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Deck penetration
 

This is a huge factor in obtaining an edge for the card counter. The term "deck penetration" defines how far the deck is dealt out before the shuffle occurs. As we progress into the 21st century, deck penetration seems to be growing worse and worse. With a six deck shoe, it's become pretty typical to cut off the last 13/4 decks -- plus or minus 1/4 deck. Eight deck shoes usually cut off the last two decks.

Now, a 11/2 deck cutoff in a six deck game is quite a bit better than a 2 deck chop. It's pretty important to go where they deal out more cards -- all else being equal. Even within the same casino, you can often find dealers who give a more favorable cutoff than others. On rare occasion in a few choice places, they might even cut off only the last deck! That would be a dream situation. Conversely, anything worse than a 2 deck chop in a six deck game is a "gouge", and not worthy of your action. With eight decks you might be able to tolerate a 21/a deck chop -- max.

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The Long Run Is Longer Than You Think
 
One outrageously lucky or unlucky card can turn a winning session into a losing one, and vice-versa. A few lucky hands might convince you your hourly rate for $20-40 hold'em is $20/hour, while your actual hourly rate might be $5 or even minus $10/hour. Only after you have played so many hands that your luck has evened out can you possibly gauge your established hourly rate.
 
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