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Alternative to Wonging

In Beat the Dealer, Ed Thorp says he started out with 1:10 bet variation. When that attracted too much attention, he cut back so that his big bet was a smaller multiple of his small bet. Most authors since Thorp have written as though 1:4 was large enough. I took small bet variation to the extreme in Professional Online Blackjack Games, recommending flat bets and Wonging.

It is also possible to get away with the other extreme - to use bet variation, and lots of it. You might be able to get away with one hand of $25 on the worst situations and have two hands of $200 or more on the best. In casinos where bets over $100 attract too much attention, you might be able to get away with $5 to $100.

Bet variation is tolerated better now than it was in the 1970s. Perhaps this is due to the increased number of Asian customers in casinos now. In Macao and other countries in the Orient, huge bet variation is the norm; if the table limit is 10 to 2000 in local currency, most customers seem willing to bet 10 for a starter and progress to 2000 if they hit a winning streak. If casino employees see enough poor players use huge bet variation, then a card counter using big bet variation can blend right in.

The trick to getting away with big bet variation is to do it in other than a mechanical, by-the-numbers way. For example, you might occasionally pop out a big bet on the first round after a shuffle. If you are going $25 to two hands of $200, for example, you might sometimes bet one hand of $100 or more on the first round. If you bet $100 on the first round, then you might go up to $200 or drop to $25 on the second round, depending on the count. Thus you get a $25 to $200 spread on the second round. Cutting back from $100 to S25 does not seem to attract attention. If you had bet only $25 on the first round you certainly would attract attention betting $200 on the second round!

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Table Talk
Playable starting hands change dramatically when playing high-low poker. Most of the time in games featuring decent players only three (at the most four) players remain in the hand at the showdown. Because three-handed finishes are so common, it's quite normal to find yourself in a position where you own one of two apparently low hands facing one high or one of two obvious high hands going up against one apparent low. When you're putting in one third of the money, you don't make much profit when you only get to win half of the money ... but you lose heavily when you don't escape with half the pot. Unless your hand has a chance to win both ways, you're risking a third of the pot to win a sixth of it.
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