GENERIC BASIC STRATEGY
THE HIGH-LOW SYSTEM
HOW TO WIN WITHOUT GETTING KICKED OUT
Penetration, or how far down into the pack the dealer goes before shuffling, is extremely important. I always knew it was important, but I learned from the mass of simulations I have done that penetration is more important than I had previously realized.
Blackjack By Country
Penetration before shuffling
The reason penetration is so important is that the rare occasions when your advantage gets very high -say 5% or more-are always toward the end of the pack. If penetration is lousy, or if a deck or two has already been used before you start counting, you are not going to get a situation of very high advantage. And situations of very high advantage are what you should be looking for.
Here is an example of the importance of penetration. You can get similar numbers yourself with Free Blackjack Combinatorial Analyzer. Your advantage is 4.8% or more at counts per deck of +8 or more. For one player at the table in a two-deck game, that count per deck occurs 0.7% of the time with 52-card penetration, 3% of the time with 76-card penetration, and 40/0 of the time with 82-card penetration.
Wonging Shoe Games
As mentioned earlier, the effect on your win rate is the same as if cards already dealt but not counted were behind the cut card and would not be used. For example, sitting down to play in a six-deck game with one deck cut off and one deck already played but uncounted is the same as sitting down at a six-deck game with two decks cut off. Six decks shuffled and one cut off is playable, but six shuffled and two cut off is a waste of time unless the rules are so good that you have an edge with basic strategy alone.
Single and Double Deck
On single or double deck, penetration is so important that if you are in a casino where there are big differences from dealer to dealer on penetration, you ought to make sacrifices to play against a dealer who gives the best penetration. For example, in double deck you should rather play at a table with a couple of other players and cards dealt almost all the way out than head-on with a shuffle after only half the cards are used. If a dealer who has been giving excellent penetration gets switched to another table, and the relief does not give as good penetration, you too switch to that other table.
At single deck you should seldom play with three other players, and you should never play with more than three other players.
The reason is at single deck, a full table gets two rounds per shuffle at most. If the first round contains a large excess of small cards, the dealer might shuffle after only one round; the dealer thinks there are not enough cards to deal another round, and you feel like shouting that all hands will get so many face cards that there will not be much need for hit cards.
Be willing to start a game at a table where the dealer is standing alone. But if the dealer shuffles earlier than you expect, do not wait around for a second shuffle. Stay only if the penetration is good enough.
Casinos to Avoid
In many casinos, every dealer gives bad penetration. Do not even bother to play blackjack at those casinos. If you happen to see a big excess of small cards on the first round after a shuffle at such a casino, jump in and play until the count goes negative. But keep telling yourself you are wasting your time because the shuffle will come too early; robbing you of the rounds with the most profit potential.
Blackjack Software Providers