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

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

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

Be Informed The Black Zone 16 Cheating The Preferential Shuffle 17 Advantage Play: Some Gray and Not-So-Gray Areas 18 Tactics for Double-Deck Play Summary 19 Backcounting 20 Blackjack and the Internet Security Tips for Participating in Blackjack-Related Websites 21 Blackjack Tournaments 22 The Comp Game and Travel Strategies The Allure Airfare Saving Money on Hotel Rooms Complimentaries Loss-Rebate Programs Other Comps Some Final Tips on Scoring Comps 23 Airline Travel Security 24 Blackjack Outside the U.S. 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 .

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

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 . Quality Control 34 Down Memory Lane The End Zone 35 Assuming the Role of a High-Stakes Player Attitude Preparation. Safety And Security 10.8. Homework. Distribution of Winnings 11.

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

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

If you evaluate your own personality and determine that you’ve got what it takes to be a disciplined player.thrives on the excitement of casino play. you’ll enhance your knowledge of blackjack play. 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. as well as the “games within the game.” As you progress through each. Gamblers usually aren’t winning players. evaluate the games at hand. you’ll develop a foundation of the basic skills needed to identify opportunities and play blackjack at an advantage. along with the house advantage. The Silver Zone After familiarizing yourself with the rules of the game of blackjack. 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. 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). When they bet. 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. The Zones The book is broken down into six “zones. you’ll learn how playing according to the proper basic strategy can minimize the casino’s edge. Disciplined players can walk through a casino. it’s in good situations and this translates into winning over time.

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

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

The Silver Zone .

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

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

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

000 to winning $22. This time I arrived as the VIP Room opened for the evening and continued with the aggressive style of play. I went from down $50. I read through that book chapter by chapter. putting my overall trip total at $51. Took $36.the book and the cards and soon I began reading the book.500. how I got involved with blackjack teams and my journey of playing at high-stakes for more than 20 years. I opened up the table. 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. I’m glad to be going home. After three shoes. stopping to practice the drills as they were presented.000. I’m done. The swings were wild and I’m pleased I ended up with a decent enough win.000. At the time of this writing. Throughout this book are more details of my experiences with playing the game at various levels—for example. so I left. During several wild sessions throughout the evening and into the early-morning hours. I still consider Million Dollar Blackjack to be one of the most informative and entertaining books on the game ever written. I was on my way. with no other players. Then played Friday afternoon in one final session and won $12. Hit the tables at 11:15 p. . I can still confidently walk into a casino and play a winning game. To this day. It was a long night/morning! Friday Night/Saturday Morning Decided to sleep a good deal of the day Friday.900. A couple of other players joined the table.m. to squeeze in one last play before leaving for home. and got a private table in the VIP Room. I was up $46. putting my trip total at $5.000. as the trip was a bit tiring.000 in my last shoe.

In states that offer a lottery. the total “action” is $1. Casinos have also opened on Native American land.” so it should be no surprise that all casino games have a built-in house advantage. Here’s an example of how the casino makes its money with the house advantage. This is the only . about $15 on the play. If 100 people each make one bet at $10 per bet. they will lose. While all other casino games are subject to what’s known as the “law of independent trials.3 % 3% and up 25% What about the house advantage for blackjack? Let’s hold off on providing numbers on this.5% disadvantage on that action. on average. 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. Casinos are in business to make money on their “games of chance. Considering the 1.” 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. In craps. and at times those odds shift to the player’s advantage. Following are the house advantages for a few other casino games (approximate): baccarat: roulette: slots: keno: 1. Each time a card is removed from a deck (or decks) in play. A number of states have legal casinos on riverboats and on land. People get a big thrill out of trying their luck at gambling.2 % 5.000.5%. the odds of the game at hand shift. check out the ticket lines when the jackpot grows large.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. 15.7 vs. dealer upcard of 2. is a soft 17. 14. dealer upcard of 2. 6. 8. 6. 6. since the ace is already counted as 1. otherwise hit. • Stand on hard total of 12 vs. 5. Double Down Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Double down on all hard totals of 11 vs.4 vs. • Split 4. Hit/Stand Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Stand on all hard totals of 17 and higher.basic strategy flawlessly. . 3. For example. A hand of A. a hand of A. hit all hands until your cards total 17 or higher. otherwise hit. It can’t be lowered. 4. dealer upcard of 2. • When the dealer is showing an upcard of 7. • Never split T. 4.T or 5. 5. 8. because it can be lowered by counting the ace as 1 to get a hand of 7. 3.3. dealer upcard of 3. 5.A or 8. 5. and 7. 3. A hard-hand total can’t be lowered by counting the ace as 1. Pair Splitting • Always split A. A. 7.8. T. T. • Split 2. 7. 5. 5. 9. you must remember the distinction between a hard hand and a soft hand. 4. 7. otherwise hit. 6. • Stand on hard totals of 13. 6. otherwise hit. 3. otherwise hit. • Double down on all hard totals of 10 vs. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. 4.4. as offered in a number of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos. • Double down on all hard totals of 9 vs.T is a hard 17. Following is the basic strategy for a typical multi-deck game. 16 vs. as any deviations from the proper plays cost you money over time. To apply basic strategy effectively. The above decisions occur more than others throughout the game.2.4. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 2.5. dealer upcard of 4. 6. otherwise hit. 9.2. 4.2. 3. 8.

4.6 vs. dealer upcard of 3.9 vs. or 8). • Double down on A. 3.4 or A. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 4. otherwise hit (except stand with an A. Double Down Decisions on Soft-Hand Totals • Double down on A. • Double down on A. 5. 6. otherwise hit. Never Take Insurance Basic Strategy Multi-Deck. The player is permitted to double down only only on the initial two cards. otherwise stand. 5. The basic strategy for these special rules is different. 6. 7.6 or A. 9 (not 7). There are some rare occasions where a casino permits doubling after one or two hit cards are dealt. dealer upcard of 2. • Split 9.3 vs.5 vs. 4. 4. 6. dealer upcard of 2. 6. 5.2 or A. Atlantic City Rules . 5. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. 3.• Split 6. dealer upcard of 2.7 vs. 8.7 vs. otherwise hit.

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

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

Drill # 2: Hard Double-Down Decisions .

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

Answers to Drill # 1 Answers to Drill # 2 .

Answers to Drill # 3 Answers to Drill # 4 .

The Red Zone .

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

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

+2. 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). As you go up in the levels. With balanced systems. 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. A threelevel count can have values of -3. When counting cards. . a player will sometimes make the insurance bet. -1. 0. however. that is. the increased complexity makes it more difficult to play without errors. adding higher levels simply is not worthwhile.Don’t get too excited. it’s possible to gain more power if the system is applied correctly. A two-level count can have values of -2. X-Level Systems Count systems assign a “point value” to each card denomination. A system’s playing efficiency can be measured mathematically to determine how well the system identifies the proper basic-strategy-deviation opportunities. The easiest systems are one-level counts. after a while. Higher levels are also available.” the total of the plus-card values is equal to that of the minus-card values. 0. and there are diminishing returns. However. and +3. Balanced Counts In a “balanced-count system. +1. and +1. -2. and +2. whose card values are limited to -1. -1. the Fantasy Island Casino has been closed for many years. But this extreme example shows what the information you glean from counting cards can potentially do for your game. 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. because the count tells you there’s an excess of high cards remaining. Most count systems are balanced. +1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Three .

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

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

Then move on to the next drill. 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. Sequence to Learn Play Variations • Start with the insurance variation. Instructions—Make several copies of the following drill sheets and perform each drill.” are recommended by Don Schlesinger as outlined in his book Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way. Answers to the drills for play variations can be found after Drill Number Five. writing in the count at which a play variation should occur and what it should be. .

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number One Answers to Drill Number Two .

Answers to Drill Number Three Answers to Drill Number Four .

Answers to Drill Number Five .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example—The running count is 15 and 3½ decks have been played. Answers to drills number 5. based on the information in the two columns provided in this drill. and 7 can be found at the end of this chapter. 2½ decks remain. Dividing 15 by 5. For 3½ decks played. the true count is 3. 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. . calculate the true count and write it in the third column next to each item. 6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

000 and leave the table with a total of $17.000 in chips.000 point is solely dictated by internal casino procedures and not by federal law. When you go to a casino gaming table and place $5. the casino is within its legal rights to refuse to allow the additional buy-in.000 = internal casino policy. That means you don’t have to produce ID prior to $10.000 in cash transactions. including any other cash transactions you’ve made that day. It only becomes defined as an exchange when you go to the cashier and exchange those chips for cash. you will be watched very closely from that point on. or possibly even backed off. So playing with chips you’ve won shouldn’t trigger a CTR.001 in chips. but once you cash them. They include the following: . Casino policy may impose additional actions or requirements of identification when cashing out chips. An ID request resulting from cash transactions below $10.000 buy-in. An ID request resulting from cash transactions exceeding $10. The regulations as outlined under the Bank Secrecy Act clearly define a currency transaction as the physical exchange of currency between two parties. at which point you’ll be asked for ID. After that initial $5. But keep in mind that if a casino asks for ID and you refuse to provide it.000 cash down in exchange for chips.exceeding $10. If you attempt to cash in $10. A simple way to view this is as follows.000 = federal law. the casino cannot legally give you the cash unless it has information (obtained from a government ID) on file. and ask to buy in for another $3.000. any requirement to obtain ID prior to the $10. Privacy problems can arise out of the blue as a result of CTR issues. that transaction will likely accrue toward your total. that is a physical exchange of currency.000. If you refuse. However. For example.000. That is not an additional physical exchange of currency. get on a bad run. it’s not uncommon to buy in for something like $9. Now. say you win $12. The same goes for buying in for chips with cash at a table. you’re using casino chips to play.

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

If a casino employee informs the police that they filed an SAR on the player.000 requires a CTR filing? The $10. In the casino business. whereas casinos are more likely to use $3.000 benchmark. They fall under the protection of the Safe Harbor Provision. where they’re granted immunity for any consequences that stem from illegal transactions. The filing institution is prohibited from disclosing to other institutions that an SAR has been filed on a patron. The Bank Secrecy Act prohibits the institution filing the SAR from informing the filing’s subject. Guess what? Casinos are considered financial institutions and are required to comply with this regulation as well. However. Suppose you’re detained by casino security and local police get involved. anyone can be subject to such reporting.000. The actual dollar amount that warrants an SAR filing is also vague. they encounter many players who engage in . Remember how a cash transaction in excess of $10. Financial institutions have a “better safe than sorry” mentality on this issue. the casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. A player may even bring chips from one casino to cash in another.Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) Financial institutions are required by federal regulations to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) when they suspect that a violation of federal criminal law or regulations is being committed or attempted and involves the money being transacted. provided they filed an SAR. It’s generally understood that banks use a $5.000 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. It’s not uncommon for one casino to call another and inquire about a suspicious patron. that casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. Quite serious! Additionally. Given the vagueness of the requirements. If this occurs and a casino reveals that an SAR was filed. In fairness to casinos. Casinos are especially sensitive to this. the filing institution is not permitted to inform law-enforcement authorities that an SAR was filed. patrons frequently move from casino to casino. there are two areas in which a patron is protected by this same Bank Secrecy Act.

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

“The government requires it.” You’re now armed with some knowledge that will help protect your privacy. stating. As you implement the necessary measures outlined here. but applies to many other areas of life.identification. This is not limited to card counters playing blackjack. Their actions give every indication that they were lightly trained and simply proceed in a robotic manner when they ask for IDs. to protect yourself. Don’t forget to pass them on. The best way to battle devious practices is to educate others. so others can better protect their own privacy. you may come up with new tricks of your own. . 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 Black Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the games can be a bit different from those found in the U. A 3. but a player needs to do additional homework to identify potentially profitable situations.S. This is where the dealer does not take a second card (hole card) until all players have played their hands. While a typical game found in casinos throughout Europe is a 6-decker with less than desirable rules. casinos. this factor should be the key to determining whether a game is . where after a double down or split. there’s an additional spin on this rule. just as it does within the U. and Heat Players can get away with higher bet spreads in many countries outside the U. which can be both good and bad. Also. the player loses both the initial wager and the amount put up for the double down or split.S. When playing with this rule. A 4. T 2. Penetration can vary widely. Penetration. 11 vs. Casinos dealing blackjack can be found in many countries around the globe.S. As always.8 vs. you need to adjust your basic strategy as follows: 1. such a bet spread may overcome this type of game. 8. Different Rules The most common rule you will find in play outside the USA is the “nohole-card” rule. T 5.8 vs. A. you can increase your edge by spreading your bets accordingly. Blackjack opportunities do exist around the world. In many places. If you possess a strong bankroll.24 Blackjack Outside the U. 8. 11 vs..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. based on several variables. when the dealer’s second card makes a blackjack.S.

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

exercise caution. You arrive at your European destination with €90. General Info If you check a local financial newspaper listing exchange rates. Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in having all your money confiscated. Using the “for-information-purposes-only” rate in the above example. we will use U. the above scenario is not common. it may be more prudent to keep the money on you.000 and purchase euro at a rate of .9059. In reality. since the rates quoted are considered just a “quote. Having a local player guiding you around in a foreign country is an invaluable asset.S. indicating that you’d receive US$1. Translated to our purposes: SCENARIO “A”—You have US$100.590.10387. Electronic Pen-Pals Some players worldwide participate regularly in some of the blackjack websites and communicate with one another.S.” The banks adjust these rates in a manner that enables them to make a profit from both sides of the transaction (the purchase and the sale). you might see the euro trading at . in addition to your being detained. dollar. Such players have reciprocally hosted one another during visits to their respective countries. Currency Laws Be aware of the various regulations with respect to bringing currencies into or out of the country. Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 For the examples in this chapter. After a break-even play. Alongside.950 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. a more realistic translation would be as follows: . you return home with €90. you might also see a rate quoted as 1. rather than in a hotel safe. which is the amount in euro you’d receive for one U.10 for one euro.10387 and receive US$100.9059. especially if you’re staying at a smaller hotel. In this case.000 in exchange. dollars and the euro (€).

You’ll want to ensure the rate used is the same in both of these steps and that it’s done when you settle.g. depending on the strength of the currency involved at that time.. When you’re receiving reimbursement for airfare.8950 (1. which is locked in. account).500 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. you can determine the flipside by dividing 1 by the quoted rate (e. Based on the above transactions.9100 1.000 and purchase Euro at a rate of .500. After a break-even play.10387 Buy: . your exchange transactions would resemble Scenario “A” above. this service was extended to me without any commission. You arrive at your European destination with €89.9100) and receive US$98. they will be once again converted back to US$ the day they are wired to your account back home. but lost US$1.S. 1/. where you wire US$ to their account held in their local bank. If you end your play with a win.360.117).9059 = 1.50 in exchange. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage (usually the latter).10387. If you play a break-even game. they use a spot rate to convert the amount you give the receipt (the US$ amount) and convert it to a euro amount. you return home with €89.099 Note: In the event only currencies are listed in one of these columns.50 due to the cost of exchanging currency.9059). Method to Minimize Loss on Currency Exchange Best Method—Some casinos provide a nice service. When funds are wired back to you.9059 1.117 Sell: . They establish a rate for your buyin.639. You played a break-even game.8950 1. or 1/1. your winnings are converted at a spot rate (the rate at the moment the bank wires the funds back to your U. here is how the exchange rate chart would appear: Quote: .10387 = . In my past trips.SCENARIO “B”—You have US$100.099 (. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s assume your running count for the ¾-deck is +7. Result—The 1½-deck segment located on the top of the post-shuffle file contains all the bottoms. thus cutting the segment with the extra low cards out of play. 9.8. Here is a procedure to do so: . A simple method to play through the shoe is to determine your adjusted running count at the start of the shoe based on your information. Grab 39 cards (¾-deck) from Pile A. by placing the cut-card at the 1½-deck point from the top of the stack. and place the riffled cards in a prominent spot between the two piles. then grab the same amount from Pile B. so all the cards have been shuffled to complete the final stack (see Illustration 7). you’ll know the value of 50% of the cards within the top 1½-deck segment. Repeat Step 8 three more times. riffle them together. How to Use this Information—With knowledge that the top 1½-deck segment of the final stack contains extra low cards. you bring this non-preferable 1½-deck segment to the very bottom. creating your final stack. Information You Will Possess—If you’ve maintained a running count of the first ¾-deck. as represented by the marked edges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

while the 1½-deck segment located on the bottom of the post-shuffle stack contains all the tops. 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. you’ll know the value of 50% of the cards within the bottom 1½deck segment. as does the top ¾-deck segment. merged with a ¾-deck segment. Result—The 1½-deck segment located on the top of the post-shuffle stack contains all the bottoms. Let’s say that the bottom ¾-deck segment has a value of -8.10. The bottom 1½-deck segment of the post-shuffle stack will contain the ¾-deck of the tops. Adding -5 to each of the top and the bottom ¾-deck segments respectively gives you a count . 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. Considering this. so all cards have been shuffled and the final stack is complete (see Illustration 16). Repeat Step 9 three more times. Fifty percent of -10 is -5. as represented by the marked edges. which is the other 50% of the cutoffs. the top 1½-deck segment of the post-shuffle stack will contain the ¾-deck of the bottoms. Consider an end-of-shoe running count of +10. 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. Information You’ll Possess—If you’ve maintained a running count of the first ¾-deck dealt. as represented by the marked edges. Hold on a minute! Take a look at Illustrations 13 and 14. which gives your cutoffs a value of -10. which is actually 50% of the cutoffs. where the stack is split into two equal piles.

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

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

Step 2.5% advantage. and zone location. Step 1. string-sequence (several cards in order) location. . 4♣. A♠. For the purpose of this chapter. Some of the different types of location play are: ace location. an astute player can identify methods to locate specific cards after the shuffle. 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. but also from dealer to dealer within the same casino. we focus on the most common form of location play. place those cards intact in a random spot within the deck of cards (Illustration 2). ace location. left to right (Illustration 1). You have to identify certain aspects of the shuffle routine in order to analyze the potential to apply such advantage-play techniques. as most casino dealers would from their view. While observing different types of shuffles. Shuffles that may be effective for zone tracking might not be effective for location play. you have a 50. aceten combination. Pick up the cards from the player’s view. 5♥. When dealt an ace as your first card playing a 6deck game. Place the following four cards in this order on a table from left to right: 6♦. Next. Introductory Exercise Try this exercise using a complete deck of cards.26 Location Play Shuffles vary not only from casino to casino.

will be your target card. the A♠. flip through the cards one at a time.Step 3. placing them on the table in order from right to left of your first key card (Note: From the player’s view.” 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. the 6♦. until you arrive at the 6♦. the 5♥ and 4♣. In a perfect process. your three key cards followed by your “target card. Finally. This is your first “key card. You’d want to place a large bet on your hand. if a round ended with the 4♣ dealt. you’d know that the first card dealt in the next round would be the A♠. after all three key cards. cards . respectively. From the top of the deck. In this instance. Notice. followed by your second and third key cards. knowing the ace is your first card. this is how the cards will appear as dealt). from right to left.” Flip the next three cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Bet There’s no real magic here. or each of two or three spots—a successful landing will give you a huge advantage. 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. Don’t get trigger-happy. In all of these cases. with a three-card separation between each known card (three key cards and target ace). uses the concept of the post-shuffle stack from drill number three. put those chips out there! Fine Points Knowing What Segments Can Be Sequenced . The chart below. repeating the same shuffle process a second time. 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.and misses. you should place the maximum bet that your bankroll permits on each spot. you can try for multiple sequences. Always place a bet after you see all three 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. Once you’re confident here. while using different key cards. Always wait for the third key to appear before betting.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

000. 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. with each of them taking $3.000 loss. I deliberately didn’t make plans to join the trip. I instructed them to go out and play.000. following a phone call from Vic this morning. A second reason is that I wanted to give Rory an opportunity to run the team trip independently. there was only a total of $10.300. and the overall team bank was now back down $24. With Ursula’s $8. Ursula phoned and informed me that she lost an additional $2.000 and Vic was the big winner. A couple of hours later. I .000 and Ursula lost another $2.500 after three hours of play in one casino. The results of Devon and Regina were still unknown. Ursula had lost the remainder of her bankroll. we were now down more than 50% of our bank. I told her to take a break. Rory lost another $3. Rory.000.500. She was not having problems with the pit and was able to get away with more than a sufficient bet spread.000 for the trip. then play with a lower maximum bet. Even though the team is in Vegas. Among the three of them. so I could evaluate if he’s qualified to do so on a regular basis. then go back out to play during the remainder of graveyard shift. It looks like this will no longer be a problem. He informed me that he had lost $5.Ursula this morning.000. First. That Friday I’m scheduled to take a week off from work. I’m in desperate need of at least a couple of days of plain old rest and relaxation. Rory lost $5. having not played a hand. and Vic were all present. I have several reasons for this. We needed to address the problem of available cash. Also.000. She was low on bankroll. since her action has been well accepted there. she informed me that she lost $4. the available cash was a crucial issue at this point. My big dilemma the past couple of days has been trying to figure out what spa I should go to for a short visit. where Ursula. the team was down $13. With these new numbers.000 loss and Rory’s $5. just about all of my free vacation time has been utilized for blackjack play. I phoned in time for the team meeting. She hadn’t yet been able to meet up with Rory. so I told her to take a break and wait until shift change. Devon was scheduled to arrive shortly with roughly $9.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

000 = $500.Commission percentage upon conclusion of a winning bank.000.500. the manager receives nothing.000 ($2. which becomes the manager’s compensation in the form of an investment on the manager’s behalf. expenses = $2. such as the following: 5% of adjusted hourly EV of all players. an investor submitting $20. with win-bonus incentive. bonuses.000.000 “free-roll. If 10 investors each put in $20.000 investment for the manager. 65% of actual win). 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.000 in excess of EV). as it’s purely “result-driven.000 may have $500 or an agreed-upon amount taken out up front. 5% bonus on overall win at year-end. provided the investor’s return is at least 50% of the total win after salaries. then the manager has a $10.000.000.000. If the team experiences a losing bank. Net to Investor = $4. as well as combine any or all of these methods in a total compensation package.000. bonuses.000. Gross Return to Investor = $5.000 (bonus to manager).” Percentage of adjusted hourly expected value (“EV”) of all players.000. Percentage of adjusted hourly EV of all players. You can get creative within any one method.000. and expenses. If the agreed-upon amount is $1. A win-bonus share in the amount of 25% of the win in excess of the established total team adjusted hourly EV. Actual win = $7. 25% of $2. this amounts to a $5.000 (approx. Note: These are just a few examples of some methods to compensate a manager.”) A portion of each investment is allocated as an investment on behalf of the manager. .000. (I believe that this method isn’t fair. Example of Win-Bonus Total EV “goal” = $5. Salaries. In this method.000.

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

Method A 50/50 Split of Winnings with Frequent Distributions Let’s take a scenario where you have a two-person team. we’ll use the same scenario as in Method A.31 Methods of Player Compensation Whether dealing with a combination of two or 20 players and investors.000. Here are the results: Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $21. one of the biggest decisions you need to make is how to compensate players for services performed and when. While being far from complete. except with the winnings distributed after the completion of the 5 trips: . with one investor and one player. The investor fronts $100.000. The overall bank shows a win of $5.000 and the player agrees to make five trips. but after paying the player.000 or a $16.000 loss after salaries. the following are some methods used by teams over the years. the investor is left with only $84. with the winnings distributed at the end of each trip. The agreement is for the winnings to be split equally between investor and player. Method B 50/50 Split of Winnings with One Distribution Let’s take this same scenario with a different payment scheme. totaling 100 hours.

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

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

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

creating an adjusted EV figure. On the other hand. along with estimated expenses involved with the proposed play. you may want to consider any expenses (e. while the remaining $97. You decide to pay the player a percentage of this adjusted EV. If after 100 hours. Step 1: A total team bankroll is determined for a one-year cycle (this could be changed).750. the results are negative. If the trip is estimated for 20 hours of play.50. this method provides the investor with some protection.000 in expenses for the trip. If a player is paying $500 for a plane ticket and another $500 for room and meals. However.030.425 goes to the investor. the player receives an hourly wage of $257.575. travel) as a cost and deduct from the hourly EV. and your new adjusted EV is $1. you have $1.. while providing good incentives for the player(s) and the manager (as applicable).nature of the play doesn’t provide for reimbursement by a casino.000/20 = $50. the player receives only 10 hours of pay. In this method. divide the total expenses by the number of hours and deduct that amount from the hourly EV. Step 4: Based on overall EV and committed hours. venues of choice for play. each player’s pay . Deduct $50 from your previously adjusted EV of $1.g. Method F Player Receives Combination of Hourly Wage + Win Incentive Bonus By decreasing the hourly rate paid to players.080. after realizing a losing bank. if the player scores a $100. totaling $2. the investor could still end up at a disadvantage. having paid salaries. game types. and stakes. where compensation to players is in a graduated manner based on time commitments. Example: $1. the player gets paid regardless of the results. If you decide to pay 25% of adjusted hourly EV. Step 2: Each player is asked to commit to a certain number of hours for the year. the player will have still wages totaling $25. Step 3: Based on the above.000 win after 10 hours of play. each player’s EV is determined.

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. player’s hourly pay increases to 15% of the adjusted EV and trip win percentage increases to 10%. 50% of $25. player receives $ 62.500.000 (actual win) is $87. 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.500.000. 25% of $350. representing a “performance bonus” for the player. a calculation will be performed to determine whether the total pay remitted to all players.000.500 per hour. Example: Player commits to play 200 hours at an adjusted EV of $1. and manager commission amounts to less than 40% of total actual team win.500. out-of-pocket expenses. a calculation will determine if the player’s total pay amounts to less than 25% of actual win. Player goes 200 hours and wins $350. If so.000.500) is $25. If so. the difference in that amount (that would bring the figure to 40% of actual win) will be .scale can be established as follows: Hourly adjusted EV is determined and player receives 10% of that EV. Difference in pay ($87. the difference in that amount (bringing the figure to 25% of actual win) will be determined and player will receive 50% of that as a bonus. After 50% of committed hours are played.000 is $12.500 – $62. along with 5% of each trip win until 50% of the committed hours are played. Note: Increasing the percentage here helps provide motivation in the event a player is burning out. Based on pay schedule.

000 is $25. where the investor can realize some return on a monthly or quarterly basis. Difference ($400. The terms provide for the investor to receive a 1% interest distribution on the first of each month. the funds available for play are decreased.000. Example: Investor paid out a total of $240.000.” it could be distributed to players in accordance with any number of formulas. An example: On January 1. representing a “performance “bonus” to be divided by all players (or only those players who met their time commitments). the investor receives a percentage of the value of the bank.000. 50% of $50. Total actual win is $1. After this disbursement.000 (actual win) is $400. a starting bank is $1. Investor reimbursed players a total of $10. Investor paid manager $100. If you’re paying players based on EV.determined and all players will divide 50% of that figure. In this method.000. or it could be retained by the investor.000. Total out-of-pocket by investor is $350. Note: A problem with overall “team” bonuses is that players showing winning results feel more deserving than those showing losing results.000.000. decreasing the bet range decreases the hourly rate. On .000 could go to the manager as a “manager bonus.000) is $50.000 to all players in compensation based on the standard pay schedule. This bonus can be calculated by hours played or percentage of win. 40% of $1. Method G This is actually a complement to the above methods that are pertinent to a long-term bank.000–$350. You have options! The additional $25.000.000. The allotment of this bonus among players will be based purely on hours played regardless of EV or actual wins.000. each month or quarter.000 for expenses. calculated on the value of the bank on that date. which may decrease the bet range.

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

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

Have players monitored by unknown parties. 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. it’s a good idea that players know they may be subject to one at any given time. 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. if done so to deceive the pit. Recommendation—Do not allow non-team play. Ensure that two people each record every cash transaction. If your team concept and style warrant. This facilitates self-monitoring. A player can be monitored during a random session where an observer notes his buy-in and win/loss. he or she can be a target for theft. ensure that hours of team play and non-team play are clearly defined prior to any play. especially if players take the test on the spot. he or she may attempt to allot all wins to his own individual play and all losses to team play. Protective Measures Administer random polygraph tests. prior to intermingling funds. it’s less tempting to accuse someone of stealing on the basis of “I don’t know this person. Limit the amount of cash any one player may have access to. Outside Theft A player is the victim of a robbery. The player should report how much in chips was pocketed. Although such tests are not 100% foolproof.” Exercise caution when a player is barred in a particular casino.investors. You don’t want to have him or her contaminate your “good” players just for the sake of mixing and matching. . If this is not possible. You want to know who’s running around with your money! If players know one another. Motivation to Steal #3—When a player shares his time playing for the team and for himself. without advance notice. and watches if he pockets chips.

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

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

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

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

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

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

others may also adopt the attitude of “why bother?” Recommendations—The team manager should possess strong motivational skills. Lack of Motivation The team is experiencing a negative swing and players lack the motivation to get out and play. The last thing you want to happen is to have a player running short of team bankroll during a trip.g. arrange for him to go out and partner with a player who possesses an optimistic view of things. never panic. 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. If players are in action in different parts of the country or world. The most important thing for a team manager is no matter how rough the waters get. with the team bank ending up in the red. In both cases. videotapes. someone will be unhappy. and seminars can provide the tools to develop them..opportunity for a lower risk factor. Recommendations—Unfortunately. numerous books. Blackjack Risk Manager 2002 software) to determine how much bankroll each player will require. there’s little room for compromise here. Everyone goes out there and plays his heart out for hours and hours. This is a most understandable cause for bringing down the spirits of team members. audiotapes. Recommendations—Use the proper tools (e. Make it policy that each player in action report . 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. then provide an extra cushion. Take the time to ensure that all players are educated as to the inherent fluctuations of the game. If a player is willing to accept a higher risk level in an attempt to increase potential earnings. When players on a team lose their motivation to play. If players have different objectives. Prepare everyone for such swings. If such skills are lacking. this can get tricky. When a player loses motivation. so does the need for moving money among players. A more conservative player will be nervous playing to a higher risk level. Inefficient Means of Transferring Cash When a team grows in size.

. procedures. 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.results regularly.

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

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

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

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.Score: _________ Comments: Awareness: Candidate identifies any close scrutiny and takes appropriate measures.

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

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

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 . 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. 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. valet parking.Is the betting scheme denominated in dollars or units? If units.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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! .

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

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

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

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

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

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.About the Author Rick “Night Train” Blaine is a career executive with a Fortune 500 company whose hobby for the past 25 years has been beating the casinos at blackjack. Blaine has excelled both solo and as a blackjack-team player and leader. . He lives in New York. Well-versed in all aspects of winning blackjack play.

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

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