# Stanford Wong is Wrong

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I recently had a look at Stanford Wong's website. On his site, he repeatedly and emphatically says that progressions don't work.

Now that's funny, because I do this 1-4-6 thing all damn day, and it seems to be working fine.

Wong is essentially saying that even with perfect basic strategy, you are playing with a slight disadvantage to the house. Without card counting to help you vary your bets, you are doomed to a negative expectation, and no negative progression bullshit can turn a negative expectation into a positive expectation.

Now when we advocate negative progressions, we are saying, unequivocally, that WE HAVE A POSITIVE EXPECTATION.

So what's the trick? How can a negative 1-4-6 progression do jack all against the negative expectation monster?

We use table selection to find games that exhibit certain characteristics. We are looking for games where the tens are distributed evenly throughout the deck. There is a gentle periodic up and down pattern to the density of tens that you see.

This kind of game will generally fail to attain the high count that is Wong's dream.

When a shoe game gets like this, it takes it a while to change into some other type of game. It can't just suddenly turn into a highly clumped game. There is no process at work that could cause that to suddenly happen.

When we play this game we apply a whole new approach to card play. This allows us to have a positive expectation, not on a single hand, but on any given three hands. The tens are in there, and since they are evenly distributed, they have no choice but to show themselves on one of these three hands.

We don't expect to win every hand, and we don't claim to have a positive expectation on every hand, but we do claim to have a highly positive expectation of winning at least one hand in any given three. It is our enlightened card play combined with the up and down pattern in the density of tens that makes this possible.

So in the end, we are, in a way, counting cards. We labor long to find a game that has certain characteristics, and then we attack it with our negative progression. The game yields a win on one of the three bets of the 1-4-6 progression because we know that the game has to produce a tens rich round during the progression. We vary our card play during the low rounds to challenge the dealer and win our share of the low rounds as well. Then on a larger scale, we raise the stakes and take down cash using the Fibonacci sequence.

If the shuffle were truly random, then Wong would be right, but the shuffle isn't random, and Wong is wrong.

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• Users

Well, I think Wong is right from his point of view. HE should not play negative progressions nor should any other card counter. He doesn't have anywhere near the hands won rate we do. Basic Strategy gets a 43% hands won rate under its most optimal conditions. That won't withstand a negative progression. NBJ gets 50% and 52% with sufficient practice and study.

But, in spite of Wong's semantics, card counting gurus DO in fact teach neg. progressions. What else do you call betting up with the count? What's that, an accidental neg. prog.?

But Wong also teaches it doesn't matter where you sit. Again, that's true for him. What Wong doesn't grasp is that at third base your cards are most like the dealer's because she receives both of her cards immediately after both of your cards. Therefore the third base player tends to swap wins with the dealer. That is perfect grounds for a 3 bet negative progression. Recognize that third base is the only seat we bet a neg. prog from. Now you know why.

I could write volumes on the mathematical flaws of card counting. But suffice it to say that I think it a complete waste of time to shoot for a 0.5% Player Advantage. You might as well get a job! Yet the card counting Gurus can't even produce a single player that can even do that much in the long run. They can't even conceive of playing to a 10 or 15% advantage as we do. My record is 9 hours in a game without losing a single negative prog. I guess Wong would call that luck. Wrong Wong!

This may begin to explain why Wong now teaches Craps with Jerry Patterson. I don't know of anyone who seriously teaches card counting anymore. I don't think I need explain why.

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What Wong doesn't grasp is that at third base your cards are most like the dealer's because she receives both of her cards immediately after both of your cards.

Perhaps the reason he doesn't grasp this is that before you can grasp it, you must first accept that the shuffle isn't random, and that the players and the dealer generate order by the way the cards are played and picked up off the table.

Understanding that clumping exists is step one. Mathematicians are trained to be wary of apparent patterns and they actually pride themselves on ignoring apparent patterns.

Imagine going to school for 8 years to get your PhD in mathematics. Along the way, you are trained in statistics. Then you encounter a game that appears to deal in random chance. You might have a tendency to say "Hey, I know all about how to tackle this game." Any game component that has an element of random chance might be assumed, prematurely, to be the pure randomness that you came to know and love when you were studying stat.

When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

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• 5 months later...
• Users

When you play a 1-4-6 progression, what do you do when a double down or split situation occurs during the 3 progression hands?

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Excellent question Lefty. We would ignore the fact that we doubled. If we lost a 1,4 and doubled on a 6, we would go back to 1 win or lose. Playing a 1,2,3. If we lost the 1, and doubled on 2 we would go to 3 on a loss and 1 on a win.

But there is an important caviat to that. We don't double or split nearly as often as the BS player.

Lets take splits: The BS player mistakenly looks at a split as an opportunity to bet twice as much money on a good hand. WRONG! Splits lose miserably in the long run. There is no such thing as a good split. You've got a terrible hand. Why would you want to bet twice as much money on it? That's ridiculous and yet another mathematical flaw of basic strategy. Take 8's. This is the strongest split but it still sucks. Suppose everything goes right and you get dealt a pair of 10s on your eights. Now you've got 2 18s. The avg. dealer hand is 19.2 and you just bet twice as much money to get 2 18's.

Lets take the next "best" split: A pair of A's. Everybody always splits. They THINK they have a great hand. WRONG! Players lose overall splitting aces. That's why they don't let the dealer do it. It's a terrible hand that you must make the most of. Split only if highs are running in a clumped game. Otherwise HIT. A pair of A's is one of the best hit hands there is. Dealers win on them all the time. You cannot break on them on your first hit so you ALWAYS have at least 2 chances to make a good hand. You might get an 8 or 9 on the first hit. But if you don't get a good card you get another chance. Savvy? That's why dealers usually win with a pair of Aces.

All BS players would greatly improve their game if they simply never split. Why do they insist on betting twice as much money on a poor hand? Because they read it in a book written by a guy who never plays.

Players double far too often. Only double when highs are running and you will immediately vastly improve your double down performance. For instance I often double an 8 against a 7 with tens running. The reason should be obvious to you. What are you most likely to get? What is she most likely to get. Yep, that's why you double.

That is why I say Standford Wong should never play a negative prog. His card play is no where near good enough to support a neg. prog. BS wins 43 % of the hands on its best day. We win 50% or better. Yet Wong actually bets more neg. progs than we do. He bets a neg. prog every time he loses in an upward moving high plus count. That is the worst possible time to bet a negative prog. In an upward moving count LOWS are falling.

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• Users

Oh I agree. Not only isn't the shuffle non-random because they don't shuffle enough, but the way the shuffle in which they promote card clumping. Let's say you pick 26 & 26 cards to shuffle, but put the 26 in the upper 50 % of the other pick... the cards on the bottom are still together untouched... and if it's a clump of some kind, it goes in the pile. Now the final shuffle is to split the 8 decks, 4 on each side then pick from each side and put them all together ... well if you have clumps (that were retained from the first part) now you're increasing the clumps or creating "Zippers". So a low goes in another low, or high or neutral. But they keep doing this round after round. Then it reaches a peak (if you're counting you know what i mean ... count skyrockets rapidly and the low cards just keep coming out when you would expect high cards). Now after this peak the decks seems to go all neutral again. Of course the peak goes the other way also depending on where all the clumps are in relation to the cut. If you follow this, it happens almost everytime, and especially at crowded tables because you have longer sequences of cards that get picked up thus creating the clumps that eventually become larger clumps through the shuffling process. And casinos laugh when you confront them on this...

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