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

Blackjack Blueprint
How to Play Like a Pro … Part-Time
Published by
Huntington Press
3665 Procyon St.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
Phone (702) 252-0655
e-mail: books@huntingtonpress.com
Copyright ©2014, Rick Blaine
eBook ISBN: 978-1-935396-10-9
Print ISBN: 978-1-935396-53-6
Cover Photos supplied by Image100 Royalty Free Photos and Photo Disc Royalty Free Photos
Design & Production: Laurie Cabot
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owner.

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

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

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

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

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

Casino Countermeasures. and Camouflage How Much is too Much? Who is this Person? Use of Different Names Obtaining a Casino Players Card Moving Your Bets Playing Your Hands When You Start Winning You Wanna Be in Movies? Barring from Play Surveillance Techniques Countermeasures The Typical Card Counter Profile Camouflage Disguising Wins and Hiding Chips Cashing Out 15 Casinos and Personal Privacy Your Driver’s License. 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.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. 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 .

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

Distribution of Winnings 11. Expenses 9.8. Safety And Security 10. Quality Control 34 Down Memory Lane The End Zone 35 Assuming the Role of a High-Stakes Player Attitude Preparation. 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 . Homework.

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

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

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

which is needed at this level of play. you’ll prepare to play high-stakes blackjack and add more to your arsenal. 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. Covered in the Purple Zone are: • recruiting players • management . 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.• live casino play • post-game evaluation The Green Zone Here. you’ll fine-tune your skills and develop more tactical approaches to playing a winning game. you’re taken through the team-play experience.

you’re given some final pointers to complete your blackjack education.• 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 .

The Silver Zone .

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

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

I finally had time to sort through the box and found several decks of cards and a hardcover book titled Million Dollar Blackjack. He showed me a slip of paper and told me that dinner was free. I nodded. up about $900. however. He explained that after you gamble for a certain period of time. Pete told me that many people lose lots of money getting those free meals. Pete moved away. I was amazed that all you had to do was gamble at the casinos and they would give you all these things for free. He whispered that he was winning and wanted to play some more. tickets to shows. Then it was time for me to check on Pete. In December 1983. It was about 4:30 and Pete decided to call it a day. he should be able to win money.” I gave a puzzled look and said. He asked if I wanted to have dinner. I won $100 at that table. I told him about winning $300 playing slots and $100 playing blackjack. But win or lose. 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. All excited. I was puzzled. Based on my talks with him.the dealer had showing. Pete said that when I first checked in with him. Pete seemed to lose more than he won. Ken Uston. I noticed that it was autographed by the author. he’d lost all but $50 of his winnings. I walked over to his table and he asked me how I was doing. My eyes widened. he made several trips down there over the next two years. I hope. “Split?” I ended up standing on the 16. it all seemed too complicated for me to worry about. Pete told me that I could order whatever I wanted. I thought that because he was counting cards. and free rooms. the casinos give you free meals. After the round. he was winning. “You’re gonna split those. Once again. At this point we agreed that I’d check back with him in another two hours. then we hopped on the bus home. the loudmouth mumbled a few choice words and left. When we got to the restaurant. After a couple of months. But when I returned two hours later. I decided to keep . After the two hours. but a loud-mouthed person sitting next to me said. Although I never went back to Atlantic City with Pete. Dinner was great. I quit while ahead and went off for a stroll along the Boardwalk. 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.

as the trip was a bit tiring. Hit the tables at 11:15 p. so I left. I went from down $50.500. stopping to practice the drills as they were presented. Throughout this book are more details of my experiences with playing the game at various levels—for example.900. Then played Friday afternoon in one final session and won $12. how I got involved with blackjack teams and my journey of playing at high-stakes for more than 20 years. 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. . It was a long night/morning! Friday Night/Saturday Morning Decided to sleep a good deal of the day Friday. I’m glad to be going home. putting my trip total at $5. The swings were wild and I’m pleased I ended up with a decent enough win.000. I opened up the table.000. To this day. I was on my way. At the time of this writing.the book and the cards and soon I began reading the book.m.000 to winning $22. to squeeze in one last play before leaving for home. This time I arrived as the VIP Room opened for the evening and continued with the aggressive style of play. A couple of other players joined the table. and got a private table in the VIP Room. with no other players. I read through that book chapter by chapter.000.000 in my last shoe. During several wild sessions throughout the evening and into the early-morning hours. Took $36. After three shoes. I can still confidently walk into a casino and play a winning game. I’m done. putting my overall trip total at $51. I still consider Million Dollar Blackjack to be one of the most informative and entertaining books on the game ever written. I was up $46.

the house advantage (on the best bets) is roughly 1. Considering the 1. check out the ticket lines when the jackpot grows large. because there are a lot of variables to consider. People get a big thrill out of trying their luck at gambling.2 % 5.5%. If 100 people each make one bet at $10 per bet.2 The House Advantage The gaming industry has been growing at a blistering pace over the past few years. the odds of the game at hand shift. Casinos have also opened on Native American land. In states that offer a lottery. they will lose. on average. the total “action” is $1.000. Each time a card is removed from a deck (or decks) in play. A number of states have legal casinos on riverboats and on land. Following are the house advantages for a few other casino games (approximate): baccarat: roulette: slots: keno: 1. Casinos are in business to make money on their “games of chance.5% disadvantage on that action.” the house advantage in the game of blackjack is dependent on the cards that were previously dealt. and at times those odds shift to the player’s advantage.” so it should be no surprise that all casino games have a built-in house advantage. Here’s an example of how the casino makes its money with the house advantage. In craps. about $15 on the play. This is the only . While all other casino games are subject to what’s known as the “law of independent trials.3 % 3% and up 25% What about the house advantage for blackjack? Let’s hold off on providing numbers on this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dealer upcard of 3. 16 vs. T. a hand of A. 3. is a soft 17. 8. as any deviations from the proper plays cost you money over time. 3. For example.2. 4.T or 5. • Double down on all hard totals of 10 vs.A or 8. otherwise hit. It can’t be lowered. dealer upcard of 2. 6. A hand of A.4. otherwise hit. 3. • When the dealer is showing an upcard of 7.2. 7.4 vs. dealer upcard of 2. • Split 4. 3. Pair Splitting • Always split A. 9. otherwise hit. 3. otherwise hit. you must remember the distinction between a hard hand and a soft hand. 9. otherwise hit. because it can be lowered by counting the ace as 1 to get a hand of 7. . 4. • Stand on hard totals of 13. • Stand on hard total of 12 vs. T. • Double down on all hard totals of 9 vs. 14. 5. 5. Double Down Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Double down on all hard totals of 11 vs.7 vs. dealer upcard of 2. 4. otherwise hit. 5. 5. 4.3.4.5. 4. otherwise hit. 8. 8.basic strategy flawlessly. 6. Hit/Stand Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Stand on all hard totals of 17 and higher. 7. A hard-hand total can’t be lowered by counting the ace as 1. • Split 2. 6. and 7. 7. Following is the basic strategy for a typical multi-deck game. 6. hit all hands until your cards total 17 or higher. 15. dealer upcard of 2. A. since the ace is already counted as 1. To apply basic strategy effectively. 6. • Never split T.2. 5. 5. 9. 6. The above decisions occur more than others throughout the game. as offered in a number of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.8. dealer upcard of 4. dealer upcard of 5 or 6.T is a hard 17.

dealer upcard of 2. 3. otherwise hit. 6. 6. otherwise hit. 4.5 vs. or 8).2 or A. dealer upcard of 4. otherwise stand. otherwise hit (except stand with an A. The player is permitted to double down only only on the initial two cards. 6. 5. 6. Never Take Insurance Basic Strategy Multi-Deck. 5.3 vs. otherwise hit. 4. Atlantic City Rules . 5.9 vs. • Double down on A. 4. • Double down on A. 5.6 or A. The basic strategy for these special rules is different. • Split 9. 8.6 vs. 9 (not 7). dealer upcard of 3. dealer upcard of 5 or 6.4 or A.7 vs. 3.7 vs. 7. dealer upcard of 2.• Split 6. There are some rare occasions where a casino permits doubling after one or two hit cards are dealt. Double Down Decisions on Soft-Hand Totals • Double down on A. dealer upcard of 2.

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

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

Drill # 2: Hard Double-Down Decisions .

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

Answers to Drill # 1 Answers to Drill # 2 .

Answers to Drill # 3 Answers to Drill # 4 .

The Red Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

keep a running count as the cards are played. except that 7s are also counted +1. In the same manner as with the balanced Hi-Lo. Following is a recommended bet sequence for a 2-deck game using the K-O unbalanced count. we apply the same point values (as shown above). Have no fear. the count has been calibrated so that the . Note that the unbalanced counting technique results in raised bets being made while the count is still in negative territory.To move into a simple transition from the 1-level balanced count you just worked with. 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.numbers accurately correlate to the recommended bet amounts. . Of course. K-O comes with multiple levels of sophistication and incorporates play variations that will enhance the count’s success.

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Three .

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

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

. Perform the drills until you are able to complete each one accurately.Play Variations for Hi-Lo 1-Level Balanced Count w/True-Count Conversion Multi-Deck These play variations for the Hi-Lo Count. Then move on to the next drill.” 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. Instructions—Make several copies of the following drill sheets and perform each drill. writing in the count at which a play variation should occur and what it should be. known as the “Illustrious 18. Sequence to Learn Play Variations • Start with the insurance variation. giving the responses without hesitation.

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

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

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

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

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 .

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

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

Bet Sequence for 2-Deck Game Bet Sequence for 6-Deck Game Play variations for the Zen Count and Unbalanced Zen II Count are available in the CV Blueprint companion software. The following is a . Expert-Level Counts There are 3-level and even 4-level balanced-count systems available. 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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Six

Answers to Drill Number Seven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Zone .

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

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

which explains bankroll issues in a clear and detailed manner. reevaluate your available bankroll.000.000 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. The above illustrates a most simple form of money management. When this occurs. However. This software is easy to use and useful to the serious player.this loss. Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way. Reevaluate the bank. One product I use and recommend is Blackjack Risk Manager 2002. you’ve lost $5. . The following is a brief illustration: Starting Bank = $10. there are some excellent tools on the market. New Starting Bank = $5. you should stop playing. which was developed by John Auston. Take note that this additional cash should be considered reserve. only for this purpose. Stop. 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. it’s a good idea to add an additional factor here: Keep two additional maximum bets for each session. For more precision in establishing methods of money management.000 Betting Range = $10–$100 After X hours of play. Also recommended is Don Schlesinger’s book. and revise your betting range accordingly to continue playing within the 5% risk of ruin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Develop skills in methods not detectable by surveillance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I recommend that you take measures to limit the information casinos can obtain about you. to get the highest return. addresses. if the purchase is made using a credit card. 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. Global Cash Access acquired it in 1998 and increased the number of services offered. he feels obligated not to “let the points go to waste. However. as well as its ability to invade an individual’s personal . Yes. play golf. that information is captured. if not mandatory. 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. be aware that it comes at the price of privacy. give them the bare minimum you need to to get what you want. Throw in a free meal or two? The odds of the return visit have just increased. and lose more money. If you care about your privacy and use a players card. With this in mind. The main reason for gathering this information is to enable the casino to market to you. After providing the casino with all that information about yourself.present your card when you eat. 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. When a player has points on a players card. bank account numbers—an identity thief’s dream! Central Credit has provided services for the casino industry since the late 1950s. purchase show tickets. Am I saying you shouldn’t use a players card? No. 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. using a players card is beneficial. or buy something in a retail shop. so you’ll come back. gamble. which is to say.” Send a customer an offer for a free room and there’s a good chance he’ll be a return visitor.

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

A simple way to view this is as follows. it’s not uncommon to buy in for something like $9. Privacy problems can arise out of the blue as a result of CTR issues. When you go to a casino gaming table and place $5. the casino cannot legally give you the cash unless it has information (obtained from a government ID) on file.000 and leave the table with a total of $17.000. However. you’re using casino chips to play. If you refuse. If you attempt to cash in $10. including any other cash transactions you’ve made that day. get on a bad run. An ID request resulting from cash transactions below $10. For example.000 in cash transactions.001 in chips. that is a physical exchange of currency. The same goes for buying in for chips with cash at a table. Casino policy may impose additional actions or requirements of identification when cashing out chips. That means you don’t have to produce ID prior to $10.000 cash down in exchange for chips.000 = internal casino policy. That is not an additional physical exchange of currency.000. An ID request resulting from cash transactions exceeding $10.000 in chips. say you win $12.000 = federal law. It only becomes defined as an exchange when you go to the cashier and exchange those chips for cash. After that initial $5.000. They include the following: .000 point is solely dictated by internal casino procedures and not by federal law.exceeding $10. but once you cash them. you will be watched very closely from that point on. that transaction will likely accrue toward your total. But keep in mind that if a casino asks for ID and you refuse to provide it. any requirement to obtain ID prior to the $10.000 buy-in. The regulations as outlined under the Bank Secrecy Act clearly define a currency transaction as the physical exchange of currency between two parties. or possibly even backed off. Now. and ask to buy in for another $3. So playing with chips you’ve won shouldn’t trigger a CTR. at which point you’ll be asked for ID. the casino is within its legal rights to refuse to allow the additional buy-in.

you’re not legally required to provide the casino with your personal information. but rather work only with $1. Keep in mind that if it’s determined that you’re “structuring. as explained below. For convenience. However. it makes sense to keep an ample amount of chips available if you plan to play more at a casino. if your usual level of play causes you to exceed $10. in another.” a crime for which you can be arrested. it’s most common with $5.000-denomination chips or higher. you have to be careful about what you do with that knowledge. That could also be considered a form of structuring.000. as you’ll see below. until 6:59 a. If you keep your cash activity under $10. In such cases. but understand that your refusal might prompt other actions. If you’re with a spouse. Cashing out different amounts at different times can be perfectly legitimate. And while it might be good to know. in one casino.m. Most customers won’t know what constitutes the casino’s gaming day. then dealing with CTRs will be something you have to get used to. with tracers implanted in high-denomination chips. relative.” you’ll have bigger problems to deal with. or friend. The term “gaming day” also needs to be considered. • The cashier may phone the pit where you recently played to verify the amount of chips you walked away with. many players never accept them at the table. • Some casinos use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. . Be careful and obey the law.• The cashier may require identification any time chips higher than a designated denomination are presented. A gaming day (or designated 24-hour period) might run from midnight until 11:59 p. only you should attempt to cash it or break it down at a table for future play. while it’s 7 a. Caution must be exercised if this type of chip is in use.000 or lower denominations. making multiple cashouts in a deliberate attempt to avoid a CTR is called “structuring. as its definintion differs among casinos. Since casinos are known to track these chips very closely. To summarize.m.000 in cash transactions.m. you legally cannot break down your chips and have them cashed out for you to avoid a CTR. While this varies by casino. which means it’s rarely necessary to cash out large amounts at any one time.

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

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

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

The Black Zone .

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

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

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

the casinos are armed with a lethal weapon. 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. “Suggestive Cut” Considering the above shuffling method. Although discrepancies are rare. Incomplete Deck(s) Whenever one or more new decks is introduced to a table. Unfortunately. Knowing this. just to make sure the dealer doesn’t miss something. Therefore. is deadly to players. 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. not just card-counting players. . we refer to all players. the dealer (who has knowledge of a surplus of aces remaining in the deck) shuffles. It’s a good idea to pay attention when this is being done. commonly used by casinos. after a few rounds are dealt. positioning the cut card next to where the dealer would like it placed. a dealer may have knowledge of where a certain clump of cards is located within the deck(s). they’re known to happen. the decision on which card is exposed as the upcard can be manipulated. The Preferential Shuffle This method of house cheating. For an example of how this can be detrimental to all players at the table. A cheating dealer might hand you the cut card and move the deck(s) toward your hand. suppose a dealer is keeping track of aces. the dealer examines all the fronts and backs of the cards. When we say players. If. the dealer wants to ensure that certain cards are cut either into or out of play. the players at the table would be deprived of having the benefit of the aces. there’s no law that prevents a casino from shuffling decks whenever it desires. 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 casinos have the ability to alter the randomness of what’s supposed to be a game of chance. This is essentially equivalent to removing cards from a deck. the dealer shuffles when you raise your bets. Many people. 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. there’s no regulation prohibiting this action by casinos. Preferential Shuffle by a Card-Counting Dealer This is the worst type of preferential shuffling. you’re playing at a huge disadvantage. This type of dealer has determined. A game played under these conditions is unbeatable. The dealer in this case. You may also encounter a dealer who’s simply tracking aces. As a countermeasure. shuffles away all positive-count decks. who can be completely skilled in card counting. the casino dealing it would have an already-existing house advantage against the average player. that you’re counting cards. or has been informed. you have a lesser chance of encountering a . including me. just get up and leave. The house advantage can be determined based on the rules of the game. Is it Legal for Casinos to Preferential Shuffle? At the time of this writing. In any shape or form.minimizing their chances of getting a natural and benefiting from the 3-2 payoff. while dealing out all negative-count decks. which is cheating. When you encounter such a game. The argument of players who are against it is that by allowing them to use this tactic. Preferential Shuffle by a Non-Card-Counting Dealer An astute player can actually manipulate this type of dealer to an advantage. Some Player Countermeasures Against the Preferential Shuffle In hand-dealt games. If you encounter such a dealer. Some casinos have a built-in policy to shuffle any time a player triples the previous bet. In a game where a casino can shuffle at will as is the case today. you can actually use this to your advantage (more on this further in the chapter). If a game has a fixed and consistent shuffle point.

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

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

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

Nevada Statute 465. as you can incorporate the value of the bottom card. whereby anyone caught using a computer in a casino would be subject to up to a $10. which won’t be dealt. You can incorporate its value into your count. With this information. you can place a larger bet off the top. any device to assist: 1. a bill in the state of Nevada went into effect. 3. you’re playing at a nice advantage off the top of a handdealt game and can bet accordingly. you have two cards to incorporate into your count. or possess with intent to use. in addition to the burn card. In projecting the outcome of the game. If these three cards are low value cards. This is good information. into your count. 2.S. In analyzing the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to the game. In keeping track of the cards played. you have three cards to incorporate into your count. Knowledge of Bottom Card After the Cut A sloppy dealer may expose the bottom of the deck(s) while completing the cut. cutting a 5 out of play gives you an advantage off the top.cut high. If you catch the bottom card before and after the cut.000 fine and/or 10-year jail sentence. jurisdictions. In analyzing the strategy for playing or betting to be used in the game. . Knowledge of this information also can justify placing a larger bet right off the top. On July 1. 1985.075 Use of Device for Calculating Probabilities: It is unlawful for any person at a licensed gaming establishment to use. where that card will end up not being dealt. Use of a Concealed Computer This is a felony offense in most U. In many single-deck games. 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. which will not be dealt. If you’re fortunate enough to catch the bottom card before the cut and after the cut. or 4.

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

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

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

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

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

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. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re going to Las Vegas during a time of year when room rates are low. know that they’ll win money from the players in the long run. The key is to keep them at the tables. instead of playing at the table an additional 30 minutes just for a free meal. Depending on the amount one is wagering. when a . What they really mean is that they’re welcoming the player to lose more money at their tables.” He tells her. which wouldn’t really cost much upon closer inspection. rooms. If you don’t normally eat large meals. betting $100 a hand. we can leave after I get it. One method of doing so is to offer comps. “I’m up about $500. you’d be better off paying the $40 per night. the casino offers meals.000. Instead of leaving the table a $500 winner. People easily fall into the trap of thinking they’re getting something for nothing. 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. rather than betting higher than you normally would or playing longer just to get the room for free. He’s been at it for about two hours when his wife stops by the table. but not before he loses $1.22 The Comp Game and Travel Strategies The Allure The casinos. having a built-in advantage in just about every game they offer. let’s go then. She asks. Typical story. “I just ordered a drink. When playing for a specific comp.” She then says. “Are you winning?” He responds. A man has been playing blackjack in a casino. and more to demonstrate that they value the player’s business.” Fifteen minutes later his drink arrives. “Well. 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. paying for the $10–$20 buffet may suit your needs. The criteria for comp eligibility vary from casino to casino. he ended up a $500 loser.

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

in theory. you can get a free airline ticket by using some creativity.airline frequent-flier account. 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). ask the attendant if the flight is overbooked. 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. you can. 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. which allows for some “no-shows” along the way. you will be almost guaranteed first priority to get on the next available flight. such as ordering flowers or custom shirts. within a few hours of each another. If so. they end up having to turn away passengers from a specific flight prior to boarding. Call the airline to check for availability on the early flights out. Check the different airlines’ programs to see how you can achieve maximum benefits. Overbooked Flights If you once again do a little homework. if only first-class seats are available. If you’re creative enough and do your homework. At times. As an added bonus. • Various retailers have similar programs that can also earn you points. If there’s limited availability. book it. fly every other flight for free. they usually put the passenger on the next scheduled flight out to that destination and offer a form of compensation for this inconvenience. offer to volunteer your seat. 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. because if you are “bounced” from the first flight. This compensation can be a free round-trip airline ticket for a future date. When this happens. Package Deals .

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

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

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

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

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

the casino may elect to reimburse based on actual loss.000 on deposit at the start of a three-day stay. provided certain criteria are met. Many casinos reimburse airfare only for players who stay at the hotel. If your casino host doesn’t offer this to you. all he’ll get is $1. Limited (“RFL”). he may be eligible for airfare reimbursement based on his actual loss of $16. Airfare reimbursement at this casino requires a minimum of 12 hours play at a minimum average bet of $200. In the past. although the player didn’t meet the terms for reimbursement based on theoretical loss (he’s light on hours played).not hinder your playing ability). representing a partial . In this case. The next step is for the player to present copies of his ticket and the ticket of his traveling companion. Other requirements may be a minimum amount of front money on deposit or a minimum credit line. A $200 average bet is probably the minimum to qualify for some sort of airfare rebate. then that’s all he’ll receive. If the casino’s policy is to reimburse 10% of a player’s actual loss toward the cost of airline tickets. this player is eligible for up to $1. When calculating a player’s eligibility for a comp such as airfare reimbursement. Such negotiated comps fall under the category of Room. if applicable. the common requirement was a minimum of 12 hours play. After playing nine hours.400. If you’re a non-discriminating diner.000 regardless of hours played and average bet size. the player loses $16.600. Although your play may not warrant a total reimbursement for the ticket(s). you may qualify for a partial rebate. you may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of your airline tickets. In this case. such as a minimum requirement for hours played. a player comes out betting heavy and loses all his front money before reaching the minimum hourly requirement.000 with a recorded $500 average bet. you may be able to further negotiate your comp by having the casino limit your food comps to a certain dollar amount. Food. Take a situation where a player puts $20. Airline-Ticket Reimbursement As you become an established player in a casino. the casino may have some additional criteria that must be met. If the tickets total $2. you can ask. to determine the total reimbursement. Sometimes. If he presents tickets totaling only $400.600.

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

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

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

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. For example. 2. it decreases the amount of cash you can walk with. nothing on the market can formulate these strategies. The strategy needs to ensure that he’s playing at an advantage after putting this amount of money in action with the rebate considered. If comps such as room. Loss rebates work best as stand-alone programs that don’t incorporate other complimentary offers. 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 . a program might require $100. you get that in cash—in addition to the comps. thereby needing a better loss rebate to participate if you do. 5.000 in front money and play it through a minimum of five times to be eligible for a rebate on losses. creator of the Casino Verite software products. Determine if the loss rebate is based on a minimum loss amount—you need to know all of the parameters of the deal and what’s required of you before you start. a 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. complimentaries are added in based on . but Norm Wattenberger. food. beverage. Since you’ll experience some winning trips. and airfare are applied toward the loss rebate. is developing such a tool. Currently. win or lose. you get the comps as outlined.000 in front money or a credit line that’s turned over a minimum of five times for a 15% rebate on losses. But here’s the important part: You have to do this without looking like a card counter or an otherwise similarly competent player. Additionally.of play. a betting and playing strategy must be devised that preserves a player advantage beyond the point the casino establishes as the minimum-play amount. 4. The best programs offer a loss rebate and complimentaries independent of one another. and if the criteria are met to justify a loss rebate. Knowing the proper stopping point is a key element in forming an optimal strategy. Based on the rebate deal. With this program. 3.25% of the total action wagered for the trip. shows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. just as it does within the U. A Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Bet Spreads.. 11 vs. this factor should be the key to determining whether a game is . and Heat Players can get away with higher bet spreads in many countries outside the U. While a typical game found in casinos throughout Europe is a 6-decker with less than desirable rules. you can increase your edge by spreading your bets accordingly. 8. As always. but a player needs to do additional homework to identify potentially profitable situations. T 5. where after a double down or split.S. casinos.S. the games can be a bit different from those found in the U. based on several variables.24 Blackjack Outside the U. Penetration. When playing with this rule.S. there’s an additional spin on this rule. In many places. A 3.8 vs. Also.S.8 vs. the player loses both the initial wager and the amount put up for the double down or split. This is where the dealer does not take a second card (hole card) until all players have played their hands. Different Rules The most common rule you will find in play outside the USA is the “nohole-card” rule. you need to adjust your basic strategy as follows: 1. such a bet spread may overcome this type of game. If you possess a strong bankroll. Casinos dealing blackjack can be found in many countries around the globe.A vs. 11 vs. which can be both good and bad. T 2. Blackjack opportunities do exist around the world. 8. Penetration can vary widely. when the dealer’s second card makes a blackjack. A 4.

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

10 for one euro. you might also see a rate quoted as 1. In reality. Currency Laws Be aware of the various regulations with respect to bringing currencies into or out of the country. rather than in a hotel safe. Using the “for-information-purposes-only” rate in the above example. indicating that you’d receive US$1.exercise caution.000 and purchase euro at a rate of .S.000 in exchange. dollar. you might see the euro trading at . you return home with €90.10387 and receive US$100. After a break-even play. the above scenario is not common. especially if you’re staying at a smaller hotel. Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 For the examples in this chapter. Translated to our purposes: SCENARIO “A”—You have US$100.S. General Info If you check a local financial newspaper listing exchange rates. Electronic Pen-Pals Some players worldwide participate regularly in some of the blackjack websites and communicate with one another. Such players have reciprocally hosted one another during visits to their respective countries. which is the amount in euro you’d receive for one U. a more realistic translation would be as follows: . we will use U. Having a local player guiding you around in a foreign country is an invaluable asset. dollars and the euro (€). since the rates quoted are considered just a “quote. Alongside.9059.950 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1.” 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). in addition to your being detained.590. it may be more prudent to keep the money on you.10387. Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in having all your money confiscated. In this case.9059. You arrive at your European destination with €90.

50 in exchange.500.SCENARIO “B”—You have US$100. You arrive at your European destination with €89. account).9059 1. this service was extended to me without any commission.50 due to the cost of exchanging currency. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage (usually the latter)..117).8950 1. You played a break-even game. but lost US$1. After a break-even play. here is how the exchange rate chart would appear: Quote: . If you play a break-even game.9059 = 1.10387 Buy: .000 and purchase Euro at a rate of .S. depending on the strength of the currency involved at that time. your exchange transactions would resemble Scenario “A” above.g.639. which is locked in. If you end your play with a win. they will be once again converted back to US$ the day they are wired to your account back home.117 Sell: .099 Note: In the event only currencies are listed in one of these columns. When you’re receiving reimbursement for airfare.9100) and receive US$98.8950 (1.9059). Method to Minimize Loss on Currency Exchange Best Method—Some casinos provide a nice service. You’ll want to ensure the rate used is the same in both of these steps and that it’s done when you settle.9100 1.500 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1.099 (. Based on the above transactions. In my past trips. 1/. or 1/1. your winnings are converted at a spot rate (the rate at the moment the bank wires the funds back to your U. you can determine the flipside by dividing 1 by the quoted rate (e. they use a spot rate to convert the amount you give the receipt (the US$ amount) and convert it to a euro amount. where you wire US$ to their account held in their local bank. When funds are wired back to you.360. They establish a rate for your buyin.10387 = . you return home with €89. .10387.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pick up the cards from the player’s view. When dealt an ace as your first card playing a 6deck game. Place the following four cards in this order on a table from left to right: 6♦. place those cards intact in a random spot within the deck of cards (Illustration 2). left to right (Illustration 1). A♠. Next. aceten combination. an astute player can identify methods to locate specific cards after the shuffle. While observing different types of shuffles. we focus on the most common form of location play. Shuffles that may be effective for zone tracking might not be effective for location play. but also from dealer to dealer within the same casino. ace location. 5♥.26 Location Play Shuffles vary not only from casino to casino. Some of the different types of location play are: ace location. Introductory Exercise Try this exercise using a complete deck of cards. For the purpose of this chapter. . You have to identify certain aspects of the shuffle routine in order to analyze the potential to apply such advantage-play techniques. string-sequence (several cards in order) location. you have a 50. as most casino dealers would from their view. Step 1.5% advantage. Step 2. and zone location. 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. 4♣.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The
Purple Zone

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

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

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

Team of
10 Players

Bank:

$10,000

$100,000

Maximum Bet:

$100

$1,000

Average Bet (Estimate):

$20

$200

Hands Dealt Per Hour:

70

70

Total Action1:

$1,400

$14,000
(for 1 player per hour)

Win Rate Per Hour2:

$14

$140 (for one player)

Hours of Play Daily:

8

80 (for the team)

Total Daily Win per player:

$112

$1,120

Total Expected Daily Win:

$112

$11,200 (for the team)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My big dilemma the past couple of days has been trying to figure out what spa I should go to for a short visit.000 loss and Rory’s $5. We needed to address the problem of available cash. A second reason is that I wanted to give Rory an opportunity to run the team trip independently. A couple of hours later.000 for the trip. I’m in desperate need of at least a couple of days of plain old rest and relaxation. I instructed them to go out and play. Even though the team is in Vegas.Ursula this morning. then go back out to play during the remainder of graveyard shift. I have several reasons for this. Rory lost another $3. Ursula had lost the remainder of her bankroll.000 and Ursula lost another $2. since her action has been well accepted there. I phoned in time for the team meeting. then play with a lower maximum bet. we were now down more than 50% of our bank. with each of them taking $3. Also.000 loss. and Vic were all present. She hadn’t yet been able to meet up with Rory. First. just about all of my free vacation time has been utilized for blackjack play. Ursula phoned and informed me that she lost an additional $2.000.300. there was only a total of $10. having not played a hand. so I could evaluate if he’s qualified to do so on a regular basis. she informed me that she lost $4. Rory lost $5. I . so I told her to take a break and wait until shift change. She was not having problems with the pit and was able to get away with more than a sufficient bet spread. I told her to take a break. With Ursula’s $8. I deliberately didn’t make plans to join the trip.500 after three hours of play in one casino. Devon was scheduled to arrive shortly with roughly $9. the team was down $13. It looks like this will no longer be a problem.000. With these new numbers. That Friday I’m scheduled to take a week off from work.000. Among the three of them. 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.000. He informed me that he had lost $5.000 and Vic was the big winner. the available cash was a crucial issue at this point.000. The results of Devon and Regina were still unknown. following a phone call from Vic this morning.500. She was low on bankroll. where Ursula. Rory. and the overall team bank was now back down $24.

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

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

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

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

After checking into a different casino/hotel. I was confident that this was not the case. I then returned to one of the casinos where I’d played earlier. We were concerned about these high-denomination chips raising red flags when we were cashing out. Personally. still holding some of their chips. I sat down and aggressively spread for one hour of play.000 each.007 hours with six of us having put in more than 100 hours each. Vic and Rory are down close to $30. By doing so. where we ran up a moderate tab. any team member could be subject to the same test. Rory lost only a small amount. I was now up a nice amount for the trip. Of everyone’s individual results. Since I didn’t plan on any further play that evening. thus permitting us to go forward. I hoped Ursula and Rory had done well too. I took a taxi over to an off-Strip casino. I trust both of them and would be very surprised if they were being dishonest in their dealings with the team. as manager.Ursula. I’m taking the necessary steps to protect everyone’s investment. we would hope to clear up any questions the others might have on this issue. Ursula scored a dinner comp at this casino. Mid-September We haven’t played since the trip two weeks ago. while two of the players were very much in favor of initiating them. It would also alert the others that at any given time. I found one double-deck game open with two other players. I made some inquiries on getting a referral to someone living in Las Vegas who’d be interested in . so we were indeed making a comeback. I made the suggestion that perhaps we could subject both of them to lie-detector tests. I do feel it is a good idea to have them both take these tests. Anticipating that some of the team members might question the level of honesty of these two individuals. When I got inside. However. A few of the others didn’t feel that the tests were necessary.000 chips among her winnings. After lunch. The fact that I initiated this action would put everyone a bit more at ease because. Ursula scored a nice win and was paid with $5. I decided to propose an alternative action. The team as a whole has played 1. I polished off a bottle of sake. The overall position of the team is that we’re down just under 50 percent of our starting bank. and won some more in one hour of play. where I scored a nice win.

we have put in more than 1.200 hours and lost over 75% of our starting bank. our team would end and Rory would run the show. It’s hard for me to believe that. Rory hasn’t gone for his test yet. . as a team. At that point. January The team bankroll ended up in a pitiful position. We made an arrangement to invest the remaining funds of our bank into Rory’s team bank. I have plans to be in Las Vegas over New Year’s and the way things are going. Although I felt strongly about my initial intentions. At that point we decided it wasn’t worthwhile to continue playing. which was a bit distracting. it won’t make sense to play any further. and Alex are playing together. We ended up scheduling both Vic and Rory for polygraphs. We’re in a state of disaster: If we continue to lose. 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. demonstrating that he was following procedures and was honest in his reporting. I received a phone call from Rory last night. This resulted in some back-and-forth arguing. 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. Vic’s proved successful. I was referred to an individual whom I have contacted. An October Wednesday Just prior to leaving for the airport. This would not be healthy for the future of the team. informing me that they lost enough money to cut the bet levels. A Saturday in Early December Vic. I received word that Rory came up “clean” on his polygraph test. which was quite healthy at the time. it looks as though we will not have any team bank remaining to play on. one player in particular was still insistent on subjecting the two players to the lie detector. as the examiner had to reschedule. Rory. When I reported this to the others. If anyone wanted to play for his team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and expenses. Note: These are just a few examples of some methods to compensate a manager.”) A portion of each investment is allocated as an investment on behalf of the manager.000 (bonus to manager). 65% of actual win). Net to Investor = $4. 5% bonus on overall win at year-end.000. Actual win = $7. 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. an investor submitting $20. (I believe that this method isn’t fair. expenses = $2. Salaries. then the manager has a $10.000 = $500. such as the following: 5% of adjusted hourly EV of all players. with win-bonus incentive. Percentage of adjusted hourly EV of all players.000 ($2.000 (approx.500.000.000.000.000. this amounts to a $5. A win-bonus share in the amount of 25% of the win in excess of the established total team adjusted hourly EV. If the team experiences a losing bank. which becomes the manager’s compensation in the form of an investment on the manager’s behalf.000 may have $500 or an agreed-upon amount taken out up front.000 “free-roll.000. the manager receives nothing. Example of Win-Bonus Total EV “goal” = $5. as well as combine any or all of these methods in a total compensation package. If 10 investors each put in $20.000 investment for the manager. bonuses. Gross Return to Investor = $5. If the agreed-upon amount is $1.Commission percentage upon conclusion of a winning bank.000. provided the investor’s return is at least 50% of the total win after salaries.” Percentage of adjusted hourly expected value (“EV”) of all players. You can get creative within any one method. 25% of $2. In this method. as it’s purely “result-driven.000.000. .000.000. bonuses.000 in excess of EV).

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

with one investor and one player. The investor fronts $100.000 or a $16. Here are the results: Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $21. but after paying the player. we’ll use the same scenario as in Method A. except with the winnings distributed after the completion of the 5 trips: . the following are some methods used by teams over the years. the investor is left with only $84.000. one of the biggest decisions you need to make is how to compensate players for services performed and when.000 and the player agrees to make five trips. Method B 50/50 Split of Winnings with One Distribution Let’s take this same scenario with a different payment scheme.31 Methods of Player Compensation Whether dealing with a combination of two or 20 players and investors. totaling 100 hours.000 loss after salaries.000. Method A 50/50 Split of Winnings with Frequent Distributions Let’s take a scenario where you have a two-person team. The overall bank shows a win of $5. The agreement is for the winnings to be split equally between investor and player. with the winnings distributed at the end of each trip. While being far from complete.

This method. all the players are also investors. It could be a requirement that all players also be investors. CVCX software. while another .000 is divided equally between player and investor. Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $2.Total net win of $5. along with a 10% manager commission deducted from the gross win. as depicted in the chart below. is a superb tool to determine the chance of achieving a specified goal after a desired number of hours. Quite a difference between these two methods. 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. A solution here would be to extend the length of play before any winnings are distributed. Method C Multi-Player-Invested Bank. 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. Expenses and Management Commission Deducted from Gross Win. If you have one player betting at a range of $50 to $600. If all player/investors are required to invest the same amount and play a certain numbers of hours (not the case here). by QFIT. Net Win 50% Investor/50% Player Based on Hours.500. resembles the above two methods.500 as a result of the player’s efforts. with added provisions for player expenses. 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. then the frequency of distributing the winnings doesn’t have an effect on any one participant. Here.

for one. This method. would not be workable for such situations. . I attempted to strike a balance by using a 50% investor/40% player based on hours/10% player based on win formula. On a couple of my teams. Method D Multi-Player-Invested Bank. One thing you can consider when determining the hourly rate is to “discount” that pay rate for those playing at lower levels. Don Schlesinger. The methods described further down may provide some additional solutions. As in Method C. here all the players are investors as well. There’s been quite a bit of debate over the years about players receiving compensation based on how much they win. as it’s presented. Net Win: 50% Investor/25% Player Based on Hours/25% Player Based on Win. Expenses and Manager’s Commission Deducted from Gross Win. The same advantages/disadvantages indicated in that method apply. the latter player is obviously playing at a higher win rate and should be compensated for that. is strongly opposed to the practice of rewarding players on short-term win results.player is betting $100 to $1.200. This method was used by some of Ken Uston’s teams.

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

game types.nature of the play doesn’t provide for reimbursement by a casino. the player gets paid regardless of the results.. If you decide to pay 25% of adjusted hourly EV. Method F Player Receives Combination of Hourly Wage + Win Incentive Bonus By decreasing the hourly rate paid to players.g.000 win after 10 hours of play. the investor could still end up at a disadvantage. each player’s pay . this method provides the investor with some protection.080. Deduct $50 from your previously adjusted EV of $1. the player receives only 10 hours of pay.750. divide the total expenses by the number of hours and deduct that amount from the hourly EV. You decide to pay the player a percentage of this adjusted EV. Step 4: Based on overall EV and committed hours.50.030.575. However. the player receives an hourly wage of $257.000/20 = $50. each player’s EV is determined. after realizing a losing bank. you may want to consider any expenses (e. If a player is paying $500 for a plane ticket and another $500 for room and meals. while the remaining $97. the results are negative. and your new adjusted EV is $1. along with estimated expenses involved with the proposed play. If the trip is estimated for 20 hours of play. the player will have still wages totaling $25. venues of choice for play. you have $1. Step 1: A total team bankroll is determined for a one-year cycle (this could be changed). having paid salaries. creating an adjusted EV figure. travel) as a cost and deduct from the hourly EV. totaling $2. where compensation to players is in a graduated manner based on time commitments. Example: $1. In this method. and stakes.425 goes to the investor. Step 3: Based on the above. On the other hand. if the player scores a $100.000 in expenses for the trip. while providing good incentives for the player(s) and the manager (as applicable). If after 100 hours. Step 2: Each player is asked to commit to a certain number of hours for the year.

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. Difference in pay ($87. 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. If so. player receives $ 62. Note: Increasing the percentage here helps provide motivation in the event a player is burning out. the difference in that amount (that would bring the figure to 40% of actual win) will be . After 50% of committed hours are played.000 is $12. Example: Player commits to play 200 hours at an adjusted EV of $1.500. representing a “performance bonus” for the player.scale can be established as follows: Hourly adjusted EV is determined and player receives 10% of that EV. out-of-pocket expenses.500) is $25. a calculation will determine if the player’s total pay amounts to less than 25% of actual win. 25% of $350. If so. for total adjusted EV goal of $300. player’s hourly pay increases to 15% of the adjusted EV and trip win percentage increases to 10%. 50% of $25.500 per hour. a calculation will be performed to determine whether the total pay remitted to all players. and manager commission amounts to less than 40% of total actual team win. Based on pay schedule.500 – $62. 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. along with 5% of each trip win until 50% of the committed hours are played.500. Player goes 200 hours and wins $350.000.000 (actual win) is $87.000.500.

decreasing the bet range decreases the hourly rate.000–$350.000 to all players in compensation based on the standard pay schedule.000 for expenses.000) is $50. You have options! The additional $25. the funds available for play are decreased. Method G This is actually a complement to the above methods that are pertinent to a long-term bank. An example: On January 1.000. the investor receives a percentage of the value of the bank. Example: Investor paid out a total of $240.000.000.000.determined and all players will divide 50% of that figure.000. If you’re paying players based on EV. Investor reimbursed players a total of $10. a starting bank is $1. 50% of $50. After this disbursement. Investor paid manager $100. Total out-of-pocket by investor is $350.000. or it could be retained by the investor.000 is $25. This bonus can be calculated by hours played or percentage of win. representing a “performance “bonus” to be divided by all players (or only those players who met their time commitments). where the investor can realize some return on a monthly or quarterly basis. which may decrease the bet range.” it could be distributed to players in accordance with any number of formulas. The allotment of this bonus among players will be based purely on hours played regardless of EV or actual wins. In this method. Total actual win is $1. calculated on the value of the bank on that date. Difference ($400. Note: A problem with overall “team” bonuses is that players showing winning results feel more deserving than those showing losing results.000. On . The terms provide for the investor to receive a 1% interest distribution on the first of each month.000 could go to the manager as a “manager bonus.000 (actual win) is $400.000.000. 40% of $1. each month or quarter.000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

grading system.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. and what is considered passing. 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: . 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. If a candidate fails a test. is there a form of re-test? Will a candidate be interviewed and accepted by the team manager only. 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. multi-deck)? Are written tests going to be given for basic strategy? Other skills? General knowledge? Outline the specific testing routine. how many? Are performance reviews conducted? 5.

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

Score: _________ Comments: Awareness: Candidate identifies any close scrutiny and takes appropriate measures. Score: _________ Comments: Follows Game Plan: Candidate’s live play is in accordance with what’s outlined in the team game plan. Candidate is aware of countermeasures employed by pit/dealer and reacts accordingly. 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= .

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. You Divide by Full Decks: ____ 1/2 Decks: ____ Other: ____. Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play each . 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. 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. Value Assigned to Ace Is: _____.

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

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

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

Outline policies for not discussing team matters outside of the team. 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. Recruiting spotters and/or BPs. should or should . Outline policies for what information. in written form. 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.necessary. Recruiting new players. Phone calls. Outline policies for not communicating via hotel room phones. 9. Outline procedures players should follow when leaving a casino to ensure they are not being followed.

converted into graph form. Below is an example of a report generated from an Excel spreadsheet. 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. For the purpose of effect. 10. which can illustrate various factors. you have the ability to customize charts and graphs. such as Lotus 123 and Excel. 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. both . while reviewing a player’s overall performance. 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. Such use can be applied based on the desired results.not be carried on a player’s person. to illustrate the difference in swings two players experience and how each reacts to a big losing session. The following graphs depict the results of two different players throughout the course of 12 play sessions.

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

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

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

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

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

The End Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

. Blaine has excelled both solo and as a blackjack-team player and leader. Well-versed in all aspects of winning blackjack play. He is particularly well-known in blackjack circles for his ability to teach new players how to beat the game. He lives in New York. Blaine has earned a significant (mid-seven-figure) second income and traveled the world playing blackjack.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.

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

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

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