The Advanced OPP Card Counting System
Increasing the Power of the Easy OPP Count: The Advanced OPP CountBy Carlos Zilzer
[From Blackjack Forum Vol. XXVI #1, Winter 2007]
© 2007 Carlos Zilzer
It's been about a year since I first presented the OPP count to the public. The Easy OPP is the simplest card counting system available, and the easiest to learn. Since the publication of my article presenting the OPP, I have learned a lot, but the most rewarding thing has been the hundreds of letters and emails from grateful people who are now going to the casinos with a different view of the game.
In this article, I will provide information on how to improve the efficiency of the Easy OPP count without increasing the difficulty of use. The proposals and simulations in this article are oriented to six-deck shoe games. I will present the data for eight-deck games in a future article.
Card Counters' Basic Strategy to Increase the OPP Count's Power
One of the simplest ways to make the Easy OPP more powerful is to use a different basic strategy geared toward the card counter. A counter-oriented basic strategy increases winnings by making the strategy correct for when the counters' biggest bets are placed. For example, standard basic strategy calls for a player to hit his 16 versus a dealer's 10 of the dealer. In more advanced card counting systems, playing strategies call for players to stand on a 16 versus a dealer's 10 once the count reaches a certain level.
A counters-oriented basic strategy will call for you to stand all the time on 16 versus a dealer's 10, because the counter's winnings at high counts will be larger than the losses at low counts for this play. Many other deviations from standard basic strategy have the same effect.
Card-counting analyst T. Hopper has developed a basic strategy that optimizes the winnings for card counters without changing strategy with the count. At the end of this article, you will find charts of T. Hopper's counters-oriented basic strategy from his free e-book T-H Basic Blackjack. To go straight to the charts for T. Hopper's counters' basic strategy, click here.
A simulation of one billion rounds using standard 6 deck S17 rules shows an increase of return on investment (ROI or "score") in the range of 15.2% to 16.7% (depending on the bet spread) for using T. Hopper's counters'-oriented basic strategy rather than standard basic strategy. This represents an increase in winnings of greater than 0.2 units/100 rounds.
Insurance Bet for the Advanced OPP Card Counting System
Although the OPP does not count the 10-value cards, for counts equal to or greater than +11 in six-deck games (or +17 if starting the count from +6 as my original article suggests), the insurance bet is recommended. Taking insurance at these counts will increase your ROI (or score) 4% more.
The Penetration Effect on the Power of the OPP Count
One thing I have learned about the OPP from the feedback I've received from players is that, with the OPP, there is more risk to high bets early in a shoe.
For example, with the Red7 count, it is possible to make a true count conversion or true edge adjustment using fractional methods to estimate the true count or true edge at any running count in any part of the shoe. But with the OPP, this is a very difficult task because the OPP does not have a "pivot" that equates to the same edge at any level of penetration.
With the OPP, the counter's edge will increase different amounts at the same count at different levels of penetration. A running count of 12 (starting the count at 6 as recommended in my first article) will represent a larger edge after 3 decks out of 6 have been played than the same running count of 12 if it happens at the beginning of the shoe.
At the end of the simulation I got six charts indicating the running OPP count, the number of rounds played in that count, the edge for that count and the variance for that count per deck played. The simulation also returned a seventh chart with the overall results of the one billion rounds. All the simulations were run using T. Hopper's counters' basic strategy, and insurance at counts of 11 (17) and above.
The tables below are extracts of these simulation results, showing the part of the tables for running counts 0 to 11. The running count numbers assume an initial count of 0 (not 6).
One thing I learned from the simulation results was that even in the first deck, there is an edge at counts of +5 and higher (or +11, if starting from 6). However, closer analysis of the simulation results shows that the edge is too small to justify a bet increase. This is typical behavior for any unbalanced count: There is an edge at the pivot, no matter the number of decks played. But what we really want to know is when that edge justifies a bet increase.
When to Increase Your Bet with the Advanced OPP Count
A look at the numbers indicates that the count at which a player obtains an edge equal or greater to 1% gets lower with the number of decks played. In the first deck, the running count (RC) must be 14 to get a win rate of 1%; in the second you get that edge at an RC of 11; and in the third deck you get it at an RC of 9. In the fourth deck you have a 1% edge at an RC of 8, while in the fifth and last deck the 1% edge comes at 6.
Another way of looking at this is to say that the deeper we are in the shoe, the higher a win rate any particular RC represents.
So, the counter's basic strategy, with insurance and a deck-dependent bet ramp, provide an increase of 40% in score from the simplest version of the OPP.
As you can see, there is very little cost to this simpler betting method.
The next step was to find a simpler optimal bet ramp and an easy way to remember it, keeping in mind that the principal objective of the OPP count was that it should be exceptionally easy to learn and to implement. The following is an easy-to-remember table using multiples of 2 units that are shifted up with each deck played.
This simpler betting ramp returns a score (now is better to call it ROI because it is a real-life rather than “optimal” bet ramp) of $27, a win rate of 3 units/100 rounds and a standard deviation of 59.7.
T. Hopper's Card Counters' Basic Strategy
HITTING AND STANDING
Hitting or standing is considered only after all other options (surrender, split, and/or double down) have been exhausted.
DOUBLING DOWN, SOFT TOTALS
With 44, for a total of hard 8, when double after split is allowed, splitting is preferred over doubling down. All other hands clearly fall into one category or the other. Never double on hard 12 or more or hard 7 or less.
When it is allowed, early surrender is the first choice the player needs to make, even before considering insurance when the dealer has an ace. Late surrender is considered before all other choices after the dealer checks for blackjack. There is no difference between early surrender and late surrender against a dealer 9 or less.
When surrender is not available, splitting pairs is always the first choice to consider.
Note that 44 is treated as any other hard 8 unless double after split is allowed.
*77 VS. 10 AND ACE
In single deck, when the player has 77, two of the four cards that could give him a 21 are no longer available. Even in double deck, the removal of two 7s out of the original eight is important. For this reason, 77 vs. 10 and 77 vs. Ace are the only two plays in the T-H Counters' Basic Strategy where the number of decks must be considered in playing the hand.
[Editor's Note: I'd like to thank T. Hopper for permitting his T-H Basic Strategy for Card Counters to be included in this article. —Arnold Snyder]
For the easiest card counting system, see the standard version of the Easy OPP Card Counting System.
For more information on card counting systems, see the Professional Gambling Library.
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|| Summary: The OPP Blackjack Card Counting System is easier than the traditional card counting systems that many blackjack players gave up on.