Playing Blackjack in Teams : Things to Take into account

Playing Blackjack in Teams : Things to Consider


Author: Bluesman from

I regularly study about blackjack teams and the troubles they get into. As someone who has been a player, an investor, and a manager for a blackjack group, I believed I would create some basic notes and, I hope, help other individuals steer clear of some of the pitfalls we had to negotiate.

I. There are many crucial concerns that ought to be resolved unambiguously just before the team ever plays a hand.

1. How are the winnings to be divided?
a. Each group has players and investors, and they all want to get paid. Are you going to split the earnings down the middle amongst the two groups? This is the convention.
b. That is easy adequate to do for investors an investor who buys in for 10% of the bank naturally gets ten% of the investor share.
c. But how are you going to compensate players? If you do not get this question resolved just before the group gets going, you will see a outstanding phenomenon. Inevitably, every single player will place in 20 or so hours. Some will have a net win, some will have a net loss. The winning players will argue that only winners must be rewarded at this point. Those players will demonstrate a exceptional facility with Reaganite entrepreneurial arguments, the significance of rewarding robust overall performance, the inherent fragility of a corporate structure without having correct incentives, the fundamental fairness of rewarding specifically (and, by the evidence, naturally) skilled players such as themselves, etc. etc. etc. The losing players, however, will demonstrate heretofore untapped abilities to analyze and explain why their losing results are to be anticipated. Expect BJRM figures to be flourished that illustrate the startlingly higher but previously unanticipated likelihood of negative results. Anticipate men and women who shed to reiterate that individual losses are the cause that men and women join teams, and that the collective outcomes of the group are what is relevant, not anyone’s individual final results. These players will argue that the wins should be divided equally among all players, or possibly divvied up on the basis of hours. A third class of player will argue irrespective of anyone’s final results that he or she has special abilities superior to those of garden variety card counters that must be rewarded with specific above-the-norm compensation. Anybody who has studied 20th century philosophy will at this point be reminded of John Rawls’ function, specifically his discussions in A Theory of Justice about how people’s conceptions of justice usually look determined by their financial predicament. The team manager, soon after possessing been privately confronted by many players with their own tips about fairness in distribution and obtaining been place on the spot to make unpopular choices, will probably be sympathetic to a fourth strategy, the “Table Method”: place all the players in a room with the player share on a table. The players need to make a decision how to divide up the income ahead of they leave the room.

There are probably defensible motives to adopt distinct rules for compensation based on the preferences of the players. It is crucial, nevertheless, to adopt them before, not following, play has begun.

2. Just as importantly, when are the wins to be divided?

Right after the bank is doubled? Soon after some fraction of the bank is made as profit? After some dollar figure is achieved? Soon after some number of hours is place in at the tables? How do you handle items when a player or an investor desires to take the funds and run — to leave ahead of the cease point is achieved and demands compensation for what he has provided? Again, every single of these choices has costs and benefits making these options in the middle of play when they appear to advantage some players and burden other people runs the threat of appearing partial or biased.

three. But perhaps the most important query is subsidiary to how is the group manager to be selected and what powers ought to he/she have?

The second half of this question is no tiny problem. When I ran a team, I believed it was apparent that there were all sorts of policies that needed to be determined and promulgated by a team manager, rather than by person players or the group collectively on an ad hoc basis, such as:

a. bet spread (min and max)
b. number of hands to play in varying conditions
c. which casinos to play
d. which games in those casinos
e. what kinds of cover are permissible, prohibited, or mandatory
f. who must hold the bankroll in in between sessions
g. to what extent and frequency final results ought to be reported to the rest of the group
h. guidelines on how to deal with law enforcement personnel and private security personnel
i. no matter whether team members are allowed to play blackjack ‘off duty’ or if all play is team play
j. to what extent costs (e.g., travel) are reimbursable from team profits or bankrolls, and who is empowered to make these decisions
k. tipping policies
l. what comps, if any, are counted as team wins ‘ particularly lottery/ tournament prizes deriving from comped entries
m. whether players need to use unique benefit play strategies, e.g., hole-card play, for team play
n. to what extent team members must be seen collectively in casinos, like such ancillary facilities as parking lots and restaurants
o. grounds for penalizing and/or terminating team members, and discussion of what the penalties may well be
p. (most importantly and controversially) how the group will comply with tax laws.

I know this seems like a lot, but it is much better to face a lot of these troubles up front and set policies rather than just leaving it to reasonable men and women to set their own policies ex post. If you decide on this second policy, you will discover that affordable folks will disagree, possibly to your detriment! There are presumably unique situations exactly where special details would give group members grounds to override special policies, but I would believe that the general rule is that the team manager’s choice would be respected. I consider it is ideal to have these decisions written down and promulgated ahead of a hand is played. It is feasible in theory to make these decisions collectively, but I am inclined to believe that organizationally you’d want to defer to a manager. Otherwise, you run into what Oscar Wilde identified as the dilemma with socialism: too a lot of meetings.

II. How do you inform no matter whether your organization is performing effectively or poorly? Any organization will be endangered if it lacks auditing procedures. This is specially correct of a blackjack team.

1. No team will survive unless it anticipates the vital blackjack group dilemma: alleged internal corruption. This issue happens in several forms. Its most typical is that some team member will have outcomes sharply below other team members or below expectation. Other group members get frustrated, and the low par results generate severe internal stress. It is beneficial to remember that there are only 3 elements that can create this outcome: bad variance, incompetence, or corruption. It is my view that players who join teams sharply underestimate the frequency of corrupt and/or incompetent players.
a. It is, of course, critical to have a sophisticated understanding of what realistically can be expected from an individual’s session or set of sessions in terms of bad variance.
b. Incompetence is by far the #1 underestimated element, in my view, with respect to player underperformance. Overestimation of one’s personal skills is as prevalent amongst advantage players as in any other field.
1) Some men and women have basically managed to convince legit players that they can passably count cards, even though they can not preserve the count on a constant basis or make some equivalent error of basic competence. This is far more widespread than you may feel. These players can be eliminated at a kitchen-table audition.
two) Some players have a rough grasp of the basics but have also managed to pick up some superstitious suggestions. These hazardous and expensive suggestions will most likely not be detected unless you have a reasonably lengthy — say, a single hour — kitchen-table audition created to weed out half-competent players.
three) Some players are gamblers, and I mean that in a bad way. They focus heavily on session outcomes, and bet massive money without having an advantage to turn adverse short-term results about.
4) Some players just can’t reduce it in the casino despite how well they can play at the kitchen table. Some are distracted by cocktail waitresses, noise, and so forth. Other folks have a neurotic response to the pressure designed by the demands of productive play. Others are insufficiently aggressive in pursuing excellent bets (the technical term is ‘lazy’), carrying out such items as relentlessly playing via adverse footwear for hours rather than receiving up off the posterior and taking a restroom break at acceptable times. One of the responses to heat that to my understanding is not sufficiently discussed in the literature is what I call ‘shrinking violet cover.’ This occurs when players play fairly competently, except that they fail to put out their big bet. In impact, they are playing with a sharply decreased spread. This style of play is not as ineffective as flat-betting, but it is close sufficient to be extremely damaging to the bankroll. My personal encounter is that this problem is frequent enough that men and women with a history of green-chip play must be automatically suspect for this problem if they are graduating to large money. The counterintuitive outcome is that red chippers are on average far far better recruits for big money teams, given that they have not learned the exquisite sensitivity to heat that causes green chippers to experiment with camouflage — whose costs for the group they do not totally recognize. By far the two best players I had on my team had extensive red-chip play background. They never ever graduated to green-chip play — as a consequence, they never ever had to unlearn negative green chip habits that would prove to be counterproductive when playing stacks of purple.

c. Naturally, there is constantly the possibility of theft. A thieving player can siphon a good piece of modify from each session without anybody else the wiser. I am inclined to feel that most serious players deal with such massive amounts of money on a routine basis that they underestimate the possibility of becoming corrupted by the option of stealing just a handful of massive bets. Some corrupt players, I suspect, think of this kind of theft as a brief-term loan which they intend to pay back but somehow never really get about to doing.

2. But just laying out the possibilities doesn’t aid solve the issue. What do you do if you suspect that one thing besides negative variance is involved? There are a quantity of techniques of investigation.
a. Have somebody unknown to the suspected teammate shadow him and watch how a lot he wins or loses. Examine this to reports.
b. Following a bad session, ask him to ask the casino for his win/loss reports. They keep records. Even though a little discrepancy is OK (casino records are inexact), a large discrepancy is a negative sign. Compliance with vs. resistance to requesting records from casinos is typically a reliable indicator of how straight up a particular person you’re dealing with.
c. Polygraphs are inexplicably common amongst teams. You can almost certainly discover a couple of factors from a lie detector test if you spring it on a person (e.g., “We’re going to have a specific meeting right now across town.”) You possibly will not discover out any guilty parties if you tell them you’re concerned about your play and for that reason the team has decided to make a lie detector appointment for you Tuesday soon after next. Someone who is underhanded adequate to cheat a blackjack group is probably clever sufficient to surf the Net to locate out how to beat the test by then.

3. Right after detection, there is retribution. Let us assume that you catch a thief. He admits that he stole the income and says he does not have it any longer. He refuses to pay you. Restitution is out. What you can do is report the theft to the IRS, considering that you already know his social safety quantity from when you did a credit check on him. (Obviously, you’d do a credit verify on anyone that you’d entrust with a massive quantity of cash, appropriate?) If he’s stolen $X in a partnership with you, just explain this to an accountant and have him file the proper types so that at least the ex-companion will have to pay income taxes on the ill-gotten gains.

four. Suppose you detect a person who has made a severe error that has price the team income but you still want to hold him on the team, maybe with some kind of penalty? It is a challenging circumstance, and I would recommend that the danger of keeping the individual on a team is almost certainly greater than you’d expect, even if terminating the player signifies discarding hypothetical future anticipated value that the player could bring to the group. The only exception to this suggestion is if the individual in query is prepared to make the group entire right away (that is, not on a time payment basis) from his personal resources. (On a connected note, group managers will learn the classic counteroffer of this situation — group members will recommend that they spend the group on a time payment scheme. This is a paradigmatic example of the basic rule that team members will attempt to structure all sorts of problematic transactions with the group that amount to unsecured loans. This practice is not acceptable.) The point to preserve in mind here is that guidelines and incentives, as such, are not going to resolve this issue. The only factor that will keep a group running properly, because the group must be constructed on mutual trust, is great character and good judgment. The particular person who has created a significant error is with out at least a single of these attributes. Somebody with out great character who is not penalized for producing blunders will infer that he can continue to make mistakes without having consequence. On the other hand, an individual without having good character who is penalized for his blunders — who, in one particular way or one more finds that his team payment is decreased — will almost certainly either try to siphon money from the team in some other way or quit the group in disgust. This underscores that individuals with no great character ought to not be let on your group in the initial place.

five. Even right after putting aside the difficulties of misfeasance and malfeasance, nevertheless, auditing remains essential. I would recommend a procedure exactly where all players are required to report at a minimum once per day (assuming they are on a playing trip). The report should include, at a minimum, 3 pieces of data: their net win/loss since the begin of the new bank, their net/win loss given that the last report, and how significantly money they’re carrying. The report should most likely also contain a casino win-loss, rather than just a day win-loss, if players hit far more than 1 casino per day. If players transfer funds among them, they must both make reports, so that the group manager has two reports for every transfer. Reports ought to be archived on e mail (or less desirably, voice mail). This data will prove helpful to the group manager if players are prepared to comply with this regimen. Moreover, each and every player must be essential to report every single loss of some magnitude (say, 50 or one hundred units) as soon as it happens, by telephone. This is most likely a excellent concept for wins of massive magnitude as effectively, but a rule will not typically be required to spur reportage. Unless some guidelines equivalent to these are laid down, the team manager will find it an amazing lesson in human nature how fast players are to report wins and how slow and evasive they are in reporting losses. (On weekend trips, winners begin a steady flow of reports Saturday morning oddly, losers may not check in until extended soon after the finish of the trip Sunday evening!)

Specifically with new entrants onto the team (and at the beginning of the team, every single player is a new entrant), sessions should be audited on a typical basis. This implies asking the player, soon after a session (not just after a trip) such inquiries as ‘What game did you pick? What was the penetration? Did you back count or play all? Was there heat and if so, exactly what was it? What was your response to heat? What was your maximum bet? What was your minimum bet? How many max or near max bets did you get down? How lengthy did you play?’ Almost certainly the most essential question is ‘To what extent did your bets correlate to your benefit?’ Regrettably, this is such a complex query (involving troubles of cover, bankroll, bet sizing, table limits, genuine and imagined heat, and so on.) that it probably cannot be asked straight but has to be analyzed with the help of subsidiary queries. Team managers will find out holes in play if a post-game interview is carried out regularly. It is in the post-game interview that players who do not handle well the problems of agency expenses involved — for example, playing with too a lot attention to the dangers of individual backoffs and also small attention to the duty of maximizing the team’s revenue and welfare — will discover that their choices and tradeoffs are laid bare. Players who object to this practice as an intrusion on their “right” to play blackjack with no comprehensive group-manager monitoring and scrutiny need to not be on your group.

Managing a team is a lot of function and deserves compensation if accomplished appropriately. It requires a great amount of attention to detail that I have not described right here. If team management is carried out casually, it will not be done effectively.

III. A private opinion

Blackjack teams face difficult decisions each day, and a successful set of choices includes a subtle understanding of the tradeoffs involved. What I attempted to do above was to lay out some of the numerous tensions which teams have to negotiate. I will now describe what in my view are the ideal options offered these tradeoffs.

The fundamental query of how very best to compensate players has a pretty clear answer in my view. I believe that all player compensation must be split into two pots a huge 1 and a small a single. The large pot must be awarded to the most productive players on a win pro rata basis. That is, if one player wins X% of the group win, that player ought to be provided X% of the big pot. The little pot need to be split up on an hourly pro rata basis. That is, if one player plays X% of the group hours, that player ought to be provided X% of the small pot. The players who shed on net only get paid from the tiny pot.

Despite the fact that this does not look fair to those who theorize that absolutely everyone is performing their very best and need to acquire a proportionate share of the winnings, I can tell you from knowledge that this alternative has terrible incentive effects. Folks under this regimen use also significantly cover, do not actively seek good games, and have insufficient incentive to play an aggressive, worth-seeking method. Folks who do not share my admittedly controversial opinion on this matter need to discover the planet of sales, in which salespeople usually do not evenly divide up their commissions but rather are paid on the basis of individual efficiency. There is a purpose that such practices have arisen.

Furthermore, it is harmful to make payouts also often. Players must be informed before they play that since of flux the team needs to attain two large win ambitions ahead of any payment is produced (for example, 25% and 50% of the bank could be the first two win ambitions). As soon as the second win goal is achieved, you can distribute the payments from the 1st win objective. Likewise for the third and second win aim, etc.

Ultimately, when you make the final payment to a player or investor, if at all feasible you should do a complete audit of the team’s sources at that point. The very best feasible way to do a full audit is to have all the team’s money sitting on a table ahead of you spend any of it out to a departing team member. A connected rule is that all group payouts should come from the manager right after all the funds are in the manager’s possession — team players are not entitled to seize team funds for themselves at their pleasure in order to compensate themselves. If you do not adhere to this regimen, you are in danger of relying on group assets that do not exist. For instance, it can happen that one group member gets paid, whilst simultaneously another member has had a huge current loss. Since team assets were calculated with no the current loss information, this signifies that there has actually been overpayment. If you uncover this issue some days later, and then clarify to the departing team member that you want compensatory return of the overpayment, he could not share your analysis of the circumstance! Due to team members not following group rules or sound organization practices, I have been forced into complicated and cumbersome time payment schemes that would have been unnecessary had I followed the ‘money on the table’ rule.

IV. The Grown-up Rule

The fundamental rule of any enterprise is that it will go beneath unless it is run and staffed by reasonably mature people with some degree of integrity and good judgment. A corollary of this will take place to you when you face the query of new recruits for your team. Players will usually want to recruit individuals who have impressive technical abilities. But someone’s capability to track slugs or aces, to master composition-dependent techniques, or to hold several multilevel counts in thoughts must be the least of your concerns when recruiting players. Much more relevant concerns are maturity, good judgment, and good character. Can this prospective recruit keep his mouth shut when appropriate and preserve his cool when hassled by security guards? Can he function well with other folks? In short, is he a grown-up?

Many men and women attempt to uncover a shortcut about this difficulty by asking for references from a third party. Regrettably, many references will be worthless. I recruited an immature and untrustworthy player onto my team primarily based on the recommendation of a famous blackjack author whose name we all would recognize. The only blackjack reference that genuinely counts is from somebody who played on a team with the referenced applicant who can vouch that the applicant played well, behaved honestly, and acted responsibly. I would location a lot more worth on a reference from a earlier employer who could certify that his employee handled duty well than from some guy who played at the exact same table with the applicant for a couple of hours. The ideal background for a skilled player is an individual with red-chip knowledge as nicely as dealing blackjack in a casino. When trained, the abilities that such a player has acquired are lethal.

It is all as well simple to assume that anyone who can demonstrate card-counting ability is a grown-up. I have regrettably run into a lot of folks who demonstrate that this is a mistaken assumption.

If you have never ever effectively run any company, an experiential vacuum is a poor foundation on which to run a really demanding organization. Although the income from a blackjack team can be higher, the demands that it places on employees and management can be a lot higher. Beware!

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