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

Blackjack Blueprint
How to Play Like a Pro … Part-Time
Published by
Huntington Press
3665 Procyon St.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
Phone (702) 252-0655
Copyright ©2014, Rick Blaine
eBook ISBN: 978-1-935396-10-9
Print ISBN: 978-1-935396-53-6
Cover Photos supplied by Image100 Royalty Free Photos and Photo Disc Royalty Free Photos
Design & Production: Laurie Cabot
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This book is dedicated to the memory of Sonny Boy.
Although we never had the opportunity to play at the same table, he was
the man from whom I first learned about wagering.

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

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

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

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

Casino Countermeasures.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. and Camouflage How Much is too Much? Who is this Person? Use of Different Names Obtaining a Casino Players Card Moving Your Bets Playing Your Hands When You Start Winning You Wanna Be in Movies? Barring from Play Surveillance Techniques Countermeasures The Typical Card Counter Profile Camouflage Disguising Wins and Hiding Chips Cashing Out 15 Casinos and Personal Privacy Your Driver’s License. Please Identity Theft and Casinos Profiling Through the Players Club Casino Credit Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) .

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

Safety And Security 10. Distribution of Winnings 11. Homework. and Knowledge Eye Contact Attire Appearance Purpose Summary 36 Playing Blackjack as a Part-Time Professional Summary 37 Resources and Final Notes Recommended Books Periodicals Software Final Note Glossary About the Author . Expenses 9.8. Quality Control 34 Down Memory Lane The End Zone 35 Assuming the Role of a High-Stakes Player Attitude Preparation.

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

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

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

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

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

The Silver Zone .

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

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

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

000. I was up $46. This time I arrived as the VIP Room opened for the evening and continued with the aggressive style of play.900. It was a long night/morning! Friday Night/Saturday Morning Decided to sleep a good deal of the day Friday.000 in my last shoe.000. Hit the tables at 11:15 p. I was on my way. 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 went from down $50. I’m glad to be going home.the book and the cards and soon I began reading the book. To this day. The swings were wild and I’m pleased I ended up with a decent enough win. I can still confidently walk into a casino and play a winning game. .m. with no other players. After three shoes. Throughout this book are more details of my experiences with playing the game at various levels—for example. as the trip was a bit tiring. so I left. 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. A couple of other players joined the table. to squeeze in one last play before leaving for home.500. I’m done. Took $36.000 to winning $22.000. stopping to practice the drills as they were presented. During several wild sessions throughout the evening and into the early-morning hours. Then played Friday afternoon in one final session and won $12. I still consider Million Dollar Blackjack to be one of the most informative and entertaining books on the game ever written. I read through that book chapter by chapter. putting my trip total at $5. and got a private table in the VIP Room. putting my overall trip total at $51. At the time of this writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T is a hard 17.2. A.3. 3. 9.4. 16 vs. To apply basic strategy effectively. 9. a hand of A. It can’t be lowered. otherwise hit.4 vs. 4. Pair Splitting • Always split A. T. otherwise hit. Following is the basic strategy for a typical multi-deck game. 6. 5.2. • Split 4. 7.T or 5. otherwise hit.8. hit all hands until your cards total 17 or higher. For example. Double Down Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Double down on all hard totals of 11 vs. • When the dealer is showing an upcard of 7. 7. dealer upcard of 2. 6.5. 3. 3. as offered in a number of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos. 5. 7. A hand of A. you must remember the distinction between a hard hand and a soft hand. otherwise hit. as any deviations from the proper plays cost you money over time. dealer upcard of 3. 4. 9. dealer upcard of 2. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 2. • Stand on hard totals of 13. 3. otherwise hit. • Stand on hard total of 12 vs.2. 8. since the ace is already counted as 1. 3. • Double down on all hard totals of 10 vs.A or 8. is a soft 17. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. 5. 15. 5. 5. 4. 14. 4. • Split 2. The above decisions occur more than others throughout the game. dealer upcard of 2. T.basic strategy flawlessly.4. • Double down on all hard totals of 9 vs. 6. 6. A hard-hand total can’t be lowered by counting the ace as 1. • Never split T. 5. Hit/Stand Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Stand on all hard totals of 17 and higher. otherwise hit. 6. dealer upcard of 4. 6. 8. .7 vs. 8. 4. because it can be lowered by counting the ace as 1 to get a hand of 7. and 7.

otherwise hit. 6. 3. 8. • Split 9.5 vs.9 vs.3 vs. otherwise stand. otherwise hit (except stand with an A. • Double down on A.• Split 6.7 vs. 7. otherwise hit. 4. 4.2 or A. dealer upcard of 2. dealer upcard of 2.6 vs. or 8). 6. Double Down Decisions on Soft-Hand Totals • Double down on A. There are some rare occasions where a casino permits doubling after one or two hit cards are dealt. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. • Double down on A.4 or A. The basic strategy for these special rules is different. dealer upcard of 4. dealer upcard of 2. 5. 6. 5. 9 (not 7).6 or A. 3. Atlantic City Rules . dealer upcard of 3. Never Take Insurance Basic Strategy Multi-Deck. otherwise hit. 5. The player is permitted to double down only only on the initial two cards. 6. 5. 4.7 vs.

Drill yourself. Take each quiz in the order presented. Sequence for Learning Basic Strategy 1. T. 6. dealer 9. consult The Theory of Blackjack by Peter Griffin or Blackjack Attack 3 by Don Schlesinger. Remember. 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. 5. Learn pair splitting decisions. different rules and numbers of decks result in different basic strategies. Start with the basic hard hit/stand decisions. 7. using your thumb to cover . dealer upcard. Write in the player total. and play decision. 2. Repeat #5 and #6 as described below. dealer T. or A. 3. • Surrender a hard 15 vs. Learn the hard doubling decisions. Learn the soft doubling decisions 4. Deal yourself hands with only an upcard for the dealer and check your decisions. The specified order will simplify the learning process. For complete coverage of proper basic strategies for different games.If late surrender option is offered: • Surrender a hard 16 (but not 8.8) vs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Three .

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

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

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

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

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.Drill Number Four—All Variations Drill Number Five—To Vary or Not to Vary In this final drill. . The count will be indicated.

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

Answers to Drill Number One Answers to Drill Number Two .

Answers to Drill Number Three Answers to Drill Number Four .

Answers to Drill Number Five .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Six

Answers to Drill Number Seven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Develop skills in methods not detectable by surveillance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Federal law requires casinos to report all currency transactions in excess of $10. buy-ins have to exceed the $10. your name is checked against that database when you check in. date of birth. The stated purpose of this requirement is to thwart laundering of money used to finance terrorist activities. At some casinos.000 mark. then later in the day go to a different table and buy another $6..000 in chips. While Global Cash Access provides identity verification of casino patrons to protect all parties from identity theft. a casino employee will ask for a form of government identification. Notice the phrase “totaling more than $10. Here is an important point. i. I’ll bet you didn’t know how invasive the simple process of getting a hotel room could be. The CTR details the customer’s name. and Social Security number. identifying any customer who conducts a cash transaction or series of cash transactions totaling more than $10. Officially.000 in a gaming day.e. A casino is required to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with the IRS. If the customer refuses to provide this. which is accessible by any number of casino employees worldwide.000. drug trafficking.privacy. address. he probably has a players card with an account number and the casino should already have the information in its system. It is federal law to report a cash transaction . the player’s personal information is in its database. or any such amount. one who won’t surrender ID when first asked. he will no longer be permitted to engage in cash transactions of any type. In fact. and other crimes.” If you go to a table game and buy $5. If not.000 in a gaming day. some casinos have specific thresholds at which they won’t allow further buy-ins for an unidentified player.000 and the casino is required to identify you. The casino staff tracks cash buy-ins and attempts to identify anyone who looks like a threat to exceed the threshold early on.000. It could be $5. If the customer is a regular player. Casino Credit Services can provide casinos with a dossier of all a subject’s recorded casino activities. Casinos have historically been targets for these practices.000 (or its equivalent in other currencies). $7. your total buy-ins are $11.000 in chips.

000 = federal law.000 in cash transactions. Now. After that initial $5. For example. However. That means you don’t have to produce ID prior to $10. It only becomes defined as an exchange when you go to the cashier and exchange those chips for cash. it’s not uncommon to buy in for something like $9.exceeding $10. But keep in mind that if a casino asks for ID and you refuse to provide it. If you attempt to cash in $10. They include the following: . you’re using casino chips to play. that transaction will likely accrue toward your total.000 in chips.000 and leave the table with a total of $17.000 point is solely dictated by internal casino procedures and not by federal law. you will be watched very closely from that point on. say you win $12. The same goes for buying in for chips with cash at a table. at which point you’ll be asked for ID.000. An ID request resulting from cash transactions below $10. So playing with chips you’ve won shouldn’t trigger a CTR.000 = internal casino policy.000. Casino policy may impose additional actions or requirements of identification when cashing out chips. the casino cannot legally give you the cash unless it has information (obtained from a government ID) on file. get on a bad run. An ID request resulting from cash transactions exceeding $10.000 cash down in exchange for chips. Privacy problems can arise out of the blue as a result of CTR issues. but once you cash them. When you go to a casino gaming table and place $5.000. or possibly even backed off. that is a physical exchange of currency. That is not an additional physical exchange of currency. and ask to buy in for another $3. the casino is within its legal rights to refuse to allow the additional buy-in.001 in chips. any requirement to obtain ID prior to the $10. including any other cash transactions you’ve made that day. If you refuse. The regulations as outlined under the Bank Secrecy Act clearly define a currency transaction as the physical exchange of currency between two parties.000 buy-in. A simple way to view this is as follows.

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

that casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. Guess what? Casinos are considered financial institutions and are required to comply with this regulation as well. there are two areas in which a patron is protected by this same Bank Secrecy Act. 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. If a casino employee informs the police that they filed an SAR on the player. provided they filed an SAR. Financial institutions have a “better safe than sorry” mentality on this issue. Remember how a cash transaction in excess of $10. The actual dollar amount that warrants an SAR filing is also vague. Suppose you’re detained by casino security and local police get involved. Quite serious! Additionally. Given the vagueness of the requirements. If this occurs and a casino reveals that an SAR was filed. the casino is in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.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. In the casino business.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. However. It’s generally understood that banks use a $5. They fall under the protection of the Safe Harbor Provision. Casinos are especially sensitive to this. anyone can be subject to such reporting. The Bank Secrecy Act prohibits the institution filing the SAR from informing the filing’s subject. they encounter many players who engage in . whereas casinos are more likely to use $3.000 benchmark.000 requires a CTR filing? The $10. patrons frequently move from casino to casino. the filing institution is not permitted to inform law-enforcement authorities that an SAR was filed. In fairness to casinos.000. A player may even bring chips from one casino to cash in another. It’s not uncommon for one casino to call another and inquire about a suspicious patron.

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

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

The Black Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take a situation where a player puts $20.not hinder your playing ability). the casino may have some additional criteria that must be met.000 with a recorded $500 average bet. Although your play may not warrant a total reimbursement for the ticket(s). the casino may elect to reimburse based on actual loss. If the casino’s policy is to reimburse 10% of a player’s actual loss toward the cost of airline tickets. you may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of your airline tickets. the common requirement was a minimum of 12 hours play. If you’re a non-discriminating diner. you may be able to further negotiate your comp by having the casino limit your food comps to a certain dollar amount. Airline-Ticket Reimbursement As you become an established player in a casino. Many casinos reimburse airfare only for players who stay at the hotel. A $200 average bet is probably the minimum to qualify for some sort of airfare rebate.600. provided certain criteria are met. although the player didn’t meet the terms for reimbursement based on theoretical loss (he’s light on hours played). to determine the total reimbursement. then that’s all he’ll receive. a player comes out betting heavy and loses all his front money before reaching the minimum hourly requirement. In this case.000 regardless of hours played and average bet size. the player loses $16. In the past. The next step is for the player to present copies of his ticket and the ticket of his traveling companion.600. Airfare reimbursement at this casino requires a minimum of 12 hours play at a minimum average bet of $200. Other requirements may be a minimum amount of front money on deposit or a minimum credit line. Such negotiated comps fall under the category of Room. if applicable.000 on deposit at the start of a three-day stay. If he presents tickets totaling only $400. representing a partial . After playing nine hours. you can ask. In this case. this player is eligible for up to $1.400. he may be eligible for airfare reimbursement based on his actual loss of $16. If the tickets total $2. all he’ll get is $1. such as a minimum requirement for hours played. you may qualify for a partial rebate. Food. If your casino host doesn’t offer this to you. Limited (“RFL”). When calculating a player’s eligibility for a comp such as airfare reimbursement. Sometimes.

If your airline tickets are less than your eligible reimbursement amount. while also buying fully refundable first-class tickets with another airline. Let’s take a closer look at the two above scenarios. his company paid for his $8. Although the companion ticket on this program is free (except for the taxes). After giving sufficient action to his host casino. but for image purposes. See the section “Disguising Wins And Hiding Chips. Be prepared for anything. A quick session transferring chips with a partner. The price of the paid airline ticket was about $8.” An American Express Platinum cardholder went on a business trip to an overseas destination with casinos offering decent blackjack. such as if you are being picked up and dropped off at the airport by a casino limousine. However. as well as in Ian Andersen’s Burning the Tables in Las Vegas. you may need to improvise so you’re dropped in one place and have time to get to where you really need to be. this guy was a part-time blackjack player working on a team. can show a higher loss without much effort. Of course. you want to avoid this. Since he was on a business trip.airfare reimbursement. a creative player can maximize his benefit here. leaving his team with only the expense .000 cash. even a casino host riding along in the limo. each showing a cost of $8. Basically. you can fix that. purchase and fly on the less-expensive tickets. 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. and received $17. as outlined in Chapter 14. subsequently turning them in to the airline for a refund. it’s an airline requirement for auditing purposes that the full airfare is shown on the ticket. Present the higher-value tickets for reimbursement. It’s not difficult.500.500 ticket. He used the free ticket to take a teammate along and used vacation time to extend the trip for casino play. he presented two first-class tickets. taking your tickets. the subject is covered well in Max Rubin’s book Comp City. Oops! If casino records show your cumulative loss as being lower than the price of your airline tickets. Of course.500. there are precautions to consider. there are various techniques for coming up with a second set of tickets to get the higher value. In addition to an example provided later in this chapter. and assisting with your check-in at the airline counter. In addition to his full-time job.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in having all your money confiscated. a more realistic translation would be as follows: . you return home with €90.S.950 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. General Info If you check a local financial newspaper listing exchange rates.” 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). Having a local player guiding you around in a foreign country is an invaluable asset.000 in exchange.590. dollars and the euro (€). Currency Laws Be aware of the various regulations with respect to bringing currencies into or out of the country. it may be more prudent to keep the money on you. indicating that you’d receive US$1.000 and purchase euro at a rate of . rather than in a hotel safe. especially if you’re staying at a smaller hotel. In reality. you might also see a rate quoted as 1. since the rates quoted are considered just a “quote. you might see the euro trading at . Using the “for-information-purposes-only” rate in the above example. dollar. Electronic Pen-Pals Some players worldwide participate regularly in some of the blackjack websites and communicate with one another. You arrive at your European destination with €90. the above scenario is not common.9059. in addition to your being detained.exercise caution. Alongside.10 for one euro. After a break-even play. Translated to our purposes: SCENARIO “A”—You have US$100. which is the amount in euro you’d receive for one U. Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 For the examples in this chapter.10387.S.9059.10387 and receive US$100. In this case. Such players have reciprocally hosted one another during visits to their respective countries. we will use U.

You’ll want to ensure the rate used is the same in both of these steps and that it’s done when you settle.639.099 Note: In the event only currencies are listed in one of these columns.g.8950 1. but lost US$1. When funds are wired back to you.SCENARIO “B”—You have US$100. After a break-even play.50 due to the cost of exchanging currency. depending on the strength of the currency involved at that time. 1/.9059 = 1. this service was extended to me without any commission. your winnings are converted at a spot rate (the rate at the moment the bank wires the funds back to your U.S. here is how the exchange rate chart would appear: Quote: . If you play a break-even game. you can determine the flipside by dividing 1 by the quoted rate (e. your exchange transactions would resemble Scenario “A” above.9100) and receive US$98. When you’re receiving reimbursement for airfare. If you end your play with a win.8950 (1. account).9059).360. In my past trips.117 Sell: .9100 1. You played a break-even game. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage (usually the latter).9059 1. they will be once again converted back to US$ the day they are wired to your account back home.500 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. where you wire US$ to their account held in their local bank. . or 1/1. Based on the above transactions. you return home with €89.500. Method to Minimize Loss on Currency Exchange Best Method—Some casinos provide a nice service. they use a spot rate to convert the amount you give the receipt (the US$ amount) and convert it to a euro amount.50 in exchange.10387 Buy: .117).000 and purchase Euro at a rate of . They establish a rate for your buyin..10387 = .099 (.10387. You arrive at your European destination with €89. which is locked in.

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

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

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

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

Place this colored pile on top of the cards already situated in the discard tray. Training for a 6-deck shoe game. 3. representing the 1½ deck cutoffs. Using a black marker. This pile will represent 1½ decks of “cutoffs. randomly grab a pile of cards from the stack. Drill Number Three 1. Place the pile grabbed on the table and determine its approximate size. Let’s call the pile on the right “Pile A. making certain to mix up the random size of your “picks. you apply a simple shuffle as an introduction to Cut-Off Tracking.” which will contain the cards with the colored edge. The other pile will be “Pile B” (see . 5.” Learning Cut-Off Tracking In this step. Break the 6-deck stack into two equal 3-deck piles. indicate whether it’s over or under 2 decks and by how many cards. For example: If you think it resembles the size of a 2-deck pile. take 6 decks of casino-quality cards and count off 78 cards. Repeat steps 1.1. Using the same “numbered-order” stack from drill number one in a 6deck discard tray. 2. 2. Take the remaining 4½ decks and place them in your discard tray.” which we will attempt to follow through a simple shuffle routine. color one side of the edges only of the pile of 78 cards. 4. with the colored edges facing you (see Illustration 1).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you can maximize your potential. you should be alert for inconsistencies in the number of unknown cards that may land between your individual key cards and the ace target card. if your third key is a ten or . This means that the next card dealt (second card to your second spot) should be an unknown card. 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. You then can expect the next card to be your third key card.” Conditions of Cards An important factor is the consistency of the interleaving of cards. If you take a hit on your first hand. you need to be aware of break points. 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. followed by your second key card being dealt as the dealer’s hole card. Most casinos change the decks in their shoe games once daily. a good time to attempt location play is when new decks are being cracked open. you can notice any inconsistencies in the riffling effects in the shuffle. Therefore. the card dealt will be an unknown card. You’re playing two spots and the second card dealt to your first spot is your first key card. A finer riffle is the result of cards just put into play. If you find out the time of day this change occurs. and your second key card (the dealer’s hole card) is a 6.After taking the effect of cutoffs into consideration. If you have a situation where the dealer is showing a ten upcard. By scouting a game prior to actual play. when the dealer separates the pre-shuffle stack into two or more piles.

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

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

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

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

Purple Zone

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

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

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

Team of
10 Players




Maximum Bet:



Average Bet (Estimate):



Hands Dealt Per Hour:



Total Action1:


(for 1 player per hour)

Win Rate Per Hour2:


$140 (for one player)

Hours of Play Daily:


80 (for the team)

Total Daily Win per player:



Total Expected Daily Win:


$11,200 (for the team)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The results of Devon and Regina were still unknown.500 after three hours of play in one casino. just about all of my free vacation time has been utilized for blackjack play. He informed me that he had lost $5. she informed me that she lost $4. and the overall team bank was now back down $24. First. It looks like this will no longer be a problem.500. That Friday I’m scheduled to take a week off from work. Also. She was low on bankroll. Rory lost $5. My big dilemma the past couple of days has been trying to figure out what spa I should go to for a short visit. then go back out to play during the remainder of graveyard shift. the team was down $13. I told her to take a break. I have several reasons for this.000.000 and Vic was the big winner. Even though the team is in Vegas. Among the three of them. Ursula had lost the remainder of her bankroll. the available cash was a crucial issue at this point.000.000. I’m in desperate need of at least a couple of days of plain old rest and relaxation. since her action has been well accepted there. following a phone call from Vic this morning. We needed to address the problem of available cash. having not played a hand. so I could evaluate if he’s qualified to do so on a regular basis.000 and Ursula lost another $2. I . Devon was scheduled to arrive shortly with roughly $9.000 for the trip. A couple of hours later. With Ursula’s $8.000 loss and Rory’s $5. A second reason is that I wanted to give Rory an opportunity to run the team trip independently. She hadn’t yet been able to meet up with Rory. there was only a total of $10. we were now down more than 50% of our bank.000. so I told her to take a break and wait until shift change. then play with a lower maximum bet. She was not having problems with the pit and was able to get away with more than a sufficient bet spread. Rory lost another $3. I further asked them to play in casinos within close proximity of one another and arrange to meet immediately after the initial session played in the event further redistribution of cash was necessary.000 loss. Ursula phoned and informed me that she lost an additional $2. I phoned in time for the team meeting. I instructed them to go out and play.300. with each of them taking $3. where Ursula.000.Ursula this morning. I deliberately didn’t make plans to join the trip. Rory. and Vic were all present. With these new numbers.

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

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

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

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

After lunch. I trust both of them and would be very surprised if they were being dishonest in their dealings with the team. any team member could be subject to the same test.007 hours with six of us having put in more than 100 hours each. thus permitting us to go forward. When I got inside. It would also alert the others that at any given time. Ursula scored a dinner comp at this casino. We were concerned about these high-denomination chips raising red flags when we were cashing out. I found one double-deck game open with two other players. Vic and Rory are down close to $30. Rory lost only a small amount. A few of the others didn’t feel that the tests were necessary. The fact that I initiated this action would put everyone a bit more at ease because. I made the suggestion that perhaps we could subject both of them to lie-detector tests.000 each. Anticipating that some of the team members might question the level of honesty of these two individuals. I polished off a bottle of sake. so we were indeed making a comeback. we would hope to clear up any questions the others might have on this issue. I sat down and aggressively spread for one hour of play. Mid-September We haven’t played since the trip two weeks ago. I took a taxi over to an off-Strip casino. The team as a whole has played 1.Ursula. where I scored a nice win. I was confident that this was not the case. still holding some of their chips. while two of the players were very much in favor of initiating them. By doing so. where we ran up a moderate tab. Of everyone’s individual results. After checking into a different casino/hotel. I decided to propose an alternative action. Personally. The overall position of the team is that we’re down just under 50 percent of our starting bank. I’m taking the necessary steps to protect everyone’s investment. I made some inquiries on getting a referral to someone living in Las Vegas who’d be interested in . and won some more in one hour of play. Since I didn’t plan on any further play that evening. Ursula scored a nice win and was paid with $5.000 chips among her winnings. I was now up a nice amount for the trip. I hoped Ursula and Rory had done well too. I then returned to one of the casinos where I’d played earlier. However. I do feel it is a good idea to have them both take these tests. as manager.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

000. the manager receives nothing. bonuses.000.000. 5% bonus on overall win at year-end. Salaries. A win-bonus share in the amount of 25% of the win in excess of the established total team adjusted hourly EV.000 ($2. 65% of actual win). In this method. and expenses.000 (bonus to manager). as well as combine any or all of these methods in a total compensation package.000. expenses = $2. Percentage of adjusted hourly EV of all players. Note: These are just a few examples of some methods to compensate a manager. If the team experiences a losing bank. 25% of $2. then the manager has a $10.000 may have $500 or an agreed-upon amount taken out up front. which becomes the manager’s compensation in the form of an investment on the manager’s behalf. (I believe that this method isn’t fair.” Percentage of adjusted hourly expected value (“EV”) of all players. If the agreed-upon amount is $ If 10 investors each put in $20. provided the investor’s return is at least 50% of the total win after salaries. Net to Investor = $4. with win-bonus incentive.000. such as the following: 5% of adjusted hourly EV of all players. an investor submitting $20.000 investment for the manager. .000. Actual win = $7.000 = $500. Example of Win-Bonus Total EV “goal” = $5.Commission percentage upon conclusion of a winning bank. Gross Return to Investor = $5.000 “free-roll.000 in excess of EV). bonuses. this amounts to a $5.000.500. as it’s purely “result-driven.000 (approx.000. You can get creative within any one method. 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.”) A portion of each investment is allocated as an investment on behalf of the manager.

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

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

A solution here would be to extend the length of play before any winnings are distributed. Here. One disadvantage of this method comes into play if you have noninvesting players and end up with a losing bank: The players will end up playing with no compensation. Expenses and Management Commission Deducted from Gross Win. is a superb tool to determine the chance of achieving a specified goal after a desired number of hours. then the frequency of distributing the winnings doesn’t have an effect on any one participant. all the players are also investors. by QFIT. with added provisions for player expenses. If all player/investors are required to invest the same amount and play a certain numbers of hours (not the case here). along with a 10% manager commission deducted from the gross win.Total net win of $5.500 as a result of the player’s efforts. It could be a requirement that all players also be investors. CVCX software. resembles the above two methods. Method C Multi-Player-Invested Bank. This method.000 is divided equally between player and investor.500. If you have one player betting at a range of $50 to $600. 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. Quite a difference between these two methods. while another . Net Win 50% Investor/50% Player Based on Hours. Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $2. as depicted in the chart below. 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.

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

Method E Player Paid Hourly Wage. To determine the percent allowance. Will the player employ any camouflage plays in a manner that would reduce the $1.200 per hour? If so. the cost of that one error in play can be deducted as well. to allow for any errors or camouflage plays. you can deduct this from the hourly EV. and you have the means to evaluate the cost of such plays. you can use a grading system based on the player’s testing results.080 per hour. Another factor you may elect to add into the equation is expenses. the investor pays the player on an hourly basis. If the player is observed (or reports) making an error. The hourly rate is determined as a percentage of the EV of the game. If the . it’s determined that a player’s EV based on perfect play for a particular game is $1. One way to fine-tune things is to deduct 10%–20% from the calculated EV based on the overall skill level of the player. after plugging the numbers into CVCX.200 per hour. Let’s say. No Share Based on Win In this method. The next step is to provide an allowance for less-than-perfect play. Now your adjusted EV is $1. Let’s say you decide to allow for 10%.

totaling $2. However. If a player is paying $500 for a plane ticket and another $500 for room and meals.nature of the play doesn’t provide for reimbursement by a casino.750. Step 3: Based on the above. the investor could still end up at a disadvantage. You decide to pay the player a percentage of this adjusted EV. if the player scores a $100. the player gets paid regardless of the results. and your new adjusted EV is $1. game types. divide the total expenses by the number of hours and deduct that amount from the hourly EV. If you decide to pay 25% of adjusted hourly EV. you may want to consider any expenses (e.000 win after 10 hours of play. the player will have still wages totaling $25.425 goes to the investor. the player receives an hourly wage of $257. each player’s pay . having paid salaries. Step 1: A total team bankroll is determined for a one-year cycle (this could be changed).50. along with estimated expenses involved with the proposed play. Deduct $50 from your previously adjusted EV of $1.030. you have $1. venues of choice for play. Step 2: Each player is asked to commit to a certain number of hours for the year.080.g. Method F Player Receives Combination of Hourly Wage + Win Incentive Bonus By decreasing the hourly rate paid to players. If after 100 hours.000 in expenses for the trip. travel) as a cost and deduct from the hourly EV. while providing good incentives for the player(s) and the manager (as applicable). after realizing a losing bank. the player receives only 10 hours of pay.575. creating an adjusted EV figure. Example: $1. and stakes. In this method. while the remaining $97..000/20 = $50. each player’s EV is determined. this method provides the investor with some protection. On the other hand. the results are negative. Step 4: Based on overall EV and committed hours. where compensation to players is in a graduated manner based on time commitments. If the trip is estimated for 20 hours of play.

500 – $62.000 (actual win) is $87. After 50% of committed hours are played. 25% of $350. Player Bonuses Single Player Bonus (best suited in situations where one player is working for an investor or group of investors)—If a player meets or exceeds total adjusted EV and meets or exceeds the committed hours. Difference in pay ($87. a calculation will determine if the player’s total pay amounts to less than 25% of actual win. Note: Increasing the percentage here helps provide motivation in the event a player is burning out. and manager commission amounts to less than 40% of total actual team win. for total adjusted EV goal of $300. along with 5% of each trip win until 50% of the committed hours are played. a calculation will be performed to determine whether the total pay remitted to all players.scale can be established as follows: Hourly adjusted EV is determined and player receives 10% of that EV.500. Example: Player commits to play 200 hours at an adjusted EV of $1.000. If so. Player goes 200 hours and wins $350. 50% of $25. If so. player’s hourly pay increases to 15% of the adjusted EV and trip win percentage increases to 10%.500. player receives $ 62.500.500 per hour.000.000 is $12. 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. Based on pay schedule.500) is $25. out-of-pocket expenses. representing a “performance bonus” for the player. Multi-Player “Team” Bonus (best suited for multi-players working for an investor or group of investors)—If the overall team EV is met or exceeded and the total hours played by all players meet or exceed the hours committed as a whole.000. the difference in that amount (that would bring the figure to 40% of actual win) will be .

000. Investor reimbursed players a total of $10. Note: A problem with overall “team” bonuses is that players showing winning results feel more deserving than those showing losing results.000 could go to the manager as a “manager bonus. calculated on the value of the bank on that date.000. After this disbursement. each month or quarter. Difference ($400.000.000. If you’re paying players based on EV. decreasing the bet range decreases the hourly rate.000.determined and all players will divide 50% of that figure. 40% of $1. representing a “performance “bonus” to be divided by all players (or only those players who met their time commitments).000 to all players in compensation based on the standard pay schedule. the investor receives a percentage of the value of the bank.000 is $25. Total out-of-pocket by investor is $350.000–$350. The terms provide for the investor to receive a 1% interest distribution on the first of each month. Method G This is actually a complement to the above methods that are pertinent to a long-term bank.000. This bonus can be calculated by hours played or percentage of win.000 (actual win) is $400.000) is $50. where the investor can realize some return on a monthly or quarterly basis. Example: Investor paid out a total of $240.000. or it could be retained by the investor. 50% of $50. On . Total actual win is $1.000.000. which may decrease the bet range. You have options! The additional $25. Investor paid manager $100.000.” it could be distributed to players in accordance with any number of formulas. the funds available for play are decreased. In this method. a starting bank is $1.000 for expenses. An example: On January 1. The allotment of this bonus among players will be based purely on hours played regardless of EV or actual wins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and what is considered passing. how will this be tested? Will live play observation be conducted of a candidate? Is there a rating sheet to grade the candidate? The following is a sample live-play evaluation form for a candidate: . is there a form of re-test? Will a candidate be interviewed and accepted by the team manager only. 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. how many? Are performance reviews conducted? 5. multi-deck)? Are written tests going to be given for basic strategy? Other skills? General knowledge? Outline the specific testing routine.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. grading system. or may other players vote? Will testing be performed on an ongoing basis? Scheduled or surprise testing? How often? If the team will be using signals as part of its play. If a candidate fails a test.

If any decisions are questionable. and other players Candidate doesn’t wait until last minute to place bet . indicate your score on each category based on the following point system: 1 = Hopeless 2 = Needs Work 3 = Average 4 = Above Average 5 = Excellent Dependability: Candidate is punctual. it may be determined that such plays were justified. After discussion with candidate. Score: _________ Comments: Technical Proficiency: Candidate is accurate during live play. please note them in comments section. 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. pit. Score: _________ Comments: Appearance: Candidate looks/dresses in accordance with stakes played and casino/town playing in. 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. Starts and ends session at times committed.Candidate Live-Play Evaluation Form Instructions: Based on your observation of candidate’s live play. Shows up when he/she commits to.

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

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. You Divide by Full Decks: ____ 1/2 Decks: ____ Other: ____. If Using Ace Side Count. 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. Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play each .9= T= A= If Using True Count Conversion. Value Assigned to Ace Is: _____.

VARIOUS TACTICS THAT MAY BE APPLIED Note: This area is subject to preferences based on the knowledge and experience of team management. for whatever reason. Is there a standard form for reporting. Since tactics used by many teams and individuals are not made public. this will be respected. or can a player use his own? The following is a sample report form: Player’s Trip Report 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. 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. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and other benefits that you consider important. life insurance. I normally state that there are several factors to look at before deciding to take the plunge into blackjack as career. I encounter players who consider quitting their jobs to play blackjack full-time. 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. you’ll need to consider the increased cost of these once you leave your job. retirement. When asked my opinion.36 Playing Blackjack as a Part-Time Professional Periodically. Bankroll Do you really have enough savings to carry you through the negative swings that occur? Flexibility Do you have the ability to move from town to town on short notice? A full-time blackjack player may find his action unwelcome in a given town and need to move quickly. Company Benefits If your current occupation offers health. Family If you have a spouse and/or children whom your reliable steady income is essential to support. you should forget about full-time blackjack. Emotion .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well-versed in all aspects of winning blackjack play. He lives in New York.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 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. .

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

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

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