The Blackjack Shuffle-Tracker's Cookbook: How Players Win (And Why They Lose) With Shuffle Tracking, by Arnold Snyder
Comments on the Shuffle Tracker's Cookbook by Arnold Snyder
If you think nothing new has happened in the world of winning blackjack strategies in the past couple of decades, read The Blackjack Shuffle Tracker's Cookbook.
If you think you already know how to track shuffles, Iíll bet you donít. Read the Cookbook.
Although the full 3-part Blackjack Forum Shuffle Tracking Series is contained in The Blackjack Shuffle Trackerís Cookbook, the Cookbook also contains much more. I guarantee you will learn more about shuffle tracking from the never-before-published Parts IV and V of the Series than you ever dreamed possible.
This is some of the secret stuff Iíve been keeping out of print for years. To my knowledge, the only players who know some of this stuff are a handful of trackers that I trained myself. Iíve never even seen these concepts discussed by other shuffle trackers, not in print, not on the Internet, not anywhere. From what professional shuffle trackers have said to me through the years about tracking, I know they donít know these concepts.
This is not rehashed crap about how to draw maps and size your bets. This is not just a bunch of boring theory and analysis thatís already been discussed to death on the blackjack Web sites.
This is the stuff that none of the other shuffle-tracking experts ever even thought about. This is a guide to making money by tracking shuffles. This is primarily a guide for professional gamblers who want to get two to six times the edge over the house at blackjack that they can get from traditional card counting.
If you want to beat the complex multi-plug, multi-pass, stepladder/R&R combo shuffles that most of the major casinos are using today, and if you want to know why these are the most profitable shuffles available for trackers today, read the Cookbook. The never-before-published Part IV and Part V of the Shuffle Tracking Series will open your eyes to a world of blackjack opportunity you never even knew existed.
More information on The Blackjack Shuffle Trackerís Cookbook(By Arnold Snyder, From Blackjack Forum Vol. XXIII #3, Fall 2003)
Heresy Today, Gone Tomorrow
This is not so much a Sermon as a blatant advertisement for my new book. As a man of the cloth, it is not only my prerogative, by also my obligation as your spiritual advisor, to use this pulpit for your enlightenment. I know you always read this column first, looking for my pithy, and often brilliant, analogies between pit bosses and various of the knuckle-dragging species; but this month, there is a deeper and more pressing topic. The Bishop has something to sell.
If you are on the Internet, and you frequent Bishop Snyderís web wonderland at www.blackjackforumonline.com, then you already got the scoop. I have just republished my complete Blackjack Forum "Shuffle Tracking Series," along with a lot of new, revolutionary, and never-before-published information about shuffle tracking, in a new report titled: The Blackjack Shuffle Trackerís Cookbook.
"Arnold, why would you want to do this?"
"Iím a heretic."
"Youíre not a heretic. Youíre an imbecile."
Well, I guess thatís debatableÖ
This Sermon is to let you know that the Cookbook is to shuffle tracking what the Blackjack Formula (my first book) was to card counting when it was published in 1980. Many counters who were around at that time considered the Blackjack Formula to be something of an oracular revelation, as it explained for the first time ever how to judge the real value of a game.
Up until that book was published, card counting experts put a lot more weight on the system being used than they did on table conditions. The game factor considered most important at that time was the house edge off the top. A good set of rules was every serious counterís prime concern. Counters who aspired to professional level play were advised to use multi-level systems (such as Ustonís level-3 APC, Wongís level-3 Halves, Canfieldís level-2 Master Count (later reborn as Carlsonís Advanced Omega II), the level-2 Hi-Opt II, etc.
All of these professional-level counting systems included charts for adjusting play with a side-count of aces, and they included 150+ strategy indices. The multi-parameter approach was carried even further in many of the high-end professional-level systems. Pros had strategy charts available which allowed them to use as many as half a dozen side-counts with Hi-Opt I, Hi-Opt II, and the DHM Professional system.
It was widely believed among experts at that time that as the games got tougher (primarily, as more decks were added), the counting systems had to get more complex to beat the games. No attention whatsoever was paid to the importance of deck penetration, nor did counters have any idea of exactly how much of a betting spread they would need to beat any specific game conditions.
Only two authors at that time had workable approaches to beating shoe games. Stanford Wong, in his groundbreaking Professional Blackjack, advised players to table-hop shoes in order to avoid playing in negative counts. And, because Wong was not playing in negative shoes, he also provided the first intelligently abridged set of indices, as he tossed out most of the strategy changes that occurred at negative counts.
Ken Uston, in The Big Player and all of his books, discussed Al Francescoís "big player" team concept for shoe games, which also kept players from betting in negative expectation situations in shoe games. Both Francescoís and Wongís approaches were adopted out of the necessity to camouflage card counting strategies, as just about all casinos had learned by the 1970s to identify card counters by their betting spreads.
But, camo or no camo, the approach of most pros was to play the game with the best set of rules, using the most complicated advanced system they could handle, and every index number they could squeeze into their heads.
So, in 1980, I began my career as blackjackís official heretic. Over a period of three years, in three books, a couple technical reports, and within the early pages of this very quarterly, I proposed a lot of hare-brained ideas.
I told players that finding deep penetration was more important than keeping a side count of aces.
I said that most of the 150+ index numbers players used were virtually worthless.
I stated that a simple, level-one, unbalanced counting system could perform by running count with nearly the same power as a "professional level" true-count system in most shoe games.
And I got a lot of flack from many of the gameís experts until independent computer simulations bore out my claims.
Most players today, however, donít think of me as a heretic. They werenít around back then. Iíve become mainstream, stodgy, just another stick in the blackjack mud. So, simply to add a little more fun to my life, itís time to hit the heresy trail again.
Shuffle trackers today are in the same boat as the pre-1980 card counters. Trackers look at all the wrong factors, and devise strategies based on their general misunderstanding of the opportunities. The approaches to tracking today are eerily similar to the old days of card counting, when teams of players were struggling to get an edge in shoe games with 65% pen, using 150 strategy indices and side-counting aces, when the game across the street, with a slightly worse rule set, had 85% pen, and could have been murdered with the simple Hi-Lo count and a comparative handful of indices.
There was something truly weird going on back then. The casinos with the less-attractive rules felt that they had protected themselves from card counters, oblivious to the fact that their deep penetration actually made them sitting ducks for any counters who understood the value of penetration. But since counters didnít know the value of penetration, the less-attractive-rules countermeasure worked! The casinos with the truly best games were protected because card counters simply didnít play there!
The old-time card-counting experts were not, of course, incorrect that the multi-level, multi-parameter, mega-index systems were the most powerful systems ever devised by man. But they were so enamored of accurate play (even when the game itself sucked!), and so satisfied with each otherís convictions, that they never looked for the strongest ways that a player could use the count in order to get the most money from the casinos.
Tracking experts have blundered just as badly. They have devised all of these incredibly complex methods for tracking casino-style shuffles, with no idea that there is a stronger way to get more money faster. Just as with card counting, they worked out the math on their old ideas to the nth degree, without ever seeing the strongest profit opportunities.
And, ironically, the casinos have responded in kind. Just as the casinos used to foil counters by putting in less attractive sets of rules, todayís casinos have put in shuffles designed to foil the types of tracking strategies that todayís tracking experts advise. In fact, the casinos do not know what constitutes a beatable shuffle! They simply know what the trackers are out there looking for, and they foil the trackers by offering something different. Lucky for the casinos! Like the counters of 25 years ago, trackers today are in the dark ages and they ignore the juiciest opportunities. The ignorance about shuffle tracking pervades both sides of the table.
Shuffle trackers today believe that the most profitable shuffles are the simplest shuffles. They believe they will find their best opportunities in the few remaining one-pass, riffle-and-restack shuffles, preferably with big grabs so the slugs are easy to follow and do not get broken up.
So, most of the big casinos today employ multi-pass shuffles with multiple plugs, small grabs, multiple piles, and usually at least one stepladder (dilution) pass. These complicated shuffles annoy the tracking experts no end, because they believe that the most profitable approach to shuffle tracking is to track the shuffles. In fact, the most profitable approach to shuffle tracking is not to track the shuffles, but to track the slugs. These are two entirely different approaches.
A shuffle tracker who looks for opportunities by looking for the "easiest" shuffles to track is like a card counter who looks for opportunities by looking for the lowest house edge off the top. The smart counter does pay attention to the house edge off the top, but he chooses playing opportunities by looking for the game which offers the most frequent, and strongest, player advantages. (This usually equates to deep penetration, and not necessarily a good rule set.)
Similarly, the "easy" shuffles, as a general rule, offer weak slugs. The more complex shuffles, on the other hand, offer strong slugs, and the most frequent, and strongest, player advantages.
In fact, the complex shuffles do protect the casinos from shuffle trackers, not because the shuffles lack tracking opportunities but because the tracking experts have analyzed these shuffles as "weak" and trackers avoid them. So, hereís a bit of heresy for you to sink your teeth into: These complex shuffles offer trackers the greatest slug tracking profit opportunities available in shoe games today!
Why should I publish this heresy at this time? (And believe me, the tracking experts will be as incredulous at this notion as Peter Griffin was in 1983 when I said the Red Seven Count would perform in shoe games nearly as well by running count as the full-blown Hi-Lo. I devised the Red Seven Count almost entirely from the data I found in Griffinís book, yet he thought my idea of using an unbalanced point count system was a huge mistake.) Wonít the publication of these secrets hurt the shuffle trackers who already know this stuff and are keeping it to themselves? Well, I donít claim to know every shuffle tracker on the planet, but my personal assessment of the situation is that there arenít any trackers out there using this stuff. The only trackers who know this stuff, to my knowledge, are the handful of players Iíve personally trained.
The question of whether or not I should reveal this information at this time comes down to a question of whether or not the revelation will take money of my own pocket. The trackers Iíve trained are playing for me. Will I regret this decision because it will ultimately hit me in the wallet? Iíll take my chancesÖ
Ah, the quandaries of life, made even more perplexing by my position as your religious leader, the man you trust to guide you on your path to wealth and spiritual fulfillment.
Should I have published the Blackjack Formula in 1980? Should I have told players at that time that deep penetration was the single most important factor in assessing a gameís value to card counters? Card counting had been around for almost 20 years at that time, but this was not known by playersópros or otherwise. Ken Uston did not know this. Lawrence Revere never knew this. Ed Thorp did not know this. Stanford Wong did not know this. Lance Humble did not know this. Ian Andersen did not know this. Peter Griffin had devised charts which showed this to be true, but he had never done any analysis to discover the practical applications of his findings.
Mathematicians almost never understand the meaning of their own work. In fact, Iíll let you in on a secret: my methods for analyzing shuffles have been derived, almost entirely, from information in Peter Griffinís Theory of Blackjack. Yet, Griffin never even mentions shuffle tracking in his book, and the one time I tried to discuss tracking with him back in the mid-1990s, he told me he didnít know that much about it. And here he had the key to unlocking shuffles in black and white in a book heíd written 15 years earlier!
I have no regrets today about telling card counters back in the 1980s that deep penetration was the key to value, that simplified sets of indices can be powerful, that side counts are not necessary, etc. I enjoy making the casinos scramble, because they scramble so slowly and incompetently.
Smart players who apply themselves should have years to reap the benefits from the Cookbook. Twenty-three years after the Blackjack Formula, blackjack games with deep penetration are still out there, and pros are still making money from my heresy. The casinos are still in a jam, trying to protect their games while competing with each other and catering to their customersí likes and dislikes.
The number of shuffle trackers, in fact, who will make money from learning how to track slugs, instead of how to track shuffles, is small. Itís even smaller than the number of card counters who currently make money from knowing the value of deep penetration. Most players just do not do their homework. A handful of serious pros will reap the rewards.
The casinos are already doing everything they can to convert their games to machine shuffles, but they can only do this as quickly as their customers accept the change. In Las Vegas, they keep trying machines, then going back to hand shuffles. In new locales, machines are often brought in as the norm from the start. The machine salesmen are fear-mongers, hyping their wares to a gullible industry.
The Cookbook, on the other hand, honestly describes the difficulties of tracking shuffles for profit. Intelligent game protection personnel who read this report will realize that they are, for the most part, wasting huge sums of money reacting to a phantom when they buy these auto-shufflers. The casinos make twice as much money from incompetent players who attempt to track shuffles as they lose to competent trackers. Tables with hand shuffles, attractive rule sets, and deep penetration will always make more money than tables with blackjack games that players see as unbeatable.
In any case, my faithful flock, if you think nothing new has happened in the world of blackjack strategies in the past couple of decades, read the Cookbook. If you read the BJF Shuffle Tracking Series back in 1994, but found the concepts too difficult to apply in the casinos, read the Cookbook. If you think you already know how to track shuffles, Iíll bet you donít. Read the Cookbook.
Although the full 3-part BJF Shuffle Tracking Series is contained in The Blackjack Shuffle Trackerís Cookbook, the Cookbook also contains much more. You will learn more about shuffle tracking from the never-before-published Parts IV and V of the Series than you ever dreamed possible. This is the stuff Iíve been keeping out of print for years, concepts Iíve never seen discussed in print, not on the Internet, nor anywhere else, not even spoken of in whispers over champagne at Max Rubinís Blackjack Ball. If there are other trackers who know this stuff, theyíve been keeping a lid on it.
This is not rehashed crap about how to draw maps and size your bets. This is not just a bunch of boring theory and analysis. This is a guide to making money by tracking slugs. This is a guide for professional players who want to get two to three times the edge over the house at blackjack that they can get from traditional card counting, and who want to be invisible while doing it.
If you want to beat the complex, multi-plug, multi-pass, stepladder/R&R combo shuffles that most of the major casinos are using today, and if you want to know why these are the most profitable shuffles available for slug trackers today, read the Cookbook. The Cookbook will open your eyes to a world of blackjack opportunities you never knew existed.
And thatís heresy. ♠
Get The Blackjack Shuffle Tracker's Cookbook. If you are new to shuffle tracking, there is an introduction to this professional gambling technique in Arnold Snyder's Blackbelt in Blackjack
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