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Thread: Norm Wattenberger vs Arnold Snyder on True Count vs True Edge ZEN

  1. #1

    Default Norm Wattenberger vs Arnold Snyder on True Count vs True Edge ZEN

    Not exactly an advanced AP issue, but was this debate ever settled?
    As most know, I sided with the angry mashugana on this one ...

    As a prelude, The Honorable Kim Lee posted at the REAL BJ Forum July-2005
    I think [Snyder's TE was] merely trying to use different resolution or something, but it is just a trite rescaling. Norm's forte is software, not math. ... criticism over such a minor issue is going to fuel Norm's persecution complex [again].
    Norm's "persecution complex" was know to the community a decade ago?

    The first posted by Snyder at the REAL BJ Forum July-2005
    Subject : Norm Wattenberger Is In Error In His Understanding of True Edge and True Edge Scores

    In response to a question on another web site about bet ramps for the True Edge method I advocate in Blackbelt in Blackjack, Norm Wattenberger responded:

    "True Edge was a clever idea for its time but is now obsolete. It also substantially reduces the score in Zen. If you have an optimal betting calculator which calculates the correct ramp, it would make no sense to use the True Edge estimate."

    My response to this is:

    Huh?

    The True Edge method is simply an easier and more accurate method of calculating your approximate increase (or decrease) in advantage. That's all. Using the Hi-Lo count, if I wanted to wong into a game when my advantage had gone up by 1/2 percent, I would simply wong in when my true edge was 1/2.

    Example: Using the Hi-Lo Lite, I have a running count of +4 with four decks remaining. My True Edge is 4/8 = 1/2. This, in fact, is the same thing as wonging in with a Hi-Lo true count per deck of +1. There is no difference. The True Edge method has 100% of the accuracy of any true count method other than counting the exact number of cards played.

    The purpose of True Edge is to identify the actual percent change in advantage that has occurred in order to bet more accurately than the traditional true count methods allow. As a matter of fact, you can use the True Edge method to wong in (or out), or adjust your bets, in quarter percents, eighth percents, or any other percent you want. For example, if I want to wong in or adjust my bet with a quarter percent rise in advantage, then with four decks remaining, I wong in or adjust my bet at a running count of +2, since 2/8 = 1/4.

    If you read pages 86-87 of Blackbelt in Blackjack, you will see that the True Edge method can be refined to identify and act on minute changes of advantage that would be much more of a chore to figure out with a standard count-per-deck method, since the True Edge fraction is very close to the actual percent change in advantage. I switched to using True Edge because it's slightly more accurage than a standard true count method (not less), and technically, the score with True Edge is higher than with true count methods if you make the adjustments as finely. (Also, read the original explanation of the True Edge method that appears in the Red Seven chapter of Blackbelt, pages 65-68, to get a solid understanding of how the True Edge relates to the rise in advantage.)

    There is a chart on page 86 of Blackbelt that shows a very simplified method of using the True Edge with Zen, in which you always assume that the True Edge denominator is exactly 4x the number of decks remaining. Note that in the book I state that if you use this optional simplification your True Edge estimate becomes less accurate the deeper the penetration. You certainly don't have to simplify and give up this accuracy. For Norm Wattenberger to analyze the True Edge method as if this simplified chart method is what all players must always do, and then compare it to a different method where you are refining your adjustment more accurately, is not an accurate comparison of True Edge vs. True Count, nor an accurate assessment of the accuracy or score of True Edge.

    Again, you can refine your adjustment with True Edge not only as accurately, but more accurately, and with a higher score, than you can with true count adjustments.

    In any case, I am very surprised to learn that Norm Wattenberger doesn't know this. He ought to know that True Edge is the same thing as true count, and that its only difference is that it simplifies the method of adjusting the running count for more accurate betting and a higher score.

    If [QFIT] software has led [Norm] to believe differently, then his software is flawed.
    Snyder said Norm's software is "flawed." Oy vey!

    Norm's long retort posted to BJ21 July-2005
    Subject: Obsolete thinking

    I’m sorry, but the advice given on [the REAL BJ Forum] is obsolete. Let’s face it; your site makes fun of card counters on a continual basis. There are many of us that still prefer to play by pure card-counting instead of leaning over backwards to peek at hole cards or seconds. In my opinion, your advice on CC has been outdated. In these days of stiff competition, very poor indeed. But I will only speak to your comments on True Edge in this post.

    First, I believe I paid Arnold a well earned compliment on his invention of True Edge. I thought it was a good guesstimate at optimal betting. But, let us start with some history. A week or two after Arnold published BiB2 (1998,) I had a phone conversation with him. I told him that I believed True Edge caused a bit of a problem because no current simulators could handle the fact that some people would want to raise their bets at fractional TEs. The problem was what I now call True Count compression. At the time I quickly modified CVSim to allow half-TE betting. His comment in your referenced post that I do not understand that TE is TC is (fill in the word of your choice here.) He knows me better than that.

    Fast forward. Optimal betting theory was fleshed out - Brett Harris, Winston Yamashita and Karel had their famous arguments and DD’ created his spreadsheets and BJRM, then CVCX were created. Once the dust settled, we had accurate methods of calculating precise betting ramps. And, they turned out to be quite different from TE. I added a tiny bit by using a feedback mechanism to create optimal rationally sized bets.

    In the post you link to we see “The True Edge method is simply an easier and more accurate method of calculating your approximate increase (or decrease) in advantage.“ Yes, exactly It was a good approximate method for its time. What I am saying is that time and science move on and that modern methods, after all the angst in the mathematic discussions, are superior. Substantially superior as it turns outs.

    But, I am also saying much more than that. There is a fundamental flaw in True Edge that I have discussed at length in Don’s Domain. I will provide one of my posts on the subject below, although it may not be enough for all to understand the issue in its entirety.

    I’ve used the term True Count Compression several times over the last year and thought it deserved a chart to better describe the effect. An obvious example is the original version of Zen and the True Edge version of Zen. In the original version, true count was calculated by dividing by the number of full decks remaining. In the second version, division is by quarter decks remaining. That is, the divisor is four times the size. Obviously, indexes and betting ramps are adjusted to accommodate the different divisor. But, there is a problem. When you use a larger divisor, you end up with a much smaller range of possible True Counts. The chart below illustrates this effect. The distribution of True Counts for each methodology is displayed in a 4.5/6 game.



    In this chart, you see that using True Edge Zen, nearly 60% of all rounds began with a TC of zero. The vast majority began with TCs of -1 to +1. 99.6% of TCs fell in the range -3 to+3. But in the original Zen, the TCs were distributed over a much larger range of TCs. This affects both playing and betting. For playing indexes, there is substantially less resolution in the indexes. This makes index memorization easier, but reduces accuracy. In betting there are two problems. First, it is more difficult to come up with an acceptable optimal betting ramp with such a narrow range of counts. Secondly, in a good game, you should increase your bet well before +1. Closer to a TC of +.5. But, people don’t normally deal with fractional counts.

    Now I am a fan of simplified indexes. But, the betting I saw as more of a problem. When the True Edge version came out, I quickly modified CVSim to allow collection of data by half counts and specification of a betting ramp by half counts as I felt people would have to start increasing bets at +0.5. I dropped this feature in CVData as I now simply believe it is easier to not divide by quarter decks for level II systems or half-decks for level I systems.

    Now this is just one of many posts I’ve made on the subject and won’t pull them all off of Don’s Domain. And it is just now that I have spent time with this issue even though it bothered me seven years ago enough to tell Arnold. But, I will say that TE damages Zen substantially, particularly in betting as I have detailed in other posts. In fact it is clear to anyone that understands basic BJ theory that you are incorrect in your claim that "True Edge provides for greater betting accuracy and a higher score" This is clearly incorrect. I will also say that this is a pity since Arnold’s Zen is a truly great strategy. I advise it to people to this day. But, I advise them to use the version in the first edition of BiB and to completely ignore True Edge.
    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
    .....................The Zengrifter Interview (PDF) |
    The Zengrifter / James Grosjean Reputation Debate
    -----------------------------------------
    “Truth, like gold, is obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy........
    "Is everything a conspiracy? No, just the important stuff." ZG

  2. #2
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    Schlessinger validates Norman at New BJ Forum in August-2005, did Snyder ever acquiesce?

    Don Schlesinger: Re: True Count Compression and True Edge
    What this study shows is that TC resolution should be a function of the tag values of the count being used. Level 1 counts should divide by full decks. Level 2 counts can safely divide by half decks. And, level three or level 4 counts, in particular, can divide by quarter decks, although, most of the time, that is overkill, except in SD games.

    The problem comes when someone tries to use quarter-deck resolution for a level 1 or 2 count. This should never have been the intention of the system developers; rather it is the result of users trying to get too "cute" with their systems, thinking that "more precise is better."
    And Cacarulo concurs -
    Cacarulo: Re: True Count Compression and True Edge
    I think it is not tag dependent. Remember that I have shown Zen (Level 2) with full-deck resolution to be better than Zen with half-deck resolution.
    Last edited by Positively+EV; February 10th, 2014 at 02:08 AM.
    Triple Reversed Cowpoke Final Elephant Ringer! Can anyone say, "You're a ding-dong!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Positively+EV View Post
    Schlessinger validates Norman at BJ Forum USUPER in August-2005, did Snyder ever acquiesce?


    And Cacarulo concurs -
    Don is the Spelling Nazi. He is gonna git you for spelling his name incorrectly.

  4. #4

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    The last word?

    Snyder posted in response to a comment from the peanut gallery, Snyder in bold -
    > > Finally, I"ll say that one can use Norm's software to find optimal betting ramps with true edge. All one does is divide the true count by 2. Essentially +3 becomes 1.5 etc.

    The point is that Norm did not do this. Instead he has [intentionally] posted inaccurate information on the score with True Edge. Also, if the program does not say to do this, but instead claims to offer True Edge analysis without doing this, the program is flawed. How is it that Norm was posting this erroneous analysis from his progam?
    This got me re-thinking my previous acceptance of Norm's proposition, this and Kim Lee's off-handed minimization suggestive that despite the fancy sim-chart, maybe Norm's method is wrong? Maybe even intentionally wrong? Or is Snyder too full of himself to concede to superior sim-power? Or are we just splitting hairs anyway, when comes to real-casino play? Norm denounced TE as "severely damaging to ZEN."

    So was it ever conclusively decided?
    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
    .....................The Zengrifter Interview (PDF) |
    The Zengrifter / James Grosjean Reputation Debate
    -----------------------------------------
    “Truth, like gold, is obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy........
    "Is everything a conspiracy? No, just the important stuff." ZG

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by zengrifter View Post
    The last word?

    Snyder posted in response to a comment from the peanut gallery, Snyder in bold -

    This got me re-thinking my previous acceptance of Norm's proposition, this and Kim Lee's off-handed minimization suggestive that despite the fancy sim-chart, maybe Norm's method is wrong? Maybe even intentionally wrong? Or is Snyder too full of himself to concede to superior sim-power? Or are we just splitting hairs anyway, when comes to real-casino play? Norm denounced TE as "severely damaging to ZEN."

    So was it ever conclusively decided?
    I'm still waiting for a sim of a count that includes an 8/9 and ace side count from Norm Wattenberger, who had been crowned the king of the computer simulation field by recognized blackjack experts. All I got was insults from Wattenberger. I'm also wondering if the emperor has no clothes.
    Casino reporter, enjoys blackjack/baccarat card counting, and Bay Area poker pro. Moviemakerjjcasino@Casino_Examiner on Twitter

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSTAT View Post
    All I got was insults from Wattenberger. I'm also wondering if the emperor has no clothes.
    I have a few choice insults for you myself ...
    But, IF (big IF?) you never got the definitive sim it does raise some questions, regardless.
    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
    .....................The Zengrifter Interview (PDF) |
    The Zengrifter / James Grosjean Reputation Debate
    -----------------------------------------
    “Truth, like gold, is obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy........
    "Is everything a conspiracy? No, just the important stuff." ZG

  7. #7

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    Giving this more thought ... does Norm have a chart that compares original and TE Zens' win-rates?
    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
    .....................The Zengrifter Interview (PDF) |
    The Zengrifter / James Grosjean Reputation Debate
    -----------------------------------------
    “Truth, like gold, is obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy........
    "Is everything a conspiracy? No, just the important stuff." ZG

  8. #8
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    Default Jstat

    So needlessly maligned and misunderstood, but always welcome in my neighborhood.

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    "Midwest Masters Of Advantage", "Strength and Honor."

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by creeping panther View Post
    JSTAT, So needlessly maligned and misunderstood, but always welcome in my neighborhood.
    If only we could get an honest sim for his 10-count breakthrough.

    Ps - I see that he is now #3 in google search for Norman Wattenberger, we knew him when.
    Last edited by zengrifter; December 10th, 2014 at 06:11 AM.
    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
    .....................The Zengrifter Interview (PDF) |
    The Zengrifter / James Grosjean Reputation Debate
    -----------------------------------------
    “Truth, like gold, is obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy........
    "Is everything a conspiracy? No, just the important stuff." ZG

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by zengrifter View Post
    Giving this more thought ... does Norm have a chart that compares original and TE Zens' win-rates?
    I would like to see this if anyone can locate at QFIT, or do a new one.
    I am trying to understand Arnold's POV.
    This is his Petition for Reconsideration on an issue that Norm says was laid to rest in 2005, though Arnold never conceded, nor did he revise in subsequent printings, which IMO is not his style. Something doesn't add up. Something about the sim.
    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
    .....................The Zengrifter Interview (PDF) |
    The Zengrifter / James Grosjean Reputation Debate
    -----------------------------------------
    “Truth, like gold, is obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy........
    "Is everything a conspiracy? No, just the important stuff." ZG

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