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Release of Blackjack PowerSim Open Source Card Counting Simulation Software
(September 18, 2006 Upgrade)
By ET Fan

© ET Fan 2005-2006

    "With the continuing rapid growth in the number of scientists and engineers, and the rise of fantastic new scientific tools, the interest in the possibility of winning gambling systems is increasing"
          E. O. Thorp
          Beat The Dealer '66 edition

    It's as true today as it was when Dr. Thorp penned it 39 years ago. Investigators tirelessly pursue new strategies to try to improve their odds of winning at blackjack. For example:

    1) When JA had a question about the advantage associated with a zero count four decks into a six deck shoe versus the ev at the top of a two decker, he asked Ken Fuchs to whip up a custom version of his blackjack simulator to crank out the answer.

    2) When Stanford Wong wanted to know how much the casinos were giving away by handing out coupons that could be parlayed as an ace, he just inserted a few new lines into his sim program. He "patched the source" so the player got an ace every hand.

    3) Later, when yours truly was studying ace location techniques, I found I couldn't use Wong's figures. It turns out that a coupon is different from taking an ace from the shoe, since that ace would no longer be available for the rest of the hand. No problem! I simply rigged my own home-brewed simulator to swap an ace from the shoe to player number one -- hand after hand.

    The story is always the same. To do serious gaming research you need to do your own programming. "Have source code will travel," has always been my motto.

    So what if a programmer made the source code to a top notch simulator program available to the general public? And what if he wrote it in XBasic, a fast, readable, highly respected compiler freely available on the internet? Would this be TOO MUCH COMPUTER POWER in the hands of the squalid masses??

    We're about to find out! Blackjack PowerSim is an open source blackjack simulator program with an emphasis on simplicity and readability. The concept is to provide a serious research tool, and a fast free sim program together in one package. You won't find any eye-popping graphics here, nor any rare, exotic features. That would defeat the purpose by muddying the source with ugly "spaghetti code." If you want an exotic option, program it yourself! That's the concept behind Blackjack PowerSim -- to encourage independent research and eliminate the need to "reinvent the wheel" before you get to first base (to mix metaphors).

    Even if you're not a programmer, Blackjack PowerSim may be a valuable download for you. Right out of the box, Blackjack PowerSim provides fast simulation of many different rule variations and counting strategies.

    The hard part is already done. The game logic has been programmed to follow the flow dictated by the dealer in a typical casino. Code simplifying tricks, such as settling busts and naturals after a round is finished, instead of immediately as they occur, have been avoided. This should ease the task of modifying and maintaining the code through the many options and strategies envisioned for future versions.

    Blackjack PowerSim is also a great "argument stopper." When someone claims that card counting is just a bunch of hooey, show him some Blackjack PowerSim sim results. Then, if he sings the old song "It's just not the same as in a real casino," show him the source code, and tell him to make a list of the logic errors. (Don't do this if he owes you money -- he may decide to skip town.)

    The time for excuses is over! Anyone who's ever taken a remedial computing course has programmed a few lines in BASIC. Now's the chance for you to test that supernatural progression you've been pondering, or that new rule at the Trop where the 8 of clubs is wild, or... the possibilities are endless!


The Importance of Open Source Software

    The free exchange of ideas is fundamentally important to a free people. It is also essential for the progress of Science.

    Now, I don't go as far as Richard Stallman of GNU fame, who writes: "As a computer user today, you may find yourself using a proprietary program. If your friend asks to make a copy, it would be wrong to refuse. Cooperation is more important than copyright. But underground, closet cooperation does not make for a good society. A person should aspire to live an upright life openly with pride, and this means saying ``No'' to proprietary software." However, I will go so far as to say that IF you share your source code -- source code that you have written -- with another individual, you have no moral right to restrict his right to share it after the fact.

    I also believe there should be a time limit on copyright, on the order of 15 to 20 years at the outside, and that, in the words of Linus Torvalds, "Software is like sex -- itís better when itís free." In fact, as any Linux user will tell you, software is also better when it's free. Check out the article at .

    The time is right for the release of serious, free, blackjack software. Blackjack simulators have been in private hands for over 35 years, now, and it's high time the public got its hands on the code. There is no other way to be sure the results we quote daily on the message boards, to our friends, and to ourselves, are untainted by personal or commercial bias.

    Blackjack PowerSim is being released under something called "copyleft." It is copyrighted, but only with the purpose of restricting YOUR right to restrict OTHERS' right to copy, after you got it for free. Also, under this license, only I -- the copyright holder -- have the right to make derivative products from Blackjack PowerSim and sell them under a standard commercial license. I have protected my status as copyright holder in ways other than the simple copyright notice signed with my internet handle.

    You are allowed -- encouraged, in fact -- to write software based on Blackjack PowerSim, and to use it privately or distribute it for a modest fee. But you must follow the terms of the license, which means you can't stop your users from copying your derivative product and giving it to others, and you must include the GPL license and notice, as well as your source code, with clear indications of what parts of the software are your creation. Please read the GPL.txt file for details.

    The best way to work on Blackjack PowerSim is to send your code and your suggestions to . If we incorporate your code into the "official" version, your name will be immortalized in the Blackjack PowerSim source forever! Follow Linus Torvalds' suggestion to submit patches to the code (not the entire program with revisions) early and often.

    "Beta" version means it hasn't been tested on a wide variety of machines with different versions of Windows, different memory configurations, etc. We're reasonably sure the program won't harm your computer, and we believe that the simulation results are accurate, but there are no warranties. You're downloading and running this software at your own risk. We solicit your help in finding bugs, and suggesting improvements.

**** Blackjack PowerSim FEATURES ****

    Blackjack PowerSim is a fast Windows blackjack simulator with executable program and support files, including source code, available free, courtesy of blackjackforumonline and ET Fan.

    Numerous enhancements are already planned for Blackjack PowerSim that will take some time to complete, but upgrades will appear at Blackjack Forum Online every two months.. Main features currently are:
- Source code written in XBasic - a fast, highly respected BASIC compiler freely available on the internet.
- Simulates a million hands in under one second on a 2 Ghz Pentium class computer. Even faster speeds will almost certainly be implemented in future versions.
- Simple programming style, to encourage "home brewed" customization.
- Up to 2,147,483,647 rounds may be simulated. (This limit can easily be programmed out, with slight speed degradation.)
- Most of the important rules variations (and a few unusual ones) such as:
    * Any number of decks
    * Any number of players at the table
    * Any penetration can be selected, or alternately, a fixed number of rounds can be dealt from the shoe
    * Burn card(s) can be specified for each new shoe and/or each new dealer
    * Split to a selectable maximum number of hands
    * Optionally specify Double After Splits on non-aces
    * Optionally allow resplitting of aces
    * Optionally allow continued hitting on aces after they are split
    * Optionally allow doubling on 10 or 11 only
    * Optionally allow doubling after aces are split
    * Optionally allow late surrender
    * Optionally allow early surrender
    * European No Hole Card rule supported
    * Dealer may stand on soft 17 or hit soft 17 - your choice
    * The option to take insurance is supported
    * Customized decks supported (any number of aces, twos, threes, etc.)
    * Optimal bet calculation with optimal SCORE output.
    * Any balanced counting system can be simulated. Unbalanced systems require a minor programming modification

September 18, 2006 Additions:
    * Support for unbalanced running counts has been added.
    * The XBasic variable naming conventions are now followed, so it's easier
       to distinguish variables from routine labels in the program, and easier
       to use XBasic tracing functions.
    * A complete alphabetical explanation of variables has been added.
    * Default number of players is changed to 4, and default number of
       burncards is changed to 1.
    * Multiple strategy files now supported -- one strategy per player.
    * Added PSRed to run sims of Arnold Snyder's Red-7 count. Sevens in a
       shoe are distinguished as "red" or "black" (ranked as 7 or 97) and only
       the red sevens have a tag of +1, unlike other programs where Red-7 is
       approximated by tagging all sevens as +0.5.
    * Fixed a bug that rarely caused ScoCalc to output the wrong default .SCO
    * Some strategy files added.

- In addition, debugging aids, such as the option to display the shoe before each shuffle, and/or all individual hands are supported
- User customizable .STR strategy files which determine the BASIC strategy and indices employed
- Multiple .SIM report files for quick, editable set up of previous sims, and the option to store your results as text.
- Output to display and to disk
- Suspend / Resume feature
- Data is stored in "bins" to be read by ScoCalc, the Score Calculator.
- ScoCalc will accept any bet ramp, or will calculate optimal bets (with or without Wonging) for bankroll and Risk of Ruin (ROR).
- ScoCalc outputs the win rate, average bet, percentage win, variance, SCORE, and ROR for any bet ramp, bankroll and ROR.
- FREE SUPPORT at blackjackforumonline

  Recent Updates:
   * Long Windows filenames are now allowed for .SIM and .STR files
   * Improved installation procedure and improved XtoEXE batch files
   * Early surrender can now be used in the strategy files
   * A new RNG with period 2^64 - 1 (over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000)
   * The Insurance index can now be set in a .str strategy file.
   * Read as Text function added for .x files.
   * Uninstall instructions added.
   * Early bugs fixed.


    Only Windows 98 and Windows XP have been tested, but any Windows computer, going back to Windows 95, with 16 megs of memory and 800x600 or better screen resolution, should work theoretically. Linux users should also be able to compile their own version of SimStat, though this is untested, since I don't have Linux.

    Blackjack PowerSim is your program, in every sense of the word. It's not exclusively yours, of course -- it belongs to the world -- so be generous with your time and talent.

    Hack away to your hearts content. Let me know what you come up with!

Installation Instructions:

   These are the instructions for installing Blackjack PowerSim for Windows on your computer, so you can start running blackjack simulations immediately.

   If you're a programmer, and want to modify Blackjack PowerSim for unusual rules and strategy, you will also want to install the XBasic programming environment. Installation of XBasic is covered in the Blackjack PowerSim Instruction Manual you will be downloading as part of this Zip file. Even inexperienced programmers may find that hacking (in the good sense of the word) on Blackjack PowerSim is a positive learning experience.

   You must have WinZip installed on your computer to install Blackjack PowerSim. Simply download to your desktop, double click on it, and extract it to your desktop. Make sure the All files: box is checked before you extract. This will create a folder named PowerSim on your desktop. Once you have the PowerSim folder, you can move to your My Programs folder, or any place on your computer for safe keeping.

   Now you're ready to roll. If you never operated a computer before Windows appeared on the scene, Blackjack PowerSim may require a little adjustment. It has a DOS like line-at-a-time interface, but hang in there! You'll be glad you did. ♠

1. Download Blackjack PowerSim Software and Instruction Manual (September 18, 2006 Upgrade)

2. Install XBasic Free
    (For detailed instructions, see the
    Instructions.doc in the Blackjack PowerSim download)

3. Download XBasic Documentation Free

Back to Blackjack Forum Online Home