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The Value Of A Variable Playing Strategy
 

Lots of card counters have learned how to keep track of the cards and bet their money according to the true count. However, not all that many go to the lengths of memorizing scores of index numbers for how to play their hands. Many just play all their hands according to the basic strategy regardless of the count. It's already been mentioned that betting by the count is more important than playing by the count -- but how much more important? That depends upon the number of decks as well as the playing efficiency of your count system, and whether it's the balanced or unbalanced type.

Following are the results of four 200 million hand computer simulation runs using the Mentor Count in our model two deck game (H17, DAS). The balanced Mentor Count has an excellent playing efficiency (62%), and effectively implements a full range of 80 index numbers. Player performances are listed for 4 different modes of play. The betting spread when used, was 1-to-6 units with 2 units off the top.

MODE OF PLAY RESULT NET CHANGE
A) Basic Strategy with flat bets -.42% ----
B) Mentor Variable Strategy with flat bets -.25% .17%
C) Mentor Count bets w/ basic strategy +.45% .87%
D) Mentor Count for betting and playing +.82% 1.24%

With two decks, playing the hands with a full chart of index numbers was worth about .37% more than counting w/ just basic strategy for the hands. It's already been noted in other Online Blackjack Games literature that most of that gain comes from using "the Illustrious 18" hands (most of which are contained in the KISS index charts). The more index numbers you add, the less additional help you get.

Also, that gain will depend upon the playing efficiency of your particular count. Notice in the systems comparison chart on page 194 that the Mentor Count outperformed the HilLo Count by .08% in the two deck game. Yet, both have a 97% betting correlation where the Mentor is 62% for playing and the Hi/lo is 51%. Some backup computer runs showed that indeed, when simply betting by the count and playing all hands according to basic strategy, both count systems produced the same net gain.

Other systems such as the Omega II and the Hi-Opt II have even better playing efficiencies (67%), and could likely reap another few hundredths percent from proper basic strategy depart ures. Both however, give up considerable betting accuracy due to ignoring the Ace. Used "as is", they fall a little short of most multi-level "Ace reckoned" counts, but perform superbly when used in conjunction with a separate side-count of Aces for bet sizing.

Further simulations indicated that with other decks, a full set of index numbers will outperform basic strategy by roughly the amounts shown on the next page (when used with a typical betting spread).

w/ SINGLE DECK .50%
w/ TWO DECKS .35%
w/ FOUR DECKS .25%
w/ SIX DECKS .20%
w/ EIGHT DECKS .15%

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The Card-Drawing Odds Considerably
 
In Australia, they like to play draw with a stripped deck: All the cards deuce through six are removed. This changes the card-drawing odds considerably. It becomes more difficult to make a flush than a full house think about that; if it makes sense, you're on your way to becoming a poker player), and so a flush beats a full house in that game.

A friend of mine once played in such a draw game for five hours without knowing the flush/full house dichotomy-and he was winning $300 in a $5-10 game! This might seem implausible, but both of these hands are so strong that in limit draw you'd play them just about the same. Disaster could strike if someone turned over a full house and you mucked a flush, but my friend never ran into that problem.

Each player antes prior to receiving two cards, one dealt face-down and one face-up. The low card is forced to initiate the betting. The bring-in bet is generally a fourth to a third of the minimum bet. Anyone can complete the bet (raise to the minimum), or just call. In succeeding rounds, the highest hand always gets the option to initiate the betting.
 
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