I’m a relatively new card counter (330 hours of playing time) and recently experienced the dreaded 100 hour losing streak. During this period I often found myself searching online for “what to do during 100 hour losing streak blackjack.” I found a few posts, and wanted to make my own for the next beginner who runs into this type of variance.
When I first started counting, I was completely solo. I didn’t know any other APs, didn’t know about podcasts. By chance I happened to meet two APs from my area just as this losing streak started. As people have said, having some type of social support was really crucial for me.
I had been pretty open about AP with friends and family when I was winning. This was still met with skepticism and misunderstanding. When I started losing, and just kept losing, I didn’t want to talk about my play bc it made me seem like I had a gambling problem. They would say “Just quit now while you still have some profit!”
Knowing other APs and also listening to many podcasts in which others talked about these losing streaks helped me find motivation to keep playing. One of the guys I met actually had a 200 hour losing streak, so it helped normalize my experience.
I had purchased CVCX early in my play but didn’t really know how to use it other than calculating RoR and hourly EV. These fellow APs helped me understand standard deviation and other important metrics to evaluate your play. If you don’t have this software and are in a long losing streak, I highly recommend getting it so you can find out whether your loses are within “normal range” for your bankroll and game.
As I kept losing, I questioned everything. Was I actually a losing player? I was able to have these other guys test me out to confirm that my basic game was solid. However as the losing continued I found ways to tighten my game further.
One aspect that improved was game selection. I had been almost exclusively a 6 deck player. I liked that there was less heat, that the count fluctuated less; that it was easier to find a game with decent rules.
What I was overlooking were some great double deck games in my region, and even one amazing single deck. Don’t get tunnel vision on type of game.
Prior to the losing streak I was not an aggressive Wong-er. Before, I would play through TC -2 and even let it hit TC -3 before leaving sometimes. I also rarely back counted games. I felt like it was too boring. As the hours of loss kept piling up I would leave the game much earlier (TC -1) and became much more willing to let a 6 deck game hit TC 2+ before stepping in. I became much more selective about penetration as well.
Maybe most importantly I kept playing. Although the losses continued as I worked to improve my game, I know that these techniques contributed to the eventually upswing I recently experienced.
For context, my initial all-time high was about $11k…after 98 hours of almost continual losing sessions, I was down to just $1.2k in winnings (and this is after 300+ of play). My APs friends encouraged me to keep playing, and after losing sessions I would listen to BJA podcasts, T & A, and Gambling with an Edge to hear from other people who got to the other side.
If you’re in the middle of a long losing streak, analyze your game, get tested, wong harder…and don’t give up.