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

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

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

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

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

Norm is truly a brilliant programmer. Without hesitation.” but we’re still way ahead as this book is going to print. “Sure. I still say. my wife. Huntington Press Staff: Deke Castleman spearheaded the nightmare of a project with the formatting of this book. the number-one blackjack practice software.” who has not only put up with me. but has been most supportive. he said. and making 2005 a profitable year.” What more can I say? To two South Florida investors who were not afraid to take a risk. While completing my manuscript. Finally.suggestions on areas to add and expand on. . “Mrs. I approached Norm and asked if he’d be interested in developing a companion software product specifically for this book. his support and encouragement during that time were key to its success. Thanks for your respect. Norm Wattenberger is the developer of Casino Vérité. When you read this book you’ll know that I’ve kept my word not to reveal any specific locales. 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. Blaine. Bethany Coffey’s creative thinking helped move things in a new direction. He thought it would be brilliant if I could include his Red Seven and Zen Count systems from his Blackbelt in Blackjack book. which is what you’re about to read. confidence. “You guys are out of control. He’s also one of the easiest individuals to work with. 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. Please Identity Theft and Casinos Profiling Through the Players Club Casino Credit Cash Transaction Report (CTR) Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) .Side Count of Aces 10 Putting It All Together 11 First Casino-Play Experience Developing a Game Plan Ready to Play? The Green Zone 12 Money Management 13 Interaction with Casino Personnel Tipping 14 Heat. 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.

Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 25 Basics of Zone Tracking Identifying Segment Sizes Learning Cut-Off Tracking Learning Segment Location Learning Multi-Segment Location Summary 26 Location Play Introductory Exercise .Be Informed The Black Zone 16 Cheating The Preferential Shuffle 17 Advantage Play: Some Gray and Not-So-Gray Areas 18 Tactics for Double-Deck Play Summary 19 Backcounting 20 Blackjack and the Internet Security Tips for Participating in Blackjack-Related Websites 21 Blackjack Tournaments 22 The Comp Game and Travel Strategies The Allure Airfare Saving Money on Hotel Rooms Complimentaries Loss-Rebate Programs Other Comps Some Final Tips on Scoring Comps 23 Airline Travel Security 24 Blackjack Outside the U.S.

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

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 . Distribution of Winnings 11.8. Expenses 9. Quality Control 34 Down Memory Lane The End Zone 35 Assuming the Role of a High-Stakes Player Attitude Preparation. Safety And Security 10. Homework.

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

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

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

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

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 .

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

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

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

I was up $46.000.000. To this day. putting my overall trip total at $51. Throughout this book are more details of my experiences with playing the game at various levels—for example. to squeeze in one last play before leaving for home. and got a private table in the VIP Room.500. This time I arrived as the VIP Room opened for the evening and continued with the aggressive style of play. I was on my way. I’m done.900.000 in my last shoe. I opened up the table. so I left.000. Hit the tables at 11:15 p. Then played Friday afternoon in one final session and won $12. I can still confidently walk into a casino and play a winning game. putting my trip total at $5. how I got involved with blackjack teams and my journey of playing at high-stakes for more than 20 years. The swings were wild and I’m pleased I ended up with a decent enough win. I went from down $50. Took $36. I’m glad to be going home. .the book and the cards and soon I began reading the book. A couple of other players joined the table. with no other players. During several wild sessions throughout the evening and into the early-morning hours. as the trip was a bit tiring. It was a long night/morning! Friday Night/Saturday Morning Decided to sleep a good deal of the day Friday. I read through that book chapter by chapter.000 to winning $22.m. 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. At the time of this writing. I still consider Million Dollar Blackjack to be one of the most informative and entertaining books on the game ever written. After three shoes. stopping to practice the drills as they were presented.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

subject to the rules of the game you’re playing. You must play like a machine.4 Basic Strategy Basic strategy is a set of optimal playing decisions based on the player’s cards and the dealer’s upcard.5%. That’s all you need to know. Let’s look at a situation in which the player has a hand of T. but most decisions are consistent through all blackjack games. hit or stand. At times. since hitting a 16 will likely result in drawing a high card and busting. you must zone it out. making the correct basic strategy plays is to your advantage. At times you’ll play basic strategy perfectly and lose hand after hand. Choosing to stand rather than hit will cost you money. You must have nerves of steel and zone out these outside influences. It’s not always obvious. it’s essential that you adhere strictly to the play decisions as outlined. a dealer or other players may criticize your play. No hunches. because in the long run. You must learn to play . Whatever the computer has determined as correct is the proper thing to do. Playing according to the correct basic strategy for a specified number of decks and set of rules provides the player with the best way to play any hand without the benefit of additional information (such as the count of the deck). That’s how I used to think. But basic strategy tells us to hit the 16.6 and the dealer is showing a ten (upcard). once you learn basic strategy. The basic strategy was developed by computer analysis and it’s mathematically irrefutable. It’s that simple. you’re decreasing a house advantage of more than 2% (the casino’s edge against the average player) to less than . A hand of 16 against a dealer’s ten is a losing situation. Some basic strategy decisions vary based on the number of decks and the rules in effect. But it would seem that standing would offer the most hope. The reason? The computer runs show that the player will lose more hands of 16 by standing than by hitting. When this happens. By playing perfect basic strategy. For this reason.

4.2. 6. otherwise hit. 5. 3.A or 8. dealer upcard of 2. A. 7.T or 5. 6. dealer upcard of 5 or 6. T. 9. dealer upcard of 2. A hand of A. T. dealer upcard of 4. 8. otherwise hit. since the ace is already counted as 1. 5. 4.4. you must remember the distinction between a hard hand and a soft hand. • Never split T. 8. 4. hit all hands until your cards total 17 or higher. 14. otherwise hit. • Double down on all hard totals of 10 vs. 16 vs.3. 6. To apply basic strategy effectively. 3.2. Hit/Stand Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Stand on all hard totals of 17 and higher. Double Down Decisions on Hard-Total Hands • Double down on all hard totals of 11 vs. otherwise hit. • Double down on all hard totals of 9 vs. a hand of A. 9. 15. dealer upcard of 2. 6. and 7.2.5. 3. It can’t be lowered.basic strategy flawlessly.7 vs. • Split 4. 5. • Stand on hard totals of 13.8. as offered in a number of Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos. 8. dealer upcard of 3.T is a hard 17. A hard-hand total can’t be lowered by counting the ace as 1.4. . For example. Following is the basic strategy for a typical multi-deck game. • Stand on hard total of 12 vs. 6. 3. 4. because it can be lowered by counting the ace as 1 to get a hand of 7. • When the dealer is showing an upcard of 7. 7. 5. 6. 5. 5. • Split 2. otherwise hit. dealer upcard of 2. 4. is a soft 17. Pair Splitting • Always split A. 3.4 vs. 7. The above decisions occur more than others throughout the game. as any deviations from the proper plays cost you money over time. otherwise hit. 9. otherwise hit.

otherwise hit (except stand with an A. or 8). otherwise stand. • Double down on A. 5. dealer upcard of 4. • Split 9. dealer upcard of 5 or 6.6 or A. 5.2 or A.3 vs. 6.6 vs. 3. dealer upcard of 3.• Split 6.7 vs. 4.4 or A. dealer upcard of 2. 8. Double Down Decisions on Soft-Hand Totals • Double down on A. • Double down on A. 9 (not 7). The basic strategy for these special rules is different. 5. dealer upcard of 2. 4. Never Take Insurance Basic Strategy Multi-Deck. 3.9 vs. otherwise hit.5 vs. Atlantic City Rules . There are some rare occasions where a casino permits doubling after one or two hit cards are dealt. The player is permitted to double down only only on the initial two cards. 4. 6. 5. otherwise hit. otherwise hit. 6.7 vs. 6. 7. dealer upcard of 2.

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

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

Drill # 2: Hard Double-Down Decisions .

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

Answers to Drill # 1 Answers to Drill # 2 .

Answers to Drill # 3 Answers to Drill # 4 .

The Red Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 through 6 are plus-value cards. respectively). The following two betting strategies are for the benefit of readers who feel they have absorbed all the information they can handle. a player should add the ingredients of the true-count conversion and attending play variations (outlined in Chapters 7 and 8. the card-counting player will bet as little as possible in a minus count and raise that amount as the count turns plus. your lowest bet in a minus count will be $5 (1 unit) and your highest bet in a plus count will be $30 (6 units). the choices are 6. The numbers: . If you live or play in Atlantic City. Become proficient in one type of game. Presented here are betting strategies for a 6-deck game dealt face up and a 2-deck game dealt face down. If you’re playing at a $5-minimum-bet table. meaning that since they’re valuable to the casino. the running count improves in the player’s favor. while at the same time not being too obvious with bet movements. Aces and tens have a minus value. which reflects a player’s disadvantage. Armed with this information. to appreciate the real strength of a balanced count system. These are of value to the player and when dealt. 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). As illustrated in the point values of the cards. However. If you live or play in Las Vegas. after they’re dealt (and are no longer available for play). 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.and 8deck games. we use a bet range for the 2-deck game of 1-6 units. Varying your bets as outlined and playing basic strategy provides a very slight edge. Betting Strategy for a 2-Deck Game Dealt Face Down To provide the best possibilities for profit. Determine which type of game you’ll be playing most of the time. they reduce the running count.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note: When you perform a true-count conversion and arrive at a fraction. Position the piles on the table at the same distance and angle from you that they’d be in a casino. so the deck thickness is exact. 4. for the sake of being on the conservative side. 3. 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. . You can make up flash cards to drill yourself for each number of decks used. Flash Card Samples for 6-Deck Game Deck Dealt—1 Decks Dealt—3 Decks Dealt—2 Decks Remaining—5 Decks Remaining—3 Decks Remaining—4 Divisor—5 Divisor—3 Divisor—4 Take 15 decks.remaining to be played. with a slip of paper that says “1 deck. Place a rubber band around 1 deck. Start counting down the decks for a running count and stop at random. you arrive at a true count of +3. and 5 decks. Dividing the running count (+6) by the number of decks remaining (2). Do this until you’re confident that you have mastered the technique of eyeballing the discard tray.” Do the same with 2. Practice looking at the piles to determine sizes. It’s important to get the same cards used in the casinos. Drill Number Two Take 6 more decks and shuffle them together.

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Three .

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

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

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

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

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

your task is to decide how to play. which may call for either a basic strategy decision or a variation. we have various hands 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.

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

Answers to Drill Number One Answers to Drill Number Two .

Answers to Drill Number Three Answers to Drill Number Four .

Answers to Drill Number Five .

The learning sequences of the PLS outlined in the previous chapters can be applied to the systems presented here. 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. .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. one or more of the following systems might appeal to you. I remind you once again to keep your ego in check and only use a system that you can play with total accuracy.

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

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

Glancing at the discard tray. for the sake of being on the conservative side. as shown in the sample below. you have 6 half-decks remaining to be played. let’s use a running count of +6. round the count down to the nearest whole number. You can also make up flash cards. 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.) Since the entire shoe began with 6 decks. which may be used to drill yourself for each number of decks used. Conversion for 2-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.learning sequence to help master these tasks. If you double that number. The first two drills apply to learning the true-count conversion in a 2deck game. you arrive at a true count of +1. you note 3 decks already played. Dividing the running count (+6) by the number of half-decks remaining (6). you note there are 3 decks remaining to be played. Converting to True Count Using Half-Deck Segments In a 6-deck game.

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

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

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

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: .

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

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

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

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

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

Answers to Drill Number Six

Answers to Drill Number Seven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Zone .

After each trip. However. Funds for a down payment on a house. After reviewing your finances. Once you’ve determined you have adequate funds. 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. as this bank account has the potential to grow into a sufficient amount for higher stakes in time. Perhaps at a later date. even if you determine that you can only afford playing low stakes. Money of this type should be in separate accounts for the intended purposes. On this point. etc. there are several things you should consider first. you may find that you don’t have the proper funds readily available for a sufficient bankroll. deposit your winnings (you hope) into this account. This will be your personal “21” account. without jeopardizing your normal living expenses? This requires serious consideration. take those funds and open a separate bank account or investment account. you may be ready to increase your playing stakes. Do not attempt to play higher-stakes blackjack with an insufficient bankroll.12 Money Management The next stage comes after you have logged several hours of low-stakes play and are comfortable playing in a live casino environment. Can you afford to put the required bankroll at risk. At this point. (This is also a good idea.) How do you determine what is sufficient funding for a bankroll? . should not be touched. If this is the case. On the other hand. you should consider taking a break from playing. if this account goes to zero balance. my recommendation is to stick to low stakes. you may have the necessary funds for the next level of play. college tuition for your children.

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

000 Betting Range = $10–$100 After X hours of play. For more precision in establishing methods of money management. The above illustrates a most simple form of money management. Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way. it’s a good idea to add an additional factor here: Keep two additional maximum bets for each session. One product I use and recommend is Blackjack Risk Manager 2002. New Starting Bank = $5. and revise your betting range accordingly to continue playing within the 5% risk of ruin. Also recommended is Don Schlesinger’s book. only for this purpose. . When this occurs. which explains bankroll issues in a clear and detailed manner. there are some excellent tools on the market. you’ve lost $5. The purpose of this is to provide a cushion in case you have a situation calling for a split or double down where you’ll need additional cash. Reevaluate the bank. The following is a brief illustration: Starting Bank = $10.000.this loss. which was developed by John Auston. Stop. However. This software is easy to use and useful to the serious player. reevaluate your available bankroll.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. Take note that this additional cash should be considered reserve. you should stop playing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

you don’t need to say anything to the dealer when placing the chip on top. you control the tip. it’s good to tip in this manner if a boss is watching and you want to demonstrate that you’re tipping. then lean over and tell the dealer. Finally. Here are a few finer points on tipping. Place a chip on top of your bet.obliged to. since the dealer doesn’t get to keep all of the tokes personally. Don’t do this too often. because you don’t want the dealer to get in the habit of expecting a tip every time you receive a natural. knowing it’s on record what all dealers earned from the tip pool during any designated shift. You may even ask the dealer. Why? For reporting purposes. give the dealer the one winning chip and leave the original chip for the next hand. Actually.” If you win the hand. you don’t have to feel obligated to give up more winning chips. “How about we let it ride?” In this method. When playing 1-deck or 2-deck games where a cut card isn’t usually . don’t tip at all. Remember that our edge is small and overtipping can eat into profits. The majority of casinos require dealers to pool all the tips. You’re not winning. If you need to double or split. Some casinos still allow dealers to keep their own tips. tip the dealer when receiving a natural. If you are playing in such a casino. Period. there’s consistency in the dollar amounts of tips evenly distributed amongst the dealers. “You’ve got something riding on this hand. tipping can become a more strategic part of your game. Wait for a positive count before placing a chip for the dealer. rather than the dealer having to follow house procedures. If you’re in a losing session. but it isn’t obligatory. 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. Here’s a good method for toking the dealer. there’s less incentive for a dealer to be in cahoots with a generous tipper. A lot of people. On the other hand. In addition. Pooling of tips creates a fair distribution based on hours worked. as a rule. then win. Dealers are naturally hesitant to understate the amount of tips earned for tax purposes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Develop skills in methods not detectable by surveillance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

” Send a customer an offer for a free room and there’s a good chance he’ll be a return visitor. if not mandatory. if the purchase is made using a credit card. so you’ll come back. play golf. which is to say. Throw in a free meal or two? The odds of the return visit have just increased. With this in mind. 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. gamble. When a player has points on a players card. or buy something in a retail shop. bank account numbers—an identity thief’s dream! Central Credit has provided services for the casino industry since the late 1950s.present your card when you eat. he feels obligated not to “let the points go to waste. 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. as well as its ability to invade an individual’s personal . 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. The main reason for gathering this information is to enable the casino to market to you. However. using a players card is beneficial. that information is captured. to get the highest return. purchase show tickets. 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. give them the bare minimum you need to to get what you want. addresses. and lose more money. 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. After providing the casino with all that information about yourself. Global Cash Access acquired it in 1998 and increased the number of services offered. Yes. be aware that it comes at the price of privacy. If you care about your privacy and use a players card.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Black Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the casino offers meals. The key is to keep them at the tables.” Fifteen minutes later his drink arrives. “I’m up about $500. If you’re going to Las Vegas during a time of year when room rates are low.” She then says. paying for the $10–$20 buffet may suit your needs. 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. you’d be better off paying the $40 per night. What they really mean is that they’re welcoming the player to lose more money at their tables. “Are you winning?” He responds. Depending on the amount one is wagering. Typical story. If you don’t normally eat large meals. which wouldn’t really cost much upon closer inspection. instead of playing at the table an additional 30 minutes just for a free meal. rather than betting higher than you normally would or playing longer just to get the room for free.” He tells her. The criteria for comp eligibility vary from casino to casino. A man has been playing blackjack in a casino. She asks. but not before he loses $1. One method of doing so is to offer comps. 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. Instead of leaving the table a $500 winner. let’s go then. betting $100 a hand. “I just ordered a drink.000.22 The Comp Game and Travel Strategies The Allure The casinos. having a built-in advantage in just about every game they offer. He’s been at it for about two hours when his wife stops by the table. know that they’ll win money from the players in the long run. we can leave after I get it. and more to demonstrate that they value the player’s business. People easily fall into the trap of thinking they’re getting something for nothing. when a . When playing for a specific comp. rooms. he ended up a $500 loser.

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

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

you read that correctly. you can end up paying less in airfare than you normally would. it’s not necessary to stay over a Saturday. Many airlines have a “vacation package desk. The casino/hotels make rooms available for such discounted airfare/hotel packages. such as you need to stay over a Saturday and book at least 14 days in advance. 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. referred to as “red-eyes”). I found the following. but the room also included. Here’s a recent example of such a savings: Checking the airlines for round-trip airfare from New York to Las Vegas for a two-night stay. By booking through the airline’s vacation package desk. you’ll usually bump up against some restrictions. I was quoted the following deal: Airfare + two nights hotel per person: $302—late-night flights $321—normal flights Yes. For the absolute lowest rates. 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. if you can deal with 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. When . When booking your trip through the airline’s vacation package desk. giving me the ability to save my comp for a later date.When shopping around for the best airfares. I ended up with not only a lower airfare.

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

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

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

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

this player is eligible for up to $1.400. representing a partial . Airline-Ticket Reimbursement As you become an established player in a casino. Although your play may not warrant a total reimbursement for the ticket(s). a player comes out betting heavy and loses all his front money before reaching the minimum hourly requirement. After playing nine hours. you may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of your airline tickets. although the player didn’t meet the terms for reimbursement based on theoretical loss (he’s light on hours played). If he presents tickets totaling only $400. If you’re a non-discriminating diner. all he’ll get is $1. you may be able to further negotiate your comp by having the casino limit your food comps to a certain dollar amount. If your casino host doesn’t offer this to you. In this case. If the tickets total $2. When calculating a player’s eligibility for a comp such as airfare reimbursement. Other requirements may be a minimum amount of front money on deposit or a minimum credit line.not hinder your playing ability). the casino may elect to reimburse based on actual loss. In the past.600. Airfare reimbursement at this casino requires a minimum of 12 hours play at a minimum average bet of $200. If the casino’s policy is to reimburse 10% of a player’s actual loss toward the cost of airline tickets. Such negotiated comps fall under the category of Room. if applicable. Sometimes. the player loses $16.600. Many casinos reimburse airfare only for players who stay at the hotel. provided certain criteria are met. the casino may have some additional criteria that must be met. The next step is for the player to present copies of his ticket and the ticket of his traveling companion. you can ask. Food. then that’s all he’ll receive.000 on deposit at the start of a three-day stay. A $200 average bet is probably the minimum to qualify for some sort of airfare rebate. to determine the total reimbursement. such as a minimum requirement for hours played. Take a situation where a player puts $20.000 regardless of hours played and average bet size.000 with a recorded $500 average bet. Limited (“RFL”). he may be eligible for airfare reimbursement based on his actual loss of $16. the common requirement was a minimum of 12 hours play. In this case. you may qualify for a partial rebate.

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

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

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

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. it decreases the amount of cash you can walk with. but Norm Wattenberger. Knowing the proper stopping point is a key element in forming an optimal strategy. The best programs offer a loss rebate and complimentaries independent of one another. thereby needing a better loss rebate to participate if you do. and if the criteria are met to justify a loss rebate. you get the comps as outlined. beverage. a key element in incorporating a loss-rebate strategy into your game is determining at what point of a win a player should quit and call it a trip. If comps such as room. Based on the rebate deal. You also have to know how to run the numbers to determine if you have to move your bets too much to preserve an edge. 2. With this program.of play. A typical scenario might be that a player is required to deposit $500. Determine how soon a new “trip” can commence after settlement of a . The strategy needs to ensure that he’s playing at an advantage after putting this amount of money in action with the rebate considered. complimentaries are added in based on . But here’s the important part: You have to do this without looking like a card counter or an otherwise similarly competent player. nothing on the market can formulate these strategies. Since you’ll experience some winning trips. creator of the Casino Verite software products. win or lose. a program might require $100. Loss rebates work best as stand-alone programs that don’t incorporate other complimentary offers. a betting and playing strategy must be devised that preserves a player advantage beyond the point the casino establishes as the minimum-play amount. shows. and airfare are applied toward the loss rebate.25% of the total action wagered for the trip.000 in front money or a credit line that’s turned over a minimum of five times for a 15% rebate on losses. For example. is developing such a tool. 5. 4. 3.000 in front money and play it through a minimum of five times to be eligible for a rebate on losses. Currently. you get that in cash—in addition to the comps. food. Additionally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where the dealer does not take a second card (hole card) until all players have played their hands. Also.S. 8.S. just as it does within the U.S. and Heat Players can get away with higher bet spreads in many countries outside the U. but a player needs to do additional homework to identify potentially profitable situations. based on several variables. A 4. When playing with this rule. A 3. Penetration can vary widely. Different Rules The most common rule you will find in play outside the USA is the “nohole-card” rule. Penetration. which can be both good and bad.24 Blackjack Outside the U. In many places. 11 vs. 11 vs. 8. the games can be a bit different from those found in the U. the player loses both the initial wager and the amount put up for the double down or split. While a typical game found in casinos throughout Europe is a 6-decker with less than desirable rules. As always. casinos. Blackjack opportunities do exist around the world. where after a double down or split.8 vs.. you can increase your edge by spreading your bets accordingly. such a bet spread may overcome this type of game. A. this factor should be the key to determining whether a game is .A vs. you need to adjust your basic strategy as follows: 1.S. T 2.8 vs. there’s an additional spin on this rule. when the dealer’s second card makes a blackjack. If you possess a strong bankroll. Casinos dealing blackjack can be found in many countries around the globe. T 5. A Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Double Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Hit instead of Split Bet Spreads.

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

Failure to follow the proper procedures can result in having all your money confiscated. Foreign Currency Exchange (“FX”) 101 For the examples in this chapter. Translated to our purposes: SCENARIO “A”—You have US$100.590. in addition to your being detained. which is the amount in euro you’d receive for one U. indicating that you’d receive US$1. the above scenario is not common. Currency Laws Be aware of the various regulations with respect to bringing currencies into or out of the country. especially if you’re staying at a smaller hotel. Having a local player guiding you around in a foreign country is an invaluable asset. it may be more prudent to keep the money on you.exercise caution. General Info If you check a local financial newspaper listing exchange rates. After a break-even play.9059. Electronic Pen-Pals Some players worldwide participate regularly in some of the blackjack websites and communicate with one another. you might see the euro trading at . dollar.950 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. In this case. since the rates quoted are considered just a “quote. Using the “for-information-purposes-only” rate in the above example. you might also see a rate quoted as 1. we will use U.10387 and receive US$100.10 for one euro.S.000 and purchase euro at a rate of . Alongside.000 in exchange. rather than in a hotel safe. a more realistic translation would be as follows: .S. Such players have reciprocally hosted one another during visits to their respective countries. You arrive at your European destination with €90.” 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). dollars and the euro (€).9059. you return home with €90. In reality.10387.

You arrive at your European destination with €89. or 1/1. They establish a rate for your buyin.117 Sell: . Method to Minimize Loss on Currency Exchange Best Method—Some casinos provide a nice service. this service was extended to me without any commission.099 Note: In the event only currencies are listed in one of these columns.9100 1.10387. here is how the exchange rate chart would appear: Quote: . If you play a break-even game. In my past trips.8950 1. When funds are wired back to you. which is locked in. you return home with €89. . When you’re receiving reimbursement for airfare.117). You’ll want to ensure the rate used is the same in both of these steps and that it’s done when you settle.SCENARIO “B”—You have US$100.500 and you purchase US$ at a rate of 1. You played a break-even game.360. 1/. they use a spot rate to convert the amount you give the receipt (the US$ amount) and convert it to a euro amount.639. you can determine the flipside by dividing 1 by the quoted rate (e. where you wire US$ to their account held in their local bank.099 (. your exchange transactions would resemble Scenario “A” above.9059). but lost US$1. your winnings are converted at a spot rate (the rate at the moment the bank wires the funds back to your U. they will be once again converted back to US$ the day they are wired to your account back home.g. After a break-even play.9059 1.8950 (1.9059 = 1.10387 Buy: . If you end your play with a win.500.S.9100) and receive US$98. account). This can work to your advantage or disadvantage (usually the latter).50 due to the cost of exchanging currency.. Based on the above transactions.000 and purchase Euro at a rate of .10387 = .50 in exchange. depending on the strength of the currency involved at that time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A finer riffle is the result of cards just put into play. 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 maximize your potential.” Conditions of Cards An important factor is the consistency of the interleaving of cards. By scouting a game prior to actual play. the card dealt will be an unknown card.After taking the effect of cutoffs into consideration. You then can expect the next card to be your third key card. you should be alert for inconsistencies in the number of unknown cards that may land between your individual key cards and the ace target card. Directing a Card Let’s take a situation where you’re playing a game when one unknown card separates your key cards and ace target card. you can notice any inconsistencies in the riffling effects in the shuffle. This means that the next card dealt (second card to your second spot) should be an unknown card. followed by your second key card being dealt as the dealer’s hole card. Here you want to identify areas that ensure that an established sequence will not be disturbed by a “pile break. If you’re playing with cards that have been in play for an extended period of time. Therefore. If you have a situation where the dealer is showing a ten upcard. If you take a hit on your first hand. when the dealer separates the pre-shuffle stack into two or more piles. you need to be aware of break points. if your third key is a ten or . and your second key card (the dealer’s hole card) is a 6. If you find out the time of day this change occurs. You’re playing two spots and the second card dealt to your first spot is your first key card.

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

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

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

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

The
Purple Zone

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

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

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

Team of
10 Players

Bank:

$10,000

$100,000

Maximum Bet:

$100

$1,000

Average Bet (Estimate):

$20

$200

Hands Dealt Per Hour:

70

70

Total Action1:

$1,400

$14,000
(for 1 player per hour)

Win Rate Per Hour2:

$14

$140 (for one player)

Hours of Play Daily:

8

80 (for the team)

Total Daily Win per player:

$112

$1,120

Total Expected Daily Win:

$112

$11,200 (for the team)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

000 and Vic was the big winner. She was low on bankroll. the available cash was a crucial issue at this point.000 for the trip. following a phone call from Vic this morning. she informed me that she lost $4. Ursula had lost the remainder of her bankroll. Devon was scheduled to arrive shortly with roughly $9. where Ursula. Rory.000. I deliberately didn’t make plans to join the trip.000 and Ursula lost another $2. with each of them taking $3.000.000 loss and Rory’s $5. It looks like this will no longer be a problem. the team was down $13. With Ursula’s $8. She was not having problems with the pit and was able to get away with more than a sufficient bet spread. A couple of hours later. I have several reasons for this.500. and the overall team bank was now back down $24. First. I’m in desperate need of at least a couple of days of plain old rest and relaxation. With these new numbers. so I told her to take a break and wait until shift change.Ursula this morning. I told her to take a break. We needed to address the problem of available cash. Even though the team is in Vegas. That Friday I’m scheduled to take a week off from work. Rory lost another $3. just about all of my free vacation time has been utilized for blackjack play.000 loss. Rory lost $5. A second reason is that I wanted to give Rory an opportunity to run the team trip independently. and Vic were all present.000. The results of Devon and Regina were still unknown.000. having not played a hand. I phoned in time for the team meeting.300. then play with a lower maximum bet.500 after three hours of play in one casino. Also.000. Ursula phoned and informed me that she lost an additional $2. Among the three of them. She hadn’t yet been able to meet up with Rory. then go back out to play during the remainder of graveyard shift. My big dilemma the past couple of days has been trying to figure out what spa I should go to for a short visit. there was only a total of $10. He informed me that he had lost $5. so I could evaluate if he’s qualified to do so on a regular basis. I instructed them to go out and play. I . we were now down more than 50% of our bank. 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. since her action has been well accepted there.

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

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

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

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

I found one double-deck game open with two other players. Mid-September We haven’t played since the trip two weeks ago. The team as a whole has played 1.000 chips among her winnings. However. A few of the others didn’t feel that the tests were necessary. we would hope to clear up any questions the others might have on this issue. Of everyone’s individual results. The overall position of the team is that we’re down just under 50 percent of our starting bank. I trust both of them and would be very surprised if they were being dishonest in their dealings with the team. and won some more in one hour of play. I sat down and aggressively spread for one hour of play. thus permitting us to go forward. Ursula scored a nice win and was paid with $5. I do feel it is a good idea to have them both take these tests. Ursula scored a dinner comp at this casino. Personally. I made some inquiries on getting a referral to someone living in Las Vegas who’d be interested in .007 hours with six of us having put in more than 100 hours each. where I scored a nice win. I hoped Ursula and Rory had done well too. I took a taxi over to an off-Strip casino. I was confident that this was not the case.Ursula. I then returned to one of the casinos where I’d played earlier. any team member could be subject to the same test. Rory lost only a small amount. Vic and Rory are down close to $30. Since I didn’t plan on any further play that evening. while two of the players were very much in favor of initiating them. We were concerned about these high-denomination chips raising red flags when we were cashing out.000 each. I decided to propose an alternative action. After lunch. The fact that I initiated this action would put everyone a bit more at ease because. I polished off a bottle of sake. still holding some of their chips. Anticipating that some of the team members might question the level of honesty of these two individuals. so we were indeed making a comeback. By doing so. where we ran up a moderate tab. I made the suggestion that perhaps we could subject both of them to lie-detector tests. I was now up a nice amount for the trip. After checking into a different casino/hotel. I’m taking the necessary steps to protect everyone’s investment. It would also alert the others that at any given time. as manager. When I got inside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25% of $2. the manager receives nothing. an investor submitting $20.000 (bonus to manager).000. and expenses.000.000 investment for the manager.000. 65% of actual win). then the manager has a $10. this amounts to a $5. Net to Investor = $4.000.000 ($2. Actual win = $7.000 in excess of EV). If 10 investors each put in $20. bonuses.000 may have $500 or an agreed-upon amount taken out up front. A win-bonus share in the amount of 25% of the win in excess of the established total team adjusted hourly EV.000. If the team experiences a losing bank. Gross Return to Investor = $5.500. Salaries.000. as well as combine any or all of these methods in a total compensation package. 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. bonuses.000. Percentage of adjusted hourly EV of all players. .000. 5% bonus on overall win at year-end. In this method.Commission percentage upon conclusion of a winning bank. (I believe that this method isn’t fair. You can get creative within any one method.000 “free-roll. which becomes the manager’s compensation in the form of an investment on the manager’s behalf. with win-bonus incentive.000 = $500. Note: These are just a few examples of some methods to compensate a manager. Example of Win-Bonus Total EV “goal” = $5. as it’s purely “result-driven.000 (approx.000. provided the investor’s return is at least 50% of the total win after salaries. such as the following: 5% of adjusted hourly EV of all players. If the agreed-upon amount is $1.” Percentage of adjusted hourly expected value (“EV”) of all players. expenses = $2.”) A portion of each investment is allocated as an investment on behalf of the manager.000.000.

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

000. with one investor and one player.31 Methods of Player Compensation Whether dealing with a combination of two or 20 players and investors. with the winnings distributed at the end of each trip. The agreement is for the winnings to be split equally between investor and player.000 or a $16.000 and the player agrees to make five trips. Method B 50/50 Split of Winnings with One Distribution Let’s take this same scenario with a different payment scheme. one of the biggest decisions you need to make is how to compensate players for services performed and when. the following are some methods used by teams over the years. we’ll use the same scenario as in Method A. The investor fronts $100. The overall bank shows a win of $5. the investor is left with only $84.000. Method A 50/50 Split of Winnings with Frequent Distributions Let’s take a scenario where you have a two-person team. but after paying the player. except with the winnings distributed after the completion of the 5 trips: .000 loss after salaries. While being far from complete. totaling 100 hours. Here are the results: Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $21.

This method. as depicted in the chart below. then the frequency of distributing the winnings doesn’t have an effect on any one participant. One disadvantage of this method comes into play if you have noninvesting players and end up with a losing bank: The players will end up playing with no compensation. 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. Quite a difference between these two methods. CVCX software. and the investor earned $2. A solution here would be to extend the length of play before any winnings are distributed. 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. Net Win 50% Investor/50% Player Based on Hours.000 is divided equally between player and investor. Bottom Line: Player received compensation of $2. with added provisions for player expenses. It could be a requirement that all players also be investors. Method C Multi-Player-Invested Bank. Here. If you have one player betting at a range of $50 to $600. while another . 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. resembles the above two methods.500.500 as a result of the player’s efforts. along with a 10% manager commission deducted from the gross win.Total net win of $5. by QFIT. If all player/investors are required to invest the same amount and play a certain numbers of hours (not the case here). all the players are also investors.

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

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

Method F Player Receives Combination of Hourly Wage + Win Incentive Bonus By decreasing the hourly rate paid to players. this method provides the investor with some protection.750.000/20 = $50. after realizing a losing bank.080. along with estimated expenses involved with the proposed play. Step 1: A total team bankroll is determined for a one-year cycle (this could be changed). If the trip is estimated for 20 hours of play. Step 2: Each player is asked to commit to a certain number of hours for the year. totaling $2.425 goes to the investor.575. the player will have still wages totaling $25. creating an adjusted EV figure. Step 4: Based on overall EV and committed hours. while providing good incentives for the player(s) and the manager (as applicable). the player receives only 10 hours of pay. each player’s pay . On the other hand.000 win after 10 hours of play.000 in expenses for the trip. and stakes. venues of choice for play. and your new adjusted EV is $1. each player’s EV is determined. travel) as a cost and deduct from the hourly EV. In this method. If a player is paying $500 for a plane ticket and another $500 for room and meals.030. having paid salaries. Example: $1.. Deduct $50 from your previously adjusted EV of $1. If you decide to pay 25% of adjusted hourly EV. Step 3: Based on the above. You decide to pay the player a percentage of this adjusted EV.g. you have $1. you may want to consider any expenses (e. divide the total expenses by the number of hours and deduct that amount from the hourly EV. while the remaining $97.50. the investor could still end up at a disadvantage. where compensation to players is in a graduated manner based on time commitments. However. If after 100 hours. the player receives an hourly wage of $257. game types. if the player scores a $100. the results are negative. the player gets paid regardless of the results.nature of the play doesn’t provide for reimbursement by a casino.

500. Note: Increasing the percentage here helps provide motivation in the event a player is burning out.000 is $12. for total adjusted EV goal of $300.000. along with 5% of each trip win until 50% of the committed hours are played. 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. the difference in that amount (bringing the figure to 25% of actual win) will be determined and player will receive 50% of that as a bonus.500 – $62. 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. the difference in that amount (that would bring the figure to 40% of actual win) will be . If so. 25% of $350.000. If so.000.500. a calculation will be performed to determine whether the total pay remitted to all players.000 (actual win) is $87. Difference in pay ($87. Based on pay schedule. a calculation will determine if the player’s total pay amounts to less than 25% of actual win. player receives $ 62. player’s hourly pay increases to 15% of the adjusted EV and trip win percentage increases to 10%. After 50% of committed hours are played.500) is $25. 50% of $25.500. and manager commission amounts to less than 40% of total actual team win. Example: Player commits to play 200 hours at an adjusted EV of $1. representing a “performance bonus” for the player.scale can be established as follows: Hourly adjusted EV is determined and player receives 10% of that EV. out-of-pocket expenses. Player goes 200 hours and wins $350.500 per hour.

000.determined and all players will divide 50% of that figure.000 could go to the manager as a “manager bonus. If you’re paying players based on EV. Difference ($400. The allotment of this bonus among players will be based purely on hours played regardless of EV or actual wins. The terms provide for the investor to receive a 1% interest distribution on the first of each month. calculated on the value of the bank on that date.000 to all players in compensation based on the standard pay schedule. where the investor can realize some return on a monthly or quarterly basis. This bonus can be calculated by hours played or percentage of win.000.000. the funds available for play are decreased.” it could be distributed to players in accordance with any number of formulas. a starting bank is $1.000. Method G This is actually a complement to the above methods that are pertinent to a long-term bank. After this disbursement.000.000.000.000. Total actual win is $1.000 is $25.000. In this method.000 (actual win) is $400. On . 50% of $50. You have options! The additional $25. Investor reimbursed players a total of $10. decreasing the bet range decreases the hourly rate. Note: A problem with overall “team” bonuses is that players showing winning results feel more deserving than those showing losing results.000) is $50. Total out-of-pocket by investor is $350. 40% of $1. An example: On January 1.000–$350. each month or quarter. which may decrease the bet range.000 for expenses. representing a “performance “bonus” to be divided by all players (or only those players who met their time commitments). Example: Investor paid out a total of $240.000. Investor paid manager $100. the investor receives a percentage of the value of the bank. or it could be retained by the investor.

Although the players receive hourly wages.February 1. Penalties Player Penalties If a certain goal is determined or a certain number of hours to which a player must commit is established. Investor Penalties When dealing with more than one investor. less expenses and player wages. However. Hence. the investor’s blow is softened in the event of an overall loss. 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.000 is distributed to the investor and the new value of the bank is $891. the investor can still end up taking a loss in addition to shelling out wages to players. if a single investor elects to bail out prior to the agreed-upon conclusion of a bank.000.000. this pay rate can be subject to a decrease if the hourly EV is reduced as a result of the investor. less a penalty. The penalty can be in the form of a discounted amount of the hourly wage the player would receive if the required number of hours were achieved. on February 1. based on the player results. by withdrawing a percentage on a monthly or quarterly basis. . This enables the bank to operate at the same level. the players receive compensation. Here. the bank is at $900. Remember. $9. what works for one group may not work for another. that player is penalized if these hours are not met. he receives the entitled share of the bank at that time. This section presents just some of the methods that can be used to compensate players on a team. In any event. One option for the team is to permit others to buy out the shares of the departing investor. This can represent an overall loss for such investor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and hours of operation.results regularly. 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. . Develop relationships with other teams and players so that you can perform virtual transfers around the world. procedures.

Suggested Wording: This manual is a confidential document and may not be shown to anyone else. It should be kept in a safe place at all times. making travel arrangements for players).33 Outline for a Team Manual 1.g. MANAGER’S ROLE Duties and responsibilities need to be outlined (e. CONFIDENTIAL NATURE OF CONTENTS If you’re sensitive to a high level of confidentiality. 2. should a player or investor need or wish to withdraw. testing. 3. and/or polygraph tests . The manual is team property and subject to return on demand. this should be the first thing mentioned. What is the manager’s salary? Is it a percentage of winnings or a flat fee? What happens if the team manager resigns? Can the team manager be dismissed by a vote of others? 4. MEMBERSHIP How are players selected? Are references required? Are credit checks. No material in part or whole may be reproduced. Do not bring it on team trips. What happens if a policy needs to be changed? Is it a unilateral decision or decision by vote? There should be a method in place for distributing funds at any given point. background checks. scheduling. ESTABLISHMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF TEAM POLICIES Responsibilities of each player.. bookkeeping.

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. 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. 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. and what is considered passing. grading system. multi-deck)? Are written tests going to be given for basic strategy? Other skills? General knowledge? Outline the specific testing routine. is there a form of re-test? Will a candidate be interviewed and accepted by the team manager only. how will this be tested? Will live play observation be conducted of a candidate? Is there a rating sheet to grade the candidate? The following is a sample live-play evaluation form for a candidate: . how many? Are performance reviews conducted? 5. If a candidate fails a test.

pit. After discussion with candidate. 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. and other players Candidate doesn’t wait until last minute to place bet . Shows up when he/she commits to. it may be determined that such plays were justified. please note them in comments section. Indicate Yes/No on the following observations: Candidate orders a beverage of some sort Candidate talks to dealer. Starts and ends session at times committed. Score: _________ Comments: Technical Proficiency: Candidate is accurate during live play. If any decisions are questionable. Score: _________ Comments: Appearance: Candidate looks/dresses in accordance with stakes played and casino/town playing in. indicate your score on each category based on the following point system: 1 = Hopeless 2 = Needs Work 3 = Average 4 = Above Average 5 = Excellent Dependability: Candidate is punctual. Score: _________ Comments: Interactions at Table: Candidate is taking proper measures not to look/act like a typical counter.Candidate Live-Play Evaluation Form Instructions: Based on your observation of candidate’s live play.

Score: _________ Comments: Follows Game Plan: Candidate’s live play is in accordance with what’s outlined in the team game plan.Score: _________ Comments: Awareness: Candidate identifies any close scrutiny and takes appropriate measures. Score: _________ Comments: The following is a sample “system-and-game-plan” form that a candidate may complete: System-and-Game-Plan Form Count System Point Values: 2= 3= 4= 5= 6= 7= 8= . 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. Value Assigned to Ace Is: _____. List Play Variations Used for Game Played: Dealer Shows: Your Hand: At Count of: Variation Is: Simulation Results (to be completed by Evaluator): 6. If Using Ace Side Count. Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play each .9= T= A= If Using True Count Conversion. You Divide by Full Decks: ____ 1/2 Decks: ____ Other: ____. 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.

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. Since tactics used by many teams and individuals are not made public. GAME SELECTION What criteria determine a playable game? Is there a penetration point defined as acceptable vs. Is there a standard form for reporting. VARIOUS TACTICS THAT MAY BE APPLIED Note: This area is subject to preferences based on the knowledge and experience of team management. this will be respected. for whatever reason. or can a player use his own? The following is a sample report form: Player’s Trip Report 7.day? Is there a maximum number of hours a player is permitted to play without a break? Is there a maximum number of days a player is permitted to play without a day off? What is team policy on alcohol consumption? Outline policy on cashing or not cashing out chips. how will such player be compensated? MONEY MANAGEMENT AND BETTING .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay. he told me it was too late. I spent an hour talking with Ursula and realized that she wasn’t really in tune with the warning signs. I believe this episode made her a stronger player. Patrick said. that she had been backed off from play. I was at fault for taking it for granted that she was. dodging traffic.” then proceeded to run across a major thoroughfare. Our final meeting was a happy occasion. When he returned. Afterwards. Subsequently. . in an effort to save a fellow teammate.On that note. 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.

The End Zone .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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