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Introduction to Clumping

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BLACKJACK, THE ART OF PREDICTING: Regardless of whether we are a beginner, a card counter, a clumper, or a full time professional player, Blackjack is about predicting. And Blackjack systems are merely tools to help us predict better. When we hit 14, we are predicting that the next card out of the shoe is a 7 or less and we are predicting that the dealer is not going to break. When we double on 11, we are predicting that the next card out of the shoe is a high card. When we insure, we are predicting that the dealer has a 10 down. That side bet has absolutely nothing to do with the hand we happen to hold. If she has the 10, we win. If she doesn't, we lose. When we stand with less than 17 we are predicting that the dealer is going to break. What else could we be betting? When we raise our bet, we are predicting that we are going to win the next hand. Why else would we raise our bet? Whoever predicts best is going to win the most money. Whatever system helps us predict best is the system we should be learning and playing, which brings us to the NBJ approach.

THE HIGH - LOW CARD ARRANGEMENT: First, to simplify our explanation of clumping, let's completely rearrange our card groups. We mentioned before that most counters arrange the 13 cards into three groups with 2-6 low; 7-9 neutral; and 10-A high. The first thing we are going to do is toss out the neutral group altogether. It is never used for anything so why

have it? Let's simply call:

low cards A,2,3,4,5,6,7 and high cards 8,9,0,0,0,0,A.

HIGH AND LOW ACES: Your first question might be: how can we have two aces? Remember that aces can be played either high or low. We call an ace following a low card a "low ace" and an ace following a high card a "high ace". This makes our low group precisely equal in size to our high group. If we somehow knew in which group the next card out of the shoe was, high or low, we could play virtually perfect Blackjack and we would win virtually every game we sat down to!

EIGHTS ARE HIGH? Sacrilege, right? Look at it this way. An 8 will USUALLY break a stiff dealer and an 8 will USUALLY satisfy the need for a high card. If you doubled on 11 and drew an 8 and were then offered to keep it or draw again, you would keep it wouldn't you? Simple math tells us that, if we draw again, we have 5 chances of improving our hand (9,10)

vs. 7 chances of hurting our hand (A-7).

PREDICTING THE DEALER'S HOLE CARD: If, in addition, we could identify which group the dealer's hole card is in, we would probably be cured of counting in the shoe game forever. Thousands of players have advanced from counting to clumping. Yet, I don't know of a single player who ever gave up clumping for counting! This should tell you something! Can we actually predict the dealer hole card with any degree of accuracy? Well, all we need is a prediction rate above 50% to beat the counter. How does 60% to 90% sound? READ ON!

WHAT ABOUT PLAYING BOTH? This is not only feasible, it is a very viable approach. In fact, many of our players do both, particularly Western Europeans who seem bent on possessing every iota of advantage. But playing both is not for everyone. It is very brain wracking and does not add sufficient advantage to make it worth while to any but the most dedicated players. Most players stumble over the count sufficiently to miss some of the game's most critical information and would be better off not counting. If your intention is to play both, then learn to count down a deck of cards smoothly and automatically in less than 15 seconds, as I have. This prerequisite rules out most players. But that is of little consequence. If you choose to embark on this option, and you have not yet learned to count, learn clumping first because that is where most of the advantage is in the shoe game. Then learn counting to augment and verify.

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: The Clumper already enjoys the best of both worlds. Some mutideck shoes ARE random and some SECTIONS of all multideck shoes are random. The clumper is quickest to identify random situations and WILL play basic strategy in those random situations. Clumping CALLS for basic in random situations because basic is the best way to play random situations. Both sides fully agree on that point! Therefore, the clumper will win just about every shoe the counter wins because when the counter is at maximum advantage in random situations the clumper plays just like the counter. It is in the far more common non random situations that the clumper excels because the clumper is often at his greatest ADvantage precisely when the counter is at his greatest DISadvantage. This point alone should convince any thinking person which way to go.

UNITY: What we need is unity among player strategists. The casinos, our mutual enemy, are highly unified and organized. But player strategists spend more time arguing with each other than determining the best ways to beat casinos. The counter camp boasts some excellent mathematicians. Together, we could do some real good. It is obvious here that we have

studied their way exhaustively. But counter arguments demonstrate to me that they have not studied our way at all.

WHAT IS IN CLUMPING? Clumping is just that, the art of predicting whether the next card out of the shoe is high or low, as defined above, and whether the dealer's hole card is high or low. In the shoe game, this information is far more vital and far more determinant than the count. The shoe game is a relatively brand new BJ game. It offers brand new information only obtainable through a brand new approach. To apply a single deck approach to a multideck game is simply not the optimum way to beat the shoe game.

HOW THE CARDS GET CLUMPED: "Clumped" merely means that the nature of the shoe game strongly tends to clump the cards into groups of mostly high and mostly low cards. How? Each player in the game can be thought of as a little low card clump factory. The dealer can be thought of as a large low card clump factory. And the dealer's card pick up procedure can be

viewed as a major low card and high card clump factory.

THE PLAYER LOW CARD CLUMP FACTORY: Obviously, when a player receives high cards, that's it, he doesn't hit. He hits when he receives low cards. When the player hits, he has usually already put two lows together that were not together before. He hits from a third part of the shoe with a 50 - 50 chance of adding more lows and often ends up creating a solid low

clump of several cards.

THE DEALER LOW CARD CLUMP FACTORY: The dealer creates low clumps the same way players do except that the dealer must continue hitting until she has at least 17. This makes for longer low card clumps. In the shoe game it doesn't even raise an eyebrow when the dealer makes a 5 or 6 card hand. She often goes more!

THE HIGH CARD CLUMP FACTORY? Most high and low card clumps are created by the card pickup procedure. But recognize that low card clumps automatically create high card clumps. You can't have one without the other. The high cards have to be somewhere.

THE CARD PICK UP PROCEDURE CLUMP FACTORY: This is the grandaddy of clump makers. First, recognize that break cards are USUALLY mostly lows. Non break cards are mostly highs and often ALL highs. Recognize that the dealer, by the rules, picks up all break hands and puts them in the discard rack together, regardless of how they may have been dispersed on the table. She then picks up all non break hands and puts them in the discard rack together, regardless of how they were dispersed on the table. This, very effectively, sorts mostly high cards from mostly lows in the discard rack. Casinos have recognized this, as well as its obvious subversion of basic strategy since the inception of multideck BJ. It is the driving force behind multideck Blackjack. How do we know this? You old timers may remember the dual discard rack that we still see in some out of the way island and boat casinos. Its only purpose was just in case the normal card pick up didn't clump the cards enough, the dealer provided extra clumping by putting the mostly high or all high pat hands in one rack and the break hands in the other. What other purpose could dual racks possibly serve? To aid a possible replayback of the cards? Bull! If casinos were interested in replaybacks they would simply pick up all hands in turn!. What simpler replayback could there be? But, you say, parroting the casinos: "We pick the break cards up first to avoid payout errors." Double bull! If this were even a concern, the dealer need only close the break hand or even move it forward on the table, then go ahead and pick up all hands in turn. In fact, in an attempt to prove me wrong, a Minnesota casino tried exactly that! But they quickly abandoned the project when they saw what it did to their bottom line. When the hands are picked up in turn, basic strategy is no longer subverted and those playing it, which is almost everybody, have a real shot at the game. Now, maybe you understand why I'll never get published in Casino Player. Well, big whip!


Recognize that when we play the dealer head to head (my favorite game), the cards are picked up in the same sequence regardless of dealer or player breaks. Head up play does not clump the cards. In fact, the opposite is true. Head up play tends to randomize the cards, a fact often utilized by clumpers. But as we add players, we increase the number of break card hands as well as the number of non break hands going into the discard rack together. So, the more players the larger the clumps and the longer the cards are in play the more clumped they become until the cards achieve what we clumpers call "saturation". At that point, all normal game statistics are subverted, including DBR dealer break rate, DAH dealer average hand and HWR hands won ratio. We achieve what we call "Saturday night conditions". BUT ELLIS, THEY SHUFFLE THE CARDS! Triple Bull! I think we have demonstrated above that casinos clearly have little interest in eliminating clumping in the shoe game, and every reason to preserve it. Most casinos employ shuffles in the shoe game that only shuffle each card three times. Lately, several major casinos went to shuffles that shuffle each card twice! Either way, these shuffles do virtually nothing to reduce clumping and could just as well be eliminated altogether as the casino's own experiments have concluded. To demonstrate this to yourself, simply take a fresh deck of cards still in the boxed card order and shuffle twice. Then check the card order. You will find you did next to nothing to the card order. Recognize that the more decks you add the less damage you do to the card order. Dealers could not shuffle out these clumps even if they wanted to. And whenever they happen to shuffle highs with highs or lows with lows they create even larger clumps. In fact, it is common to find Saturday night games where the entire shoe is composed of only two or three major clumps. We call these type 6 games. Here, the clumper's predictive abilities can go clear up to 80 and even 90% accuracy while the DBR goes right through the floor along with the basic strategy player's hands won ratio. The clumper's expression for this is "Welcome to Atlantic City".

Like what you read? Want the whole story? Want to win? Buy the NBJ Manual for download and get support from the author to E. Clifton Davis To order the manual click here

You can tell the winners and honest players by how many times they admit they lost 
not by how many times they say they won.

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