most casinos don't allow you to exit and re-enter
a game at will. Sitting at a table and playing a few
hands, sitting out a few, then jumping in and playing
again is a sure-fire way to draw attention to yourself.
A less obvious
way to play is to back-count, which means standing
behind a table and counting cards until a favorable
situation arises, then jumping in with a big wager.
This approach was first suggested by Thorp and is
now sometimes referred to as "wonging."
Back-counting makes you less obvious in your avoidance
of the negative hands at the beginning of the pack
while you wait to play only the positive hands thereafter.
As soon as the deck sours, you leave to find another
But casinos have
started to thwart back-counters as well. In fact,
many now do not allow mid-shoe entry. Only players
who have participated since the very first hand out
of the shoe are allowed to continue to play until
the dealer reshuffles. Another way to play is front-counting,
where you leave the game when the count gets sufficiently
negative. We will discuss this further and present
a K-O exit strategy for shoe games in the next page.
The point is,
casino conditions today ensure that having to play
during negative counts is almost unavoidable. This
is especially true for casual players. If we have
to play every hand, then we need to have a plan.
is strong enough to play even if your hand has no
other strength. A-3 is usually playable also, but
it is surprisingly vulnerable: when you have an A-3
in a six-player game, there is almost a 30 percent
chance that someone else has A-2! The value of low
hands drops off even faster after that. 2-3 is much
worse than A-3 and needs something else going for
it-like additional low cards or a high pair-to be
worth a call before the flop. A call with 2-3 for
low is really a bet that an ace will appear on the
flop, setting you up for the nuts.