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Blackjack Blueprint
How to Play Like
A Pro … Part-Time
Rick “Night Train” Blaine
Huntington Press
Las Vegas, Nevada

Blackjack Blueprint
How to Play Like a Pro … Part-Time
Published by
Huntington Press
3665 Procyon St.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
Phone (702) 252-0655
e-mail: books@huntingtonpress.com
Copyright ©2014, Rick Blaine
eBook ISBN: 978-1-935396-10-9
Print ISBN: 978-1-935396-53-6
Cover Photos supplied by Image100 Royalty Free Photos and Photo Disc Royalty Free Photos
Design & Production: Laurie Cabot
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated, reproduced, or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the copyright
owner.

Dedication
This book is dedicated to the memory of Sonny Boy.
Although we never had the opportunity to play at the same table, he was
the man from whom I first learned about wagering.

Acknowledgments
Kevin Blackwood, who recently authored Play Blackjack Like the Pros,
provided mutual feedback on our respective projects. Kevin has been very
generous with information, as well as upbeat and encouraging.
George C. is a well-respected author and a former teammate, whom I
nicknamed “the Legend.” A few years ago, when I had just ended a losing
team bank, George provided me with an introduction to one of the bestfinanced advantage-play groups at the time. I hope to return the favor some
day. Among the several books George has authored, The Unbalanced Zen II
and Shuffle Tracking for Beginners are referenced in my book.
Anthony Curtis, after I told him of my plans to write a complete book,
looked over the manuscript, and in the summer of 2003 told me, “I want to
publish this.” Anthony is a dynamic individual and a workaholic. He also
knows his business. With all the projects Huntington Press had going,
coupled with Anthony’s being an icon on the Travel Channel, it’s been two
years and it’s finally my turn. Experiencing the level of focus Anthony
possesses and the marketing capabilities of Huntington Press has me
excited. I’m grateful to Anthony.
Dustin Marks, author of Cheating at Blackjack and Cheating at Blackjack
Squared, was kind enough to lend his expertise and review the chapter of
my manuscript on the subject of cheating. My thanks to Dustin for the
suggestions provided, which have added greatly to the project.
Richard W. Munchkin, author of Gambling Wizards, reviewed my
chapters on Zone Tracking, Location Play, and Team Play. I’m grateful for
the suggestions and insight from this most talented individual.
Viktor Nacht, a colorful figure who picked up the publishing of my
second version of Blackjack in the Zone, jumped right in and added some
pizzazz to the work. After that, in his first major publishing effort, Viktor
rolled out Don Schlesinger’s Blackjack Attack 3, The Ultimate Weapon, which
is truly a masterpiece. Viktor has always been supportive of my projects.

Thanks, Viktor.
Sal Piacente is the top gaming-protection expert in the world now that
his mentor, Steve Forte, is retired. Yes, it’s true that Sal works to protect the
same casinos from which I attempt to use my skills to win money.
However, we extend each other a professional courtesy. I won’t play in any
casino with which he works and he won’t reveal my identity to anyone.
Both of us being from Brooklyn, we know the value of one’s word. Sal is
also one of the top memory experts in the world. He was good enough to
contribute his S.A.L. (Simple Associated Learning) memory system as part
of the chapter on Location Play.
Mickey Rosa is one of the masterminds of the infamous MIT team and
one of the most brilliant individuals in the advantage-playing arena. Mickey
lent his expertise by looking over chapters of this book on Zone Tracking,
Location Play, and Team Play.
Max Rubin can best be described as the power broker of the gaming
world. His masterful book, Comp City, is one of the best-hidden jewels for
advantage players. Reading Max’s work gave me enormous insight, which
led to my development of some new moves that still work to this day.
Max’s support over the years is greatly valued.
Don Schlesinger, author of Blackjack Attack 3, The Ultimate Weapon, has
been a most-valued supporter of all my projects. Don is a no-nonsense callsit-like-he-sees-it type of guy. Most folks don’t know that Don has read just
about every book on the subject of blackjack and has offered his invaluable
feedback to many of the authors. Over the years and through the
production of the book you’re about to read, Don has not only reviewed the
overall content, but red-inked my manuscripts like a college English
professor. Every author can benefit from Don’s expertise, as he not only
points out what needs to be corrected, but he also acknowledges what you
did right. A fairer and more honest person is hard to find.
Arnold Snyder supported my authoring of two report-style books, both
of which he published in 2000 as Blackjack in the Zone and Blackjack Blueprint:
How to Operate a Blackjack Team. In November 2001, when Arnold asked me
to write an updated version of The Zone, he provided some great

When you read this book you’ll know that I’ve kept my word not to reveal any specific locales. Bethany Coffey’s creative thinking helped move things in a new direction. my wife.” but we’re still way ahead as this book is going to print. Laurie Cabot worked out the graphics and did a marvelous job of layout and production. his support and encouragement during that time were key to its success. Although Arnold left the publishing business prior to the release of this second version of The Zone. Huntington Press Staff: Deke Castleman spearheaded the nightmare of a project with the formatting of this book.” What more can I say? To two South Florida investors who were not afraid to take a risk.suggestions on areas to add and expand on. Norm is truly a brilliant programmer. and making 2005 a profitable year. Thanks for your respect. He thought it would be brilliant if I could include his Red Seven and Zen Count systems from his Blackbelt in Blackjack book. Finally. he said. It was also Arnold who recommended that I combine the texts of both these works into a full-blast book. which is what you’re about to read. Norm Wattenberger is the developer of Casino Vérité. I approached Norm and asked if he’d be interested in developing a companion software product specifically for this book. Blaine. I still say. “You guys are out of control. He’s also one of the easiest individuals to work with. Without hesitation. . While completing my manuscript. but has been most supportive. confidence. “Sure. “Mrs. the number-one blackjack practice software.” who has not only put up with me.

Contents Introduction The Zones The Silver Zone 1 How I Got Started 2 The House Advantage 3 How the Game is Played Rules of the Game 4 Basic Strategy Sequence for Learning Basic Strategy The Red Zone 5 Selecting a System Three Factors in Determining the Power of Systems Different Types of Systems 6 Learning to Count Cards with the PLS Learn the Point Values of Each Card Learning to Maintain a Running Count Maintain Running Count as Cards are Dealt Apply a Betting Strategy to the Running Count 7 True-Count Conversion 8 Learning Play Variations Plus Counts Minus Counts 9 Advanced Counts Zen Count Unbalanced Zen II Count Converting to True Count Using Half-Deck Segments .

Please Identity Theft and Casinos Profiling Through the Players Club Casino Credit Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) . Casino Countermeasures. and Camouflage How Much is too Much? Who is this Person? Use of Different Names Obtaining a Casino Players Card Moving Your Bets Playing Your Hands When You Start Winning You Wanna Be in Movies? Barring from Play Surveillance Techniques Countermeasures The Typical Card Counter Profile Camouflage Disguising Wins and Hiding Chips Cashing Out 15 Casinos and Personal Privacy Your Driver’s License.Side Count of Aces 10 Putting It All Together 11 First Casino-Play Experience Developing a Game Plan Ready to Play? The Green Zone 12 Money Management 13 Interaction with Casino Personnel Tipping 14 Heat.

Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 25 Basics of Zone Tracking Identifying Segment Sizes Learning Cut-Off Tracking Learning Segment Location Learning Multi-Segment Location Summary 26 Location Play Introductory Exercise .Be Informed The Black Zone 16 Cheating The Preferential Shuffle 17 Advantage Play: Some Gray and Not-So-Gray Areas 18 Tactics for Double-Deck Play Summary 19 Backcounting 20 Blackjack and the Internet Security Tips for Participating in Blackjack-Related Websites 21 Blackjack Tournaments 22 The Comp Game and Travel Strategies The Allure Airfare Saving Money on Hotel Rooms Complimentaries Loss-Rebate Programs Other Comps Some Final Tips on Scoring Comps 23 Airline Travel Security 24 Blackjack Outside the U.S.

Procedures for Actual Team Play 7. Establishment and Implementation of Team Policies 3. Membership 5.The Learning Process How to Bet Fine Points Summary The Purple Zone 27 Introduction to Team Play Comparisions of Solo vs. Team Play My First Team 28 Notes from a Team Diary 29 Getting to Know You 30 Team Leadership Management 31 Methods of Player Compensation Method A Method B Method C Method D Method E Method F Player Bonuses Method G Penalties 32 Living with Losses Some Reasons for Red Ink 33 Outline for a Team Manual 1. Testing 6. Various Tactics That May Be Applied . Manager’s Role 4. Confidential Nature of Contents 2.

Homework. and Knowledge Eye Contact Attire Appearance Purpose Summary 36 Playing Blackjack as a Part-Time Professional Summary 37 Resources and Final Notes Recommended Books Periodicals Software Final Note Glossary About the Author . Quality Control 34 Down Memory Lane The End Zone 35 Assuming the Role of a High-Stakes Player Attitude Preparation.8. Distribution of Winnings 11. Safety And Security 10. Expenses 9.

I finally decided to put some ideas of my own together. it’s necessary to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of the game. Toward that end. compare. We never stop being students of the game. Rather. and theories as they encounter them. the differences in systems are discussed. enabling aspiring counters to select one that’s suitable for them. Before attempting to apply card-counting skills in live play. playing for many years. watch a training video. After reading most of the books published on the game. and critique cardcounting systems. there are too many tough acts to follow. you can glean at least one solid principle out of the presentation. or take a lesson. this book covers such issues as: • bankroll • money management • discipline • game selection • attitude • interaction with casino personnel One of the highlights of this book is the introduction of the Progressive . People in the blackjack world tend to evaluate. That’s good. Accordingly. But just knowing how to count cards isn’t enough. software programs. This book doesn’t contain any “new breakthroughs” in card-counting systems. and beginning and experienced players alike will gain valuable insight from the discussions of several important concepts and techniques that must be mastered to be a successful blackjack player. books. With several excellent systems already on the market (some of the good ones are included in this book). and providing group and private instruction. there’s something within these pages that can benefit players of all levels. If you read a book.Introduction Okay. here’s another book on blackjack. but it’s essential to always keep an open mind.

• Master the PLS approach so you can learn the mechanics of almost any card-counting system. Here are a couple of quick pointers to facilitate the learning process while reading the book: • If you see a term and you’re unsure of its meaning. queen. refer to the Glossary in the back of the book. Many of the tactics discussed in this book come from personal experience in actual casino play.” • Don’t be afraid of running into complicated mathematics. • Take the skills acquired from this book and strategically apply them to live casino play. after reading Blackjack Blueprint you will know what it takes to become a successful blackjack player and should be able to determine if playing in the manner that’s outlined herein is for you. The goal is to present the material in a simple and clear manner. Blackjack Blueprint will provide you with a means to: • Learn other advanced techniques in a progressive manner. a technique that allows you to learn any cardcounting system on the market in the most efficient and simplified manner. • Gain or enhance knowledge about tactical approaches to playing a winning game. • Select a card-counting system that works well for you. jack.Learning System (PLS). • Evaluate the pros and cons of team play. or king are referred to in the book as “10s. Cards with rank ten. You’ll be able to: • Determine if card counting is something you have the ability and desire to do successfully. The first question you need to ask yourself is: “Am I a gambler or a disciplined player?” A gambler is an “action player” who relies on luck and . As an existing player. If new to the game.

The goal of Blackjack Blueprint is to educate you about the overall game.” I hope you’ll find this presentation helpful and profitable. Disciplined players can walk through a casino. The Silver Zone After familiarizing yourself with the rules of the game of blackjack. it’s in good situations and this translates into winning over time. If you evaluate your own personality and determine that you’ve got what it takes to be a disciplined player. Gamblers usually aren’t winning players. Covered in the Silver Zone are: • the casino advantage at various games • how blackjack is played • basic strategy The Red Zone Applying the outlined Progressive Learning System (PLS). you’ll develop a foundation of the basic skills needed to identify opportunities and play blackjack at an advantage. When they bet. A disciplined player is a calculating individual who has the patience and ability to evaluate a game and play only if the conditions appear favorable. you’ll enhance your knowledge of blackjack play. you’ll benefit greatly from this book. Covered in the Red Zone are: • selecting a card-counting system • learning the fundamentals of card counting • preparation for initial live casino play . you’ll learn how playing according to the proper basic strategy can minimize the casino’s edge.” As you progress through each. evaluate the games at hand. as well as the “games within the game. The Zones The book is broken down into six “zones.thrives on the excitement of casino play. and walk out without placing a bet if the conditions aren’t favorable. along with the house advantage.

you’ll prepare to play high-stakes blackjack and add more to your arsenal. which is needed at this level of play. Covered in the Green Zone are: • tactics necessary for betting at higher levels • interaction with casino personnel • money management • avoiding detection The Black Zone Entering the Black Zone. Covered in the Purple Zone are: • recruiting players • management .• live casino play • post-game evaluation The Green Zone Here. you’ll fine-tune your skills and develop more tactical approaches to playing a winning game. Covered in the Black Zone are: • the Internet as a source of blackjack information • casino comps and travel strategies • blackjack tournaments • awareness of cheating • zone tracking • location play • other advantage-play techniques The Purple Zone In the Purple Zone. you’re taken through the team-play experience.

• training • testing • quality control • security • creating a team manual The End Zone Having reached the End Zone. you’re given some final pointers to complete your blackjack education. Covered in the End Zone are: • high-roller strategies • playing part-time • recommended books and systems .

The Silver Zone .

was wheelchair-bound. For some time. I’d never been there.1 How I Got Started In the late 1970s. a counter could determine how to bet and play. Pete had a part-time nurse who stopped in twice a week. Pete pointed to a table with some empty spots and I took him over. Soon I became friendly with a neighbor whom I’ll call Pete. He gave me the . after a few months of practice. and my hair was still a bit long). After a threehour ride. He’d been all over the world and he knew a lot about surveillance. By doing so. Finally. all of them excited about the trip. We decided to go on a Saturday morning. I’d take him on the bus. The bus was loaded with older folks. The bus fare was $15 per person and they gave us coupons good for $10 in coin upon arrival in Atlantic City. I occasionally stopped by on my way to the supermarket to see if Pete needed anything. I paid him no mind and left. But he wanted to be selfsufficient and did great on his own. Pete asked me to take him to the blackjack tables. It was late spring 1981. In the fashion of many my age. as his stories fascinated me. I landed a job on Wall Street. Pete told me he was ready to go to Atlantic City. and maneuvering Pete’s wheelchair was no easy task. After we ate lunch. though. Pete. he was involved in this routine. but I told him that if he wanted to go. a former federal agent. I used to talk to Pete for hours. One day I found him sitting at the kitchen table with a huge stack of playing cards and a few piles of paper clips. along with an apartment in Manhattan (no BMW though. we arrived at Bally’s Park Place around noon. Pete explained that card counting meant assigning a plus or minus point value to each card. nor to any casino. When I asked what he was doing. a topic that always amazed me. The place was crowded. Finally. I’d just finished college and moved back to the New York City area. he said that he was teaching himself how to count cards to beat the casinos at blackjack. it seemed that whenever I visited Pete.

Finally. I saw a roulette wheel. sir. I apologized and proceeded to play. I shook my head no. Still. After instruction on how to get change the proper way. and if you got a 2. where lots of people were hooting and hollering. The person rolling the dice rolled a 6 and it was explained to me that now the shooter had to roll a 6 before rolling a 7 for me to win. They seemed to have unbelievable coordination in doing so. I scratched my head. I had no way of knowing that the cash should not have been placed in the betting circle unless I wanted to bet it all. I didn’t even want to ask what that meant.” the dealer snapped at me. Two cards were dealt in front of me and I reached to pick them up. as the shooter rolled a 10. On to the crap table. I quickly concluded that it was some sort of religion for those folks. you won. The dealer asked if I wanted to bet the $50. The next roll was a 7 and the dealer collected my chip. “Please don’t handle the cards. each valued at $5. At this point I knew only that the object of the game was to get closer to 21 than the dealer. or 12 you lost. I asked someone to help me and ended up placing a $5 bet on the pass line. I lost. some of whom were feeding coins into two or three different machines at a time. I ended up winning a little over $300 playing slots. I couldn’t figure out why. confused. then took a stroll around the rest of the casino. and after watching for a while. I stood by a table and watched the game being dealt. I had 10 red chips in front of me. so I put the $50 down on the circle in front of my seat. without going over 21. if you got a 7 or 11. Next it was on to the blackjack tables. I left him and went to the slot machines with 20 silver dollars.voucher for his roll of coins (dollars) and said he’d be okay there for about an hour. I decided on a machine for myself. quickly learning the proper hand signals for hit and stand. Observing the slot machine players. one next to an attractive young lady who completely ignored me. I’d done a little homework on craps and knew that when you rolled the dice. He instructed me to place the money on the table. placed a $5 bet on red. That was all I knew. 3. I sat down and clumsily handed the dealer $50. I don’t recall what . though I clearly remember friction over a hand on which I had two 8s. I noticed that the people at the table were upset with me.

I won $100 at that table. In December 1983. he should be able to win money. I was puzzled. He asked if I wanted to have dinner. But win or lose. Pete said that when I first checked in with him. As the saying goes: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. I hope. I was amazed that all you had to do was gamble at the casinos and they would give you all these things for free. He showed me a slip of paper and told me that dinner was free. however. I thought that because he was counting cards. up about $900. I nodded. Dinner was great. He explained that after you gamble for a certain period of time. At this point we agreed that I’d check back with him in another two hours. leaving me with a box of books and some other odds and ends he thought I might find interesting. Then it was time for me to check on Pete. he’d lost all but $50 of his winnings. Pete seemed to lose more than he won. and free rooms. Based on my talks with him. “Split?” I ended up standing on the 16. the loudmouth mumbled a few choice words and left. I quit while ahead and went off for a stroll along the Boardwalk. I told him about winning $300 playing slots and $100 playing blackjack. After the two hours. I decided to keep . Once again. But when I returned two hours later. All excited. tickets to shows.the dealer had showing. “You’re gonna split those. it all seemed too complicated for me to worry about. then we hopped on the bus home. I finally had time to sort through the box and found several decks of cards and a hardcover book titled Million Dollar Blackjack. I walked over to his table and he asked me how I was doing. he made several trips down there over the next two years. After the round. When we got to the restaurant. After a couple of months. Pete told me that I could order whatever I wanted.” I gave a puzzled look and said. Ken Uston. It was about 4:30 and Pete decided to call it a day. I noticed that it was autographed by the author. Although I never went back to Atlantic City with Pete. I returned to the casino to check on Pete and I noticed that the pile of chips in front of him was smaller than when I’d left. he was winning. He whispered that he was winning and wanted to play some more. My eyes widened. the casinos give you free meals. Pete moved away. but a loud-mouthed person sitting next to me said. Pete told me that many people lose lots of money getting those free meals.

I can still confidently walk into a casino and play a winning game. to squeeze in one last play before leaving for home. as the trip was a bit tiring.000. This time I arrived as the VIP Room opened for the evening and continued with the aggressive style of play. I still consider Million Dollar Blackjack to be one of the most informative and entertaining books on the game ever written.000. I went from down $50.m. I’m done. so I left.000 to winning $22. and got a private table in the VIP Room. I read through that book chapter by chapter. Took $36.900.500. A couple of other players joined the table.000. . with no other players. To this day. stopping to practice the drills as they were presented.the book and the cards and soon I began reading the book. I was up $46. I was on my way. The swings were wild and I’m pleased I ended up with a decent enough win. putting my overall trip total at $51. After three shoes. Hit the tables at 11:15 p. putting my trip total at $5. how I got involved with blackjack teams and my journey of playing at high-stakes for more than 20 years. I’m glad to be going home. Then played Friday afternoon in one final session and won $12. I opened up the table. During several wild sessions throughout the evening and into the early-morning hours. At the time of this writing. It was a long night/morning! Friday Night/Saturday Morning Decided to sleep a good deal of the day Friday. I’ll end this chapter with some notes from my diary of the final days of a recent play: Thursday Night/Friday Morning My final plunge.000 in my last shoe. Throughout this book are more details of my experiences with playing the game at various levels—for example.

Each time a card is removed from a deck (or decks) in play. This is the only . Casinos have also opened on Native American land. In states that offer a lottery.5% disadvantage on that action. on average.” the house advantage in the game of blackjack is dependent on the cards that were previously dealt. the odds of the game at hand shift. While all other casino games are subject to what’s known as the “law of independent trials.2 % 5. the total “action” is $1. In craps. Considering the 1. they will lose. Here’s an example of how the casino makes its money with the house advantage.000. A number of states have legal casinos on riverboats and on land. about $15 on the play. If 100 people each make one bet at $10 per bet. People get a big thrill out of trying their luck at gambling. because there are a lot of variables to consider.” so it should be no surprise that all casino games have a built-in house advantage. Casinos are in business to make money on their “games of chance.5%. check out the ticket lines when the jackpot grows large. Following are the house advantages for a few other casino games (approximate): baccarat: roulette: slots: keno: 1.3 % 3% and up 25% What about the house advantage for blackjack? Let’s hold off on providing numbers on this. and at times those odds shift to the player’s advantage. the house advantage (on the best bets) is roughly 1.2 The House Advantage The gaming industry has been growing at a blistering pace over the past few years.

if after a few rounds have been dealt no aces have appeared and there’s less than a half-deck remaining. Considering the reverse situation. the fixed house advantage remains constant. “dice have no memory. for which the house (usually) pays the player 3-2. the chance of being dealt an ace in any subsequent round is zero. the house advantage increases. and put you on the path to playing for profits. Now let’s look at blackjack. In a game where a single deck is in use.casino game where the odds shift in this manner. In all other games. in craps it’s entirely possible to roll 10 sevens in a row. Cardcounting systems identify these situations and provide you with a tool for adjusting your betting and playing decisions to make use of this knowledge. regardless of how many sevens were previously rolled. In such cases. Since you need an ace to get a natural. For example. The material presented in this book will show you how it’s done.” On the roulette wheel. Thus the saying. the advantage is now (probably) in favor of the player. the number 22 can hit two or three (or more) times in succession. . if on the first round dealt all four aces appear. your chance of getting a blackjack in any subsequent round is also zero.

On either side of the dealer. At the higher-limit tables. Commonly. This is referred to as the “burn card. where the dealer places cards after they’ve been used in each round. The usual chip denominations are: $5 red chips. known as “nickels. to the left is the discard tray. One . after shuffling a deck or decks.50 chips (colors vary). commonly found denominations include $500 purple chips and $1. The first seat on the right as you face the dealer is referred to as “first base” and the last seat on the left is known as “third base. Smaller denominations can also be found. in which the dealer deposits all tips received. Upon completion of the shuffle. Actual half-dollar coins may be kept in the chip tray as well. from which they’re dealt. there should be two separate placards. As you look at the dealer.” Directly in front of the dealer is the “chip tray” (also called the “check rack”). known as “quarters.” In games where 4 or more decks are used. where casino chips are maintained for that table and sorted in denomination order.000 chips (colors vary).” Money deposited in the drop slot falls into a locked box called a “drop box.” $25 green chips.” Next to the discard tray is a slot in the table where the dealer deposits all currency received from players. such as $1 and $2. whether to purchase chips at the table or used in actual play. sometimes with the word “BET” inside. This is called the “drop slot. This is referred to as the “toke box. the decks are placed into the shoe (a box-like device). the dealer removes the top card from play and places it in the discard tray.” Behind the discard tray is a small clear box.3 How the Game is Played The typical blackjack table has spots for seven players (though some have only five or six). a “shoe” is used.” and $100 black chips. which can appear as circles or boxes.

and no settlement occurs on that hand. The cards are then presented to a player at the table to cut. the player is given a plastic cut card to insert at the desired cut point. also with 1 or 2 decks). The dealer then takes the cards under the plastic cut card and places them on top on the pack. leaving the plastic cut card on the bottom. When this happens. queens. the dealer shuffles the deck(s) to be played. If the dealer gets the higher total. 2s through 10s are worth their face value. the cards are placed in a shoe to be dealt (although it’s rare. . aces are either 1 or 11. the dealer usually holds them in one hand and deals (“pitches”) with the other.” Rules of the Game The object of the game is to make a total higher than that of the dealer without exceeding 21. the “hole card. cards are dealt to each player. When 1 or 2 decks are used. When 2 or more decks are used.” as its purpose is to signal the dealer when it’s time to reshuffle. the player’s bet is lost. the player wins the bet and an even-money (1-1) payoff.” and one dealer card is face down. at the player’s option. Jacks.indicates the table minimum and maximum bets permitted. Play begins as the dealer places the burn card (or cards) in the discard tray face down. the player’s two cards are dealt either both face up or both face down. At the start of the game. indicating “No Smoking Allowed. and one goes to the dealer. One dealer card is face up. Going from the dealer’s left to right. and kings count as 10. The second indicates the important house rules for the blackjack game at that particular table. Then a second card is dealt to each player and a second to the dealer. In the event that both player and dealer make the same total. You may also find a third placard. some casinos deal 1 or 2 decks from a shoe). This is referred to as a “shuffle card. If more than 2 decks are being used (and in some casinos. Single decks are often cut with the hand in the normal fashion. the “upcard. Players place their wagers in the betting circles directly in front of them. When more than 2 decks are used. a second plastic cut card is placed by the dealer at a point in the pack. it’s called a “push” (tie).” Depending on the number of decks and house rules.

After all players have decided whether or not to take insurance. the dealer asks the players if they want “insurance. .” The traditional payout for a natural is 3-2 to the player. If the casino offers “late surrender. he flips it over and collects all wagers. Note: Most casinos also require the dealer to check for a natural when the upcard is a 10. as the hand is a push. the hand signal for surrender. If the dealer doesn’t have a 10 in the hole. the dealer peeks immediately at the hole card. placing them on the table face up. but before playing the hand. some casinos have been experimenting with 6-5 payouts for naturals. placing them into the discard tray face down. In a facedown game. Recently. When a player’s first two cards dealt are an ace and 10. in which case the dealer doesn’t take the original wager. the insurance bets lose. A player may bet up to half of his original wager on insurance and is paid at 2-1 odds if the dealer has a natural. the player also flips over both cards. If it’s a 10. play resumes as normal. that hand comprises a “natural” or a “blackjack. The dealer collects half the wager. The dealer then picks up each player’s original wager. the dealer “peeks” at the hole card. including the ones from those who won the insurance side bet. which adds significantly to the casino’s edge. the dealer flips it over and pays all insurance bets at odds of 2-1. The exception is when a player also has an ace and a 10 for a natural. and the hand is over. If the dealer doesn’t have an ace. If the casino offers “early surrender” (rare). The insurance money is picked up and play continues. the player has the option of forfeiting half the original wager before the dealer checks for a natural. This is done by either saying “surrender” or by drawing an imaginary line behind your bet with your finger. In this case. except if a player also has a natural. The dealer then picks up all the remaining cards on the table. then finishes play of the hand if other players are at the table and haven’t surrendered. and if it’s an ace.If the dealer’s upcard is an ace.” Insurance is a side bet that the dealer’s hole card is a 10.” players may forfeit half of the original wager after the dealer checks for a natural. resulting in a dealer “natural” (or blackjack).

some permit a player to double on any two cards. they’ll usually ask if you don’t declare. The rules vary by casino. with palm facing down. such as an ace and a 6. each player is asked (or prompted by pointing) how he wants to play his hand. In the case of a “soft hand” of 17. while others allow doubling only on two-card totals of 10 or 11. A player may continue to hit a hand until it exceeds 21. turn both cards face up and place them in front of the original bet. side to side above the bet. the original two cards are tucked under the wager. Each hand is played separately. Although most dealers will know when you intend to double down or pair split. the original two cards should be tossed on the table. he signals by tapping or scratching a finger on the table. In a face-down game. equal to the original. When the player busts.” The player places an additional wager. In a face-down game. each to be played in sequence in that same round. the dealer exposes the hole card and plays the hand according to set rules. face up.” The dealer takes the bet and places the cards in the discard tray. In a face-up game. the player turns both cards over and places them in front of the original bet. simply say “double down. after taking a hit.” In a face-down game. the player is actually separating the first hand and creating two hands. the player “busts. and says “split. the player picks up the original two cards dealt and signals for a hit by gently scratching the cards on the table.Beginning with the player on the dealer’s left. The dealer is required to hit on all hands totaling 16 or less and to stand on hands totaling 17 or higher. while in a face-up game the card orientation varies. If a player’s first two cards are of the same value. If the player doesn’t want another card (“stand”). In a face-up game. After all players complete the play of their hands. To signal a stand. he waves his hand. rules vary . When splitting pairs.” In a face-down game. only one additional card is dealt to that hand. place an amount equal to the original wager next to it. If. To double down. the card is usually dealt face down. the card total exceeds 21. Players have the option to “double down” on the first two cards dealt. if the player wants another card (“hit”). When a player doubles down. the pair may be “split. using the appropriate hit/stand signals as indicated above.

The wagers are settled. or pushes depending on his total compared to the dealer’s. loses. all players who have not busted first (or surrendered) win. The cards are reshuffled and the process starts over again.by casino. In a handdealt game without a cut card. all remaining wagers are settled. . then all cards are collected and placed in the discard tray. Players then place their wagers in the betting circle for the next round of play and the process repeats. the cards are shuffled at a point dictated by house policy or when the dealer feels there may not be enough cards to complete another round. while others require the dealer to hit. If the dealer doesn’t bust. If the dealer draws to a total above 21. Some require the dealer to stand on a soft 17. the round in progress is completed and the remaining undealt cards in the shoe are mixed with those in the discard tray. When the cut card is reached. After the dealer finishes drawing. each player wins.

4 Basic Strategy Basic strategy is a set of optimal playing decisions based on the player’s cards and the dealer’s upcard. You must learn to play . Choosing to stand rather than hit will cost you money. because in the long run. It’s not always obvious. That’s how I used to think.5%. By playing perfect basic strategy. You must play like a machine. subject to the rules of the game you’re playing. you must zone it out. It’s that simple.6 and the dealer is showing a ten (upcard). No hunches. Let’s look at a situation in which the player has a hand of T. The reason? The computer runs show that the player will lose more hands of 16 by standing than by hitting. At times you’ll play basic strategy perfectly and lose hand after hand. once you learn basic strategy. That’s all you need to know. At times. You must have nerves of steel and zone out these outside influences. since hitting a 16 will likely result in drawing a high card and busting. making the correct basic strategy plays is to your advantage. Playing according to the correct basic strategy for a specified number of decks and set of rules provides the player with the best way to play any hand without the benefit of additional information (such as the count of the deck). it’s essential that you adhere strictly to the play decisions as outlined. a dealer or other players may criticize your play. Some basic strategy decisions vary based on the number of decks and the rules in effect. A hand of 16 against a dealer’s ten is a losing situation. Whatever the computer has determined as correct is the proper thing to do. But basic strategy tells us to hit the 16. When this happens. but most decisions are consistent through all blackjack games. But it would seem that standing would offer the most hope. The basic strategy was developed by computer analysis and it’s mathematically irrefutable. hit or stand. For this reason. you’re decreasing a house advantage of more than 2% (the casino’s edge against the average player) to less than .

9. • Stand on hard total of 12 vs. Following is the basic strategy for a typical multi-deck game. 14. It can’t be lowered. A. 9.4.3. T. otherwise hit. you must remember the distinction between a hard hand and a soft hand. dealer upcard of 4.5. 8. • Never split T. as any deviations from the proper plays cost you money over time. dealer upcard of 2.8.7 vs. 16 vs. The above decisions occur more than others throughout the game. and 7. 3. 5. T. 3. • Double down on all hard totals of 9 vs. 5.2. 6. otherwise hit. • When the dealer is showing an upcard of 7. because it can be lowered by counting the ace as 1 to get a hand of 7. since the ace is already counted as 1.4. A hand of A.T is a hard 17. 3. hit all hands until your cards total 17 or higher. 4. For example. 4. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. 4. 8. 6. otherwise hit. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 2. dealer upcard of 3. otherwise hit. 9. otherwise hit. • Split 4. 6.4 vs.A or 8. 3. Double Down Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Double down on all hard totals of 11 vs. Pair Splitting • Always split A. Hit/Stand Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Stand on all hard totals of 17 and higher. 4. 6. otherwise hit. 7. • Double down on all hard totals of 10 vs. dealer upcard of 2. 5.2. 3. 4. as offered in a number of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.basic strategy flawlessly. • Split 2. . is a soft 17. 15. A hard-hand total can’t be lowered by counting the ace as 1. 6. 7. 5.2. 5. 6. 8. 7. • Stand on hard totals of 13. To apply basic strategy effectively.T or 5. dealer upcard of 2. 5. a hand of A.

3. 8. • Split 9. dealer upcard of 4. The player is permitted to double down only only on the initial two cards.4 or A. Never Take Insurance Basic Strategy Multi-Deck. Double Down Decisions on Soft-Hand Totals • Double down on A. 3. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. 9 (not 7).6 or A. dealer upcard of 2. 5. dealer upcard of 2. There are some rare occasions where a casino permits doubling after one or two hit cards are dealt. otherwise hit. 5. • Double down on A. 6. 5.3 vs. otherwise hit.9 vs.5 vs.2 or A. • Double down on A.7 vs. 6. otherwise stand. 6. 6.7 vs. 4. 4. 5.6 vs. The basic strategy for these special rules is different. otherwise hit (except stand with an A. or 8). dealer upcard of 2. Atlantic City Rules .• Split 6. dealer upcard of 3. 4. 7.

Start with the basic hard hit/stand decisions. Additional Practice Drills Refer to the flash-card sample and use it as a guide to create a set by pasting them onto cardboard and cutting to size. dealer upcard. 2. 3. 7. Learn the soft doubling decisions 4. The specified order will simplify the learning process.If late surrender option is offered: • Surrender a hard 16 (but not 8. or A. 5. Learn pair splitting decisions. Sequence for Learning Basic Strategy 1. dealer 9. dealer T. Take each quiz in the order presented. Deal yourself hands with only an upcard for the dealer and check your decisions. For complete coverage of proper basic strategies for different games. T. Learn the hard doubling decisions. and play decision. Drill yourself. Repeat #5 and #6 as described below. 6. Remember. consult The Theory of Blackjack by Peter Griffin or Blackjack Attack 3 by Don Schlesinger. different rules and numbers of decks result in different basic strategies.8) vs. using your thumb to cover . Write in the player total. • Surrender a hard 15 vs.

You can augment study with CV Blueprint. Use the flash cards. Drill Instructions Make several copies of the following drill sheets. use only the hit/stand cards after studying the hit/stand decisions.g..the answer on the bottom right corner of each flash card before checking for the correct response. you can mix all the flash cards together for final drills in random order. this book’s companion software. and so on). Then move on to the next drill. Perform each drill until you can complete it accurately. recalling each response without hesitation. first in order of each segment of basic strategy (e. Drill # 1: Hard Totals Hit/Stand . After you’ve learned all the segments of basic strategy. then use only the hard-doubling flash cards after studying that segment. which contains drills for practicing basic strategy.

Drill # 2: Hard Double-Down Decisions .

Drill # 3: Soft Double-Down Decisions Drill # 4: Pair-Splitting Decisions .

Answers to Drill # 1 Answers to Drill # 2 .

Answers to Drill # 3 Answers to Drill # 4 .

The Red Zone .

it’s more profitable to play a weaker system accurately than to play a powerful system inaccurately. Remember. Before exploring the types of card-counting systems available. Using a simpler system often allows you . beginners take on the heavy task of trying to learn a “genius-level” system. The difference in performance between the least and most complicated of the credible card-counting systems is fractions of a penny per hand. Then. You must next determine how long you can accurately apply such a system in live play before your brain turns to mush. Finally.5% in many accessible games. not the one with the most bells and whistles. Mastering this skill can provide you with the tools to identify the shifting advantage between the house and the player during blackjack play.5 Selecting a System Once you’ve mastered basic strategy and reduced the house advantage to less than . one of the many complicated systems on the market is chosen. So often. The good news is you don’t have to. Many players using a higher-level system find that after 30 minutes or so. they can’t continue playing accurately. Your Abilities—There’s story after story about prospective card counters in search of the ultimate system. or even per dozens of hands (though high-stakes players will point out that even tiny percentage gains can have a discernible impact on returns as stakes rise). you’re ready to progress to card counting. while using it in live play. one that significantly increases the potential for errors that wind up costing them money. There’s no shame in not being able to apply such a system in live play—very few players can. there are two crucial personal factors you must consider. The player learns the system. he wonders why it’s not working. Your Stamina—Let’s say you have the ability to learn a genius-level system flawlessly. Put your ego and pride on the shelf and choose the system that’s easiest for you to handle.

The dealer. The above two points have little to do with win rates or mathematical formulas. Three Factors in Determining the Power of Systems Betting Efficiency One of the primary principles of card counting is to bet more when you have an advantage and to bet less when you don’t. Two cards remain to be dealt and you haven’t seen any aces yet. Any good system’s key component is a point count. You’re playing “heads-up” on a single-deck game in which the dealer is dealing down to the last card. Playing Efficiency Another benefit provided by a card-counting system is properly identifying times when it’s correct to deviate from basic strategy. will end up with a hand of 18. and the two undealt cards. showing a 7 with an ace hole card. but is a good illustration of the concept. Counting the burn card. my approach is to consider first the psychological dynamics and provide a practical and uncomplicated approach to applying a good system at the tables. While most books on the topic beat the mathematics to death. The betting efficiency indicates how well a given count does this. Knowing there are two aces waiting to be dealt.to last longer at a table. The betting efficiency of a system is measured by how its point count identifies the shift in advantage and quantifies it. A system with a strong betting efficiency is the foundation for the development of an effective betting scheme. Let’s look at an example that’s unlikely to occur. You have two tens and the dealer’s upcard is a 7. you’d split the tens. That’s because the actual application of a cardcounting system has more to do with psychology than mathematics. the dealer’s hole card. which would result in your drawing both aces for two hands of 21. . you know where the four aces have to be. Playing efficiency indicates how well a system identifies the deviation opportunities. what would you do? Of course. they rank as the most important to consider before going forward. but in my opinion.

it’s possible to gain more power if the system is applied correctly. +2. However. Balanced Counts In a “balanced-count system. A good system provides an accurate gauge for when taking insurance is advantageous. A more likely manifestation is standing on a 16 when the dealer shows a ten (as opposed to the basic-strategy play of hitting). whose card values are limited to -1. A threelevel count can have values of -3. -1.Don’t get too excited. however. A system’s playing efficiency can be measured mathematically to determine how well the system identifies the proper basic-strategy-deviation opportunities. 0. adding higher levels simply is not worthwhile. Insurance Efficiency Basic strategy dictates that a player should never take insurance. The easiest systems are one-level counts. Most count systems are balanced. that is. the increased complexity makes it more difficult to play without errors. and +1. 0. a player will sometimes make the insurance bet. -1. When counting cards. +1. Higher levels are also available. -2. But this extreme example shows what the information you glean from counting cards can potentially do for your game. the Fantasy Island Casino has been closed for many years. A two-level count can have values of -2. after a while. and +2. +1. and +3. X-Level Systems Count systems assign a “point value” to each card denomination. and there are diminishing returns. With balanced systems. 0. because the count tells you there’s an excess of high cards remaining. starting at 0 and counting down a deck (adding and subtracting the proper plus and minus point values as the cards are turned) leaves you back at 0 at the end of the deck. As you go up in the levels. Different Types of Systems Following are several variations of card-counting systems. .” the total of the plus-card values is equal to that of the minus-card values.

Not so fast. True Count The “true count” is an additional measure that enables a player to gain more power from a system. Side Count of Aces .Unbalanced Counts In an “unbalanced-count system. or neutral (0)—at any given point as you’re counting down a deck. Using a balanced count and beginning from the top of the deck with a starting count of 0. you may have concluded that the most difficult count system would be a multi-level balanced count. the running count is -6 at the end of this round. 3 decks remain.” the total of the plus-card values is not equal to that of the minus-card values. With unbalanced systems. This is determined by the six cards dealt each having a point value of -1. You look at the discard tray and determine that 3 decks have already been dealt. The dealer shows a ten and turns up another ten. counting down a deck from a prescribed starting number (an unbalanced count typically doesn’t start from zero) leaves you at a different number when you finish. where true-count conversion is required. The true count is derived by dividing the running count by the number of decks or half-decks (depending on the system) remaining to be dealt. Note that an unbalanced-count system eliminates the need for truecount conversion. minus. On the next round. At this point. The resulting number is used to derive the proper bet. the count begins at -6. Example: Assume that tens are assigned a point value of -1 and two players at a table both have 20s made up of two tens each. Running Count The “running count” is the cumulative count of the cards—according to their assigned values of plus. Dividing a running count of +12 by 3. Example: In a 6-deck game. play. we establish our true count of +4. and insurance decisions. Therefore. the running count is +12. because all decisions are made according to the running count.

such as the Hi-Lo. you can try a more challenging count system. such as the Uston APC.In systems where the aces are neutral (assigned a value of 0). based on what the author chooses to include—some have only a few variations. such as the Zen Count. the more difficult to learn and the more chance of error in live application. is easy to learn. such as the Unbalanced Zen II. a player must maintain a separate side count of aces and make an additional adjustment to properly determine the betting amount.” Play Variations The final ingredient of a count system is the number of play variations from basic strategy it includes. an unbalanced one-level system with approximately 20 play variations is all that’s needed. • Balanced 3-level count with true-count conversion. including any of these: • Unbalanced 2-level count. while others have more than 100. . such as the Uston SS. • Unbalanced 3-level count. There are roughly 20 key play variations (covered later in the book) that a player needs to memorize. You can attempt to apply more variations. and allows longer effective application in live play. These counts are called “ace neutralized. the more complex. Such a system yields a playing advantage. There’s quite a range among systems. Of course. but the overall gain is usually minimal. • Balanced 2-level count with true-count conversion. • Balanced 1-level count with true-count conversion. What Do You Do? For most players. If you want more firepower in a system and are confident in your abilities.” A count that assigns a point value other than 0 to the ace does not normally require such a side count and is called “ace reckoned. Examples of such a count are the Knock-Out and the Red 7 counts.

with the flexibility to add components later should more power be desired. It starts off with a simple-level card-counting system. . we’ll begin by using a balanced onelevel count. you don’t need to completely switch count systems and relearn an entire set of numbers to get more power. Using the PLS. For our purposes here. Learn the Point Values of Each Card Get a deck of cards and take out one card of each value. as just about every one published is mathematically sound. allowing you to gain a slight edge in a blackjack game. Place the cards in a stack corresponding to the following chart. This systematic method of learning is called the Progressive Learning System (PLS). The system we’ll be learning below is based on the point values from the Hi-Lo count system. you’ll be able to maintain a running count and vary your bets accordingly. The information in this chapter should give you the tools to decide what type of system is best suited for you. which is presented in Stanford Wong’s book Professional Blackjack. 2 through ace. 1-Level Balanced Count At the completion of this level. Please note that the learning progressions outlined in this chapter can be applied to just about any counting system.6 Learning to Count Cards with the PLS It’s not my intention to pitch any specific card-counting system.

and then the 0-value cards. Drill Number Two Shuffle the 13 cards. When you can flip through the deck of 52 cards reciting the point values quickly and accurately. Flip though the shuffled cards. reciting the point value of each card as you go. . you’re ready to go to the next progression. reciting the point value of each one as you encounter it.Drill Number One With the cards in the sequence as outlined. Now flip through the entire deck of 52 cards. Continue practicing until you’re fast and accurate. Learning to Maintain a Running Count Now you’ll learn to keep a cumulative count total (the running count) based on the plus/minus/neutral point values while flipping through the cards in a deck. Tip: You may find it easier to organize the cards by grouping the plus values. flip through each of the 13 cards reciting the point value of each card as you encounter it. the minus values. Drill Number Three Mix the 13 cards back into the full deck and shuffle it. Repeat this drill until you can flip through the cards reciting their values accurately and without hesitation.

mentally add it to or subtract it from your running count.” Continue through the deck. repeat the countdown in the same order. After completing all 52 cards.” Flip over the second card. If you don’t wind up at zero. and say. “The running count is (#). Say [the point value of that card]. count the deck again (with the cards in the same order as previously counted). and say your new running count. as this is a balanced count. Why? If an isolated sequence of numbers is throwing you off.” Flip over the first card and mentally determine its value. then add or subtract it to the previous running count. say [the point value of that card]. determine your new running count. your running count should be zero. with the following modifications: Say “Zero. If you’re . “The running count is (point value of that first card).” and flip over the first card. Drill Number Five Same exercise as above. then say.Drill Number Four Take the deck of 52 cards and using the memorized point values. when completing your countdown. Flip over the second card. you should be arriving at zero with consistency. Then verbally say your running count. follow this sequence: Say “zero. Remember. At this point. if you’re not at zero. the best way to correct it is through repetition.

that’s good. the more your speed will pick up. -1. You want to aim for counting down a deck in 25 seconds or less. Ready to go faster? Drill Number Six To develop speed in counting down a deck. lined up on the table. accuracy is much more important. To ensure accuracy. For example. Finally. and +2. and should be able to determine the point value of the card you pulled. pull one card from the deck. Now add 10 cards valued at 0 to this group and mix up all 30 cards. king or ace (a -1 point value card). jack. If the count is zero. count down the entire deck of 52 cards. you can learn to train your brain to “group” the cards. Now take 10 cards valued at -1 and place each card atop a +1 valued card. Some Tips for Gaining Speed In plus counts. leaving 10 little stacks of two cards each. though. Speed comes eventually.going through that deck a little faster. Starting with zero.” . After completing the countdown of the 51 cards. If you’re not accurate. queen. get in the habit of not saying the word “plus. counting them two at a time. or 9. Be patient. keeping the running count by counting in pairs. Place it face down without looking at it. the count is of no value. Take 10 cards valued at +1 and place them face down. if the running count is +1. you probably won’t be at zero. mentally determining that they offset to keep the running count at zero. the remaining card should be either a ten. You should have different combinations of pairs adding to -2. once you’re accurate and fast in counting the cards one at a time. Finish flipping over the subsequent pairs. The more you practice. 0. +1. 8. In the beginning. flip the first pair of cards and mentally determine that the +1 and -1 offset each other to add up to zero. the unseen card should have a value of zero —a 7.

instead of flipping over the cards. add those values to your running count. At a zero count. When the dealer reveals the hole card. Continue as above. and your . of the hole card). face the cards toward you and transfer them from one hand to the other as you count. say “Z” instead of zero. As you and the other players take additional hit cards. Do nothing. If the dealer takes additional hit cards.” When counting down a deck. you can shave a few seconds off your time. Using these little tricks. or the dealer’s left. add that value to your running count. your eyes should be focused (subtly) on the spot where that second card will be exposed. add those values to your running count as they are turned up. look at the pair of cards and silently recite the running count. Then add any hit cards drawn (usually to the dealer’s right. As the card is dealt. look at the value of the upcard and add that to your running count. Maintain Running Count as Cards are Dealt Cards Dealt Face Up Because the cards are exposed as the dealer distributes them. As the dealer is about to deal the second card to player #1. this is the simplest method of maintaining the count. Don’t get confused by the position of the cards in the dealer’s hand.In minus counts. as each second card is dealt to the other players. You already counted the upcard. by looking at each pair of cards. one card is dealt to each player and one card is dealt face up to the dealer. Here’s the sequence: Starting at the dealer’s left. say “M” instead of the word “minus. Watch as the hole card is revealed next (usually to your right. When the dealer takes a hole card.

At this moment. add those values as they are exposed. add the value of those exposed cards to your running count. As you and the other players take additional hit cards. As these cards are flipped over. If the dealer takes additional hit cards. Cards Dealt Face Down In single. Do nothing. add those values to your running count. You have to be quick here! . of the hole card). one card is dealt to each player. they’ll be positioned on the table as the two closest cards to the dealer in any given player’s hand.and double-deck hand-held games. then silently determine the running count. to your running count. As the dealer turns over a player’s previously unexposed cards to settle the hand. the dealer will deal a second card face down to each player. Starting at the dealer’s left. As the dealer takes a hole card. and one card is dealt face up to the dealer. players’ cards are normally dealt face down. At this point your hand should be on the table. Here’s the sequence to maintain the running count. Be especially careful and alert when the dealer has a blackjack. check the value of the up-card and add that to your running count. After the round is completed.left. or has a blackjack. In the same order. They’re not always neatly arranged. your running count will be used to determine your bet size for the next round. doubles down. and as your second card is dealt. As the dealer exposes the hole card. quickly pick up and look at both cards. your running count will be used to determine your bet size for the next round. add that value to your running count. add those values to your running count. all the players toss their cards on the table. splits. If a player busts. After the round is completed.

your lowest bet in a minus count will be $5 (1 unit) and your highest bet in a plus count will be $30 (6 units). The numbers: . Determine which type of game you’ll be playing most of the time. the running count improves in the player’s favor. However.and 8deck games.Apply a Betting Strategy to the Running Count One benefit of card counting is the ability to identify moments in the game when the composition of cards remaining to be dealt is either favorable to the player (a plus running count) or favorable to the casino (a minus running count). respectively). you have access to 2-deck games. Varying your bets as outlined and playing basic strategy provides a very slight edge. Presented here are betting strategies for a 6-deck game dealt face up and a 2-deck game dealt face down. the card-counting player will bet as little as possible in a minus count and raise that amount as the count turns plus. we use a bet range for the 2-deck game of 1-6 units. to appreciate the real strength of a balanced count system. These are of value to the player and when dealt. Note that the numerical value of the running count at the end of a round is used to determine the bet on the round about to be dealt. If you’re playing at a $5-minimum-bet table. Betting Strategy for a 2-Deck Game Dealt Face Down To provide the best possibilities for profit. If you live or play in Atlantic City. they reduce the running count. The following two betting strategies are for the benefit of readers who feel they have absorbed all the information they can handle. Aces and tens have a minus value. a player should add the ingredients of the true-count conversion and attending play variations (outlined in Chapters 7 and 8. which reflects a player’s disadvantage. Armed with this information. If you live or play in Las Vegas. Become proficient in one type of game. meaning that since they’re valuable to the casino. while at the same time not being too obvious with bet movements. after they’re dealt (and are no longer available for play). 2 through 6 are plus-value cards. the choices are 6. As illustrated in the point values of the cards.

Deal yourself a hand of two cards face down. along with the dealer’s upcard. as this exercise is strictly for determining bet size in accordance with running count.Referring to the above numbers. stop and determine the running count right there. face down. stand. This card represents the burn card and you’ll place all cards from completed rounds on top of this card. At that point. In accordance with standard house rules (dealer stands on totals of 17 or higher and draws on totals of 16 or lower). You now have the running count to determine the number of units to bet for the next round. Take the top card of the two decks and place it face down off to your left side. It is not necessary to perform actual payoffs on wins/losses. split. This stack represents the discard tray. Place a bet of 1 unit in front of you. perform the following drills: Drill Number Seven—For this drill. . Deal subsequent rounds following the above steps until you run out of cards. or double down and count the value of any additional cards you deal to yourself. Using basic strategy. either hit. Starting at 0. count the value of your two cards. Flip over the dealer’s hole card and count the value of that card. plus one card face down and one face up for the dealer. you need two decks of cards and either plastic poker chips or a box of paper clips (to use instead of chips). deal required hit cards for the dealer and count the value of each card as revealed.

except deal hands to two players. we’ll use a betting range of 1-6 units. This is strictly an exercise to strengthen your ability to scan cards on a table. Remember. After performing the exercise with two players a few times. you should avoid playing at full tables at all costs. use the value of the count at the end of a round to determine how much to bet on the next round. A player should not use such an aggressive betting scheme unless well capitalized. you should be able to figure out the value of the burn card. bringing you to 0. which is the only card not included in the running count. If the running count is -1. It’s highly recommended that you read on and learn either the 1-level unbalanced count presented later in this chapter or the true-count conversion from Chapter 7.) Here. . your lowest bet in a minus count is $5 (1 unit) and your highest bet in a plus count is $30 (6 units). a recommended betting range of 1-12 units can provide good possibilities for profit. Note: In live play. add a third player and continue until you’re comfortable maintaining a running count and placing your bets with a full table of seven players. Betting Strategy for a 6-Deck Game Dealt Face Up A wider bet range is necessary for the 6-deck game. Shuffle and repeat the above procedure. Drill Number Eight—Perform the same steps as in drill number seven. The numbers: Be aware that applying this betting scheme throughout an entire 6-deck shoe is very aggressive. If playing at a $5minimum-bet table. (When applying a count system at full potential as outlined in Chapters 7 and 8. then the burn card should be a +1 value card.Based on that number.

you find it difficult to perform the true-count conversions. The most popular unbalanced count is the K-O Count. One benefit of an unbalanced count is the gain of some power. other than 0. plus or minus. If. In all cases. However. Once you’ve mastered these skills. where true counts and play variations are discussed. In a 2-deck game. perform the drills number nine and ten. it’s easier to perform these drills. for example. without having to convert to a true count. while playing at a very small advantage (based on computer simulations for 2-deck and 6-deck games using Karel Janecek’s Statistical Blackjack Analyzer. detailed in the book Knock-Out Blackjack by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs. your starting count is -4. instead of starting your count at 0. except for the betting units. the unbalanced effect. You can use all the previous drills and betting schedules to learn K-O. and you will always end on a different number—thus. you use the equation 4 . However. This provides more ease in applying the system. In a 6-deck game. The difference in an unbalanced count versus a balanced count is that you may start your count with a number. which are the same as drills seven and eight above. 1-Level Unbalanced Count Outlined in this section are the point values for a 1-level unbalanced count. you can use them as learned up to this point. If someone can deal to you. These factors are necessary to gain full benefit from a balanced count system. counting down the deck(s) results in an ending number of +4. it’s not recommended that you use this system without completing the next two chapters. upon completing the next chapter. start at -20.(4 x number of decks) to derive the count’s starting point.Using these numbers. . or SBA. consider learning a 1level unbalanced count.

Following is a recommended bet sequence for a 2-deck game using the K-O unbalanced count. In the same manner as with the balanced Hi-Lo. except that 7s are also counted +1. Have no fear. the count has been calibrated so that the . we apply the same point values (as shown above). On the following page is a recommended bet sequence for a 6-deck game using the K-O unbalanced count.To move into a simple transition from the 1-level balanced count you just worked with. keep a running count as the cards are played. Note that the unbalanced counting technique results in raised bets being made while the count is still in negative territory.

numbers accurately correlate to the recommended bet amounts. Of course. K-O comes with multiple levels of sophistication and incorporates play variations that will enhance the count’s success. there’s more to the count system than this. . All are available in Knock-Out Blackjack.

Note: Some count systems provide for using half-deck segments as a divisor for the true-count conversion. which is the simplest of the methods. The running count is +8. Since the entire shoe began with 6 decks. if this occurs in the first round dealt from a 6-deck game. the process can be confusing. you divide the running count by the number of decks remaining to arrive at the true count. Let’s use an example of conversion by full-deck segments. you don’t get as accurate an indication of the advantage as in a single-deck game. Glancing at the discard tray. Then by glancing at the discard tray. In order to do so. which determines the number of decks remaining to be played. you have a running count of +6. Since there are 5½ more decks left in the shoe containing so many unseen cards. four 5s. and two 6s are dealt in the first round. the advantage differs. you note 4 decks already played. How do you obtain a more accurate indication of advantage with a balanced count in multi-deck games? You perform the true-count conversion. Converting to True Count Using Full-Deck Segments Example—In a 6-deck game. This is a significant advantage for the player. you first establish the running count. you estimate how many decks have been played. but if you program your thinking properly. which is presented later on. However. you note that there are 2 decks . Think it takes forever to do all this? Well. the calculation falls right into place every time.7 True-Count Conversion Take a situation in a single-deck game where two 4s. Finally. justifying a large bet on the next round. You then subtract that number from the total number of decks used. Let’s also use the point values for the Hi-Lo Balanced Count as outlined in Chapter 6.

It’s important to get the same cards used in the casinos. Dividing the running count (+6) by the number of decks remaining (2). . round the count down to the nearest whole number. you arrive at a true count of +3. Practice looking at the piles to determine sizes. Note: When you perform a true-count conversion and arrive at a fraction. so the deck thickness is exact. You can make up flash cards to drill yourself for each number of decks used. Position the piles on the table at the same distance and angle from you that they’d be in a casino. Flash Card Samples for 6-Deck Game Deck Dealt—1 Decks Dealt—3 Decks Dealt—2 Decks Remaining—5 Decks Remaining—3 Decks Remaining—4 Divisor—5 Divisor—3 Divisor—4 Take 15 decks. Conversion Chart for 6-Deck Game Drill Number One Get a few dozen decks of used casino cards.remaining to be played. Drill Number Two Take 6 more decks and shuffle them together. and 5 decks. Do this until you’re confident that you have mastered the technique of eyeballing the discard tray. Place a rubber band around 1 deck.” Do the same with 2. 4. for the sake of being on the conservative side. 3. with a slip of paper that says “1 deck. Start counting down the decks for a running count and stop at random.

Next. the true count = __. but instead of starting over. giving a divisor of 3. 3 decks remain. the true count is +4. Dividing 12 by 3. writing it in the third column next to each item. Perform two or three true-count conversions during the countdown of decks. Finally. and when you divide the running count of__ by __ decks remaining. Your thought flow should be running count = __. then start over. maintaining the running count. number of decks played = __. Drill Number Three Using the conversion numbers for a 6-deck game (see here). Stop again at random. based on the information in the two columns provided in this drill. hold the discard pile against a pile used in drill number one. calculate the true count. Answers to drill number three can be found below. repeat the above. To check yourself for accuracy. so you can continue where you left off to do the true-count calculations.Quickly look at the discards and state out loud how many decks are there. repeat the above exercise. determine the number of decks remaining. . continue counting down the deck. Repeat this step several times: Stop at random. using the new running count and the number of decks played/remaining to determine the new true count. decks remaining = __. It’s important to retain the running count number through the whole countdown. then how many decks remain to be dealt. and the number of decks played is 3. calculate the true count. but after determining the number of decks remaining. Keep doing this until you’re comfortable. Example: The running count is +12. With 3 decks played.

True Count Betting Strategy for a 2-Deck Game True Count Betting Strategy for a 6-Deck Game . • Determine # of decks remaining. • Divide running count by divisor to establish true count. • Look at discard tray and determine # of decks dealt.Thinking Sequence for Establishing True Count • Establish and retain running count. which establishes your divisor number.

Answers to Drill Number Three .

and bust. 4. and split a pair of tens vs. For this reason. dealer’s 5 or 6. a player is more likely to hit stiff hands such as 12 vs. In plus counts. there are probably more tens than normal remaining in the deck(s). Yes. The reason for these plays is that you have identified more tens remaining in the deck(s). if you hit a stiff hand of 15 vs. A common variation in plus counts is that of standing on stiff hands. such as 16 vs. the player has identified that more tens remain to be dealt. While traditional basic strategy is the most advantageous method of play for the non-counting player. it’s beneficial to get more money out on the table by using the double down and pair split options more aggressively. a player would double down and split pairs more aggressively. ten or 15 vs. Two such variations are to double down on a hand of 9 vs. . there are times when the count will dictate a deviation from the basic strategy play. 7. ten. which may cause the dealer to bust. In minus counts.8 Learning Play Variations Another benefit of card counting is using the knowledge of the cards remaining in the deck(s) to determine how to play your hand. increasing the dealer’s chance of receiving a natural. With a high plus count. the advantageous play is to split tens and elicit selective comments from the other people at the table. there are times (in a plus count) when taking insurance is the more advantageous play. Here a counting player might deviate from basic strategy and stand. you read that correctly. ten. Plus Counts The first and most crucial deviation from basic strategy is insurance. At certain points in a plus count. Although the basic strategy player will never exercise the insurance option. you would be more likely to draw a ten as the hit card. In plus counts. Therefore.

the indication from the count is that more low-value cards remain in the deck(s). variations are different for different counts. will be more powerful if the proper play variations are learned and applied. play variations for the Hi-Lo are provided here (remember. If you’re satisfied using a simple running count with the point values of the Hi-Lo count system outlined in Chapter 6. there’s an increased chance that this one card will be low in value. however. the counting player will deviate from the basic strategy play of the double down on 11 vs. you may use the method presented as a running-count-only system. without play variations. Minus Counts Here. do not use these variations with a count other than the Hi-Lo).or 13 vs. In extreme minus counts. the play variations differ for each and you will have to learn them from the sources that have been recommended here. All count systems. By limiting oneself to drawing only one additional card on the double-down option. the player would have a better opportunity to improve the stiff hand and create a pat hand. Taking a hit instead of making the basic strategy play of standing. This calls for playing a strict basic strategy and varying your bets according to the running count. the counting player has identified that more low-value cards remain in the deck(s). Since different forms of counting methods are outlined in this book. . so it’s preferable to pass on the double-down option and take as many hit cards as necessary. To demonstrate. taking instead a hit card or cards. a player is less likely to double down. 2. In this case. In this instance. ten.

Then move on to the next drill. . Sequence to Learn Play Variations • Start with the insurance variation. Instructions—Make several copies of the following drill sheets and perform each drill.Play Variations for Hi-Lo 1-Level Balanced Count w/True-Count Conversion Multi-Deck These play variations for the Hi-Lo Count. Perform the drills until you are able to complete each one accurately.” are recommended by Don Schlesinger as outlined in his book Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way. giving the responses without hesitation. writing in the count at which a play variation should occur and what it should be. Answers to the drills for play variations can be found after Drill Number Five. known as the “Illustrious 18.

and make any play variations that the count may dictate. it’s not included in the drills below. convert to the true count. • Deal yourself hands with both a hole card and an upcard for the dealer. as we’re not working with betting strategies here. • Mix up numbers 5. Note: As insurance is only one number. However. Drill Number One—Hit/Stand Variations . It’s not necessary to place bets for this drill. to simplify the learning process. • Learn hard-doubling decisions. • Learn pair-splitting decisions. • Use the Flash Card sample shown below to make cards for each of the play variations. it’s essential that you know it well prior to moving on. and 7. 6. They are presented in a specific order.• Learn the hit/stand variations. • The quiz sheets in this chapter should be taken in order. keep the running count.

Drill Number Two—Hard-Doubling Variations Drill Number Three—Splitting Variations .

your task is to decide how to play. which may call for either a basic strategy decision or a variation. The count will be indicated. we have various hands to play. .Drill Number Four—All Variations Drill Number Five—To Vary or Not to Vary In this final drill.

is most effective in single-deck play. Playing efficiency. based on the application of many play variations. Those outlined in this chapter are some of the most beneficial.Additional play variations may be added to most count systems. .

Answers to Drill Number One Answers to Drill Number Two .

Answers to Drill Number Three Answers to Drill Number Four .

Answers to Drill Number Five .

The learning sequences of the PLS outlined in the previous chapters can be applied to the systems presented here. one or more of the following systems might appeal to you. please keep in mind that they’re more complex and if not applied with total accuracy can lead to costly errors. While the systems presented in this chapter provide more power. Zen Count This 2-level balanced count is presented in Arnold Snyder’s first edition of Blackbelt in Blackjack.9 Advanced Counts If you’ve learned the systems outlined in the previous chapters and want to attempt a more challenging method. I remind you once again to keep your ego in check and only use a system that you can play with total accuracy. .

converted it into an unbalanced count. took the Zen Count. The outlined bet schemes and play variations may differ somewhat from what George presents. Start the running count at -4 per deck. and presented it in his fine book.Bet Sequence for 2-Deck Game Bet Sequence for 6-Deck Game Unbalanced Zen II Count The legendary George C. The Unbalanced Zen II (from which the following information comes). but they will enable you to play at an advantage. it’s recommended that you refer to The Unbalanced Zen II. . For the complete system as is was written and revised.

Some of these more complex systems may also require either a side count of aces or a true-count conversion using half-decks or both.Bet Sequence for 2-Deck Game Bet Sequence for 6-Deck Game Play variations for the Zen Count and Unbalanced Zen II Count are available in the CV Blueprint companion software. The following is a . Expert-Level Counts There are 3-level and even 4-level balanced-count systems available.

as shown in the sample below. you note there are 3 decks remaining to be played. More decks are added as we progress. for the sake of being on the conservative side. you note 3 decks already played. Converting to True Count Using Half-Deck Segments In a 6-deck game.) Since the entire shoe began with 6 decks. The first two drills apply to learning the true-count conversion in a 2deck game. let’s use a running count of +6. You can also make up flash cards. (You can also attempt to “calibrate” the discard tray by half-decks if you’re confident in your ability to do so. Before each set of drills is a divisor chart for the respective number of decks for the game.learning sequence to help master these tasks. Note: When you perform a true-count conversion and arrive at a fraction. If you double that number. which may be used to drill yourself for each number of decks used. you arrive at a true count of +1. Glancing at the discard tray. you have 6 half-decks remaining to be played. Conversion for 2-Deck Game . round the count down to the nearest whole number. Dividing the running count (+6) by the number of half-decks remaining (6).

Start counting down the decks for a running count and stop at random. so you can continue where you left off to do the true-count calculations. To check yourself for accuracy. the true count = __. but after determining the number of halfdecks remaining. Finally. so the deck thickness is exact. Perform two or three true-count conversions during the countdown of decks. Stop again at random. get the same cards used in the casinos. and when you divide the running count of__ by __ halfdecks remaining. calculate the true count. and place a rubber band around them. but instead of starting over.Drill Number One Get a few dozen decks of used casino cards. with a slip of paper that says “½ deck. repeat the above. Quickly look at the discards and state out loud how many half-decks are in the discards.” Count off 52 cards and mark the pile “1 deck. then how many half-decks remain to be dealt. Drill Number Two Take two more decks and shuffle them together. number of half-decks played = __. . Repeat the above exercise. using the new running count and the number of decks played/remaining to determine the new true count. Do this until you’re confident that you have it down.” Practice looking at the piles to determine sizes. count off 26 cards. number of half-decks remaining = __. Repeat this step several times. and then start over. Take three decks. stop at random. Your thought flow should be running count = __. hold the discard pile against a pile used in drill number one.” Mark the remaining cards “1½ decks. As always. continue counting down the deck. determine the number of half-decks remaining. maintaining the running count. Repeat this until you’re comfortable. It’s important to retain the running count number through the whole countdown. Now let’s increase to 4 decks.

hold the discard pile against a pile used in drill number three. half-decks played/remaining and new true count. Start counting down the decks for a running count and stop at random. Drill Number Four Take four more decks and shuffle them together. then start over. and 3½ decks. determine the number of half-decks remaining. and calculate the true count. Quickly look at the discards and state out loud how many half-decks are in the discards. Repeat this step several times: Stop at random. In this step. It’s important to retain the running-count number through the whole countdown. In order to check for accuracy.Conversion for 4-Deck Game Drill Number Three Take the 2 decks you were just counting with and place a rubber band around them. count off 2½ decks. Do this until you are confident that you have it down. referring to the charts on the following page for initial guidance. 3 decks. but instead of starting over. Do this “stop and go” two to four times throughout the decks.” Then take 9 decks. continue with the running count. marking on a slip of paper “2 decks. . stop again at random to determine the new running count. then how many half-decks remain to be dealt. You can perform the above drills for 6-deck and 8-deck games. you’re performing a different sizing of true-count conversions each time throughout the countdown of the decks. Repeat the above. Practice looking at the piles to determine sizes. marking the piles accordingly. so you can continue where you left off to do the true-count calculations.

6. the true count is 3. 2½ decks remain. Example—The running count is 15 and 3½ decks have been played. For 3½ decks played. Dividing 15 by 5.Conversion for 6-Deck Game Conversion for 8-Deck Game Drill Number Five Using the conversion numbers for a 6-deck game. Answers to drills number 5. giving a divisor of 5 (representing five half-decks). . calculate the true count and write it in the third column next to each item. and 7 can be found at the end of this chapter. based on the information in the two columns provided in this drill.

we work our way back to the 2-deck game: .Drill Number Six Now let’s try the exercise with a 4-deck game: Drill Number Seven And finally.

Side Count of Aces Some card-counting systems assign a zero value for the ace and require that the player keep a separate side count of played/unplayed aces in the deck(s). 3 decks have been dealt and you’ve counted 12 aces also dealt.” Therefore. The “ace factor” in this case would be “normal. However. the first step is to master the skill of determining whether the number of aces remaining to be dealt is above or below normal. thus wiping out much of one’s advantage. as it can lead to numerous errors. Knowing how many aces are left in the deck(s) is extremely valuable for betting purposes. the ace has little use. if only 2 have . if in the same game. An example: In a 6-deck game. obviously the remaining decks in play have a high concentration of aces. Most players do not attempt this. Since the normal number of aces for 3 decks is 12. In order to provide a flavor for this task. For this reason. an ace adjustment to the running count would not be necessary. Determining Normal Number of Aces Played Since there are 4 aces per deck. some of the higher-level systems include this feature. though for playing purposes. after 3 decks dealt only 2 aces have been seen. I outline the procedures to practice the art of maintaining an ace side count. Please be forewarned that this is an extremely complex task.

appeared, you have 10 aces above normal in the remaining decks.
Adjusting the Running Count with the Ace Factor
Let’s say the point value you assign for the purpose of side counting of
aces is 1. Your running count, without factoring in the aces, is, say, +6. This
represents your unadjusted running count. The next step is to add the ace
count to this unadjusted running count to determine the adjusted running
count. Taking this example, with 10 extra aces, the adjusted running count
is +16.
Converting to True Count
The adjusted running count is then converted to true count for betting
purposes only. After making this conversion and placing the bet, the player
reverts to the unadjusted running count, which is next converted to true
count for playing purposes.
The Sequence
Establish running count (unadjusted) and retain this number.
Determine the ace factor by keeping a separate count of aces and noting
if the content of the remaining cards is above or below normal in aces.

Thinking Sequence for Establishing True Count
• Establish and retain Running Count.
• Look at discard tray and determine # of half-decks dealt.
• Determine # of half-decks remaining.
• Establish divisor number.
• Divide Running Count by divisor and establish True Count.

Add the ace factor to the unadjusted running count to determine the
adjusted running count.
Convert the adjusted running count to true count and determine your
bet size.
Revert back to the unadjusted running count and convert that number to
true count to determine playing strategy.
Confused yet? This method is not essential to playing with an

advantage. It should be utilized only by those who can realistically perform
the quick and accurate calculations necessary to accomplish the tasks.
Methods for Keeping a Side Count
Players have their own methods and tricks for maintaining side counts.
When I used to side count aces, I kept a wad of chewing gum in my mouth
and moved the gum to different parts of my mouth to mark the number of
aces. Some people use the chips in front of them (this can be somewhat
obvious), while others position their feet in a certain manner to determine
the number. If you do try keeping a side count, be creative, but don’t be
obvious.
Answers to Drill Number Five

Answers to Drill Number Six

Answers to Drill Number Seven

10
Putting It All Together
In the previous chapters, we learned how to vary our bets in accordance
with the running count and true count and how to vary our play of hands,
based on these counts. We can now incorporate a final review, dealing
hands and combining the betting/playing strategies, while maintaining the
running and true counts.
At this time you should possess the ability to:
• Make basic strategy plays without hesitation, and count down a deck
of cards in 25 seconds or less.
• Maintain a running count, while hands are being dealt.
• Convert the running count to true count after each round, or use the
unbalanced count system.
• Place appropriate bets in accordance with the count.
• Make proper play variations to basic strategy, based on the count.
For a final review of all the acquired skills, deal yourself hands as if
there’s a full table of seven players. While playing your one hand, vary your
bets and play of hands in accordance with the count.
Once you feel that you have a grasp of the skills necessary, you’re ready
to make your initial trip for live casino play. It’s essential that you do not
rush into this until you’re performing your drills flawlessly. Thanks to
modern technology, nowadays computer software programs are readily
available for practice. In addition to the CV Blueprint companion software,
one such program is Casino Vérité, which is referenced in Chapter 37. I
recommend that you put in an hour of practice daily to ensure that you’re
on track.
“So,” you ask, “how long will it take before I can hit the tables?”

There’s no standard answer to this question. The amount of time
devoted to practice and training is an individual preference. The following
suggestions for practice and training schedules take into account all of the
training tools referenced in the previous chapters. I haven’t included any
benchmarks for time frames. Rather, I recommend using the drills available
in CV Blueprint or Casino Vérité as a skills-check to determine your readiness
to progress to the next level.
Weekday Training After Work or School
Devote one hour each weekday for training and practice.
or
Train every other day (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) for one-two
hours.
or
Alternate the above two training schedules, going five days for week
one, then three days for week two.
Weekend Training
This should not be treated as a crash-course training method. If, from
your personal experience, you have the patience for intense training in a
somewhat condensed manner, then you may wish to consider weekend
training.
On both Saturday and Sunday, train for two hours in the morning, then
two hours in the afternoon.
Full-Day Training
This somewhat resembles a crash-course training style and I don’t
recommend it for most. First, it’s unrealistic to think that you can spend 6-8
hours learning the material and be completely ready to take on the casinos.
So, if you’re looking for a crash-course, this isn’t it. Second, from my
experience in training people (in many different fields), I find that the
average person can absorb only so much information in a single sitting.
Full-day training may be effective as a “final test,” after you’ve become
fluent in all the necessary skills acquired from part-time training. However,

if you don’t take my word for it, or happen to be that exceptional person,
here’s a compromise:
One day per week, train for separate two-hour sessions each in the
morning, afternoon, and evening.
Mix It Up, Get Creative and Have Some Fun
In most cases, no one knows the best way for you to learn except you.
You have your own style, which you probably developed in your academic
studies and carried onward. As such, you can combine the above training
methods in any way that works for you. There are no rules and there should
be no hurry to hit the casinos until you’re ready. Trust me, the casinos will
still be there. Take your time, get creative, and make your training an
enjoyable experience.

The best approach is to draw up an itinerary planning your day. Most important are eating and sleeping. or play some golf.m.m. — Dinner 8:00 p. massage. you want to look for $3-minimum tables. Ideally. Just do something to give your brain a rest in between blackjack sessions. It’s important that you view this trip in the proper perspective: strictly for practice at the lowest stakes available. work out at a health spa. — Session #4 10:00 p. you should ensure that you plan activities other than playing blackjack. To maintain your sanity.11 First Casino-Play Experience You’ve spent the time necessary to learn a valid card-counting system and you’re ready to put in your first live-casino play. The steps in preparation are performed at home.m. take a drive. Playing in Atlantic City you may find a $5minimum table.m. — Breakfast 10:30 a. — Session #1 9:00 a. Developing a Game Plan How many days will you have available to play? How many hours should you play daily? Regardless of your responses. workout. — See a show or other entertainment 11:30 p.m. but it helps to get into the habit of .m. — Session #3 3:30 p.m. or other exercise 6:00 p. A sample itinerary: Day One 8:00 a.m. — Sleep This may seem a bit structured. — Sauna. if you plan on playing in Nevada. — Session #2 12 noon — Relax by pool and have lunch 2:00 p.m. it’s necessary to take regular breaks from play and relax by a pool.

as other factors may warrant a different approach. With a $1. If you can find a $1-minimum table. betting schedule. In this initial stage. establish your length of play during a given session. betting sequence. let’s assume your system suggests a 1-12 bet range. that would be ideal. and overall structure of the count system. you can divide the bankroll by the number of sessions to determine your session bankroll ($120). The reason for this is based on a formula devised from several variables within the count system. and bankroll. you have a 19 out of 20 chance of doubling the bankroll and a 1 in 20 chance of losing your entire bankroll if you keep playing until one or the other occurs. As an example.planning your trips to develop the sense of discipline necessary to play a successful game. You lose half of your session bankroll. We want to have a bankroll consisting of 100 maximum bets. hence a minimum bet of $1 to a maximum bet of $12. our bankroll should be $1. How Much Should I Bet? How Much Money Should I Bring? Find the lowest-limit table available. a bankroll of 100 maximum bets is required to play within a 5% risk of ruin. with a maximum bet of $12. In many count systems. The following is a sample of a Session Report: . Therefore. This means that based on your bankroll. follow the betting range as outlined in your specific count system. How Long Should Each Playing Session Be? After planning an itinerary.200 bankroll and playing 10 sessions in 2-3 days. This is a general guideline. your session length should be as long as it takes for one of these three determining factors to occur: You double your session bankroll. How Do I Keep Track of My Playing Sessions? Bring along a notebook or even a laptop computer.200. Playing in a 6-deck game. A time of 1 hour elapses.

when counting. giving at least a 75% penetration level for the 6-deck game. Note: Pit and surveillance are aware that card counters prefer third base.In the provision for penetration. Sitting at first base. Pre-Game Scouting Look for casinos with low-minimum tables. you play your hand immediately after each player’s initial two cards are dealt. Look for dealers providing a good penetration level. Look for a slow dealer (at this early stage). but in the initial stages. you’ll develop the ability to accomplish this. . At the completion of the dealer’s shuffle routine. but in your initial outing. you don’t have to turn your head in all different directions. First. The dealer then places a second cut card somewhere within the deck(s). a record of observed penetration levels by dealers/shifts/casinos is important information. As the more cards a card counter sees. we want to note how many decks out of the multi-deck game are dealt prior to shuffling. it’s best to create the most comfortable conditions possible. Eventually. There are two reasons for this. Look for a table with an empty seat at third base. you’d be better sitting at third base for the second reason: You have more time to absorb the count before making your playing decision. You’re looking for this cut card to be no more than 1½ decks from the bottom. with your eyes wandering. the greater the advantage. You can also accomplish this from first base. the player cuts the deck(s).

However. lead to a quick one-line response. rather than a life story. Be aware that other players at the table may criticize your play more when you sit at third base. simply respond. time for the opening kickoff! Things to Do and Not Do While Playing Since this first trip is meant to be a practice session. and camouflage. develop your own style and rhythm in maintaining the count. They should be of a nature that will. and making the proper plays. You want to play in a mechanical yet relaxed manner. and stacking your chips in front of you. Okay. You eventually want to create several deflections throughout the game. You want to converse occasionally with other players. or the pit staff. and leave immediately without further incident. There are other outside factors and fine points of playing. You’ve done some pre-game scouting of casinos. shouldn’t be an issue at this level of play. you may want to consider sitting at first base. with luck. In order to create a most effective deflection and at the same time be alert to other events around the table. simply take your chips. placing your bets. “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am. casino countermeasures. If you’re sensitive to criticism. cash in. Without any argument. playing small stakes you shouldn’t have a problem.” Once you start playing. while at the same time maintaining an accurate count. the things to focus on are maintaining the count. This tactic is a form of deflection. you have to pick your spots. the dealer. Routinely determine the best times to divert your attention briefly from the cards and throw out a comment or two. making the proper bets. You’ve developed a game plan and an itinerary. The topics of heat. in this learning stage. Ready to Play? You’ve mastered basic strategy and a card-counting system for the game you plan on playing.However. in the rare event that you’re told by a casino employee that you’re not permitted to play 21 anymore at that property. which we need not focus on at this point. covered in detail in Chapter 14. The best time to carry on any sort of lengthy conversation is during the .

Do a self-evaluation. immediately complete your session report with as many details as you can get in. figure out some methods to ease such tension prior to playing. Once the drink arrives. just shrug your shoulders and say you had a hunch. Actually. be certain never to criticize the plays someone else makes. especially when you’re sitting at third base. It’s important that you don’t tense up while playing. Perhaps some exercise might work or you might cut down on your caffeine. in your final session of the day. is to ask someone a quick one-line question just after the dealer finishes playing a hand. Post-Game Evaluation After each session. As a rule. you shouldn’t drink alcoholic beverages at the table while counting. before you need to pay attention again. However. This is an easy task. A good method to develop. this can come in handy on later trips. noting any deviations made and why. prepare for your exit from the table. If you find yourself tensing up at the tables. then deal one card to each player and him/herself. At this point. If you can work this into a routine and time all your brief one-liners for this period. collect all cards and place them in the discard tray. This is something you can determine for yourself. The dealer must settle all bets. When interacting with other players at the table. most importantly of your comfort level at the tables. dealers. If another player or the dealer criticizes your play. you’ve counted every card and know the running count. as such emotions divert your focus. since all you want to do is look at the value of all the cards and determine the count. as you’ll have advance knowledge to play with or avoid certain dealers. or pit staff. you’ll be in the beginning stages of developing the rhythm for creating an effective deflection. it’s relatively safe to order a drink just as you are winding down that session. Another point in your self-evaluation is to determine that you’re following your game plan. you should try to discipline yourself not even to register the plays other players make. This is easy when you’re playing with someone else who . One of the toughest calls to make is whether you’re playing accurately or making errors.shuffle process. If you write down dealers who deal with good or bad penetration.

uses your count system and who can observe your play. you’ll be ready to move on to the next stage. After completing your evaluation and review for each individual session. . you should be even more confident in your play. do the same for the overall trip. All these steps are helpful in mapping out your game plan for your next trip. try to isolate what could be the weak link. if you feel as though you’re not playing accurately. With your first trip and overall self-evaluation under your belt. and after some additional hours at the tables. At the conclusion of your second trip. Make a note to practice and strengthen it. This second trip should also be considered as strictly practice and played at the same low stakes available. make the necessary adjustments and begin to prepare your game plan for the next trip. But short of that luxury.

The Green Zone .

college tuition for your children.12 Money Management The next stage comes after you have logged several hours of low-stakes play and are comfortable playing in a live casino environment. Funds for a down payment on a house. you may find that you don’t have the proper funds readily available for a sufficient bankroll. should not be touched. Perhaps at a later date. On the other hand. take those funds and open a separate bank account or investment account. Can you afford to put the required bankroll at risk. (This is also a good idea. This will be your personal “21” account. my recommendation is to stick to low stakes.) How do you determine what is sufficient funding for a bankroll? . After reviewing your finances. After each trip. you should consider taking a break from playing. At this point. Money of this type should be in separate accounts for the intended purposes. etc. even if you determine that you can only afford playing low stakes. However. if this account goes to zero balance. I must make a strong suggestion (which basically means you’d better do this!) and tell you to perform a thorough review of your current finances and determine how much money you can put aside without having any need for it in the near future. deposit your winnings (you hope) into this account. Once you’ve determined you have adequate funds. On this point. there are several things you should consider first. without jeopardizing your normal living expenses? This requires serious consideration. If this is the case. you may be ready to increase your playing stakes. you may have the necessary funds for the next level of play. Do not attempt to play higher-stakes blackjack with an insufficient bankroll. as this bank account has the potential to grow into a sufficient amount for higher stakes in time.

you may have a 19 out of 20 chance (95%) of doubling your bankroll in the long run. All this ensures that you’re playing close to the 5% risk of ruin. What happens if you should lose half your bankroll? If you lose half your bankroll. you would further develop the optimal betting scheme. Most systems simply indicate that after you determine your desired bet range.) After determining that you’re playing accurately. and being dealt an honest game.Our realistic goal is to play in a manner that will maximize our potential to win money. Note: The “long run” is a term used rather loosely in gambling. selecting playable games. An easy way to view the long run is to understand that as you increase the number of hours of accurate play in accordance with the 5% risk of ruin. your chances of succeeding increase. give the player a better than average chance to achieve this goal. Most count systems outline a bankroll requirement and betting scheme that. Betting and playing in accordance with the methods outlined in the count system and based on your bankroll (as determined by the count system). when followed. putting you at . Some count systems have rather complex formulas that determine the optimal bet range for a given bankroll. you’ll come to the realization that you’ve hit one of those fluctuations that exist in the game. Based on that number. I recommend that you stop to evaluate a few things: Are you keeping the count and playing accurately? Are you betting in accordance with your outlined range? Are you selecting games with playable conditions? Are you being cheated? (See Chapter 16 on cheating. with a 1 out of 20 chance (5%) of losing your entire bankroll in the long run. as it’s difficult to determine accurately the number of hands or hours one needs to play to get into the long run. You can also reverse the process and take the funds you have available for a bankroll and divide that figure by 100 to determine your maximum bet. while at the same time minimize our risk. take your maximum bet and multiply it by 100. This total should be your bankroll.

only for this purpose. which explains bankroll issues in a clear and detailed manner. This software is easy to use and useful to the serious player. which was developed by John Auston.000 New Betting Range = $5–$50 How do you determine the amount of money to allocate for each playing session? You can use the same formula outlined in the previous chapter to determine the amount of money for each session. Stop.000 Betting Range = $10–$100 After X hours of play. and revise your betting range accordingly to continue playing within the 5% risk of ruin. you should stop playing. One product I use and recommend is Blackjack Risk Manager 2002. However.this loss. New Starting Bank = $5. The purpose of this is to provide a cushion in case you have a situation calling for a split or double down where you’ll need additional cash. you’ve lost $5. The above illustrates a most simple form of money management. Also recommended is Don Schlesinger’s book. .000. For more precision in establishing methods of money management. it’s a good idea to add an additional factor here: Keep two additional maximum bets for each session. When this occurs. Take note that this additional cash should be considered reserve. reevaluate your available bankroll. The following is a brief illustration: Starting Bank = $10. there are some excellent tools on the market. Reevaluate the bank. Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way.

13 Interaction with Casino Personnel While playing. the dealers may rotate the tables where they deal. This chapter gives you a basic idea of the “who’s who” in the business. you’ll have the most interaction with these folks. is tedious and mentally tiring. you interact with casino personnel. he or she . One of the most important is that dealing. Considering the accuracy required for all the payoffs of winning wagers. Since most casinos are open 24 hours. provided by a school specializing in instruction of dealing casino games or an in-house casino training program. Day shift is noon–8 p.–4 a. along with the totaling of the numerous hands dealt. as well as take specified breaks after dealing for a certain period of time.. Some casinos also fear that if a dealer stays too long at the same table. standing on one’s feet and performing the duties involved in the job. Most casino employees work a basic eight-hour shift. It’s common to see a dealer working your table for up to one hour. Dealers are usually trained in more than one casino game.m.–noon. Relief dealers fill in at the tables while the regular dealer is on break. swing shift is 8 p. Note: These times vary from casino to casino. Most have completed a course or training program.m. Here’s the basic chain of command within the casino staff: Dealers Obviously. It’s not uncommon to see the same dealer who dealt you a blackjack game one day working the roulette wheel the next day. During the dealer’s shift and depending on the casino’s procedures and policies.. it’s wise to give dealers regular breaks to minimize the chance of their making errors. there are three shifts. then taking a 20-minute break.m. and graveyard shift is 4 a.m. There are several reasons for this.

Such “help” is not only against casino rules. ensuring that house procedures are followed. Many players are blunt. Bank tellers or restaurant servers are good examples. but a crime punishable by a prison term (more in Chapter 16). as in any other job. abrupt.may get too friendly with some of the players. I’d appreciate it. A recommended approach is to smile and say. “Excuse me. in all . but it helps to maintain this attitude. Since most casinos encourage dealers to practice good customer relations and be friendly at all times. get their paycheck and go home. They’re responsible for watching the dealers at those tables. Some are friendly and talkative.” make eye contact. Dealers have to put up with players who lose. and smile. don’t blame them. One thing to realize is that dealers have a sometimes difficult chore.” Say. If a dealer makes an error (in favor of the casino). then blame them. It’s best to treat them all with courtesy. while others aspire to work their way up the ranks. I may be missing something. while others are quiet and seem as if they just want to finish their shift. Remember that being nice can pay off! Floorpersons Next up the ladder. This may sound like a lesson in etiquette. some are concerned that a dealer may get too friendly with a player. the way you point it out can have an effect on your future relationship with this dealer. Say “please” and “thank you. Dealers are just regular folks trying to make a living. and harsh in pointing out a dealer’s mistake. as they’re the front line interacting with the public. They deal with boors and drunks. and be tempted to provide “help” for a player. You’ll find that interacting with dealers is similar to interacting with front-line employees in many other businesses. use your own judgment. but it looks like [say whatever may be incorrect]. The floorperson. but would you mind taking a second look at [whatever the situation may be]. When you’re losing. thanks for checking” if you’re wrong. If a dealer should make an error in your favor. floorpersons are assigned to oversee a few tables within the pit. The best approach in interacting with dealers is to be friendly and courteous. “Thank you” if you’re correct or “I’m sorry. Some are there just for the paycheck.

talk about sports. smile. and carry on the conversation. ask for a meal comp. When this occurs. check the chip trays on the tables to keep track of how much the table may be winning or losing. it’s a good idea to sign up for one. perform lots of paperwork accompanying all the above. Also. Ask some questions. has previously worked as a dealer and was promoted to this position. just flat bet and play basic strategy until the floorperson leaves. say something about yourself (whatever you want to make up). Other functions of a floorperson are: Write out markers for credit players. ideally. In most casinos. When you get rated. the floorperson can issue a buffet or coffee shop comp without requiring a higher level of approval. . And there are methods you can use to get rated without using your true name. If he doesn’t leave. shows. They often interact with players at the tables. and watch for any dealer and/or player cheating or stealing. If you don’t. you become eligible for comps. you should already have a player’s card. it’s common for a floorperson to approach you and ask whether you have a player’s VIP card or if you’d like to be rated (meaning have the pit record your play to qualify for casino comps). The floorperson may come over to chat with you periodically. it looks suspicious if you’re playing decent money and refuse to get rated. you should make every effort to look that person straight in the eye.probability. arrange for “fills” to the chip trays. in the unfortunate event you get backed-off from the game (more on this in Chapter 14). If. While this is happening. they don’t have much information on you. fill out rating slips for rated players. When you first enter a game. An informed floorperson knows that card counters like to avoid contact with the pit staff. which is what you’re trying to appear to be. and refusing to be rated is typical of a card counter’s actions. That way the person has to step away to fill out a comp form for you! The floorperson usually has limited authority in issuing comps. like many others. These are the usual things discussed by regular players. When this occurs. you find it difficult to talk and maintain the count at the same time. this helps cut down on expenses. you can still maintain the count. and restaurants. most commonly meals. If you take this approach.

and have some interaction with players. high rollers come in two basic types. Some want to feel important and be catered to. markers. the pit bosses’ performance evaluation may include the ability to cultivate new business for the casino. If a floorperson reports that a player might be a card counter. Shift managers normally don’t have a great deal of interaction with the players. checking up only when called upon. Bosses will leave this high roller alone. authorize any comps for rooms. They do pay attention to high rollers who bet at or above a specific level. pit bosses usually make a point of introducing themselves. They want the pit boss to pay attention to them. They want to impress everyone around that they’re high rollers.” How the high roller reacts after that determines whether the pit boss will hang around to chat or step away. “Let me know if you need anything.In many casinos. . in many cases. this suspicion will first be reported to the pit boss. Shift Manager All pit bosses on a shift report to the shift manager. gourmet meals. Requests for higherlevel comps. complete endless paperwork. Generally. the pit boss desires to demonstrate that he’s part of a classy operation that caters to plenty of high rollers and doesn’t need to dote on the players. or shows. the pit boss either observes the player personally or notifies surveillance to observe the player. They keep records of all fills. When a high roller is playing. and might even appear to be shy. such as airfare reimbursements or full room. and drops (cash going into the drop boxes). In this case. In some of the larger casinos. or both. if a floorperson suspects a player of being a card counter. are more subdued and low-key. Others don’t have such ego demands. schedule breaks for floorpersons. and beverage (“RFB”) comps require. the shift manager’s approval. food. handing over their business card and saying. This is based on the marketing strategies taught to the casino pit staff. Pit Bosses Pit bosses are responsible for all activities related to the tables within their assigned pit.

who runs the entire gaming operation. Ask questions about the casino.Casino Manager The shift managers for all three shifts report directly to the casino manager. a well-dressed man or woman with a huge smile may approach you. known as the “eye in the sky. about the restaurants. you may have contact with hosts. The casino manager normally interacts with only the highest of high rollers playing in the casino. If this visit occurs during a positive count. and talk. he’ll leave. floorpersons. Keep talking until the shuffle (if you can). if it becomes evident that you’re distracted. the casino manager ensures that the player is extended the highest level of comps the casino has to offer. about a line of credit. my name is ____ and I’m a casino host here. manned by individuals monitoring the activities of all the customers. probably trying to keep track of the running count. In the marketing area. and just make some generally brief (you hope) small-talk. and say “Hi. It may appear to be a difficult task to juggle all this. extend a hand. stand up to shake hands with the host and position yourself so you can easily shift your attention back and forth from the table to the host without too much head-turning.” The host will give you a business card. To learn more about the inner workings of casino marketing. I recommend reading Deke Castleman’s Whale Hunt in the Desert. and talk to the host. you can stop playing (if the count is negative). play your hand. Casino Surveillance Throughout the casino are many cameras and two-way mirrors from above the casino floor. but it can be accomplished with some practice. ask you some questions about yourself. Since the host wants you to put money in action. and bosses—is representative of the gaming operations area. as well as monitoring casino personnel working the floor. look the host straight in the eye. While you’re playing. In this case.” is responsible for . This form of surveillance. Casino Hosts The above chain of command—dealers. When this occurs. Take your time when trying to keep the count.

This is done in three ways. Some casinos hire former cheats. Pay attention to ensure accuracy when the cashier is counting both your chips and cash. beer. Though this method is most common. and players counting cards or utilizing any advantage techniques. film. Remember to tip! Tipping Let’s discuss how and when to tip the dealer. The pit staff commonly believes that card counters don’t tip. as well as your own. coffee. any dealers deviating from proper procedures. and photograph any player(s) and tables(s) as instructed by any pit personnel for further review. Dealers make a portion of their income from tips. The surveillance staff watches a video monitor of any given table. the dealer is required by the house to take the winnings and deposit them into the toke box. as the word in the pit and surveillance is that this is the preferred drink of card counters. Note: Avoid drinking bottled water. to work in their surveillance departments. Place a chip in front of your bet. if you win the hand. or whatever your pleasure. wine. if the hand turns out where you need to double down or split. it’s far from best for two reasons. You’re not required to match the tip portion on a double down. which are referred to in the casino industry as “tokes” (short for “token”). you end up putting out more money for the dealer’s original bet. and you can order a cocktail. Cocktail Servers Drink runners visit the tables every so often. who know just about every trick in the book. Most casinos film every table.detecting anyone stealing or cheating. You outright lay a chip on the table and tell the dealer it is a tip. He doesn’t have the option to “let it ride” and benefit if you have a hot streak. Cashier You’ll visit the cashier “cage” to exchange your chips for cash. When winning. soda. Second. First. Films are normally reviewed only when deemed necessary. They can monitor. Often you feel . it’s a bet for the dealer on that hand. indicating that win or lose. you may place an occasional modest toke for the dealer.

You may even ask the dealer. you don’t need to say anything to the dealer when placing the chip on top. there’s less incentive for a dealer to be in cahoots with a generous tipper. “You’ve got something riding on this hand. Remember that our edge is small and overtipping can eat into profits. If you need to double or split. When playing 1-deck or 2-deck games where a cut card isn’t usually . If you are playing in such a casino. tipping can become a more strategic part of your game. Dealers are naturally hesitant to understate the amount of tips earned for tax purposes.” If you win the hand. Finally. Some casinos still allow dealers to keep their own tips. Here’s a good method for toking the dealer. it’s good to tip in this manner if a boss is watching and you want to demonstrate that you’re tipping. Pooling of tips creates a fair distribution based on hours worked. Period. then lean over and tell the dealer. Actually. Place a chip on top of your bet. then win. knowing it’s on record what all dealers earned from the tip pool during any designated shift. The majority of casinos require dealers to pool all the tips. Here are a few finer points on tipping. A lot of people. because you don’t want the dealer to get in the habit of expecting a tip every time you receive a natural. therefore you have no money to tip and shouldn’t. On the other hand. “How about we let it ride?” In this method. give the dealer the one winning chip and leave the original chip for the next hand. you control the tip. there’s consistency in the dollar amounts of tips evenly distributed amongst the dealers. Wait for a positive count before placing a chip for the dealer. a dealer working a $100-minimum table generally earns more tips than a dealer at a $5-minimum table. Don’t do this too often. rather than the dealer having to follow house procedures. In addition. you don’t have to feel obligated to give up more winning chips. You’re not winning. If you’re in a losing session. since the dealer doesn’t get to keep all of the tokes personally. tip the dealer when receiving a natural. don’t tip at all. but it isn’t obligatory.obliged to. Why? For reporting purposes. as a rule.

find out when the next scheduled break is. say to the dealer. break down a $5 chip into dollars. by creating this perception. “If I did that. the dealers would never get any money from me with my luck here today. Upon placing the chip.” When a floorperson is watching the game. “This is for you. A good time to tip can be right before the break. Time your tips accordingly and place those extra chips out there modestly. toss the winning chip to the dealer. Sometimes. where the dealer may normally shuffle. if you’re playing at a $25-minimum table.” When initially buying in. it may be beneficial to place a chip on top of yours. If asked why you don’t place the bet on the side for the dealer. say. This can be an indication to the relief dealer that you’re a tipper. I feel a blackjack coming out right now.used to indicate the shuffle point. Remember that your edge is small and overtipping can wipe it out. a good time to place a chip for the dealer is deep in the deck(s) during a positive count. you have a dealer on your side before you even place your first bet! When talking to a dealer. This might lead the dealer to think that the $5 chips are for tipping. ask the dealer to break down one $25 chip into five $5 chips. especially if the relief dealer sees you placing a tip up. and if you win the hand. . Dealers also are known to say “Thanks for the bets” upon leaving the table for break. At a $5 table.

How Much is too Much? It’s important to know the type of casino in which you’re playing. Your level of betting must fit in with the club you are playing. The door to the front entrance of this place hadn’t even closed behind me when the pit boss zeroed in on me. Casino Countermeasures. betting green $25 chips sets off alarms in the pit. Early one morning I entered one such casino. All casinos have a certain “choke point” based on an amount of a player win. After a quick scan of . looking clean-cut. much of my initial practice was playing for small stakes in clubs with only six tables and a $200 maximum bet. In some places. be certain not to exceed what may be the acceptable stakes for that club. You need to identify this dollar amount and incorporate the knowledge of it into your game plan. bets of $100 don’t get as much as a blink. the casinos know that they’ll win in the long run. we outlined the roles of the various members of the casino staff. Having a built-in house advantage.14 Heat. they scrutinize the players carefully. Because casinos are in business to win money from players. in others. You don’t want to bet green chips in a club that doesn’t maintain a supply of black $100 chips in the chip trays! When playing in a club. But that’s not all that needs to fit in. They didn’t stock $100 black chips in the chip trays. An Early Experience When I first started card counting. The bosses are aware that some players attempt to implement various methods to shift the odds in their own favor. they become concerned when a player begins winning from them regularly. which prompts intense scrutiny. and Camouflage In the previous chapter. dressed in a silk jogging suit and a fanny pack. When this occurs.

I suddenly yawned and stretched my arms. carefully spreading my bets. After playing for almost 90 minutes. “My brother taught me a little about how to play. buying in for large amounts. and betting $100 black chips (see the typical card counter’s profile later in this chapter). The stereotype of a card counter is a player who wants little to no . watching my play. “It’s tough work. As I was leaving. A short while later. “I’ve been playing all night. even though he was sitting right there. You should be attired so you blend in with the other patrons. he more or less left me alone.the other patrons.” “How long have you been studying the game?” he asked. I knew that I looked out of place. Immediately. I paused before making any motions. It’s important to remember that old saying about first impressions. Caucasian male. a floorperson will usually check you out. His eyes followed me all the way to the table as I bought in for a whopping $200. I pointed to the overpayment. put an extra chip on top of the winnings. the amount you buy in for should be in accordance with the type of casino you’re in. huh?” I responded. He learned when he was in the service. then looked back at the boss. but I’m not a thief. After that. early 20ish. wearing a fanny pack. an interesting thing happened. he even asked me if I was hungry and wanted a comp to the coffee shop! Who is this Person? When you first approach a table and make your initial buy-in. As I took a firstbase seat. Nothing stands out more than an intelligent-looking. My unspoken message to him was that maybe I’m counting cards. the boss called over to the dealer. The boss then commented to me. The initial observation may continue into the first few hands you play. I played. The dealer. Therefore. When the dealer looked up. in accordance with the stakes you’re playing.” I then asked him a little about how long he’d worked in casinos. when paying me on a winning bet. he proceeded to pull up a stool and sit over my right shoulder.

This practice serves several purposes. since casino personnel are known to change clubs frequently. you have a good shot at getting away with using some different names in casinos when being rated. it’s imperative that you develop creative methods to stay under the radar. when a player declines to be rated. they have cameras! Overall. Counters. and session results. depending on the casino. . you should win some money and get a nice comp or two.attention from the pit. the name under which you’re playing will be conveyed to any other casino. you won’t be giving up much advantage by doing so.000. on the other hand. they may have the ability to pull up information based on your last visit. then return to the same casino shortly thereafter. When making your first few bets. when asked if they’d like a VIP card or to be rated. If you’re betting $100 chips or higher. If you’re identified as a counter. Use of Different Names If you’re playing at levels that won’t trigger cash transactions in the neighborhood of $10. If you do a good job in your camouflage. bet a bit higher than what your minimum bet would be. Even if you don’t give a name to get rated. wants to be rated to take advantage of all the comps he can get. Keep in mind that it’s the casino’s job to know who its patrons are. exercise caution. Just be certain that you don’t trip yourself up and forget what name you’re using in the current casino (I’ve heard stories of this happening). Keeping this in mind. The move you should make when initially arriving at the table is to actively seek out a floorperson and ask to be rated. they can still maintain information on you: your photograph. physical description. instead of betting 2 units. I recommend getting rated. if your style is to go this route. However. it raises a red flag. the bosses may get curious about you. If the game has decent rules. usually decline. Remember. in consideration of what you may be gaining when moving your bets later on. So here’s the tip. be certain to remember the name you’re using in that casino. regardless. For that reason. if you hit a casino for a nice win without providing your name. If you don’t use your real name. maybe come off with 3 units. For example. Your typical gambler. When using different names in casinos. to the extent that casinos communicate information to one another.

state that you’ll bring copies of this info for their records. You can add further distance between the two names by using a post-office-box address on one of the names. you control the situation and provide information under your terms. Bring photocopies only. here are some things you may want to do (other than leave). it’s been safer to get a players card with a bogus ID from a clerk at the players club than at the table. Continue moving your bets. The reason for this is so the two names do not appear right next to each other when someone is looking at a player list. If you’re playing at such levels. Bird or Byrd. The sweet ladies at these desks appear to be less suspicious than the pit staff. Example: Jankowitz or Yankowitz. Moving Your Bets You should do some scouting. but very subtly. for their convenience. If not. It’s best to change the first or second letter of your surname. you can get away with providing minimal information. prior to your initial play. This may cause the pit to observe your play. The dealer may call out to the pit certain bet amounts. Whatever routine you use. Get creative! Obtaining a Casino Players Card In my experience. rather than getting caught with my pants down while I’m playing at the casino. If and when this happens. . or more likely prompt them to phone surveillance to monitor your play. See if they’ll accept the information by Fax. think about calling a host before you arrive to ensure they have all the necessary information for government-reporting purposes. The only caution is if your cash buy-ins approach US$10. In this case. as to what type of bets will draw attention from the pit. This goes with my overall philosophy of being prepared before I get to the tables. which triggers the pit to see if they have your driver’s license and Social Security numbers on file.000. the dealer may be required to alert the pit about it. Ask for a cocktail. If you increase your bet to a certain level.One of the better methods of using different names is to use a different spelling of your real name.

hitting 12 vs. Talk to the dealer. alongside your bet). Making these plays is part of your edge. Playing Your Hands Conduct your play as though most pit and surveillance personnel are in tune with perfect basic strategy play and are able to identify a player applying it. know-it-all. wink to either of them. place a bet for the dealer (in this instance. Talk to other players. make it your last play. at times your count will call for it. ten. 2 or 3. all of a sudden starts insuring stiff hands.Ask the floorperson for a comp.7 against a dealer’s upcard of 9. The word in the pit is that only two types of players split tens: either complete morons or card counters. split tens early in the session. and not solely as the count dictates. If you’re winning. whisper to the dealer or the floorperson. Here are some tips on how to get away with splitting tens. or otherwise obnoxious player at the table. and split those tens! If you have a play calling for splitting tens and you’re getting attention from the pit. With minimum bets up. and hitting a hand of A. or A. If there is a loud-mouthed. A risky play is splitting tens. “I bet if I split tens this person will leave. hitting 16 vs. ten. which can lead to heat. it aggravates other players at the table. In addition to getting pit attention. One of the biggest red flags used to identify card counters is when a player who. I’m not saying that you should never split tens. Talk to the floorperson. . Some typical plays that communicate that you’ve “read the book” are never taking insurance. However. giving the message that you do so at will.” When the opportunity arises. this is one that can bring immediate attention. after not insuring a natural or a hand of 20. A player who uses the surrender option properly may be suspect to an alert staff.

the pit and surveillance use various methods. bends. Someone observing the game from behind the table. Check to ensure the deck(s) is complete. or unusually large shoes that may appear to be out of proportion with the player’s height.” such as a concealed computer. the pit will look for any unusual movements of the player’s feet. Check the cards to see if there are any unusual markings. pit personnel are instructed to: Check if player is pinching (removing chips) or capping (adding chips) bets. observing your game. . The best-known concealed blackjack computers are housed in a pair of shoes. Here’s a sequence of methods used. A casino employee at the table. Such a player needs to sit in an unnatural position. such as a chip. the floorperson may scan the discards. they may wonder why that player is winning. To determine if a player is cheating. To determine if a player is counting cards. or passing information to player. Most casinos require a call to surveillance once a certain win level is reached. It’s a felony to use a device when playing in most casinos. If a player is noticed increasing a bet after several small cards appeared in the previous round dealt. along with some of the countermeasures.When You Start Winning If the bosses see that a player is winning and doing well enough to reach the choke point. overpaying. With this knowledge. posing as a player. to keep track of the cards played and determine perfect play. Check if dealer is doing anything outside of procedures. Two members of the pit staff observing the game from within. Pit personnel are also trained to suspect that a player could be using a “device. or warps. A common ploy is for a casino employee to walk behind the player and pretend to drop something. Observing the player’s betting pattern. to get a close look at the player’s shoes.

The pit is looking for you to do something. you may even notice the dealer slowing down the speed of the game (on instructions from a supervisor) to facilitate an evaluation. the floorperson(s) watching your game is nowhere in sight. as they’ve read the books that suggest this move. All of a sudden. then making a phone call. they will run a skills check to determine if the player is employing a card-counting system. Right? Wrong! Your play is being monitored from above. Some players think it’s a good idea to split the bet into two hands when this occurs. Here’s the textbook procedure. and a decision will be made as to what actions will be taken. Floorperson informs pit boss. you think you’re safe and can spread to your heart’s content. If the player pulls back the bet. it confirms the pit’s suspicions. Pit boss. that they follow before backing off a suspected card counter: Player is observed by floorperson and suspected of counting cards (usually after 15 minutes). Guess again! These days. there’s a chance that surveillance is being put on your play. Leave the club before they have the opportunity to get a handle on your play. If they’re performing such a live evaluation on your play. you may notice your table appears to be unsupervised. I suggest playing short sessions. After such a phone call. used by many casinos. (See “Surveillance Techniques. the phone will ring in the pit (the call may even go to a different pit as a relay). If you notice the pit initially observing your game.” for some updated methods. surveillance uses different computerized methods to track a player.A common countermeasure is to instruct the dealer to shuffle immediately after the player increases the bet size. . who has reason to believe that the player is counting cards. It’s my understanding that they’ll run this test for a minimum of a half-hour. At this time. Using any of these methods. who steps in and observes player (5–15 minutes).) You Wanna Be in Movies? The phone call has been made and your play is now being observed by surveillance. If surveillance makes you as a counter. It’s crucial to leave the bet out when the dealer shuffles.

using any advantage play. you may be given the message in various ways. Barring from Play Once the decision has been made not to allow you to play blackjack in a casino. card counters lose much of their advantage. They also know that with poor penetration. from hints to formal notification. Biometrica Book. without saying a word to you. “We’re on to you and you won’t get a decent game here. If the player is listed in the Griffin Book. do what they’re telling you to. or the casino’s own “book” as a known card counter or cheating player. In this instance.” Again. based on the amount of the player’s bets. When they suspect a player of counting. floorpersons may instruct the dealer to shuffle sooner or move the cut card up to worsen the penetration. How much the player stands to win from the casino per hour. Note: This type of extra shuffling actually costs the casino money in the long run. since it leads to downtime during which they’re not winning bets from the losing . or cheating. Do just that. informing the following: If the player is counting cards. permit further play. Leave. then phones the pit boss. They’re saying. or refer the matter to a shift supervisor for a decision.phones surveillance. “You seem to be a little too tough on us. Based on the above information. Surveillance monitors the player for a minimum of 30 minutes. they want you to leave. Can We Buy You Dinner?—A nice way of being told that a club doesn’t want your action is when a floorperson approaches you and tells you something to the effect that. Why not have dinner on us. then try playing at another casino?” Shuffling Up or Moving Up the Cut Card—You were previously getting decent penetration and the pit knows this. enumerated below. The floorperson is telling you that the casino doesn’t want your action and you should pick up your chips and leave. Deal Around You—A floorperson will instruct the dealer to deal around you. not allowing you to play. pit boss makes the decision on whether to back off the player.

Restriction to Shoe Games Only—After observing your playing single. the first thing you should do is insist on speaking to the Director of Surveillance to demonstrate the evidence of the obvious false accusation. you may do so only on shoe games. casinos are known to take this cheap shot. as well as the inner workings of the casinos. whereby exhibiting . and ask you to step away from the table to speak with you. It’s good to be aware of your legal rights. the casino does have the right to detain you if they have “probable cause” to believe that you’ve committed an illegal act (e. informing you that if you wish to continue playing 21.or double-deck games. such as a surveillance video. In the rare event that a casino attempts to force you into a back room under the guise that they believe you were cheating. You’re welcome to play any other casino game offered. you run the risk of being arrested for trespassing. Getting Backed Off—A pit boss will approach you and ask you to step away from the table to speak with you. of such. The Trespass Act—If you’ve already been formally barred from a casino and attempt to return to play 21. possibly accompanied by a uniformed security guard. The Formal Barring—A pit boss will approach. Flat-Bet or Bet-Spread Restriction—A pit boss may approach you. The Surveillance Department is separate from Table Games Operations and Security. However. informing you that if you wish to continue playing 21. Since probable cause can be and has proven to have been used as a lame excuse to detain players. a pit boss may approach. You’ll be told that your 21 play is too strong for the casino and you’re not permitted to play the game in that casino any more. cheating). If a decision has been made to detain you..g. Backroom Detention—The casino doesn’t have the legal right to detain you if you’re merely counting cards or using any other form of “legal” advantage play. You’ll be told that you must leave the premises immediately and are no longer permitted to reenter the casino at any time. there’d better be irrefutable evidence.players. you’ll have to either flat bet (bet the same amount each hand) or spread only 3-1 (or whatever they decide).

Armed with such tools. and .such knowledge may cause casino employees to think twice about what they’re trying to pull off. decisions to track a player were initiated from the casino floor. without the knowledge of pit personnel. When you consider the number of tables in respect to the number of surveillance operators. They serve the casino industry by identifying and keeping records on cheats. many surveillance departments take a more proactive approach and make decisions to track players. Exchange of Information Among Casinos If you’re barred from a casino that has sister properties. so the card-counting tactics still have some use. Whether they retain this photograph and other information for their own records or share such things with other casinos is another story. chances are that your photograph will be circulated. Nowadays. not all casinos have sophisticated technology. thieves. chances are they have your photograph. Now they have access to some state-of-the-art technology to do the job. Many casinos retain the services of companies that specialize in gaming protection. Except in extreme cases. Besides. card counters. If you’ve been formally barred from a casino. be aware that the casino has identified you as a card counter. it’s easy to see how certain events can go by unnoticed. Griffin Investigations Griffin has been in the business of providing surveillance for its clients (casinos) for more than 30 years. such as getting “back-roomed. Surveillance Techniques Technology has come a long way in its ability to identify card counters. it’s only as good as the individual operating it. some casinos have the ability to identify a skilled player from the eye in the sky in a very short time. In the past. Impressive as some of this equipment may be.” forget about what you think your rights are and just leave the place. In all of these instances. at times. casinos were limited to watching erratic bet spreads and any small tip-off that would lead to suspicion. Years ago. There are many other places you can play.

recite the values of cards played. This database enables a surveillance operator to run a search based on gender. Biometrica offers a facial recognition module manufactured by Viisage. Inc. via the use of a speech-recognition feature. sold by Casino Software & Services. even personally follow players to their hotels. Inc. This is much more effective than flipping through four volumes of mug shots. Biometrica In 1999. date of birth. by adding new entries. in an attempt to get their true identity. They maintain a book (now in four volumes with thousands of entries) that contains names. height. Blackjack Survey Voice (BJSV) This product. etc. age.players employing any type of advantage technique. The Griffin GOLD product offers an automated database of all the entries compiled from the four-volume book. which was developed by the former Griffin agent. Griffin agents are known to follow players from casino to casino. enables a casino surveillance agent to view a table and. which then analyzes the player’s skill level. debrief taxi drivers. address. I’m told that the product has been marketed with claims that card counters . offering the same services. This product can interface with the FaceIT facial recognition system. giving the central headquarters of Griffin Investigations the ability to observe the activity of any player(s) or tables(s) via live video. race.. record license plates. Part of their service is supplying this book to clients and keeping it updated. and other pertinent information into a computer. Inc. manufactured by Visionics. bets made. and descriptions of identified players. the Griffin 2000 System. including a similar database to that of Griffin GOLD. weight. Inc. a lead agent of Griffin left the organization and joined forces with Biometrica.. Griffin also has agents who observe any suspected player from the casino floor and gather as much information on that person as possible. The database of information comes from Casino Visual Identification (CVI).. or any combination of these variables. enables a casino to utilize a remote hookup. One of their products. photographs. As a companion to the CVI database.

Shuffle Tracker: Player’s betting pattern reveals consistency of large bets as slugs of high cards appear. summarizes the player’s activity and establishes that the player’s bet movements correlate with that of the count. In terms of betting. it’s first established whether the player is playing at an advantage. In its evaluation of the player’s betting pattern. In its evaluation of the play decisions. prevent BJSV from identifying a card counter. If so.” Let’s break it down further. the consistency is not enough to play at a strong enough advantage over the house. it’s believed. BJSV then attempts to determine why. then determines whether such deviation provides an advantage to the player based on the count. Card Counter: Player’s betting pattern occasionally correlates to the count. hands dealt per hour. and percent advantage. After reviewing the results of hands played. BJSV calculates a dollar figure indicating the player’s potential “win per hour.can be identified after roughly 100 hands of play in a 6-deck game. BJSV. In terms of the play of hands. After calculating the player’s average bet. it’s easy enough for any tracking software to determine whether a player is using basic strategy in playing decisions. as opposed to if the player was applying strict basic strategy decisions. BJSV indicates the percent advantage that was gained. Hole-Card Player: A high percentage of the player’s deviations from basic strategy are not consistent with the count. Even the use of well-known “bet-camouflage” techniques doesn’t. BJSV classifies players as: Good Card Counter: Player’s betting pattern and deviations from basic strategy show a consistent pattern resembling a highly skilled card counter. Basic Strategy Player: Player plays basic strategy with no deviations . However. using a card-counting system. as opposed to if the player was betting the same amount on each hand dealt (flat betting). but would be the correct play with knowledge of the dealer’s hole card. BJSV identifies this. BJSV indicates the percent advantage that was gained. When a non-basic-strategy play is made.

A player whose year-to-date win record is in excess of $XXXXX. the mapping process starts .g. apparently. learn how to work them to your advantage. Believe me. A player makes a questionable play decision (e. A player who is winning more than $XXXX during current session. the above information can provide you with more than enough insight on how to develop methods to foil BJSV. A player who increases a bet by more than X times previous bet. While I can’t point out the specific ways that BJSV can be thwarted. A hundred key points are mapped and the system. can create a match once 14 of the 100 features are captured. A player who buys in for more than $XXXXX. where they can create a database resulting from photographs taken by Department of Motor Vehicles when people apply for their driver’s licenses.. there are inadequacies. BJSV is a slick product. splitting tens). The majority of these products are based (in one way or another) on the Eigen Face method of deconstructing and reconstructing a facial map in digital form. the following information should steer you in the right direction. most places use a random sampling of three contiguous shoes of play. A player who won more than $XXXX on a prior visit. Facial-Recognition Software Use of this application is growing at a rapid pace. Overall. and keep your lips sealed. A player whose lifetime win record is in excess of $XXXXX. Random Bettor: Player’s betting pattern has no correlation whatsoever to the count. Here are a few circumstances that may prompt a skills check: A player betting more than $XXX per hand. When running a “skills check” on BJSV. In all of these systems. Find them. and a clever player can beat the system. As with any automated product.and no bet movements correlating to the count. insurance. State governments are becoming major users of this product.

the surveillance room takes your picture. a search is conducted using the existing database. The system focuses on the distance between the eyes and captures the first group of possible matches from the database. an alert is sent to a surveillance operator for review. Let’s walk through the process on how the systems operate. a casino possesses a database of faces from which the product seeks matches. Since this key point is only one of many. the system doesn’t rely solely on this one key point and continues to search additional key points in a defined sequence until the most perfect match is realized. First. It’s necessary for both eyes to be visible for the product to work. In addition to the distance between eyes. However. though not practical. the results of this search are numerous. it can’t run an accurate match. other key points used for recognition are: Head shape Jaw structure Chin Nose shape Cheekbones Given the above information. as profiles don’t work.with the eyes. The photos in this database are referred to as “enrollment photos. To realize the highest accuracy level. It’s possible. a front-face image must be captured. This is referred to as a “probe photo. This search occurs in a couple of seconds! Note that regardless of whether a match is realized. to have a system set up to scan every person entering a building.” If you’re playing blackjack and a casino employee gets suspicious. There could be a “hot list” where. the probe photo is then entered into the database and becomes a new enrollment photo. This database is continually updated with new and better-quality photos. Here’s a hint on one weakness of the system. Another . you can figure out subtle methods to beat the system.” When your photo is scanned into the computer. If it can’t capture an accurate read on both eyes. The first point of the search is the eyes. if an entrant matches a face on it.

important factor is that poor lighting, glare, and reflections can prevent the
system from getting an accurate read on both eyes, is necessary. Get the
picture?

Countermeasures
As we can see, the casinos mean business. Therefore, if we wish to
maintain longevity in counting cards, we must take specific measures to
survive. Here are some things to consider.
Blend in with the crowd and do everything possible not to fit the
“typical-card-counter” profile.
Play stakes acceptable to the casino in which you are playing.
Get rated using a false name.
Keep alert as to pit activity.
Limit your sessions to one hour. Based on the textbook procedures most
casinos follow, it will take them this long to get a handle on your play. The
goal, of course, is to avoid detection, but if they do happen to detect your
play, the goal then is to get out of the casino before being asked to leave.
Be aware that just because you had a successful session, won some
money, and walked out of the club without incident, does not mean the
casino isn’t on to you. Many casinos have a policy in which they review the
films of all black-chip players at the end of each day/shift. This is done for
several purposes. One is to determine the level of comps to extend such
players. Upon review of such tapes, if they note that you’re a solid basic
strategy player, your comps won’t be as good as those extended to an
unskilled player. If it’s noted that you’re a card counter, you may no longer
be welcome to play 21. If this happens, you won’t know it until you enter
the casino again (if you use the same name). The floorperson, upon entering
the name into the pit computer, will be alerted. Surprise!
A more recent approach is for the identification of card counters to be
performed strictly by surveillance. The philosophy of many of the casino
corporations calls for their front-line staff (to be more customer-service
oriented to keep the clients happy and coming back. Hence, the pit may not
be responsible for identifying card counters. However, they’re responsible

for ensuring that proper actions are taken against any such player
previously identified by surveillance or other sources.
What does this mean? If you step into a casino for the first time and
count cards for three hours, there’s a chance you may play without incident.
After you leave, based on review of the surveillance videos, you may be
identified as a counter. If you return the next day or shortly thereafter,
chances are they’ll back you off very quickly. In this new method of
surveillance, you won’t see the phone calls from the pit to surveillance
mentioned earlier in the chapter.
In the past, the pit would pay attention to big winners. Nowadays, the
smarter ones watch anyone winning consistently over a period of time.
Think you’re safe playing low stakes? Not necessarily. If you’re at a table
playing low stakes along with one or more players betting high stakes, the
tape is reviewed, solely due to the heavy action, and the play of the entire
table may be analyzed. You can be caught that way.
In summary, it’s getting tougher to win money from the casinos by
counting cards. Surveillance has gotten very sophisticated and, as a player,
you must keep abreast of the various techniques used by casinos. In the past
a good act would be able to fool them, but nowadays it won’t always work.
The computers see just the numbers and not the act.
To Minimize Detection
• Avoid playing a same club/shift more than once every few months.
• When playing the same club during a different shift, use a different
name under which you get rated.
• Be aware of which casinos may share information.
• If playing low stakes, avoid playing at tables with high rollers.
• Avoid playing at a table where the chip tray is low on chips and in
need of a fill. This would halt the action and bring attention to the
table.
• Consider employing team play techniques (see Chapter 27).
• Consider playing with the use of disguises.

• Develop skills in methods not detectable by surveillance.

The Typical Card Counter Profile
The following are some of the characteristics of a typical inexperienced
card counter, whom most pit and surveillance staff members would identify
immediately:
Player’s Actions
• Stares at all the cards.
• Moves lips while looking at cards.
• Not talking much.
• Appears very serious at the table.
• Meticulously stacks and sorts chips.
• Looks guilty, annoyed, or suspicious when spoken to.
• Observes game from behind the tables, often prior to entering a
game.
• Does not order liquor to drink, but most commonly bottled water or
juice.
• Sits at 3rd base.
• Not interested in being rated.
• Does not tip.
• Shows no emotion when winning or losing.
• “Sneakily” pockets (hides) chips.
• Obvious in attempt to put on an act. (Many novice counters make
this mistake. They try to become actors without formal training. The
biggest joke to the pit is watching some graduate student trying to
give the impression of a New York hoodlum. HELLO! The books
we’ve read are available to the general public and the casino staff
read the same books.)
• Circling the pit, looking too observantly at the tables.

• Asking how many decks are being used.
Player’s Appearance
• Young, Caucasian, English-speaking male.
• Intelligent looking. Looks like a college student or professor.
• Intelligent sounding. Articulate.
• Clean-cut look. Well groomed. Maybe wearing glasses.
• Wearing sunglasses, visor, or baseball cap. Keeping head down.
• No suntan, but pale skin—if casino is located at place and time when
tourists would be sporting a suntan. (It’s wise to wear light-colored
clothing where light skin will blend in, and if you do have a tan, the
light clothing will amplify it, giving you more of a “fun-loving” type
of appearance.)

Camouflage
Attire
It’s important to dress the role. If you’re playing in a high-roller-type
casino and betting large amounts, it’s essential that you be properly attired.
In the daytime, you can get away with a golf shirt and slacks or a silk
jogging suit. Jewelry is important. In the evening you want to dress the role
even more so. A sports jacket, designer wear all around with the necessary
accessories, and a pair of expensive shoes work well. If you’re not betting
this type of money, you can tone down the look a bit. It’s a good idea to go
into the casinos where you plan to play and observe the attire on the folks
who are betting in the same range that you intend to play.
Cover Plays
Some books recommend that when counters feel as though they’re
being watched, they should make some plays contrary to the proper
strategy to throw the pit off. I don’t recommend using this tactic as often as
others may. What I do recommend is to consider altering certain properplay decisions, if you feel your act is weak and you’re being watched. Plays
you may wish to alter, even though your strategy says they are the proper

plays, include:
Insuring stiff hands.
Not insuring a natural.
Splitting tens.
Hitting a soft 18 vs. T.
Hitting 16 vs. T.
Hitting 12 vs. 2 or 3.
Proper use of the surrender option when available.
It’s not necessary to deviate from too many proper-play decisions, as the
main thing that will give you away as a counter is your bet spread. If you’re
smooth enough, you can get away with making the proper plays, which
would normally raise an eyebrow or two.
Movement of Bets
Most counters get caught by using too aggressive of a bet spread. It’s
important to master the art of moving your bets in a subtle manner. A few
tips that may help you stay below the radar:
Do not increase your bet after a losing hand.
Do not decrease your bet after a winning hand.
Leave the same bet out after a push.
When you have a large bet out and the dealer shuffles, leave the bet
out.
When increasing your bet, use a parlay method, nothing more.
Combine chips of different colors in the betting circle.
Some Tips on “Acts”
Try to develop an “act” in a manner that would blend in with your
personality. If you’re from New York City and have that accent, move your
hands and gesture when you speak. Do that often at the table. Be that
“wise-guy New Yorker.” In Mississippi casinos, they really find this type of
player an amusing novelty, whereas in Atlantic City, you simply blend in as

one of many.
Think about yourself for a moment. What are you like? Take me, for
example. In general, I’m the type of person who’s a bit shy until I get to
know someone or become more familiar with the environment I’m in. Once
at ease, I drop my guard and talk more freely. Here’s a good approach if
you’re like me: When you go into a casino, keep in mind that the pit staff
and casino hosts will probably try to schmooze you and make you feel at
home. It’s imperative that you let them think that they’re succeeding. You
can do this by talking about one of your favorite topics and acting as if
you’re sitting at a bar or in your living room with one of your longtime
friends.
The key is to be at ease, and naturally be yourself, with a few minor
amplifications. If you’re a salesperson by profession or have that overly
exuberant type of personality, ham it up! A sport is usually a good topic.
The stock market may work. If the person isn’t familiar with investing, start
explaining it, giving all kinds of advice (if this is an area of expertise for
you).
Once again, all this must appear to come naturally to you, and not be
forced.

Disguising Wins and Hiding Chips
I’ve seen it written and heard it spoken many times that the best form of
camouflage is losing. What this really means is that a player should appear to
be losing in the eyes of the casino. Whether you’re a rated player with a
play history or a one-time player at a particular casino, showing a loss or
understating wins can work wonders in alleviating heat. It all boils down to
the value of chips the casino records you leaving the table with. Your
mission is to hide some chips before you end your playing sessions.
First and foremost, it’s not a crime to remove your chips from the table
and place them in your pocket or give them to another person. Do the
casinos frown on it? Yes. But players do it and there’s no way a casino can
rightfully prohibit it. Hiding chips makes it much more difficult for pit
personnel to track a player’s win or loss. Hence, it becomes part of your job
to hide chips without the pit or surveillance staff’s knowledge. Here are

this can be an effective way to hide chips. who is not being rated. he might “assign” the amount of the difference to the player. players can give chips to wives or friends who walk up during play. A good time to pocket chips is during a dealer change. Transferring Chips—One of the flaws in the above two methods is that the pit staff keeps a close record of the chips in the dealer’s tray and the amount in front of each active player. At the same time. or otherwise anonymous. periodically remove a chip of a desired denomination. Transferring chips is a method—used most effectively with a team—to replace the unrecorded chips a player removes from a table. He has plenty in his pocket and. Timing is crucial and you want to make this move when the dealer and pit staff are busy or distracted. If a player (A) is winning. since B is unrated. The key is to give them no reason to do either. It doesn’t matter. When A leaves the table. the floorperson will recalculate the total chips. Handing Off Chips—Similarly. the total chip count won’t show a discrepancy and A has effectively disguised his win. he’s recorded as having won the same amount of chips that A pocketed. so . Using discretion and good timing. there’s no way to determine whether they’re watching and tapes can always be reviewed. The higher the denomination. As for surveillance. Here are some additional tips on handling/hiding chips: • Observe and note the pit procedures for players leaving the table. he arranges for a teammate (B). B already has chips purchased or won from a previous session. but places only some of his chips in front of him at the table. If this total is less than what his records show. When a player colors up and leaves the table. Pocketing Chips—Using a palming technique. at an opportune time (usually called in with signals). the more closely it’s monitored. When B leaves the table. to sit next to him at the table. • Determine what denomination of chip is best to pull from the game. A removes chips from the table and pockets them. using an alias. B removes the same value of chips from his pocket and places them in front of himself at the table.three of many methods. thus fudging the player’s results.

it is easy if you’re cashing out a small amount. prompting the floorperson to notice who receives it. the process can get a bit complicated by identification issues related to CTRs and SARs. While $100 chips may be freely paid out. the dealer may call out to the pit whenever a $1. which vary by casino. In this case. . • Observe and note the cashier procedures for cashing out chips. “Casinos and Personal Privacy. which varies by casino. Sounds easy. If you plan to play additional sessions at that casino. as discussed in the next chapter. don’t even think about transferring a $1. But when you reach a certain level. All you need to do now is go to the cashier window and exchange the chips for cash. Cashing Out You just won some money and leave the table with your chips.000 chip is paid. it’s beneficial to hold a predetermined amount of chips to avoid excessive cash buy-ins.care should be exercised when making this decision. • It’s easier to hide chips when other big bettors are at the table. right? Well.” You need to be well-versed in the rules and requirements and consider them before cashing.000 chip. • The amount of chips you cash out at the cashier should not be more than the amount the floorperson recorded you leaving with.

you must avoid the pitfalls and protect your personal privacy. in essence. the rule today is that an individual present some form of “government-issued photo identification” for entrance to buildings.15 Casinos and Personal Privacy Players smart enough to win must also be sharp enough not to fall prey to the manipulative methods of the casinos. to provide such documentation in order to function in a normal manner. As time marches on. or to enter a casino. You are now in the database. We’re being manipulated by what society now dictates as a necessity. Our society has made it a requirement. in the majority of instances where identification requirements exist. First and foremost. checking into a hotel room. This is especially true in the case of card counters. obtaining telephone service. This can be dangerous. opening a bank account. you’re at risk of revealing your personal information to at least one stranger. providing the issuer (government agency) with your life story. accessible to any number of interested parties. Translation: The businesses want your information for marketing. not a law. The three most common forms of official identification are driver’s license. and many other necessary day-to-day activities. it’s increasingly difficult to preserve personal privacy. simply by applying for “official” identification of any sort. Whether you’re a professional player with a winning system or a recreational player just looking to have some uncomplicated fun. It’s understandable that businesses have such requirements as a measure of protection against fraud and the like. . passport. Every time you comply with a request to present such identification. Aside from proving age to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. and military ID. However. you are. they’ve been instituted with the specific purpose of gathering as much information about as many individuals as possible. as your most critical information ends up in the database.

one that involves theft. Your driver’s license has your name. clicking a photo of your license with his cell-phone camera? What do you know about the clerk to whom you’ve just given the keys to your privacy. Some states even include your Social Security number on the face of the license. you’re given an application to fill out. Please Both individual and team players are becoming more and more concerned about privacy protection. In addition to the standard name. and maybe even your favorite sports. . Do you automatically give your driver’s license to anyone who requests it? Congratulations. They offer freebies for all who sign up for a players card. persons requesting a form of photo ID now ask for a driver’s license just out of habit. Most commonly. Did you notice the stranger standing nearby. and phone number. they may ask for your date of birth. Still. You’re at the casino cashier window and a clerk asks for your driver’s license. This one little card gives away all the data necessary to steal your identity.” Even worse. The average citizen has been brainwashed into automatically turning over a driver’s license whenever asked for a “photo ID. few other businesses toss money around so openly and freely. This in itself attracts a certain type of thinking. but open your wallet and take a look at all the wonderful information on that harmless little card. address. anniversary date. among other things. or any other casino employee with access to the casino database? Casinos love to dangle the carrot in front of players. and date of birth. Go ahead and call it paranoid. home address. Social Security number. Identity Theft and Casinos The following concerns are not limited to casinos—they apply to any business that interfaces with the general public.One of the most notorious perpetrators of this practice is the casino industry. You’ve just joined the ranks of the majority of Americans who are routinely providing unknown persons with a license to steal. All it takes is one individual with larcenous intent. Your Driver’s License.

Here again. Even if you don’t . Category #2: A government-issued photo ID (passport. any self-manufactured photo identifcation. in order to reward them with free stuff. casino credit. A passport. This requirement varies from casino to casino. for example. state-issued firearms permit). so let’s break down the term “photo ID” into three common categories: Category #1: Any respectable-looking ID card with a name and photo that resembles you (company ID card. Now add facial recognition. valet parking. the possession or use of which does not break any laws). One trick that’s always worth a try is to have whatever application is necessary already filled out. Category #1 gives you the most flexibility. medical-alert card. but as an advantage player with a desire to stay anonymous. From this point forward. However. Most casinos encourage regular use of players cards by patrons. providing a passport is preferable to a driver’s license any day. Given a choice. you may find the need to go to Category #2 (giving up only some minor details). does not provide your home address or Social Security number. in order to obtain a players card. Government-issued photo ID comprises a broad category that gives you more safety than a driver’s license. hotel rooms. you must also present a photo ID. every time you present or insert this card. then present it along with a Category #1 ID before they ask you for their choice of ID. do yourself a favor and never give your driver’s license to anyone other than a police officer. The most powerful weapon is the players club card. Category #3: Your driver’s license. government employee ID. Look at all the weapons a casino has at its disposal: players clubs. that event is recorded in the casino’s monstrous database. You should do this only in the event that the place is offering something good enough to persuade you to make the exception. military ID. Profiling Through the Players Club Casinos invest an obscene amount of energy and money in customer profiling. cameras everywhere. photo credit card.

so you’ll come back. With this in mind. he feels obligated not to “let the points go to waste. After providing the casino with all that information about yourself. If you care about your privacy and use a players card.present your card when you eat. or buy something in a retail shop. Global Cash Access acquired it in 1998 and increased the number of services offered. bank account numbers—an identity thief’s dream! Central Credit has provided services for the casino industry since the late 1950s. However. purchase show tickets. The perks offered by casinos are a part of the gaming experience for casual players and even calculated into the gains of many advantage players. as well as its ability to invade an individual’s personal . give them the bare minimum you need to to get what you want. When a player has points on a players card. play golf. if not mandatory. The main reason for gathering this information is to enable the casino to market to you. Yes. Am I saying you shouldn’t use a players card? No. Throw in a free meal or two? The odds of the return visit have just increased. Keep in mind that many casinos have a policy whereby all players at a specified bet level must present valid identification or they will not permit play. addresses. be aware that it comes at the price of privacy. that information is captured. to get the highest return. using a players card is beneficial. which is to say.” Send a customer an offer for a free room and there’s a good chance he’ll be a return visitor. and lose more money. if the purchase is made using a credit card. gamble. they do have that power! Casino Credit In three words: Don’t do it! Take a look at a typical application for a casino credit line. I recommend that you take measures to limit the information casinos can obtain about you. it goes into a database … and we all know how secure databases are! Imagine an employee who manages to get a copy of a casino’s database of premium players: names.

It could be $5. some casinos have specific thresholds at which they won’t allow further buy-ins for an unidentified player.. the player’s personal information is in its database. Casinos have historically been targets for these practices.000 (or its equivalent in other currencies). Here is an important point.000 mark. If the customer is a regular player. Notice the phrase “totaling more than $10. A casino is required to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with the IRS.000. your total buy-ins are $11. If the customer refuses to provide this. your name is checked against that database when you check in. It is federal law to report a cash transaction . In fact. Officially. identifying any customer who conducts a cash transaction or series of cash transactions totaling more than $10.000 in a gaming day. and Social Security number. he will no longer be permitted to engage in cash transactions of any type.000 in chips. The CTR details the customer’s name. The stated purpose of this requirement is to thwart laundering of money used to finance terrorist activities. $7.000. or any such amount. At some casinos. Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Federal law requires casinos to report all currency transactions in excess of $10. If not.000 and the casino is required to identify you. a casino employee will ask for a form of government identification. While Global Cash Access provides identity verification of casino patrons to protect all parties from identity theft. date of birth.privacy. Casino Credit Services can provide casinos with a dossier of all a subject’s recorded casino activities.000 in chips. he probably has a players card with an account number and the casino should already have the information in its system. drug trafficking. address. I’ll bet you didn’t know how invasive the simple process of getting a hotel room could be. which is accessible by any number of casino employees worldwide.e. i. then later in the day go to a different table and buy another $6. and other crimes.” If you go to a table game and buy $5. one who won’t surrender ID when first asked. buy-ins have to exceed the $10.000 in a gaming day. The casino staff tracks cash buy-ins and attempts to identify anyone who looks like a threat to exceed the threshold early on.

The same goes for buying in for chips with cash at a table. That is not an additional physical exchange of currency.000 = federal law. and ask to buy in for another $3. A simple way to view this is as follows.000. However.000 cash down in exchange for chips. That means you don’t have to produce ID prior to $10.exceeding $10.000 and leave the table with a total of $17. or possibly even backed off. But keep in mind that if a casino asks for ID and you refuse to provide it. including any other cash transactions you’ve made that day. The regulations as outlined under the Bank Secrecy Act clearly define a currency transaction as the physical exchange of currency between two parties.000 buy-in. So playing with chips you’ve won shouldn’t trigger a CTR. When you go to a casino gaming table and place $5. you will be watched very closely from that point on. the casino cannot legally give you the cash unless it has information (obtained from a government ID) on file. that transaction will likely accrue toward your total. An ID request resulting from cash transactions below $10. you’re using casino chips to play. Privacy problems can arise out of the blue as a result of CTR issues. that is a physical exchange of currency. it’s not uncommon to buy in for something like $9. at which point you’ll be asked for ID. get on a bad run. Casino policy may impose additional actions or requirements of identification when cashing out chips. If you refuse.000 = internal casino policy.000 in cash transactions. If you attempt to cash in $10.000. They include the following: . After that initial $5. any requirement to obtain ID prior to the $10.000 in chips. the casino is within its legal rights to refuse to allow the additional buy-in. but once you cash them.000 point is solely dictated by internal casino procedures and not by federal law.001 in chips. say you win $12.000. Now. For example. An ID request resulting from cash transactions exceeding $10. It only becomes defined as an exchange when you go to the cashier and exchange those chips for cash.

but understand that your refusal might prompt other actions. If you keep your cash activity under $10. making multiple cashouts in a deliberate attempt to avoid a CTR is called “structuring. Since casinos are known to track these chips very closely.” a crime for which you can be arrested.000-denomination chips or higher. as explained below. with tracers implanted in high-denomination chips. That could also be considered a form of structuring.• The cashier may require identification any time chips higher than a designated denomination are presented. or friend. relative. you’re not legally required to provide the casino with your personal information. However.m.000 in cash transactions. it’s most common with $5. if your usual level of play causes you to exceed $10. For convenience. in one casino. only you should attempt to cash it or break it down at a table for future play. Cashing out different amounts at different times can be perfectly legitimate. . And while it might be good to know. many players never accept them at the table. To summarize. but rather work only with $1.” you’ll have bigger problems to deal with. it makes sense to keep an ample amount of chips available if you plan to play more at a casino.m. A gaming day (or designated 24-hour period) might run from midnight until 11:59 p. Most customers won’t know what constitutes the casino’s gaming day. Caution must be exercised if this type of chip is in use. in another. In such cases. then dealing with CTRs will be something you have to get used to. while it’s 7 a.000. you legally cannot break down your chips and have them cashed out for you to avoid a CTR. Keep in mind that if it’s determined that you’re “structuring. which means it’s rarely necessary to cash out large amounts at any one time. • Some casinos use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.m.000 or lower denominations. you have to be careful about what you do with that knowledge. While this varies by casino. as its definintion differs among casinos. If you’re with a spouse. Be careful and obey the law. until 6:59 a. • The cashier may phone the pit where you recently played to verify the amount of chips you walked away with. The term “gaming day” also needs to be considered. as you’ll see below.

000 benchmark. Financial institutions have a “better safe than sorry” mentality on this issue. provided they filed an SAR. patrons frequently move from casino to casino. The filing institution is prohibited from disclosing to other institutions that an SAR has been filed on a patron. If this occurs and a casino reveals that an SAR was filed. the casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. It’s generally understood that banks use a $5. anyone can be subject to such reporting. Quite serious! Additionally. In the casino business. Guess what? Casinos are considered financial institutions and are required to comply with this regulation as well. A player may even bring chips from one casino to cash in another.Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) Financial institutions are required by federal regulations to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) when they suspect that a violation of federal criminal law or regulations is being committed or attempted and involves the money being transacted. whereas casinos are more likely to use $3. They fall under the protection of the Safe Harbor Provision. The Bank Secrecy Act prohibits the institution filing the SAR from informing the filing’s subject.000. Suppose you’re detained by casino security and local police get involved. Given the vagueness of the requirements. It’s not uncommon for one casino to call another and inquire about a suspicious patron.000 requires a CTR filing? The $10. that casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. In fairness to casinos. where they’re granted immunity for any consequences that stem from illegal transactions.000 number can score you both a CTR and an SAR if someone finds you suspicious! You’re in the blind with regard to when such filings are made. The actual dollar amount that warrants an SAR filing is also vague. Remember how a cash transaction in excess of $10. However. they encounter many players who engage in . Casinos are especially sensitive to this. there are two areas in which a patron is protected by this same Bank Secrecy Act. If a casino employee informs the police that they filed an SAR on the player. the filing institution is not permitted to inform law-enforcement authorities that an SAR was filed.

most maintain Multiple Transaction Logs. Other than determining whether you’re old enough to engage in casino play. but not required for an SAR. the casino is prohibited by law from completing the transaction. the pit staffs in most casinos aren’t knowledgeable about the whys of these requests for . • If a patron does not provide identification when a CTR is required.000 for CTR reporting. the casino may not allow you to make any further currency exchanges.000 during the course of a day. the casino can implement this as internal policy to protect itself. • The patron’s Social Security number is necessary for a CTR.000 mark. However.000 threshold if the casino deems you to be suspicious. in the absence of that. a physical description of the patron. To aid in tracking. Here are some of the major differences between the CTR and SAR reports: • Federal law has an established threshold of $10. This will trigger a CTR. which is subject to the judgment of the casino. but at this point it’s not a legal requirement to obtain official identification. Be Informed From my experiences and those of others I’ve spoken with. Even though you may not have even approached the $10. a refusal to complete a transaction could be a result of internal casino policy and not federal law.multiple cash exchanges throughout a 24-hour period and it’s difficult to keep track. the casino is under no such prohibition by law. an SAR can be filed below the $10. The tricky part is that if you wish not to comply with the request. but none for SAR reporting. Additionally. and any attempt by a casino to do so is merely an anticipatory effort based on internal policy. They may be logging your transactions. This is risky territory due to its vagueness. With an SAR. the only legal reason a casino has to identify you is if you engage in cash transactions in excess of $10. making decisions subject to opinion rather than verifiable facts. in which they either have the patron’s player card number or.

This is not limited to card counters playing blackjack. so others can better protect their own privacy.” You’re now armed with some knowledge that will help protect your privacy. to protect yourself. you may come up with new tricks of your own. “The government requires it. Players (including me) have encountered situations where pit staff asks for ID at specific points below the $10K mark. stating. all perfectly legal and within your rights. . but applies to many other areas of life.identification. The best way to battle devious practices is to educate others. As you implement the necessary measures outlined here. Don’t forget to pass them on. Their actions give every indication that they were lightly trained and simply proceed in a robotic manner when they ask for IDs.

The Black Zone .

Card Mucking A player attempts to remove one or more cards from play and use them . indicating the desire to stand on that hand. a cheating player in a hand-held game uses the cards to cover the pinch. In Cheating at Blackjack Squared.” Note that I’m mentioning methods of player cheating strictly as a point of awareness.16 Cheating This chapter is divided into two sections. This technique is performed at the time a player slips the initial two cards underneath the chip(s). Pinching Bets A player with a weak hand attempts to remove one or more chips from the original bet. In this move. I’m confident that I play well enough using honest methods. he shows a method of capping bets during the double-down process. Those using such techniques are committing a crime. by Dustin Marks. he slides an additional chip underneath. That’s the sole purpose of pointing out their illegal acts. We’ve never utilized any method of cheating. Again. While doing so. where the player picks up the cards and uses them to mask his move. A cheating player attempting this most likely does so in a hand-held game. The first is “Player Cheating” and the second is “House Cheating. It’s also possible to cap a bet by slipping an additional chip under the initial chips. it’s common to “accidentally” knock over the chips. Player Cheating Capping Bets A player who’s dealt a strong hand attempts to place one or more chips on top of the initial bet. you should leave the table immediately. You don’t want to be anywhere near cheating in a casino. In the event you observe another player cheating in any form.

g. In that case. the player then removes the desired card. This would balance out the fact that the dealer’s friend wins. a dealer could have a friend sitting at a blackjack table and perform certain maneuvers (e. For example. In the old days. because if the table ends up a “house loser. a player might draw and deliberately bust. the cheating dealer would perform certain maneuvers to ensure that another player at the table loses money. When the dealer moves on. give a cheating player knowledge of the dealer’s hole card and/or the next card to be dealt. without tossing in the hand. some casino employees may try to test the boundaries. which can best be seen with the use of special eyeglasses. Another creative method of this illegal practice is to use a fluorescent coloring.. if a high roller was having a streak of luck. a skilled card mucker can constantly switch cards in and out of the game to improve a hand. Card Marking Marking cards can. For example. A ring or sharpened fingernail is a common tool for this illegal practice. A card mucker can be caught with an additional card if the pit decides to change decks. Such information would be extremely valuable. Cheating players can attempt to mark cards in various ways. Now this dealer has a bit of a problem. This is very powerful information for a player to have. the cheating player uses a sharp object to nick the edges of certain cards. Such cheating is usually not sanctioned by the house. One of the most common methods is by “bending” certain cards. To avoid this. In another method of marking cards. at times. A player who bends all the aces in a 2-deck game will sometimes know that an ace will be dealt prior to making a bet. using sleight-of-hand techniques.when needed in a future hand. House Cheating In recent years. However. the pit person will count down the deck(s) and realize that one or more cards are missing. large corporations that run the casinos have attempted to ensure that casino games are handled in a legitimate manner.” the dealer may be placed under scrutiny and tapes of the table would be reviewed a bit more closely. With this illegal move. the house might be inclined to bring in a “special-situation . overpayments) to help this friend win.

dealer. Dustin mentions that while it’s rare. If that card is beneficial to the player’s hand. the dealer pitches the second card instead. The cheating dealer peeks at the top card by positioning the deck in a certain manner. which differs when a second is dealt. In one form of cheating.” a card “mechanic” capable of manipulating the cards in a deck by various means to the dealer’s (or the casino’s) benefit. the dealer picks up the discards in a certain manner and shuffles in an unorthodox way. His rationale is that each move a dealer makes provides an opportunity for the casino to identify the form of cheating. While this method is fine in a poker game or a quiet environment. Dealers are also trained to lift their thumb when dispensing a card off the top of the deck. the best way to detect it is by sound rather than sight. One such hand can truly make all the difference! Incomplete Shuffle It’s a good idea to occasionally observe the manner in which the dealer shuffles. Dealing Seconds This method of cheating is generally performed by dealers in hand-dealt games. When a card is legitimately dealt from the top of a deck. He confirms that in his experiences house cheating is quite uncommon. Strangely enough. if a dealer uses this move. Look for consistency and a thorough mixing of the cards during each shuffle. where dealers pitch the cards rather than deal from a shoe. A skilled card mechanic dealing seconds is extremely difficult to detect. that may be a sign of dealing seconds. I asked Dustin Marks. such as a doubledown card with a large bet out. it’s usually done as a one-shot deal at an opportune moment. . If the dealer’s thumb remains on the deck and appears to be pulling back as the cards are dealt. thus saving the top card until the dealer is taking a card. in a noisy casino it’s difficult to hear. This form of cheating is house sanctioned. it makes a distinct sound. author and expert authority on this topic. which may be detrimental to the players. This maneuver can also be performed if the top card benefits the dealer’s hand. to look over this chapter.

. the players at the table would be deprived of having the benefit of the aces. It’s a good idea to pay attention when this is being done. “Suggestive Cut” Considering the above shuffling method. commonly used by casinos. the dealer examines all the fronts and backs of the cards. suppose a dealer is keeping track of aces. the decision on which card is exposed as the upcard can be manipulated. we refer to all players. is deadly to players. The Preferential Shuffle This method of house cheating. there’s no law that prevents a casino from shuffling decks whenever it desires. The act of intentionally removing cards from a deck rarely occurs today. the dealer (who has knowledge of a surplus of aces remaining in the deck) shuffles. after a few rounds are dealt. A preferential shuffle is where dealers shuffle or are instructed by their superior(s) to shuffle decks when they believe that the cards remaining favor the player or when a player makes an unusually large wager. just to make sure the dealer doesn’t miss something. When we say players. they’re known to happen. For an example of how this can be detrimental to all players at the table. A cheating dealer might hand you the cut card and move the deck(s) toward your hand. positioning the cut card next to where the dealer would like it placed. If. not just card-counting players. Knowing this. Unfortunately. Therefore. Although discrepancies are rare. This is to ensure that complete decks are put into play and the backs of the cards don’t have any unintentional marks from the printing process or shipping. a dealer may have knowledge of where a certain clump of cards is located within the deck(s). the dealer wants to ensure that certain cards are cut either into or out of play.Selective Upcard If a cheating dealer is aware of the value of both dealer cards. Incomplete Deck(s) Whenever one or more new decks is introduced to a table. the casinos are armed with a lethal weapon.

The argument of players who are against it is that by allowing them to use this tactic. you can actually use this to your advantage (more on this further in the chapter). You may also encounter a dealer who’s simply tracking aces. When you encounter such a game. Some Player Countermeasures Against the Preferential Shuffle In hand-dealt games. Preferential Shuffle by a Card-Counting Dealer This is the worst type of preferential shuffling. shuffles away all positive-count decks. or has been informed. the casino dealing it would have an already-existing house advantage against the average player. This type of dealer has determined. As a countermeasure. A game played under these conditions is unbeatable. the casinos have the ability to alter the randomness of what’s supposed to be a game of chance. Many people. This is essentially equivalent to removing cards from a deck.minimizing their chances of getting a natural and benefiting from the 3-2 payoff. who can be completely skilled in card counting. you’re playing at a huge disadvantage. Preferential Shuffle by a Non-Card-Counting Dealer An astute player can actually manipulate this type of dealer to an advantage. The house advantage can be determined based on the rules of the game. while dealing out all negative-count decks. the dealer shuffles when you raise your bets. The dealer in this case. Some casinos have a built-in policy to shuffle any time a player triples the previous bet. including me. you have a lesser chance of encountering a . In a game where a casino can shuffle at will as is the case today. Is it Legal for Casinos to Preferential Shuffle? At the time of this writing. feel strongly that giving the casinos the right to shuffle at will has resulted in preferential shuffle tactics. If you encounter such a dealer. there’s no regulation prohibiting this action by casinos. that you’re counting cards. In any shape or form. just get up and leave. which is cheating. the casino has the ability to further improve the house advantage by selectively dealing or not dealing certain cards. If a game has a fixed and consistent shuffle point.

if the count drops. This way. This is easy. as when a dealer leaves for a break earlier than normal and lays the remaining cards out prior to reaching the shuffle card. When playing against a shuffle anytime you triple your prior bet. leave the table. you’re controlling the dealer and manipulating the shuffle of negative decks. It’s important for you to be able to identify a card-counting dealer. When you encounter a non-counting dealer who’s using your bet range as a basis for shuffling.preferential shuffle if the casino employs a shuffle card. bet $300 to force a shuffle. this is best to do just standing or sitting. without playing. If the count continues to be in the plus region. the dealer and/or pit may eventually get hip to what you’re doing. stay with the $100 bet. be on the lookout for such tactics. bet $150 to force a shuffle. This is a cut card placed within the deck(s) used to dictate the last round dealt. If you encounter this during only positive counts. Just look for some of the signs that the pit looks for in identifying a card-counting player. This dealer may try to ignore you. bet $100. After your $100 wager. A counting dealer will become frustrated. If a dealer is non-talkative and seems to be intently concentrating (more so than other dealers). it could be a warning sign. This method doesn’t always work and even when it does. . If you want to confirm your suspicions. Of course. you can bet $50 off the top. you have an opportunity to work this to your advantage. If the count rises. Keep on talking and make certain that some form of number is included in parts of your conversation. You may even see a dealer’s lips moving! When you encounter a card-counting dealer. you may be dealing with a very crafty and creative pit crew. Casinos using shuffle cards don’t normally shuffle the deck(s) prior to reaching that card. but if it drops. engage the suspect dealer in conversation. However.

Front-Loading On occasion. the casinos. Some methods are simply based on taking advantage of a sloppy dealer. while others are not illegal. If you have a 19 with knowledge the dealer has a 20. eliminating your chance of busting and taking advantage of the dealer’s chance of busting. Some plays bring immediate suspicion and for that reason are avoided by players using this tactic. Another is where you’d normally hit a stiff against a dealer’s ten upcard. some are clearly illegal and can land you a jail sentence. A right-handed front-loader normally exposes the hole card to the third-base side of the table. One powerful use of this knowledge is always making a correct insurance decision. crafty players used to cruise the casinos in search of sloppy dealers. Years ago. and slipped underneath the upcard. or the next seat over.17 Advantage Play: Some Gray and NotSo-Gray Areas This chapter discusses some questionable methods of gaining an advantage in a blackjack game. aware of these tactics. A sloppy dealer angles the card while going through the motions. has the ability to catch a glimpse of the card’s value. for example. Now. placed on the table. First-Basing . Today. the dealer may accidentally expose the hole card as it’s removed from the deck. while a left-handed front-loader exposes it to the first-base side. Having constant knowledge of the dealer’s hole card can provide a player with a huge advantage. armed with the knowledge that the dealer has a stiff hand. you’d stand on your stiff hand. have installed measures to eliminate or minimize their effectiveness. At the time of this writing. hitting 19 isn’t wise. then made a bundle playing against them. so that a player seated at third base.

Sometimes you may catch a glimpse of the dealer’s hole card when the dealer manually peeks under an ace or ten to check for a natural. some dealers may bend the cards in such a way that they remain warped after being in play for a while. If the bottom card is a low card.” With this. A sloppy dealer who doesn’t protect the hand while performing this check exposes the hole card to an alert player seated at first base. Two: the installation of the “automatic peek device. In any event. Whereas a front-loading dealer exposes the hole card close to 100% of the time. you . as you can insert the cut card in a strategic location to either cut a good card into play or cut a poor card out of play. not having manually peeked under the hole card. One: The dealer doesn’t check for a natural until the play of all hands is completed. Playing the “Warps” In a game where the dealer manually checks under aces and tens for a natural. hasn’t any further knowledge of what the card is. strictly on such information. The card could be an ace or ten that’s been warped. If so. This is good information. This form of hole-card play is not as powerful as front-loading. a first-basing dealer exposes the hole card only when checking for a natural. The rule here is that if the bottom card is a high card. This can be advantageous if a dealer’s hole card appears on the table with the corners lying flat and the center of the edge slightly bridged upward. ensuring it will be dealt. Due to the casino countermeasures. This can be applied to only tens or both tens and aces. If not. you cut low. which is installed on the table. This doesn’t occur as frequently as it did years ago. which is roughly 35% of the time at best. the ability to read warps is less common today. a sloppy dealer will expose the bottom of the deck when presenting it to you for cutting. a light flashes. the dealer slips the hole card into the device. Knowledge of Bottom Card Before the Cut On occasion. enabling the apparatus to read the specially coded cards to indicate whether the hole card is an ace or ten. a player who has the opportunity to use this technique can play at a strong advantage. since the casinos have installed two countermeasures. the dealer.

any device to assist: 1. This is good information. In projecting the outcome of the game.075 Use of Device for Calculating Probabilities: It is unlawful for any person at a licensed gaming establishment to use. Knowledge of the Burn Card You may also benefit from a sloppy dealer’s exposing the burn card while placing it into the discard tray. Nevada Statute 465. you have two cards to incorporate into your count. which will not be dealt. Use of a Concealed Computer This is a felony offense in most U. In many single-deck games. or possess with intent to use. . With this information. If you catch the bottom card before and after the cut. 3. If you’re fortunate enough to catch the bottom card before the cut and after the cut. jurisdictions. into your count. whereby anyone caught using a computer in a casino would be subject to up to a $10. 1985.cut high. you’re playing at a nice advantage off the top of a handdealt game and can bet accordingly. you have three cards to incorporate into your count. or 4. 2.S. in addition to the burn card. In keeping track of the cards played. If these three cards are low value cards. where that card will end up not being dealt. cutting a 5 out of play gives you an advantage off the top. a bill in the state of Nevada went into effect.000 fine and/or 10-year jail sentence. Knowledge of Bottom Card After the Cut A sloppy dealer may expose the bottom of the deck(s) while completing the cut. You can incorporate its value into your count. which won’t be dealt. In analyzing the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to the game. you can place a larger bet off the top. In analyzing the strategy for playing or betting to be used in the game. as you can incorporate the value of the bottom card. On July 1. Knowledge of this information also can justify placing a larger bet right off the top.

you’ll be arrested.T for a pat hand of 20 and the dealer’s upcard is a 7. one representing the burn card. Nowadays. which were strapped to the player’s waist. During the 1970s. such plays bring immediate attention from the pit personnel. such plays helped minimize heat from the winning computer player. figuring that anyone making such stupid plays would eventually start to lose. You have T. Let’s take an extreme situation. using a computer results in some strange play decisions. This computer was comprised of components about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Use of a computer is far more powerful than traditional card counting. one of the first known concealed computers was developed and used very successfully to count cards and provide the player with the strongest betting and playing strategies based on the information input into the computer. would go through the necessary calculations in practically one second and respond with a series of buzzes back to the player. The value of each card dealt was input with the mini-keyboard by tapping toes in accordance with the codes indicating the card values. passing similar bills. Before the casinos caught on to the use of computers. who are a bit more educated. receiving this information. The bottom line is that if you get caught using a computer in a casino.except as permitted by the commission. connected to a set of wires running down the player’s legs. The computer. Only one card remains undealt. what play decision would you make? The insane move of doubling down on a 20— giving you the opportunity to win twice your original bet! As you can see. connected to a mini-keyboard located inside one shoe. as the pit attributed such winning to dumb luck. The computer knows exactly what cards remain to be played. You’re playing a single-deck game with all the cards dealt. . If you know that the only three unseen cards are three aces. and one being that only undealt card. Other jurisdictions followed suit. directing how many units to bet and how to play the hand. Don’t try it. one being the dealer’s hole card.

play there only the days you’re staying as a hotel guest (this applies to players working to satisfy comp requirements).18 Tactics for Double-Deck Play It has become far more difficult to get away with betting large money in single-deck and double-deck games. Exposure of the burn card—You can use this information in your count before the first hand is dealt. thus minimizing your exposure. it’s crucial to a player’s survival to develop relationships with casino staff and use various methods to ensure the action is well accepted. It’s still possible to play a winning game against double-deck games using some careful tactics and modifications to the textbook strategies. Although this means changing hotels during a trip. If you see a low card. so as not to overexpose yourself on any given shift. cut low to get that card into play. Mix up your play between all three shifts of a casino. it minimizes the amount of time you’ll be required to play in that casino. which they consider safer from detection. The majority of the big-money advantage players stick to shoe games. Especially here. . If you’re comped a room in a specific hotel-casino. Dealer Weaknesses Stay alert to dealer weaknesses noted in Chapter 17 as follows: Exposure of the bottom card before the cut—If you see a high card. cut high to get that card out of play and include this card in the count. Exposure of the bottom card after the cut—You can use this information in your count before the first hand is dealt. It’s a good idea to stay a maximum of two nights at a hotel.

If you’re in a pit where shoe games are mixed in with double-deck games. Number of players at table—As a guideline.m. but exercise sound judgment before entering a game at a crowded table. Table Limits—Ensure the minimum and maximum bets permitted at the table are within your betting guidelines. The best dealers for this practice are females with long fingernails. playing at an advantage. This is a good opportunity if the . This gives you the opportunity to see the first round of cards dealt. a great time to play is when they’re changing cards on the shoe games. Identifying Quality Games Pit—A good pit setup for you. The fewer players at the table. In the event you note a change from your records. Rules—Be aware of the different rules in each casino. A good time to play is toward the end of the shift. update this information in your session notes. Time to play—Best time for head-on action is graveyard shift (4 a. the two most important qualities to look for in a dealer are deep dealing and fast dealing. is where the floorperson has several tables to monitor. and determine whether it’s worthwhile to enter the game at that point. This procedure requires lots of pit attention and a double-deck player can play unobserved. as a player. Observe the number of tables open when you play and record this information in your session notes. The dealers and pit are getting tired. Dealers may get sloppy and lazy. Initial Entrance into a Game Timing your arrival—Watch for a new shuffle and approach the table just as the first round is being dealt. you can observe some of the cards as they’re falling in place. we aim to play at tables with no more than two other players. the more hands per hour you get. Dealer selection—Aside from any exploitable weaknesses. There’s flexibility here. You’re looking for “paint” here and this can help you determine where to cut. If you encounter a dealer who’s too lazy to shuffle all the time.A “high-riffling” dealer—When the dealer riffles the cards on the final riffle. establish your count. the deck penetration may be better.– noon in many casinos).

chances are you’ll then be under observation. unless the count really jumps up. However. Then cut your bet back to 1 unit. When you enter a new table.count warrants entering the game with a higher bet. you have a good opportunity to sneak them in without the dealer announcing your buy-in or a money-plays bet. Another tactic is to go to a 1. You can throw some cover by using a parlay/progression. change tables. don’t hesitate to put the big bets out. be creative). you’re setting yourself up to become more aggressive shortly thereafter. you’re justified cutting back to a table-minimum bet at the shuffle. play very slowly (see “Controlling the Tempo” next page). time your arrival with the shuffle as outlined above. After 20 minutes. In this case. There’s no way the pit or the eye can establish any pattern so soon. Initial Aggressive Play—If you enter a game and the count immediately jumps up. . Initial Passive Play—Flat bet the first two rounds regardless of the count. Never leave a table at a positive count. always wait for a negative. If you win those big bets. throw a few extra chips up or spread to that second spot. If the count calls for a minimum bet and the floorperson isn’t watching the table. which may give the impression that you were just “going crazy” off the bat and have now cooled off. Then go for another “going-crazy” round. if you happen to win some big bets right off the bat. if you’re comfortable doing so. Another tactic is to go with a parlay/progression for the first two rounds regardless of the count (but not a strict parlay. until you lose a bet. bet that minimum. flat bet the table minimum for a bit. if the count isn’t extremely negative. When using an initial passive entrance. If you lose your initial big bets. In an initial passive entrance. If the floorperson is watching. Entrance Bet(s)—If you already have chips (recommended). During this time.or 2-unit bet after the next shuffle. This tactic is not applicable in games with no mid-deck entry allowed. leave a big bet out at the shuffle. During Play Session Changing tables—Break down your 1-hour session into three 20-minute mini-sessions at a table. One thing you can do is simply leave. you may want to bet more than the minimum for the first few hands. if the count jumps up.

Controlling the tempo—This is a key tactic. When the pit is watching. then pull yours back. Players jumping out of game—If a player leaves a game at a negative count and there’s another player at the table. If a player leaves a game at a positive count. If. pull your bet back. play fast and aggressively. on the rare occasion. When you return from your restroom break. time your arrival with the shuffle as outlined in the above section. The message you’re giving here is that you’re cognizant of the order of the cards being changed and that maybe by sitting out a hand or two or three. wait for the player to put a bet in the circle. play slowly. This makes it difficult for the pit to get an accurate handle on your win. Players jumping into game—If a player starts to enter a game in progress and if the count is negative. you can comment that the player left with a lot of chips. jump back in. it has become . as you want to look disturbed. this is a good opportunity to spread to two spots. When the count is positive. Body language is important here. Your message is that you want to keep the order of the cards. Pocketing chips—Good times to pocket chips are when you’re changing tables and taking restroom breaks. When playing unobserved by the pit. might things will change for the better.Restroom break—During each 20-minute mini-session. Summary While the recommendations presented in this chapter may help your longevity playing double-deck games with an advantage. If the count is positive. and he leaves. without saying a word. Ask politely but firmly. When the count is negative. If the count improves. slow it down. Be aware of the tolerance levels of the casino. catch the player before the bet is dropped and ask him to please wait for the shuffle. as this determines the denomination of the chips that you should pocket. take one restroom break or leave the table for some reason or another (phone call. play fast. and during dealer changes. Also note the bet levels of the other players at your table. sports bet). there’s another big bettor at the table who’s not getting rated.

increasingly difficult. remember to keep your sessions short and be careful not to overplay any one casino. . If it’s your preference to stick to these games.

while taking advantage of the impatient player’s mistakes. folding hand after hand and staying in only on the premium plays. along with an “exit point” to leave the game. As with most things. You’ve scouted various casinos with enough tables and even noted some of the better dealers. card counting at its finest. and is going to get some action! In the meantime. you’ll look for a new table to backcount. This is similar to the vacationing recreational poker player who ends up staying in on poor hands rather than folding. one of the biggest problems is limited time. came into town for some action. the local pros are licking their chops. Game Plan The goal is never to play against a house advantage. he’s no longer playing a winning game. it all begins with preparation. if after two decks are dealt and you’re not at an acceptable entrance point. You drill into your head that you’ll enter the game only . You’ve done your homework and determined an “entrance point” where you’ll jump into a game.19 Backcounting Focus and Discipline in Backcounting Backcounting a non-crowded table with a deeply dealt six-deck game is a welcome opportunity for a knowledgeable player. This player has a plane to catch. Since a majority of card counters operate more on the recreational level and incorporate their play as part of a vacation. which results in many players becoming impatient and lowering their standards. This is the heart and soul of your game plan. Relate this to playing blackjack. Now. You’ve established that in a six-deck game. Once a player falls prey to this emotional uppercut. here you are one hour later and you haven’t realized a count warranting the placing of a bet! This is common with backcounting players. You’re playing only when you have the advantage and never betting into a house edge.

and once the count indicates you no longer have an advantage. You say. Which floorperson is most or least attentive? These factors are all part of your game. This is cut in stone. “Great. You are in strict discipline mode. which leads to altering your game plan. It’s not all about counting down a game. you’re actually playing. Who Owns the Table? It has become more frequent that a backcounting player enters a game and soon finds that the table is already occupied by another counter. Plant in your mind that you may end up spending a few hours working and counting down games without ever placing a bet. you’ll exit the game. It can .at this given point. but ready to enter a game with aggressive betting once the conditions dictate. By not playing the hands. Watch the procedures the pit follows when a player enters a game betting big money. and knowledge of these workings can make a huge difference. only you’re playing with one heck of a bet spread! You say. Patience It takes a great deal of restraint to resist the urge to get into action when you’re thinking about the clock ticking. Take a situation where you’ve been patient and after a couple of hours you get that hot count and send the chips in. Your Worst Enemy You end up being your own worst enemy. but how boring!” Use the time as effectively as you can. Still. “What a waste of time”? I say you should think about it as betting zero units in negative counts. the time will come when you are. You lose hand after hand! It happens and it happens often. It’s crucial to accept this and develop a balanced approach to the game. where you’re active in playing without betting. this long run can be quite long. Well. We all know that blackjack is a game played for the long run. and although you’re not physically laying down bets. you mustn’t get impatient. You also need to study the opposition. Notice what goes on in the pit. That makes me feel a little better. Do not play in substandard conditions. One solution is to stop thinking about the time element.

Some folks feel that one of the first things you should look for is whether another counter is at the table. I see you”? Now you have the situation where the count justifies your entering the game and all of a sudden another player’s bet jumps up. All of a sudden you’re on the receiving end of some dirty looks from this person. . so I own it. “I’ve been backcounting this game for 30 minutes and this player just arrived 10 minutes ago. “I’m at the table already. there are some tell-tale signs that can lead you to making a quick educated guess. Although you may possess a well-trained eye. You’ve spent some time counting a particular table. but why waste your time playing “Peekaboo. I’ve always disagreed with the concept.” Clever players can develop some creative ways to deal with such situations. there are more important things to be watching.put both players at the risk of being exposed as counters when their bet movements are similar. “There are no rules. This already-seated player is thinking. so there is no right or wrong. several players have been in and out of the game. because unless you actually know on sight that such a player is at the table. there are no rules. if you’re not already in the game.” whereas the backcounting player is thinking.” Let’s look at a typical scenario that a backcounting player may encounter. Further. During that time. “This table ain’t big enough for the both of us!” Now we have a problem. which would indicate the game is not yet advantageous. Who has rights to the table? The answer is. Whose table is it? Again. I feel you’re wasting your time attempting to evaluate another player in such a short period. In other words. therefore I have rights to the table. Sure. chances are any counter who is on the game will be relatively flat in betting.

In November 1997. and theories of any sort. many casinos have their own websites. in 1996 blackjack author and expert Stanford Wong put together a well-organized bulletin board-type website called BJ21. It was a gamblingoriented bulletin board where visitors posted questions. the volume of messages grew to the point where it was necessary to split the newsgroup into different gambling-related categories. a moderated newsgroup enabled designated moderators to monitor all posts to the bulletin board and reject those considered inappropriate. But as the Internet gained prominence. which can also provide lots of useful information. BJ21. many new sites were formed.com.gambling. Discussed here are various sources of online information and some precautions you should think about exercising. While there are several blackjack-related sites on the Internet today. the following are the most popular at the time of this writing. After first addressing all forms of gambling in one place. This group. was very popular for a while. blackjack players gathered at rec.000 members.20 Blackjack and the Internet This chapter isn’t about actually playing blackjack at an Internet casino (although you can). Some of these provide links to other such sites. In 1995. ideas.gambling. with its dedicated and high-quality participants. Additionally.blackjack. Like all subjects. a world of information on many aspects of blackjack is available on the Net. Some History One of the earliest online sources of blackjack information was the Usenet Newsgroup rec.com After participating on the RG Newsgroups for a short while. in addition to several hundred visitors and contributors to . formed in late 1989. The site quickly expanded into private sections (available by paid membership) and grew to more than 2.

and just about anything Vegas-centric. There are also forums where visitors of all levels of casino knowledge engage in discussions on all things casinorelated. providing readers with information on the best deals in Sin City. LasVegasAdvisor. this online resource turns you onto incentives as they happen. Blackjacktheforum. At this writing. which has lively forums and an active chat room with occasional guest experts as hosts. BJ21. transportation. In a rapidly changing environment.com has grown to now host several bulletin boards.com Software developer and blackjack author Norm Wattenberger runs this comprehensive website. gambling. Participation on the site is free.com Loyal readers of Blackjack Forum were pleased to see Bishop Arnold Snyder back on the scene with the launch of his blackjackforumonline. is also available by accessing the BJ21. dining. This is a great place to get answers to basic questions from a large cross-section of theorists and players. where information on blackjack conditions at casinos throughout the country can be accessed. there are plans for a big redevelopment of the site.com. requiring only initial registration. Wong’s monthly newsletter. shows. Security Tips for Participating in Blackjack-Related Websites Contributing Information .the free sections.com Anthony Curtis has been publishing the Las Vegas Advisor newsletter for more than 25 years.com website via paid subscription. which will include a much-heightened emphasis on gambling information and strategies. along with message forums. Visitors can access a treasure trove of articles from past issues of Blackjack Forum. Blackjackforumonline. including a members-only player’s forum. Current Blackjack News. formed in conjunction with highly respected gambling expert James Grosjean and others from LVA’s deep pool of gambling authors. The website has complete visitor information for accommodations.

etc. You may also encounter players offering to sell information about profitable games. But if you contribute information to gambling websites. you must remain unknown. Exercise the necessary caution. On a website where anyone can have (or pay for) access. Keep a low profile and be wary about conveying information about yourself. Remember: If two people know a secret. exercise caution with regard to whom you communicate with. it often leads to a flood of players converging on a game all at once. did during a trip or play. penetration. When information about something particularly good gets out onto the Net.” Preserving good situations is also a concern. as you never know what you might come across. If you’re fortunate enough to get into the right . but anything specific that may link you to a given table. That goes for socializing with other card counters. If you’re uncertain who has access to certain websites. While it’s nice to have a network of players who provide information about great game opportunities. it can prove unwise to share too much with a large audience. you’re probably not the only person buying it. Some players feel it’s fine to give details about rules. specifically. especially during a losing trip. Some of the best information can come from the most unlikely sources. during a given shift. you never know who’s reading the posts. it’s very easy for the casino to say. I recommend that you be careful about including specific information about what you. “Let’s go to the videotape. But remember that when you post something about a specific event. on a given day may lead to someone (maybe from a casino) figuring out who you are.. it’s no longer a secret! The Best Players You Don’t Know Remember that in order to be a successful player. It gets lonely playing solo.It’s good to gather up every tidbit of information you can find. Most contributors use pseudonyms when posting to maintain anonymity. those good situations tend to deteriorate quickly. When a casino running a good game or promotion suddenly sees a bunch of unknown faces betting big bucks. Keep in mind that if someone is making money by providing information about an exploitable situation.

you can find your way onto a successful team where you’ll have other players around. It’s called “bonus-hustling. However. Some players. including blackjack. you can also match your tournament skills against other players. and certainly do not appear in the infamous photo album known as the Griffin Book. even though many of the specific opportunities it references no longer exist. Playing Blackjack on the Internet Online gaming grew quickly around the world and is now a multibillion-dollar industry. will likely follow. however.network. record-keeping. as it is in other countries.S. The out-of-print Crushing the Internet Casinos by Barry Meadow is one of the best sources for information on this topic. have discovered another way to outsmart the online casinos. and playing applicable basic strategy for the game at hand are some of the keys to success in online bonus hunting.S. But make sure it’s the right network. and profitable situations can be found in online tournament play (see the next chapter for information on playing blackjack tournaments online). . Except on rare occasions. the methods for gaining an advantage outlined in this book won’t work when playing blackjack online. or other databases of player photos/profiles that are accessible by casinos. and gambling of all types. meaning one with other low-profile players. online gambling is nowhere near as accessible in the U. who also aren’t known. haven’t been barred. as a result of government efforts to contain it. In addition to playing blackjack against an online casino.” Scouting. Online poker is making breakthroughs in the U.

Lucky. I cruised onto Ken Smith’s website.com. blackjacktournaments. Next. Call me back. and after he told me it would be okay to wear a subtle disguise. Since I knew many of the participants would be returning to the . I’ve played a few tournaments and held my own. who was extremely generous in sharing information. after returning to my office following lunch with a colleague. The third step was to seek out some expert tutelage. We want to know if you’re interested in playing in the second World Series of Blackjack. A friend had tapes from the past year’s tournament. but I’m far from being a tournament expert. Lucky referred me to someone whom he hailed as the best in the business: S. The first thing I did was dig out my copy of Stanford Wong’s book. and I reviewed them several times. Yama. I phoned Mr. It’s going to be filmed and televised on GSN. I figured that in order to give myself a fighting chance against a strong field of tournament talent. I contacted my good friend Mr. First prize is two hundred and fifty grand. I retrieved the following phone message: “Rick. who’s played in many tournaments and won a few along the way. I went through the section on blackjack tournaments and took some notes. highlighting numerous points. Casino Tournament Strategy.” I returned Max’s call. Yama. The final part of my training involved studying the opposition. I printed about a dozen pages of material and went through it. I agreed to participate. and found a wealth of current information on tournament strategies. I needed to tap into some resources. It’s Max Rubin.21 Blackjack Tournaments On a September afternoon in 2004.

who had just won. and everyone was congratulating Viktor Nacht. I started off betting the minimum. as he had to jump right into the wild-card round moments later. and Michael Konik. The only returning player from the first tournament was Michael. He’s a very aggressive player who comes out swinging for the fences. In the semi-finals. so why not here? This was very helpful. with Mickey Rosa taking second place. a highly skilled professional player. since his aggressive style could get . The two missing components were some form of practice software geared for blackjack tournaments and live practice. we were underway. time didn’t permit me to avail myself of them before playing. Mickey was a bit hurried. Nancy Kubasek. the top two finishers from each of the two tables advanced to the final table. as predicted. I wanted to get a feel for each one’s style. A few changes to my appearance—on with my Oxxford suit and a pair of shades—and next thing I knew I was in seat number two with Henry on my right and Nancy. The winner of each table progressed to the semi-finals and second-place finishers went into a wild-card round. Wired for sound and with lights blaring and cameras rolling. but he didn’t get past the tough opposition. Though both of these are available. as all four opponents were skilled tournament players. a few of whom I already knew and others whom I was meeting for the first time. I wished him luck. came out strong. More than one person told me I had a tough table. an experienced tournament player. The preliminary rounds consisted of 25 hands. I met up with some other participants. Competitors in most sporting events study films of their opponents. The tournament format consisted of eight preliminary rounds of five players each. Shortly after arrival. wearing a blue wig. either online or in a casino. The tournament was held at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. My opponents were author and gambling expert Henry Tamburin.tables this year. another author and gambling expert. He was the one player I was most worried about. to my left. A preliminary round had just ended. Kami Lis. Michael.

I immediately recalculated what my betting position would be on the final hand. The fact is. This means that you can enjoy a significant advantage playing . My next move came two hands later. which lost. I came out with a moderate-sized bet. as Kami took it from me on the next hand. as it would have been a huge advantage to go into the final hand with the chip lead and being last to bet. Although Kami had the lead. If no one else busted prior to the final hand. Nancy bet the max and Kami made an extremely well-calculated wager. which would have given me the win. The dealer showed an ace up and. I put up a large bet and this time I won and took the lead. when I was last to act. which is a powerful spot to be in. it turned out that I was in the best betting position. Betting in front of me on the final hand. The lead bounced back to Kami on hand 20. having been outplayed on the last hand. That didn’t last long. I’d be the last to act on the end. My bet also made it necessary for Nancy to win a double to beat me for the wildcard spot. I was feeling strong. I was the first to bet on hand 24 and decided to go with the minimum. things were looking good for me.him a big lead fast. Once Michael left the table. I decided it would be best to make an aggressive move at an early opportunity. Based on that assumption. Afterwards. However. and on hand 22 I put out a large bet and reclaimed the lead. my take was that they weren’t aggressive players. hoping for a “lose-lose” result. But it turned out that the opposite occurred. when I was second to act following Henry. On hand 15. as Michael busted out on hand 12. but still had eight hands to go. and usually does. the cream should. she had to hit and busted the hand. several experts expressed their belief that I should have gone for the lead. Nancy doubled down her maximum bet and I realized then that I should have known that she would double no matter what. With the ace up. rise in blackjack tournaments. Having observed my three remaining opponents over the first 12 hands. the dealer was still a favorite to beat the table. I was out of the tournament. dropping me to third place. even though she didn’t have the natural. I went with the minimum.

The downside to tournament play is that you become highly visible by playing them—especially when you win.” 2 . In the end. As the pros say. The best way to do this is to use all of your available chips to accumulate more. If you’ll be betting first or near first. the more you can afford to be out of position at the end. a televised tournament with a new playing format and a prize pool of $1. I’ve been invited to compete in the first Ultimate Blackjack Tour (UBT). Position yourself—The rule of thumb is to be in the position you need to be in to advance or win going into the last hand. Beginners should be aggressive regardless of position (see next). Fundamentals The most important fundamental concepts of tournament play are relatively easy to learn. But be careful. you have to know what you’re doing to take advantage of this. but the most successful players in the televised events figure to shorten their playing careers (in outside play) as a consequence. This is because you can play off the bets of your opponents. put it out. Be aware of where you’ll bet on the final hand and play accordingly. and in today’s TV environment. though. Disguises help. Consider position—As in most games. it offers the opportunity for additional lines of positive EV.them if you practice and become skilled. be even more aggressive. “When in doubt. Even if you have perfect . you can pursue several sources of information to learn to play them well. For example.4 million. The closer you’ll be to betting last. Don’t try to get fancy at the expense of achieving this goal. Bet your money—Winning a tournament requires that you reach a specified goal regarding your chip count relative to that of your opponents. 3. It’s imperative that you get as many of your chips into play as possible during the short period of play. You simply can’t become a winning tournament player without playing tournaments. the potential profits from big-time tournament play may make this an acceptable trade for you. Due to the rise in popularity of blackjack tournaments. Still. 1 . as this book goes to press. Tournament play is also fun. position is very important. there’s no substitute for experience.

then be prepared to bet the maximum on the end. If you’re playing alertly. Card counting isn’t important. Most blackjack tournaments are 100% equity (or better).position on the end. but essential to winning play. by Hollywood Dave Stann. Casino Tournament Strategy. Tournament expert Ken Einiger won the World Series of Blackjack II and promptly wrote his book Play to Win. which I cited earlier. but I expect other programs to surface in the near future. Also be on the lookout for the book Hollywood Blackjack. 4. is an excellent source of information. Ken Smith’s blackjacktournaments. If you play many tournaments with less than even equity. But not always. It’s decent. Bet in a manner that optimizes your chances of getting to this spot. prepare for them. PTW covers these fundamental concepts (and others) in much greater detail. A perfect example is Nancy Kubasek’s last-hand double down described earlier in this chapter. It provides an in-depth treatment of last-hand scenarios. It also explains tournamentplay considerations from the ground up—how to find them. it’s okay to play your hands according to basic strategy. it will take its toll. Wong also has a software program called Tournament Blackjack. all players—and especially beginners—are much better off being in the lead with one hand to play. etc. I’ve already mentioned Stanford Wong’s book. Consider equity—Equity is the relationship between the amount of money collected in entry fees and the amount returned in prize money. On the Web. Play to Win is a must-read for anyone entering this arena. Advanced Play Study and practice are what it takes to advance to the expert level as a tournament player. 5 . who took second place in the inaugural World Series of Blackjack. Be alert in the play—Tournaments are mostly about betting.com. a colorful participant on the tournament circuit. you’ll notice key situations where you must play your hand contrary to basic to give yourself a chance. It’s technical. given the short duration of play. enter them. Another is Anthony Curtis’ . but they’re also about how you play your hand.

and even seats to major events. The LVA site has a message board devoted to the UBT.LasVegasAdvisor. which qualifies you to play as many tournaments as you want for prizes. but there are no additional entry fees or buy-ins. these minis are where you improve and enhance your game.com. LVA also maintains lists of upcoming tournaments and valuable analysis of the big TV tournaments written by Anthony Curtis. . cash. You can also play blackjack tournaments at selected sites online—either on full-fledged money sites.com keeps an up-to-date list of such tournaments in Las Vegas and has plans to expand its coverage. LasVegasAdvisor. In these clubs. or on subscription services. such as ClubWPT. Almost all of the major casino destinations have casinos that run mini tournaments. you pay one monthly fee to become a member. which also generates discussions on other aspects of tournament play.com. Usually costing $20 or $25 to enter. As I’ve mentioned. This and other subscription services provide an excellent way to learn the ropes of blackjack (and poker) tournaments without risking a lot of money. you can’t become a great tournament player without practicing in real tournaments. so your losses are capped.

000. when a . “I’m up about $500. rather than betting higher than you normally would or playing longer just to get the room for free. betting $100 a hand. The key is to keep them at the tables. “Are you winning?” He responds. let’s go then. but not before he loses $1. it’s important to know how long you must play and what your average bet must be in order to get that comp in that particular casino.” Fifteen minutes later his drink arrives. What they really mean is that they’re welcoming the player to lose more money at their tables. but he got his free drink! Play on Your Own Terms Players don’t stop to consider what they’re risking to get a freebie. rooms. Typical story. People easily fall into the trap of thinking they’re getting something for nothing. you’d be better off paying the $40 per night. Instead of leaving the table a $500 winner.” She then says.” He tells her. having a built-in advantage in just about every game they offer. know that they’ll win money from the players in the long run. and more to demonstrate that they value the player’s business. “I just ordered a drink. A man has been playing blackjack in a casino. instead of playing at the table an additional 30 minutes just for a free meal. Depending on the amount one is wagering. She asks. The criteria for comp eligibility vary from casino to casino. When playing for a specific comp. we can leave after I get it.22 The Comp Game and Travel Strategies The Allure The casinos. “Well. He’s been at it for about two hours when his wife stops by the table. which wouldn’t really cost much upon closer inspection. If you don’t normally eat large meals. If you’re going to Las Vegas during a time of year when room rates are low. he ended up a $500 loser. paying for the $10–$20 buffet may suit your needs. the casino offers meals. One method of doing so is to offer comps.

you don’t need to actually fly 25. electronic ticketing). • Some credit cards have programs in which. “You’ve only been playing for forty-five minutes.game has deteriorated. The target number most airlines use to qualify for a free round-trip flight anywhere in the continental United States is 25. By using the partners. find out which hotels or car rental companies are partners with the airline.g. • Your telephone long-distance service provider may have a program under which your long-distance expenses can earn points on your . you usually get an enrollment bonus in points. Do Your Homework There are ways to save money and get comps without even placing a wager in a casino. It all starts when you first decide to take your trip. See me in another hour and I’ll see what I can do. The floorperson responds. you earn points on your airline frequent-flier account.000 miles to achieve this.000.. You can accumulate points in that airline’s frequent-flier program and eventually get a free airline ticket. • When staying at a hotel or renting a car. you earn points on your airline frequent-flier account. • Some airlines offer bonus points for travel at different times of the year or to select destinations. Airfare Frequent Flier Programs It’s a good strategy to do your air travel using one specific airline. However. • Some airlines offer bonus points when purchasing your ticket with a credit card or other payment method (e. A typical situation is where a player asks a floorperson for a comp. for every dollar you spend using that credit card. That is why it is imperative to play on your own terms. Some shortcuts are: • When first joining the airline’s frequent-flier program.” Most players fall into this trap and end up losing more bets just to get their free meal.

Here’s how to optimize your chances of getting bumped: Check the airline’s schedule and make sure that they offer two or more flights the same day. If there’s limited availability. Overbooked Flights If you once again do a little homework. you can get a free airline ticket by using some creativity. you can. if only first-class seats are available. book it. only if you’ll be confirmed on the next available flight and might be compensated with a free round-trip ticket for a future flight. When this happens. such as ordering flowers or custom shirts. offer to volunteer your seat. they end up having to turn away passengers from a specific flight prior to boarding. Call the airline to check for availability on the early flights out. This compensation can be a free round-trip airline ticket for a future date. within a few hours of each another. in theory. • Various retailers have similar programs that can also earn you points. Check the different airlines’ programs to see how you can achieve maximum benefits. If so. fly every other flight for free. because if you are “bounced” from the first flight. guess who may get it? Party on! When you arrive at the gate to check in for your scheduled flight (try to arrive at least one hour prior).airline frequent-flier account. At times. As an added bonus. which allows for some “no-shows” along the way. Airlines often overbook flights by selling more seats than are actually available. ask the attendant if the flight is overbooked. It doesn’t matter if the same situation exists on the later flight(s). they usually put the passenger on the next scheduled flight out to that destination and offer a form of compensation for this inconvenience. Package Deals . If you’re creative enough and do your homework. you will be almost guaranteed first priority to get on the next available flight.

but the room also included.” Booking your trip through them. you can end up paying less in airfare than you normally would. referred to as “red-eyes”). you’ll usually bump up against some restrictions. Lowest available airfare per person: $298—late-night flights $360—normal flights Room Rates: $0—(comped) After checking with this same airline’s vacation package desk.When shopping around for the best airfares. When booking your trip through the airline’s vacation package desk. you read that correctly. By booking through the airline’s vacation package desk. For the absolute lowest rates. it’s not necessary to stay over a Saturday. Here’s a recent example of such a savings: Checking the airlines for round-trip airfare from New York to Las Vegas for a two-night stay. such as you need to stay over a Saturday and book at least 14 days in advance. giving me the ability to save my comp for a later date. When . restrict your travel to Sunday through Thursday and take those dreadful late-night flights (departing from the West Coast around midnight for arrival in East Coast cities around sunrise. if you can deal with them. I was quoted the following deal: Airfare + two nights hotel per person: $302—late-night flights $321—normal flights Yes. I ended up with not only a lower airfare. You can extend your stay to more than two nights without paying more for the package and use your comp for those additional nights. Many airlines have a “vacation package desk. I found the following. The casino/hotels make rooms available for such discounted airfare/hotel packages.

which lists current room specials in various casinos. this is a good deal. as long as you book the hotel for minimum of two nights. You can also book a “fly/drive” package. Now that we have some strategies to get you to your destination. Check for a coupon in funbooks (coupon books given out by casinos) you may have from a previous visit. Booking directly through the hotel reservations desk will usually result in being quoted the highest room rate. . check the Los Angeles Times’ “Calendar” section. you’re under no obligation to actually pick up the car. If you already have a room comp for your stay and want to rent a car. let’s discuss a little more about getting the best deal on rooms. along with a car rental included in the price. you can book the flights for any days. If you have Internet access. where you’re not required to book a hotel at all. he’ll evaluate your play to determine if your action warrants a full room comp. Chances are you’ll be offered a room at casino rate (a good discounted rate) with the understanding that at the end of your visit. you can surf numerous websites that may list special deals for hotel rooms in casino towns. Tell the host you’re a rated player at (name a few casinos) and interested in checking out his club. with the car rental price included. Call various casinos in the city you’re planning to visit and ask for a casino host. If you don’t want the car rental. Just book the package with the car rental included and never pick up the car! You still get the low package airfare price. Saving Money on Hotel Rooms For popular casino cities such as Reno and Lake Tahoe.booking a hotel/air package. check the Sunday issue of the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Date-book” section and for Las Vegas. the airline vacation package desk will get you the same super-discounted airfare. which may contain special room discounts or two-nights-for-the-price-of-one specials. In this method. Then ask if a room can be arranged for you. without the restriction of booking the additional hotel nights through them.

and your win/loss. parking is free. the amount you bet will determine whether you get a comp for the buffet or coffee shop. which allows you to go in the “invited-guests” line without having to wait in long lines. as they want you back at the tables as soon as possible. and elsewhere. The pit is usually very generous in giving line passes.Complimentaries Basic Comps These are comps that can be obtained without even giving your name to be rated to a pit person. and helping you avoid waiting on long lines accomplishes this. so do it. Parking—In most casinos. Based on this information. It’s customary to tip the server. Always accept it even if you don’t plan on using it immediately. You can self-park or use the valet. a pit person normally asks you if you wish to be rated. At some casinos in Las Vegas. the casino may extend you comps of different levels. Cocktails/Beverages—Shortly after you sit down at a table. Reno. In some places. you can normally get a meal comp for two. length of time you play. Depending on the casino. You usually have to ask for a comp. If you use the valet. a player can score a meal comp for one hour of $5 average betting. a cocktail server will approach you and ask if you’d like to order a beverage. you have to tip appropriately. you can ask for a line pass. Rating Slips When you sit down at a table. At times it will be offered to you. This is the process whereby the casino keeps track of the amount of money you buy in for. you may need to have your parking ticket validated at the cashier’s cage of the casino. . your average bet. Comps for gourmet restaurants usually require a higher bet level and more playing time at the tables. Meals—If you sit down at a table and play for an hour. Line Passes—If you’re seeing a show or going to pay for a meal at the buffet/coffee shop without having qualified for a comp. It’s that simple and there’s no minimum betting requirement.

Rooms—The best method for getting a comped room is to ensure it’s arranged prior to your arrival at the casino. Don’t initially limit your action to any one casino. A little negotiating usually gets you something. you have the opportunity to establish yourself as a player in that casino or several casinos to set up future comped rooms. meal comps are valid for 24 hours. If the pit person replies that your play doesn’t qualify yet. you can score a free one-night room for roughly four hours of play. Play in various clubs. Get friendly with . the other player may be able to qualify. ask anyway for the same reason as stated above. you’ll probably plan on eating at some point during that time. you’re a new player. Always ask for a comp for two to the coffee shop (unless your betting qualifies for a gourmet room). If you’re staying as a guest with someone else who already has a comped room. and then determine which place treats you the best. Even if you don’t plan on using it immediately. betting as low as a $25 average bet in some places. always ask for a meal comp. You may receive invitations in the mail for free rooms. to satisfy the play requirements to qualify for a subsequent comp. This can be accomplished based on your previous play in that casino and executed in a variety of ways. get on all the mailing lists. Both of you are being rated separately and the comped room is being applied against only one of your accounts. While the person who’s being comped has a certain playing requirement to fulfill in order to be invited back for a subsequent comp. if you haven’t already been offered one. ask if you can get the buffet for two. After you’ve played for an hour. In the event the comped player is unable. for any reason.Normally. When you’re traveling with another and can stay in the same hotel room. the casino should look at you as a potential regular. Casinos have different criteria based on play whereby they can extend a room comp. Once you settle on a place or two where you are comfortable playing and staying. For a standard room. or the buffet or coffee shop for one. Spread your action around town. get to know a casino host and pit boss there. it’s best to do so.

a player would need to play for four hours per day at an average bet of $150 per hand. you may be able to negotiate an RFB comp without the “B. Food & Beverage (“RFB”) If you are an established player betting well within the casino guidelines for such comps. ask if they can take care of your room.” Limiting your play to just this casino is fine. If you and the other person staying with you aren’t big drinkers. you may want to ask anyway at the end of your stay. you can order your drinks while playing (preferably toward the end of your playing sessions. Room. but if you’ve given some action to the casino. as casino rate can be half the price of the rate regular hotel guests might pay. which can be room service or any of the restaurants (“F”).them. ask if your previous play qualifies for a room at “casino rate. After you’ve been playing for a few hours. Take their business cards. you get your room comped (“R”). When you phone for a room in advance and are told that they are unable to comp you a room. and drinks. In many casinos. When planning your next visit. along with all food. see if your total play combined might qualify for a room comp or discounted rate. They may also tell you that “If your play qualifies for a room comp. to qualify for such an RFB comp.” By doing so. As an RFB guest. we will adjust your bill when you check out. but you are being rated and betting within the guidelines that may qualify for a room comp. bottles of wine. you may be able to score the comp despite betting a little less than the standard RFB requirement. Even if you like to drink a bit. If there are two of you staying in the same room. If you plan on spreading your action amongst several casinos. so as to . You may get your room comped or perhaps get it discounted to casino rate. let the pit know that you are a hotel guest there. If you are not established in a casino where you are staying. champagne at all bars. phone them to see if they can arrange for a room for you. when offered. just take the casino rate and pay it without expecting any further discounts. Take it. restaurants or orders from room service (“B”). you will be invited to stay as an “RFB Guest” of the casino.” They may offer this to you anyway. as you didn’t give enough action.

you may be able to further negotiate your comp by having the casino limit your food comps to a certain dollar amount. representing a partial . provided certain criteria are met. Although your play may not warrant a total reimbursement for the ticket(s). The next step is for the player to present copies of his ticket and the ticket of his traveling companion. you may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of your airline tickets. Other requirements may be a minimum amount of front money on deposit or a minimum credit line. When calculating a player’s eligibility for a comp such as airfare reimbursement.000 with a recorded $500 average bet. After playing nine hours. Many casinos reimburse airfare only for players who stay at the hotel. then that’s all he’ll receive. the casino may have some additional criteria that must be met. If you’re a non-discriminating diner.000 on deposit at the start of a three-day stay. a player comes out betting heavy and loses all his front money before reaching the minimum hourly requirement. the casino may elect to reimburse based on actual loss. Airfare reimbursement at this casino requires a minimum of 12 hours play at a minimum average bet of $200. this player is eligible for up to $1. although the player didn’t meet the terms for reimbursement based on theoretical loss (he’s light on hours played). Food. such as a minimum requirement for hours played. you may qualify for a partial rebate. If he presents tickets totaling only $400. he may be eligible for airfare reimbursement based on his actual loss of $16. Sometimes. If the tickets total $2. all he’ll get is $1. if applicable. to determine the total reimbursement. Take a situation where a player puts $20. If your casino host doesn’t offer this to you. Such negotiated comps fall under the category of Room.not hinder your playing ability).000 regardless of hours played and average bet size.600. you can ask. A $200 average bet is probably the minimum to qualify for some sort of airfare rebate. the player loses $16. Limited (“RFL”). If the casino’s policy is to reimburse 10% of a player’s actual loss toward the cost of airline tickets.600. In this case. Airline-Ticket Reimbursement As you become an established player in a casino. In this case. In the past. the common requirement was a minimum of 12 hours play.400.

you may need to improvise so you’re dropped in one place and have time to get to where you really need to be. can show a higher loss without much effort.500. Let’s take a closer look at the two above scenarios. purchase and fly on the less-expensive tickets. taking your tickets. In addition to his full-time job. However. subsequently turning them in to the airline for a refund. The price of the paid airline ticket was about $8. and received $17. Of course. the subject is covered well in Max Rubin’s book Comp City.000 cash. you want to avoid this. even a casino host riding along in the limo.500. leaving his team with only the expense . his company paid for his $8. Although the companion ticket on this program is free (except for the taxes). he presented two first-class tickets. each showing a cost of $8.500 ticket. Be prepared for anything. Since he was on a business trip. If your airline tickets are less than your eligible reimbursement amount. After giving sufficient action to his host casino. but for image purposes. a creative player can maximize his benefit here. there are various techniques for coming up with a second set of tickets to get the higher value. it’s an airline requirement for auditing purposes that the full airfare is shown on the ticket. and assisting with your check-in at the airline counter. while also buying fully refundable first-class tickets with another airline. Present the higher-value tickets for reimbursement.” An American Express Platinum cardholder went on a business trip to an overseas destination with casinos offering decent blackjack. you can fix that. as outlined in Chapter 14.airfare reimbursement. In addition to an example provided later in this chapter. Basically. Oops! If casino records show your cumulative loss as being lower than the price of your airline tickets. such as if you are being picked up and dropped off at the airport by a casino limousine. He used the free ticket to take a teammate along and used vacation time to extend the trip for casino play. A quick session transferring chips with a partner. See the section “Disguising Wins And Hiding Chips. One of the benefits of the platinum card is that you get a free companion ticket when purchasing a business or first-class ticket on designated airlines. It’s not difficult. as well as in Ian Andersen’s Burning the Tables in Las Vegas. there are precautions to consider. Of course. this guy was a part-time blackjack player working on a team.

you’ll be paid a total of $500 (5 x $100) and also pay out $500 (5 x $100).000 was considered team money in accordance with their regulations. competition for the highest-level players has grown to a point where one casino has to offer something more than the next in order to win the business. Players. If it were only that simple! In today’s cutthroat environment. and you receive $50. received a cash equivalent for the price of his ticket. it’s your job to do your homework and learn the best routes to get the casinos to dip into their cash boxes. thus breaking even on the game. it can.of the taxes and other fees (roughly $400) for the otherwise free companion ticket. With time to burn before departure. It was nice timing on his part. at times. He won big. As an advantage player. A teammate was playing at a casino and losing. he managed to schmooze the host and. you receive a 10% rebate on the losing wagers. Although his numbers didn’t qualify for airfare reimbursement. on settling his account. in turn. though it didn’t please his host any! Airline-ticket reimbursement is a comp where the casino is actually giving you cash. but after X number of flips. Loss-Rebate Programs Casinos have been offering loss rebates for many years. It’s no . are becoming more educated and are now shopping around for the best deal. Let’s say you’re offered the opportunity to wager $100 on each flip in a series of coin tosses. winning five and losing five. provide knowledgeable players with the ammunition to turn a losing game into a winning one. representing the agreed upon 10% rebate on each of your losing wagers (5 x $10). We’ll start by looking at how a loss rebate works in its simplest form. if you bet on 10 flips. he played one final session. For example. which they really don’t like to do. The $17. turning his losing trip into a winner. Though a loss rebate is one of the strongest marketing weapons in a casino arsenal. where you win even money on each winning wager and lose even money on each losing wager. Several variables are involved in how rebate programs are structured by the casinos. But then the loss rebate enters the equation. but they don’t go around advertising it.

he needs to be aware of the important variables. If it loses. The house advantage when flat betting and playing perfect basic strategy is the first thing that needs to be considered. It’s gotten to the point where negotiating has become a competitive sport in many business cultures. and free gifts (such as expensive jewelry and shopping sprees). Johnson was a good player. If the bet wins. It happens all the time. top entertainment. he leaves. but the most famous example of a big win materializing from a negotiated deal occurred in Atlantic City in 2011. Don Johnson managed to get some Atlantic City casinos to modify their blackjack rules and increase their table maximums just for him. he won. it’s always negotiable. private jets. they usually require a certain volume of bets before a player qualifies for a loss rebate. Better yet! To get the most value out of a loss rebate. First. gourmet restaurants. 1. when negotiating a loss rebate with a casino. the profile of the typical high-level player is that of a successful highly competitive player. Second. As it worked out. which allowed him to bet large amounts knowing the refund was pending if he lost. when a finance expert named Don Johnson beat a couple of casinos there for several million dollars. In addition to negotiating a higher loss rebate. The nature of business deals in which such an individual engages often involves a high level of negotiating. although the casino has a benchmark for its typical loss rebate. an advantage player would like to make one and only one bet. I’ve used the word “negotiating” here for two reasons. You want to play in a game offering the most player-favorable conditions. Therefore. but his win was more attributable to the skillful manner in which he set up his deal. in exchange for giving them an agreed-upon level . Since the player is required to put a lot of money in action. many players view it as a game in which their goal is to beat the casino into a deal that’s better than the standard offer. Imagine being able to do this once per day indefinitely! But the casinos are aware that their theoretical advantage is based on a great number of wagering decisions and as a result.longer just about the biggest and most elaborate hotel suites. it’s also about negotiating the best loss-rebate deal. he collects the rebate and leaves.

food. Since you’ll experience some winning trips. With this program. Loss rebates work best as stand-alone programs that don’t incorporate other complimentary offers. 4. and airfare are applied toward the loss rebate. and if the criteria are met to justify a loss rebate. a program might require $100.25% of the total action wagered for the trip. win or lose. a betting and playing strategy must be devised that preserves a player advantage beyond the point the casino establishes as the minimum-play amount. complimentaries are added in based on . 3. it decreases the amount of cash you can walk with. The best programs offer a loss rebate and complimentaries independent of one another. You also have to know how to run the numbers to determine if you have to move your bets too much to preserve an edge. you get the comps as outlined. The strategy needs to ensure that he’s playing at an advantage after putting this amount of money in action with the rebate considered. Based on the rebate deal. Knowing the proper stopping point is a key element in forming an optimal strategy.000 in front money or a credit line that’s turned over a minimum of five times for a 15% rebate on losses. you get that in cash—in addition to the comps. a key element in incorporating a loss-rebate strategy into your game is determining at what point of a win a player should quit and call it a trip. If comps such as room. Currently. 2. But here’s the important part: You have to do this without looking like a card counter or an otherwise similarly competent player. is developing such a tool. Additionally. shows. 5. For example.of play. Determine how soon a new “trip” can commence after settlement of a . Determine if the loss rebate is based on a minimum loss amount—you need to know all of the parameters of the deal and what’s required of you before you start. A typical scenario might be that a player is required to deposit $500. but Norm Wattenberger. thereby needing a better loss rebate to participate if you do. creator of the Casino Verite software products. nothing on the market can formulate these strategies.000 in front money and play it through a minimum of five times to be eligible for a rebate on losses. beverage.

non-negotiables cannot be exchanged for cash. Are you restricted to even-money wagers or can you bet these chips on . If you bet a $100 non-negotiable chip and win. 6.prior trip. In all cases. Non-negotiable chips are obviously more valuable than action chips. Win or lose. you read that correctly—your own personal floorperson records the result of every hand you play. the chip is collected by the dealer. For example. but it can be done. Yes. What method do the pit and cashier use to monitor/record table results for each session? If the casino uses specific chips for the purpose of tracking rebate players. Non-Negotiable Chips—Just as with action chips. we first need to differentiate between the two popular forms offered by casinos. collect the rebate. You can then play the same non-negotiable chip over and over until it loses. it’s important to verify what the floorperson’s results show at the end of each session. If you lost big. it gives them a better tool for accurately monitoring win/loss. Since the basis of these programs is the use of non-cash chips. it decreases its value. if a player comes in on a Friday and meets the minimum requirement for a loss rebate by Saturday. but does not collect the non-negotiable chip. it’s imperative that the loss is recorded accurately. The difference is that a non-negotiable chip is played until it loses. There are also other considerations that affect their value: How does the casino treat bets with either of these chips when a wager results in a tie? If the chip is collected on ties. check out of the casino. Action Chips—Cannot be exchanged for cash and can be used for table play only. the dealer takes the chip and pays you with a $100 cash chip. Some casinos assign a floor person to record every bet made by a player on a rebate program. the dealer pays with a $100 cash chip. This isn’t the most convenient application. Rolling-Chip Rebate Programs “Rolling-chip” programs are common in Asian casinos. In theory. he can conclude his trip. if you bet a $100 action chip and win. then check back in and start a new trip immediately. An action chip is good for a one-time bet.

Your expected return is higher on the longshot wagers. while actually traveling via less-expensive tickets. created his own loss-rebate program. Since the programs vary by casino. some casinos will reimburse up to 10% of a player’s actual loss.g. but apply it only toward the cost of airline tickets. 35-1 on a roulette number straight up or 8-1 on the baccarat tie bet. Max Rubin talks about players who maximize airfare reimbursement using various techniques. creating more risk. For example. a player can purchase and present a set of fully refundable airline tickets valued in the neighborhood of 10% of his front money. show tickets.. fight tickets. in essence. the player has. Are naturals paid at 3-2 or are the payouts restricted to even money? If payouts on naturals are restricted to even money. all of the scenarios cannot be addressed here. whether a true loss or an exaggerated loss has been recorded by the casino. As suggested by Max. surrender. splits. How does the casino staff (pit and cashier) monitor results? If the casino closely monitors your play and results. it reduces the opportunities for teammates to exchange chips. although the variance when playing them goes up. creative players have been successful in exploiting loss rebates for years and programs of varying value are there for the taking. In his book Comp City. the value of the chips is decreased. the chips are worth more on bets with higher payouts. Other Comps Other comps you can score are free golf. and . e. you can create your own. especially when you employ creative methods. A Creative Loss Rebate If your level of play doesn’t qualify for a loss rebate. Now. and double downs? Being allowed to use the chips for all playing options increases their value. Can the chips be used for insurance. Loss-rebate programs can be very valuable for players.propositions with higher payouts? Mathematically. However.

This commonly occurs around the changing of shifts. You can also use your own creativity to figure out reasons to sit out a hand or two when being observed during a poor count. you may want to consider taking a restroom break to avoid exposing a smaller bet and jeopardizing your rating. you’ll need to consider what the count is when the pit person visits the table. look for shoe games with a slow dealer. When you’re playing. Play in a pit where the floorpeople have several tables to monitor. It’s up to you to get them. • Ask in a nice way and smile. If you’re playing strictly for comps. When combining card counting with playing for comps. Whether you’re counting cards or not. the comps are there for the asking. If the count is high. Some Final Tips on Scoring Comps When you first sit down to play and the pit person is filling out your rating slip. It can be as simple as asking. make your first few bets higher than normal. If the pit person returns. After the pit person leaves. If they say you don’t currently qualify. • Ask for your desired comp. While such games are undesirable for card counters. poor penetration. ask a pit person or casino host if you qualify for such comps. you can lower your bet. try to schedule your play shortly before the playing cards at that table will be changed. • Ask as though you know you’re entitled to the comp.tickets to other special events. They won’t have the time or luxury to monitor any one table closely. if the count is low. However. the slow pace of such games gives a player looking to score comps the luxury of playing fewer hands per hour. This takes some pre-scouting. Use this method if you’re playing strictly for comps. you may wish to raise your bet again. . This may help get you a higher rating. and a full table with slow players. without having to place a bet. If playing strictly for comps. there’s no problem making that big bet. thus risking less money. This procedure provides about 10–15 minutes of down time for which you’ll receive credit. find out the criteria for the comp you want.

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23 Airline Travel Security For international travel. When traveling within the United States. If you fail to follow them. you could be subjected to arrest and confiscation of your cash.000.S. In other words. When traveling overseas. Protective Measures If at all possible. I strongly advise that you familiarize yourself with and strictly adhere to the laws of the countries you’re visiting. laws define what you can and can’t do in terms of carrying money. if you’re pulled aside by reason of suspicion (justified or unjustified). if you have no alternative but to carry cash. In some jurisdictions. Carrying travelers’ checks for domestic travel can work. you’ll immediately be turned over by airport security to local police. try to find an alternative to carrying cash. it may be a . individuals who have been detained as a result of carrying large sums of cash claim that all their cash was confiscated. Beware Local Law Enforcement Upon passing through airport security. Even if you’re playing under an alias at a given casino and several casinos are in the area. at the time of this writing. laws regarding transport of currencies. there are no restrictions on the amount of currency one may carry. there have been reports of individuals who have been victimized under the guise of “suspicious activity” for carrying what was considered large amounts of cash. The federal authorities won’t be in the picture yet. However. the victim claimed the cops stole the money. you can usually go next door to cash your travelers’ checks. but the total amount officially reported as confiscated was less than what was truly taken. This is where the problems have arisen. If you’re using your real name and are comfortable with having a Currency Transaction Report (“CTR”) filed in your name for a cash transaction in excess of $10. as well as U.

should they find them. If you really want to go overboard (remember. as you know. I have not verified whether these are workable. Unfortunately. This should divert any attention from an illegal activity to that of legal gambling. paranoia can save lives!). as documented. If you’ve withdrawn in excess of $10K in cash from your bank.good idea to wire money in or use similar means. you’ll have different amounts and different bills/serial numbers. they file a CTR with the U. ask your host for a letter indicating the dates you played and your win/loss. you may even ask a bank officer to draft a letter certifying that the amount of cash (which should correspond to the amount on your person at the time of your departing flight) was withdrawn from that financial institution. In absence of this. While many banks claim they’re not supposed to give you a copy of this report. After a win/loss. Treasury Department. highlighting the areas that demonstrate gambling activities. You can attach amended records to this letter and the letter can be worded as such to allow for this latitude. so the amount of cash you’re carrying corresponds with your documentation. It may help to have your attorney include in the letter something to this effect. For your return flight where the amounts are different. so it’s on record. if you’re playing under an alias. Note: If you’ve been hiding chips. What you’re trying to demonstrate here is that you’re not looking to hide . ratings. Carry this with you to demonstrate that you legally obtained the subject cash. Carry a certified copy of your most recent tax return. and other forms of related disclosure. you can sometimes get an uninformed clerk to give you one (it happens more often than not). have no problem with CTRs. referencing the aliases used.S. but they are suggestions from a reliable source: Have your attorney and/or accountant write a letter indicating that you plan to carry (exact amount of cash). have the actual denominations and serial numbers of the bills included. it’s best not to cash in all of your chips. it weakens your position. and such amount has been officially recorded. Note: This will be in sync with what you carry on your departing flight. Carrying IDs under aliases will make authorities suspicious. if you’re playing under your real name.

If you’re pulled in as suspicious. There are legal ways to work the system. . while engaging in perfectly legal activities. kids. in all likelihood. grandmother. you’re skating on thin ice! Someone suggested this … carry a Bible. but wish to maintain your privacy in respect to the casinos. but if you’re using an alias and carrying cash. your life will be ruined. I have nothing better.anything from the government. pictures of your mother. Sorry. There are two things in life that I’m afraid of: sewer rats and the IRS! If you try to play with the IRS and get caught. I don’t recommend you attempt to skirt the CTR issue. you want to present yourself as “the boy (or girl) next door. but my thought is. if you’re detained and questioned by local cops who have any inclination to try skimming some cash. I don’t know how the above holds up legally. which you should research. dog and/or cat.” as opposed to some slickster. these precautions may make them think twice about pulling anything. Who ever said gamblers weren’t religious? Also.

When playing with this rule. you can increase your edge by spreading your bets accordingly. 8. This is where the dealer does not take a second card (hole card) until all players have played their hands. such a bet spread may overcome this type of game. Blackjack opportunities do exist around the world. 11 vs. In many places.8 vs. 11 vs. when the dealer’s second card makes a blackjack. Penetration can vary widely. T 5. While a typical game found in casinos throughout Europe is a 6-decker with less than desirable rules. and Heat Players can get away with higher bet spreads in many countries outside the U. you need to adjust your basic strategy as follows: 1. just as it does within the U. Different Rules The most common rule you will find in play outside the USA is the “nohole-card” rule. If you possess a strong bankroll.8 vs. Casinos dealing blackjack can be found in many countries around the globe. A.S. A 4. 8.24 Blackjack Outside the U. but a player needs to do additional homework to identify potentially profitable situations. Penetration.S. which can be both good and bad. the games can be a bit different from those found in the U.. there’s an additional spin on this rule. As always.A vs.S.S. T 2. the player loses both the initial wager and the amount put up for the double down or split. where after a double down or split. Also. based on several variables. casinos. A 3. this factor should be the key to determining whether a game is . A Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Bet Spreads.

you usually need to show a passport as identification. casinos won’t have a record of you. along with other variables such as penetration and the ability to use a large bet spread. it’s a crime that you don’t want to get caught committing in a foreign country. abroad one can enjoy the luxury of having found a hidden treasure and playing it without worrying about the masses. While many travelers make use of hotel safes.. it’s recommended to . This. it might check with some U. Identification and Barring In the U. Another consideration is that in the event a foreign casino becomes suspicious of you.S. When playing in a casino abroad. While people are known to obtain passports under false names. especially if they happen to be winning big.S. Get creative. While this happens often enough in the U. While it’s difficult to gauge the extent of heat in casinos abroad. casinos and give them this real name. It’s just a reputation! Finding Good Games You may at some point come across a game with great rules.S. With that in mind. can provide a player with a super opportunity. you should check in under your real name using your real passport. under an alias. it’s evident in many places that American players at a blackjack table arouse suspicions. but may be able to identify a photo of you.S.worth playing. It’s advisable to carry most in travelers’ checks. using a money belt or other discreet method.S. If you’ve been playing in the U. dollars into the local currency. You won’t have to worry about word getting out about such a game and dozens of players burning it out in a matter of days. Be aware of the exchange rates when converting your U. Safety Exercise care when carrying large sums of money and traveling abroad.S. while keeping hard currencies secured on your person at all times. but stay within legal boundaries. you can legally get rated under an alias. those U. Such casinos immediately label American players as card counters on sight.

exercise caution. it may be more prudent to keep the money on you. you might also see a rate quoted as 1. You arrive at your European destination with €90. After a break-even play. you might see the euro trading at . Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in having all your money confiscated. which is the amount in euro you’d receive for one U.950 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. Having a local player guiding you around in a foreign country is an invaluable asset. in addition to your being detained. a more realistic translation would be as follows: .000 and purchase euro at a rate of . In this case. Currency Laws Be aware of the various regulations with respect to bringing currencies into or out of the country.S.10 for one euro. Alongside. Using the “for-information-purposes-only” rate in the above example. the above scenario is not common. especially if you’re staying at a smaller hotel. Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 For the examples in this chapter.S. dollar. indicating that you’d receive US$1. Translated to our purposes: SCENARIO “A”—You have US$100. Such players have reciprocally hosted one another during visits to their respective countries.10387 and receive US$100. you return home with €90.590. In reality. since the rates quoted are considered just a “quote.” The banks adjust these rates in a manner that enables them to make a profit from both sides of the transaction (the purchase and the sale). we will use U.000 in exchange.9059.9059. General Info If you check a local financial newspaper listing exchange rates.10387. rather than in a hotel safe. dollars and the euro (€). Electronic Pen-Pals Some players worldwide participate regularly in some of the blackjack websites and communicate with one another.

. this service was extended to me without any commission. They establish a rate for your buyin. You arrive at your European destination with €89. Method to Minimize Loss on Currency Exchange Best Method—Some casinos provide a nice service.360. where you wire US$ to their account held in their local bank.500 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. or 1/1.099 Note: In the event only currencies are listed in one of these columns.9059).9059 = 1. You’ll want to ensure the rate used is the same in both of these steps and that it’s done when you settle. If you end your play with a win.500. they will be once again converted back to US$ the day they are wired to your account back home.099 (.9100) and receive US$98.8950 1.639. but lost US$1. 1/. depending on the strength of the currency involved at that time.S.. your winnings are converted at a spot rate (the rate at the moment the bank wires the funds back to your U. Based on the above transactions. In my past trips.10387.9059 1. When funds are wired back to you. After a break-even play. If you play a break-even game. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage (usually the latter). you can determine the flipside by dividing 1 by the quoted rate (e. they use a spot rate to convert the amount you give the receipt (the US$ amount) and convert it to a euro amount. which is locked in. account).50 due to the cost of exchanging currency.117 Sell: . you return home with €89.000 and purchase Euro at a rate of . here is how the exchange rate chart would appear: Quote: . your exchange transactions would resemble Scenario “A” above.10387 Buy: .8950 (1.117). You played a break-even game.50 in exchange.9100 1.g.10387 = . When you’re receiving reimbursement for airfare.SCENARIO “B”—You have US$100.

do so on a banking day (not a Saturday or Sunday). and do it first thing in the morning.One hint: When you settle up your account. . That way you can have them confirm the rate used for all these purposes and all the conversions will be performed that day.

In early 2002. most are unsuccessful.25 Basics of Zone Tracking There may be just a handful of players truly skilled enough to achieve long-term success in the art of “zone tracking.” Also known as “shuffle tracking. I was remotely involved with a group. and out of respect I won’t pass on what I learned from this individual.” while many take a crack at it. and sacrifice to achieve an inordinate level of excellence. to levels beyond. The secrets are kept well guarded. dedication. I would implement a simple enough shuffle where the wannabe zone trackers would come out of the woodwork. Errors are far more common and far more costly than those related to straight card-counting. The sharper casinos are beginning to realize this and are looking to speed things up to improve their bottom line. This is someone who put forth the highest level of intensity. A couple of months later. I’m grateful for this little insight. along with other advanced methods. except for one small refinement in the method I was using to track a specific shuffle. I considered the most brilliant zone tracker I’d encountered. If I ran a casino. These are the players from whom the casino will make the most money when they make mistakes that give the casino an even bigger advantage than it already possesses. I wasn’t privy to the actual methods used by this master. The easiest aspect of zone tracking is the ability to make an error. co-led by an individual who. The players who can flawlessly track a shuffle will be few and far between. at that time. and not nearly enough to raise a concern. I parted company with this group and continued to work on fine-tuning my zone-tracking methods. Due to my limited availability. There are simply too many ways a player can miscalculate. I had the good fortune of meeting up with another gifted individual in the unlikeliest place. This person not only took the skills of zone tracking. but also proved to be quite generous with sharing knowledge. I was amazed at the surgical approach used to .

resulting in more profit. On the other hand. using one simple shuffle. I was asked not to write about these details. Extensive research has been performed on the topic. the more it spends time dealing. While this individual was quite open and sharing with the methods used. The methods presented here are very basic. Since few players can take advantage of a non-random shuffle. and the size of the final segment where your targeted group of cards ends up after the shuffle. expert studies show that random shuffles in casinos today are the exception rather than the rule. When “slugs” of cards are less than thoroughly distributed due to a nonrandom shuffle. The most important skill required to succeed in zone tracking is visually following the cards being tracked. regardless of how poorly the cards are mixed. The methods presented here are an attempt to simplify the process. the size of the segment as grabbed by the dealer while performing the shuffle. an astute tracker can identify the positions in the shoe where the slugs reside. The less time a casino spends on the shuffle. It would take too much time to shuffle so precisely. it makes sense for the casinos to spend as little time as possible doing this.analyze various casino shuffle procedures. I provide you with some basics on the skill of zone tracking. the intent is to present them in a most easy-to-learn manner. I will honor my promise. The mathematics of card counting assumes a random shuffle process that provides a thorough mixing of all the cards. However. Step-by-Step Training Method to Develop the Skills In this section. if a segment has excess low cards. including the inner workings of several commercial shuffle machines. Although they’ve already been discussed in some of the blackjack literature. You’re . the tracker cuts this segment into play and bets with an advantage off the top. the tracker cuts this segment out of play. some with advanced mathematical formulas. I recommend that you use the information here strictly as a foundation for further training before attempting to go out in the casinos to try your hand at it. If a “segment” is rich in high cards. This means estimating the size of a segment in a discard tray.

1½-deck cuts. try to take the stack of cards out of the discard tray. Identifying Segment Sizes If you’ve been employing a balanced card-counting system with truecount conversion. Sources for additional training will be presented at the conclusion of this chapter. and 2-deck cuts. you should be able to determine segment sizes by looking at a stack in the discard tray. 4. Note: When performing this exercise. Drill Number Two . holding it on the table in the manner a dealer would when presenting it to a player to cut. 3. 2. You want to be consistently within three cards of number 52. congratulations! Repeat this exercise until you’re consistently within three cards. Determine a point that you believe is one deck from the bottom up and place a cut-card in that spot. going for half-deck cuts. take 6 decks of casino-quality cards and number them from 1 to 312 on the face of each card. If you cut to card number 156. Take a look at the face of the card above the cut-card and see what number it shows. Take a look at the face of the card above the cut-card and see what number it shows. We will further work under the assumption that the penetration level in the 6-deck game being played is 1½ decks cut off. The following drills will enhance your skills: Drill Number One 1. This chapter is far from being a complete course. Place the stack in order in a 6-deck discard tray. This works best if you’re training with a partner and you can take turns with this exercise. Note: When referring to different counts in the exercises throughout the chapter. Training for a 6-deck shoe game. Continue with steps 3 and 4. but it’s an excellent primer. we’ll be using the Hi-Lo counting system.provided with enough material to determine whether or not to continue with further study. Determine the midway point in the stack and place a cut-card in that spot. 5.

Place the pile grabbed on the table and determine its approximate size. you apply a simple shuffle as an introduction to Cut-Off Tracking. Let’s call the pile on the right “Pile A. 2. with the colored edges facing you (see Illustration 1). take 6 decks of casino-quality cards and count off 78 cards. 3. randomly grab a pile of cards from the stack.1. Take the remaining 4½ decks and place them in your discard tray.” which we will attempt to follow through a simple shuffle routine. 2. indicate whether it’s over or under 2 decks and by how many cards. For example: If you think it resembles the size of a 2-deck pile. Using a black marker. Place this colored pile on top of the cards already situated in the discard tray. Using the same “numbered-order” stack from drill number one in a 6deck discard tray. making certain to mix up the random size of your “picks. This pile will represent 1½ decks of “cutoffs. representing the 1½ deck cutoffs.” which will contain the cards with the colored edge. 4. 5. The other pile will be “Pile B” (see . color one side of the edges only of the pile of 78 cards. Break the 6-deck stack into two equal 3-deck piles. Training for a 6-deck shoe game.” Learning Cut-Off Tracking In this step. Repeat steps 1. Drill Number Three 1.

“riffle” them together. you’ll know the value of the cutoffs as well. then place the riffled cards in a prominent spot between the two original piles. which we will call the “final stack” (see Illustration 3). 6. Grab 39 cards (¾ deck) from Pile A. if at the end of the shoe. then grab the same amount from Pile B. Repeat Step 6 three more times so all the cards have been shuffled to complete the final stack (see Illustration 4). then you know . your running count is +9.Illustration 2). 7. Result—The bottom half of the 6-deck final stack contains the entire 1½ deck of cutoffs. thus creating a third pile. as represented by the marked edges. Information You Will Possess—If you’ve maintained a running count throughout the shoe. For example.

Recap on Estimating the Value of the Unknown Segment Being Merged with a Known Tracked Segment—Determine the size of the segment you’re tracking (1½ deck). If we’re using this +3 estimate as the value for the segment merged with the cutoffs (-9).the 1½ decks of cutoffs have a value of -9. betting and playing accordingly throughout the three decks. you’ll bring this preferable 3-deck segment to the top. Add the result of Step 4 to the count of your known segment and use this to determine the count to use at the start of the shoe (9) + (+3) = -6. we add +3 to -9. Now determine what portion of all the unknown segments is being merged with the segment you are tracking (1½ out of 4½ decks or one-third). A simple method to play through this 3-deck segment is to determine your adjusted running count at the start of the shoe based on your information. Learning Segment Location In this step. Since the segment contains a value of -6. Here’s a procedure for doing so: Look at the 6 decks in terms of four segments of 1½-decks each. by placing the cut-card at the midway point of the stack. you start play with a count of +6. How to Use this Information—With knowledge that the bottom half of the final stack contains extra high cards. This known segment. resulting in -6. Then figure out the total value of all unknown segments (+9). One segment contains the cutoffs with a known value of -9. providing us with an estimated value of +3 per segment. Divide the count of all the unknown segments by the portion of that total being merged (9/3 = 3). was merged with a second segment of unknown value. you will use the same shuffle as in Step 2 to begin with a simple form of segment location. Therefore we can adjust our running count at the start of the shoe to +6. we can make a rough estimation and spread this +9 equally among the three segments. Since the total value of all three unknown segments is +9. as a result of the shuffle. .

count off 78 cards and place them in the shoe. 7. Break the 6-deck stack into two equal 3-deck piles. Take the 1½ decks of cutoffs from the shoe and place these on top of the stack in the discard tray. 5. from the player’s view. 3. will contain the cards with the colored edge. Place the remaining pile of non-colored cards (3 decks) on top of the 39 colored cards in the discard tray. These non-colored cards will represent the cutoffs. 6. This segment is called the “bottoms. . Illustration 5 shows what the pre-shuffle stack will look like. This pile will represent the first ¾-deck dealt from the previous shoe. take the 78 cards with the edges marked and break them into two equal piles of 39 cards each. The other pile will be “Pile B” (see Illustration 6). Take the remaining pile of 39 cards with the colored edges facing away from you and place them on top of the stack in the discard tray. representing the ¾-deck bottoms. 4. Using the same 6 decks of cards from drill number three.” which is what we’re tracking in this drill.Drill Number Four 1. Take one pile of 39 cards with the colored edges facing you and place them in the discard tray. “Pile A” on the left. From the remaining 4½ decks. 2.

8. and place the riffled cards in a prominent spot between the two piles. Here is a procedure to do so: . by placing the cut-card at the 1½-deck point from the top of the stack. thus cutting the segment with the extra low cards out of play. you bring this non-preferable 1½-deck segment to the very bottom. A simple method to play through the shoe is to determine your adjusted running count at the start of the shoe based on your information. Grab 39 cards (¾-deck) from Pile A. as represented by the marked edges. 9. Result—The 1½-deck segment located on the top of the post-shuffle file contains all the bottoms. then grab the same amount from Pile B. you’ll know the value of 50% of the cards within the top 1½-deck segment. so all the cards have been shuffled to complete the final stack (see Illustration 7). How to Use this Information—With knowledge that the top 1½-deck segment of the final stack contains extra low cards. Information You Will Possess—If you’ve maintained a running count of the first ¾-deck. Let’s assume your running count for the ¾-deck is +7. creating your final stack. Repeat Step 8 three more times. riffle them together.

which means the remaining 7 segments contain a total value of -7. using this count at the start of the shoe (+7 + (-1) = +6). we add -1 to +7 and adjust our running count at the start of the shoe to +6 (since we are cutting these cards out of play). Since your known segment was merged with a second segment of unknown value. resulting in -1. Let’s take a scenario where the bottoms you’re tracking contain extra high cards. Note: As you progress in your training. One segment contains the bottom ¾-deck with a known value of +7. How to Use this Information—With knowledge that the top 1½-deck segment of the final stack contains extra high cards. Recap on Estimating the Value of the Unknown Segment Being Merged with a Known Tracked Segment—Determine the size of the segment you are tracking (¾ deck). Add this result to the count of your known segment. If we use this -1 estimate as a value for the segment merged with the bottoms (+7). . you will bring that one deck of unknown cards to the top of the stack. betting and playing accordingly throughout the shoe. which is the offset to that of your known segment count (-7). by placing the cut-card at the 1-deck point (usually the minimum number of cards you’ll be permitted to cut) from the bottom of the stack. There are a few ways you can strategically approach this. you can divide the value of the total unknown segments (7) by the number of unknown segments (7). The method presented here is a good starting point and is workable. Now determine the total count of all unknown segments. Divide the count of all the unknown segments by the total number of unknown segments (-7/7 = -1).Look at the 6 decks in terms of 8 segments of ¾-decks each. Information You’ll Possess—Let’s assume your running count for the ¾deck is -7. Now determine the number of unknown segments (7). you’ll be exposed to methods and formulas much stronger than this simplified method. Your preferable 1½-deck segment containing the bottoms will be located immediately following that one-deck of unknown cards.

and break them into two equal piles of 39 cards. 3. you’d play through this 1½-deck segment starting with a running count of +6.” where in the previous drills we used a method call “cutoff topping. These non-colored cards will represent the cutoffs. Take one of the ¾-deck cutoff piles and “plug” it at least one deck down from the top of the stack in the discard tray (see Illustration 8). 7. betting and playing accordingly. and place them on top of the stack in the discard tray. and place those cards in the shoe. 2.” . Drill Number Five 1. then when one deck has been played. This pile will represent the last ¾-deck dealt from the previous shoe. 5.One simple method is to play through the first deck betting the minimum. Take the remaining pile of 39 cards with the colored edges facing you. Take one pile of 39 cards with the colored edges facing away from you and place them in the discard tray. From the remaining 4½-decks. count off 78 cards. Place the remaining pile of non-colored cards (3 decks) on top of the first 39 cards in the discard tray. Note: We’re using a different method of cutoff placement here called “cutoff plugging. you’ll have reached your segment containing the extra high cards. Using the above procedure for determining the value of a segment.” which is what we’re tracking in this drill. 4. 6. take the 78 cards with the edges marked and break them into two equal piles of 39 cards each. Using the same 6 decks of cards from drill number three. Take the 1½ decks of cutoffs from the shoe. This segment is called the “tops.

Break the 6-deck stack into two equal 3-deck piles. Take the remaining ¾-deck cutoff pile and “plug” it at least one deck up from the bottom of the stack in the discard tray (see Illustration 9). The other pile will be “Pile B” (see .8. representing the ¾-deck tops. 10. will contain the cards with the colored edge. 9. “Pile A” on the right. Illustration 10 shows what the pre-shuffle stack will look like in the discard tray. from the player’s view.

you’ll know the value of 50% of the cards within the bottom 1½-deck segment. Result—The 1½-deck segment located on the bottom of the post-shuffle stack contains all the tops. Grab 39 cards (¾-deck) from Pile A. then place the riffled cards in a prominent spot between the two piles. Note: In a real-world environment. . the above scenario won’t be as exact as presented. Information You’ll Possess—If you’ve maintained a running count of the last ¾-deck dealt. riffle them together. then grab the same amount from Pile B. 11. as represented by the marked edges. 12. Repeat Step 11. You’ll need to estimate when the first round of the tops will be dealt in relation to the appearance of the cut-card. so all the cards have been shuffled three more times and the final stack is complete (see Illustration 12). Let’s assume your running count for the ¾-deck is -7. creating your final stack. notwithstanding how many more cards are dealt to complete the round as the cut-card appears.Illustration 11).

Learning Multi-Segment Location In this step. Using the same 6 decks of cards from drill number three. 6. 5. . thus cutting the segment with extra high cards immediately into play. 4.colored cards (3 decks) on top of the 39 colored cards in the discard tray. count off 78 cards and place those cards in the shoe. 3. This segment of bottoms is one of the segments we are tracking in this drill. you’ll see the same shuffle as in the previous steps with a variation of the plugging method. Drill Number Six 1. 2. Take one pile of 39 cards with the colored edges facing you and place them in the discard tray. From the remaining 4½-decks.How to Use this Information—With knowledge that the bottom 1½-deck segment of the final stack contains extra high cards. by placing the cut-card at the 1½-deck point from the bottom of the stack. Take the remaining pile of 39 cards with the colored edges facing you and place them on top of the stack in the discard tray. These non-colored cards will represent the cutoffs. Take the 1½-decks of cutoffs from the shoe and plug them in entirety directly in the middle of the stack in the discard tray (see Illustration 13). This segment of tops is the other segment we’re tracking in this drill. Place the remaining pile of non. while tracking more than one segment during the shuffle. A simple method to play through this 1½-deck segment is to determine your adjusted running count for this segment in the manner described in drill number four. you’ll bring this preferable 1½-deck segment to the top. take the 78 cards with the edges marked and break them into two equal piles of 39 cards each.

7. Break the 6-deck stack into two equal 3-deck piles. Grab 39 cards (¾-deck) from Pile A. Illustration 14 shows what the pre-shuffle stack will look like. 8. creating your final stack. then grab the same amount from Pile B. will contain the cards with the colored edge. and place them in a prominent spot between the two piles. from the player’s view. 9. representing the ¾-deck bottoms. “Pile A” on the left. riffle them together. . “Pile B” on the right will contain cards with the colored edge representing the ¾-deck tops (see Illustration 15).

Hold on a minute! Take a look at Illustrations 13 and 14. Result—The 1½-deck segment located on the top of the post-shuffle stack contains all the bottoms. Considering this. the top 1½-deck segment of the post-shuffle stack will contain the ¾-deck of the bottoms. you’ll know the value of 50% of the cards within the top 1½-deck segment and if you’ve maintained a running count of the last ¾deck dealt. which is the other 50% of the cutoffs. The bottom 1½-deck segment of the post-shuffle stack will contain the ¾-deck of the tops. as does the top ¾-deck segment. Adding -5 to each of the top and the bottom ¾-deck segments respectively gives you a count . merged with a ¾-deck segment. you’ll know the value of 50% of the cards within the bottom 1½deck segment. which gives your cutoffs a value of -10. while the 1½-deck segment located on the bottom of the post-shuffle stack contains all the tops. Let’s say that the bottom ¾-deck segment has a value of -8. as represented by the marked edges. so all cards have been shuffled and the final stack is complete (see Illustration 16). which is actually 50% of the cutoffs. Fifty percent of -10 is -5.10. where the stack is split into two equal piles. Consider an end-of-shoe running count of +10. Repeat Step 9 three more times. Half of the cutoffs are on the top of the pile opposite the tops and the other half is on the bottom of the pile opposite the bottoms. Notice how in Illustration 13 the entire 1½ decks of cutoffs are plugged entirely dead center? Now look at Illustration 15 again. merged with a ¾-deck segment. Information You’ll Possess—If you’ve maintained a running count of the first ¾-deck dealt. as represented by the marked edges.

The next recommended step in training for zone tracking is to read Shuffle Tracking for Beginners by George C. we assume the cut-card is exactly at the 1½-deck point. but the resources listed below provide the necessary details on mapping shuffles. In the examples. The top zone trackers I’ve had the privilege to know all put in years of study and live play to achieve a level of excellence. you know the value of 50% of the entire post shuffle stack. we used one simple shuffle. I used scenarios given a perfect world. Many players have studied and applied this skill for many years. Arnold Snyder’s Blackbelt in Blackjack also has a chapter devoted to shuffle tracking. Such practitioners reading this chapter would shake their heads in unison.” They’re correct. In the training exercises. An easy-to-follow book. one of the first things you do is map it on paper to determine and verify that it can tracked. For the purpose of this chapter. this is a nice progression from what you read in this chapter. These are just some of the many considerations you need to address if you wish to continue studying zone-tracking. For the real nuts-and-bolts on the subject. We didn’t cover this aspect. You’ll need to know how to adjust for it.” Summary The intent of this chapter was to provide a basic foundation for the reader wanting to learn how to track shuffle zones. thinking.of -13 for each of those 1½-deck segments. study The Shuffle Tracker’s Cookbook. by Arnold Snyder and published by Huntington Press. This provides you with the ability to perform what is called “Best-Half Tracking. You’ll find. You’ll need to adjust for that. “This is only the tip of the iceberg. When identifying a shuffle. which combines the Shuffle Tracking Series that appeared in Snyder’s Blackjack . I feel it’s important to acknowledge this and advise you not to risk money attempting to track shuffle zones in live casino play without more training than what’s presented here. As a result. a dealer who varies the size of the picks. more often than not.

.Forum (Fall ‘94. A good software product to help with your study is CVShuffle. respectively).com. go onto the Internet and locate The Blackjack Shuffle Tracking Treatise. and Spring ‘95 issues. It also has a practice module to help hone your skills. it’s available for viewing at: bjmath. CVShuffle helps you recreate a casino shuffle and identify points within that you may find suitable to track. Hall. (1990. Winter ‘94. At the time of this writing. 1991) by Michael R. If you still want more after reading all the above.

Pick up the cards from the player’s view. as most casino dealers would from their view. string-sequence (several cards in order) location. Place the following four cards in this order on a table from left to right: 6♦. While observing different types of shuffles. Step 1. Shuffles that may be effective for zone tracking might not be effective for location play. Some of the different types of location play are: ace location.26 Location Play Shuffles vary not only from casino to casino. and zone location. we focus on the most common form of location play. place those cards intact in a random spot within the deck of cards (Illustration 2). Having the knowledge “in advance” that your first card will be an ace gives you the opportunity to place a large bet with this big edge. aceten combination. . Next.5% advantage. You have to identify certain aspects of the shuffle routine in order to analyze the potential to apply such advantage-play techniques. Step 2. 4♣. For the purpose of this chapter. an astute player can identify methods to locate specific cards after the shuffle. When dealt an ace as your first card playing a 6deck game. Introductory Exercise Try this exercise using a complete deck of cards. A♠. but also from dealer to dealer within the same casino. you have a 50. left to right (Illustration 1). 5♥. ace location.

will be your target card. the 6♦. placing them on the table in order from right to left of your first key card (Note: From the player’s view. From the top of the deck. In a perfect process.Step 3. Finally. cards . the A♠. respectively. You’d want to place a large bet on your hand. if a round ended with the 4♣ dealt. followed by your second and third key cards.” Illustration 3 shows your first key card. Notice. Wait a minute—we didn’t shuffle the cards! This is a good time to talk about riffling. you’d know that the first card dealt in the next round would be the A♠. until you arrive at the 6♦. This is your first “key card. your three key cards followed by your “target card. from right to left. after all three key cards. knowing the ace is your first card. the 5♥ and 4♣. this is how the cards will appear as dealt). In this instance. flip through the cards one at a time.” Flip the next three cards.

15 minutes later by another participant. previously held by Dominic O’Brien.) Following is the system Sal uses for card memorization. In the above example. The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne. which lead to more than just one card separating your key cards. This is discussed later in this chapter. (Sal’s record was topped. Therefore. you know that in the next round the first card dealt will be an unknown card.” Considering this. Note: The consistency of the fineness of a riffle is highly dealer dependent. if the 4♣ is the last card dealt in a round. using phonetics. if you took the above scenario. you will play two spots. you would have one unknown card between each of your three key cards in front of the ace. we used a single deck of cards just to demonstrate the concept of ace location. and Mega Memory. My good friend Sal Piacente is one of the most talented card-memory experts out there. The Learning Process A necessary skill for this method of location play is card memorization. you would create a name. for each card in the deck. Applying this concept to a deck of cards. Since the shuffle process in a single-deck game is normally thorough. He and I were at the Memoriad Competition a couple of years ago. You also need to factor in variations in the shuffle process. such as Learn to Remember by Dominic O’Brien. While a perfect riffle results in a one-card separation of key cards. where Sal broke the world record. The top memory systems are based on the concept of association. you find plenty of variations from this result. This would be a “fine riffle. To direct that ace into your hand. an audio-cassette program by Kevin Trudeau. placing a large bet on your second spot where the ace should be dealt. we focus our attention on multi-deck (four or more) games for ace location.riffled from two equal piles would interleaf one from each pile. You can go into any bookstore and find a book on memory techniques. Let’s start with a chart of . for memorizing the sequence of a shuffled deck of cards. with the ace immediately following as the second card dealt. considering the unknown card interleaving in the shuffle.

The first letter of the suit is C (club). we simply refer to the suit. queens. Since the aces are our target cards. The phonetic sound for 2 is N. we apply the first letter of the suit and add a sound that resembles either king or queen. Taking C and N. we can use D and SH and come up with DiSH. Jack of spades is simply Spade. Now the trick is to use these two words and create a picture or story (use your imagination. the more ridiculous the better) to link the words together. For the jack. In this example. Let’s look at the 2♣. For the 6♦. we can develop a word such as CaN. The king of spades is Sing. Here’s the list of words Sal uses: . We couldn’t find a word beginning with the letter H for queen of hearts.numbers and corresponding phonetic sounds: This method uses the phonetic alphabet and the first letter of the suit. we won’t need to include them. For queens and kings. so we simply used Queen. Jack of clubs is Club. The queen of diamonds is Dream. and kings. you can think of a can (2♣) sitting on a dish (6♦). But we can’t forget about jacks.

Take 6 decks of cards in a shoe and deal yourself three spots. with the first hit card A♣ and the final hit card 5♥. the player’s first two cards are the 6♦ and 8♦. Pick up the cards after all spots are played and settled. visit casinos you plan to play in to observe variations in the way cards are picked up after a round. Place the entire stack of cards used in this round in the discard tray. Then the dealer’s cards are picked up and placed on top of the players’ cards. As the dealer picks up each player’s hand. Drill Number One Step 1. As a player’s hand is picked up. using the standard casino pick-up order: Remember that a busted hand is picked up and placed in the discard tray immediately following that result. In Illustration 4. After all spots are played and settled. the cards from the player on the far left (third base) end up on top. .Here’s an imaginative visual to create for a sequence of cards: The HOG (7♥) and the HEN (2♥) were in the CAR (4♣). respectively. along with the dealer’s hand. Step 2. the first card dealt to that player ends up on top. and each subsequent hit card underneath in order. Note: You need to be aware of variations on this proceedure. the players’ cards are picked up from (the players’) left to right in order. with the second card dealt under that.

using your cardmemorization technique. Step 4. Step 7. . Step 5. watching to see if the second and third key cards follow. with the ace target card appearing right after the third key card (see Illustration 6). Without shuffling.” This occurs. resulting in the entire 6 decks residing in the discard tray. but the second key will not. Step 6. memorize those three cards from top to bottom. Continue dealing. If the ace is dealt in a spot where. After placing the cards in Step 4 on top of the cards already in the discard tray. as a result of the standard casino pick-up order. As you play. until an ace is dealt. This is called a “false positive. Note: Since you’re playing a 6deck game. intact. look for your first key card. These will be your three key cards (see Illustration 5). you’ll encounter times where your first key card may appear.Step 3. place the 6 decks. take the remaining cards from the shoe and place them on top. you can observe the three cards on top of that ace. back in the shoe and start dealing yourself three spots.

Step 3. Drill Number Two Step 1. along with drill number two below.” You’re now training yourself to memorize two sequences to locate two aces. but not the third. Repeat Steps 1–4 in drill number one. it doesn’t take the shuffle into consideration. Memorize this second sequence of three key cards and after picking up the cards from that round.because in a 6-deck game. Without shuffling. You may even encounter times where your first key card will appear along with your second key card.” Step 2. Repeat this drill several times. place the 6 decks back in the shoe and start dealing three spots. Let’s call these cards “Sequence B. is to familiarize the player with the casino dealing and pick-up procedures. Most practitioners agree it’s most accurate to “triple key. Take the remaining cards from the shoe and place them on top of the cards already in the discard tray. Step 4. This too can be a false positive. Its purpose. Let’s refer to the sequence of three key cards and ace target as “Sequence A. Note: This is strictly a drill.” Step 8. continue dealing three spots until a second ace is dealt. place them in the discard tray. After you place your first set of key cards and ace in the discard tray. . along with the memorization techniques applied. Step 5. you have six of each card within the decks.

Step 6. Step 7. Then see if the second and third key cards follow. look for the first key card of Sequence B. Repeat Steps 1–4 in drill number one. In this instance. Sequence B will be dealt first. Continue dealing to yourself. Step 8. Then take three additional cards from the shoe and place one of these cards following each of the three key cards (Illustration 8). . Step 1. while looking for the first key card of Sequence A. Illustration 7 shows a sample layout. As you’re playing. Step 2. These represent unknown cards resulting from the single-riffle effect of a shuffle. Repeat this drill several times. Drill Number Three This drill introduces the shuffling effect into our location play. Leave the cards face up on the table. then see if the second and third key cards follow.

Armed with this knowledge. you’d place a large bet on your second hand. you’d expect the first card dealt in the next round to be an unknown. Without shuffling. with one unknown card separating each. Step 5. as a result of a riffle. you have . resulting in the entire 6 decks residing in the discard tray.Step 3. Illustration 9 provides us with an ideal situation. place the cards from Step 2 on top of those already in the discard tray. Take the remaining cards from the shoe and place them on top of those already in the discard tray. Using the prescribed pick-up procedure. Step 4. followed immediately by your ace target card (see Illustration 10). All three key cards have been dealt in the appropriate order. If you’re successful and the ace lands on that hand. place the 6 decks back in the shoe and start dealing three spots. The last card dealt in the round is the third key card! Based on this.

Keep in mind that. Repeat this drill several times. you may need to change the number of hands you play. This won’t always be the case. in the layout of the drill you just completed. with a onecard separation between each known card (three key cards and target ace). Based on how many key cards you observe in a round. Step 6. with the A♥ through 6♥ in order from bottom to top and 10 unknown cards on top of these. the third key card was in an ideal spot at the end of a round dealt.5% advantage. After you’re confident with your accuracy in this drill. .that big 50. The post-shuffle stack is the result of a one-riffle shuffle. along with the hand on which you place your big bet in the following round. similar to drill number two. try to maintain two sequences. Think you can go for three? Maybe four? The following chart depicts a pre-shuffle stack of 14 cards.

Step 3. Step 4. Step 1. . resulting in the entire 6 decks residing in the discard tray. Leave the cards face up on the table. These represent unknown cards separating each key card and the ace target card. Repeat Steps 1–4 in drill number one. place the cards from Step 2 on top of those already in the discard tray. Using the prescribed pick-up procedure. resulting from the two-riffle effect of a shuffle. Then take nine more cards from the shoe and place three of them following each of the three key cards (see Illustration 12). Take the remaining cards from the shoe and place them on top of those already in the discard tray. Step 2.Drill Number Four In this drill we will adjust our strategy to accommodate a two-riffle shuffling effect. Illustration 11 shows a sample layout.

Before you flip over each subsequent card. the last card dealt in the round. 4♠ appeared immediately followed by the 4♦. in order to steer the ace target card to your hand and ensure it doesn’t land in the dealer’s hand you need to more actively adjust the number of hands you play. you’d expect the first card dealt in the next round to be the third unknown card. followed immediately by your ace target card (see Illustration 14). see how accurate you are at predicting whether each card is a key card. an unknown card. Your third key card. place the 6 decks back in the shoe and begin dealing three spots. Repeat this drill several times. with three unknown cards separating each. or the ace target card. Therefore. All three key cards have been dealt in the appropriate order. The layout of Illustration 13 shows a round where your key cards appear. Step 6. Without shuffling. The 9♣ represents the second of the three unknown cards following your third key card.Step 5. With that knowledge. and finally the 9♣. as a result of two riffles. A good method to test your accuracy in this drill is to stop dealing as soon as you see your first key card. Since there’s a three-card separation between keys. you’d place a large bet on your second hand. Keep a record of your hits .

put those chips out there! Fine Points Knowing What Segments Can Be Sequenced . or each of two or three spots—a successful landing will give you a huge advantage. with a three-card separation between each known card (three key cards and target ace). Don’t get trigger-happy. Always wait for the third key to appear before betting. uses the concept of the post-shuffle stack from drill number three. How to Bet There’s no real magic here. Always place a bet after you see all three key cards. repeating the same shuffle process a second time. The chart below.and misses. you should place the maximum bet that your bankroll permits on each spot. In all of these cases. you can try for multiple sequences. If you expect an ace as the first card dealt out of a 6-deck shoe—whether you make a maximum bet on one spot. If your bankroll permits you to go up to the table maximum. The new post-shuffle stack is the result of a two-riffle shuffle. even if the separation of key cards with unknowns is inconsistent. you should never bet after seeing only two out of three key cards. while using different key cards. Once you’re confident here.

the simplest method to start looking for a sequence would be to do so within the first deck dealt and/or the last deck dealt. with a third placed one deck below the top. Those are the segments in which you’ll look for potential sequences. you can avoid going for sequences in those areas. You’ll know not to waste your energy looking for sequences in the approximate area that may break up as a result of such a plug. You may come across a dealer who “triple plugs” the cutoffs. If you’re aware of specific or approximate locations where the cutoffs are placed. you want to be aware of situations where the dealer plugs the cutoffs. Specifically. . you’ll be able to identify the segments that won’t be intermingled with plugs. Let’s say the dealer plugs the entire segment of cutoffs right in the middle of the cards in the discard tray (see Illustration 15). In this case. a third in the middle.It’s important to perform some advance scouting of specific dealers. One crucial element you need to look for is where the dealer places the cutoffs prior to performing the actual shuffle. After scouting a dealer. in addition to house shuffle procedures. and a third placed one deck above the bottom (see Illustration 16). These segments would likely not be affected by plugs.

Therefore. a good time to attempt location play is when new decks are being cracked open. you can notice any inconsistencies in the riffling effects in the shuffle. You’re playing two spots and the second card dealt to your first spot is your first key card. followed by your second key card being dealt as the dealer’s hole card. when the dealer separates the pre-shuffle stack into two or more piles. By scouting a game prior to actual play. the card dealt will be an unknown card. you need to be aware of break points.After taking the effect of cutoffs into consideration. Directing a Card Let’s take a situation where you’re playing a game when one unknown card separates your key cards and ace target card. Here you want to identify areas that ensure that an established sequence will not be disturbed by a “pile break. if your third key is a ten or . If you find out the time of day this change occurs. You then can expect the next card to be your third key card. If you take a hit on your first hand. A finer riffle is the result of cards just put into play. and your second key card (the dealer’s hole card) is a 6. Most casinos change the decks in their shoe games once daily. This means that the next card dealt (second card to your second spot) should be an unknown card. you should be alert for inconsistencies in the number of unknown cards that may land between your individual key cards and the ace target card.” Conditions of Cards An important factor is the consistency of the interleaving of cards. If you have a situation where the dealer is showing a ten upcard. you can maximize your potential. If you’re playing with cards that have been in play for an extended period of time.

provided that dealer is consistently sloppy! . Your basic strategy play would be to take a hit card. this helps facilitate playing additional spots to further ensure a target ace card is directed away from the dealer. A consistent dealer is one who consistently performs a “fine riffle. If you’re playing with one or more partners at the table. you place a table minimum bet on the third spot.” This type of dealer is consistent in the size of segment picks and placement of plugs. for a two-card total of 16. This can provide a location player with additional possibilities for identifying a card about to be dealt and determining whether or not it can help or hurt the dealer’s hand. The dealer doesn’t give himself the second card until all the players complete the play of their respective hands. while the dealer takes only one card dealt face-up. you can direct that bust card to the dealer by not taking any further hit cards. as well as keep specific cards away from the dealer. you’re increasing the chance of winning or “saving” your other two large bets. with large bets on the first two and a small bet on the third. European No-Hole-Card One of the significant differences of blackjack games offered in European casinos is that the dealer does not take a hole card. When incorporating this form of strategy. In doing so. The players each receive two cards. standing on your 14 instead. let’s assume your two of three key cards appeared. However. A sloppy dealer can provide more opportunities. along with an unknown card following the second key. which likely is going to appear next. This is just one of many examples of how you can direct cards to the dealer. you direct the 6 into the dealer’s hand. Dealers A key to finding a desirable game for location play is identifying a consistent dealer. The dealer is showing a ten and your third hand is a total of 14. If your third key card is a 6. Let’s take a situation where you’re playing three spots.other card that will bust the dealer. thereby increasing the chance of the dealer busting. By making plays on that hand that may sacrifice losing your table minimum bet. you would sacrifice taking the card.

If you encounter a sloppy dealer, you may notice a “clumping” effect,
where you have the opportunity to identify a sequence that may remain
intact with no cards riffled amidst the known sequence.
Some dealers have a tendency to favor either their left or right hand.
Common effects of hand-favoring are:
A dealer favoring the left hand has a tendency to grab more cards in the
left hand, resulting in some cards riffled from that hand to remain clumped.
A dealer favoring the left hand may still grab an equal number of cards
in both hands, but during the riffle applies stronger left-thumb pressure,
causing the cards from the left hand to drop at a faster rate than those from
the right hand. This results in some defects in the riffling, which need to be
identified. An imperfect riffle can result in excess separation of your key
cards. When playing against such a dealer, it’s helpful to have one or more
partners at the table providing more spots where the ace can land.
A dealer favoring the left hand also causes the card(s) from the left hand
to drop first during the riffling process.

Summary
Similar to the previous chapter, the information presented here is far
from sufficient to lead a player to go out and attempt location play at the
tables. You may recall my mentioning that very few players can successfully
track shuffles. Well, even fewer have the ability to consistently and
accurately play a winning game using location-play strategies. The exercises
presented are based on ideal circumstances. However, there are just too
many variations to consider and be prepared for. This skill set is very
complex, which is why few players attempt it.
Suppose you follow sequences for two aces and before the end of the
shoe, a new dealer comes in who, during the shuffle process, breaks up one
or more of your sequences. What if you miscalculate and the ace ends up in
the dealer’s hand? You’re now at a 37% disadvantage! You may even come
across a situation where you successfully get your ace, but the dealer gets a
second unknown ace. Think about what else can go wrong and be prepared
for such events. Remember, this chapter contains the bare basics only.

Unfortunately, there are no published resources I’m aware of that provide
the necessary advanced training on this topic.

The
Purple Zone

27
Introduction to Team Play
Based on several factors, once you enter the Purple Zone, playing solo
limits your opportunities. You may find it more profitable and desirable to
join forces with one or more skilled players, forming a team.

Comparisions of Solo vs. Team Play
Exposure
Players involved in high-stakes blackjack have a limited number of
places that will accept their level of action, which can lead to overplaying
and raising the odds of getting barred. A team can minimize exposure by
rotating schedules.
Limited Bankroll and Bet Range
Suppose a solo player has a bankroll of $10,000. On a team, you can have
10 players each contributing $10,000, creating a bankroll of $100,000. Thus, if
you’re setting your maximum bet as a percentage of your bankroll, each of
you can bet 10 times higher than you would if playing solo. Of course,
winnings are divided 10 ways, but the fluctuations inherent in the game are
greatly attenuated and you’re still winning 10 times as much as you would
playing solo.
Fluctuations and Negative Swings
A solo player can run into a negative swing that can completely wipe
out an entire bankroll. Many players who attempt to count cards playing
solo don’t last a year before throwing in the towel. Playing with a team, one
member can have a bad session, while three others may have winning
sessions. The swings are more manageable in team play.
Limited Number of Playing Hours
The solo player has the ability to put in only a limited number of hours

each day. Let’s say a solo player puts in eight hours each day. A team with
10 players each putting in the same eight-hour day is getting a total of 80
hours of play each day. Here’s a set of sample numbers:
Solo
Player

Team of
10 Players

Bank:

$10,000

$100,000

Maximum Bet:

$100

$1,000

Average Bet (Estimate):

$20

$200

Hands Dealt Per Hour:

70

70

Total Action1:

$1,400

$14,000
(for 1 player per hour)

Win Rate Per Hour2:

$14

$140 (for one player)

Hours of Play Daily:

8

80 (for the team)

Total Daily Win per player:

$112

$1,120

Total Expected Daily Win:

$112

$11,200 (for the team)

Like Minds Wanted
There’s also the intangible benefit of the motivational support you get
from playing with others versus playing solo. It’s a fact that life as a card
counter can be very lonely. Chances are that the people with whom you are
close (family, friends, coworkers) cannot begin to relate to what you’re
doing. When you’re elated about a big win and want to relate all the
intricate details to someone, you can’t. After running into a really bad
session, no one can understand and sympathize with you. There’s no one
with whom you can talk things through to see what may have gone wrong
(if anything), no one to motivate you to get back out there and play on.
Joining up with others who are involved in card counting provides you
with the sounding board you really need at times.
You’ve been counting cards at blackjack for a while and may have been
successful. You’ve read many of the books, including those written by Ken
Uston, and now have an interest in team play. You want to waltz into a
casino and start slamming down table-limit bets, win tons of money, and
stroke your ego to boot. This is common among younger players just
starting out or having played for only a short while. You can spot these guys
a mile away.

I too read Ken Uston’s Million Dollar Blackjack in the early 1980s, and at
the time caught a small dose of that fever. I was working full-time at a
good-paying job and could only take weekend trips to Atlantic City or a
couple of week-long trips to Las Vegas or other destinations during the
course of the year. After mastering the Uston APC, I started playing solo
and winning at a respectable rate.
Then I hit my first extended losing streak. It was back to the books for a
refresher course. I realized that the negative swing I’d just experienced was
quite common. I needed to get used to it and respect it. The main problem I
was experiencing was that I had nobody to talk to about the game! I hoped
to have the opportunity to hook up with a team at some point, where I
could bet higher and reduce the variance one experiences as a solo player. I
was fortunate when I was recruited onto a high-stakes team in 1985.

My First Team
I’d been card counting for almost three years. On a trip to Las Vegas, I
was playing in a casino for moderate stakes with no difficulty. There was
another fellow at the table, a European I’ll call Andrew, and we got to
talking about skiing in the Swiss Alps and other places in Europe. He was
playing higher stakes than I was. The conversation was interesting, and
since I had the ability to talk while maintaining the count, I was doing so.
Andrew got a comp for lunch and invited me to join him. Since I was about
ready to break, myself, I accepted his offer.
Over lunch we continued discussing European ski areas when out of the
clear blue he asked me, “What count are you using?” Completely caught off
guard, I sat silent for several seconds. Then sensing my resistance, Andrew
volunteered: “I use the Revere Count.”
I then told him, “I use the Uston Advanced Point Count.” I asked him:
“How did you know I was counting? Was I that obvious?”
He responded, “No, you were covering your skills very well. It’s just
that being a counter, I am very aware of other counters at the table, and I
know what to look for.” He went on to tell me that he’d been playing for 10
years worldwide. He then asked, “Are you playing with anyone else?” I
responded, “If you’re asking whether I’m playing with a team, no, I’m not.

Since the team was large enough and had counters stationed behind several tables. except the counters weren’t seated at the table. I found this method interesting. as we have a few players who also play only part-time. “I just arrived in town today and am getting a little time in on my own. flat betting the table minimum. I’d be interested. The method applied by Andrew’s team was similar. How much money would I have to kick in?” “That can all be worked out. The big players were signaled in on positive counts. The BP avoided any suspicion.” He then offered. then signaled to leave during negative counts. We do like everyone to put in a little something. playing only positive counts. Andrew said. while maintaining the count.” . He was a member of a team consisting of roughly 20 players. but I have a full-time job and don’t know how much time I’d have available. and never playing at a disadvantage. active worldwide.” I replied. Its method of operation was a bit different than those I’d read about up to that point. The big-player concept was originally devised by Al Francesco (pseudonym) and first made public in Ken Uston’s book titled The Big Player. How about you?” That’s when Andrew told me about the team he was playing with. and you can contribute as much as you want to the bank.Just myself. as he didn’t have to pay attention to the cards and could drink alcohol at the game. Rather. I envisioned a counter seated at a table. but some of our team will be arriving this evening. and continuing to signal the big player how much to bet according to the count and how to play the hands. the big players would usually be able to get a signal and bounce from table to table. “Sure. they stood behind it. or contribute nothing. signaling in a “big player” or BP (who took signals and placed large bets) when the count got high. as the team was wagering only in situations when the player had the advantage. though. “We’re always looking for good counters and if you’d like I could introduce you to the team manager.

My head was spinning. “We could go up to his room right now if you like.” was interested in meeting me.” I counted down in a bit over 30 seconds. . he immediately sat me down. pulled out one card. which he had me play using basic strategy. I want you to count down this deck and tell me the value of the card that I pulled. He dealt very fast and wanted me making my decisions just as fast. until he tested me on my accuracy in converting running count to true and maintaining a side count of aces. “Try again. I said. He said. until he seemed convinced that I was quick and accurate enough. but I never expected to have the opportunity to play on one. Using your count.We then talked a bit more and Andrew told me that he’d mention me to the team manager. it would be set up. As soon as we were introduced. “Let’s go. as I’d read about how teams are able to lay down huge bets and make all kinds of money.” We did this for about 15 minutes.” We went over to the hotel where Reggie was staying and entered his room. Then I started to wonder if maybe Andrew was trying to con me. but got the value of the card correct. This time I finished in less than 25 seconds. I felt confident with the results. Reggie looked to be in his early 40s and was also European. I arranged to meet Andrew for a drink later that evening. provided I was interested. Next. “Now play the hands using basic strategy and make your bets according to the count. he tossed some chips on the table and said.” I counted down again. If he were interested in meeting me. tossed a deck of cards on the table. and said. Reggie said. Reggie had me count down a few more times. I know you can do better than that. Ready? Go.” Even though I was a bit cautious. I met up with Andrew and he informed me that the team manager. “Andrew tells me you use the Uston APC. he dealt me some hands. Later that evening. “Reggie. Then. He didn’t waste any time. I was intrigued.

’ passing signals. “This trip we’ll be in town for two weeks. we distribute the winnings and start a new bank. Then I thought again that Andrew had mentioned I wouldn’t be required to lay out any money. Reggie drilled me on the playvariation flash cards and I guess I passed the audition. “Okay.” “Do you happen to have your flash cards or chart with you?” “No. If and when we double the bank. It looked like I’d receive an offer to play on their team. and you’ll be paid on an hourly basis.” Reggie then offered. playing to a two hundred thousand dollar bank. and bring them back here? If you know your indices as well as you say you do. When I got back to the hotel room.” When I left. “Okay.000) in 400 counter hours: . “Put in as many hours of play as I can.” He explained the method his team used. I’ll be right back. time to get you working. For example. “Yeah. but I do have them in my hotel room. perhaps we can make the next three days a bit more interesting for you. get your flash cards. if the team doubled the bank (won $200. “Why don’t you go back to your hotel.” he told me confidently. as Reggie then said. I’ll train you as a ‘backcounter. “Do you know all the play variations for the Uston APC?” I said. “What are your plans for the next three days?” I told him.” Reggie showed me the formula for how the “hourly counter’s rate” was determined: 25% of the total win was distributed to counters in proportion to their hours of play.Reggie then asked. “We’re a winning team. But could these guys be trusted? I didn’t know what to think. I was excited.” I agreed.” “How much longer do you plan on being in town?” I told him I’d be around for three more days. but extremely nervous. which corresponded to what Andrew had outlined earlier in the day.

If I could put in 24 hours of play over the next three days, I stood to
make $3,000! At that point I’d never made that much money for three days
of anything. If the bank doubled in less time, I’d make even more. I figured
that the only thing I’d have to lose is time. So I said to Reggie, “Count me
in. What’s next?”
Reggie said, “I’ve got to leave for a couple of hours. Andrew will run
you through our signals, which are easy to follow. When I return, we’ll run
through them again. Then get some rest and we’ll meet back here sometime
in the morning. At that time we’ll go over the signals some more and by
then the rest of the team should be here.” Reggie left and Andrew and I
went over the signals for the next couple of hours.
When Reggie returned, he put me through some drills with the signals
and told me I was doing well. That made me feel good, because up until
then, Reggie had made no comment on my ability.
The next morning, I returned to the hotel room. I was introduced to five
other team members. Sitting in a circle, we went through an ongoing series
of drills. We passed around decks of cards, counting them down. We passed
around flash cards to quiz one another on play variations and dealt out
hands where we would quickly need to place our bets in accordance with
the count. We paired off and worked on passing signals. By the time we
ordered in for lunch, the complete group was present, 14 players in total.
After lunch, Reggie held a meeting and passed out the assignments for
the evening’s sessions. The previous evening, when Reggie left Andrew and
me to practice, he’d gone off to scout a few casinos and noted in the
assignments specific dealers to look for and to avoid. I wasn’t assigned any
playing duties for the evening, as I’d been instructed simply to observe the
operation. The setup had nine players stationed at various tables
throughout a large casino during the evening. We left to take a break and
relax a bit, with instructions to meet for dinner and some quick runthroughs before the 9 p.m. session.
The members of the team didn’t all use the same count systems. One
additional advantage in having all members of a team use the same system
is that a counter can signal in another member and signal what the exact

count is, avoiding the need to further signal how much to bet and how to
play the hands.
After dinner, some last-minute practice, and a brief meeting, we left for
the target casino in five-minute intervals. My instructions were to sit by the
bar, which overlooked the gaming pit, and watch the signals being passed. I
was also instructed to watch the actions of the pit, specifically looking for
any signs that a pit person might have caught on to the team.
I was the first to enter the casino. There was a nice enough crowd, but
the tables weren’t all full. I found a seat at the bar that enabled me to get a
clear view of the entire pit. I watched our first backcounter, Michelle, enter
and station herself behind a table; then the nine other backcounters arrived
at staggered times, each at a different table. I didn’t notice any of our five
big players there yet, until I saw a backcounter flash the signal for a big
player to enter a game. Then, from behind a bank of slot machines, one of
our big players slid over to the table. Already in possession of chips, he
placed a bet of several black $100 chips. The dealer looked over to the
floorperson, who nodded and walked over to watch the game. While this
was going on, I saw another backcounter flash a signal, whereupon another
of our BPs jumped in on the game. After about 20 minutes our entire team
was working the floor. Some of the points I noticed were:
A couple of the backcounters occasionally leaned over to chat with a
total stranger seated and playing at the table. I figured this move was to
blend in a bit more and not appear too obvious standing behind a table.
Backcounters traded off tables periodically, so as not to look obvious
standing in one place for too long.
Backcounters positioned themselves opposite an empty seat at the table,
to enable the big player to have a clear view of the signals passed.
The session lasted for almost 90 minutes, as I watched each backcounter
routinely giving the “end-of-session” signal. Then it was off to a second
casino, where I was instructed to station myself in the keno parlor, which
gave me a clear view of the action. The operation ran in the same fashion as
before, except it was a bit shorter, lasting a little more than one hour. I
noticed some more attention from the pit in this session.

After the second session, we all met back at the hotel. Everyone was
present, except for Reggie. The five big players were completing their
win/loss session sheets. One of the members, Jill, was responsible for
keeping the master records. While all the tallying was going on, we were
discussing the sessions, comparing notes about the pit, certain dealers, and
general observations.
Shortly thereafter, Reggie returned and immediately asked Jill where we
stood. Jill announced that we were up $11,000. Reggie seemed pleased. He
said he’d work on the assignments for the next day and distribute them
during our 4 p.m. meeting tomorrow. We’d do four one-hour sessions
scheduled in large crowded casinos with multiple pits and lots of tables.
Reggie asked me, “What do you think of the operation so far?”
I answered, “It’s amazing. You guys have it down to a science.”
He asked, “So you think you’re ready to give it a try?”
I agreed. Reggie then told me, “Good, you’re on the schedule for
tomorrow.”
We filtered out of the hotel room and I went to my room to get some
sleep. The next day, we met again for our afternoon meeting, ordering in an
early dinner. The setup was a little different from the day before. We were
15 players, myself included, and Reggie thought we could increase our win
rate by getting more money on the tables. He proposed to do this by having
eight backcounters and seven big players. Reggie further said that he would
backcount, but if his table were cold, he’d put chips into play periodically at
another table as a big player. This started to sound a bit confusing, but then
it clicked and sounded like it could work.
At 6:15 it was time for me to head out. I had my assignment sheet, which
listed some preferred dealers. I arrived at the casino, which had mostly 6deck games, along with a half dozen 4-deckers. I found one of the dealers
on the list working a 6-deck table with a $100 minimum and a $5,000
maximum and three empty seats. I stationed myself right there, watching
the pit. I noticed they all seemed busy, as the place was getting crowded.
Soon enough, all eight of our backcounters, Reggie included, were in the

casino, stationed at various tables. It was almost 7 p.m., time for our big
players to start arriving, and the dealer at my table was about to shuffle. But
before he did, a relief dealer replaced him. I didn’t know what to do, so I
just stood there, watching this relief dealer shuffle, hoping the cut card
would be placed somewhere to indicate favorable penetration. It was
placed one deck from the back, which was actually better than the previous
dealer. I was relieved.
After two shoes were dealt out, I didn’t get a favorable enough count to
signal anyone over. On the third shoe, I finally caught a high count and
gave the signal for a big player to enter the game. Kevin jumped in with
four purple $500 chips and drew a total of 9 against a dealer’s upcard of 6.
He placed four more purple chips for a double down, and drew a ten for a
total of 19. My heart was pounding, as the dealer turned over a hole card of
a ten, then drew an ace for a 17. Kevin had $8,000 on the table, collected
$6,000, and left the $2,000 bet, as I signaled him to do so. He was next dealt a
hand of 20 against a dealer’s ten. The hand ended as a push. In that process
the count dropped, so I signaled Kevin to leave the table. He grabbed his
chips and left without a word. That shoe ended, and as the dealer went
through the shuffle routine, I thought it worked out well. I signaled Kevin
in for two more hands and we won $4,000 more.
It was getting near the time we were scheduled to end the session and
there was probably time for one more shoe. Midway through the shoe, the
count was again favorable and I went for the signal. No one came into the
game. I looked around and didn’t see any of our team members around. I
looked at my watch and saw it was 8 p.m. and everyone had probably
filtered out, so I headed to the next casino on the list. Things went smoothly
and I was subtle in my passing of signals. What stood out most were the
times I had to wait patiently until a favorable count came around. We
weren’t playing as many hands per hour, but we weren’t playing any hands
in negative or neutral counts, where the house has an advantage.
When we gathered back in Reggie’s hotel room, we calculated our win
for the night at $19,000. Adding that to the previous day’s win, we were up
a total of $30,000. Reggie told me that I did well, as did a few of the big
players who responded to my signals. I played the next day, then had to get

back home. A week later, I was informed that the team had doubled the
bank and I was sent my counter’s wage. I continued to play with this team
for a bit less than a year. We played in Las Vegas, northern Nevada, Atlantic
City, and the Caribbean. Then they went on to play around the world,
which required a fulltime commitment. I wasn’t in a position to leave my
regular job and career at that time, so we parted company.
Over the years, I’ve played on various teams of different sizes and
bankrolls. The one key factor in whether a team is right for you or you are
right for that team is identifying the objectives of everyone involved.
Different players have different goals. Some teams have a revolving door of
players. These teams play to maximum expectation and they take no
prisoners. As a result, players become subject to overexposure and are likely
to end up getting barred on sight. When this happens, a player has a lot of
difficulty being able to play for any length of time and quits. This is fine for
someone looking to make a few quick dollars without the desire of making
a career of playing blackjack. It works well with some teams that make a
practice of recruiting such players. On the other hand, players looking to
maintain longevity need to be certain that the method of play the team
requires permits certain forms of camouflage to minimize detection.
Team play works. When approached in the proper manner, it’s strong,
which is why casinos are afraid of teams. The team, with several players,
can put more hours of more money in action, which adds up to faster and
higher earnings than a solo player can achieve. Up until recently, every
team bank that I’ve been part of has been profitable.
I could sit here and start bragging about the successes and how great
things have been, but I think it’s more important to insert a healthy dose of
reality and illustrate the worst I’ve experienced. The last team I personally
organized was a losing financial effort. As the Boy Scout Motto goes, “Be
Prepared.”
There hasn’t been a book that actually details the play of a blackjack
team in the form of a diary. Stuart Perry authored the Las Vegas Blackjack
Diary in 1994 (self-published in 1995 and last revised by ConJelCo in 1997),
in which he detailed two months of solo play. Barry Meadow has also
written a book, Blackjack Autumn (Huntington Press, 2000), about his

adventures playing blackjack in every casino in Nevada.
Many lessons were learned from Stuart and Barry’s books. My initial
idea was to record the progress of my most recent team in diary form. For
those having any interest in team play, this would have shown the ups and
downs, highlighting some of the mistakes we made. However, I decided
against the project in such a format out of respect for my teammates. There
really wasn’t an accurate way to document activities for an entire book
without giving up personal details. That’s a no-no. I eventually decided on a
different approach. The goal of the Purple Zone is to provide a guideline for
anyone interested in forming or participating in a professional blackjack
team. Also included is an outline for putting together a team manual.
Let’s start off with some choice sections from a recent personal team
diary, noting that many details have been changed to omit personal
information about the team members.

On top of this. there were organizational problems. because I have 11 other teammates depending on me to ensure that all bases are covered. The four of us on this trip got together for our 3 p. but still frustrating. These swings are normal. We’ve just completed the opening trip of our six-month-long team bank and it was quite a roller-coaster ride. giving myself a mental beating. I’m hoping our formula for success carries over into this New Year. which could have been avoided if I’d taken some simple measures. The two of them haven’t really gotten to know each another yet. as he’s been in the black the entire time. too. we won 50%. A February Weekend Nicky has been holding steady throughout the trip. while breaking even on the fourth. he used an alias at this casino and played for only 45 minutes. We were down for the trip and in need of putting some big numbers on the board. When he recited for me the sequence of events.m. so we spent a little time reworking . Fortunately. He experienced his first barring last night. I sent Ursula out with Nicky to play in the same clubs. We already had some signals worked out. This. Last year was exceptionally profitable. only to revert back to square one by the end of day five. so I thought it a good idea to have them spend a little time together. On three of the four major banks we formed. I went with Rory. We experienced a huge swing in the team bankroll. meeting and compared the results so far. I noted some warning signs that Nicky didn’t pick up on. where we won 30% of our target within the initial 24 hours of play. where we decided to get creative and try out some routines while playing the exceptionally deep-dealt games.28 Notes from a Team Diary A Morning One January I’m sitting in Terminal B at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. is frustrating.

After an hour session at one casino. he went through another session bankroll in 30 minutes. and at the conclusion of play for us. things seemed to work more smoothly. I’d pegged certain dealers. indicating that he had a small team going and was looking to get ideas from me. However. Rory would extend his time on our organized team trips. They worked well. The following day I phoned Vic and he gave me the bad news. decided to play for us. Side note: Rory contacted me about a year ago. Continuing to lose. he dropped a session bankroll. Vic’s losses put the overall team net result for the trip thus far in the red. Vic felt he was getting a quality game there and after a short break. He was . Over the past day. We both ended up winning some money in those four sessions. After their brief meeting and cash exchange. The place was starting to get crowded. Rory. Then. I stayed 10 to 15 minutes after I signaled him to leave. Serge’s day went better. in addition to continuing to run his own team separate from ours. at the next scheduled club. As we went off to a new casino. to avoid any possible suspicion of our being together. against whom our routines would be most effective. As a result. At last stop. We still remained unnoticed. However. We wound up exploring the idea of merging our two teams at some point down the road. When I phoned them this morning. we kept the session going a little longer. Serge was up a nice amount and Vic was down a small number. he called it quits for the day. At that point he had to meet up with Serge to get more cash. he returned to the same tables. Serge. he scored a nice net win. Vic hit a casino for a couple of hours. More February Play Vic and Serge drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas yesterday. he would commence play for his own group. I had Rory playing only a short while in each place. who is dependent on blackjack play as his primary source of income.them for the task at hand. dropping an additional few thousand. Looks like they got off to a good start. which prompted me to push the envelope a bit farther. was winning consistently. on the other hand. completely frustrated. Later that afternoon. Vic started a downward slide that would eventually unnerve him.

He was even thinking of withdrawing from the team altogether. he might consider joining Rory in Las Vegas this coming weekend. Now as a member of our team. I’m confident enough in his level of honesty and skill that I know it’s just a matter of time before things turn around for him. He was not sold on my pep talk. He said he’d let me know in a couple of days if he’ll do so. with his end result a loss of more than $10. I got him to laugh when I told the story of a really rough time I had about eight years ago. when I found myself walking between casinos in Lake Tahoe.000 for the trip. I told him to wait until Serge returned and to see how he felt then. Considering the dollar amounts involved.bummed out about things and told me he no longer wanted to play. Vic finally got in touch with me and he decided not to play any more on the trip. the team lost $2. which is something very new to him. Speaking to Vic. I told him we’ve all been through this and he should pick out a place that he feels most comfortable with and play a session at reduced stakes.000. Later that day. just to get his confidence back—see how things go. I spent about an hour on the phone with Vic. Vic joined the team in September. Our net for the bank so far is up about $9. he’s been having a negative swing. then move on to another place. trying to motivate him to go back out there and play some more. Serge won some more and his final results were $8. and prior to that he was betting only red ($5) chips. Vic said he would do that and phone me later to give me an update. Serge elected to . I told him a couple of stories of how I experienced bad swings years back and thought of quitting. Between the two of them. On the September trip Vic came out a winner. I know how someone his age can feel after the losses he’s just had. mumbling that I probably needed to just quit and call 1-800-GAMBLER. April As a result of the recent extreme drop in our bankroll. he has spent the past six months betting black ($100) and purple ($500) chips.000. Vic is a very talented player and I’m quite certain he was just going through one of the negative swings we all experience at one time or another. I suggested to Vic that after he had a few days of rest.000+. Since then.

we offered “shares” of Serge’s investment up for purchase to whoever was interested in such a purchase. and it’s taking its toll on me. we noticed he was still behind us. As I approached him. We met up on the street. When she noticed me. it’s going to be a long road until we can turn things around. Unless we get people out there. Ursula and I stopped and let him walk past us. Already. which was considered a “safe place” (one where we could be seen together). she cashed out and discreetly (we hope) followed me into the casino next door. I stayed there for two or three minutes. receiving the value of his investment at the present time. We waited a few moments. We ended up having five of us purchase five equal shares. which was less than the initial amount. On the way to the casino next door. paying Serge the present value of his investment and giving each of us one-fifth value of his initial investment amount. May Walking down center Strip. However.exercise his option and withdraw from the team. I’ve had to play more hours than I intended. while I walked on the other. The problem I’m experiencing is that the players have been losing their motivation to get out and play. then proceeded to sit down on the bench right near him. then walked across into another “safe” casino. As part of the team agreement. He started talking to a woman seated on a bench. then got up and proceeded to our destination. During a phone call from . then regroup. and. we took a vote to extend this existing bank until October. Were we being followed or are we getting a little too paranoid? June Our initial arrangement was to run the bank until the end of May. At that point. since we were still in the red. I spotted Ursula playing in her favorite casino. we became suspicious of a young fellow who seemed to be following us. then I had Ursula walk on one side. I walked directly at him. We then hid from his view and watched as he stopped a little farther ahead. It seemed like a good bargain at the time. A Thursday in July Rory and Ursula arrived in Vegas last night. as we were walking through.

I deliberately didn’t make plans to join the trip. That Friday I’m scheduled to take a week off from work. Devon was scheduled to arrive shortly with roughly $9.000 for the trip. Rory lost $5. My big dilemma the past couple of days has been trying to figure out what spa I should go to for a short visit. Even though the team is in Vegas.500. Also.000.000. I’m in desperate need of at least a couple of days of plain old rest and relaxation. Ursula phoned and informed me that she lost an additional $2.000. Among the three of them. having not played a hand. there was only a total of $10.000 loss. the available cash was a crucial issue at this point. Rory. I instructed them to go out and play. she informed me that she lost $4. with each of them taking $3. I have several reasons for this.000 loss and Rory’s $5. where Ursula. The results of Devon and Regina were still unknown. With Ursula’s $8. With these new numbers. Rory lost another $3. She was low on bankroll.000 and Vic was the big winner. so I could evaluate if he’s qualified to do so on a regular basis. I . following a phone call from Vic this morning.Ursula this morning. He informed me that he had lost $5. since her action has been well accepted there.000. and Vic were all present. just about all of my free vacation time has been utilized for blackjack play.500 after three hours of play in one casino.000 and Ursula lost another $2. we were now down more than 50% of our bank. I phoned in time for the team meeting. We needed to address the problem of available cash.300. A second reason is that I wanted to give Rory an opportunity to run the team trip independently. then go back out to play during the remainder of graveyard shift. the team was down $13. I further asked them to play in casinos within close proximity of one another and arrange to meet immediately after the initial session played in the event further redistribution of cash was necessary. It looks like this will no longer be a problem. A couple of hours later. She was not having problems with the pit and was able to get away with more than a sufficient bet spread. I told her to take a break. then play with a lower maximum bet. and the overall team bank was now back down $24. Ursula had lost the remainder of her bankroll. First.000. so I told her to take a break and wait until shift change. She hadn’t yet been able to meet up with Rory.

If we needed to tap into this reserve cash. I would bring the team cash I had in my possession and could advance the members additional funds out of my personal money. the team would reimburse me at a later date. but would wait until further word at the team meeting in a couple of hours. An additional daily meeting has been scheduled to keep close tabs on progress or any further disasters. so I would continue pursuing my efforts to find flights to Vegas. On-the-spot testing was performed. which I had readily available. At the team meeting. they should arrange to meet and redistribute funds as needed.decided to make efforts to find a flight out to Vegas on Sunday morning and stay through the remainder of the trip. the good news was that there were no further disasters. until Wednesday. I sent an email message to the remaining members of the team. who weren’t present on the trip. I could always utilize my credit lines at four casinos. I would check in with them six hours from now for an update. who can have cash available to wire via . but I don’t. I’ve been in touch with Harry. I instructed the team to play an assigned group of strategically located casinos and to stay within close proximity of one another. To: All Team Members I wish I had some good news to report. There is a limited amount of team cash available in Las Vegas right now. and I recommended that each player be observed by a teammate for a brief session. Ursula had won a small amount and the others were break-even. I started checking on these possibilities. where cash transfers are easy. In addition to that. After each one-hour session. I’ve been in regular contact with the players in Las Vegas and here are the measures taken: Bet levels have been cut by 50%. Team is down $20K for the trip and that now puts us in the neighborhood of down 50% of our starting bank. so the players’ schedules have been realigned enabling them to be in close proximity to one another. We were still not making any major strides to eliminate this deficit.

He promptly bought in for more. He jumped his bets according to the count and ended up dropping the rest of his chips. advance more of my own cash. I will keep you all informed regularly. arriving in Las Vegas at 11:30 p. he noticed a casino employee in a suit standing very close to him. I received a report from Ursula that there’s no major change in the position of the bank. so he gave them his player’s card as well to try for some comps.. he played two sessions at the casino and they asked for his ID in both sessions. “OK. He’s frustrated and leaving today. I just finished booking a last-minute flight to Las Vegas Sunday night. That Sunday Evening My flight leaves at 9:15 p.m. As to Vic’s barring. and left extremely happy. enough. as he has a rather youthful appearance. He’s been playing in Las Vegas more than he should and probably over-exposing himself in certain casinos. This coming week. returning Wednesday morning. You’re a very good player and I have to back you off from playing blackjack here.m. I am on vacation and haven’t made any plans. Mr. By doing that they got his name. Ursula will be in direct contact with Harry in the event that this is necessary. If necessary. which he never ended up getting anyway. He went back there a day later on swing shift and after five minutes he was down a bit and bought in for more chips. After playing a few more hands. Using no cover at all. We’ll need to consider this in future scheduling. I was hoping that he’d stay another day so I could play a bit with him. He spread aggressively. I’m getting in a bit of practice before leaving. I will bring whatever team cash I have with me and. got no heat. After finishing a hand. if necessary. I also have credit lines with four casinos under my real name. At a high count he lost a max bet.Western Union tomorrow (Saturday). Vic gets asked for ID quite often. You can . to be later reimbursed by the team. the guy said. Vic got backed off while playing at a popular casino. This occurred on day shift. he caught a max-bet blackjack and dropped his bet as the count dropped. as this was one of the two winning sessions he had this trip. Vic. The first session was an hour long and he ended up with a moderate win using no cover.

as no one appeared to be watching him play and the only phone call he noticed was when he changed tables to the pit across from that table. His host friend was there. she was less careful about using cover. as he needed to talk to her in private. He never saw it coming. but wasn’t nervous at all. as though he didn’t understand and said.” Vic replied “I’m not good! I just lost a ton of money. He then told Ursula that her play was being observed and was too strong. and they talked during the session. As she was losing (about $12K at this point on the trip). betting rather aggressively. “No more?” The guy replied. She had no heat whatsoever.” He said. but carefully. but not twenty-one. approached and asked her to step back from the table. She jumped her bets quite a bit and was lowering her bet at the start of a shuffle on many occasions. She noticed the same man from the previous night as he glanced her way a few times. So she played and changed tables three times within the hour (as the table got crowded). a casino employee in a suit (not the same man who’d been watching her). I arrived at the TWA terminal at JFK . Apparently the review is being performed solely from the eye. She was jumping bets. She wasn’t very talkative.” Vic put on his confused look. When she changed pits a few times. She was very pit aware the whole time and didn’t see any of the typical signs. for about one hour (8–9 p.). She won a small amount. nor was there any huddling of the pit bosses. She smiled. the same night. “Yes. “Okay. you’re just too good. He further said that she was not welcome any longer to gamble in their casino. While all this was occurring. He’d stayed there for an hour and five minutes exactly. she noticed a particular man floating around the pits. There were no visible phone calls that seemed neither caused by her presence. when she thought no one was looking.m.play any other game. After about 45 minutes of play. and said. Vic provided the guy’s name and description for the rest of the team. out of nervousness. A host introduced himself to her and gave her a dinner comp. as she normally is. She knew Vic had been backed off. due to her discouragement at that point.” He smiled back knowingly. This evening she went back. but never looking at her. “Even so …” and with that Vic left. At this point she was down slightly for the session. They appeared to call only to give them his name. Ursula played at the casino where Vic was barred.

which meant that our team bank was down over 50%. the team was down over $30. I was concerned that the three of them. Rory.m. At this meeting. but I still managed to sleep through most of the flight.. a flight was scheduled to depart for Tel Aviv. They were quite rowdy. He seemed to be doing well and left the table after winning on a big bet. We were still in a tough position. All is quiet in the Middle East. The team meeting was scheduled for 11 a. so we agreed to play and meet again at 2 p. having all been backed off within a 24-hour period. and me.m.m. losing slightly. I changed tables a few times and ended up at a table with a rather obvious counter. Things were not looking too good. but at least the three of us would have enough cash to play on at our revised bet levels.. and went over to a nearby casino to get in some graveyard play.m. who I immediately realized was a member of Rory’s other team from up north. which would be home for me that evening.International Airport. she briefed me on her barring.m. while on the gate to the right. During lunch.000 for the trip alone. At the gate to the left of where my flight would be leaving from. I spread a bit more aggressively with no heat again. After playing for two hours and winning a small amount. so I left. My flight was full of folks heading to Las Vegas for an 8-Ball Pool Tournament. a flight was routed to Amman. Upon my arrival. Rory informed us that he too was backed off at the same casino as Vic and Ursula. meeting we divided the remaining cash between Ursula. I had lunch at a “safe place” with Rory. I played another one-hour session. may have been put together as a team. Devon and Regina had flights scheduled for 4 p. I arrived on time and hopped a taxi to a casino where Ursula managed a comp on my behalf for a $950-a-night high-roller suite on a top floor. Jordan. which resembles a space station from a sci-fi movie. After a quick breakfast. I dropped a small amount that session. However. I then returned to play some more at the same casino during day shift. I took a break and got a breakfast comp. The place was empty and I spread moderately with no attention from the pit. That Monday I woke up around 5:30 a. During a two-hour session. and Miguel (the guy from Rory’s other team). Ursula. Israel. after further debriefing Rory and . At our 2 p.

However. I took a taxi over to an off-Strip casino. I hoped Ursula and Rory had done well too.007 hours with six of us having put in more than 100 hours each. It would also alert the others that at any given time. I then returned to one of the casinos where I’d played earlier. I’m taking the necessary steps to protect everyone’s investment. We were concerned about these high-denomination chips raising red flags when we were cashing out. When I got inside.Ursula. I sat down and aggressively spread for one hour of play. By doing so. Since I didn’t plan on any further play that evening. Anticipating that some of the team members might question the level of honesty of these two individuals. Of everyone’s individual results. Ursula scored a dinner comp at this casino. thus permitting us to go forward. and won some more in one hour of play. where we ran up a moderate tab. I found one double-deck game open with two other players. The team as a whole has played 1.000 chips among her winnings. Vic and Rory are down close to $30. I made some inquiries on getting a referral to someone living in Las Vegas who’d be interested in . where I scored a nice win. we would hope to clear up any questions the others might have on this issue. After checking into a different casino/hotel. I was confident that this was not the case. I do feel it is a good idea to have them both take these tests. Mid-September We haven’t played since the trip two weeks ago. The overall position of the team is that we’re down just under 50 percent of our starting bank. so we were indeed making a comeback. The fact that I initiated this action would put everyone a bit more at ease because. while two of the players were very much in favor of initiating them. still holding some of their chips. After lunch. I made the suggestion that perhaps we could subject both of them to lie-detector tests. any team member could be subject to the same test. as manager. I trust both of them and would be very surprised if they were being dishonest in their dealings with the team. A few of the others didn’t feel that the tests were necessary. I decided to propose an alternative action. I polished off a bottle of sake.000 each. I was now up a nice amount for the trip. Personally. Ursula scored a nice win and was paid with $5. Rory lost only a small amount.

This would not be healthy for the future of the team. When I reported this to the others. which was quite healthy at the time. as the examiner had to reschedule. If anyone wanted to play for his team. which was a bit distracting. It could open the door for others on the team to initiate “witch hunts” anytime a player might happen to experience a bad negative swing. and Alex are playing together. At that point we decided it wasn’t worthwhile to continue playing.assisting us in monitoring the play of a couple of players. January The team bankroll ended up in a pitiful position. Rory. our team would end and Rory would run the show. we have put in more than 1. demonstrating that he was following procedures and was honest in his reporting. it looks as though we will not have any team bank remaining to play on. This resulted in some back-and-forth arguing. I’ve given things further thought and now feel that subjecting players to a liedetector test prematurely could do more harm than good. An October Wednesday Just prior to leaving for the airport.200 hours and lost over 75% of our starting bank. We made an arrangement to invest the remaining funds of our bank into Rory’s team bank. Rory hasn’t gone for his test yet. Although I felt strongly about my initial intentions. It’s hard for me to believe that. At that point. I received word that Rory came up “clean” on his polygraph test. . it won’t make sense to play any further. I was referred to an individual whom I have contacted. one player in particular was still insistent on subjecting the two players to the lie detector. A Saturday in Early December Vic. Vic’s proved successful. We ended up scheduling both Vic and Rory for polygraphs. We’re in a state of disaster: If we continue to lose. as a team. I received a phone call from Rory last night. I have plans to be in Las Vegas over New Year’s and the way things are going. informing me that they lost enough money to cut the bet levels.

as I only did some light playing and provided a little guidance to some players along the way. That includes me as well. as I would spend the next six months planning for a summer team bank. this recent effort was unsuccessful. To this day Vic kids me that the reason he was kicked off that team was because of my book! . which had been successful over the past year. who was dismissed from that team shortly thereafter. I have managed to recruit some others as “assistant managers. Three years after this team disbanded. This team also disbanded. One of the managers read BJ Blueprint. I wasn’t closely involved with the operations of this team. Rory. I was hoping to take this time as a break from extensive playing. especially the references to Vic. The two managers of that group were experiencing some apprehension about Vic as a player. Patrick.that player would need to pass Rory’s testing requirements. Unfortunately. and Vic) to a group I’d played with earlier. April Rory’s team. Many lessons were learned from this experience and are related in the following chapters of the Purple Zone. Which leads me to share a funny story. I referred four players (Brett. ended up losing practically the entire bankroll following our investment.” which will take some of the day-to-day strain off me. Note: The Purple Zone section of this book was published earlier as Blackjack Blueprint: How to Operate a Blackjack Team. I’m hoping for the summer bank to be well-planned and to actually be a test run for a long-term team.

the obvious next .” I further stated that we’d start off at small stakes to get comfortable with one another initially. I asked permission to include that person’s name on a “team distribution list. I didn’t mention who else I had in mind. I hope the following material provides guidance for anyone interested in team play and especially in organizing a team. the formula for distributing the winnings. At first. “I’m thinking of starting a team and thought you might be interested. the team was out of business and the majority of the players were disillusioned. The Initial Approach In this day and age. I stated. many acquaintances are made via blackjack-related Internet websites. In addition to a few players I’ve known personally. and the time frame estimated for when we should be in a position to take an initial team trip with a joint bank. I’ve met some players on the Internet and have corresponded only via email. Once a player expressed an interest in joining the team. Sixteen months later.29 Getting to Know You We started with 12 enthusiastic players and a healthy bankroll. everyone would know who else was involved. In this initial message. This first message led to many interactions via email. I initially approached the players I had in mind by sending each a private email invitation. The Team Distribution List The next step was to put together a “team distribution email list” where I listed everyone’s email address and could send any message just once instead of nine times to each member. then take it from there.” so then and only then. This also let all members know who else was on the team. A Private Team Chat Room While the team distribution mailing was working well. with most members exchanging ideas and thoughts. The first message outlined what I had in mind for the team.

in the selection of the other nine. I proposed that all members be required to invest an equal amount of money to the team bank. To provide a bit more comfort. that member would have quick knowledge of the position of the team bank. After deciding on the set time and date. and I was well aware that all the others felt the same way. In the next message.step was to get everyone together in one place to conduct a live team meeting. a team with 10 people. I didn’t even consider this. The Trust Issue Here we were. The initial team plays would take place only while the entire team was present. This was my first consideration. I needed to take everyone else’s concerns into consideration. I outlined the following points to ensure everyone that I was taking measures in an attempt to keep things honest. since the players were scattered around the country. We needed controls that would put everyone at ease and methods where everyone’s risk would be minimal. To set up an initial meeting where each member could be present. I suggested that we schedule a real-time team meeting via the private chat room and asked everyone to list three dates and times when each would be available. I arranged with the host of a website to use a private chat room. they may have had reservations in their judgments of one another. available only to the team. many of whom had never met or even spoken on the phone. as well as in their judgments of me. where we exchanged more ideas and clarified some pending issues. First. we held a very productive chat. Some teams use an approach that permits members to play in different cities and report results. However. If a member were present. holding full-time responsibilities other than playing professional blackjack. The individual investment proposed was a moderate amount that I considered appropriate for an initial team trip of members who had never . I tried to be as careful as I could in judging character. and we were considering pooling funds to play blackjack together. This was not an easy task. A few subsequent sessions were held. Although I was confident in my judgment of the others. For the initial team trip.

We arranged that the box could be accessed only with two team members present. Matching the Faces with the Keystrokes We arranged to have our first live meeting in a casino town over the course of a four-day weekend. Upon depositing or withdrawing any funds from the box. dropped out. Don’t reveal too many facts about yourself at first. we set up a schedule where we went off to the casinos to play (on our own individual banks) in one-hour intervals. we were down to eight players. who weren’t able to make a commitment to keep up with the immediate program. but for the initial trip. Along the Way … After a short period. It was agreed to keep them in mind for possible future additions to the team. The purpose of this was to allow everyone to get more comfortable playing with one another. when changing casinos. as I was confident in most of the others’ abilities. The bulk of the team bank would be maintained in a safe-deposit box in a hotel in which we didn’t plan on playing. We then went through the process of testing one another on basic strategy and various counting drills. Treat this developing relationship similarly to any other type of relationship you might enter into . Final Notes: Meeting Players via the Internet and Other Security Matters Exercise care when first communicating with someone over the Internet. We went in pairs and switched off with each other in an hour. We held a meeting and discussed team matters. I felt that everyone needed to be thoroughly tested and observed in actual casino play to get an idea of our respective abilities. two players. I set a tentative date several months away to give enough time to put together a solid approach. I indicated that I wasn’t in any hurry to hit the tables. The above points helped to put everyone a bit more at ease. Next. and I trusted they were confident of mine.played together before. This really worked out well. This initial informal gettogether was good. verifying the amounts. as well as just generally getting to know one another. both members were required to sign off.

probably.” I suggest this method. It’s too easy for someone with a huge ego to amplify his own abilities. I usually give out a cell-phone number.” you want players who can “walk the walk. check with your local phone company for instructions on how to block your phone number from appearing on the receiver’s ID Box. etc. as long as you’re also receiving more in return. . When meeting people live in a neutral place.(personal. For the most part. whatever someone tells you via e-communications. If you call someone. you have a better chance of avoiding him (sound like dating?). put the word out carefully by stating that you’re “considering forming a team” or “may consider joining a team. once you meet someone in person.” However. This way. I’ve encountered a few individuals who led me to believe that they had years of experience playing large stakes. and will. In the various Internet blackjack neighborhoods. you may find that much of what he has written may turn out to be exaggeration.” If you’re interested in recruiting for your team or joining a team.” When you progress to exchanging phone numbers and move on to live voices. Many many people do this on a regular basis. Another point to be aware of is that nowadays many people have Caller ID. take with a grain of salt. business. It’s easy for someone to sit down in front of his computer. see a casino host when you arrive. You can also state that you’ll be staying at one of several places. don’t initially tell anyone where you’re staying. and write a great “résumé. While it’s easy to “talk the talk. exercise care. the phone number from which you’re initiating the call will likely appear on that person’s Caller ID Box. because if you give the indication that you are forming a team and someone wants to join whom you eventually decide you don’t want as a member. As you get more comfortable with the other(s). at first. in what phone number you provide the person(s) with. if the person turns out to be someone you’re uncomfortable with. State that you haven’t made reservations. you can avoid creating bad feelings by stating you’re “still considering. when in reality they were just talking a big game. To avoid this.). you can gradually share more about yourself. gather his thoughts.

It’s important to establish immediately a mutual respect for playing abilities. the Internet is a good place to meet and join forces with other players. you want to observe him play and have him observe you play. While there are some good players out there looking to do so. If you exercise care and common sense. . In summary. there are probably more inadequate people typing into their computers.When you do meet someone live. you’ll probably find the quality contacts.

Flat hourly rate. payable either on the frontend. motivational. which can be a set dollar amount. Sorry. Initiating and maintaining constant contact creates a high level of comfort for all involved. where the manager must account for hours devoted to team business. and planning skills. There will be times when a player is in action and runs into a problem. The manager must possess strong organizational. This is especially important in the manager’s decision on selecting players.30 Team Leadership Management In order for a team to be successful. It’s also important that everyone on the team have the utmost faith in the manager. Players and investors need to know that the manager is on top of things. which neither overcompensates nor underpays the manager. a manager should be in contact with everyone involved on a regular basis. or in intervals. A manager should be entitled to some form of compensation in line with the duties performed. Such compensation should be agreed upon. Everyone involved must trust the manager’s judgment in all matters. A good way to assure this is to have one person in charge of the team’s day-to-day operations. A manager who possesses a laid-back attitude of not contacting folks unless they initiate the contact first is headed for disaster. He or she must be 100% reliable. . which could be a need for cash. leadership. it’s essential to have strong management. Some Methods of Management Compensation Flat rate. but it’s part of the job. There’s a chance that a player in this situation will need to phone the manager at some late hour. As a result. back-end. A team manager should be prepared to be on call 24/7.

000. Example of Win-Bonus Total EV “goal” = $5. If the agreed-upon amount is $1.000 in excess of EV). If the team experiences a losing bank. an investor submitting $20. and expenses.” Percentage of adjusted hourly expected value (“EV”) of all players. Percentage of adjusted hourly EV of all players.000 “free-roll. this amounts to a $5.000.000 (bonus to manager). provided the investor’s return is at least 50% of the total win after salaries. Gross Return to Investor = $5. bonuses.000 ($2.000 = $500. which becomes the manager’s compensation in the form of an investment on the manager’s behalf. If 10 investors each put in $20. the manager receives nothing.000 may have $500 or an agreed-upon amount taken out up front. expenses = $2.000 (approx. In this method.000. Note: You can make it a further requirement for distribution of this bonus that the overall team EV be exceeded and the total hours played by all players meet or exceed the hours committed as a whole. such as the following: 5% of adjusted hourly EV of all players.000. Salaries. A win-bonus share in the amount of 25% of the win in excess of the established total team adjusted hourly EV.”) A portion of each investment is allocated as an investment on behalf of the manager. Actual win = $7. (I believe that this method isn’t fair.000.000. .000.500.000 investment for the manager.Commission percentage upon conclusion of a winning bank. as well as combine any or all of these methods in a total compensation package. bonuses. 5% bonus on overall win at year-end. then the manager has a $10. You can get creative within any one method.000. Note: These are just a few examples of some methods to compensate a manager. Net to Investor = $4.000. with win-bonus incentive.000. 25% of $2. as it’s purely “result-driven.000. 65% of actual win).

. this is possible (be aware that it may be difficult to accurately measure the effects of multiple strategies). How do you measure a “best” player. while players should be encouraged to strive for excellence in play. The problem with this is that players hit a negative swing regardless of how strong or weak they are. as long as each player is competent and meeting the team standards. With the use of simulators. It’s the job of the manager to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses. A strong leader/manager should possess the necessary skills to form a cohesive and non-competitive group. competition amongst players is not beneficial to a team working toward a common goal and should be discouraged. A problem that frequently arises on teams is that a player feels more experienced or plays a stronger overall game than others do and feels he should receive a higher salary as a result. While this is a bit distracting and can create bad feelings. Overall.Egos. Egos. there’s some merit to the concept. Every player on the team has a significant role in achieving the ultimate success. anyway? Is it the player using the most expert-level count system? Is it the player who has the record for alltime biggest session win? Is it the player who can count down a deck in the fastest time? Is it the player who has never been barred and has the greatest act? All this is meaningless. and More Egos Who is the best player on the team? Your response should be “Who cares?” It doesn’t matter. This enables players playing at different bet levels to be compensated accordingly. Another solution is to measure the EV of each player and devise a method of compensation based on such measurement. One common solution is to base a percentage of the winnings on how much a player has individually won. putting them to use in a manner where strengths are maximized and weaknesses are minimized. and this method fails to rightfully reward those deserving.

000 and the player agrees to make five trips. While being far from complete. with one investor and one player. except with the winnings distributed after the completion of the 5 trips: . totaling 100 hours.000 loss after salaries.000 or a $16. The investor fronts $100. The agreement is for the winnings to be split equally between investor and player.000. Method B 50/50 Split of Winnings with One Distribution Let’s take this same scenario with a different payment scheme. with the winnings distributed at the end of each trip. The overall bank shows a win of $5. Method A 50/50 Split of Winnings with Frequent Distributions Let’s take a scenario where you have a two-person team. but after paying the player. one of the biggest decisions you need to make is how to compensate players for services performed and when.000. we’ll use the same scenario as in Method A. the following are some methods used by teams over the years.31 Methods of Player Compensation Whether dealing with a combination of two or 20 players and investors. Here are the results: Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $21. the investor is left with only $84.

while another . Quite a difference between these two methods. by QFIT. If you have one player betting at a range of $50 to $600. with added provisions for player expenses. How can one determine a fair compromise? The first thing that comes to mind is that the hours of play for a five-trip bank may not be sufficient to provide a fair enough opportunity for the investor to overcome the inherent short-term variance. A solution here would be to extend the length of play before any winnings are distributed.Total net win of $5. Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $2. then the frequency of distributing the winnings doesn’t have an effect on any one participant. as depicted in the chart below. One disadvantage of this method comes into play if you have noninvesting players and end up with a losing bank: The players will end up playing with no compensation. Another issue to address when considering this method is whether or not all the players are playing at a level generating the same hourly win rate. If all player/investors are required to invest the same amount and play a certain numbers of hours (not the case here). CVCX software.000 is divided equally between player and investor. is a superb tool to determine the chance of achieving a specified goal after a desired number of hours. and the investor earned $2. Net Win 50% Investor/50% Player Based on Hours.500. all the players are also investors. resembles the above two methods. along with a 10% manager commission deducted from the gross win. This method. It could be a requirement that all players also be investors. Method C Multi-Player-Invested Bank.500 as a result of the player’s efforts. Expenses and Management Commission Deducted from Gross Win. Here.

Don Schlesinger.player is betting $100 to $1. for one.200. the latter player is obviously playing at a higher win rate and should be compensated for that. The same advantages/disadvantages indicated in that method apply. This method was used by some of Ken Uston’s teams. Method D Multi-Player-Invested Bank. One thing you can consider when determining the hourly rate is to “discount” that pay rate for those playing at lower levels. is strongly opposed to the practice of rewarding players on short-term win results. As in Method C. There’s been quite a bit of debate over the years about players receiving compensation based on how much they win. Expenses and Manager’s Commission Deducted from Gross Win. This method. On a couple of my teams. The methods described further down may provide some additional solutions. would not be workable for such situations. . here all the players are investors as well. Net Win: 50% Investor/25% Player Based on Hours/25% Player Based on Win. I attempted to strike a balance by using a 50% investor/40% player based on hours/10% player based on win formula. as it’s presented.

200 per hour? If so. Let’s say.200 per hour. If the . Another factor you may elect to add into the equation is expenses. you can deduct this from the hourly EV. The next step is to provide an allowance for less-than-perfect play. Let’s say you decide to allow for 10%. No Share Based on Win In this method. To determine the percent allowance. One way to fine-tune things is to deduct 10%–20% from the calculated EV based on the overall skill level of the player. the investor pays the player on an hourly basis.080 per hour. the cost of that one error in play can be deducted as well.Method E Player Paid Hourly Wage. to allow for any errors or camouflage plays. If the player is observed (or reports) making an error. The hourly rate is determined as a percentage of the EV of the game. Will the player employ any camouflage plays in a manner that would reduce the $1. it’s determined that a player’s EV based on perfect play for a particular game is $1. you can use a grading system based on the player’s testing results. after plugging the numbers into CVCX. Now your adjusted EV is $1. and you have the means to evaluate the cost of such plays.

Step 3: Based on the above. you have $1. Step 2: Each player is asked to commit to a certain number of hours for the year. If the trip is estimated for 20 hours of play. divide the total expenses by the number of hours and deduct that amount from the hourly EV. the player will have still wages totaling $25. You decide to pay the player a percentage of this adjusted EV.000 in expenses for the trip. having paid salaries. If a player is paying $500 for a plane ticket and another $500 for room and meals. the player gets paid regardless of the results.50. game types.000 win after 10 hours of play. after realizing a losing bank.080.. and your new adjusted EV is $1. venues of choice for play. each player’s pay . totaling $2.000/20 = $50. each player’s EV is determined. while providing good incentives for the player(s) and the manager (as applicable). while the remaining $97. Step 1: A total team bankroll is determined for a one-year cycle (this could be changed). Example: $1.030. If after 100 hours. Deduct $50 from your previously adjusted EV of $1. However. the player receives an hourly wage of $257. this method provides the investor with some protection. the results are negative. creating an adjusted EV figure. Step 4: Based on overall EV and committed hours. you may want to consider any expenses (e.nature of the play doesn’t provide for reimbursement by a casino.575. where compensation to players is in a graduated manner based on time commitments. if the player scores a $100. along with estimated expenses involved with the proposed play. If you decide to pay 25% of adjusted hourly EV.425 goes to the investor. On the other hand. travel) as a cost and deduct from the hourly EV. In this method.750.g. the investor could still end up at a disadvantage. the player receives only 10 hours of pay. Method F Player Receives Combination of Hourly Wage + Win Incentive Bonus By decreasing the hourly rate paid to players. and stakes.

Difference in pay ($87. Based on pay schedule. 25% of $350. If so.500) is $25.500. player receives $ 62. After 50% of committed hours are played. the difference in that amount (that would bring the figure to 40% of actual win) will be . representing a “performance bonus” for the player.500.000. Player Bonuses Single Player Bonus (best suited in situations where one player is working for an investor or group of investors)—If a player meets or exceeds total adjusted EV and meets or exceeds the committed hours.000 (actual win) is $87. player’s hourly pay increases to 15% of the adjusted EV and trip win percentage increases to 10%. If so.scale can be established as follows: Hourly adjusted EV is determined and player receives 10% of that EV.500.000. and manager commission amounts to less than 40% of total actual team win. along with 5% of each trip win until 50% of the committed hours are played. a calculation will be performed to determine whether the total pay remitted to all players. a calculation will determine if the player’s total pay amounts to less than 25% of actual win. Note: Increasing the percentage here helps provide motivation in the event a player is burning out. Example: Player commits to play 200 hours at an adjusted EV of $1. the difference in that amount (bringing the figure to 25% of actual win) will be determined and player will receive 50% of that as a bonus. for total adjusted EV goal of $300.000 is $12. out-of-pocket expenses. Player goes 200 hours and wins $350. Multi-Player “Team” Bonus (best suited for multi-players working for an investor or group of investors)—If the overall team EV is met or exceeded and the total hours played by all players meet or exceed the hours committed as a whole.000.500 per hour. 50% of $25.500 – $62.

calculated on the value of the bank on that date.000.000. Method G This is actually a complement to the above methods that are pertinent to a long-term bank. Total out-of-pocket by investor is $350.000) is $50. An example: On January 1. The terms provide for the investor to receive a 1% interest distribution on the first of each month. the funds available for play are decreased. where the investor can realize some return on a monthly or quarterly basis.000 could go to the manager as a “manager bonus.000–$350.” it could be distributed to players in accordance with any number of formulas. or it could be retained by the investor.000. 50% of $50. representing a “performance “bonus” to be divided by all players (or only those players who met their time commitments).000 to all players in compensation based on the standard pay schedule.000 (actual win) is $400. 40% of $1. You have options! The additional $25. The allotment of this bonus among players will be based purely on hours played regardless of EV or actual wins. After this disbursement. Investor reimbursed players a total of $10.000. In this method. Note: A problem with overall “team” bonuses is that players showing winning results feel more deserving than those showing losing results. Example: Investor paid out a total of $240. If you’re paying players based on EV. the investor receives a percentage of the value of the bank. decreasing the bet range decreases the hourly rate.000 is $25.000.000. On . each month or quarter. Investor paid manager $100.determined and all players will divide 50% of that figure. Total actual win is $1.000.000.000. which may decrease the bet range. a starting bank is $1. Difference ($400. This bonus can be calculated by hours played or percentage of win.000.000 for expenses.

In any event.000. Remember. the investor’s blow is softened in the event of an overall loss. if a single investor elects to bail out prior to the agreed-upon conclusion of a bank. Investor Penalties When dealing with more than one investor.000 is distributed to the investor and the new value of the bank is $891. This section presents just some of the methods that can be used to compensate players on a team.February 1. what works for one group may not work for another. less a penalty. One option for the team is to permit others to buy out the shares of the departing investor. the investor can still end up taking a loss in addition to shelling out wages to players. . the bank is at $900. $9. he receives the entitled share of the bank at that time. It should provide some good ideas for those involved in team play to come up with a method that works best for that particular group. on February 1. this pay rate can be subject to a decrease if the hourly EV is reduced as a result of the investor. the players receive compensation. by withdrawing a percentage on a monthly or quarterly basis. Although the players receive hourly wages. less expenses and player wages. This enables the bank to operate at the same level. based on the player results. However. Here. The penalty can be in the form of a discounted amount of the hourly wage the player would receive if the required number of hours were achieved. that player is penalized if these hours are not met. Penalties Player Penalties If a certain goal is determined or a certain number of hours to which a player must commit is established.000. This can represent an overall loss for such investor. Hence.

Arrange schedules where players mix and match.” Recommendations—The manager of the team should encourage all players to get to know one another. Spend a few months getting to know the person before actually putting money in his or her hands. so that no two players are attached at the hip (at least in the beginning). If you take someone who’s not used to dealing with large amounts of cash and put that money in the individual’s hands. especially during a time when the team may be in a losing position. but the mere suspicion that there may be a dishonest person on the team. This is especially crucial if all the players on the team are . suspicions and accusations may fly around. Someone must be stealing. The larger the team. can destroy that team. Motivation to Steal #1—It’s too easy and the money is there. It’s possible that a player who’s been winning may begin to think.32 Living with Losses Some Reasons for Red Ink Stealing from Within This can put a team out of business. “I’m the only one winning. the temptation is often hard to resist. Something is wrong. the more suspicions. Motivation to Steal #2—When a team is in a losing position. Not only actually having a dishonest person on the team. so I’m going to start keeping some winnings for myself as protection from any stealing. The person should realize that the potential to honestly earn a consistent amount of money on a long-term basis is far more attractive than running the risk of a being caught stealing and losing this opportunity. Recommendation—It’s important to know each person you’re dealing with as an individual and not solely as a player. It’s common for players to start pointing fingers when a team is experiencing extended losing periods.

If your team concept and style warrant. especially if players take the test on the spot. he or she can be a target for theft. Protective Measures Administer random polygraph tests. prior to intermingling funds. if done so to deceive the pit. ensure that hours of team play and non-team play are clearly defined prior to any play. This facilitates self-monitoring. Ensure that two people each record every cash transaction. You don’t want to have him or her contaminate your “good” players just for the sake of mixing and matching. . it’s a good idea that players know they may be subject to one at any given time. arrange for players to play in pairs or groups. he or she may attempt to allot all wins to his own individual play and all losses to team play. You want to know who’s running around with your money! If players know one another. Have players monitored by unknown parties. without advance notice. and watches if he pockets chips. Although such tests are not 100% foolproof. A player can be monitored during a random session where an observer notes his buy-in and win/loss. Motivation to Steal #3—When a player shares his time playing for the team and for himself. Recommendation—Do not allow non-team play. it’s less tempting to accuse someone of stealing on the basis of “I don’t know this person. The player should report how much in chips was pocketed. If this is not possible. Outside Theft A player is the victim of a robbery.investors. Limit the amount of cash any one player may have access to.” Exercise caution when a player is barred in a particular casino. It should be no surprise that when an individual is seen handling large amounts of cash. The best way to provide comfort in the honesty of players is to devote the time in getting to know one another and promoting interaction among everyone involved.

elevators. This is known as “preferential shuffling” and has not yet been considered illegal. thus minimizing the period of time any player is holding excess team funds. A good rule to impose is that all players use money belts. be prepared to spend significant quantities of time and money getting your cash back. The most common method of cheating by a casino is that of a dealer shuffling away positive decks early. Recommendation—Players should familiarize themselves with methods of cheating to increase awareness of such practices. despite having passed a thorough testing of mechanical skills. which encompasses several variables needed to achieve successful play. Players should restrict their routes to well-populated areas. large quantities of cash draw extreme suspicion from authorities. A player is making errors in live play. Recommendation—Never put cash through the x-ray machines. House Cheating Although this is uncommon in today’s environment. Scheduling frequent meetings also facilitates players’ transferring cash to a team manager for safekeeping. players should be aware of such possibilities.Recommendation—Educate players on safety and security procedures when cashing out and leaving a casino. Seizure of Funds by Police or Other Authorities In airports and customs. Steve Forte’s video series is a good source. as is Bill Zender’s book. Although the authorities have the power to do as they please in this respect and it’s considered to be within the letter of the law. How to Detect Casino Cheating at Blackjack. carry it on your body. . Poor Quality of Play This is the most common reason a team may experience losses outside of what are considered the normal fluctuations. Quality of play is a vast area. this is actually theft. A tax return showing your income from gambling or other cash business can be helpful if you’re stopped. Otherwise. while dealing deeper into negative decks. Players should be especially alert in self-parking garages. and other remote places.

” Whether it’s substandard penetration. Many players enter a casino and don’t properly evaluate the game conditions at hand. Prepare players to eventually experience negative swings. A player is scared to place big bets when the count justifies doing so. number of players at the table. A player is making excessive cover bets and plays to avoid detection. yet fall apart playing for real money with all the distractions of the casino. Many players. Recommendation—Educate players on how to identify certain actions by pit personnel. before he’s permitted to play unsupervised. or any other criteria. It’s also a good idea to have observe the player during the first few sessions of high-stakes play. Recommend that players simply leave a casino when they feel under intense scrutiny. Provide the necessary support for players who are new to high-stakes play. Many players also get spooked after experiencing a big negative swing and become hesitant to place proper bets in fear of losing more. myself included. it may be necessary at times. However. and immediately react by laying down cover. which they perceive as heat. illustrating how to or how not to react. rather than using cover and basically throwing away money. just because the player is “already there. There’s no substitute for live experience and each player should be observed in live play for a defined period of time. It’s also a good idea to tell players they should report any errors committed that they’re aware of. Recommendation—Don’t just throw a player in there betting big money.Recommendation—Many players perform perfectly in “kitchen-table” testing. Provide various methods of what’s considered acceptable cover and determine the cost of each. This is common when players who are used to playing solo at low stakes join a high-stakes team. Ease him into things with an incremental increase in stakes. The problem is when players inaccurately interpret certain actions made by pit personnel. have stood there with hands trembling and heart racing the first time we’ve placed a big bet. A player is exercising poor judgment in game selection. A common mistake is to lower one’s standards of what’s considered an acceptable game. This is very common and quite costly. lowering .

resulting in overexposure in that one place. determine whether it is acceptable for the player to play in that casino. Another reason a player may tip is that it’s “good cover. In addition. Evaluate that casino’s game conditions and criteria for room comps. In certain styles of play. Have players select casinos that they consider their “home base. It’s essential to incorporate expenses into the projections of estimated profit and determine any areas of cost-savings. This is common. Assign players to sessions by using a precise schedule. there’s no reason to tip. additionally. and players may spend time in less-than-desirable games in order to score better comps.” where they wish to stay as a hotel guest. should walk out of the casino without placing a bet. A player is excessively concerned with obtaining comps. Outline what the team criteria are for acceptable playing conditions. Players are excessively tipping dealers. instructing him to find an acceptable game. Based on such evaluation.of a set standard is an overall lowering of the team’s quality of play. schedule play in an area where several casinos are within a short distance of one another to give enough opportunities to find acceptable game conditions. Educate players on how to work the comp system to their advantage without costing the team money. whereby all comps must be reported and shared as necessary. whereas other times. this is a mistake. Whenever possible. tipping may be necessary. lead to false reporting of play. Players may tip a dealer in hopes that the gesture may lead to better game conditions. . Recommendation—During the initial observation period. which must be strictly followed. The player. a player may overplay a particular casino. deliberately take the player into a casino with poor games. providing the player is clever enough to know when to tip and not do so too often. if on top of things. In most cases. It also violates the assumptions of any simulations and may. regardless of the game quality. Recommendation—Implement a comp-pooling system.” This is acceptable. Poor Expense Management Management of overhead is crucial to a team’s overall profit.

Centralize the booking of airfares to ensure the person making the arrangements is capable of booking the best rates. Whether it’s at the request of an investor.Recommendation—Clearly outline that players using a certain style of play are not permitted to tip. Once this occurs. Establish a comp-sharing/pooling policy to ensure that players with extra room or meal comps pass them on to those who come up short. Players using a certain style of play may be eligible for reimbursement of such airfare as a casino comp. At times players may quickly exchange currency without knowledge of what might be considered a reasonable exchange rate. subjecting a player to a polygraph test is something that may come up. For the style of play where tipping is necessary. player. or at the sole discretion of the manager. exchange rates in conversion of currency prove costly for the team. It’s much more cost effective as well. This is far more useful where a player can be monitored for quality of play in addition to honesty of reporting results. This can be done by subtracting travel expenses from their play EV. especially if . Motivating players to keep their costs down is probably most effective. provide an outline of how much tipping is permissible. it can lead to finger-pointing and the next thing you know every player on the team is taking a polygraph test at roughly $300 a pop! Recommendation—Use live-player monitoring instead of polygraphs. When players travel for overseas play. You can have someone monitor a player at $50 an hour. Recommendation—Minimize air travel by scheduling trips for an extended period to get maximum number of hours of play for the trip. Schedule playing sessions where car-rental or taxicab expenses are minimal. Team incurs excessive costs in administering polygraph tests to players. Players incur excessive expenses. Recommendation—Minimize converting foreign currency. if this fits into the team objective. but many others are not and this can add significantly to expenses. Educate players on the various methods to obtain airfare reimbursement as a casino comp. The biggest expense is probably airfare.

Ask about their policies in advance. The length of time they will hold your dollars varies from location to location. A player wants the distribution of winnings more frequently. while others view any winnings as supplemental income. number of play days without a day off.” This is more common with full-time players who depend on winnings as a primary source of income. A player is becoming an “hours hog. Such actions can prove to be costly to a team. or overplaying a session. If one possesses the skill in gauging the currency market. playing when tired. it must be stressed and agreed that the team objectives come first. Each time you convert currency. you pay a premium. While each player may have his own individual purpose for playing on a team. Establish up-front how many estimated hours of play each player wishes to commit for play during the course of the bank.you plan to schedule play in the related country in the near future. Many foreign casinos change their casino chips and local currency back at the same rate charged against the original dollar buy-in. The player feels he should get in as many hours as possible to benefit from a higher percentage of the players’ share of winnings. Difference of Objectives What’s the objective of the team? It’s common to have a team with a blend of both part-time and full-time players. as well as preferred places to conduct any necessary conversions. Some players are dependent on winnings to support themselves. since the excess pressure on such a player can have . This is dangerous. because such a player may be prone to playing in substandard conditions. This can cause difficulties all around. ranging from the same day to weeks. A player dependent on such distribution of winnings as a source of income experiences financial strains during losing periods. the number of hours of play without a mandatory break. Ensure all players engaging in international play are kept updated on daily exchange rates. entering into a forward contract for the desired currency may be an option. Recommendations—Include guidelines for maximum number of hours any player can operate during the course of one day.

A compensation scheme in which the player receives a fixed percentage of the EV for each play made. it must be the manager who decides when a player is ready to progress to the next plateau. manager and player should sit down and outline what’s required of the player. However. Some players are more comfortable with playing at a higher level of risk to create the opportunity to earn more money faster. A player joins the team with the personal objective of learning as much as possible about team operations and blackjack in general. Recommendations—Educating players is the key to a successful team. combined with a sliding percentage of the overall outcome (based on individual results). where the team is poised for action. Players should be informed that they won’t receive instruction on a specific method simply out of curiosity. is a possibility. Teams have worked hard in devising winning methods and are smart not to give away all the trade secrets to some newcomer who hasn’t proven himself. while the percentage keeps his incentive for quality play up. sacrificing the higher earning . A team may even work out a program where a player indicating a temporary “hardship” can receive an advance from the overall team bank. The best method is for the manager to discuss any concerns with each player prior to formal commitments. The salary should be enough to continue to motivate the player to play. as well as what he’d like to gain out of being on the team. It’s in the best interest for teams to instruct players on advanced methods only when they’ll apply them while playing for the team. players have to pay their dues first. only after the player has proven himself. he may be more interested in sitting down to discuss theory. Work closely with players to ensure that the terms enable everyone to meet his personal financial obligations. This is fine and encouraged. Both should agree on goals for the player to meet and a progression into learning advanced methods. A player whose main objective is to learn can prove to be disruptive to the progress of a team. Others might prefer a more conservative approach. However. Upon joining the team.an effect on his performance. Members of the team have differences in the level of risk they’re comfortable with. Recommendations—Set up banks where the distribution dates are not too far in advance.

so does the need for moving money among players. If such skills are lacking. Everyone goes out there and plays his heart out for hours and hours. Prepare everyone for such swings. with the team bank ending up in the red. Inefficient Means of Transferring Cash When a team grows in size.g. audiotapes. Lack of Motivation The team is experiencing a negative swing and players lack the motivation to get out and play. there’s little room for compromise here. it’s probably best that a player not comfortable with the established levels of play not participate. this can get tricky. A more conservative player will be nervous playing to a higher risk level. numerous books. arrange for him to go out and partner with a player who possesses an optimistic view of things. never panic.. Make it policy that each player in action report . someone will be unhappy. If players are in action in different parts of the country or world. The last thing you want to happen is to have a player running short of team bankroll during a trip. others may also adopt the attitude of “why bother?” Recommendations—The team manager should possess strong motivational skills.opportunity for a lower risk factor. The most important thing for a team manager is no matter how rough the waters get. Recommendations—Unfortunately. Blackjack Risk Manager 2002 software) to determine how much bankroll each player will require. When players on a team lose their motivation to play. If players have different objectives. When a player loses motivation. Recommendations—Use the proper tools (e. In both cases. videotapes. then provide an extra cushion. This is a most understandable cause for bringing down the spirits of team members. Take the time to ensure that all players are educated as to the inherent fluctuations of the game. If a player is willing to accept a higher risk level in an attempt to increase potential earnings. and seminars can provide the tools to develop them. It’s important for all members on the team to be in agreement on the way the bet levels are established with respect to earnings and risk. he’ll become impatient if the others decide to play at a more conservative level.

Find out in advance all related fees. Maintain a listing of banks and Western Union offices or similar places where an individual can receive a cash wire transfer. procedures. and hours of operation.results regularly. Develop relationships with other teams and players so that you can perform virtual transfers around the world. .

and/or polygraph tests . MANAGER’S ROLE Duties and responsibilities need to be outlined (e.. bookkeeping. making travel arrangements for players). The manual is team property and subject to return on demand. 3. this should be the first thing mentioned. No material in part or whole may be reproduced. CONFIDENTIAL NATURE OF CONTENTS If you’re sensitive to a high level of confidentiality. ESTABLISHMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF TEAM POLICIES Responsibilities of each player. What happens if a policy needs to be changed? Is it a unilateral decision or decision by vote? There should be a method in place for distributing funds at any given point. What is the manager’s salary? Is it a percentage of winnings or a flat fee? What happens if the team manager resigns? Can the team manager be dismissed by a vote of others? 4. scheduling.33 Outline for a Team Manual 1.g. 2. Do not bring it on team trips. It should be kept in a safe place at all times. should a player or investor need or wish to withdraw. testing. Suggested Wording: This manual is a confidential document and may not be shown to anyone else. MEMBERSHIP How are players selected? Are references required? Are credit checks. background checks.

grading system. TESTING Are all players required to play the same count system? Is there a minimum number of play indices required? Are players required to be able to play all types of games (single-deck. is there a form of re-test? Will a candidate be interviewed and accepted by the team manager only. and what is considered passing. multi-deck)? Are written tests going to be given for basic strategy? Other skills? General knowledge? Outline the specific testing routine. or may other players vote? Will testing be performed on an ongoing basis? Scheduled or surprise testing? How often? If the team will be using signals as part of its play. how many? Are performance reviews conducted? 5. how will this be tested? Will live play observation be conducted of a candidate? Is there a rating sheet to grade the candidate? The following is a sample live-play evaluation form for a candidate: .performed? Are there a minimum number of hours a player must commit to play? Penalties for not meeting this criterion? Will investments be restricted to players only or will non-playing investors be permitted to participate? Will all players be required to invest a minimum amount? What could lead to suspension/dismissal of a player? Are warnings given? If so. If a candidate fails a test.

and other players Candidate doesn’t wait until last minute to place bet . Score: _________ Comments: Game Selection: Candidate uses time upon arrival at casino to quickly but effectively evaluate game situation and makes a competent choice of game to play or determines conditions are unplayable and does not sit down to play. it may be determined that such plays were justified. Score: _________ Comments: Interactions at Table: Candidate is taking proper measures not to look/act like a typical counter. indicate your score on each category based on the following point system: 1 = Hopeless 2 = Needs Work 3 = Average 4 = Above Average 5 = Excellent Dependability: Candidate is punctual. Indicate Yes/No on the following observations: Candidate orders a beverage of some sort Candidate talks to dealer. Score: _________ Comments: Technical Proficiency: Candidate is accurate during live play. Shows up when he/she commits to. Starts and ends session at times committed.Candidate Live-Play Evaluation Form Instructions: Based on your observation of candidate’s live play. After discussion with candidate. Score: _________ Comments: Appearance: Candidate looks/dresses in accordance with stakes played and casino/town playing in. pit. If any decisions are questionable. please note them in comments section.

Score: _________ Comments: The following is a sample “system-and-game-plan” form that a candidate may complete: System-and-Game-Plan Form Count System Point Values: 2= 3= 4= 5= 6= 7= 8= .Score: _________ Comments: Awareness: Candidate identifies any close scrutiny and takes appropriate measures. Score: _________ Comments: Follows Game Plan: Candidate’s live play is in accordance with what’s outlined in the team game plan. Candidate is aware of countermeasures employed by pit/dealer and reacts accordingly.

You Divide by Full Decks: ____ 1/2 Decks: ____ Other: ____. how much advance notice is the player required to give the manager? How is team cash passed from player to player? How often is a player required to report results? Are casinos to play determined by a manager in a schedule or does the player select? What is considered a session bankroll? Is there a certain loss amount where a player is required to halt play and report in? Is there a minimum/maximum amount of cash a player is permitted to carry? What is the policy on use of “cover” for bets and plays? What should a player do in the event of a barring? Define rules on communicating or not communicating with teammates in casinos. PROCEDURES FOR ACTUAL TEAM PLAY Is team play authorized only when a group of players is available for a “group trip”? Are players permitted to play without other teammates present? If so. If Using Ace Side Count.9= T= A= If Using True Count Conversion. List Play Variations Used for Game Played: Dealer Shows: Your Hand: At Count of: Variation Is: Simulation Results (to be completed by Evaluator): 6. Value Assigned to Ace Is: _____. Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play each .

or can a player use his own? The following is a sample report form: Player’s Trip Report 7. GAME SELECTION What criteria determine a playable game? Is there a penetration point defined as acceptable vs. unacceptable? Is there a limit of number of players or spots being played at a table to consider a game playable? Are teammates permitted to play together at the same table? Same casino at the same time? If a player is authorized to play an acceptable game at lower than the agreed-upon bet levels. this will be respected. for whatever reason. Since tactics used by many teams and individuals are not made public.day? Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play without a break? Is there a maximum number of days a player is permitted to play without a day off? What is team policy on alcohol consumption? Outline policy on cashing or not cashing out chips. Is there a standard form for reporting. how will such player be compensated? MONEY MANAGEMENT AND BETTING . VARIOUS TACTICS THAT MAY BE APPLIED Note: This area is subject to preferences based on the knowledge and experience of team management.

Outline various methods and tricks where tipping may be used as a . as a method to share comped rooms? TIPPING Are players allowed to tip dealer? Is there a limit on how much a player may tip dealer? Are cocktail waitress.Is the betting scheme denominated in dollars or units? If units. who keeps the hard cash? If a player receives special-event tickets and can sell them at a profit. how is the unit size determined? Will the unit size change? If so. how often? How will overall risk of ruin be determined? How often will bet levels be reconfigured? How will information be most effectively communicated to players with respect to bet-level changes? COMPS Is player allowed to keep his own comps or must he surrender them to the team for allocation? Are players permitted to eat together? Is there a policy prohibiting players from overplaying a casino in an attempt to qualify for a certain comp? How are cashback vouchers handled? Team money or player’s own? If a player receives an invitation to a free tournament. does he/she play for team or self? If player receives airfare reimbursement. and other employee tips considered a team or a player expense? Outline a precise policy of tipping practices. valet parking. who is entitled to the cash? Are players required to accept teammates as roommate(s).

How often will signals be changed? Outline methods to ensure signals are subtle.tactic during play. money orders. SIGNALS If signals are going to be used. wiring of funds or travelers’ checks to facilitate transferring monies for team purposes. EXPENSES Is player responsible for traveling expenses (air. Stress that players should convert all smaller denomination bills into 100s. 8. outline them. Employing persons to monitor players in action. Polygraph testing. hotel. bank fees to obtain cashier’s checks. Ensure players are aware of reporting requirements for specific cash-out amounts and that players comply with such regulations to avoid breaking any laws. and car rentals)? What are considered team expenses? How and when will a player be reimbursed for expenses incurred? Are receipts required for everything or only above certain amounts? Are room comps pooled among players? The following is an example of some expenses a team may incur: Overnight courier services. CASHING OUT Outline procedure for players to verify cashouts before leaving cashier’s window. Opening checking accounts and safe-deposit rentals as deemed . Keep records of all tips in session reports.

should or should . SAFETY AND SECURITY Where will team funds be secured? Who will have access to these funds? Will funds be secured in a manner in which no one person has sole access? How often will audits be conducted? Will verifications of all transfers be maintained in the form of signed receipts? What requirements do individual players comply with in securing team cash held? What happens if a player loses team cash or is robbed? Outline procedures players should follow when cashing out large amounts at cashier cage. Outline policies for not discussing team matters outside of the team. Outline policies for not communicating via hotel room phones. Recruiting spotters and/or BPs. 9. Outline policies for what information. What will prompt a player to be required to submit to polygraph testing? Outline policies for keeping team paperwork outside of hotel rooms. Outline procedures players should follow when leaving a casino to ensure they are not being followed. Recruiting new players.necessary. Phone calls. in written form. Outline policies for using wireless phones in and around casinos in a manner in which the phone number is not displayed for surveillance cameras to read.

which can illustrate various factors. converted into graph form.not be carried on a player’s person. Such use can be applied based on the desired results. while reviewing a player’s overall performance. to illustrate the difference in swings two players experience and how each reacts to a big losing session. such as Lotus 123 and Excel. you have the ability to customize charts and graphs. The following graphs depict the results of two different players throughout the course of 12 play sessions. For the purpose of effect. Below is an example of a report generated from an Excel spreadsheet. both . how often? Will additional training and development be provided? Monitoring Performance Through the use of spreadsheet programs. QUALITY CONTROL How are players being monitored? How are results being documented and evaluated? Are players and/or investors receiving periodic reports? If so. Outline proper procedures (within the letter of the law) a player should follow if an attempt is made by a casino employee to detain the player. DISTRIBUTION OF WINNINGS How and when will winnings be distributed? A set date? A set monetary goal? A set number of hours played in total? Are expenses deducted from the gross win? Is manager’s commission deducted before or after expenses? What is the percentage paid to investors? How are players compensated for play? Based on hours played? Based on amount won? A combination of both? Are there any penalties applied for any reason? Who is responsible for taxes? How is this provided for in the scheme of things? 11. 10.

Up until that point. This is evident in looking at the “flat” line of win/loss of the last six sessions of Player #2. one may deduce that Player #2 could very well have been spooked by the large loss experienced in session #6 and became reluctant to place the proper big bets when the situation called for it. Player #2 appears to have “tightened up” on his play. both players appeared to be experiencing swings inherent in proper play. while Player #1 continued to experience such swings following the session #6 loss. Looking at this.players experienced identical results throughout the first six sessions. However. The difference in results is evident following session #6. which is where both players experienced their biggest losing session. .

I started play Thursday morning with a one-hour session. This arrangement facilitated exchange of information. and Ursula was getting in on Friday morning. way back when. Patrick and I ended up on the same flight Wednesday evening. in addition to any necessary cash transfers. The plan was to meet in Las Vegas and play over a five-day period. We were all ready to combine our efforts as a team. the early stages of our efforts were successful. I created a schedule of casinos for each player. The six of us have been together in this journey for three years and although we didn’t reach our ultimate goals. Since the seat next to me was empty. At the end of my session. only to have the flight attendant inform him that he couldn’t sit there. Harry was coming into town on Thursday. Here’s poor Patrick getting backed off before the plane even lands! The setup we decided on was for each player to play solo in accordance with a schedule of casinos and times of play. not every member of the group had met one another. Harry met everyone except for Leon and Ursula. At this point. A player would finish a session in a given casino as a teammate was ready to commence play in that same casino. while Patrick was in coach. and times of play. Patrick and I would arrive on Wednesday. Brett and I had met each of the others. losing a session bankroll. This is a reflection on our very first play together.34 Down Memory Lane This chapter is dedicated to the five original members of the last team on which I formally acted as a manager. Brett and Leon would arrive in town first on Tuesday. I managed to get an upgrade into first class. I saw Leon entering the casino . Patrick never met Ursula or Leon. This would avoid having any two players in the same place at the same time. Patrick cruised over. To avoid complications.

” After an initial losing session the next morning. If you had a special coupon. After making a few revisions.” He knew it wasn’t. at the airport. The following morning. and when he saw my smile as he got off the plane.right on schedule. Leon. I drove to the hotel where Brett was staying to give him some cash. Not a good start for this new team: three of us losing and Patrick’s results unknown. I played until our first scheduled meeting. I also used my charm to get a huge stack of the coupons from the nice lady giving them out and I distributed them to my teammates. a method that led Leon to dub the structure affectionately as “Rick’s Sweat Shop. The good news was that we found out about a promotion being offered by a casino. On that note. The restriction was that a player could use only one coupon per day. Harry and I got to know each other over the six months prior to this trip. “I hope that’s a happy smile. Patrick was the only one with positive numbers. I was about to leave when Leon gave me some more bad news. Ursula walked into the meeting immediately after arriving in town to find the team down 50% of the starting bank. and I showed negative results that put us at a 25% loss of our initial bank. Of course. my losing streak continued and our afternoon meeting revealed that out of the five of us present. I gave him one session bankroll to play with. I slipped in six during one shift. we found ways to get around that and ended up having a little contest among ourselves to see who could get away with using the most coupons. but my net result didn’t improve. He informed me that he lost most of his allotted team bankroll the day before and needed more cash. I finally caught fire and . which enabled him to meet up with Patrick in hopes of getting some additional cash if necessary. but she maintained a positive attitude. you received a two-to-one payoff for a natural. we continued with the structured schedule. along with a change in the schedule. Brett also had a losing day and was in need of more cash. He gave me a signal to meet him outside. Jeanette. Patrick was winning. his first words were. I still lost! My next task was to pick up Harry and his wife. let alone playing on a count team. This was her first-ever visit to Las Vegas. but Brett. I could see the questionable look on her face.

I decided it was best to leave there and see if I could locate a teammate to return and attempt to warn Ursula. “Why?” I then informed him: “She jumped her bet and the shift manager went through the discards. At our late-afternoon meeting. I quickly blurted out. At first I was thinking how we should have informed each other of what casino we would each go to. I signaled him to follow me outside. which put us ahead for the trip. after spotting him. I watched as she jumped her bet and the shift manager walked up to the table. I noticed another floorperson starting to watch me a bit too closely for comfort. when players met up entering/exiting a casino. I immediately gave the “heat signal” to Ursula. I walked across the street to a casino where I suspected Patrick would be and. where we would wrap things up. picked up the discards. and started to flip through them. but she didn’t catch it. knowledge of a teammate’s winning session created motivation all around.” Patrick responded. I went to play at my “home-base” casino and was having a nice session when I noticed a floorperson whispering to the shift manager and motioning two tables away from me. At the evening meeting. Ursula seemed a bit too focused on the cards and oblivious to what was really happening. I left the table and went to the restroom to determine what to do about alerting Ursula. the others also reported some nice wins. At the same time. which put my personal net result at a nice win. I could see the shift manager watching Ursula from a distance.put together a string of winning sessions. the others also reported winning numbers that put us close to even. but she didn’t seem to catch on. “You’ve got to get across the street and get Ursula out of there. I was still on a roll. The next day. my net loss as of the previous day was cut in half. I gave her the heat signal. We decided to have each player go out to play in a casino of his/her own choice for one more session before our final meeting. Once outside. to avoid having more than one player in the same place. Since I was concerned about the heat I was getting earlier. All my sessions ended in wins. By the end of the evening. and I was worried about getting heat myself. I discreetly looked over there and noticed Ursula playing at that table. My “sweatshop” schedule was working well. After arriving at the table.” .

. Patrick said.” then proceeded to run across a major thoroughfare. Subsequently.On that note. he told me it was too late. I spent an hour talking with Ursula and realized that she wasn’t really in tune with the warning signs. that she had been backed off from play. I was at fault for taking it for granted that she was. When he returned. She handled the situation well and learned from the experience. Afterwards. as we recovered from being 50% down of our initial bank to ending up with a 50% net win. dodging traffic. Our final meeting was a happy occasion. in an effort to save a fellow teammate. I believe this episode made her a stronger player. “Okay.

The End Zone .

Structure your requests in a manner that demonstrates that you know what you’re entitled to and are not asking for anything too out of line. If your appearance is refined. If you’re presenting yourself as a celebrity type. it’s crucial that your persona exude the fact that you are.” it’s imperative that you get this “fear factor” out of your head. the casino staff views you as a “premium client. do so firmly. but with confidence that your request will be honored. from experience. In this role. attire. it’s of the utmost importance that you look and act the role of a player who can afford to gamble with the sums of money that you’ll be putting out. you’re someone who has money. every recommendation you offer must be made with confidence. and personality that can be made prominent to present the image of a high roller.” Therefore. Every move you make. politely. Money equals confidence. we accessorize them accordingly to create a sellable product: you as a high roller. every statement you utter.35 Assuming the Role of a High-Stakes Player When playing for high stakes. Attitude Keeping in mind that the typical card counter is in constant fear of being “made. Players in this category are entitled to a certain level of service. so it appears unnatural. Below is an outline detailing the components of what it takes to sell yourself as a high-stakes player. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Don’t think you have to completely change your existing image. when you ask for something. a . Once these factors are identified. You are the customer. What we want to do is identify the qualities of your existing look. As you enter a game. but approach the game with the attitude that you are in control. and you must subtly convey that you’re aware of this. doing so comes across as forcing an act or look.

” See the difference? Rather than asking for something in a manner where you’re indicating you’re unaware that it will be comped. at…. anticipate potential questions and offer information about yourself that you’ve prepared in advance. If you’re presenting yourself as a refined gentleman or lady. Example—Don’t ask. restaurant names. they’ll still be curious and will try to gather information about you. and Knowledge The casinos try to find out as much about you as possible. chain-of-command. “Could I get a dinner comp at …?” Do ask (refined). It comes across as bush-league. Example—Don’t ask. restaurant employee names. It’s your goal to take control of this situation in a twofold manner. I’d appreciate it if you would call (name of maitre d’) up at … and take care of it for us. menu items. “Could you arrange dinner for 7 p. Make it easy for them on your own terms.shady character. Note: Avoid direct use of the word “comp” when dealing with casino employees. determine what the individual may be fishing for . betting lines. wines. Homework: Names of employees. During your interactions. you may be able to get away with a highly aggressive attitude. Develop your own profile and have it memorized to the finest detail. you’re confidently “helping” the employee provide you with what you want. “Can I get a comp for …” Do ask: “Can you arrange … for me. You need to live the role that you’re assuming and present yourself in a believable manner. sport games currently being played. While most casino employees in the know will not come across as too intrusive. or an obnoxious foreigner.” You want to give the impression that the level of service extended by a given casino is of more importance to you than their actual comp program. Preparation. Homework.m. if available?” Do ask (aggressive): “We’re ready for dinner.

concierge. You may try to have this information arranged by a clerk at the player’s club desk. Give them what they need and nothing more. It’s also a good idea to learn the names of restaurant managers. Department of Treasury.S. I’m not saying that it doesn’t work. figure a way you can use this to your advantage. call a host prior to your next trip to ensure that all the required information is in their database.and give it up on your own terms. Advance knowledge of the casino’s procedure on obtaining identification for a player’s card is extremely valuable. Do it in advance and ensure they have everything they need before you play. Have all this in order before you start playing. Since chances are you’ll be playing for stakes that will prompt CTR reporting to the U. etc. you run the risk of having a photocopy being made. you’ll need to use a legal name. health club. you know what to do from there! The goal here is to endear yourself to people at the highest level. . You take control of the information provided under your terms. along with all your personal data and photograph. along with valid government form of identification. Eye Contact Contrary to popular belief. Do your homework and learn as much about these folks as possible. as well as the top executives in the casino. maitre d’s.). Example—The casino manager collects baseball memorabilia. so it’s established on the casino floor and elsewhere that you are in with the big boys. Throw them a bone! Develop a complete knowledge of the names of the key employees with whom you’ll be dealing. If a pit clerk gets your identification for this purpose. This is also true for employees of other hotel/casino services of which you might avail yourself (limo drivers. If you do this on a trip before you actually play. The bottom line is the casino requires certain information. If you learn of a particular interest of a top person. this eye-contact phenomenon is overrated. who might not make such a photocopy. Well. and other restaurant employees. but it’s not something you can rely on. and you know what that information is.

Here are some methods of eye contact that minimize the ability for others to read you. yet you want to create an impression of “power. You also want to stop your play and focus when the person starts a conversation with you. “Excuse me” and leave. he or she should realize that it’s not good for the casino’s bottom line to keep you away from wagering and will gracefully say. aloof.Hence. but they’re not always accurate. while putting the person at ease with you. Use slight head nods. coupled with smiles. wait for the other to shift eye contact first. a clever individual can use such eye contact to generate false reads. When you’re playing and such a person starts a conversation with you. The purpose here is not to even acknowledge the other person’s existence. when the person states something deemed to be of significance. You’re acknowledging. among other things. Soft Direct Eye Contact When you’re having a conversation with someone important or whom you want to make feel important. Evaluate yourself and fine-tune things to achieve the desired results. By using this technique. too. You’re too busy to be bothered. Hard or Piercing Eye Contact When you’re having a conversation with someone important. There are dozens of reads on what so-called experts determine certain glances mean. you’re yielding power to the other person without stepping down from your own. When you’re playing for high . creating minimal variations and confusing those who rely on eye contact to attempt to read you. Your goal is to limit the types of eye contact you project. dismissive. Here. or arrogant. Practice your eyecontact techniques in a mirror. on video. look directly into his or her eyes with a gentle ever-so-subtle movement of your eyes. and with friends. but pause for a second or two before making your own shift. but create the exit as a mutual decision. No Eye Contact This can be considered rude.” look hard and directly into the other person’s eyes without looking elsewhere. you can stop your play and maintain the conversation. Wait for the other person to shift eye contact first. If this is a casino employee (most likely). Your only shift should be a total exit from the conversation.

act as though you didn’t hear it. then completely throwing them off scent. don’t even look up. You can jump on the bandwagon. and you’ll certainly fit right in. purchase all the popular designer names that everyone else is wearing. wearing sunglasses indoors is tricky to pull off. If you want the flashy look. What you accomplish here is initially baiting people into thinking one thing. you’re giving off a suspicious appearance. If you’re asked a direct question. pile on the gold chains and rings. If a player makes a comment or asks a question not specifically directed to you. because they’re taking you away from your focus. You can also set your sights on a higher plateau by avoiding the trendy .stakes. Expensive shoes are essential. The trick here is to do this without appearing rude. you must dress in a manner that’s representative of someone who can afford to: designer shirts. These eye-contact “experts” read sunglasses as hiding something. you can actually use them to your advantage. and belt for starters. pause for a few seconds (this is annoying to people). Your jewelry should complement the image you’re trying to create. there are different plateaus. Attire When betting large sums of money. Sunglasses Unless you have the rock-star or gangster thing going. First. When someone appears to speak to you. slacks. but not a huge Rolex) would be appropriate. dramatically remove the shades and shift into hard or piercing eye contact method #1 or #2 (#1 works best for this purpose). to-the-point answer or an aloof response in a subtly dismissive manner. short. If you appear at a table sporting shades. without making any eye contact. Be familiar with the big designer names. then give a direct. a thinner watch (expensive. as is an expensive watch. If you’re after a quiet elegant look. where they’re now questioning their ability to read you. other players may try to get friendly with you (for a variety of reasons). When someone approaches your table. Knowing that. but you truly don’t want to have anything to do with them. you have the trends that mainstream society gets sucked into. When dealing with style.

A suntan delivers the message that you’re fun-loving. or carefree manner. which the mainstream has not yet caught up to. Walk in a slow. depending on the message you’re trying to convey. Purpose Why are you here? You have to create an impression as to your reason . Have people with you. where the mainstream embraces Armani. You can get away without paying retail. A manicure just prior to a trip is essential and quite inexpensive. Appearance Your overall appearance should say “money. it won’t look good on you. These brands don’t advertise heavily. but you’ll find celebrities wearing them. and Prada. you look at other European labels or go the custom-tailored route.names and seeking out brands that are a notch above. You can always take in a few sessions at a tanning salon a week or two prior to a trip. Avoid slumping over at the tables. If you have a small wrist. Pay attention to your posture. while the mainstream views Rolex as the watch. never look as though you’re rushing to get somewhere. Also keep in mind that the typical Rolex is thick and bulky. You want to create the appearance that you’re with family or friends to have a good time. you don’t have to pay top dollar. deliberate. Gucci. For example. Here. you may want to look for some other brands and join the major leagues. In respect to watches. Here are some additional points to add to the total package: Your fingernails should be clean and presentable.” You’re someone who has it and doesn’t worry about spending it. Stand erect when you’re walking. Don’t always appear to be alone. Shop around for a pre-owned watch from a reputable dealer or check out some auctions. When walking in the casino. Check out sample sales and outlet centers for some great bargains.

You also may want to take a proactive approach and volunteer some information about your business that may confuse or bore the average layperson. take an evening out at a fine gourmet restaurant. If you’re used to eating at home or at coffee shops. etc. Over the years. Take a walk in some of the finer clothing and jewelry stores (you don’t need to actually make a purchase) to get a feel for the style of people who frequent such places. if you look back on some of the best film performances. In order to be successful. Remember.for being here. You also want to convey the message that you’re here to have fun. You enjoy gambling and other things. Are you on business? If so. you’ll see that the acting appears to be believable. Doing so discourages someone to discuss it with you further. you need to actually live your act and believe it yourself. many players have attempted to put on such acts. golf. Most of these players eventual fail in their acting abilities. Get accustomed to the atmosphere. shopping. This is precisely what you’re looking to accomplish. Live your act! . such as shows. Summary Some blackjack books discuss the “act” element of the play. what business brings you here? Be prepared to discuss it with knowledge and enthusiasm if you’re questioned.

I normally state that there are several factors to look at before deciding to take the plunge into blackjack as career. Back-Up Plan Is your current profession one that enables you to re-enter the workforce after a year or more of absence? This is something you must consider if playing full-time blackjack doesn’t work out for any reason. life insurance.36 Playing Blackjack as a Part-Time Professional Periodically. you should forget about full-time blackjack. Bankroll Do you really have enough savings to carry you through the negative swings that occur? Flexibility Do you have the ability to move from town to town on short notice? A full-time blackjack player may find his action unwelcome in a given town and need to move quickly. Company Benefits If your current occupation offers health. Emotion . and other benefits that you consider important. you’ll need to consider the increased cost of these once you leave your job. retirement. Family If you have a spouse and/or children whom your reliable steady income is essential to support. When asked my opinion. I encounter players who consider quitting their jobs to play blackjack full-time.

“It’s not for me. Time Available After determining how much paid time off your full-time job allows. As a full-timer. he knows he’ll be back out there playing the next day. Once it clicked.” Join the club. Part-Time The above are just some of the factors one needs to consider before playing blackjack on a full-time basis. That’s what I’ve always said when the thought has crossed my mind. Let’s first look at a player living in Southern California. If you’re expense conscious. But fear not! If you enjoy playing as I do and want a potential source of supplemental income. I adjusted my thinking to accept this concept. I may not be back out playing for another month or more. you’ll want to decide how much of it you wish to devote to blackjack play. airport parking. then calculate the cost of travel by car as compared to airfare. and ground transportation while in Las Vegas.Do you think you can handle the emotional ups and downs of the game? If you ask any full-time player. you’ll hear of some low points worth considering. take a look at current airfares and you could find round-trip flights for less than $100. when I experience a losing trip. I was having dinner with a friend who lives there and plays full-time. working at a job that provides Saturday and Sunday off. consider playing blackjack as a part-time professional. Here are some tips on how to set up shop in your side-profession. he’s out there on a regular basis and experiences such swings more frequently. As a part-time player. The losses linger longer since I’m playing less frequently. On the last day of a playing trip to Las Vegas some years back. If your bankroll justifies playing at a . This player can hop in a car on Friday afternoon and drive four to five hours on average to Las Vegas for the weekend. when he has a losing day. If you happen to be traveling solo. I suspect that most readers will look at these factors and decide. However. This was the end of a losing trip for me and I was singing the blues. He pointed something out that hit the nail right on the head. I asked my friend what he does when he experiences such losses. consider the number of passengers.

I’ve done this. Even as a part-time player. this can lead to burnout.level that qualifies for airfare reimbursement (covered later) from a casino. in addition to dozens more activities to choose from. If you need to spend two days in Los Angeles. If you enjoy winter sports. San Francisco? How does a weekend in Reno/Lake Tahoe sound? I caution you not to fall into the trap of devoting all your valuable vacation time solely to blackjack play. the next consideration is an extended holiday weekend. This strategy applies to similar geographic situations worldwide. providing us with opportunities to combine a vacation with blackjack. Maryland. This gets you back around 8 a. You’ve now created a built-in weekend in Las Vegas. and wish to take a trip to Las Vegas. book your flight for a Wednesday night departure and Sunday afternoon return. then by all means fly in. Let’s say you live in Baltimore. catching a return flight home on Monday afternoon. A good strategy is to take the Friday before as a vacation day. bring it to work on Thursday. If the nature of your work entails business travel. Diving in the day. offers dozens of courses. go ahead a take a red-eye flight back home. We all need a balanced lifestyle and that includes good old rest and relaxation. departing Las Vegas around midnight. blackjack at night. Golf? That’s easy. We’re fortunate that some casino towns offer activities away from the gaming tables. Let’s say you need to schedule a business trip to Los Angeles. Las Vegas. structure your day to mix up your play and other activities. Lake Tahoe offers some great skiing and enough casinos to keep your chips moving. Your job gives you Labor Day Monday off. Set it up so that the business trip includes a Friday or Monday. Pack a bag. If you’re blessed with ultra-stamina.m. head right to the airport after work. If you fancy water sports. and you’ll be in Las Vegas Thursday night for a four-night stay. If you’re not fortunate enough to live within striking distance of a casino area for an easy weekend trip. When combining vacation and blackjack play. . a trip to the Caribbean may be in order. but it’s been many years since I’ve had the stamina to pull it off. Tuesday morning and you can head to work straight from the airport. you can get creative. for one.

In addition to low-stakes comps. wait until a point where you have a larger bet up. If you’re looking for a discount on a room. You want to try for some of the limited comps available to players at this level. Depending on the casino. Beverages are free while you’re playing. you’re in a very strong position to get the .Low-Stakes Play If you’re betting $5 chips. you want to play casinos that offer the lowestminimum tables. When you’re ready to finish playing. you need only to tip the server. Always check out funbooks where they’re offered. you have more flexibility. If your bet scheme calls for a 1-6 spread and your bankroll permits a top bet of $60. If you plan on playing at this level for a while. When you’re playing for low stakes. where someone will actually serve you. and The Frugal Gambler and More Frugal Gambling by Jean Scott. you’ll most likely score a room at the “casino rate. You may find some free offers for shows. If you know how to work the system. Since you can play at $25-minimum tables. You qualify for better comps at this level. you should never have to pay for a hotel room or a meal when playing at a casino. you can also go for meals at the coffee shop. I recommend reading three books. High-Stakes Play If you’re betting $100 chips. call over a floorperson. If your goal is to elevate your level of play. You can be more selective in where to play. rooms. To maximize your comp potential. most casinos won’t view you as a threat. meals. so your bet scheme can fit in as your bankroll permits. it’s a good idea to get rated. be careful how much information you give about yourself. Moderate-Stakes Play If you’re betting $25 chips. look for a table minimum no higher than $10. and ask for a buffet comp.” which provides for a nice discount. and even free cash. all published by Huntington Press: Comp City by Max Rubin. you have the potential of scoring a free room. you have a better chance of finding the less crowded conditions necessary to increase your hourly earning potential.

and beverages (B). consider that as your home base. thus minimizing the chances that you will be detected as a skilled player.” This entails spreading out your action among several casinos that offer quality games.most of out your play. Play at this level entitles you to premium comps. referred to as RFB (an RFB player in most cases qualifies for comp show tickets as well). you have the ability to create an expense-paid vacation. For a full-time player. You can continue to test the waters with other casinos. Your goal here is to shoot for “RFB plus airfare. to establish a home base for future trips. you have 18 shifts on your circuit. all meals (F). which you can give enough action to satisfy the level of comps you desire. Let’s say you have six casinos on your list. you have excellent opportunities to play in non-crowded conditions. Remember that you may need a home-base casino to score your room comp. playing at this level increases your exposure to scrutiny by casino personnel. you view any gambling earnings as supplementary income. You create your circuit by listing all the casinos you elect to play in. you have the ability to do what I call “play the circuit. giving an attractive earning potential. If you have the bankroll to play at this level. First. you want the casino to reimburse you for your airline ticket(s). while combining it with part-time advantage play in a casino. You’re their . blackjack is a main source of income. To avoid being detected as a skilled player. Considering that the majority of casinos have three different shifts during the business day. However. If your instincts are good and you have a good comfort level with a specific casino. If you do this. you’ll need to be aware of the casino procedures and apply some camouflage techniques to keep a step ahead of them. In addition to RFB. You have a full-time job outside of advantage play. you minimize your exposure in any one casino. As a part-time player. As a parttime player. This hopefully results in your playing more hands at an advantage.” You want the casino to comp your room (R). which provides you with a sense of credibility in the minds of casino personnel. Comp City (a must-read for those playing at this level) outlines excellent strategies for securing airfare reimbursement. while minimizing detection.

you’re the customer! Bankroll Considerations Several books provide information on how to determine your bankroll and bet levels. it’s a good idea to go back to Chapter 12 of this book and reread the section on Money Management). In addition to exchanging information with other players in a cooperative manner. Information Pipeline Since your time for play is limited. If you want information about casino offers. along with invaluable guidance.customer and you’re entitled to a level of service commensurate with your action. Taxes Don’t forget to keep accurate records of your wins and losses. In most cases. check out the Las Vegas Advisor (and LasVegasAdvisor. where your subscription includes valuable coupon books. with mathematics ranging from simple to complex (at the very least. I trust the following formula is not too complicated: Funds you can afford to lose = your bankroll.com. Knowledge of quality games is essential. Summary If you have a traditional full-time career. you’ll find information on games offered. For the foundation of your thinking. If you have Internet access and go to trackjack.com). there’s no magic in determining what your bankroll should be. . you can play blackjack as a part-time professional to provide a source of supplementary income. which is updated regularly. and general comp information. Remember. Period. therefore you’re best served by gathering information before your trip. You’re required by the government to report this information on your income tax return. your earning potential won’t be that of a full-timer playing at a similar level. you can subscribe to some sources that specialize in providing game conditions. but there are benefits and there is potential. too much time spent scouting cuts into your earning potential.

A former pit boss. where Stuart reports. Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way This masterpiece is the work of Don Schlesinger. Max divulges tricks of the trade and tells how to get the most out of the system. This book is a first. I finished reading Deke Castleman’s superb book about the marketing secrets of superhost.000 and went off to Las Vegas for two months to play full-time blackjack. Steve Cyr. eat. Comp City A most informative and entertaining book by Max Rubin. The book is a compilation of some of Don’s best articles. Whale Hunt in the Desert The morning Blackjack Blueprint was scheduled to go to press. A master of many moves. read this book. breathe. There’s also enough information on betting strategies and bankroll requirements to appease the mathematically inclined reader. To get a bird’s-eye view of life as a full-time blackjack player. .37 Resources and Final Notes Recommended Books Las Vegas Blackjack Diary Author Stuart Perry took a bankroll of $20. along with valuable insight from a very well-respected authority on the game. Chapter 35 of this book provides the “tip of the iceberg” about high-limit players. with some updates and much brand-new material. why not learn from Steve Cyr. every session he played during his two months. and play. I had to stop the presses to add this recommendation. If you’re looking for a complete text of how high-limit players live. in detail. who interfaces with such players on a daily basis. Max delves into how casinos’ comp systems work. a long-time columnist for Blackjack Forum.

along with the math to support everything written. an actual surveillance agent. after reading James Grosjean’s Beyond Counting. I. Those of you who are into the mathematics and statistics of the game will find this terrific reading. Mathematics professor Peter Griffin tells it by the numbers.” Fastforward some 20 plus years and you have his most recent book. he wrote Turning the Tables on Las Vegas. Blackjack and the Law Written by two attorneys familiar with gaming law. Nelson Rose and . Griffin’s work inspired most of the subsequent research in the mathematics of not only blackjack. pulled up in front of Grosjean’s house.The Theory of Blackjack This is the book for anyone interested in serious blackjack mathematics and statistics. Burning the Tables in Las Vegas Ian Andersen is my kind of player. Cellini has been in the casino business for many years and reveals much about the inner workings of a casino surveillance department. From a tactical standpoint. Ian’s first book takes the player to the tables and explains how to “operate. This book is still considered the foundation in the research of the mathematics of blackjack. Beyond Counting Those familiar with Peter Griffin’s “Elephant Version” of The Theory of Blackjack would agree that if Peter were still around. This guy knows his stuff! The Card Counter’s Guide to Casino Surveillance Authored by Cellini (pseudonym). he would have ridden the elephant. which gives some updates on his excellent insight on playing the game. and passed him a Heineken. In the mid-1970s. the book gives some insight into the methods used by surveillance staff to identify card counters. Reading the book can inspire you to get creative and develop your own methods to beat the system. this book gives the player a look at the perspective from behind the cameras. This book contains tactical information applicable to blackjack and many other casino games. told James to hop aboard. which was a classic work for that time. but also several other casino games.

Based on thorough research of the subjects. The Art of War A classic by Sun Tzu and there are several versions out there.S. the exclusion of skilled players by casinos. and an estimate of the penetration levels at the respective casinos. Munchkin’s book is in a most interesting question-and-answer format. among the many issues the book addresses are your obligations in reporting winnings for tax purposes.com website. this monthly newsletter is compiled from information submitted by reporters nationwide. Bret Saxon and Steve Stein show their moves. casinos. rules. Gambling Wizards Richard Munchkin interviewed some of the world’s top professional advantage players and treated us with his 2002 publication.Robert Loeb. and your rights when casinos demand you to show identification or attempt to force you into a back room. The complete Web address is: bj21. lending insight to the beginnings and adventures of some of these personalities. the work of Arnold Snyder. Details include number of tables. who provide conditions of blackjack games in numerous U. The Art of the Schmooze: Savvy Social Guide for Getting to the Top Written by two social networkers. you’ll find ideas for tactical approaches in the art of deception. . Periodicals Current Blackjack News Published by Stanford Wong’s Pi Yee Press. But back issues of BJF are readily available and contain articles written on various blackjack issues. This newsletter can also be accessed from the bj21. which are usually very informative and entertaining. If you relate the information provided in this book to your casino play.com Blackjack Forum This quarterly publication. Helpful if you apply the techinques to dealing with casino staff. is no longer published.

developed by Karel Janecek. There are still beatable games in many places. It takes some homework to identify them. Discipline is a key element. which goes way beyond Chapter 16 of this book. One must play in quality games or not play at all. I’ve managed to get out and hit a few casinos along the way. While the opportunities are there. It’s important to have fun at it. make this package a fantastic practice and research tool. penetration levels. gives the user the ability to set up any count system. I’ve been fortunate to be involved with a network of players who exchange information on gaming conditions. with the intent of creating an awareness in players. along with tables for play variations. cardcounting drills. Its features are too numerous even to list here. This is one product no serious player should be without.Software Casino Vérité This program enables the user to practice basic strategy drills. along with many others. These features. standard deviation. too. bankroll. Over the years. Final Note I never thought I’d finish writing Blackjack Blueprint! While working on this book. It also allows you to play games with a variety of different rules. CAB 2000 Dustin Marks produced this CD. and risk of ruin. Statistical Blackjack Analyzer This simulator. Many cheating moves are demonstrated in an entertaining manner. . desired rules. Blackjack Risk Manager 2002 This program was developed by John Auston and enables the user to input various count systems. the game is still a tough one to beat. and bet levels to calculate win rates. This program gives the user much flexibility. It’s essential to avoid detection from surveillance. number of decks. and true-count-conversion drills. Having the ability to play a technically perfect game is not enough. and simulate millions of hands played to determine the strength of the respective system.

Now go out and win some money! .There will usually be one incident that occurs during a trip that you can recall and have a good chuckle over.

a side count of aces is not necessary for betting. Betting Efficiency—A measurement that shows the power of a cardcounting system for betting purposes. Ace-Neutralized Count—Aces are assigned a value of zero. the casino industry. and in such counts. Ace-Reckoned Count—Aces are assigned a value other than zero. Bet Spread—The range between the player’s minimum and maximum bets. and in blackjack in general. Barring—Preventing a player from further playing blackjack in a casino. Basic Strategy—Derived set of play decisions that represent the optimal method of play. but counting the cards with the intent of jumping into the game once the count becomes favorable. Balanced Count—Count system where the total of all the plus-value cards combined with the total of all minus-value cards equals zero. but may be used for play variations. by formal notification from a casino employee. . Betting Circle—Spot on the blackjack table directly in front of the player where the bet (wager) is placed. here are some common terms used in this book. Ace—Can have a value of 1 or 11. depending on the value of other cards in the hand. Backcounting—Method where a player stands by a blackjack table or tables without playing. Action—Identifies the total amount of money a player wagers during the course of a session. a side count of aces would be required for betting purposes.Glossary Although this list is far from complete. and in such counts. based solely on the player’s first two cards dealt and the dealer’s upcard.

where all previously dealt cards and the burn card are placed face down. Early Surrender—A rule that enables the player to give up one-half of the wager after looking at the first two cards dealt. When doubling down.Burn Card—A card removed from the top of a freshly shuffled deck. for an immediate loss. Bust—To take additional hits so that the cards’ total exceeds 21. because if it’s used as 11 it will cause . sorted by denomination. Cut Card—A colored plastic card inserted by the player somewhere within the deck(s) to determine where the dealer will cut. indicating that it will not be dealt in play. If the dealer has an ace or ten upcard. Double Down—The option for the player to place an additional bet. Cutoffs—Unplayed cards remaining in a shoe after the cut card appears. Face-Down Game—The player’s first two cards are dealt face down and the player is required to handle the cards. used to hold chips. based on the value of the first two cards dealt. up to equal in value to the original bet. In this use it can also be referred to as a shuffle card or stop card. First Base—Seat located on the far right of the player’s side of the blackjack table. resulting in a losing hand. the dealer inserts the card to indicate at what point the deck(s) will be reshuffled. to the dealer’s right. this option may be exercised before the dealer checks for a natural. after the cut. Comp—A free product or service extended by the casino to the player. Hard Hand—A hand where no ace is present or where the ace is present but can be used only as a 1-value card. Discard Tray—The tray/holder on the table. Face-Up Game—The player’s cards are dealt face up and the player is not permitted to handle the cards. Chip Tray—The tray directly in front of the dealer. the player receives only one additional card. Doubling down is sometimes limited by the casino rules.

One-Level Count—The point values of each card are assigned plus 1. minus 1. unless the dealer also has a natural (also called a “blackjack”). minus 2. However. Natural—When the first two cards dealt to a player or dealer are an ace and a ten. Hole Card—One of the dealer’s first two cards. Late Surrender—A rule enabling the player to give up one-half the initial wager after looking at the first two cards dealt. paid at a rate of 3-2. Marker—Draft signed by a player requesting chips. as well as higher numbers such as plus 2. etc. Peek—When the dealer is dealt an ace or ten upcard and manually checks the hole card to determine if the hand is a natural. (Note: Today many . Heat—When casino personnel start watching a player very carefully. if the dealer has a natural. for an immediate loss. to create two separate hands. zero. which is dealt face down and not available for the player’s viewing.a bust. advanced against either a credit line arranged with the casino or money held on deposit (“front money”). Insurance Efficiency—Measurement of the power of a card-counting system for insurance decisions. with the overall result being a push. which wins at a 2-1 rate if the dealer’s hole card is a ten. unless the player has a natural. thereby splitting the two cards. The player has the option of placing up to one-half the value of the original bet. Multi-Level Count—The point values assigned for each card are plus 1. or zero. Hit—Either the player’s request or the dealer’s requirement to be dealt an additional card. minus 1. Pair Split—The ability for the player to place an additional bet equal to that of the original wager when the first two cards dealt are of equal value. Insurance—A side wager offered when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. Winning an insurance bet offsets that of the original wager (losing bet). the player loses the entire bet. giving the dealer a natural.

Riffle—A process of holding a group of cards in both hands during the shuffle process. Segment—Area of the dealt cards that a player has focused on for the purpose of tracking in the shuffle process.casinos use special “auto-peek” devices built into the table.) Penetration—How far down into the deck(s) the dealer deals before shuffling. mainly for the purpose of offering comps. With such devices. Picks—The number of cards picked up or grabbed in each hand by a dealer during the shuffle routine. based on use of a count system. Point Value—Plus number. Risk of Ruin—The percentage chance of a player’s losing an entire bankroll. The cutoffs can also be plugged in total in one spot as well. . interlacing both groups. or zero. dealers no longer manually peek at the hole card. Push—When a player’s hand total is equal to the dealer’s total (a “tie”). Pitch—Method whereby cards are dealt by the dealer from deck(s) held in the dealer’s hand. Playing Efficiency—Measurement of the power of a card-counting system for “play-of-hands” decisions. where the undealt cards (“cutoffs”) from a shoe are placed in various points of the cards in the discard tray. which automatically read tens or aces. resulting in the creation of one group. minus number. Play Variation—Play of a hand that differs from that prescribed by basic strategy. which is assigned to a specific card in the deck (also called “tag value”). Rating—Method where the pit keeps track of how much money a player puts into action. Running Count—The cumulative count maintained based on the point values of the cards already dealt. Plugging—One of the first steps in the shuffle routine.

either given directly to the dealer or in the form of a bet placed on the dealer’s behalf. usually when four or more decks are used. Third Base—Seat to the far left of the blackjack table. Ten-Value Card—Tens. Toke Box—Small clear box. Soft Hand—A hand in which an ace is present and can be counted as 1 or 11. from the player’s view. with a slot used for the dealer to deposit chips received as tips. Stand—Either the player’s request or the dealer’s requirement not to be dealt any additional cards. Toke—Tips. jacks. Unbalanced Count—A count system in which the total of all the plus-value cards combined with the total of all the minus-value cards do not add up to zero. queens. Stiff—A hand totaling 12-16.Shoe—Device used to hold cards. True Count—The value determined by a formula of taking the running count and dividing it by the number of undealt decks or half-decks. and kings all have a value of ten. available for the player’s viewing. which is dealt face up. Upcard—One of the dealer’s first two cards. normally maintained on the left side of the table from the player’s view. .

Blaine has excelled both solo and as a blackjack-team player and leader. Well-versed in all aspects of winning blackjack play. . Blaine has earned a significant (mid-seven-figure) second income and traveled the world playing blackjack. He is particularly well-known in blackjack circles for his ability to teach new players how to beat the game.About the Author Rick “Night Train” Blaine is a career executive with a Fortune 500 company whose hobby for the past 25 years has been beating the casinos at blackjack. He lives in New York.

. tournaments. and other advantage-play techniques—it’s all here. This book covers everything from basic strategy to counting cards. mitigating the risk of identity theft by casino and credit-agency employees. the techniques you’ll learn in Blackjack Blueprint can be used part-time as a money-making hobby.Play Blackjack Like a Pro– Without Becoming One! From the first turn of the card to getting out of a foreign country with a suitcase full of cash. This revised edition contains new information on getting reimbursed for airline tickets to casino destinations. and protecting your personal privacy when making large cash transactions at casinos. Blackjack Blueprint is the most comprehensive book ever written on learning to play blackjack for profit. security while on blackjack-related websites. playing in disguise. from maximizing potential going solo to playing on a blackjack team. outwitting the eye in the sky. Best of all. Casino comps. shuffle tracking. location play. just as author Rick Blaine has used them for years while pursuing a career in finance. negotiating and optimizing rebates on gambling losses. hiding chips and disguising wins.

Endnotes 1 Average Bet x Hands Dealt Per Hour 2 Total Action x 1% .