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Learning To Drill the Boris Ace-Five Count

Because I originally designed the Boris for Blackjack Computer Software to enhance my own play, periodically, I find myself back in practice play; as usual, combining live-dealt cards on top of VOLUME play with Boris. The final months of 2001 find this to again be true. This time, I am drilling a combination of the Boris Advanced Count (BAPC) and the (yet-to-be-released) Boris Clump-Track approach.


In 2001, current Boris users have watched the BJDRILLS.Exe program emerge from just a cute but useful little program, to a multi-faceted Drill Facility. Again, history repeats itself – Boris’ has evolved to meet my immediate needs. Satisfied that doing drills has indeed improved my own play (my live-dealt play is routinely netting 10X Buy-in), these tools are being made available to the user-base in Boris Release 4.40. However, having a myriad of useful tools is worthless if you don’t: A) Know what tools you’ve got… B) Know what to do with those tools.


What to Drill – Simple or Complex

There is a myth that Multi-parameter card-count methods automatically represent a superior approach, because the +/- values are designed to minutely mirror the differences each card contributes to the game. The myth also suggests that in like-wise, memorizing 140+ Hit/Stand decisions will allow you to “properly” play ANY hand, at ANY time – with confidence, no less.


It is important to realize that count-methods which are more complex may not translate into increased profits during actual play. The reasons for this are probably many; however a significant factor is the inevitable increase in error-rate as the procedure becomes more complex. Even Ken Uston himself eventually recognized the UAPC to be an “inferior” count (in comparison to the Uston Simple Plus-Minus). He confirmed this realization in his final book “Ken Uston on Blackjack”


“When my mentor, Al Francesco, started his team, the highest powered system available was the 14 Count. Since that time. I’d developed a system, called the Uston Advanced Plus/Minus, which did not require Ace-adjustment. I erroneously suggested to readers, in my Million Dollar Blackjack that this system was inferior to the Uston APC.”


“I no longer feel that way. Because of the complexity of the Uston APC and the need to adjust for Aces in betting, I now believe the Advanced Plus/Minus to be a far more practical count.”


“This does not imply that the Uston Advanced Plus/Minus is the only effective system. In fact one of the best today is Arnold Snyder’s Zen Count, which assigns a minus value to Aces, and does not require Ace-adjustment for betting purposes.”


Most Blackjack Drill programs tend to focus on learning to count the cards and drilling the play of the hands; both important but far from a complete training-regimen. At best these drill approaches help you learn to keep a running/true count using random cards and complete decks.


Boris’ BJDrills facility now covers the other side of BJ Drilling as well, by offering the ability to drill against random cards, casino-shuffled cards, and “decks” that you specially make up (a .Cards file in Boris-parlance). With Boris’ Design-a-Shoe™ Facility, we can now make Custom Practice Decks (.Cards files) until we are sick of them.


The need for specially-configured practice “decks” was brought to my attention years ago in “Ken Uston on Blackjack,” where he said:


“…Bob, Robert and I dealt a few more hands. I hand-picked some complicated split and re-split pair hands, and a lot of insurance calls. Then I gave Robert $5,000, and sent them off to play the single-deck game at the Marina.


Now it was my time to practice Togel.


I’d been spending my spare time training intensely. I personally practiced by putting together what I call a “Plus 24 deck”, a special deck with extra 4’s, 5’s, 7’s and 9’s, and 8 Aces – to make it more difficult to “count it down”. It was like swinging two baseball bats, instead of one, in the on-deck circle.


Because the Boris Advanced Count (BAPC) originally evolved from what I deemed to be the “flaws” of the Uston APC (as I have said, it is essentially too complex for accurate, reliable play), it didn’t take me long to adapt the “two-bat” approach to learning the BAPC. While Kenny is a little vague in the above description (i.e. how many cards constitute “extra” cards?), I surmised what a useful equivalent would be for the Boris Advanced Count. In Part II of this article series, we will make up a “Plus 24” Practice-Deck.


Regardless of what counting method you utilize, a two-bat approach to drilling can be applied; the only difference being the value YOU assign to each of the cards during the counting process. i.e., regardless of which count method you use, Aces are STILL the most player-favorable card in the deck and Fives are STILL the most dealer-favorable card – some things don’t change.


Learning In Stages

Learning any new skill should be accomplished in bite-sized, gradient stages. Card-count drills easily fit this requirement. While I personally favor using a medium-complex count method (the BAPC), it is nevertheless best learned in stages. Toward that end, I devised what is known as the Boris Ace-Five count as a stepping-stone towards learning the BAPC.


Most Ace-Five counts use +1(Fives) and -1(Aces) respectively to keep a running-count. Because the BAPC rates the Aces and Fives at -3/+3 (respectively), I have chosen to use those values for the Boris Ace-Five count. Again, remember, this count was designed as a spring-board to more advanced training, not as a complete method unto itself. Then again, the Boris Ace-Five count is not only as easy to learn/execute as a traditional Ace-Five count, it is also more accurate; thanks to “weighting” the tracked-cards more accurately.


Drilling Boris’ Ace-Five count helps prepare you for Multi-parameter counts such as the UAPC, BAPC and Zen Counts. Because the Aces and Fives are rated based on the BAPC, there is no unlearning or relearning necessary should you decide to move up to the Boris Advanced Count.


Learning the Boris Ace-Five Count

Now that we have spent some time with the question of complexity, lets begin essentially at the beginning. This “Beginning” will serve as a solid foundation later, if you should decide to upgrade your play.


The “Beginning” in Blackjack is to recognize that the Ace is the most player-favorable card and the Five is the most dealer-favorable card. That being found to be true, we can then devise a simple +/- card-count system to track Aces in contrast with 5’s. Using a +/- system eliminates the need to compute a ratio (such as a tens-ratio) during actual play.