[This is a continuation of the original post, "HOWTO: How to get an edge in Blackjack in 10 minutes (part 1)". Please read Part 1 before reading this post. Also I have to acknowledge that Fred Renzey is the individual that came up with this technique. He wrote the book, "Blackjack Bluebook II" in which I believe he describes the A10 Count… however I’ve never read the book so I can’t really say much more than that. I’ll let everyone know what it’s like as soon as I buy it.]
So now you know how to ‘count cards’. Anyone can do it. Simply by counting the A’s & 10 cards and watching to see that 2 decks have been dealt, you can knock the house edge from a typical .5% to an edge in your favor by as high as 1.2%. I have to admit something however: I left out some ‘advanced’ or ‘upper division’ information from the first post.
A NOTE ON THE INFREQUENCY OF A 36 COUNT & BELOW
The fact is, that having a A10 count of 36 and below doesn’t happen very often. In fact, you’ll find that you only get a 36 count or less ONCE every FOUR shoes dealt. That’s only 25% of the time. Ouch. So you can be playing for 3 entire shoes and never see a A10 rich shoe – i.e. a 36 count – for a while.
Even worse, you’ll find that 50% of the time, the shoe will result in in a count that’s 40 or higher and if you recall, the A10 Count rules state that when the count is 40 or higher, you should "wong out" i.e. leave the table or ‘go to the bathroom’ while the dealer watches your seat.
Overall, the fact that you’ll be playing through few decks where you have an edge means that rule #2 of Advantage Blackjack play is especially important when using this count:
"Play within your means: Always play with a bankroll of at least 100 betting units – optimally 150-200 betting units – and set your betting unit appropriately. Compute your risk of ruin using any number of tools out there."
(I’ll list out all the rules I adhere to someday in another post)
IMPROVING YOUR EDGE #1: MODIFY BASIC STRATEGY
The edge doesn’t really hit the high side for you until you start to apply some modifications to basic strategy depending on the A10 count after 2 decks. Sure you can play without these and get an edge simply through your propensity to increase your bet at optimal situations or leave the table during bad ones however with these modifications to your play, you get a much better edge.
40 or more (-.5% or greater)
- "Wong out" – i.e. leave the table
39, 38, 37 – 1 unit bet (-.2% to .2%)
36 or 35 – 2 unit bet (.4%)
- 9 vs 2 – DOUBLE DOWN
- 11 vs A – DOUBLE DOWN
- A8 vs 5 – DOUBLE DOWN
- A8 vs 6 – DOUBLE DOWN
- 16 vs 10 – STAND
34 or 33 – 4 unit bet (.8%)
- All modifications for 36 or 35
- 8 vs 6 – DOUBLE DOWN
- 12 vs 3 – DOUBLE DOWN
32 or less – 6 unit bet (1.2%)
- All modifications for 36 or 35
- All modifications for 34 or 33
- 9 vs 7
- 12 v 2
- Take insurance
INCREASE YOUR EDGE #2: GROW YOUR BET SPREAD
If you want a greater edge than .4%, .8%, and 1.2%, it’s possible to do so simply by increasing your bet spread. In other words:
Instead of betting 1 unit, 2 units, 4 units, and 6 units depending on the A10 count… change your spread to 1 unit, 3 units, 6 units, and 10 units.
This will give you a bonus +.4% edge above and beyond the existing edge so the total edge for each bet level are .8%, 1.2%, and 1.6%.
One of the cool benefits of the A10 Count is that the casino simply can’t tell you’re using it. Ever. This is because you never vary your bet more than once a shoe and card counting is traditionally based on bet variation based on a running measure of what cards have been dealt.
The consequence however of this increase is that your standard variation or fluctuation in betting losses will grow respectively – i.e. you’ll lose more money faster during bad shoes. In fact as Fred Renzey says, it’s possible that you could lose 4 hands with 10 units each so be aware of the risk. Thus, it’s especially important that you heed Blackjack rule #2, and "Play within your means". Make sure you have a large enough bankroll to weather the storms of bad luck.