I was playing a casino with very good conditions, but one I had been backed off of before.
So when I returned it was with a different look and a different spread. I lasted ten hours over three sessions before the backoff came. I was approached by someone flanked by security who stuck out his hand with a smile and introduced himself as the CEO of the casino.
- CEO: I don’t usually do this, but…. all my managers are out right now, so, before you take more money from us… [insert standard backoff here]….
- Me: Okay.
- CEO (big smile): The variance on 12 versus a 4 gave you away.
- Me: Huh? (I don’t usually use the word “variance” in reference to playing decisions, so it threw me for a second).
- CEO: You hit 12 against a four when the count was negative.
- Me: Lots of people hit 12s against fours.
- CEO: Well, it’s not worth it. Haven’t you read “Burning the Tables in Vegas?” by Ian Anderson? It’s not worth the tradeoff. For the money you make, you lose it tenfold by giving yourself away.
- Me: So you were cozy with me hitting my soft 18s? It seems like Anderson was more worried about that one. But hey, every place is different, right? I’ve decided that assuming what the trade-offs will be in the eyes of a casino evaluating my play…
- CEO: Yes?
- Me: …isn’t a good trade-off.
The lesson, I suppose, is that there is no perfect cover play, or at least you can’t predict it from one place to the next or from one shift to the next. Whether it is under-betting, over-betting, avoiding certain deviations, or always insuring against a dealer’s ace, every cover play you employ throws a little bit of dirt over your EV. Make sure it doesn’t get buried alive in the process.