Blackjack Betting Systems: The "No Need to Count" System
Win at Blackjack without Counting Cards?By Arnold Snyder
(From Card Player, December 1994)
© 1994 Arnold Snyder
Question from a Reader: I recently read this book titled No Need To Count by Leon Dubey, Jr. (A.S. Barnes, 1980). This appears to be a fairly intelligent book about the game of blackjack, and Dubey does not strike me as a huckster. There isn’t any promise of vast wealth from using his system, and if anything, he seems to take a very sober and realistic (even pessimistic!) attitude towards anyone’s possibilities of making much money from casino blackjack.
The thing is, Dubey claims to have discovered certain non-counting techniques for beating the tables, and he also claims that the value of these techniques has been proven by computer simulations. In the many years I’ve been reading your column in Card Player, I don’t believe you’ve ever mentioned Dubey’s unique approach (it’s not just another “streak” system!), or any of the types of techniques he describes.
His system is such a radical departure from normal card counting systems, and also from the standard “betting progression” systems, that it seems to me that the blackjack cognoscenti would have elevated Dubey to guru status by now if his system had any merit. How come you experts totally ignore Leon Dubey, Jr.?
Arnold Snyder on Dubey's No Need to Count System
Answer: Actually, I did review Dubey’s No Need To Count back in 1983 (before I was writing for Card Player) in Blackjack Forum. The book is apparently still in print, and I suspect it has a fairly wide distribution as I’ve seen it in the gambling sections of many book stores. Perhaps a discussion of Dubey’s techniques is in order.
I agree with you that Dubey is not a “huckster,” and I suspect that the computer simulations he ran to verify his methods were honest. There are some extreme problems with applying his methods in the real world, however, and it is highly unlikely that any player would ever be able to make any notable amount of money by using his “computer proven” techniques.
The types of methods Dubey proposes are often referred to as situational betting techniques. Without counting cards, per se, certain playing situations will often indicate that the house advantage will be higher, or lower, on the next hand to be dealt.
Dubey was not, in fact, the initial discoverer of this relationship between the prior hand and the next hand dealt. As far back as 1978, Dr. John Gwynn and Professor Armand Seri published a paper which first described valid situational betting techniques — and Gwynn and Seri also based their findings on extensive computer simulations.
What Gwynn and Seri determined beyond any doubt were three facts:
1) If a player loses a hand, he will be more likely to win the next one — i.e., losing one hand is a positive indicator that the player’s expectation on the next hand has risen.
2) If a player wins a hand, he will be more likely to lose the next one — i.e., winning one hand is an indicator that the player’s expectation on the next hand has dropped.
3) If a player pushes a hand with the dealer, it is an even stronger indicator than a win that the player’s expectation on the next hand has dropped.
For a number of years following the Gwynn/Seri situational discoveries, blackjack betting systems began appearing which advanced situational betting theory beyond the win/loss/push indicators. Without going into the specific recommendations of Dubey’s book (some of which are included here), other situational advantage indicators are:
4) Following a non-ace pair split, the player’s expectation rises.
5) Following an ace split, the player’s expectation drops.
6) Following a hard double down, the player’s expectation rises.
7) Following any hand (player or dealer) which requires 4 or more cards, the player’s expectation rises.
8) Following any hand in which both the player and the dealer use 4 or more cards, the player’s expectation rises even more.
9) Following any blackjack (player or dealer), the player’s expectation drops.
10) Following any hand in which neither the player nor the dealer has taken any hits, the player’s expectation drops.
All of the above situational facts are true, and can be proven by computer simulation. A player who always raises his bet after the “positive” indicators, and who lowers his bet after the negative indicators, will have an expectation greater than a player who puts the same amount of money into action flat-betting. (We’re assuming that both players are playing basic strategy.)
Now, wouldn’t it be much easier (than employing a card counting system) for a player to just memorize the 5 positive indicators and the 5 negative indicators (mentioned above) and to raise and lower his bets accordingly?
So, why aren’t we blackjack experts singing the praises of the situational systems?
The Problem with This No Need to Count System
The problem with utilizing this type of strategy is that none of the advantage indicators are very strong. In most games, they would simply indicate that the house had less of an advantage over the player, not that the advantage had risen to a player advantage.
In deeply dealt one-deck games, with good rules (dealer stand of soft 17 and especially blackjack pays 3:2), all of these indicators combined might provide the player who is making small bets of $5 and high bets of $100 (1-20 spread) with an expectation of about $1-$2 per hour. In other words, no individual situational indicator is worth more than a few hundredths of a percent, and all of them combined are not worth much more than a few tenths of a percent, in a deeply dealt one-deck game with a big betting spread.
Now I have nothing against any player making $1-$2 per hour, especially if he would otherwise be breaking even (or worse) just using basic strategy, so why don’t I advise players who are not up to the task of card counting to use this easy situational approach?
The answer to that is right in Dubey’s book. He admits that at the casino blackjack tables, his system “. . . so smacks of card counting that he (the dealer) very rapidly catches on to the fact that you are a threat. . . by the end of a single weekend my wife and I were known in all the casinos of Las Vegas. . . .”
If you want to know why this type of system “so smacks of card counting,” all you have to do is consider the situations which are used as positive/negative indicators. In every case, the positive indicators coincide with a probability that more low cards than high cards have just come out of the deck. The negative indicators correlate with more high cards than low cards having been dealt.
For example, Indicator #3 is that a push indicates a drop in player advantage. Why would this be true? It’s not that every push indicates this; but the most common push is a player 20 (two tens) vs. a dealer 20 (two tens), so that pushes taken as a group more often indicate that high cards have been removed from the deck.
Gwynn’s and Seri’s studies also showed that a player win was slightly more often a result of high cards coming out of the deck, and that a player loss was slightly more often the result of low cards coming out. Technically, it’s not the win, loss, or push that is really indicating the more probable result on the next hand, but the removal of high or low cards from the deck.
In fact, this type of situational play — despite the fact that you are not technically assigning count values to the cards — really is just a very weak card counting system. It’s not strong enough to win you any money, but it will be recognizable enough to casino personnel to get you kicked out of the game (assuming you can find a deeply dealt one-decker with Strip rules, so that you can even test your 1-20 betting spread).
So, situational play is valid, but not a very good moneymaking system. The main objection I have to Dubey’s book is that it is mistitled. Instead of No Need To Count, it should be Why You Need To Count. ♠
[Note from Arnold Snyder: You can win at blackjack without card counting, and with a lot better win rate than you can get with the system above, but you'll have to start by learning the principles of card counting to get to those methods. For more information on how professional gamblers win at blackjack both with card counting and without card counting, see my book Blackbelt in Blackjack.]
For more information at this web site on how to win at blackjack, see our Intro to Winning Blackjack page. To get an idea of one professional method of winning at blackjack without counting cards, see our Interview with RC, A Legendary Blackjack Hole-Card Player (but remember, it always pays to be nice to casino personnel).]
For more information on blackjack systems, see the Blackjack Forum Professional Gambling Library. For a winning blackjack system, see the easiest card counting system ever invented: The Easy OPP Card Counting System, by Carlos Zilzer, here for free at Blackjack Forum Online.
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