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Progressions, the long and short of it by E. Clifton Davis


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Hoping this message finds you well! Before you went in for surgery, I posted a thread "Progressions - Pros, Cons and Reflections" and you made some interesting comments and alluded to the fact that more would come after your hospitalization. Would you care to revisit the post and share more wisdom?

Progressions, meaning up as you lose, are extremely controversial not only in the Baccarat world but also in the BJ world, the entire gambling world, and most of all in the Mathematicians world.

Warning! I am the only prominent gaming instructor who recommends progressions.

Let's take BJ first:

The BJ card counting gurus, and all their books, say that progressions are suicidal. They call me every name in the book for recommending 3 bet progressions for 3rd base NBJ in random cards.

So who is right? Both of us.

Card counting / basic strategy has a "hit rate" (hands won rate) of only 43%. So for them, right, progressions are, in fact, suicidal. They are far better ofF with "Advantage betting" a low bet and a high bet. Put simply, you make your low bet when the remaining shoe is ten poor and you make your high bet when the remaining shoe is ten rich.

Does this work? Hell no! Clumping destroys basic strategy. When the deck is ten rich, the dealer is just as likely to get tens as you are. When the dealer gets a first card ten, you are screwed. You must hit to a good hand and in so doing you are likely to break. When you break you lose - Right then and there. If the dealer subsequently breaks she wins because you broke first. See the problem? You are sorta damed if you do and damned if you don't. This is why the card counting gurus, and there are MANY of them, can't produce a single bottom line, year end winner. Card counting winners ONLY exist in the movies! This makes the whole thing a gigantic scam.

But playing NBJ 3rd base with a 3 bet progression in random cards, I invariably win just as I did in front of you guys in the Flamingo high stakes parlor.

Why? Because my cards are most like the dealers because, regardless of the number of players, she gets each of her 2 cards iimmediately after I get each of my 2 cards. When I get a bad hand, so does she. When I get a good hand, so does she. Therefore I strongly tend to swap wins with the dealer. Think about it. Yes, I am winning only half my hands but my progressions are cleaning up.

Case in point: I come down early in the morning at The Claridge to play head to head 8 deck BJ in their high stakes parlor. It was just me and the dealer. I play 3rd base with a 1 4 6 up as you lose prog. I invariably lose the 1 bet and win the 4. This was happening so frequently that I soon dropped the 6 bet altogether and only played 1,4 with black chips. I'm basically winning 3 units every 2 hands and my piles of 10 soon turned into piles of 20. Lose 1, win 4, lose 1, win 4, and occassionally I win my 1 bet also.

So a second player walks in, takes one look at my chips and sits at first base. But he bet a 1,2 up as you win!

So he goes win 1, lose 2, win 1 lose 2. He keeps looking at my chips and bought in about 5 times. Finally he says to me: "this is the worst game I ever played in my life!" I reply, "not for me - I can barely see you over my chips!" Moral of the story: Don't bet up as you win in BJ. You'll likely get killed even if you win half the hands.

So what do the gurus say about my play? They readily admit that I win because they have watched me so many times. Some say I'm just lucky. Yeah right, I've been lucky for 30 years!

Others say I cheat. Ha, there is NO way for a player to cheat in BJ. None whatsoever!

I kid you not. Check the card counting forums. My name comes up often. But I'm always either lucky or I cheat. They have nothing good to say about me. Dumb bastards!

OK Baccarat!

The mathematicians say Bac in a random negative expectancy game and therefore progs do you no good. They say your overall hit rate is 50%.

NO! Bac is not negative expectancy. You can't include commission in the game odds any more than you can include waitress tips. The game odds are determined by hit rate. Mathematicians say your long range hit rate is 50%. Right, if you flip a coin and possess no skill.

Look, you can't shuffle 8 decks of cards to a random condition in the time allotted. It is impossible. Shuffle machines can't shuffle to random either. If they did, all the BJ players would win because basic strategy alone beats random cards. THEREFORE, you are going to get biases in the short glimpse of time of single shoes. If you only play biased shoes and you follow the biases your hit rate will be considerably better than 50%. How much depends on the strength of the biases but it is considerable and you don't need much.

Take a choppy shoe that is 60% opposites and 40% repeats - very common. If you simply bet opposites your hit rate is 60%, not 50%. And when you lose you just used up one of your few repeats. So the odds on your next bet are even better. THAT calls for a progression! The higher your hit rate, the more good your progression does you.

Take a col of 20 plays that goes P 12121212121211. One of the most common patterns in Baccarat. This pattern produces twice as many opposites as repeats - also very common. So your column is 2/3rds opposites. If you flat bet opposites you do very well and win+7 units. Your hit rate is 67% - very common following a bias. BUT, if you bet a 1,2 prog, you win 13 units.

See that? The higher your hit rate the more advantage a progression gives you.

This is why I say in Baccarat, hit rate is EVERYTHING! THAT is what NOR focuses on.

Now, I don't claim to be smarter than the Mathematicians. They are right as far as they think it through. It is just that I have had 30 years to think it through and I had the casinos available to test out my theories.

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