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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
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

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.

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

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

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 .

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. Casino Countermeasures. Please Identity Theft and Casinos Profiling Through the Players Club Casino Credit Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) .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.

S. 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.

Confidential Nature of Contents 2. Establishment and Implementation of Team Policies 3. Membership 5. Various Tactics That May Be Applied . 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.The Learning Process How to Bet Fine Points Summary The Purple Zone 27 Introduction to Team Play Comparisions of Solo vs. Manager’s Role 4. Procedures for Actual Team Play 7. Testing 6.

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 .8. Quality Control 34 Down Memory Lane The End Zone 35 Assuming the Role of a High-Stakes Player Attitude Preparation. Expenses 9. Safety And Security 10. Distribution of Winnings 11.

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

Cards with rank ten. or king are referred to in the book as “10s. The goal is to present the material in a simple and clear manner. queen. 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. • Evaluate the pros and cons of team play. • Gain or enhance knowledge about tactical approaches to playing a winning game. jack. You’ll be able to: • Determine if card counting is something you have the ability and desire to do successfully. • Master the PLS approach so you can learn the mechanics of almost any card-counting system.Learning System (PLS). 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 . 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. Many of the tactics discussed in this book come from personal experience in actual casino play. refer to the Glossary in the back of the book. • Take the skills acquired from this book and strategically apply them to live casino play. Blackjack Blueprint will provide you with a means to: • Learn other advanced techniques in a progressive manner.” • Don’t be afraid of running into complicated mathematics. If new to the game. • Select a card-counting system that works well for you. As an existing player. a technique that allows you to learn any cardcounting system on the market in the most efficient and simplified manner.

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

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.• live casino play • post-game evaluation The Green Zone Here. you’ll prepare to play high-stakes blackjack and add more to your arsenal. which is needed at this level of play. you’ll fine-tune your skills and develop more tactical approaches to playing a winning game. 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 . 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. Covered in the End Zone are: • high-roller strategies • playing part-time • recommended books and systems . you’re given some final pointers to complete your blackjack education.

The Silver Zone .

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

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

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

This time I arrived as the VIP Room opened for the evening and continued with the aggressive style of play. During several wild sessions throughout the evening and into the early-morning hours. I’m done. I’m glad to be going home. putting my trip total at $5. Took $36. I was on my way. I read through that book chapter by chapter.m.000.000. so I left. Then played Friday afternoon in one final session and won $12. with no other players. I still consider Million Dollar Blackjack to be one of the most informative and entertaining books on the game ever written. I opened up the table. It was a long night/morning! Friday Night/Saturday Morning Decided to sleep a good deal of the day Friday. as the trip was a bit tiring. At the time of this writing. A couple of other players joined the table. I can still confidently walk into a casino and play a winning game. 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.the book and the cards and soon I began reading the book. I was up $46. stopping to practice the drills as they were presented. putting my overall trip total at $51. To this day. After three shoes. Hit the tables at 11:15 p.000 to winning $22.000.900. The swings were wild and I’m pleased I ended up with a decent enough win. . Throughout this book are more details of my experiences with playing the game at various levels—for example.500. to squeeze in one last play before leaving for home. I went from down $50.000 in my last shoe. and got a private table in the VIP Room. how I got involved with blackjack teams and my journey of playing at high-stakes for more than 20 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reason? The computer runs show that the player will lose more hands of 16 by standing than by hitting. But basic strategy tells us to hit the 16. You must play like a machine. By playing perfect basic strategy. once you learn basic strategy. But it would seem that standing would offer the most hope. At times you’ll play basic strategy perfectly and lose hand after hand. because in the long run. A hand of 16 against a dealer’s ten is a losing situation. That’s how I used to think. No hunches. since hitting a 16 will likely result in drawing a high card and busting.5%. making the correct basic strategy plays is to your advantage. It’s not always obvious. a dealer or other players may criticize your play. you’re decreasing a house advantage of more than 2% (the casino’s edge against the average player) to less than . The basic strategy was developed by computer analysis and it’s mathematically irrefutable. Let’s look at a situation in which the player has a hand of T.4 Basic Strategy Basic strategy is a set of optimal playing decisions based on the player’s cards and the dealer’s upcard. For this reason. hit or stand. it’s essential that you adhere strictly to the play decisions as outlined. You must have nerves of steel and zone out these outside influences. When this happens.6 and the dealer is showing a ten (upcard). That’s all you need to know. 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). Some basic strategy decisions vary based on the number of decks and the rules in effect. but most decisions are consistent through all blackjack games. It’s that simple. At times. Whatever the computer has determined as correct is the proper thing to do. You must learn to play . you must zone it out. Choosing to stand rather than hit will cost you money. subject to the rules of the game you’re playing.

basic strategy flawlessly. • Never split T. A hard-hand total can’t be lowered by counting the ace as 1. 8. as offered in a number of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos. T. 16 vs. 5.5. 6. 5. 4. and 7. 14. 5. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. as any deviations from the proper plays cost you money over time.4 vs. otherwise hit. 4.2. 8. 3.8. otherwise hit. 4.2. otherwise hit. • Double down on all hard totals of 9 vs. otherwise hit. 7. 5. dealer upcard of 4. A. 6. dealer upcard of 2. The above decisions occur more than others throughout the game. dealer upcard of 2. you must remember the distinction between a hard hand and a soft hand. For example. dealer upcard of 2.2. • Split 2. 3. Hit/Stand Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Stand on all hard totals of 17 and higher. 3. otherwise hit.4.3. 4.T or 5. 5. Double Down Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Double down on all hard totals of 11 vs. dealer upcard of 2.4. A hand of A. 6. hit all hands until your cards total 17 or higher. 8. . It can’t be lowered. 4. Following is the basic strategy for a typical multi-deck game. • Stand on hard total of 12 vs. 3. • Double down on all hard totals of 10 vs. • When the dealer is showing an upcard of 7.T is a hard 17. 9. a hand of A. • Split 4. 6. 9. otherwise hit. 15.7 vs. • Stand on hard totals of 13. 9. 6. 7. dealer upcard of 3. Pair Splitting • Always split A. 6. is a soft 17. To apply basic strategy effectively.A or 8. because it can be lowered by counting the ace as 1 to get a hand of 7. otherwise hit. since the ace is already counted as 1. 5. T. 7. 3.

• Split 6.2 or A.6 or A.7 vs. dealer upcard of 4. 6. 6. The player is permitted to double down only only on the initial two cards. The basic strategy for these special rules is different. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. Never Take Insurance Basic Strategy Multi-Deck. 5. otherwise hit. 5.9 vs. There are some rare occasions where a casino permits doubling after one or two hit cards are dealt. • Double down on A.3 vs.7 vs. otherwise stand. Double Down Decisions on Soft-Hand Totals • Double down on A. 3. 5. 3. dealer upcard of 3. • Double down on A. Atlantic City Rules . 7. dealer upcard of 2.5 vs. • Split 9. 4. otherwise hit (except stand with an A. otherwise hit. 8. 4.6 vs. 6. 9 (not 7). 5. otherwise hit. 6. dealer upcard of 2. or 8).4 or A. 4. dealer upcard of 2.

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

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

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 .

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

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

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

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

” Play Variations The final ingredient of a count system is the number of play variations from basic strategy it includes. These counts are called “ace neutralized. If you want more firepower in a system and are confident in your abilities. Of course. and allows longer effective application in live play. such as the Uston SS. • Unbalanced 3-level count. .In systems where the aces are neutral (assigned a value of 0). but the overall gain is usually minimal. such as the Zen Count. such as the Unbalanced Zen II. is easy to learn. There’s quite a range among systems. based on what the author chooses to include—some have only a few variations. including any of these: • Unbalanced 2-level count. the more complex. such as the Uston APC. 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. Such a system yields a playing advantage. • Balanced 3-level count with true-count conversion. the more difficult to learn and the more chance of error in live application. you can try a more challenging count system. • Balanced 1-level count with true-count conversion. Examples of such a count are the Knock-Out and the Red 7 counts. a player must maintain a separate side count of aces and make an additional adjustment to properly determine the betting amount. an unbalanced one-level system with approximately 20 play variations is all that’s needed. • Balanced 2-level count with true-count conversion.” 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. What Do You Do? For most players. such as the Hi-Lo. while others have more than 100.

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

Repeat this drill until you can flip through the cards reciting their values accurately and without hesitation. Drill Number Three Mix the 13 cards back into the full deck and shuffle it. flip through each of the 13 cards reciting the point value of each card as you encounter it. Now flip through the entire deck of 52 cards. Continue practicing until you’re fast and accurate. Flip though the shuffled cards. you’re ready to go to the next progression. 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.Drill Number One With the cards in the sequence as outlined. and then the 0-value cards. Drill Number Two Shuffle the 13 cards. reciting the point value of each one as you encounter it. When you can flip through the deck of 52 cards reciting the point values quickly and accurately. reciting the point value of each card as you go. Tip: You may find it easier to organize the cards by grouping the plus values. . the minus values.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Three .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 .

While the systems presented in this chapter provide more power. . I remind you once again to keep your ego in check and only use a system that you can play with total accuracy. 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. 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. The learning sequences of the PLS outlined in the previous chapters can be applied to the systems presented here.

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

The following is a . Expert-Level Counts There are 3-level and even 4-level balanced-count systems available. 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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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
Answers to Drill Number Five

Answers to Drill Number Six

Answers to Drill Number Seven

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.
Train every other day (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) for one-two
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
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Zone .

you may find that you don’t have the proper funds readily available for a sufficient bankroll. even if you determine that you can only afford playing low stakes. (This is also a good idea. Can you afford to put the required bankroll at risk. should not be touched. After reviewing your finances. Do not attempt to play higher-stakes blackjack with an insufficient bankroll. On this point. college tuition for your children. etc. deposit your winnings (you hope) into this account. Money of this type should be in separate accounts for the intended purposes. However. If this is the case. 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. This will be your personal “21” account. you should consider taking a break from playing.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. if this account goes to zero balance. On the other hand. as this bank account has the potential to grow into a sufficient amount for higher stakes in time. After each trip. take those funds and open a separate bank account or investment account. you may have the necessary funds for the next level of play. Perhaps at a later date. At this point. you may be ready to increase your playing stakes. Funds for a down payment on a house. Once you’ve determined you have adequate funds. there are several things you should consider first. without jeopardizing your normal living expenses? This requires serious consideration.) How do you determine what is sufficient funding for a bankroll? . my recommendation is to stick to low stakes.

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

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

–4 a.13 Interaction with Casino Personnel While playing. provided by a school specializing in instruction of dealing casino games or an in-house casino training program. Most casino employees work a basic eight-hour shift. Some casinos also fear that if a dealer stays too long at the same table. it’s wise to give dealers regular breaks to minimize the chance of their making errors. standing on one’s feet and performing the duties involved in the job.–noon.m. It’s common to see a dealer working your table for up to one hour. you interact with casino personnel. Here’s the basic chain of command within the casino staff: Dealers Obviously. there are three shifts. then taking a 20-minute break. Day shift is noon–8 p. he or she . swing shift is 8 p. Since most casinos are open 24 hours. as well as take specified breaks after dealing for a certain period of time.m. the dealers may rotate the tables where they deal. and graveyard shift is 4 a. Dealers are usually trained in more than one casino game. There are several reasons for this.. Note: These times vary from casino to casino. Relief dealers fill in at the tables while the regular dealer is on break.m. along with the totaling of the numerous hands dealt.m. you’ll have the most interaction with these folks. is tedious and mentally tiring. Considering the accuracy required for all the payoffs of winning wagers. 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. One of the most important is that dealing.. This chapter gives you a basic idea of the “who’s who” in the business. Most have completed a course or training program.

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

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

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

as well as monitoring casino personnel working the floor.” The host will give you a business card. the casino manager ensures that the player is extended the highest level of comps the casino has to offer. and bosses—is representative of the gaming operations area.” is responsible for .Casino Manager The shift managers for all three shifts report directly to the casino manager. Since the host wants you to put money in action. 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. floorpersons. Casino Hosts The above chain of command—dealers. ask you some questions about yourself. you may have contact with hosts. manned by individuals monitoring the activities of all the customers. a well-dressed man or woman with a huge smile may approach you. and just make some generally brief (you hope) small-talk. To learn more about the inner workings of casino marketing. In the marketing area. It may appear to be a difficult task to juggle all this. In this case. if it becomes evident that you’re distracted. The casino manager normally interacts with only the highest of high rollers playing in the casino. Casino Surveillance Throughout the casino are many cameras and two-way mirrors from above the casino floor. look the host straight in the eye. Take your time when trying to keep the count. about a line of credit. Ask questions about the casino. While you’re playing. play your hand. my name is ____ and I’m a casino host here. and talk to the host. and say “Hi. but it can be accomplished with some practice. Keep talking until the shuffle (if you can). probably trying to keep track of the running count. who runs the entire gaming operation. and talk. about the restaurants. extend a hand. This form of surveillance. When this occurs. you can stop playing (if the count is negative). known as the “eye in the sky. If this visit occurs during a positive count. I recommend reading Deke Castleman’s Whale Hunt in the Desert. he’ll leave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trespass Act—If you’ve already been formally barred from a casino and attempt to return to play 21. you run the risk of being arrested for trespassing. of such. You’ll be told that you must leave the premises immediately and are no longer permitted to reenter the casino at any time. You’re welcome to play any other casino game offered. a pit boss may approach.or double-deck games.. cheating). Flat-Bet or Bet-Spread Restriction—A pit boss may approach you. The Formal Barring—A pit boss will approach. Since probable cause can be and has proven to have been used as a lame excuse to detain players. Getting Backed Off—A pit boss will approach you and ask you to step away from the table to speak with you. whereby exhibiting . casinos are known to take this cheap shot. the first thing you should do is insist on speaking to the Director of Surveillance to demonstrate the evidence of the obvious false accusation. such as a surveillance video. However. there’d better be irrefutable evidence. informing you that if you wish to continue playing 21. The Surveillance Department is separate from Table Games Operations and Security. as well as the inner workings of the casinos. In the rare event that a casino attempts to force you into a back room under the guise that they believe you were cheating. the casino does have the right to detain you if they have “probable cause” to believe that you’ve committed an illegal act (e.g. possibly accompanied by a uniformed security guard. 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. informing you that if you wish to continue playing 21. If a decision has been made to detain you.players. It’s good to be aware of your legal rights. Restriction to Shoe Games Only—After observing your playing single. and ask you to step away from the table to speak with you. you may do so only on shoe games. you’ll have to either flat bet (bet the same amount each hand) or spread only 3-1 (or whatever they decide). 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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
• 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
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
• Does not order liquor to drink, but most commonly bottled water or
• 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.)

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
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
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
Once again, all this must appear to come naturally to you, and not be

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

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

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

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

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

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

or buy something in a retail shop. Am I saying you shouldn’t use a players card? No. if the purchase is made using a credit card. If you care about your privacy and use a players card. so you’ll come back. and lose more money. give them the bare minimum you need to to get what you want. gamble.” Send a customer an offer for a free room and there’s a good chance he’ll be a return visitor. With this in mind. using a players card is beneficial. purchase show tickets. After providing the casino with all that information about yourself. that information is captured. The main reason for gathering this information is to enable the casino to market to you. play golf. 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. I recommend that you take measures to limit the information casinos can obtain about you. which is to say.present your card when you eat. if not mandatory. addresses. Throw in a free meal or two? The odds of the return visit have just increased. However. as well as its ability to invade an individual’s personal . Yes. be aware that it comes at the price of privacy. 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. When a player has points on a players card. 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. to get the highest return. he feels obligated not to “let the points go to waste. 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. 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.

the player’s personal information is in its database.privacy. your name is checked against that database when you check in. While Global Cash Access provides identity verification of casino patrons to protect all parties from identity theft. Casino Credit Services can provide casinos with a dossier of all a subject’s recorded casino activities. or any such amount.000 and the casino is required to identify you. he probably has a players card with an account number and the casino should already have the information in its system.. The CTR details the customer’s name. Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Federal law requires casinos to report all currency transactions in excess of $10.000 (or its equivalent in other currencies). If the customer refuses to provide this. Notice the phrase “totaling more than $10. identifying any customer who conducts a cash transaction or series of cash transactions totaling more than $10. address.000. and Social Security number. your total buy-ins are $11. $7.000.000 in a gaming day. he will no longer be permitted to engage in cash transactions of any type.000 in chips. buy-ins have to exceed the $10. which is accessible by any number of casino employees worldwide. At some casinos. A casino is required to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with the IRS. The stated purpose of this requirement is to thwart laundering of money used to finance terrorist activities. It could be $5. and other crimes. date of birth.000 mark. some casinos have specific thresholds at which they won’t allow further buy-ins for an unidentified player. one who won’t surrender ID when first asked. I’ll bet you didn’t know how invasive the simple process of getting a hotel room could be. a casino employee will ask for a form of government identification. then later in the day go to a different table and buy another $6.000 in chips. The casino staff tracks cash buy-ins and attempts to identify anyone who looks like a threat to exceed the threshold early on. Casinos have historically been targets for these practices. drug trafficking. If not. If the customer is a regular player.e. It is federal law to report a cash transaction . Here is an important point.000 in a gaming day. i.” If you go to a table game and buy $5. Officially. In fact.

000 = federal law. and ask to buy in for another $3. After that initial $5. Privacy problems can arise out of the blue as a result of CTR issues. that transaction will likely accrue toward your total. but once you cash them. If you attempt to cash in $10.000 cash down in exchange for chips. An ID request resulting from cash transactions below $10. at which point you’ll be asked for ID. That is not an additional physical exchange of currency. So playing with chips you’ve won shouldn’t trigger a CTR.000 in cash transactions.000.000 and leave the table with a total of $17.000 in chips. They include the following: . you will be watched very closely from that point on.000.000 buy-in. A simple way to view this is as follows. The regulations as outlined under the Bank Secrecy Act clearly define a currency transaction as the physical exchange of currency between two parties. it’s not uncommon to buy in for something like $9. But keep in mind that if a casino asks for ID and you refuse to provide it. you’re using casino chips to play. An ID request resulting from cash transactions exceeding $10. Now. including any other cash transactions you’ve made that day. that is a physical exchange of currency. However. The same goes for buying in for chips with cash at a table. get on a bad run.001 in chips. any requirement to obtain ID prior to the $10.000.exceeding $10. If you refuse. For example. say you win $12. It only becomes defined as an exchange when you go to the cashier and exchange those chips for cash.000 = internal casino policy. When you go to a casino gaming table and place $5. Casino policy may impose additional actions or requirements of identification when cashing out chips. the casino is within its legal rights to refuse to allow the additional buy-in. the casino cannot legally give you the cash unless it has information (obtained from a government ID) on file. That means you don’t have to produce ID prior to $10.000 point is solely dictated by internal casino procedures and not by federal law. or possibly even backed off.

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

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

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

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

The Black Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowledge of Bottom Card After the Cut A sloppy dealer may expose the bottom of the deck(s) while completing the cut. With this information.S. If these three cards are low value cards. This is good information.075 Use of Device for Calculating Probabilities: It is unlawful for any person at a licensed gaming establishment to use. 1985. or possess with intent to use. In keeping track of the cards played. cutting a 5 out of play gives you an advantage off the top. a bill in the state of Nevada went into effect. Nevada Statute 465. If you’re fortunate enough to catch the bottom card before the cut and after the cut. On July 1. Use of a Concealed Computer This is a felony offense in most U. you have three cards to incorporate into your count. or 4. 3. In projecting the outcome of the game. as you can incorporate the value of the bottom card. If you catch the bottom card before and after the cut. You can incorporate its value into your count. where that card will end up not being dealt. whereby anyone caught using a computer in a casino would be subject to up to a $10.cut high. you can place a larger bet off the top. into your count. you have two cards to incorporate into your count. 2. In many single-deck games. any device to assist: 1.000 fine and/or 10-year jail sentence. jurisdictions. Knowledge of this information also can justify placing a larger bet right off the top. which will not be dealt. you’re playing at a nice advantage off the top of a handdealt game and can bet accordingly. . 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. In analyzing the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to the game. in addition to the burn card. which won’t be dealt. In analyzing the strategy for playing or betting to be used in the game.

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

If you’re comped a room in a specific hotel-casino. If you see a low card. so as not to overexpose yourself on any given shift. it minimizes the amount of time you’ll be required to play in that casino. play there only the days you’re staying as a hotel guest (this applies to players working to satisfy comp requirements). It’s a good idea to stay a maximum of two nights at a hotel. The majority of the big-money advantage players stick to shoe games. Exposure of the burn card—You can use this information in your count before the first hand is dealt. cut high to get that card out of play and include this card in the count. 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. Especially here. Although this means changing hotels during a trip. which they consider safer from detection. 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 low to get that card into play. thus minimizing your exposure. Mix up your play between all three shifts of a casino. It’s still possible to play a winning game against double-deck games using some careful tactics and modifications to the textbook strategies. . Exposure of the bottom card after the cut—You can use this information in your count before the first hand is dealt.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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When booking your trip through the airline’s vacation package desk.” Booking your trip through them. By booking through the airline’s vacation package desk. I was quoted the following deal: Airfare + two nights hotel per person: $302—late-night flights $321—normal flights Yes. The casino/hotels make rooms available for such discounted airfare/hotel packages. When . you can end up paying less in airfare than you normally would. you read that correctly. if you can deal with them.When shopping around for the best airfares. it’s not necessary to stay over a Saturday. you’ll usually bump up against some restrictions. Many airlines have a “vacation package desk. but the room also included. giving me the ability to save my comp for a later date. such as you need to stay over a Saturday and book at least 14 days in advance. I found the following. 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. 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. For the absolute lowest rates. You can extend your stay to more than two nights without paying more for the package and use your comp for those additional nights. 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. I ended up with not only a lower airfare. referred to as “red-eyes”).

check the Sunday issue of the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Date-book” section and for Las Vegas. which may contain special room discounts or two-nights-for-the-price-of-one specials. you’re under no obligation to actually pick up the car. he’ll evaluate your play to determine if your action warrants a full room comp. which lists current room specials in various casinos. you can book the flights for any days. In this method. along with a car rental included in the price. Saving Money on Hotel Rooms For popular casino cities such as Reno and Lake Tahoe. Tell the host you’re a rated player at (name a few casinos) and interested in checking out his club. Call various casinos in the city you’re planning to visit and ask for a casino host. Check for a coupon in funbooks (coupon books given out by casinos) you may have from a previous visit. If you have Internet a hotel/air package. 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. you can surf numerous websites that may list special deals for hotel rooms in casino towns. this is a good deal. Then ask if a room can be arranged for you. You can also book a “fly/drive” package. with the car rental price included. Now that we have some strategies to get you to your destination. without the restriction of booking the additional hotel nights through them. where you’re not required to book a hotel at all. as long as you book the hotel for minimum of two nights. check the Los Angeles Times’ “Calendar” section. 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. Booking directly through the hotel reservations desk will usually result in being quoted the highest room rate. . 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. the airline vacation package desk will get you the same super-discounted airfare.

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

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

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

Airline-Ticket Reimbursement As you become an established player in a casino.000 on deposit at the start of a three-day stay. the common requirement was a minimum of 12 hours play. Although your play may not warrant a total reimbursement for the ticket(s). If the tickets total $2. Many casinos reimburse airfare only for players who stay at the hotel. you can ask. If you’re a non-discriminating diner. you may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of your airline tickets. In this case. then that’s all he’ll receive. In the past. the casino may have some additional criteria that must be met. Limited (“RFL”). In this case.600. he may be eligible for airfare reimbursement based on his actual loss of $16. the player loses $16. provided certain criteria are met. a player comes out betting heavy and loses all his front money before reaching the minimum hourly requirement. if applicable. Food.000 regardless of hours played and average bet size. Sometimes. After playing nine hours. all he’ll get is $1. such as a minimum requirement for hours played. although the player didn’t meet the terms for reimbursement based on theoretical loss (he’s light on hours played). If he presents tickets totaling only $400. A $200 average bet is probably the minimum to qualify for some sort of airfare rebate. The next step is for the player to present copies of his ticket and the ticket of his traveling companion. When calculating a player’s eligibility for a comp such as airfare reimbursement. Other requirements may be a minimum amount of front money on deposit or a minimum credit line.600. this player is eligible for up to $1. Airfare reimbursement at this casino requires a minimum of 12 hours play at a minimum average bet of $200. to determine the total reimbursement. representing a partial . If your casino host doesn’t offer this to you. If the casino’s policy is to reimburse 10% of a player’s actual loss toward the cost of airline tickets.not hinder your playing ability).400.000 with a recorded $500 average bet. you may qualify for a partial rebate. you may be able to further negotiate your comp by having the casino limit your food comps to a certain dollar amount. the casino may elect to reimburse based on actual loss. Such negotiated comps fall under the category of Room. Take a situation where a player puts $20.

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

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

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

thereby needing a better loss rebate to participate if you do.25% of the total action wagered for the trip. a betting and playing strategy must be devised that preserves a player advantage beyond the point the casino establishes as the minimum-play amount. is developing such a tool. shows.000 in front money and play it through a minimum of five times to be eligible for a rebate on losses. beverage. you get the comps as outlined. 3. 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. and if the criteria are met to justify a loss rebate. it decreases the amount of cash you can walk with.of play. but Norm Wattenberger. food. creator of the Casino Verite software products.000 in front money or a credit line that’s turned over a minimum of five times for a 15% rebate on losses. For example. 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. 5. complimentaries are added in based on . But here’s the important part: You have to do this without looking like a card counter or an otherwise similarly competent player. win or lose. and airfare are applied toward the loss rebate. Since you’ll experience some winning trips. 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. The best programs offer a loss rebate and complimentaries independent of one another. With this program. Currently. A typical scenario might be that a player is required to deposit $500. Determine how soon a new “trip” can commence after settlement of a . Based on the rebate deal. 4. Knowing the proper stopping point is a key element in forming an optimal strategy. 2. nothing on the market can formulate these strategies. Additionally. a program might require $100. you get that in cash—in addition to the comps. Loss rebates work best as stand-alone programs that don’t incorporate other complimentary offers. If comps such as room. The strategy needs to ensure that he’s playing at an advantage after putting this amount of money in action with the rebate considered.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Casinos dealing blackjack can be found in many countries around the globe. Also. This is where the dealer does not take a second card (hole card) until all players have played their hands. the games can be a bit different from those found in the U.S. Penetration can vary widely.8 vs.S.24 Blackjack Outside the U. When playing with this rule.S.. As always. 11 vs. casinos. you need to adjust your basic strategy as follows: 1. A 4.8 vs. A Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Bet Spreads. Different Rules The most common rule you will find in play outside the USA is the “nohole-card” rule. there’s an additional spin on this rule. If you possess a strong bankroll. such a bet spread may overcome this type of game. Blackjack opportunities do exist around the world. which can be both good and bad. T 5. While a typical game found in casinos throughout Europe is a 6-decker with less than desirable rules. T 2. A. where after a double down or split. when the dealer’s second card makes a blackjack.A vs. 11 vs. Penetration. and Heat Players can get away with higher bet spreads in many countries outside the U. you can increase your edge by spreading your bets accordingly. 8.S. 8. but a player needs to do additional homework to identify potentially profitable situations. In many places. based on several variables. the player loses both the initial wager and the amount put up for the double down or split. just as it does within the U. A 3. this factor should be the key to determining whether a game is .

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

Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 For the examples in this chapter. since the rates quoted are considered just a “quote. Translated to our purposes: SCENARIO “A”—You have US$100. General Info If you check a local financial newspaper listing exchange rates. Using the “for-information-purposes-only” rate in the above example. Having a local player guiding you around in a foreign country is an invaluable asset.9059. dollar. Such players have reciprocally hosted one another during visits to their respective countries.” 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).S. Electronic Pen-Pals Some players worldwide participate regularly in some of the blackjack websites and communicate with one another.590. it may be more prudent to keep the money on you. Alongside. especially if you’re staying at a smaller hotel. Currency Laws Be aware of the various regulations with respect to bringing currencies into or out of the country.000 in exchange. You arrive at your European destination with €90. you return home with €90.10387 and receive US$100. we will use U. you might also see a rate quoted as 1. in addition to your being detained.10387.10 for one euro.000 and purchase euro at a rate of . Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in having all your money confiscated. dollars and the euro (€).950 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. rather than in a hotel safe.exercise caution. In this case. After a break-even play. you might see the euro trading at . indicating that you’d receive US$1. In reality. which is the amount in euro you’d receive for one U. a more realistic translation would be as follows: .9059.S. the above scenario is not common.

but lost US$1.8950 1. this service was extended to me without any commission.117 Sell: . your exchange transactions would resemble Scenario “A” above.639.10387 = . you return home with €89.g.SCENARIO “B”—You have US$100. you can determine the flipside by dividing 1 by the quoted rate (e.. You arrive at your European destination with €89.500 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1.9059 = 1. When funds are wired back to you. where you wire US$ to their account held in their local bank. which is locked in. After a break-even play. If you play a break-even game. When you’re receiving reimbursement for airfare. Based on the above transactions. You’ll want to ensure the rate used is the same in both of these steps and that it’s done when you settle.10387. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage (usually the latter). They establish a rate for your buyin.50 due to the cost of exchanging currency. In my past trips.500.9059). You played a break-even game.099 (. they use a spot rate to convert the amount you give the receipt (the US$ amount) and convert it to a euro amount.360.10387 Buy: .099 Note: In the event only currencies are listed in one of these columns. they will be once again converted back to US$ the day they are wired to your account back home.S. depending on the strength of the currency involved at that time. If you end your play with a win. or 1/1. Method to Minimize Loss on Currency Exchange Best Method—Some casinos provide a nice service.9100 1. account).9059 1.50 in exchange.8950 (1.9100) and receive US$98. . 1/. your winnings are converted at a spot rate (the rate at the moment the bank wires the funds back to your U.000 and purchase Euro at a rate of .117). here is how the exchange rate chart would appear: Quote: .

. and do it first thing in the morning. do so on a banking day (not a Saturday or Sunday).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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break the 6-deck stack into two equal 3-deck piles. Illustration 10 shows what the pre-shuffle stack will look like in the discard tray. 9. from the player’s view. 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). 10.8. The other pile will be “Pile B” (see . representing the ¾-deck tops. “Pile A” on the right. will contain the cards with the colored edge.

as represented by the marked edges. 12.Illustration 11). 11. you’ll know the value of 50% of the cards within the bottom 1½-deck segment. 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. notwithstanding how many more cards are dealt to complete the round as the cut-card appears. Grab 39 cards (¾-deck) from Pile A. then grab the same amount from Pile B. Result—The 1½-deck segment located on the bottom of the post-shuffle stack contains all the tops. creating your final stack. then place the riffled cards in a prominent spot between the two piles. Let’s assume your running count for the ¾-deck is -7. Note: In a real-world environment. You’ll need to estimate when the first round of the tops will be dealt in relation to the appearance of the cut-card. Repeat Step 11. so all the cards have been shuffled three more times and the final stack is complete (see Illustration 12). riffle them together.

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

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

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

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. In the training exercises. one of the first things you do is map it on paper to determine and verify that it can tracked. I used scenarios given a perfect world. You’ll find. 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. For the purpose of this chapter. This provides you with the ability to perform what is called “Best-Half Tracking. When identifying a shuffle. Many players have studied and applied this skill for many years. you know the value of 50% of the entire post shuffle stack. For the real nuts-and-bolts on the subject. we used one simple shuffle. “This is only the tip of the iceberg. Arnold Snyder’s Blackbelt in Blackjack also has a chapter devoted to shuffle tracking. which combines the Shuffle Tracking Series that appeared in Snyder’s Blackjack . You’ll need to adjust for that. In the examples. we assume the cut-card is exactly at the 1½-deck point.of -13 for each of those 1½-deck segments. We didn’t cover this aspect. but the resources listed below provide the necessary details on mapping shuffles.” They’re correct. As a result. Such practitioners reading this chapter would shake their heads in unison. a dealer who varies the size of the picks. You’ll need to know how to adjust for it. this is a nice progression from what you read in this chapter. thinking. study The Shuffle Tracker’s Cookbook. The next recommended step in training for zone tracking is to read Shuffle Tracking for Beginners by George C. These are just some of the many considerations you need to address if you wish to continue studying zone-tracking. by Arnold Snyder and published by Huntington Press.” Summary The intent of this chapter was to provide a basic foundation for the reader wanting to learn how to track shuffle zones. An easy-to-follow book. more often than not.

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

Some of the different types of location play are: ace location. ace location. You have to identify certain aspects of the shuffle routine in order to analyze the potential to apply such advantage-play techniques. we focus on the most common form of location play.5% advantage. 4♣. Shuffles that may be effective for zone tracking might not be effective for location play. an astute player can identify methods to locate specific cards after the shuffle. . you have a 50. Pick up the cards from the player’s view. 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. Next. While observing different types of shuffles. For the purpose of this chapter. but also from dealer to dealer within the same casino. place those cards intact in a random spot within the deck of cards (Illustration 2). When dealt an ace as your first card playing a 6deck game. Introductory Exercise Try this exercise using a complete deck of cards. left to right (Illustration 1). A♠. aceten combination. 5♥. and zone location. Step 1.26 Location Play Shuffles vary not only from casino to casino. string-sequence (several cards in order) location. Step 2. Place the following four cards in this order on a table from left to right: 6♦. as most casino dealers would from their view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat this drill several times. followed immediately by your ace target card (see Illustration 14). The 9♣ represents the second of the three unknown cards following your third key card. see how accurate you are at predicting whether each card is a key card. Therefore. with three unknown cards separating each. and finally the 9♣. With that knowledge. All three key cards have been dealt in the appropriate order. the last card dealt in the round. 4♠ appeared immediately followed by the 4♦. Since there’s a three-card separation between keys. Step 6. place the 6 decks back in the shoe and begin dealing three spots. an unknown card. you’d expect the first card dealt in the next round to be the third unknown card. as a result of two riffles. 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. Your third key card. Keep a record of your hits . A good method to test your accuracy in this drill is to stop dealing as soon as you see your first key card. or the ace target card. you’d place a large bet on your second hand.Step 5. The layout of Illustration 13 shows a round where your key cards appear. Before you flip over each subsequent card. Without shuffling.

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

a third in the middle. One crucial element you need to look for is where the dealer places the cutoffs prior to performing the actual shuffle. If you’re aware of specific or approximate locations where the cutoffs are placed. Specifically. with a third placed one deck below the top. you want to be aware of situations where the dealer plugs the cutoffs. you can avoid going for sequences in those areas.It’s important to perform some advance scouting of specific dealers. After scouting a dealer. . in addition to house shuffle procedures. In this case. You may come across a dealer who “triple plugs” the cutoffs. 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). These segments would likely not be affected by plugs. 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. Those are the segments in which you’ll look for potential sequences. and a third placed one deck above the bottom (see Illustration 16). you’ll be able to identify the segments that won’t be intermingled with plugs. 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.

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

The dealer is showing a ten and your third hand is a total of 14. When incorporating this form of strategy. In doing so. If you’re playing with one or more partners at the table. A sloppy dealer can provide more opportunities. 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. Let’s take a situation where you’re playing three spots. you would sacrifice taking the card. you direct the 6 into the dealer’s hand. The players each receive two cards. you’re increasing the chance of winning or “saving” your other two large bets. 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. let’s assume your two of three key cards appeared. This is just one of many examples of how you can direct cards to the dealer. Dealers A key to finding a desirable game for location play is identifying a consistent dealer. which likely is going to appear next. The dealer doesn’t give himself the second card until all the players complete the play of their respective hands. for a two-card total of 16. while the dealer takes only one card dealt face-up.” This type of dealer is consistent in the size of segment picks and placement of plugs. with large bets on the first two and a small bet on the third. as well as keep specific cards away from the dealer. However. Your basic strategy play would be to take a hit card. provided that dealer is consistently sloppy! . thereby increasing the chance of the dealer busting. By making plays on that hand that may sacrifice losing your table minimum bet.other card that will bust the dealer. A consistent dealer is one who consistently performs a “fine riffle. you can direct that bust card to the dealer by not taking any further hit cards. along with an unknown card following the second key. this helps facilitate playing additional spots to further ensure a target ace card is directed away from the dealer. you place a table minimum bet on the third spot. If your third key card is a 6. standing on your 14 instead.

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.

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.

Purple Zone

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
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:

Team of
10 Players




Maximum Bet:



Average Bet (Estimate):



Hands Dealt Per Hour:



Total Action1:


(for 1 player per hour)

Win Rate Per Hour2:


$140 (for one player)

Hours of Play Daily:


80 (for the team)

Total Daily Win per player:



Total Expected Daily Win:


$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.

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

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

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

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
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
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.

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

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

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

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

With Ursula’s $8. He informed me that he had lost $5.000. Rory lost $5. 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. She was not having problems with the pit and was able to get away with more than a sufficient bet spread. Rory. She hadn’t yet been able to meet up with Rory. following a phone call from Vic this morning. That Friday I’m scheduled to take a week off from work. the team was down $13. First. so I told her to take a break and wait until shift change.500 after three hours of play in one casino. My big dilemma the past couple of days has been trying to figure out what spa I should go to for a short visit. The results of Devon and Regina were still unknown. We needed to address the problem of available cash. Even though the team is in Vegas.000 loss.000 for the trip. there was only a total of $10. I .000. then go back out to play during the remainder of graveyard shift.000 loss and Rory’s $5. where Ursula.000.000. then play with a lower maximum bet. A second reason is that I wanted to give Rory an opportunity to run the team trip independently. I’m in desperate need of at least a couple of days of plain old rest and relaxation. and the overall team bank was now back down $24. Among the three of them. I phoned in time for the team meeting. I told her to take a break. we were now down more than 50% of our bank. since her action has been well accepted there.000 and Vic was the big winner. I have several reasons for this. I instructed them to go out and play. Also. the available cash was a crucial issue at this point. Rory lost another $3. Ursula phoned and informed me that she lost an additional $2. she informed me that she lost $4.300. It looks like this will no longer be a problem. She was low on bankroll. A couple of hours later. so I could evaluate if he’s qualified to do so on a regular basis. I deliberately didn’t make plans to join the trip.000.000 and Ursula lost another $2. With these new numbers.Ursula this morning. and Vic were all present.500. Ursula had lost the remainder of her bankroll. Devon was scheduled to arrive shortly with roughly $9. with each of them taking $3. just about all of my free vacation time has been utilized for blackjack play. having not played a hand.

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

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

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

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

Ursula scored a nice win and was paid with $5. Mid-September We haven’t played since the trip two weeks ago. Since I didn’t plan on any further play that evening. so we were indeed making a comeback. I’m taking the necessary steps to protect everyone’s investment.000 each. I was confident that this was not the case. The fact that I initiated this action would put everyone a bit more at ease because. However. I do feel it is a good idea to have them both take these tests. we would hope to clear up any questions the others might have on this issue. It would also alert the others that at any given time. The team as a whole has played 1. still holding some of their chips. When I got inside. as manager. I was now up a nice amount for the trip. any team member could be subject to the same test. A few of the others didn’t feel that the tests were necessary. where we ran up a moderate tab. The overall position of the team is that we’re down just under 50 percent of our starting bank. By doing so. I hoped Ursula and Rory had done well too. After lunch. I then returned to one of the casinos where I’d played earlier. Personally. Ursula scored a dinner comp at this casino. I made some inquiries on getting a referral to someone living in Las Vegas who’d be interested in .000 chips among her winnings. I made the suggestion that perhaps we could subject both of them to lie-detector tests. while two of the players were very much in favor of initiating them. I sat down and aggressively spread for one hour of play. and won some more in one hour of play. I trust both of them and would be very surprised if they were being dishonest in their dealings with the team. I decided to propose an alternative action. After checking into a different casino/hotel.Ursula. thus permitting us to go forward. I polished off a bottle of sake. I found one double-deck game open with two other players. Of everyone’s individual results. We were concerned about these high-denomination chips raising red flags when we were cashing out. Rory lost only a small amount. where I scored a nice win. I took a taxi over to an off-Strip casino. Vic and Rory are down close to $30.007 hours with six of us having put in more than 100 hours each. Anticipating that some of the team members might question the level of honesty of these two individuals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

65% of actual win).000. such as the following: 5% of adjusted hourly EV of all players. Note: These are just a few examples of some methods to compensate a manager. Example of Win-Bonus Total EV “goal” = $5.000 in excess of EV).000 ($2. and expenses.000 (bonus to manager). expenses = $2.000. Percentage of adjusted hourly EV of all players. then the manager has a $10.500. Actual win = $7. 25% of $2. (I believe that this method isn’t fair. with win-bonus incentive. If 10 investors each put in $20.” Percentage of adjusted hourly expected value (“EV”) of all players.000 may have $500 or an agreed-upon amount taken out up front. as well as combine any or all of these methods in a total compensation package. which becomes the manager’s compensation in the form of an investment on the manager’s behalf. In this method. Net to Investor = $4. 5% bonus on overall win at year-end. A win-bonus share in the amount of 25% of the win in excess of the established total team adjusted hourly EV.000 investment for the manager. provided the investor’s return is at least 50% of the total win after salaries. You can get creative within any one method.Commission percentage upon conclusion of a winning bank. the manager receives nothing. bonuses. Salaries. 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. If the team experiences a losing bank.000.000.000. .000. bonuses. as it’s purely “result-driven.000. an investor submitting $20. Gross Return to Investor = $5. this amounts to a $5.000.”) A portion of each investment is allocated as an investment on behalf of the manager.000 (approx. If the agreed-upon amount is $1.000.000 “free-roll.000.000.000 = $500.

Every player on the team has a significant role in achieving the ultimate success. and this method fails to rightfully reward those deserving.Egos. Overall. It’s the job of the manager to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses. competition amongst players is not beneficial to a team working toward a common goal and should be discouraged. A strong leader/manager should possess the necessary skills to form a cohesive and non-competitive group. there’s some merit to the concept. . While this is a bit distracting and can create bad feelings. Another solution is to measure the EV of each player and devise a method of compensation based on such measurement. 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. as long as each player is competent and meeting the team standards. This enables players playing at different bet levels to be compensated accordingly. putting them to use in a manner where strengths are maximized and weaknesses are minimized. With the use of simulators. 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. One common solution is to base a percentage of the winnings on how much a player has individually won. Egos. The problem with this is that players hit a negative swing regardless of how strong or weak they are. How do you measure a “best” player. while players should be encouraged to strive for excellence in play. this is possible (be aware that it may be difficult to accurately measure the effects of multiple strategies).

totaling 100 hours. The overall bank shows a win of $5. the investor is left with only $84. Here are the results: Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $21. While being far from complete. with the winnings distributed at the end of each trip. Method A 50/50 Split of Winnings with Frequent Distributions Let’s take a scenario where you have a two-person team. with one investor and one player. one of the biggest decisions you need to make is how to compensate players for services performed and when. except with the winnings distributed after the completion of the 5 trips: .31 Methods of Player Compensation Whether dealing with a combination of two or 20 players and investors. Method B 50/50 Split of Winnings with One Distribution Let’s take this same scenario with a different payment scheme. the following are some methods used by teams over the years.000.000. but after paying the player. The agreement is for the winnings to be split equally between investor and player. we’ll use the same scenario as in Method A.000 loss after salaries. The investor fronts $100.000 and the player agrees to make five trips.000 or a $16.

is a superb tool to determine the chance of achieving a specified goal after a desired number of hours.000 is divided equally between player and investor. along with a 10% manager commission deducted from the gross win. It could be a requirement that all players also be investors. with added provisions for player expenses. Net Win 50% Investor/50% Player Based on Hours. by QFIT. Expenses and Management Commission Deducted from Gross Win. Here. all the players are also investors. If all player/investors are required to invest the same amount and play a certain numbers of hours (not the case here). 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. resembles the above two methods. Method C Multi-Player-Invested Bank. Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $2.500.Total net win of $5. as depicted in the chart below. If you have one player betting at a range of $50 to $600.500 as a result of the player’s efforts. CVCX software. This method. then the frequency of distributing the winnings doesn’t have an effect on any one participant. 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. while another . Quite a difference between these two methods. A solution here would be to extend the length of play before any winnings are distributed. and the investor earned $2. 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.

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

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

If you decide to pay 25% of adjusted hourly EV. travel) as a cost and deduct from the hourly EV.g. the player receives only 10 hours of pay. creating an adjusted EV figure.030. Deduct $50 from your previously adjusted EV of $1. totaling $2. In this method. the player will have still wages totaling $25.750.000/20 = $50.425 goes to the investor. If after 100 hours. On the other hand. where compensation to players is in a graduated manner based on time commitments. Step 4: Based on overall EV and committed hours. the player gets paid regardless of the results. each player’s EV is determined. the results are negative. and your new adjusted EV is $1. you may want to consider any expenses (e. each player’s pay .nature of the play doesn’t provide for reimbursement by a casino. venues of choice for play.080. If the trip is estimated for 20 hours of play. Example: $1. and stakes. the investor could still end up at a disadvantage. game types.50. having paid salaries. after realizing a losing bank. this method provides the investor with some protection. while providing good incentives for the player(s) and the manager (as applicable). Step 1: A total team bankroll is determined for a one-year cycle (this could be changed). Step 2: Each player is asked to commit to a certain number of hours for the year. along with estimated expenses involved with the proposed play. You decide to pay the player a percentage of this adjusted EV. Method F Player Receives Combination of Hourly Wage + Win Incentive Bonus By decreasing the hourly rate paid to players. the player receives an hourly wage of $257. Step 3: Based on the above.. divide the total expenses by the number of hours and deduct that amount from the hourly EV. However.000 in expenses for the trip.000 win after 10 hours of play.575. if the player scores a $100. If a player is paying $500 for a plane ticket and another $500 for room and meals. you have $1. while the remaining $97.

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 (actual win) is $87. Based on pay schedule. the difference in that amount (that would bring the figure to 40% of actual win) will be . If so. If so. player’s hourly pay increases to 15% of the adjusted EV and trip win percentage increases to 10%. for total adjusted EV goal of $300. player receives $ 62. Player goes 200 hours and wins $350. representing a “performance bonus” for the player.500.500) is $25.000. 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. 50% of $25. 25% of $350. 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.000. out-of-pocket expenses.scale can be established as follows: Hourly adjusted EV is determined and player receives 10% of that EV. and manager commission amounts to less than 40% of total actual team win. 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. After 50% of committed hours are played. Example: Player commits to play 200 hours at an adjusted EV of $1.500 – $62. along with 5% of each trip win until 50% of the committed hours are played.500. Difference in pay ($87.000.000 is $12. a calculation will be performed to determine whether the total pay remitted to all players.500.500 per hour.

Example: Investor paid out a total of $240. The terms provide for the investor to receive a 1% interest distribution on the first of each month. 50% of $50. Difference ($400. After this disbursement.000–$350. You have options! The additional $25. where the investor can realize some return on a monthly or quarterly basis.” it could be distributed to players in accordance with any number of formulas.000) is $50.000.000 is $25. Total out-of-pocket by investor is $350. The allotment of this bonus among players will be based purely on hours played regardless of EV or actual wins.000.000 (actual win) is $400. decreasing the bet range decreases the hourly rate. representing a “performance “bonus” to be divided by all players (or only those players who met their time commitments). the investor receives a percentage of the value of the bank.000. or it could be retained by the investor. In this method. If you’re paying players based on EV.000 could go to the manager as a “manager bonus.000.000. the funds available for play are decreased. Investor paid manager $100. Method G This is actually a complement to the above methods that are pertinent to a long-term bank. which may decrease the bet range.000 for expenses.000. 40% of $1.000 to all players in compensation based on the standard pay schedule.000. each month or quarter. calculated on the value of the bank on that date.determined and all players will divide 50% of that figure. An example: On January 1. Total actual win is $1. This bonus can be calculated by hours played or percentage of win.000.000. a starting bank is $1. On . Note: A problem with overall “team” bonuses is that players showing winning results feel more deserving than those showing losing results. Investor reimbursed players a total of $10.000.

what works for one group may not work for another. 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. Investor Penalties When dealing with more than one investor. $9. the players receive compensation. less expenses and player wages. the investor’s blow is softened in the event of an overall loss. less a penalty. . by withdrawing a percentage on a monthly or quarterly basis. he receives the entitled share of the bank at that time. However. This enables the bank to operate at the same level. Hence. on February 1.000 is distributed to the investor and the new value of the bank is $891. if a single investor elects to bail out prior to the agreed-upon conclusion of a bank. In any event. Although the players receive hourly wages. the bank is at $900.February 1. Here. This section presents just some of the methods that can be used to compensate players on a team. that player is penalized if these hours are not met. This can represent an overall loss for such investor. Penalties Player Penalties If a certain goal is determined or a certain number of hours to which a player must commit is established.000. 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.000. the investor can still end up taking a loss in addition to shelling out wages to players. based on the player results. Remember. this pay rate can be subject to a decrease if the hourly EV is reduced as a result of the investor. One option for the team is to permit others to buy out the shares of the departing investor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. CONFIDENTIAL NATURE OF CONTENTS If you’re sensitive to a high level of confidentiality. 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. background checks. 2. 3. MEMBERSHIP How are players selected? Are references required? Are credit checks. Suggested Wording: This manual is a confidential document and may not be shown to anyone else. The manual is team property and subject to return on demand.33 Outline for a Team Manual 1. Do not bring it on team trips. scheduling. making travel arrangements for players). ESTABLISHMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF TEAM POLICIES Responsibilities of each player. should a player or investor need or wish to withdraw. It should be kept in a safe place at all times. testing. this should be the first thing mentioned. 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. No material in part or whole may be reproduced.g. and/or polygraph tests . bookkeeping. MANAGER’S ROLE Duties and responsibilities need to be outlined (e.

is there a form of re-test? Will a candidate be interviewed and accepted by the team manager only. multi-deck)? Are written tests going to be given for basic strategy? Other skills? General knowledge? Outline the specific testing routine. 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. 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. grading system. and what is considered passing. 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.

it may be determined that such plays were justified. If any decisions are questionable. please note them in comments section. Indicate Yes/No on the following observations: Candidate orders a beverage of some sort Candidate talks to dealer. pit. 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. Score: _________ Comments: Interactions at Table: Candidate is taking proper measures not to look/act like a typical counter. Score: _________ Comments: Appearance: Candidate looks/dresses in accordance with stakes played and casino/town playing in.Candidate Live-Play Evaluation Form Instructions: Based on your observation of candidate’s live play. Score: _________ Comments: Technical Proficiency: Candidate is accurate during live play. 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. After discussion with candidate. Starts and ends session at times committed. and other players Candidate doesn’t wait until last minute to place bet . Shows up when he/she commits to.

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. Candidate is aware of countermeasures employed by pit/dealer and reacts accordingly. Score: _________ Comments: Follows Game Plan: Candidate’s live play is in accordance with what’s outlined in the team game plan.

You Divide by Full Decks: ____ 1/2 Decks: ____ Other: ____. Value Assigned to Ace Is: _____. List Play Variations Used for Game Played: Dealer Shows: Your Hand: At Count of: Variation Is: Simulation Results (to be completed by Evaluator): 6.9= T= A= If Using True Count Conversion. Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play each . If Using Ace Side Count. 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. 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.

VARIOUS TACTICS THAT MAY BE APPLIED Note: This area is subject to preferences based on the knowledge and experience of team management. or can a player use his own? The following is a sample report form: Player’s Trip Report 7. Since tactics used by many teams and individuals are not made public. how will such player be compensated? MONEY MANAGEMENT AND BETTING .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. 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. GAME SELECTION What criteria determine a playable game? Is there a penetration point defined as acceptable vs. for whatever reason. Is there a standard form for reporting. this will be respected.

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. Outline various methods and tricks where tipping may be used as a . valet parking. does he/she play for team or self? If player receives airfare reimbursement.Is the betting scheme denominated in dollars or units? If units. how is the unit size determined? Will the unit size change? If so. who keeps the hard cash? If a player receives special-event tickets and can sell them at a profit. 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. and other employee tips considered a team or a player expense? Outline a precise policy of tipping practices. who is entitled to the cash? Are players required to accept teammates as roommate(s).

outline them. Stress that players should convert all smaller denomination bills into 100s. Employing persons to monitor players in action. wiring of funds or travelers’ checks to facilitate transferring monies for team purposes. Opening checking accounts and safe-deposit rentals as deemed . How often will signals be changed? Outline methods to ensure signals are subtle. SIGNALS If signals are going to be used. Ensure players are aware of reporting requirements for specific cash-out amounts and that players comply with such regulations to avoid breaking any laws. Keep records of all tips in session reports. CASHING OUT Outline procedure for players to verify cashouts before leaving cashier’s window. money orders. 8.tactic during play. bank fees to obtain cashier’s checks. Polygraph testing. 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. hotel. EXPENSES Is player responsible for traveling expenses (air.

Recruiting spotters and/or BPs. 9. 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. What will prompt a player to be required to submit to polygraph testing? Outline policies for keeping team paperwork outside of hotel rooms. Outline policies for not communicating via hotel room phones. Recruiting new players.necessary. should or should . Outline policies for not discussing team matters outside of the team. 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 what information. Outline procedures players should follow when leaving a casino to ensure they are not being followed. Phone calls.

to illustrate the difference in swings two players experience and how each reacts to a big losing session. converted into graph form. such as Lotus 123 and Excel. 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. Such use can be applied based on the desired results. 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. while reviewing a player’s overall performance. both . you have the ability to customize charts and graphs. For the purpose of effect. Below is an example of a report generated from an Excel spreadsheet. The following graphs depict the results of two different players throughout the course of 12 play sessions.not be carried on a player’s person. which can illustrate various factors. QUALITY CONTROL How are players being monitored? How are results being documented and evaluated? Are players and/or investors receiving periodic reports? If so. how often? Will additional training and development be provided? Monitoring Performance Through the use of spreadsheet programs. 10.

However. The difference in results is evident following session #6. Player #2 appears to have “tightened up” on his play. while Player #1 continued to experience such swings following the session #6 loss. both players appeared to be experiencing swings inherent in proper play. 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. Up until that point. . which is where both players experienced their biggest losing session. Looking at this.players experienced identical results throughout the first six sessions.

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

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

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

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

The End Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

etc. if you look back on some of the best film performances.for being here. This is precisely what you’re looking to accomplish. many players have attempted to put on such acts. In order to be successful. you need to actually live your act and believe it yourself. Are you on business? If so. You also want to convey the message that you’re here to have fun. you’ll see that the acting appears to be believable. golf. such as shows. what business brings you here? Be prepared to discuss it with knowledge and enthusiasm if you’re questioned. Over the years. Summary Some blackjack books discuss the “act” element of the play. If you’re used to eating at home or at coffee shops. 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. Live your act! . shopping. Get accustomed to the atmosphere. Most of these players eventual fail in their acting abilities. You enjoy gambling and other things. Doing so discourages someone to discuss it with you further. You also may want to take a proactive approach and volunteer some information about your business that may confuse or bore the average layperson. Remember. take an evening out at a fine gourmet restaurant.

and other benefits that you consider important. 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. I encounter players who consider quitting their jobs to play blackjack full-time. life insurance. you should forget about full-time blackjack.36 Playing Blackjack as a Part-Time Professional Periodically. retirement. Family If you have a spouse and/or children whom your reliable steady income is essential to support. I normally state that there are several factors to look at before deciding to take the plunge into blackjack as career. Company Benefits If your current occupation offers health. you’ll need to consider the increased cost of these once you leave your job. 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. When asked my opinion. Emotion .

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

for one. catching a return flight home on Monday afternoon. . and wish to take a trip to Las Vegas. Tuesday morning and you can head to work straight from the airport. 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. head right to the airport after work. book your flight for a Wednesday night departure and Sunday afternoon return. but it’s been many years since I’ve had the stamina to pull it off. If you need to spend two days in Los Angeles. Diving in the day. Pack a bag. bring it to work on Thursday. 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. offers dozens of courses. in addition to dozens more activities to choose from. Even as a part-time player. the next consideration is an extended holiday weekend. blackjack at night. A good strategy is to take the Friday before as a vacation day. I’ve done this. If you fancy water sports. If you’re blessed with ultra-stamina. This gets you back around 8 a. departing Las Vegas around midnight. If you enjoy winter sports. Golf? That’s easy. Las Vegas. When combining vacation and blackjack play. Your job gives you Labor Day Monday off. Set it up so that the business trip includes a Friday or Monday. go ahead a take a red-eye flight back home. Let’s say you live in Baltimore. We all need a balanced lifestyle and that includes good old rest and relaxation. 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.m. a trip to the Caribbean may be in order. this can lead to burnout. Maryland. providing us with opportunities to combine a vacation with blackjack. If the nature of your work entails business travel. You’ve now created a built-in weekend in Las Vegas. Let’s say you need to schedule a business trip to Los Angeles. then by all means fly in. you can get creative. This strategy applies to similar geographic situations worldwide.level that qualifies for airfare reimbursement (covered later) from a casino. We’re fortunate that some casino towns offer activities away from the gaming tables.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Cut Card—A colored plastic card inserted by the player somewhere within the deck(s) to determine where the dealer will cut. because if it’s used as 11 it will cause . 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. up to equal in value to the original bet. based on the value of the first two cards dealt. First Base—Seat located on the far right of the player’s side of the blackjack table. Face-Down Game—The player’s first two cards are dealt face down and the player is required to handle the cards. to the dealer’s right. the dealer inserts the card to indicate at what point the deck(s) will be reshuffled. Double Down—The option for the player to place an additional bet. In this use it can also be referred to as a shuffle card or stop card. the player receives only one additional card. for an immediate loss. If the dealer has an ace or ten upcard. Chip Tray—The tray directly in front of the dealer.Burn Card—A card removed from the top of a freshly shuffled deck. Early Surrender—A rule that enables the player to give up one-half of the wager after looking at the first two cards dealt. indicating that it will not be dealt in play. this option may be exercised before the dealer checks for a natural. after the cut. resulting in a losing hand. sorted by denomination. Bust—To take additional hits so that the cards’ total exceeds 21. Face-Up Game—The player’s cards are dealt face up and the player is not permitted to handle the cards. When doubling down. where all previously dealt cards and the burn card are placed face down. used to hold chips. Discard Tray—The tray/holder on the table. Doubling down is sometimes limited by the casino rules. Cutoffs—Unplayed cards remaining in a shoe after the cut card appears.

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

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

Shoe—Device used to hold cards. 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. which is dealt face up. Upcard—One of the dealer’s first two cards. available for the player’s viewing. 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. normally maintained on the left side of the table from the player’s view. queens. Ten-Value Card—Tens. from the player’s view. 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. 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. . Toke Box—Small clear box. Soft Hand—A hand in which an ace is present and can be counted as 1 or 11. Stiff—A hand totaling 12-16. and kings all have a value of ten. Third Base—Seat to the far left of the blackjack table.

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. Blaine has excelled both solo and as a blackjack-team player and leader. 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. Well-versed in all aspects of winning blackjack play. He lives in New York. .

just as author Rick Blaine has used them for years while pursuing a career in finance. negotiating and optimizing rebates on gambling losses. This book covers everything from basic strategy to counting cards. This revised edition contains new information on getting reimbursed for airline tickets to casino destinations. mitigating the risk of identity theft by casino and credit-agency employees. outwitting the eye in the sky. location play. Blackjack Blueprint is the most comprehensive book ever written on learning to play blackjack for profit. hiding chips and disguising wins.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. Casino comps. playing in disguise. security while on blackjack-related websites. tournaments. from maximizing potential going solo to playing on a blackjack team. the techniques you’ll learn in Blackjack Blueprint can be used part-time as a money-making hobby. and other advantage-play techniques—it’s all here. and protecting your personal privacy when making large cash transactions at casinos. Best of all. shuffle tracking. .

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