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Trip Report, Ellis - May 2011

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I flew to PA and Keith and I played 17 shoes in 3 days. We played 13 at the Sands Bethlehem and 4 at Hollywood, PA.

We played only one shoe (Hollywood) with new boxed card order cards where we had watched the wash and shuffle and therefore knew what type of game to expect. That, of course, turned out to be our best game at +32.

At the Sands there was no mid shoe entry for all practical purposes. Every table filled up immediately upon opening. So we played every shoe completely in the blind with factory pre-shuffled cards as well as machine shuffled before play. So we were playing under the worst possible playing conditions. While we posted all 17 actual casino cards on the private forum we, of course can't post them here on the public forum but I will list our scores. We strictly played NOR which after 30 years of play I consider far and away the best approach to the game possible. Our highest bet was 5 units and we seldom got to the 5 bet. Our ABS (avg, bet size) was well below 2 units. We strictly played $25 units except for one $100 game. We ended up +213 units less commission. Commission averaged less than 1 unit per shoe because we were never in the shoe very long and quit after achieving our goal. W/O going back and counting, I'm guessing we averaged about 35 plays per shoe vs the norm of 72 hands per shoe not counting ties. I'll follow up this post with posts from the private forum covering my commentary on each shoe, my critique on our play and Q&A from the private members. Our scores were as follows:

SANDS: 18, 9, 1, 6, 21, 1, 20, 10, 14, 16, -8, 20, 20

Hollywood: 3, 20, 10, 32

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A Word About NOR:

NOR stands for Neutral, Opposites, Repeats. NOR is not a system. IT is an Approach to Baccarat comprising 3 simple systems with 2 Modes each. Essentially NOR divides all Baccarat shoes into 3 thirds: The Neutral third, the Choppy third, and the Streaky third. It then assigns the corresponding system to each third. Then each system has 2 Modes determined simply by which events are occuring most and which least.

Any betting strategy can be used with NOR. We generally started waiting for the shoe type (which third) to reveal itself. Then we tested the water flat betting at 1 unit. If all went well we advanced to the 123 then the 234 and occassionally the 345. 5 was always our highest bet and our stop loss was always -8. Our goal depnding on which prog we advanced to was +10, +20, or +30. NOR is an extremely conservative and safe way of playing. But it also encourages aggression in the best shoes. I am convinced that it is the best way possible to maximize winnings while minimizing losses through strict cash Mgt. The whole idea is to be playing the best possible system for the shoe at hand. We NEVER take big risks and we don't chase. Anyone with average intelligence or close to it can learn NOR one step at a time. Then anyone who devotes the study and practice can beat Baccarat and beat it soundly. You can't learn it anywhere else.

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Shoe critiques from the private forum:

Re: Sands II

Ok, the first thing I need to say is unforunately I came down with the worst case of the flue of my life on day 1 and I did exactly what I tell you guys NOT to do. Don't play when you are not in peak condition. 1 was in severe pain and very slow witted which is reflected in my play. I was too slow to become more aggressive with my prog in easy shoes and I stayed in some shoes too long.

I started this shoe with F3 because of the strong Bank side which evaporated as soon as I started. Looking back from play 10, OTB4L would have won the most bets so I switched to OTB4L at play 11. (High 2s, 3s, and single 1's). I was betting a simple 123 which was OK but I should have moved up to at least a 234 by play 17 and then a 345. I could have easily doubled my score.

I quit early because I KNOW from experience that +10 is good goal for the 123. But I SHOULD have quit at +15 because +15 is spectacular for the 123. But, had I been in good playing condition, this was an easy +30 shoe.

Ha, I think you'll see as we go that my condition deteriorated. In fact I spent yesterday in bed.

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From the private forum:

05-15-2011 07:52 AM #10 E. Clifton Davis

Ha, one of Keith's little jokes:

He puts a red on both B and P and looks to the dealer to deal.

"But sir, this is a $10 table!"

"Right, that's why I bet $10!"

Then the pit boss comes. I say, "Don't look at me, I never saw this guy before in my life!"


How to get a shoe started:

So there you are. The cards are shuffled and the dealer is waiting to see some bets before dealing the first hand. All the players are sort of looking off into space waiting for someone to start the shoe.


So Keith puts up a min. bet on P. I automatically put up the same bet on B. The dealer deals. One of us wins and gives his partner his chip back. We often do this several times. But as soon as someone else also puts up a bet we withdraw ours.

Most casinos allow a single player to start the shoe by betting the min on both sides - but not all casinos. This again points out the value of having a good partner. Ha, just make sure you get your chip back.


"OVERLAY" - I would like to introduce this new term as it applies to NOR. The 3 NOR systems and their two modes each are easy enough to learn. We could probably teach them to 8 year olds. Where experience comes in is getting to the right system the fastest in the shoe at hand. As you can see we did very well on this aspect of play. Therefore I paid attention to exactly how we did that so I could later explain it to you.

Yes, we thoroughly know the likes and dislikes of each of the 3 NOR systems. But using that information alone is the long way around. What I do for the first 10 -12 hands is overlay the other two systems on my card to see if one of the other two would be performing better. I strictly do this in my head. I do it again whenever I lose 2 bets in a row throughout the shoe.

This sounds a lot harder than it actually is in practice. It is really quite simple once you have sufficient repetitive practice with each of the 3 simple systems.

I found myself constantly saying to Keith, who was always right next to me, things like: " Hey OTB4L is 6 out of 7 right now and we are only at 4 out of 7. Let's switch. And Keith was saying similar things to me. There was constant such banter between us every shoe. You can see the results. We switched with uncanny accuracy. Overlay is how we did it.

BTW, this also demonstrates the value of having a good partner at your side. But it also demonstrates the power of practice. There is no such thing as too much practice!


A good goal for 123 would be + 10, spectacular +15, what would you recommend for 234 and 345 PL?


A good question Al and a topic that will be well covered in the NOR Manual:

These goals are purely rule of thumb. Shoe quality is what really decides the issue. Once in a while you hit these goals early, perhaps somewhere in the second col of 20 and you may well decide to attempt to go further. If you choose to do this set a tight capture such as one or 2 losing bets in a row. The worst sin in Baccarat is to turn a good shoe into a bad shoe by staying in too long. I seldom go further myself because I know first hand how seldom it works out to your advantage.

On the other hand nothing says you must stay in long enough to achieve these goals. If you are struggling or the shoe is not cooperating it is a GOOD move to quit BEFORE achieving these goals.

First, on the minus side, I always use -8. Once in a great while I might go slightly below -8 but only if I see I made an obvious mistake in system selection and I should have switched systems earlier.

Recognize that you don't need a different stop loss for each prog. It is better to use a universal -8. This is because you start all shoes the same safe way. You are going to let the shoe quality determine your prog. If you go to a 234 or a 345 it is because you are already up, so -8 works out in virtually every shoe.

Think of it this way. Suppose the casinos decided to give back all the chips players lost below -8. That would be one hell of a lot of chips wouldn't it. In fact it would likely turn many losers into winners, wouldn't it. Well the casinos will never do that BUT WE CAN do it ourselves by sticking to -8 in the first place.

OK, the way I see it we have 3 logical stop win categories: +10, +20, and +30.

The +10 category includes: 012; 112; 12; 123; 1234; and U1D2 with no M2.

The +20 category includes 234 and U1D2 M2.

The +30 category includes 345 and U1D1 M3 B2 (base at 2)

BTW, I don't teach the U1D2 M3 B2 any more because I think the 345 is a much safer way to achieve the same goal because your bets are capped at 5.

BTW, I know that Maveric was teaching the 234 as an across the board prog. I don't know if he still is but I think a 234 from scratch and across the board is a mistake and demands too high a stop loss. I think the 234 is a good goal to work your way up to in a shoe AND also good for legally playing $5 units at a $10 table. BTW the 345 is also a good way to play $5 units at a $15 table.

But you are best off to start with no bets in a blind shoe until you see what is going on. Is the shoe starting choppy or streaky? Then test the water flat betting at 1 then 1,2; then 123 and then try to get to the 234 as early as possible but only on THEIR money. I find the best time to switch to the 234 is right after a winning 2 bet. Likewise the best time to switch to the 345 is right after a winning 3 bet.


Spoken like a true champion.

Thanks for the advice.


One other important thing I think these shoes point out quite well: A few months ago we had some of our Far East members saying "but Ellis, my shoes are different. We have factory pre-shuffled cards here and there are no biases". Guess how many times I've heard that "my cards are different" routine in 30 years. Watch my lips: there is virtually no such thing as unbiased cards. You will likely NEVER see a shoe where all events exactly hit their normal frequency of occurrence. Even if you do then THAT is the bias. So what if you get a shoe with the exact normal frequency of events: 18 1's, 9 2s, 4.5 3s , 2.2 4s and one 5. So what! Sys 40-3 beats every single one of those events except a 5 that doesn't go to 6. That means you win 31 out of 32 events. In other words if all events are normal it's an easy shoe to beat. And if all events are not normal, the shoe is biased.

Those were factory pre-shuffled cards I was playing. Anyone just glancing at them would have to agree that those shoes were HIGHLY biased. THAT is how and why I won. Purely random cards are a myth. Don't be fooled by myths. There are a LOT of myths, superstitions and old wives tales surrounding Baccarat. The game is highly beatable for those who play by math, as I teach it and who avoid being distracted by myth.

That reminds me, I got the chance to get a real good look at this Statistical Analysis course Keith is taking. It took us a day to do Keith's homework and I wasn't much help. As many of you know, I taught college Statistical Analysis back in the late '80s. But the computer age has advanced today's course far beyond anything I ever taught. This course is conducted by a pool of the very best Mathematicians from our very best colleges with some foreign, esp, Japanese, professors thrown in. I was amazed at the advancements. I was even more amazed at how closely they follow my own Baccarat math. It was almost as if they were teaching Baccarat and I suspect that soon they will be. They go by normal frequency of occurrence just like I do and measure biases the same way I do and predict the future from past biases just as I do.

It is very comforting to have these very prestegious schools and professors backing up the same brand of math I use. You know, everything is random when measured against infinity. 72 Banks in a row is entirely possible in an infinit number of trials. BUT we don't play against infinity. We play only the shoe at hand and the math I use is the BEST way to predict the future of the shoe at hand. Those guys teach the same math I use and they predict the same way I do. That is the future guys!

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Re: Sands II

Critiquing my own play:

I recognize that some of you new guys will think that was masterful play. Well, is was good but definitely not masterful and not up to my usual standards. A good shoe average for this trip would have been +16 or more, not +12.5. I knew this at the time and so did Keith. It was sort of like playing golf with a sprained wrist. You settle for an 80.

I think my system selection was good considering we were playing EVERY shoe in the blind. We had no idea what to expect. I also think my bet placements were good. I did make a couple bet placement mistakes but still pretty darn good. There was nothing I could do about the - 8 shoe I did everything right but lost almost every bet. I think such shoes are unavoidable now and then.

But in most of the shoes I was not nearly aggressive enough once hitting on the right system.

I am a FIRM believer that you MUST be aggressive in the good shoes to make up for the inevitable bad shoes. I think my ailment gave me a lack of confidence. Also I am not at all used to playing in the blind. I ALWAYS know what a table is doing BEFORE I sit down. This trip I NEVER knew so I HAD to start each shoe slow. BUT I stayed slow too long in most shoes. I also failed to advance my OTR bets. You'll see that I often went back to 1 on my first OTR bet. That is fine but if I lost it I needed to up my next OTR bet and I only did that part of the time. Yet it ALWAYS would have been successful. Hey, no guts, no glory. I lacked guts this trip which is very rare for me.

My system selection is usually at about 90% meaning I select the right system first shot about 90% of the time. But playing in the blind (no idea of the table) reduced me to about 50%. But I did almost as well as could be done with only a couple of exceptions.

All in all I think I played reasonably well EXCEPT for aggression. But aggression is a biggy.

BTW, that is the one thing I have against flat betting. BK will never know the value of controlled aggression nor the value of controlled retreat. After bet placement I think that is the most important aspect of winning Baccarat play.

Last edited by E. Clifton Davis; 05-15-2011 at 06

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NOR System Selection:

Looking over what I have included here I may have left the impression that NOR system selection is difficult and complicated. No, basic Nor system selection is very simple. We use a simple running count of opposites vs repeats. The OR count is a simple running count of opposites vs repeats, You can learn exactly how to perform it in 3 minutes. That indicates our starting system and is correct 90% of the time. Overlay is used to fine tune system selection.

Overlap is another concept you need to understand. OFTEN 2 out of 3 or even all 3 NOR systems will beat the shoe at hand. We call that Overlap. The idea of system selection is to select the system that beats the shoe at hand BEST. Usually we end up playing the same system throughout the shoe. But there are indicators to tell you when it is best to change systems to keep your play optimum. NOR has been in the making for ten years. The 3 NOR systems have been played and tested for 20 years. NOR is a very proven Approach tried and true by many players.

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How hard is it to learn NOR and how long does it take?

Anywhere from 3 days to 3 months depending on your Baccarat experience and the time you can alot to learning. We get students of all languages and all experience levels from those who have never seen a Baccarat table all the way to seasoned pros.

The game itself is as simple as flipping a coin. It offers the player the best odds in the casino and the most comfortable playing conditions. Your odds start out at 50/50. We teach you from there. Yes, you pay the casino 1.25% of your bets to deal the game (commission) but that done your starting odds are 50/50. The way we play commission is negligible. The only decisions you make are whether or not you want to bet, which side, and how much. Like I said, a coin toss. Far easier than BJ. In BJ a perfect Basic Strategy player has only a 43% hands one rate and it took him a lot of learning just to do that. In Bac, your start right out with a 50% hands won rate W/O knowing anything. We teach you from there.

Also, unlike BJ, no arguments develop in Bac because nothing you do effects the game. Nobody cares what you do so Baccarat is VERY friendly. AND, you get the best comps in the casino!

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