This page is designed to keep you informed about activities relating to the Card-Clump Blackjack Team Practice group. There are links providing you FREE access to the most current Web Browsers and IRC access software. Down the road we will showcase interesting write-ups by team players as well as team consultants. Comments about our practice can be found on the Team Practice Results Page.
Team practice activities have been dormant for a long time. Because the internet was "primitive" in those days, the games simply took too long to play. Thanks to webcams and web-portals, there has been some serious talk of re-activitating the team practice concept - still using the Boris for Blackjack Software.
This page will re-evolve throughout the year as we re-think the whole online team practive idea.
Stay tuned as I figure out what best goes
here and how it should look.
If you have any ideas or input along these lines, please let me know.
This Practice Team began in the summer of 1997 as an expression of the Clump-card discussions being held on the WinningWays NewsGroup; a private e-mail newsgroup. Players would meet on Monday and/or Wednesday evenings in the Blackjack chat room on the Leba Net's chat facility. Cards were hand shuffled by Conan, the team coordinator, and played out online.
The Lebanet facility was interesting and used colorful graphics. Unfortunately, the server was often difficult to access (there was only one port) and we were constantly barraged with advertising scrolling through the promotion window. Nevertheless, when it worked it worked well. Then beginning last fall (1997), changes began to happen.
First, Conan took on more important duties, requiring the volunteer of his time. I volunteered to take over and quietly assumed the reins. This was a risky affair because many attempts had been made to have me removed from the WinningWays newsgroup, because my posting of the truth was, shall we say, "bad for business".
Nevertheless, the practice activities continued. Instead of hand-dealing the game, I setup Boris' Blackjack Simulation Software to deal our practice games. With Boris, the dealer is relieved of the necessity of accurately shuffling the cards - Boris handles that quite nicely. Add to that the myriad of statistics kept by the software, and now an IRC interface and Playing Log, and we have an EXCELLENT tool for conducting our practice.
In December of 1997, it was clear that Leba Net was no longer a viable option for conducting our practice play. It was suggested that we switch our practice sessions to DALnet on the Internet Relay Chat. We have been there ever since.
Everything moved along quite nicely until
Keith Smith responded to a critical review on my website of his Blackjack
101 System by censoring my posts to the WinningWays newsgroup
and eventually setting up a permanent FILTER of anything submitted by
me to the newsgroup. I responded by posting the following on this
team practice page:
Effective 4-27-98, until the
problem with my access to the WinningWays
NewsGroup is resolved, the Monday and Wednesday practice
sessions are being suspended [indefinately]. You have my personal
apologies for this. However, until the control/censorship problem in
the Newsgroup is resolved, it makes no sense to continue w/activities
that have a newsgroup antithetic to our efforts as one of its underpinnings.
To that end, I have written an Open Letter to the Newsgroup about this problem (last updated Thurs. 8-18-98), in case you would like to be informed as to what has been going on. Check here periodically for an announcement of the resumption of our weekly practice sessions.
On May 5th, 1998, I made a difficult
choice to divorce the Team Practice Activities from the WinningWays
Newsgroup. The group has been recently reorganized and now meets on
Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Our play under the reorganization began on May 26, 1998. Dissolutions can be a good thing; at least if we allow them to be. Stay tuned to this page - new developments are on-going, as we all learn what it takes to coordinate a team effort.
NOTE: As of early October(98), I have been allowed re-entry to the WinningWays Newsgroup; the message being delivered to me indirectly. Apparently, since my absence, "businesss" has been down. However, in response to what I think is your feelings about the matter, I am keeping our practice activities separate from WinningWays. While there will continue to be reciprocal references between our activities, we have survived 6 months as separate entities, telling me that we should remain this way.
The typical schedule for the practice team is to meet every Tuesday/Thursday evening in the #Precision-Blackjack Channel on the DALnet of the Internet Relay Chat (IRC). We normally meet at 17:00/20:00 (PDT/EDT) and commence play about 30 minutes past the hour. This gives everyone plenty of time to arrive and socialize about the events of the day or their latest casino exploits.
We typically play one shoe per evening,
focusing on a particular aspect of Clump-card Blackjack and/or
Team-Play. Cards are dealt by the Professional
Edition of Boris's Casino Blackjack Simulation Software .
Players indicate their Hit/Stand decisions, which are then indicated to Boris. Using Boris allows thorough statistics to be kept about our play. For players new to this way of doing things on the Internet, have no fear, we will be happy to coach you on how to communicate your play(s) to the group. Before the evening is out, you will be playing with us like a PRO.
By the end of the year, I am looking to have an Internet Edition of Boris available, allowing players to make their play decisions directly, with real card graphics on the screen. The logistics for such software are just now being considered. I am open to suggestions on this.
Our practice activities have spanned nearly two years. In that time we have seen a few changes in our practice format, ranging from changing the practice days (from Mon/Wed to Tues/Thurs) to switching our practice activities from the LEBAnet server to the DALnet on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Major changes are made only when it is deemed that doing so will improve the quality of our activities.
During the last week, we began an investigation into yet ANOTHER improvement. On Sunday (3-28-99) several team members met to test-drive using Microsoft's Net-Meeting facility. The promise of Net-Meeting is many fold:
Net-meeting supports graphics and voice
capabilities (in addition to a conventional chat window, along with
the ability to run/control a shared application during the "Meeting".
Drawbacks to Net-Meeting are that it is not quite up to the task of allowing us to perform the activities as described above. For example, while Net-Meeting DOES support Voice communication (we tried it - it is kinda neat), it is limited to a SINGLE channel; i.e. only between two users at a time. "Broadcasting" is not yet supported. On Sunday, this relegated most of our communication to the chat window. With a chat window active on my computer, part of the Blackjack Table Screen is overlaid by a goofy blackbox (essentially the size of my chat window) - I gather that this is a design flaw with Net-Meeting in that it is probably capturing the SCREEN BUFFER, rather than communicating with Boris via a "Window Handle". This is a serious problem, which until remedied disqualifies Net-Meeting for serious consideration with our practice activities.
I have been informed that version 3.X of Net-meeting is due to be released next week. When it is made available we will again meet and test the effectiveness of the facility for our purposes. I have also been told that the Servers which support Net-Meeting are often clogged and/or slow. In Microsoft's defense, I understand that they are working on this. This is important. Remember, one of the main reasons we moved our activities to the IRC was to provide us with many server alternatives; and yes, IRC TOO has had its problems.
I understand that there is a similar
facility available from Netscape, although I have not had time to
evaluate it. If you have any Experience with this, I would be
grateful if you can pass along a writeup on what you have found.
Click Here to obtain a free copy of the Net-Meeting software (which I understand is ONLY compatible with Internet Explorer.
In the event that Net-Meeting does not provide us what we are looking for, I am examining other alternatives in my spare time. I am open to your ideas and input.
This Evening's Team Practice event is
being Postponed until Thursday (8-26). A number of completely
unrelated people and events coalesced this weekend, with the
"fallout" extending into my work week.
The report below is from last week.
For many weeks, our practice sessions have found us playing against the 6-Deck ShuffleMaster "Box" at the New York, New York in Las Vegas. Because ShuffleMaster machines can be found all over the country, it made sense that we have some playing Experience against these machines. We are able to play against ShuffleMaster because Boris' Casino Blackjack Simulation Software is the ONLY Blackjack software which Simulates the ShuffleMaster machines.
The ShuffleMaster "Box" uses a series of "elevators" to achieve a reasonable riffle simulation. Unlike circulating rumours, the ShuffleMaster "Box" does not allow casino personnel to make adjustments to it "on the fly". The Box is "programmed" to randomly select a loose or tight intertwine for that particular shuffle procedure. So, you have no idea (aside from "reading" the cards) what to expect for each shoe. We MAY be able to deduce the intertwine AFTER play of the shoe is over.
While one shoe is being shuffled, the other is played out. This elimenates "downtime"; unless (as casinos are doing in Reno), the cards are shuffled TWICE with the machine. Because ShuffleMaster's definition of "random cards" is actually different from ours, we know that the cards coming out of those machines are RARELY random, and therefore playable with Clump-Tracking methods.
We have shifted our focus from playing 6-Deck ShuffleMaster to a 2-Deck Experiment. There have been reports of 2-Deck ShuffleMaster games being exploitable with our methods. We are going to play a series of double-deck sessions against ShuffleMaster II, followed by sessions against a 2-Deck version of ShuffleMaster BOX for comparison. We have had series of nice wins against ShuffleMaster II thus far. This evening, we are going to continue our 2-Deck play against ShuffleMaster BOX, applying what we learned thus far.
In June, Ron DiBenedetto (www.precision21.com) dropped in on our practice for a brief Cameo appearance. We are looking forward to further visits from Ron this summer.
As of last week, after a short
vacation-hiatus, we are back in the "Swing" of things.
We managed to eeek out modest wins against the 2-Deck ShuffleMaster BOX and ShuffleMaster II.
We have recently switched our attention back to the standard ShuffleMaster II game, looking for the "signs" to exploiting this game variation.
The 2-Deck ShuffleMaster games DO seem to produce clumped cards; enough to be exploited succesfully more often than not. Come watch us continue our ShuffleMaster success.
For more info on what we have been doing
in recent weeks,you can go to our
Practice Session Results Page.
You are welcome to join our practice
sessions. To begin with, you may just want to watch us play, until
you are used to our play format. You are welcome to ask questions
about what we are doing and/or why we make the play decisions that we
do. That is how you learn.
To find our practice sessions, point your IRC Software to one of the DALnet servers on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Because the majority of our players are east of the continental divide, I recommend that you select the Toldeo Ohio or St. Louis servers. This will keep the response time at its peak. We WERE using the Santa Clara server (SPIDER Net), although lately it seems to be down and randomly directs you to another server on the network.
Once you are onto DALnet, come into the #Precision-Blackjack Channel and we should be there. On the IRC you need to make up a NICKNAME to identify yourself. Please note that on some networks (like DALnet), nicknames can be registered by users in advance. This means that if you are using that nickname and the individual with the name registered comes onto the network, you will be disconnected (with a NICKSERV violation message). Simply make your choice of Nickname unique and this will never happen. I have personally never been disconnected for this reason.
Because the IRC network(s) consist of a series of local servers linked together, it is possible to experience what is known as [communication] lag, where messages begin arriving more slowly and often out of synch. Originally we chose DALnet because it was a medium-traffic network, unlike the Undernet, which at the time was ALWAYS crowded. Unfortunately, DALnet has become quite popular making things difficult at times.
Lately, the server-lag seems to be a problem near the end of our playing session. For that reason, it has been suggested that we either switch to a different network or start 30 minutes to an hour earlier. I would like your input on this.
Down the road, if conditions become too cumbersome for our play, we will then switch to Galaxynet on the IRC. GalaxyNet is where Ron DiBenedetto and I formed the first #Precision-Blackjack channel. It is a very quiet network but does not have as many servers to rely on for access, making it a tricky trade-off.
If you don't see us on DALnet, switch to Galaxynet and we will probably be there. If you have any ideas regarding a different network we can use (which is fast and provides easy access), let us know. We are ALWAYS open to useful input.
When the screen comes up, make up a nickname for yourself and type it in the nickname box. Then click on the CONNECT button. Once connected, enter #precision-blackjack into the box above the JOIN CHANNEL button and then click on that button. You should find us there in progress. When time permits, I will write a more detailed description of this procedure with a screen snap shot of the DALnet access web page.
I am currently evaluating newsgroup software
for inclusion onto this website. If you have some ideas as to the
best approach to accomplish this, please let me know. You may save us
ALL a lot of time.
A sub-page "Thoughts on Team Play"
is in the planning stages for this website. Because this website is
mainly an informational site, it makes sense to provide articles in
this section on the subject of Team Play in general and Team Play
Techniques in particular. I have some thoughts along these lines and
will make them available when time permits.
If you like to write, feel free to submit your writings on the subject of team play. I would very much like to showcase other authors, in addition to myself. Show me whatcha' got!
In case your web-browser is not IRC
compatible or lacks pertinent features, this section provides links
to IRC access software along with tips for maximizing your IRC usage.
As far as I know, the most popular IRC software is known as mIRC,
although there are others (such as the newly added ViRC), for which
there will eventually be links in this section.
NOTE: The above software links are provided as a convenience. This in no way implies endorsement of the software. You use the software at your own risk. If you encounter software listed above which is JUNK, please inform me and I will remove it, if it indeed turns out to be a liability.
In case your web-browser is behind the
times, you can upgrade to the latest version for FREE via the
following Site Links. As I find the URL Addresses for downloading
copies of other browsers, I will include them here. If you have that
information I would appreciate it if you
pass it along to me.