NBJ manual about doubling down at the moment.

> There is a sample of: Our hand 5,4 vs. dealer 8, we would double

> when highs are running. You explain that very well. I also recall

> that I had seen it done before but I don't remember the outcome of

> that round.


> As I think about this now, I think there may be difficulties that occur in

> making the decision to double on this hand. Here is what I mean:


> Suppose I am at 3rd base as you teach us to play in random cards.

> Suppose I have 5,4 vs. dealer 8 up. And unless most

> players have pat hands, some of them will hit. (And I presume this is

> how I can tell if L or H is running).


> 1). If the first hit card is L, shouldn't I think that the hole

> card is also L, after my own last card 4 ? Wouldn't it be dangerous

> when I make 19, only to find out the dealer has a 3 under

> and hit another H=10 which made her a 21?


> 2). If the first hit card is H, should the hold card be H, or L ? A

> bit unknown, yes ? (Let's suppose it is H, a ten, which makes her 18

> to suit this discussion). When the majority players need to hit,

> therefore he sees H or ten is running. Since he is the last, being

> the 4th or 5th person to hit, would the 10s be running out ?


> I am wondering how this should turn out to be an advantageous

> double ? Can you recall or describe a perfect scenario of this

> doubling down ?


> I would really appreciate this.



> Sincerely,

> Zenwin

Hi Zenwin. Well you are already showing excellent examples of the benefits of thinking the game through rather than letting some chart do all your thinking for you.

Doubling is the second most important thing we do so it is crucial we get this right. The MOST important thing we do is finding the RIGHT game in the first place. From there doubling really becomes an art form. Let's look at the statistics surrounding doubling first so we can look at exactly what we are trying to do.

I was a little surprised to see our heckler over on the public channel mock our claim that the overall hands won rate of Basic Strategy is 43%. I doubt if you bothered to read this idiot. We knew that statistic because we checked it over tens of thousands of hands of actual casino play.

I was surprised because many card counters checked our claim and found that it was not only accurate but that even achieving 43% took excellent BJ conditions. Usually they can't even make 43% and in a clumped game on Saturday night, they are lucky to break 30%. But let's call it 43% for our purposes here. Think what this means??? They are going to lose the game unless they can make up the difference by doubling and splitting and insuring. Well, we can leave out insurance since they are taught not to insure. This inspite of the fact that our insurance performace is right at about 50% win rate with 2 to 1 pay out also checked over tens of thousands of hands. BTW, any BJ instructor, worth his salt, knows this 43% statistic. But he doesn't like to mention it because it is very bad for business.

We can leave out splitting as well. Our casino statistics show conclusively that the average B.S. player loses money overall on splitting. Most B.S. players are not at all surprised to hear this because their own results had made them very suspectful. The fact is that B.S. players would be better off to never split. Splitting, therefore, is also an art form.

So this leaves the job of making up the 7% gap to doubling. That is an impossible task under any circunstances. And remember, that would only get them to break even. They have yet to win!

To this end, B.S. includes every possible double in their chart right up to 50/50 odds. We know this because the better, more complete, card counting books include the odds of every play they advise. But these odds were computed using random cards which is almost never the case in the real world. In the real world, clumping decreases their real odds in direct proportion to the degree of clumping. Well, as you know by now ALL bj games contain SOME clumping - even the games WE dub random.

So, of course, we looked at tens of thousands of B.S. double results in actual casino play and found that B.S. players break even on their doubles overall. Now, if they play on Fri or Sat night as most of them do, they won't even make the 50/50 double success rate. The 7% gap wins no matter what they do. And including the borderline doubles makes matters worse, not better.

For us the task of doubling is vastly different. We know that our overall hands won rate is 48 to 52% in the games we choose to play depending on your NBJ experience level. Thousands of NBJ players have successfully achieved a 50% hands won rate. It is one of the easiest parts we teach.

Therefore the task of doubling (and insuring and splitting) is purely to make profits, not to fill the gap. We already did that. Therefore, we can afford to look at doubling far more critically. And we DO!

The art of successful doubling depends almost entirely on the accuracy of your Hi- Lo read dependability as well as your dealer hole card read dependability in the game you are playing right now.

We KNOW that the more clumped the game is the better the reads. Therefore, the more clumped the game is the better our reads, the better we can double successfully and split and insure.

As well, the more random a game is the less we can depend on our reads the less we double or split or insure. This works out perfectly because the more random a game is the easier it is for us to beat it WITHOUT doubling, insuring or splitting.

Now, with the real motivation in mind let's take a look at your question. Why and when would we double with a 9 vs an 8 or for that matter with an 8 vs a 7. Why indeed, when you consider that, overall, we double far less than the pure Basic Strategist. Neither of these plays is included in any Basic Strategy chart because Basic Strategy totally ignors clumping. They totally ignore what is running. What is running and what the dealer has in the hole are THE

most important criteria when it comes to doubling. Your doubling success rate depends entirely on YOUR accuracy of these two observations. The weaker your read the less you double. When you have no read at all I strongly recommend that you limit your doubles to the STRONGEST doubles, 11 vs 5 or 6. The more random the cards are the weaker your read and the less you need doubles anyway because the more random the cards are the less we need doubling to win all the way to not needing doubles at all.

Now, there are two ways to look at what's running. Recognize that when the cards are random it is useless to look at what's running. We only look at what's running in clumped cards. We can look at it as highs running vs lows or we can look at it as tens running vs lows. Tens works better in 8 deck. Highs works better in 6 deck. Carlos, for instance looks at highs because he plays mostly 6 deck and highs is more accurate in 6 deck. In 6 deck you seldom have tens running but you often have highs running. Tens running is an 8 deck phenomenon. I prefer tens running because I prefer 8 deck. Tens running has less overall accuracy but greater accuracy for insurance purposes.

It's easiest to see what we do when you look at it as tens running. Recognize that highs are mostly tens so neither way is wrong.

When tens are running I call these two plays having the dealer beat on the board. The dealer gets her second card last so if tens are running she most likely has a ten in the hole. She "might" have a 3 or a 4 but she is most likely to have a ten. Ten is of course more common than any other card even in random cards at 4 out of 13. But in clumped cards, when you read a ten it is even more likely. So you are betting on two things that the dealer has a 10 in the hole and that you will get a ten. If so, you win. Will you ALways be right? No, of course not but BJ isn't about ALWAYS. BJ is about USUALLY. Therefore, when you are getting a good read, and we teach you exactly how to do that, you double whenever you have the dealer beat on the board: an 8 vs a 7, a 9 vs an 8 or 7, a 10 vs a 9, 8 or 7, and an 11 vs a 10,9,8 or 7. These are all even stronger doubles than an 11 vs a 6 or less simply because there are far more ways the dealer can make a winning hand out of a 6 or less than out of a 7 or more.

Remember, for the BS player doubling is everything. For you it is only about profits. Use discretion and win or double on everything and lose, whichever you prefer.

In your particular case, no you would usually not double a 9 vs an 8 from third because you selected third because the cards are mostly random. However, in spite of the fact that the cards are MOSTLY random, you might easily find youself in a rare clumped section of the shoe where we DO get a good read even though it may be short lived. Here we can often make key NBJ plays. Here, if your read is depedable even though only momentarily and your read tells you to double, yes, you would double. Recognize that our double rate of success is 90% and we'd like to keep it that way. Let the other players double indiscrimanently. Not you, You are there to win. Every BS book tells you "it doesn't matter whether you win or lose as long as you make the correct (their) play". Let's have some truth in our lives. Winning is not the best thing, IT IS THE ONLY THING! That is why you are there.

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Merry Christmas right back. However I see a flaw in my art of doubling reply that I would like to correct here so as not to mislead you into making indiscriminate doubles. While the 9 vs 8 part of my reply is correct, I later implied that you would ALWAYS double on 11 vs. 5 or 6. I did not mean to make that implication. If you were to always double on 11 vs 5 or 6, it would make you much less of a player than I want you to be.

Of course the basic strategist and card counters are taught to ALWAYS double on 11 vs. 5 or 6. This is one of the major flaws in the mathematics of card counting and Basic Strategy. And it is one of those many opportunities where we get to use our head rather than the chart. Charts can't think! We Can, and MUST to win!

11 vs 5 or 6 SOUNDS good but consider this. It STILL depends on what's running. It is no good if lows are running and they very often ARE with this hand. How do I KNOW that? Simple: The dealer has a low and you have at least 1 low, probably 2. That's a lot of lows. Lows may well be running. Why do I say you probably have 2 lows? You have 11 right? You can't have a 10 and a 1, that's BJ. The highest card you could have is a 9. But more likely you have a 5 and 6 or a 7 and 4. Either way, the way WE distinguish highs from low, the best and most accurate way, you have two lows. You DON'T ever want to double with lows running. In all likelihood you'll get a stiff right when the dealer can't break. You lose! Now, Ain't that just a little bit smarter than your BS chart? You bet.

Also consider these two things: 1. Basic Strategy says ALWAYS assume the dealer has a ten in the hole. Why would you ever assume something that is going to be WRONG 9 times out of 13. Isn't that a little NAIVE? - to use a polite word. Your hole card read will be better in some games than others depending on the degree of clumping BUT IT WILL NEVER BE WRONG 9 OUT OF 13 as Basic Strategy is. See where using your head can get you?

2. And consider this: Basic Strategy ALWAYS calls the play according to the dealer's UP card. EVERY single play. This is INSANE! There are exactly as many low cards as high cards and MORE low cards than tens. Her UP card is only HALF her hand. It is often the LEAST important information available on the table. WHY would you bet on THAT? What you want to bet your hard earned money ON is the MOST important information on the table. What is the dealers WHOLE hand? IS it strong or weak? That is precisely why we teach you to always access the dealers ENTIRE hand. And that is why we painstakingly teach you exactly how to do that. That is the MOST important element of NBJ after finding the right game in the first place. Finding the right game will ALWAYS be your most important task. Then comes assessing the dealer's ENTIRE hand AND assessing your hit card as well as the dealer's. That is why you are ALWAYS at first or third. That is where you get your greatest accuracy with these all important assessments.

Will you ALWAYS be right? In some games where the clumping is right you will virtually always be right but you will be right less in random cards. But you will ALWAYS be right far, far, far more often than the Basick Strategy player who is taught to ridiculosly base every play on thin air - the dealer's up card. But remember, we ALWAYS beat random cards. Basic Strategy USUALLY beats random cards. That is precisely why the casino avoids random cards as much as possible. The entire game, rules, shuffles, presentation, table crowding and a host of other things is carefully designed by the best casino experts to avoid random cards. That is why ALL dealers are taught to give you the "correct" Basic Strategy play whenever you ask. That is why the casino gives out Basic Strategy charts and why they sell basic strategy and card counting books right in their casinos. BUT, that is also why we devoted an entire extra manual to exactly how to find the beatable games and exactly how to avoid the losers.

It's a war out there! Basic Strategy and card counting is like going to war against the most formidable foe armed with a pea shooter. We arm you with the best weapon there is. We teach you how to use your brains.

These days EVERYONE, even the Basic Strategy Card Counters, agree that the cards aren't random. Well if they aren't random, what are they? What is the opposite of random? Yep, PREDICTABLE! We use the casino's own orchestration to beat them. That's pretty darn ironic isn't it? But ask anyone on the private forum. NBJ beats them and these pros on the forum have the money to prove it. I'm not talking 1/2 % here. I'm talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's why we play the game!

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And one other thing while we are talking about doubling. BS books fail to mention this: Once you signal you are doubling you can only get one card. The casino does this to reduce your chances of a successful double. Meanwhile the dealer is allowed all the hits she needs. Therefore, since you are now betting twice as much money, you better have a good idea of what that one card is. You are betting you will get a ten. The BS players odds are 4 out of 13. Yours are much, much higher since we only double with highs running. No read - no double. Low card read - no double. High card read or ten's running - double. Thats why we are at 90%! That's why they are at 50%. That's what learning to think it through gets you. Or, You could play by some 30 year old chart. It's right half the time. Whichever you prefer.

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