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Steve Forte responds to errors in the ace sequencing and shuffle tracking information in David McDowell's Blackjack Ace Prediction.
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By Steve Forte
(From Blackjack Forum XXIV #2, Spring 2005)
© 2005 Blackjack Forum

Some months back I was asked to endorse a new book on Ace Prediction by David McDowell.

Not being an active player, I first declined and suggested that the book was better reviewed by professional players. I was asked again. Given a minor business relationship with Michael Dalton (he sells my video series), and some limited, albeit enjoyable correspondence with the author, I acquiesced.

I flipped through the book quickly, noting a lengthy history of the strategy and what appeared to be an exhaustive mathematical/computer analysis. My first impressions were good. I then randomly arrived on a photo of a sorted deck with a reference to me and a related strategy. Having never talked with the author about this reference, I read this section quickly, and to be perfectly honest, the reference was taken completely out of context and I was puzzled by the author's application.

So I then flipped to some of the endorsements and noticed a list of icons in the blackjack world. Since I really didn't have the time to read the book carefully, I blindly jumped to the conclusion that, after 20 plus years, someone had finally written a dedicated, quality book on ace tracking.

Now, after looking over some of the analysis and comments submitted by Arnold Snyder, and going back to the book to review some of the material, I suspect that I may be guilty of (a) trying to be a nice guy and (b) falling into a common trap often seen in gambling literature: that of endorsing a product not read carefully by the endorser, or endorsing a product more strongly than it truly deserves.

Aside from my personal feelings that the author's intentions are good, Arnold Snyder's position is very strong. It's also very compelling as he backs up his opinion with substance. A careful reread of Ace Prediction does reveal some oddities regarding the fundamentals of applying the strategy, some overly optimistic bet expectations, and win rates where none appear to exist. To over-rate the profit potential of a strategy or system can, of course, be very dangerous and costly to the typical player.

It's for all of these reasons that it makes perfect sense to challenge the viability of the strategy as presented. It's good for everyone: authors, experts, mathematicians and, most importantly, the players. After all, with any book written for the player, ultimately, only one criteria really matters: Does the strategy win?

How this notably different view of this work plays out in the blackjack community should prove to be a valuable lesson to us all. It will be especially interesting to see if any other endorsers "step up to the plate" after taking a closer look at the research. ♠

Steve Forte

Spring 2005 Blackjack Forum

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  Steve Forte Responds to Errors in a Book on Blackjack Ace Location
In this article, casino gambling expert Steve Forte responds to the mathematical and methodological errors in David McDowell's Blackjack Ace Prediction. Problems with the shuffle tracking and ace prediction methodology in the book, as well as the author's gross overstatement of the edge due to fundamental mistakes in blackjack math, cause Steve Forte to retract his endorsement.