Boris for Blackjack
As you may know, Boris for Blackjack has undergone a year-long redesign-phase culminating in the latest 4.44 Release. For various reasons, a decision was made to "shelve" upgrading the drills facility until well after Boris 4.44 is released. Then, during the Final-Beta-test period for Release 4.44, that decision was undone. Not only was BJDrills brought out of the "mothballs", a number of worthwhile enhancements have been added on top of it.
Despite the enhancements to BJDrills 4.44 (detailed in the BJDrillsReadMe.Doc file), the look/feel/flow of the software is largely the same as with Release 4.43. If you are a previous Boris 4 user, you will find BJDrills 4.44 operates with the same simplicity as previous releases, with a few nice additions.
When you start up Boris' Blackjack Drills Facility you will be taken to a screen with several selection "TABS", positioned initially on the [F1] Tab - Drill Settings.
To start a Drill Practice Session, you need to first specify the various parameters which might impact/change the Drill(s) you intend to run.
With the drill settings specified, you can then proceed to Strategy Drills ([F2]) or, (if you have a non-Freeware Version) to the Count Drills ([F3]).
If you are a Boris PRO+ User, the BJDrills which accompanies BorisPLU includes additional Tabs ([F4] & [F5]), giving you "deck-estimation drills" and later Advanced Strategy Drills.
For you experienced Windoze users, you will be pleased to note that Boris software products make full use of "Accelerator Keys" and "Shortcut Keys" through all the software menus.
(Freeware users, please note: You have a fully functional BJDrills program for drilling Basic Strategy, useful for play in today's average Multi-deck games. This will accommodate 95+% of today's games; including most single & double-deck offerings.
Upgrading to the full-featured BJDrills Facility or the Student-Edition (and higher) of Boris for Blackjack simulation software will allow you to Drill nearly any of the 55 available strategies in Boris' Strategy Database.
F1 -- Drill Settings
When the BJDrills Facility starts up, you are first taken to this screen. We call this the "F1" Screen because no matter you are in the Drills, you can always get to this screen by pressing [F1].
If you are a Boris for Blackjack user, you might get the haunting suspicion that this screen looks familiar. Well, it does and it doesn't. You may recognize "pieces" of this screen from the Casino Management Screen (Ctrl-R) and the Rule-settings chiptray "pop-over" (shift-F5) in the Boris for Blackjack simulation software. Because Boris has been designed using O-O-P (Object-oriented programming) protocols, the individual components can be reused in other software applications. Look for more of this in future Boris software releases.
The F1-Settings [Tab] allows you to specify the various parameters that will impact the strategy you wish to drill. If you are using a Freeware Version of Boris' BJDrills, the software will be pre-set to drill Basic Strategy (BSDrills444.Exe) or Basic Strategy II (BS2Drills.Exe). All other Editions of Boris' BJDrills allow you to select other strategies from the "Playing Strategy" Drop-down List; including the card-count strategies found in most of the "popular" books on Blackjack.
Now, notice the "Game No." Box to the right of the Strategy drop-down List. Changing the Game-Number allows you to repeat the same drill(s) using the same/different card-order. This is also useful when you decide to drill from a .Cards file (by pressing Ctrl-I). .Cards files are created by Boris for Blackjack (BorisXXX.Exe), the Boris' CardViewer (CardViewer.Exe) and ShoeViewer (ShoeViewer.Exe) or by Boris' Design-a-Shoe Facility (DesignAShoe.Exe).
Specifying number of decks and card-shuffling options are largely self-explanatory. Each of the buttons sports a pop-up "tooltip" that describes that particular option.
Once you are ready to begin drilling, click on "Shuffle" (unless you have selected the noshuffle option), then press [F2] or [F3], taking you to that Drill Screen.
F2 -- Strategy Drills
The [F2] Tab is where you drill the Strategy Tables for a given strategy such as Basic Strategy, BorisAPC, or one of the other 55 strategies currently in Boris's Strategies.Sdb Database. You select the strategy to drill back on the [F1]-Settings Tab. (BSDrills444.Exe and Freeware Users are preset with Basic Strategy.)
The [F2]=Strategy Drills deal 2-card hands; one for the player, one for the dealer. Clicking on the DecisionBOX Icons, or the "L"etters in the LegendBOX, or pressing the decision keys (H, S, P, D, G) indicates your play decision. The DecisionRegister (top-left of screen) records your success-rate, along with a critique of the last decision.
If your decision is "correct" per the strategy table being drilled, a
message will appear; otherwise a "shoulda" message will appear
("You shoulda hit", "You shoulda stood", etc.).
If you have "audible notification" enabled (the default on the Options Menu), incorrect plays will play the selected sound clip; such as the default "Bummer" sound clip. If you prefer, notifications can be selected to be more "disruptive" or turned off altogether.
Click the [START] Button to begin the drill. Cards will be dealt until they run out; or, if you are using the built-in drill tables, the drill runs continuously, until you click the [STOP] Button. When the cards run out, the [STOP] Button will go off and the [START] Button becomes reenabled. Clicking [START] begins the drill again with a "shuffle" of the cards (if previously selected).
As mentioned above, the non-Freeware BJDrills have the ability to drill various "canned" hand sets, thanks to built-in Drill Tables; with more to come.
Currently, Boris supports drill sets include:
- practice hands from the 1986 book
Break the Dealer (by
Patterson and Olsen)
At anytime during the F2-Drills you can reset the DecisionRegister statistics to 0 (zero) with Ctrl-W and continue on with the drill.
Future updates to BJDrills444.Exe in Boris 4.44 (updates a, b & c) will bring us several new features. Currently in test is a strategy error reporting capability, along with the ability to create a "custom" drill-set based upon your strategy drill mistakes. Stay Tuned!
F3 -- Count Drills
(Not available in BSDrills444)
The card-count exercises in BJDrills444 may look simplistic, however they are solid and on-point. Done consistently and semi-frequently, these three card-count drills (Single-card - Ctrl-S, Double-cards - Ctrl-D and Triple-cards - Ctrl-P) will assist in learning, relearning and retaining your ability to keep a Running-count and/or True-count.
As I have been test-driving BJDrills444, I decided to drill the BorisAPC count using the Triple-card Drill (Ctrl-P). WOW! As Uston pointed out ages ago, complex drills like this are the equivalent of swinging several bats at once in the on-deck circle at Fenway park. If you can't quickly drill 2-card pairs, switching to triple-cards will blow you back against your chair.
The 3-card drill is so taxing yet useful, that I am proposing a research experiment in early 2006 (through my research affiliation with the Neurological Research Group) involving E-E-G (Brainwave) analysis of people engaging in this drill.
When you press [F3] or click the F3-tab, BJDrills switches to a green felt with a discard tray and a shoe object. You will also notice some menu changes (in the form of Manual & Automatic & Next cards). Depending upon the display setting, you will either see a data box displaying the Running Count or the True Count.
To begin the 1, 2 or 3 card drill, either click on "Next cards", or on "Automatic".
Each time you click "Next cards", one or more cards will be dealt and the data in the Running/True count boxes will be updated to reflect the count change.
If you click on "Automatic", a scrollbar will appear on the right-hand side of the screen and a card-set is dealt automatically. After a short delay, the next card-set is dealt, and then the next. Moving the scrollbar downward, increases the drill delay period (slowing the drill). Moving the scrollbar upward, decreases the drill delay period (speeding up the drill).
When the cards are exhausted, the drill stops.