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What makes it O.K. to play 3rd base as I did ?

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Dear Ellis,

Am reviewing your NBJ now and surprised to learn (meaning I didn't learn it well) that some successful 'play off the wash' is for 1st base, due to 'wash clumping'. Then was it only by chance I did well playing on 3rd base 'off the wash' ?? (Refer to article I am ecstatic...)

Prior to these plays, I had tested my play one morning with the 1st base choice. I never caught 2x10s and most of the time I had stiffs to hit and busted. I tried on 2 tables and they were the same. When I watch the cards, they were not exactly random but never more than 3 H. So I figured since there is a pattern to follow, I'd have more control and better on hit card anticipation. In those winning mornings, I made sure what were the cards liked on the other tables which have just opened to assure myself the 3rd base would be the right choice. Did I do it right or it was just a lucky guess ?

By the way, I went this (it is Sunday) morning to watch cards run and try to see if the games were good. They were not good. But how can that be if the tables were just opened, with the same type of wash everyday ? I didn't play as it was crowded plus neither the 1st nor 3rd base players were doing well, no body were doing well! (Mind you, they were all 7 players at each table)

Please answer when you have a chance, but no hurry. And THANKS !

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Playing off the wash is an art form but easy to learn. In prior posts here I noted that it is my favorit game because it gave me a virtual guaranteed win for the day. I almost always won in the morning and then used that win as my stop loss for the day. Only once in a blue moon did I have to make up for a morning loss in my second session. And it was rarer still that I went into a third session down. I don't remember this happening more than 5 or 6 times in three years of continuous play but in each case I managed to get ahead in the third session and immediately quit ahead for the day.

Recognize that I had one advantage over you. I had all of Atlantic City to choose from and I knew where the morning card preps produced the best and most consistent games. This took a lot of preparatory work that paid off well.

New cards don't guarantee a good first or third base game. But they do guarantee two very advantageous facts: no dealer biases and head to head opportunities. BTW, I always started head to head in the morning. And I always selected green tables to avoid other players as long as possible.

The first secret of winning morning play is to put yourself in the mind of the casino. Casinos are of two schools of thought for new cards:

One school says we know that we do best with clumped cards. We also know that the boxed card order of cards produces perfect clumping. Therefore we want to disturb that clumping as little as possible during our card prep. This school often (but not always) produces ideal first base conditions particularly for head to head play. "Boxed card clumping" is very obvious because cards are not only clumped highs vs. lows but also by suit.

The other school says let's start with random cards. Players tend to beat random cards but usually start small. They win a few shoes and start betting big about the time play begins clumping the cards causing them to lose. A dead givaway is when the casino inverts every other deck in their card prep so that highs are shuffled with lows and lows with highs.

Your job is to determine what kind of cards YOUR casino produces with their card prep. It might be First base, it might be Third base and it might be unplayable. But it is unplayable much less often than with played cards. Note that new cards also may depend on table denomination. They may prep their red tables different from their green tables.

But fortunately casinos don't change the morning prep very often. They tend to stick with whatever they determine works best for them. I've seen good morning conditions last for a month. But also recognize that your play alone can end up being their deciding factor to change. Mine often was. That is also why you don't want to spread this around to other players.

So, was it luck that your third base experience was so good? Yes and no. Yes because it was luck that the prep was a third base prep. No, because unlike all other players you knew enough to play new cards.

Now your job is to eliminate the luck part of it and base your play on known facts that you took the time to note. It's not hard once you know a few key secrets like those detailed here. Don't think like a player. Players lose. Think like a casino and learn their vulnerabilities. They ALL have them.

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Thank you Ellis, I've learned a lot from your answer. As in fact, I reread and reread it before I left this morning to play 'off the wash.'

This morning I finished with 3 units win (down from 6 units). It was a real battle over 3 shoes. I was on 3rd base (watching if 1st base was doing better than me. No.) Over 70% of my hands were 12-16, the hold cards were quite predictable but not for my hit cards. I made only one mistake, but was deadly for the table. That fact was my hit card anticipation was not correct, the dealer did not get a ten and made 20.

I must say I was the only one who won at the table, although it was only 3 units at the time I departed. You're right, They prep. their cards for their advantage. I also answered my own inquiry of the two different 8 deck of cards in play. The one they show open face (in box order) will be played second. They never show the first 8 deck. That was only counted face down, i.e. 52 x 8 times. I bet these were the cards from closing of the table, the night before.

Thats that. I hope some of you guys join in and comment. It will be greatly appreciated.


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Yeah Zenwin. Reads are a mixed blessing. Yes ideally they give you a better idea of what to do then Basic Strategy. But watch out when your read gets too good. Remember that the better your read the more the cards are clumped. Right up to unplayable. That's when you start pushing 20's. When your read is too good it only serves you to tell you exactly why you're about to lose the hand. Ie., beware of great reads!

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Guest CarlosM

Hi Zenwin! Here is what I do in FULL detail. When I look at a table and I know it's not a first base game, I watch the current third base player. Hopefully he is in seat 6, 5 or lower but, seat 7 is open. I see if he does or would do better and never or seldom lose 3 in a row playing his way of basic strategy or my our way of NBJ. When I enter, I will start favouring the card play of basic strategy if he did well before I entered or I will favour right from the start NBJ. Next, I see what works more often than not in that game for the hole card read. Does clean clumps up to the hole work best or does the Tens ratio work best. If clean clumps leading to the hole does best, does it do best with only 2 before the hole or 3? Or 4 or longer? Or does the majority of the last 5 cards work? Then, I look to see if I need to see the same patern before and after the hole or just before the hole is enough? Usually the more clumped the game or the cleaner the clumps, the more reliable the read is for the hole with just cards leading to the hole. Some games are so clumped or because you never see lones, that just that 1 final card alone before the hole, regardless of the cards before it, is enough to get a reliable read on the hole. If the majority or the ratio works best, I see if the Tens ONLY ratio works best ot does the HIGH cards ratio work better? Then, I track every round. How many low rounds in a row do I see? What is the longest in a row? Same for high card or High tens ratio rounds. Then I see when using the 1-4-6 neg prog if I usually lose in low rounds and I usually lose in high rounds. If yes, I will not favour playing the 1-4-6 straight regardless of what type of round I am in or what type of round is due next! If I have never seen more than 3 high rounds in a row and I am on that third high round, now I strongly suspect a low round is due next. So, if I won a 1, 4 or a 6 bet in that last third high round, I want to still bet 1 next as usuall. But, If I lost a 1 or a 4 bet and a 4 or a 6 bet is due next, I will bet 1 instead till the low rounds in a row history ends, then on the next suspected high round, I will bet that high bet I suspended earlier. Or, say a 1 bet is due next but, a high round or high rounds are due next, I will bet 2 instead of 1. I sometimes bet 3 or 5 units but, I'm a bit on the crazy side and I think we all know that! ha ha ha. Any ways, lets get back to seriousness now. I also track how often do I see neutral Tens ratio rounds to determine how close to random a game is and how much to rely on basic strategy. Now, if I see at third base that it doesen't matter if I am in a low or a high round or what round is next due, that I lose a 1 bet equally in high and low rounds and I win a 4 and/or 6 bet equally in a high or a low round, then I will play a 1-4-6 strickly robotic straight! I need some sleep right now. I will continue this next time. Next post, I will tell you every detail of what I do when watching the current first base player and when I am in the first seat playing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Carlos,

I am happy and really appreciate your reply. It has taken me this long to reply you because I have a hard time to digest all of the info. at once. I know I'll need more practice before I can read that many things on the table.

But please don't give up on me.


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