Viking Basic Strategy™ – Early Development
Jan Henrik Løvlie was born in the city of Oslo, Norway. He grew up in the nearby community of Nittedal. He has lived in Minnesota, USA, for many years now. His education and professional career have involved a great deal of mathematics.
In the early part of 1979 he was introduced to the game of Blackjack on a short trip to Las Vegas. He found the game interesting, and proceeded to buy and read all the books he could find on the subject. From the books, he learned that even the best systems available, if they did not involve card-counting or keeping track of cards played, gave the casino an edge in long-term play of at least 0.5%, perhaps as much as 1.0%.
He took this as a challenge to see if he could come up with a system for playing Blackjack that would give the player an edge over the casino. He analyzed all possible combinations of player’s hand versus dealer’s up-card, and came up with a set of rules for playing that included a few rules that were totally different from anything he had found in any of the books he had read. This new set of rules seemed to clearly improve his results. He tested them with one deck of cards, and in each testing session he pretended that he was starting, on paper, with $400, betting $2 on each hand. For each hand he played, he wrote down if the hand was a win or a loss, and recorded how many dollars he now had. This was obviously a very time-consuming process.
After many months of testing, he went over all his records, and realized, somewhat to his own surprise, that he had consistently come out ahead. Not only did he come out ahead, but he did so at an amazingly strong edge of more than 3% – an enormous advantage in this game. How could that be possible?
Here is his explanation. He had new rules for how to play many of the hands, such as hands with the count of 8, 12 and 16. If these rule changes made it possible for him to win, instead of losing, just 1 hand for every 50 hands played, the final result would improve by 4%. Instead of losing 1%, he now had a 3% edge over the casino. Fantastic!
On his second trip to Las Vegas, in the late fall of 1979, he told his wife and the couple they were travelling with, that he would be testing his system and play Blackjack for about ten hours each of the four days they were there, and that they could find him at the Flamingo Casino. Playing 2 hands at a time, he ended up playing about 6,000 hands. He used a simple bet-variation system back then, with an average bet of $8. He later determined that bet variations were un-necessary. They do not add or subtract from the final result.
He was fully aware of the fact that if you play for just 3 or 4 hours you can win or lose perhaps as many as 100 betting units by simply having good or bad luck. He therefore has the rule that he does not start playing with less than 200 units of money on hand. If he is betting $10 per hand, he starts with $2,000 in his pocket. He does not vary his bet while playing.
He also told his travel companions that according to his calculations, he could expect to win about $1,600 on this trip, and if after 3 days he was close to being on target to win what he predicted, he would buy tickets for everyone to the best show in town for the last evening. After 3 days he told them: “I’m buying tickets to Liberace’s dinner show, and we’ll sit in the front row.” Late in the afternoon, on the 4th day, his wife tapped him on the shoulder and told him that it was time to get ready for the show. He cashed in his chips, counted his money, and found that he had $1,651 more than he had started with. That was just $51 off his prediction. Can you get much closer than that? They ended up sitting in the front row, and they all agreed that Liberace’s show was fantastic!
On his next trip to Las Vegas, in early 1980, he increased his average bet to $20, and his goal was now to win $4,000. Around 3:00 in the afternoon on the 4th day, his wife suggested he quit playing, since they had to be at the airport at 7:00. He told her that he was $3,300 ahead, that his goal was $4,000, so he was $700 short. They were downtown Las Vegas, and he told her that he wanted to play a couple of hours at the Las Vegas Club, the casino with the most favorable rules, and try to reach his goal. He knew exactly what he had for chips at all times, so a few minutes before 5:00 he said to his wife, who was standing behind him: “If I win this next hand I will be $5 over my goal”. He won that hand, and gave the extra $5 to the dealer as a tip. Net winnings for the trip: Exactly $4,000!
When personal computers became common, he developed his own computer program for testing his Blackjack system. After running through several million hands of computer testing, he found that his system worked like a charm. The original system was developed for playing with 1 deck, but seemed to also work quite well when playing with 2 decks. He discovered long ago that the best strategy for playing some of the hands changes when you change the number of decks used. He is now working on systems specifically for playing with 4, 6 and 8 decks. These systems will become available in the future. Check this web-site from time to time.
It should be noted that he has resisted the idea of marketing his system for Blackjack, but has agreed to make it available on the Internet, but not for less than $25. He stated that he didn’t want everyone to have it, and hoped that the $25 price, which is still a bargain, would limit the buyers to serious Blackjack players that are smart enough to realize the value of what they now have gotten their hands on. By learning this system well and playing correctly, they will have the few dollars they spent back in their pockets quickly, and have a lot more fun playing Blackjack than they ever had before.
He is wishing all future users of his Blackjack system the best of luck, but wants to remind everyone that luck has nothing to do with their final results. In the short run you may be lucky or unlucky, but in the long run, mathematical probabilities determine the results – every time. Play with patience and confidence, and don’t brag about your results to anyone!