The “first 200 hours” stories others have posted have been encouraging and informative to me so I thought I would give a little back by sharing my own journey from ploppy to full-time AP over the past year. Last week I hit my own 200 hour mark; (caveat) 200 hours since I started keeping decent records and started playing higher stakes on Oct 29, 2017. I have no idea how many dozens or hundreds of hours I played as a ploppy between my first visit to a casino in 2014 and my journey out of ploppydom a year ago this week.
That journey began with a growing desire to beat the game, researching the web for information on how to do so, discovering this site and my subsequent conversation with Colin. During that conversation I made a commitment to attend the June ’17 Bootcamp (shout out to @pingpong @iamfletch and @jcrox111). Over the next 3 months I watched the video course, practiced the training drills and had my boyfriend deal multiple shoes of a 6 deck game to me almost every night. I wanted to show up to Bootcamp with a perfect game.
Ha! It’s an amazing and humbling experience to have your eyes opened to the fact that you don’t know what you thought you knew. I’ve always been good at memorization so I thought mastering Basic Strategy, accurate counting, playing and betting deviations would be relatively simple for me. I had no real clue just how much discipline, practice, patience, tolerance for variance, bankroll management and “undoing” of my ploppy mentality would need to take place in addition to mastering correct play before I started to “become” a winning player. I also had no idea what Colin meant when he talked about “undoing bad habits” by playing in casinos before understanding how to beat blackjack, but I was about to learn.
There are two things Colin said to me that I still think of when I’m at a table, “playing perfectly at home is just the beginning of being able to play perfectly in a casino” and “don’t pay attention to your chip stack, pay attention to making perfect playing decisions, every time”.
Perfection. It’s a tall order, but since my goal was not only to beat the game, but beat it soundly enough to quit my corporate job and retire 9 years earlier than I had planned, perfection was and still is, my objective. I failed my first testout last June. @joe478 tested me and he was very kind; Colin recommended I not play in casinos until I strengthened my game (I ignored him-I advise y’all not to). Over the next 8 weeks until the Aug ’17 Bootcamp I probably played 100 casino hours, at very low stakes, and continued to drill and play at home almost daily. I thought I had “outgrown” the drills, but had to admit I barely had a breakeven game and there was more to be gained by having those drills down cold.
Every day I did 200 hands of Basic Strategy, 100 deck estimations, 100 of each H17 and S17 deviation hands until I could do them perfectly. If I made a mistake, I started over. I worked on the speed and counting drills as well setting a goal to get through three 6 deck shoes at 1 second intervals every 10 hands without a mistake. At the Aug ’17 Bootcamp I passed my testout with Colin, but he recommended that I keep my bet spread conservative for the next 50-100 hours of casino play to minimize my risk, as I continued working on perfecting live play. I still struggled with what I call “flooding” during high counts; heart racing, ears ringing, head pounding to the point I found myself hedging my top bets and dreading high counts. I also realized I was dropping the count near the end of a high count shoe.
It was then I realized I had to kill the ploppy that remained in me or I wouldn’t make it as an AP. I had to stop living and dying on the win/loss of every hand, I had to control my emotions, I had to ignore my “hunches”, I had to let the idiotic things ploppies say roll off me and I had to never, ever bail out of a high count shoe because I had lost several max bets in a row (yes, I’ve done that). I had to fully embrace variance and the concept of EV and not what I won or lost in a hand, a session, a day, a week…..I can’t explain it, but one day it just became clear..how and why the math works. I understood TC distributions and how win rates were calculated. I understood why negative counts cost me money and if I didn’t spread aggressively and get the money out during high counts, I would never make a living beating this game.
I started an internal dialogue at the table…breathe, bet, count, play, pay attention, smile. I started to calm down. 100 more hours between August and the end of October and I felt ready to start playing higher stakes.
I want to acknowledge that I have some definite advantages starting my life as an AP that I am grateful for. I have a partner who understands this game and this life. He supports my travel and has invested in me, both with my training and a replenishable bankroll. In my past life, I worked as a tour manager for a successful rock band so the travel feels very familiar to me and is still exciting. I have raised and launched my 3 sons so I no longer have children at home. I have the deepest respect for those of you juggling parenting, jobs, and growing smaller bankrolls as you start your journey. You’re all inspirational to me! I also want to say “thank you” especially to @spartan for his encouragement and time.
I quit my corporate job on Feb 16 and am now a full-time AP (not calling myself a “pro” just yet).
The chart below represents my 200 hours of play between Oct 29 and Mar 12. Orange line is AV/Blue line is EV.
Breaking it down by the numbers:
Profit: 37% of Bankroll
180 hours for my AV to catch my EV
Each horizontal line represents 10% of bankroll; line with the numbers is sessions and represents zero.
Most aggressive spread: 1×10-2×300
Typical spread 1×25-2×300
I hope you all find something helpful in my story and positive variance to you!