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Trip Reports Carlos Niagra Casino Aug 4

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    Carlos trip report for Friday, Aug.4, 06

    I rolled into Niagara Casino at 8 AM. That?s the casino near Niagara Falls on the
    Canadian side that many of Ellis?s students have played. It?s the same casino I had made
    $9500 for my first two trips last month, playing 8 deck, 3rd base. So I started this trip
    with a $9500 bank roll. I know Friday is certainly not the best day to go but I had no
    choice. At least I got there early so I could play new cards. At that hour I was able to
    park pretty close to the front door and I made a mental note of exactly where I parked so
    if the need should arise, I could make a bee line to my car as Ellis suggests. I was glad
    I did.

    I looked over the lower stakes floor pits first but didn?t see anything really good for
    either 1st or 3rd base play. The casino had just enough tables open to keep the open
    tables crowded at 5 to 7 players each. So I hit the 6 deck, machine shuffled, high
    stakes room! The stakes are $100 - $5000. They cut off at about one and a half decks. I
    don?t favor playing first base or third. As Ellis teaches, I let the cards dictate which
    I play.

    They were just coming out with new cards. Only three out of the eight tables were open
    but one of those was a head to head game with no mid-shoe entry. While this player seemed
    to only be holding his own, I noted that I could predict first card tens with pretty good
    accuracy. Highs were clumped just enough to usually get a high card with those first card
    tens. Low tens ratio rounds were not exceeding three in a row. While I had only played
    third base in my first two trips, this looked like a real good first base game. So, I buy
    in for $1000. I tested the water at 1-1 and won the first two hands where I would have
    bet high. So I went to a 1-2 spread. I keep my high bet pile separate from my low bet
    pile so I can see my performance on each, like Ellis teaches. Both are doing good and I?m
    actually a little ahead on my low bet pile. Then the only player left the game. I went to
    a 1-3 spread. I was doing a little better than 50% on my low bets and excellent on my
    high bets. I was up $900 in no time on my high bet pile and went right to a 1-5 spread.
    Now I get lucky and hit to a 21 with lows running and a BJ and I?m quickly up to $2400
    on my high bet pile and still up on low bets. I had put my $1000 buy in back in my
    pocket. The game is going fantastic and I want to take quick advantage so shortly after
    the next shoe tests OK I go to $100-$1000. I know I can afford to lose two high bets and
    still be up. But I win the first hi bet and then won more than I lost and I see I?m up
    $7400 on my high bets and the game is still hot. So I go to $100-$3000 still checking
    every shoe with $100 flat bets at the beginning. I figure I?m more than two bets up even
    at $3000 hi bets. It worked before so I go for it. It seemed to be tougher now or maybe
    that was because I was so nervous. A really big crowd had gathered and the pit boss was
    watching every move I made. It seemed to take forever but I finally get my high bet pile
    to $16,400. Now I?m on the mission of my life. But I?m too nervous to go to $5000, the
    table max so I stay at $100-$3000. I win 3 more hi bets and my high bet pile is at
    $25,400. My low bet pile is still a little ahead, didn?t count them exact. The crowd is
    really big. I go to table max. It took me 7 high bets to get ahead three bets. My low bet
    pile is still good but I don?t care, I?m up $40,000! Three players jump in. I quit! A
    couple of guys come with a chip tray. They escorted me to the window. I cashed in and
    made that bee line to my car up an even
    $50,000 for the 3 trips.
    On the trip home, I thought about two things Ellis says. It?s a lot more nerve wracking
    to win than to lose. I now know that?s true. And counters will never have the thrill of
    doing something like this. This stuff rocks!

Join us in Vegas for the Back to Vegas Seminar

at the Crescent Dealer's School

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Certainly congratulations are in order for Carlos from everyone. Carlos has left me with virtually nothing to say about his escapade. This was a "go for the jugular" performance right out of the book. Every action, every decision was right out of NBJ right to the letter.

I guess this helps confirm our suspicions that the advent of poker popularity has greatly improved BJ conditions. It is far more difficult for the casinos to keep their BJ tables full, especially in the high stakes arenas, when the players have another choice. Carlos play also helps confirm a number of controvercial NBJ points that I have been spouting for years:

New cards are likely to be the best cards you see all day.

Favor hiting in mostly low cards and favor standing in mostly highs.

I only play high stakes because I can't afford to play low stakes.

When the opportunity presents itself, it is your duty to go for the jugular.

The fewer players in the game the better your odds.

There are only two winable seats, first and third base.

Carlos played the NBJ first base strategy here after confirming that this was a viable NBJ first base situation. Of couse the secret to this strategy is WHEN to bet high and WHEN to bet low. I'm not going into that here because some of you are likely not NBJ players. Suffice it to say that once again the NBJ First Base strategy has proved itself. You have a huge double digit player advantage in this situation that makes the claimed 0.5% counter advantage look ridiculous.

Carlos' adventure also points out the tremendous advantage of searching out the right game. As I have often said, finding the right game is the most important aspect of NBJ. You must know exactly what to look for. This was not as easy as Carlos trip report infers. What he didn't tell you in that report was that he made several trips to that same casino without playing a single hand. Demonstrating excellent discipline he waited until he saw the conditions

listed in NBJ and and thoroughly discussed in "In Search of the Winning Game". Then he pounced! Good job Carlos!

What have ya'll got to say about this?

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This certainly Rivals the great win at Trump Plaza when we were using the team play with HArvey Garrison at First Base. Harvey saw a NBJ first base opportunity with three table max bets that hit at 5k each

In addition it was again as significant as the win in the Denver casino that Ron D pulled off at first base. Too bad the higest bet allowed was 5 bucks but he cleared the chip tray and they had to reload.

Join us in Vegas for the Back to Vegas Seminar

at the Crescent Dealer's School

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It occurs to me that I have posted very little on this most important subject. Yet, it is the most important subject we could discuss. Why? Two good reasons: 1.) New cards present the best possible NBJ conditions. 2.) This opportunity presents itself every day in every casino. We don't have to go out and look for it. We just need to note when new cards come out at a given casino and show up.

While nearly all of the traditional Bj books tell you to avoid new cards, I found very early on durring my full time play years that new cards are the very best cards you will see all day. You just have to know what to do.

Why are they the best? Because they are either random or they retain box card order clumping. In either case you know what to do. There are no dealer biases in new cards because it is play itself that creates these biases. It's the fairest most exploitable game in BJ.


I used to show up at the Sands, AC every day except Sat and Sun at 8 am to watch the new card prep. at the 8 deck $25 pit. They usually start about 8 tables at once. There was this very bright female pit boss who bossed the card prep at every table. Everything was done exactly the same way at every table except one crucial thing. Once the new cards were unwrapped and checked, they shuffled each fresh full deck with another full deck. On half of the tables these 4 two deck riffles would be aces to aces. kings to kings and so forth. But at half the tables she would instruct the dealer to reverse the order of ONE of the two decks for all 4 riffles. So aces got shuffled with twos, kings with threes and so forth. I noted which way the cards were prepped at every table. Why, Because its a huge tell. On the tables where the second decks were reversed, they were shooting for random cards. On the other half of the tables, they were going for boxed card clumping. All I had to know is which tables were which. It always started off my day with a bang. It was more the rule than the exception for me to be up a few thousand by 10 am.

Did it always work every time? No, but it usually worked at the first table I played. If not, or if the table crowdwd up, I knew the conditions at seven more tables. Overall, yes, it always worked.

On the "random" tables, I played NBJ third base quickly moving up to a 1 4 6 prog if all went well. If not, I changed tables. My preference was head to head. On the clumped tables I played NBJ first base usually starting with a 1 2 and quickly moving to a 1 3 if all went well. If not, again I changed tables. So I ALWAYS ended up in a good 1-4-6 or 1-3 game. I really didn't care which.

Didn't she notice me watching the card prep? Absolutely, esp since I was virtually always the only person watching. Hey, I wasn't doing anything illegal!

But eventually, after about 3 weeks of this, I walked in one morning and faced a new pit boss who watched every move I made from the moment I walked in. This guy did not bother with reversing the order of half the decks so that all 8 tables were ripe for first base play. Which, of course, I did. But as soon as another player would sit down, I would move to the next table. When I got to the 8th table, the new pit boss had me ejected mumbling something about starting 8 tables in half an hour. I waited about a month for this guys job to get rotated and started in with a new pit boss.

So how does this phenomenon occur? In, what we call super random cards, this is where counters get virtually no count because highs and lows are interspersed so well with no dealer biases, it is virtually impossible to lose playing NBJ third base. In fact it is rare to even get to your third bet. In fact, in these conditions I usually dropped the third bet altogether and simply played a 1-4 prog. When to do that will make another interesting topic. Likewise, in boxed card clumping, the cards are so readable that it is virtually impossible to lose playing NBJ First Base. Note Carlos' trip.

Hey, it's there for the taking. All you need to know it the NBJ first and third base systems. Right Carlos?

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I have played this game a lot. The following are some of my thoughts.

Watch out for that first shoe. It can be a killer. You will often have a lot of two card pushes with the dealer. Without the help those high cards normally give you, you have the disadvantage of playing with too many low cards. Look for this.

You will notice that most people, for what ever reasons, do not want to open a table, but as soon as you open one, they will soon sit down. If this has been a table like the one described above the addition of more players may very well change the game into a breaking one. The rhythm of the game will obviously change. It can change a good game into a bad game as well. Some courteous players will ask if you mind if they enter the game. As a rule of thumb it really depends on if you are winning or not. You can always ask the player(s) to wait until the next shoe if you are in a hot game. Otherwise, hell yes, sit down, the water is great. I have even said this to a bystander to enter and change the game.

As players enter the game, shoes three four and five may become very good games. As more players continue to enter, the game may stay good. Whenever the game goes bad for you try to start the process over at another table. Generally, IMHO, when the players at the table become many and constant dealer biases develop.

Keep an eye, yours or your partners, on the other games that started in your pit at the same time as yours did. Often someone will play out the first shoe and quit. The second and third shoes could be very good. I would always rather start with that second shoe head up but they are much harder to find.

Anyone else have thoughts on new cards?

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Well, of course, at the sands, because of the clear card prep tell, I could drop the "test the water" procedure that all NBJ players are taught to conduct on new cards. But that is not the only new card tell. There are some big advantages ***ociated with playing full time. Most casinos use a specific card prep procedure for weeks, even months. They use the procedure that has historically produced the highest table take for them. They keep that procedure until it begins to falter. This occurs when players, esp. street players, learn to beat the conditions the prep produces. So they change it.

But, we often find, playing full time, that a given casino's initial card prep produces good first base or good third base conditions. So we exploit that situation for as long as it lasts. The peculiar thing about the Sands was that they had two card prep procedures that produced almost opposite results. A good trick! This completely confused the street players because a given table would play completely different from the table next to it. Street players are generally not skilled enough to gleen a tell from watching the card prep. Like I said before, I was always the only person there watching the card prep.

When we walk into a casino to play new cards, our first job is to determine whether we should play first base or third. Unless we are experienced with what the current card prep procedure at that casino produces, we have no idea of which system to play. We must either stand there and watch the cards play, as Carlos did, or jump in and make our determination while playing. In this latter case we will use a test the water prog like a 112 until we confirm the conditions. Of course, we may confirm that conditions are poor for either first or third. Or, as Russ points out, the game may crowd up durring our test the water procedure. So, we try again at a different table.

But the advantage of new cards is that the shoe is usually more consistent throughout the shoe than old cards. If this consistancy matches either our first or third base system we drop our test the water procedure and start real play. We are aggressive because we want to get the money before dealer biases develop as they surely will. Esp in first base conditions we hit out in low card clumps as Carlos did. This helps stave off dealer bias development for as long as the table remains at three or less players. 4 players is iffy and 5 or more is almost always our table departure signal.

When I began my three years of full time play in AC I paid no attention to the time of day or the day of the week or the number of players in the game. But my notes quickly confirmed that my results were far better durring uncrowded conditions. The fewer the players in the casino and at my table the better I did. I experimented with very late night play, after the casino cleared out. This was good but not as good as new cards. When you are playing at 3 and 4 in the morning, you aren't going to be in any kind of condition to play at 9 am after watching the card prep at 8 am. I quickly learned to give up night play altogether and ONLY PLAY NEW CARDS.

This does not mean that I could only play at 9 am. The high stakes pits open much later in the day. I soon new the start up time of every high stakes pit in AC. and I followed these start ups. I soon learned to play ONLY the high stakes pits. There is no way to avoid the crowding of the low stakes floor tables and my notes strongly indicated that my time was far more profitable in the high stakes arenas esp those with no mid shoe entry.

With this background information, perhaps it will be easier for you to understand how the Taj 1 and Taj 2 expositions occurred. They were no accident. I had been getting complaints from my players saying "but Ellis, we can't afford to play the high stakes pits!" I would reply: "Well I can't afford to play the low stakes pits!" Eventually, the clamor became overwhelming. Finally I said: O.K., I'll prove it to you. You guys usually have at least a $1000bank roll. I'll prove to you that a $1000 bank roll is enough to play high stakes. Be at the Taj high stakes pit at high noon on whatever the date was. About 60 of my players showed up. I picked the Taj because the high stakes pit can accommodate a large gallery standing just outside the pit railing. I picked the closest table right next to that railing. But I had a lot going for me. I knew they would just be finishing their new card prep at noon. I knew that their prep strongly favored first base play. I knew there would be virtually no players there. As Russ points out, people are reluctant to open new card tables esp. high stakes. I had the pit to myself just as I had many times in the prior weeks. I bought in for ten black chips. I started with a 1-2 prog and quickly went to 1-3. I NEVER bet more than 3. A half hour later I had $11,000 in chips on the table and quit.

The next day I got a call from Jerry Patterson complaining that he had missed the whole thing. I said fine, I'll do the whole thing over in two weeks. I got my newsletter out announcing Taj 2 to my players. This time both Jerrys players and my players showed up, at least 80 people. Jerry and Nancy came right into the pit and watched every play right over my left shoulder. Bought in for $1000 and again quit up $10,000 in a half hour.

This goes to show you just what you can do with new cards after confirming the game type the card prep produces. Anybody that KNOWS NBJ first and third base, and knows it cold, can do this. Carlos did! But he had sense enough to keep increasing his bet once he had won at least two bets worth of the next denomination. Again, good job Carlos!

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New cards are definitely best. I'm glad to hear you say that, Ellis. Be careful of the first shoe though. My best wins have all been with new cards. I never play stale cards anymore. Thats where you find card counters who are waiting to get back under the probabality curve from three sigmas out.

Play clumping

Stale cards are caused by a constant number or players at the table, playing the same strategy for many shoes, same dealer shuffling the same way and same discard pickup procedure. This causes a dealer bias that can sometimes be broken by changing the number of players at the table. Try it in your home practice.

Wash clumping

More predictable card reading caused by the initial deck preparation. The pesky play clumping has not yet developed but it will.

Random cards

Well unless you are playing random shufflers the nearest thing to random cards occurs in the shoes between the end of wash clumping and the beginning of play clumping. Where is that? When you start losing. Get out of the game unless two more olayers sit down and destroy the card rhythm.


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An excellent post Russ and very accurate:

Changing the player no.

Yes, changing the player number by 2 players almost always breaks a dealer bias at least for a while. We had a very successful 4 man team that operated on that very fact. They would hit a table after the wash and usually do well until the dealer bias showed. Here, the dealer would begin getting far too many first card tens and would turn too many 5's and 6's to 20's and 21's. At that point 2 of the players would leave the game with place markers up. This broke the dealer bias. The remaining two players would continue play until a bias redeveloped. At that point the other two players would reenter the game again destroying the dealer bias. It was a neat trick and those guys swore by it. The hard part was the logistics of keeping 4 guys organized and on schedule.

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For many years now this has not been a subject we could discuss. From the mid 90's up until just a few months ago the casinos have had the upper hand with the ability to control BJ conditions to their favor. We NBJ players KNOW that the fewer players we have in a BJ game, the better our odds. The casinos also know this and for nearly ten years have had the ability to keep tables loaded up to 6 or 7 players. Even our strategy of playing new cards was thwarted by the casinos. They knew just how many tables to open so that the tables would quickly load up with players maintaining an optimum casino edge at all times. Even our strategy to play new cards at only the high stakes tables was easily thwarted by the casinos. We could seldom exploit the advantage NBJ players know they have in one or low player games with new cards. Now, the tables have turned. With the advent of Poker popularity together with the diminished popularity of BJ, it is far more difficult for the casino to control player numbers. Many players will elect to play Poker rather than fight crowded conditions at the BJ tables. These players know nothing about how player number effects the odds. After all, all BJ books prior to NBJ ***erted that "player number makes no difference". BJ players simply elect to play Poker because the playing conditions are more comfortable.

The reasons why are not important. The fact is that we can now find virtually any BJ conditions we want. Given all our druthers, I think that now, we should be thoroughly discussing what our best and strongest strategy options are. There hasn't been much point in discussing this in the last ten years or so because we simply could not find the conditions required. But today, finding the right conditions isn't much of a factor. We can select virtually any conditions we want. Suddenly given this advantage, the question today is: what do we do with it? What is the very best combination of conditions and strategy? I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

Off the top of your head you might say: Well, we look for a high stakes head to head game with new cards. Right, except that there is an inherant disadvantage. You don't get to see the cards first. You will be betting hard earned money BEFORE you know what game type you are in. Carlos was lucky. In his third trip, he had the opportunity to watch the cards and determine the game type BEFORE he sat down. Then, when he did sit down, he had the good fortune that the other player left. Now, he is playing new cards in a game he already determined is a first base game. And this is not all that uncommon. Some players prefer to play head to head. After all, a random cards head to head game stays random. Basic Strategy works best in random cards. Since the cards are picked up in the same order regardless of whether the player wins or loses, a single player cannot clump up the cards. So while what happened to Carlos (the other player leaving) is not all that uncommon I do not think it is an occurance we can depend on. And, players are more likely to jump into a two player game than they are to jump in a one player game.

So there we are: A high stakes game with new cards freshly shuffled. There are four possibilities:

The game may favor First Base

The game may favor Third Base

It may favor neither

It may favor both

So what do we do? Of course, one option is to sit down and find out while flat betting at the table minimum. But is there anything less risky?

What if we had a playing partner? An NBJ partner, of course. What if one partner takes First Base and the other takes Third Base? They would actually sit in the first and last seats to prevent others from doing so. Now, yes, it is more likely that other players will join a two player game quicker than a one player game. But high stakes players also tend to favor first or third and those seats are taken. But ***uming our two players are left alone, there are four possibilities in this order of frequency as I see it:

The first base player wins and the third base partner leaves the game

The third base player wins and the first base partner leaves the game

Both players win

Both players lose

Of course the third possibility (both players win) is best because not only do we have two players winning, we also have two players taking lows out of the game, improving conditions for both. It seems to me that that is what we should be shooting for. And it is not uncommon. When new cards are clumped (first base) they are seldom clumped throughout the shoe. Likewise, when new cards are random (third base) they are seldom random throughout the shoe. What do you guys think???

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