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

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

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 .

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. 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) .

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 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Silver Zone .

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

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

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

I read through that book chapter by chapter. It was a long night/morning! Friday Night/Saturday Morning Decided to sleep a good deal of the day Friday.the book and the cards and soon I began reading the book. I was on my way. to squeeze in one last play before leaving for home. I can still confidently walk into a casino and play a winning game. Then played Friday afternoon in one final session and won $12. I opened up the table. I was up $46.000. To this day. During several wild sessions throughout the evening and into the early-morning hours. . At the time of this writing. and got a private table in the VIP Room. as the trip was a bit tiring.000.000 to winning $22.m.000. I still consider Million Dollar Blackjack to be one of the most informative and entertaining books on the game ever written. Throughout this book are more details of my experiences with playing the game at various levels—for example. A couple of other players joined the table. This time I arrived as the VIP Room opened for the evening and continued with the aggressive style of play. I’m glad to be going home. I went from down $50.000 in my last shoe. I’m done. Hit the tables at 11:15 p. with no other players. The swings were wild and I’m pleased I ended up with a decent enough win. so I left. putting my trip total at $5. After three shoes. 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. stopping to practice the drills as they were presented. how I got involved with blackjack teams and my journey of playing at high-stakes for more than 20 years. putting my overall trip total at $51.500.900. Took $36.

they will lose. about $15 on the play. and at times those odds shift to the player’s advantage. People get a big thrill out of trying their luck at gambling. on average. Each time a card is removed from a deck (or decks) in play. the house advantage (on the best bets) is roughly 1.2 The House Advantage The gaming industry has been growing at a blistering pace over the past few years.5%. the odds of the game at hand shift. Considering the 1.5% disadvantage on that action. Casinos are in business to make money on their “games of chance.” so it should be no surprise that all casino games have a built-in house advantage. In states that offer a lottery. While all other casino games are subject to what’s known as the “law of independent trials. Here’s an example of how the casino makes its money with the house advantage. the total “action” is $1. A number of states have legal casinos on riverboats and on land. If 100 people each make one bet at $10 per bet.000. In craps.” the house advantage in the game of blackjack is dependent on the cards that were previously dealt. because there are a lot of variables to consider. check out the ticket lines when the jackpot grows large. Casinos have also opened on Native American land.2 % 5.3 % 3% and up 25% What about the house advantage for blackjack? Let’s hold off on providing numbers on this. Following are the house advantages for a few other casino games (approximate): baccarat: roulette: slots: keno: 1. This is the only .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Double down on all hard totals of 10 vs. 8.4 vs. • Split 2. dealer upcard of 2. 4. otherwise hit.A or 8. 4. It can’t be lowered. 5.T or 5. otherwise hit. 7.4. 6. dealer upcard of 4. as offered in a number of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.T is a hard 17. 5. since the ace is already counted as 1. The above decisions occur more than others throughout the game. 3. 5. • Never split T. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 2. • Double down on all hard totals of 9 vs. T. A hard-hand total can’t be lowered by counting the ace as 1. A hand of A. 5. otherwise hit. hit all hands until your cards total 17 or higher. 4.2. 3. dealer upcard of 2. 7. 3. . 4. T. • When the dealer is showing an upcard of 7. • Stand on hard total of 12 vs. Following is the basic strategy for a typical multi-deck game. otherwise hit.4. 9. Pair Splitting • Always split A. 3. 8. 6. because it can be lowered by counting the ace as 1 to get a hand of 7. and 7.3. 3. 16 vs.basic strategy flawlessly. 14. Hit/Stand Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Stand on all hard totals of 17 and higher. dealer upcard of 3. 5. To apply basic strategy effectively. 9. 15. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. Double Down Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Double down on all hard totals of 11 vs. a hand of A. 9. 7. • Stand on hard totals of 13. 6. otherwise hit. as any deviations from the proper plays cost you money over time.5.2. • Split 4. 8.7 vs. dealer upcard of 2. A.2. 6. otherwise hit. 4. you must remember the distinction between a hard hand and a soft hand.8. 6. is a soft 17. For example. 5. 6.

8. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 2. 6.• Split 6. otherwise stand.9 vs. 5. 5. Never Take Insurance Basic Strategy Multi-Deck. Atlantic City Rules . 4. Double Down Decisions on Soft-Hand Totals • Double down on A. dealer upcard of 2. There are some rare occasions where a casino permits doubling after one or two hit cards are dealt. dealer upcard of 3. otherwise hit.5 vs. 7. 4.4 or A. 6. The player is permitted to double down only only on the initial two cards. otherwise hit (except stand with an A.2 or A. dealer upcard of 2. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. 4. dealer upcard of 4.7 vs.7 vs.6 vs. • Split 9. 3. • Double down on A. 6. otherwise hit. or 8). 9 (not 7). 3. 5. 5.3 vs. 6.6 or A. The basic strategy for these special rules is different. • Double down on A.

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

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

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 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Three .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 .

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

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

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

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

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

6. the true count is 3. Dividing 15 by 5. calculate the true count and write it in the third column next to each item. 2½ decks remain. Example—The running count is 15 and 3½ decks have been played. giving a divisor of 5 (representing five half-decks).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. Answers to drills number 5. For 3½ decks played. based on the information in the two columns provided in this drill. .

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If not.000 in a gaming day. your total buy-ins are $11. one who won’t surrender ID when first asked. The stated purpose of this requirement is to thwart laundering of money used to finance terrorist activities.000.e. If the customer is a regular player.000 and the casino is required to identify you.000 in chips.000. and Social Security number. Notice the phrase “totaling more than $10. which is accessible by any number of casino employees worldwide. then later in the day go to a different table and buy another $6. $7. I’ll bet you didn’t know how invasive the simple process of getting a hotel room could be. The casino staff tracks cash buy-ins and attempts to identify anyone who looks like a threat to exceed the threshold early on. date of birth. At some casinos. In fact. the player’s personal information is in its database. identifying any customer who conducts a cash transaction or series of cash transactions totaling more than $10.000 (or its equivalent in other currencies).privacy. Here is an important point. Casinos have historically been targets for these practices. While Global Cash Access provides identity verification of casino patrons to protect all parties from identity theft. Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Federal law requires casinos to report all currency transactions in excess of $10. It is federal law to report a cash transaction . The CTR details the customer’s name. and other crimes. he will no longer be permitted to engage in cash transactions of any type. drug trafficking.000 in chips. address.” If you go to a table game and buy $5. It could be $5.000 mark. buy-ins have to exceed the $10. some casinos have specific thresholds at which they won’t allow further buy-ins for an unidentified player. If the customer refuses to provide this. i. or any such amount. your name is checked against that database when you check in. A casino is required to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with the IRS. he probably has a players card with an account number and the casino should already have the information in its system..000 in a gaming day. Officially. Casino Credit Services can provide casinos with a dossier of all a subject’s recorded casino activities. a casino employee will ask for a form of government identification.

A simple way to view this is as follows.000. However. including any other cash transactions you’ve made that day. say you win $12.000 = internal casino policy.001 in chips. that transaction will likely accrue toward your total. It only becomes defined as an exchange when you go to the cashier and exchange those chips for cash. The same goes for buying in for chips with cash at a table. If you attempt to cash in $10.000 and leave the table with a total of $17. any requirement to obtain ID prior to the $10. That means you don’t have to produce ID prior to $10. the casino cannot legally give you the cash unless it has information (obtained from a government ID) on file. Privacy problems can arise out of the blue as a result of CTR issues.000 buy-in. the casino is within its legal rights to refuse to allow the additional buy-in.000 in chips. They include the following: . After that initial $5.000 in cash transactions. For example.000 cash down in exchange for chips. An ID request resulting from cash transactions exceeding $10. When you go to a casino gaming table and place $5. you will be watched very closely from that point on.000. or possibly even backed off. That is not an additional physical exchange of currency.000 = federal law. But keep in mind that if a casino asks for ID and you refuse to provide it. So playing with chips you’ve won shouldn’t trigger a CTR. it’s not uncommon to buy in for something like $9. get on a bad run. Now. Casino policy may impose additional actions or requirements of identification when cashing out chips.exceeding $10. you’re using casino chips to play.000 point is solely dictated by internal casino procedures and not by federal law. that is a physical exchange of currency. If you refuse. An ID request resulting from cash transactions below $10. The regulations as outlined under the Bank Secrecy Act clearly define a currency transaction as the physical exchange of currency between two parties. but once you cash them.000. at which point you’ll be asked for ID. and ask to buy in for another $3.

or friend.• The cashier may require identification any time chips higher than a designated denomination are presented. you legally cannot break down your chips and have them cashed out for you to avoid a CTR. While this varies by casino. Cashing out different amounts at different times can be perfectly legitimate. but rather work only with $1.000-denomination chips or higher. making multiple cashouts in a deliberate attempt to avoid a CTR is called “structuring. in another. as you’ll see below. as explained below. Most customers won’t know what constitutes the casino’s gaming day.m. until 6:59 a. Keep in mind that if it’s determined that you’re “structuring. while it’s 7 a. you have to be careful about what you do with that knowledge. In such cases. The term “gaming day” also needs to be considered. However.m. . as its definintion differs among casinos. If you keep your cash activity under $10. in one casino. Since casinos are known to track these chips very closely. A gaming day (or designated 24-hour period) might run from midnight until 11:59 p. That could also be considered a form of structuring. • The cashier may phone the pit where you recently played to verify the amount of chips you walked away with. it makes sense to keep an ample amount of chips available if you plan to play more at a casino. And while it might be good to know.000 or lower denominations. relative. you’re not legally required to provide the casino with your personal information. but understand that your refusal might prompt other actions.” a crime for which you can be arrested. If you’re with a spouse. if your usual level of play causes you to exceed $10. • Some casinos use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. it’s most common with $5.m. many players never accept them at the table.000 in cash transactions. which means it’s rarely necessary to cash out large amounts at any one time. Be careful and obey the law. To summarize. then dealing with CTRs will be something you have to get used to. For convenience.” you’ll have bigger problems to deal with.000. with tracers implanted in high-denomination chips. only you should attempt to cash it or break it down at a table for future play. Caution must be exercised if this type of chip is in use.

000 requires a CTR filing? The $10.000 number can score you both a CTR and an SAR if someone finds you suspicious! You’re in the blind with regard to when such filings are made. The actual dollar amount that warrants an SAR filing is also vague. where they’re granted immunity for any consequences that stem from illegal transactions. In fairness to casinos. The filing institution is prohibited from disclosing to other institutions that an SAR has been filed on a patron. provided they filed an SAR. If this occurs and a casino reveals that an SAR was filed. Financial institutions have a “better safe than sorry” mentality on this issue. Casinos are especially sensitive to this. A player may even bring chips from one casino to cash in another. patrons frequently move from casino to casino. Quite serious! Additionally.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. anyone can be subject to such reporting. Suppose you’re detained by casino security and local police get involved. In the casino business. whereas casinos are more likely to use $3. It’s not uncommon for one casino to call another and inquire about a suspicious patron. Guess what? Casinos are considered financial institutions and are required to comply with this regulation as well. However. the filing institution is not permitted to inform law-enforcement authorities that an SAR was filed. The Bank Secrecy Act prohibits the institution filing the SAR from informing the filing’s subject. Given the vagueness of the requirements. they encounter many players who engage in .000.000 benchmark. there are two areas in which a patron is protected by this same Bank Secrecy Act. If a casino employee informs the police that they filed an SAR on the player. the casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. They fall under the protection of the Safe Harbor Provision. that casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. It’s generally understood that banks use a $5. Remember how a cash transaction in excess of $10.

This will trigger a CTR. Be Informed From my experiences and those of others I’ve spoken with. a physical description of the patron. making decisions subject to opinion rather than verifiable facts. which is subject to the judgment of the casino.000 during the course of a day. in the absence of that. the casino can implement this as internal policy to protect itself. a refusal to complete a transaction could be a result of internal casino policy and not federal law. Here are some of the major differences between the CTR and SAR reports: • Federal law has an established threshold of $10. but none for SAR reporting.multiple cash exchanges throughout a 24-hour period and it’s difficult to keep track.000 for CTR reporting. • If a patron does not provide identification when a CTR is required. • The patron’s Social Security number is necessary for a CTR. in which they either have the patron’s player card number or. the pit staffs in most casinos aren’t knowledgeable about the whys of these requests for . but at this point it’s not a legal requirement to obtain official identification. and any attempt by a casino to do so is merely an anticipatory effort based on internal policy. an SAR can be filed below the $10. With an SAR. Other than determining whether you’re old enough to engage in casino play. To aid in tracking. The tricky part is that if you wish not to comply with the request. but not required for an SAR. the only legal reason a casino has to identify you is if you engage in cash transactions in excess of $10.000 mark.000 threshold if the casino deems you to be suspicious. However. This is risky territory due to its vagueness. They may be logging your transactions. the casino is prohibited by law from completing the transaction. Even though you may not have even approached the $10. most maintain Multiple Transaction Logs. the casino may not allow you to make any further currency exchanges. the casino is under no such prohibition by law. Additionally.

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

The Black Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in addition to the burn card. Knowledge of Bottom Card After the Cut A sloppy dealer may expose the bottom of the deck(s) while completing the cut. or possess with intent to use. 2.000 fine and/or 10-year jail sentence. which won’t be dealt. any device to assist: 1. 1985. With this information.075 Use of Device for Calculating Probabilities: It is unlawful for any person at a licensed gaming establishment to use. In many single-deck games. In keeping track of the cards played. If you catch the bottom card before and after the cut.S. 3. whereby anyone caught using a computer in a casino would be subject to up to a $10. jurisdictions. as you can incorporate the value of the bottom card. Knowledge of this information also can justify placing a larger bet right off the top. On July 1. In projecting the outcome of the game. If you’re fortunate enough to catch the bottom card before the cut and after the cut. cutting a 5 out of play gives you an advantage off the top. which will not be dealt. . If these three cards are low value cards. you can place a larger bet off the top.cut high. into your count. In analyzing the strategy for playing or betting to be used in the game. You can incorporate its value into your count. Nevada Statute 465. a bill in the state of Nevada went into effect. Use of a Concealed Computer This is a felony offense in most U. In analyzing the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to the game. you’re playing at a nice advantage off the top of a handdealt game and can bet accordingly. This is good information. where that card will end up not being dealt. you have two cards to incorporate into your count. or 4. 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. you have three cards to incorporate into your count.

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

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

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

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

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

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. .increasingly difficult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A $200 average bet is probably the minimum to qualify for some sort of airfare rebate. Other requirements may be a minimum amount of front money on deposit or a minimum credit line. he may be eligible for airfare reimbursement based on his actual loss of $16.000 with a recorded $500 average bet. After playing nine hours. If your casino host doesn’t offer this to you. Such negotiated comps fall under the category of Room. Although your play may not warrant a total reimbursement for the ticket(s).600. you may be able to further negotiate your comp by having the casino limit your food comps to a certain dollar amount. you may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of your airline tickets. When calculating a player’s eligibility for a comp such as airfare reimbursement.400. Food. 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. if applicable. If he presents tickets totaling only $400.not hinder your playing ability). In this case. representing a partial . the player loses $16. the casino may elect to reimburse based on actual loss. If you’re a non-discriminating diner. The next step is for the player to present copies of his ticket and the ticket of his traveling companion. a player comes out betting heavy and loses all his front money before reaching the minimum hourly requirement. In the past. Airfare reimbursement at this casino requires a minimum of 12 hours play at a minimum average bet of $200. you may qualify for a partial rebate. In this case. to determine the total reimbursement. all he’ll get is $1. the casino may have some additional criteria that must be met. although the player didn’t meet the terms for reimbursement based on theoretical loss (he’s light on hours played). you can ask. the common requirement was a minimum of 12 hours play. Sometimes. Airline-Ticket Reimbursement As you become an established player in a casino. Limited (“RFL”). provided certain criteria are met. If the tickets total $2. then that’s all he’ll receive. such as a minimum requirement for hours played.600.000 regardless of hours played and average bet size.000 on deposit at the start of a three-day stay. Many casinos reimburse airfare only for players who stay at the hotel. Take a situation where a player puts $20.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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you can usually go next door to cash your travelers’ checks. Protective Measures If at all possible. 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. if you have no alternative but to carry cash. at the time of this writing. If you fail to follow them. The federal authorities won’t be in the picture yet. but the total amount officially reported as confiscated was less than what was truly taken.S. When traveling overseas. Beware Local Law Enforcement Upon passing through airport security. if you’re pulled aside by reason of suspicion (justified or unjustified). Carrying travelers’ checks for domestic travel can work. 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. it may be a . When traveling within the United States. as well as U. you’ll immediately be turned over by airport security to local police.000.23 Airline Travel Security For international travel. try to find an alternative to carrying cash. you could be subjected to arrest and confiscation of your cash. there are no restrictions on the amount of currency one may carry. In other words. laws define what you can and can’t do in terms of carrying money. I strongly advise that you familiarize yourself with and strictly adhere to the laws of the countries you’re visiting. the victim claimed the cops stole the money. Even if you’re playing under an alias at a given casino and several casinos are in the area. This is where the problems have arisen. In some jurisdictions. laws regarding transport of currencies. individuals who have been detained as a result of carrying large sums of cash claim that all their cash was confiscated. However.

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

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

the games can be a bit different from those found in the U. but a player needs to do additional homework to identify potentially profitable situations. A 3. there’s an additional spin on this rule. where after a double down or split. Different Rules The most common rule you will find in play outside the USA is the “nohole-card” rule. based on several variables. This is where the dealer does not take a second card (hole card) until all players have played their hands.8 vs. A.S. 11 vs. T 2.A vs. A Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Bet Spreads. Also. If you possess a strong bankroll.S. just as it does within the U. As always. When playing with this rule. the player loses both the initial wager and the amount put up for the double down or split. you need to adjust your basic strategy as follows: 1.S. A 4. While a typical game found in casinos throughout Europe is a 6-decker with less than desirable rules. and Heat Players can get away with higher bet spreads in many countries outside the U. Blackjack opportunities do exist around the world. Casinos dealing blackjack can be found in many countries around the globe.24 Blackjack Outside the U.S. 11 vs. Penetration.. you can increase your edge by spreading your bets accordingly. such a bet spread may overcome this type of game. which can be both good and bad. casinos. 8. 8. In many places.8 vs. when the dealer’s second card makes a blackjack. T 5. Penetration can vary widely. this factor should be the key to determining whether a game is .

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

it may be more prudent to keep the money on you.000 in exchange. In reality. you might also see a rate quoted as 1. you return home with €90. dollars and the euro (€). which is the amount in euro you’d receive for one U.000 and purchase euro at a rate of . Using the “for-information-purposes-only” rate in the above example. After a break-even play. Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in having all your money confiscated. Having a local player guiding you around in a foreign country is an invaluable asset. Alongside. Translated to our purposes: SCENARIO “A”—You have US$100. Electronic Pen-Pals Some players worldwide participate regularly in some of the blackjack websites and communicate with one another. a more realistic translation would be as follows: . the above scenario is not common.S. dollar.10387 and receive US$100. since the rates quoted are considered just a “quote.9059. Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 For the examples in this chapter. indicating that you’d receive US$1. in addition to your being detained. Currency Laws Be aware of the various regulations with respect to bringing currencies into or out of the country. rather than in a hotel safe.” The banks adjust these rates in a manner that enables them to make a profit from both sides of the transaction (the purchase and the sale). In this case.950 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. you might see the euro trading at . General Info If you check a local financial newspaper listing exchange rates.10 for one euro.10387. You arrive at your European destination with €90. especially if you’re staying at a smaller hotel. Such players have reciprocally hosted one another during visits to their respective countries.S.exercise caution.9059. we will use U.590.

Based on the above transactions.S. You arrive at your European destination with €89. If you end your play with a win.500. account). .g. They establish a rate for your buyin.117). this service was extended to me without any commission. Method to Minimize Loss on Currency Exchange Best Method—Some casinos provide a nice service. If you play a break-even game.9059 1. but lost US$1.SCENARIO “B”—You have US$100.9059). they will be once again converted back to US$ the day they are wired to your account back home. When you’re receiving reimbursement for airfare.9059 = 1. depending on the strength of the currency involved at that time. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage (usually the latter). In my past trips.50 due to the cost of exchanging currency. where you wire US$ to their account held in their local bank.099 Note: In the event only currencies are listed in one of these columns. or 1/1. you can determine the flipside by dividing 1 by the quoted rate (e. You’ll want to ensure the rate used is the same in both of these steps and that it’s done when you settle.000 and purchase Euro at a rate of .9100) and receive US$98.360. which is locked in. your winnings are converted at a spot rate (the rate at the moment the bank wires the funds back to your U.10387.8950 1. 1/. your exchange transactions would resemble Scenario “A” above. they use a spot rate to convert the amount you give the receipt (the US$ amount) and convert it to a euro amount.9100 1.099 (.50 in exchange. After a break-even play. you return home with €89.10387 Buy: .117 Sell: .500 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. You played a break-even game. When funds are wired back to you.. here is how the exchange rate chart would appear: Quote: .10387 = .639.8950 (1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. you can avoid going for sequences in those areas. These segments would likely not be affected by plugs. Let’s say the dealer plugs the entire segment of cutoffs right in the middle of the cards in the discard tray (see Illustration 15). 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. After scouting a dealer. If you’re aware of specific or approximate locations where the cutoffs are placed. You may come across a dealer who “triple 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. a third in the middle. and a third placed one deck above the bottom (see Illustration 16). in addition to house shuffle procedures. 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. Those are the segments in which you’ll look for potential sequences. In this case. with a third placed one deck below the top.It’s important to perform some advance scouting of specific dealers. Specifically.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Between the two of them. I got him to laugh when I told the story of a really rough time I had about eight years ago. He was not sold on my pep talk.000 for the trip.bummed out about things and told me he no longer wanted to play. mumbling that I probably needed to just quit and call 1-800-GAMBLER. Our net for the bank so far is up about $9.000. which is something very new to him. with his end result a loss of more than $10. I spent about an hour on the phone with Vic. trying to motivate him to go back out there and play some more. the team lost $2. I told him to wait until Serge returned and to see how he felt then. and prior to that he was betting only red ($5) chips. he might consider joining Rory in Las Vegas this coming weekend. 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. Vic said he would do that and phone me later to give me an update. just to get his confidence back—see how things go. On the September trip Vic came out a winner.000. then move on to another place. He said he’d let me know in a couple of days if he’ll do so. Now as a member of our team. Considering the dollar amounts involved. I know how someone his age can feel after the losses he’s just had. he has spent the past six months betting black ($100) and purple ($500) chips. 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. Serge elected to . 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’s been having a negative swing.000+. Vic joined the team in September. Vic finally got in touch with me and he decided not to play any more on the trip. Serge won some more and his final results were $8. I suggested to Vic that after he had a few days of rest. Since then. I told him a couple of stories of how I experienced bad swings years back and thought of quitting. when I found myself walking between casinos in Lake Tahoe. April As a result of the recent extreme drop in our bankroll. Speaking to Vic. Later that day. He was even thinking of withdrawing from the team altogether.

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

We needed to address the problem of available cash.000 and Ursula lost another $2. My big dilemma the past couple of days has been trying to figure out what spa I should go to for a short visit. just about all of my free vacation time has been utilized for blackjack play. I have several reasons for this. Among the three of them. First. and Vic were all present.000 loss and Rory’s $5. so I could evaluate if he’s qualified to do so on a regular basis. He informed me that he had lost $5. She was low on bankroll.000. there was only a total of $10. Ursula phoned and informed me that she lost an additional $2.000 loss. I’m in desperate need of at least a couple of days of plain old rest and relaxation. where Ursula.300. she informed me that she lost $4. Also. That Friday I’m scheduled to take a week off from work. The results of Devon and Regina were still unknown. With these new numbers. then play with a lower maximum bet. 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. Rory lost another $3. so I told her to take a break and wait until shift change. She hadn’t yet been able to meet up with Rory. then go back out to play during the remainder of graveyard shift. Rory.000. we were now down more than 50% of our bank.000. I phoned in time for the team meeting. A second reason is that I wanted to give Rory an opportunity to run the team trip independently. Ursula had lost the remainder of her bankroll. following a phone call from Vic this morning. It looks like this will no longer be a problem. I deliberately didn’t make plans to join the trip.000. having not played a hand. Even though the team is in Vegas. A couple of hours later. the available cash was a crucial issue at this point.500.000 and Vic was the big winner. the team was down $13.000 for the trip. and the overall team bank was now back down $24. since her action has been well accepted there.Ursula this morning. Rory lost $5. With Ursula’s $8. I . She was not having problems with the pit and was able to get away with more than a sufficient bet spread. Devon was scheduled to arrive shortly with roughly $9. with each of them taking $3.000. I told her to take a break.500 after three hours of play in one casino. I instructed them to go out and play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the manager receives nothing. 5% bonus on overall win at year-end.000 in excess of EV).000.000. this amounts to a $5.”) A portion of each investment is allocated as an investment on behalf of the manager. such as the following: 5% of adjusted hourly EV of all players.000 investment for the manager.000. as well as combine any or all of these methods in a total compensation package. an investor submitting $20. If the team experiences a losing bank.” Percentage of adjusted hourly expected value (“EV”) of all players. Percentage of adjusted hourly EV of all players. then the manager has a $10. which becomes the manager’s compensation in the form of an investment on the manager’s behalf. 65% of actual win). Example of Win-Bonus Total EV “goal” = $5.000 ($2.000. Note: These are just a few examples of some methods to compensate a manager. A win-bonus share in the amount of 25% of the win in excess of the established total team adjusted hourly EV. (I believe that this method isn’t fair. expenses = $2. 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. Gross Return to Investor = $5.000. If 10 investors each put in $20. as it’s purely “result-driven.000.Commission percentage upon conclusion of a winning bank.000. Salaries. In this method.000. with win-bonus incentive. provided the investor’s return is at least 50% of the total win after salaries. .000. bonuses. You can get creative within any one method.000 = $500.000 may have $500 or an agreed-upon amount taken out up front.000 (approx. and expenses.000 (bonus to manager). If the agreed-upon amount is $1.000 “free-roll. bonuses.500.000. Actual win = $7. Net to Investor = $4.000. 25% of $2.

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

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

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

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. here all the players are investors as well. as it’s presented. . One thing you can consider when determining the hourly rate is to “discount” that pay rate for those playing at lower levels.200. As in Method C. is strongly opposed to the practice of rewarding players on short-term win results. The methods described further down may provide some additional solutions. Method D Multi-Player-Invested Bank. Net Win: 50% Investor/25% Player Based on Hours/25% Player Based on Win. This method was used by some of Ken Uston’s teams. On a couple of my teams. for one. Don Schlesinger.player is betting $100 to $1. 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. There’s been quite a bit of debate over the years about players receiving compensation based on how much they win.

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

In this method. However. travel) as a cost and deduct from the hourly EV. after realizing a losing bank.g. you may want to consider any expenses (e. Method F Player Receives Combination of Hourly Wage + Win Incentive Bonus By decreasing the hourly rate paid to players. If after 100 hours. If a player is paying $500 for a plane ticket and another $500 for room and meals.575. while the remaining $97. Step 2: Each player is asked to commit to a certain number of hours for the year.080. having paid salaries.000 win after 10 hours of play. each player’s pay . Step 3: Based on the above. On the other hand.000 in expenses for the trip. game types. Example: $1. you have $1. If the trip is estimated for 20 hours of play.50..750. You decide to pay the player a percentage of this adjusted EV. and stakes. while providing good incentives for the player(s) and the manager (as applicable). Step 1: A total team bankroll is determined for a one-year cycle (this could be changed). the player receives an hourly wage of $257. the player gets paid regardless of the results. the investor could still end up at a disadvantage.425 goes to the investor. if the player scores a $100. Step 4: Based on overall EV and committed hours. divide the total expenses by the number of hours and deduct that amount from the hourly EV. the player receives only 10 hours of pay. along with estimated expenses involved with the proposed play. and your new adjusted EV is $1.000/20 = $50. creating an adjusted EV figure.nature of the play doesn’t provide for reimbursement by a casino. where compensation to players is in a graduated manner based on time commitments. venues of choice for play. Deduct $50 from your previously adjusted EV of $1. totaling $2. If you decide to pay 25% of adjusted hourly EV. the player will have still wages totaling $25.030. the results are negative. this method provides the investor with some protection. each player’s EV is determined.

000.scale can be established as follows: Hourly adjusted EV is determined and player receives 10% of that EV.500) is $25.500 per hour. 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.500. After 50% of committed hours are played.000 is $12. If so. out-of-pocket expenses. along with 5% of each trip win until 50% of the committed hours are played.500 – $62. Based on pay schedule. for total adjusted EV goal of $300. 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. player receives $ 62.000. If so. player’s hourly pay increases to 15% of the adjusted EV and trip win percentage increases to 10%. the difference in that amount (that would bring the figure to 40% of actual win) will be . 25% of $350. a calculation will be performed to determine whether the total pay remitted to all players. Difference in pay ($87.000. Note: Increasing the percentage here helps provide motivation in the event a player is burning out. and manager commission amounts to less than 40% of total actual team win.000 (actual win) is $87. a calculation will determine if the player’s total pay amounts to less than 25% of actual win. Example: Player commits to play 200 hours at an adjusted EV of $1. representing a “performance bonus” for the player. Player Bonuses Single Player Bonus (best suited in situations where one player is working for an investor or group of investors)—If a player meets or exceeds total adjusted EV and meets or exceeds the committed hours. 50% of $25. Player goes 200 hours and wins $350.500.500.

or it could be retained by the investor.determined and all players will divide 50% of that figure. calculated on the value of the bank on that date. 50% of $50. If you’re paying players based on EV. The terms provide for the investor to receive a 1% interest distribution on the first of each month. Total actual win is $1. the investor receives a percentage of the value of the bank.” it could be distributed to players in accordance with any number of formulas. After this disbursement. You have options! The additional $25.000.000 to all players in compensation based on the standard pay schedule.000. Note: A problem with overall “team” bonuses is that players showing winning results feel more deserving than those showing losing results.000 for expenses.000. Investor reimbursed players a total of $10.000.000. each month or quarter.000–$350.000 is $25. representing a “performance “bonus” to be divided by all players (or only those players who met their time commitments).000) is $50. On . decreasing the bet range decreases the hourly rate. This bonus can be calculated by hours played or percentage of win. Total out-of-pocket by investor is $350. The allotment of this bonus among players will be based purely on hours played regardless of EV or actual wins. 40% of $1.000 (actual win) is $400.000. An example: On January 1. Example: Investor paid out a total of $240.000. which may decrease the bet range.000. Investor paid manager $100.000 could go to the manager as a “manager bonus. In this method. Difference ($400.000. the funds available for play are decreased. where the investor can realize some return on a monthly or quarterly basis. Method G This is actually a complement to the above methods that are pertinent to a long-term bank. a starting bank is $1.000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: . how many? Are performance reviews conducted? 5. grading system. multi-deck)? Are written tests going to be given for basic strategy? Other skills? General knowledge? Outline the specific testing routine. or may other players vote? Will testing be performed on an ongoing basis? Scheduled or surprise testing? How often? If the team will be using signals as part of its play. 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. and what is considered passing.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. 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.

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

Score: _________ Comments: Awareness: Candidate identifies any close scrutiny and takes appropriate measures. Score: _________ Comments: The following is a sample “system-and-game-plan” form that a candidate may complete: System-and-Game-Plan Form Count System Point Values: 2= 3= 4= 5= 6= 7= 8= . Score: _________ Comments: 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.

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. You Divide by Full Decks: ____ 1/2 Decks: ____ Other: ____. If Using Ace Side Count. 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.9= T= A= If Using True Count Conversion. Value Assigned to Ace Is: _____. Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play each . List Play Variations Used for Game Played: Dealer Shows: Your Hand: At Count of: Variation Is: Simulation Results (to be completed by Evaluator): 6.

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

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

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

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

converted into graph form. while reviewing a player’s overall performance. Such use can be applied based on the desired results. Outline proper procedures (within the letter of the law) a player should follow if an attempt is made by a casino employee to detain the player. QUALITY CONTROL How are players being monitored? How are results being documented and evaluated? Are players and/or investors receiving periodic reports? If so. 10. you have the ability to customize charts and graphs. Below is an example of a report generated from an Excel spreadsheet. For the purpose of effect. which can illustrate various factors. 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. such as Lotus 123 and Excel.not be carried on a player’s person. 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. how often? Will additional training and development be provided? Monitoring Performance Through the use of spreadsheet programs. both .

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

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

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

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

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

The End Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by formal notification from a casino employee. but counting the cards with the intent of jumping into the game once the count becomes favorable. here are some common terms used in this book. and in such counts. Balanced Count—Count system where the total of all the plus-value cards combined with the total of all minus-value cards equals zero. Betting Circle—Spot on the blackjack table directly in front of the player where the bet (wager) is placed. 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. Action—Identifies the total amount of money a player wagers during the course of a session. Basic Strategy—Derived set of play decisions that represent the optimal method of play. a side count of aces would be required for betting purposes. Ace—Can have a value of 1 or 11. Betting Efficiency—A measurement that shows the power of a cardcounting system for betting purposes. and in blackjack in general. and in such counts. but may be used for play variations. depending on the value of other cards in the hand. .Glossary Although this list is far from complete. Bet Spread—The range between the player’s minimum and maximum bets. Ace-Neutralized Count—Aces are assigned a value of zero. a side count of aces is not necessary for betting. the casino industry. Barring—Preventing a player from further playing blackjack in a casino. based solely on the player’s first two cards dealt and the dealer’s upcard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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