I started playing Blackjack in back room games of Detroit in the middle 50’s. Beginning in 1962 I headed to Las Vegas armed with $3000.00, as well as confidence in the skills I had honed in those back room games over six or seven years. Ten days after my arrival in Las Vegas, my bankroll of $3000.00 was down to $100.00. I decided to return to Detroit, my bankroll depleted, my ego battered, my stamina weakened, but fortunately my desire to play winning Blackjack was still at a very high level.
Because my career and its extreme financial successes have been so public over the years, I wish to share with you many of the intricacies that led to the overall success. I also believe I have influenced casinos to change how they deal. Some of those changes were bad for the player and some are good.
Shortly after returning to Detroit from my first visit to Las Vegas (A.K.A. lost wages), my father gave me a book called Beat The Dealer by Edward Thorp. My unusual gift for math helped inspire me and made learning to count cards a breeze. I studied very hard knowing UFA casino conditions are far different than the practice sessions at home. Your reaction time for making decisions at Blackjack while in a casino is much shorter than the time you have at home while practicing. In the casino, the dealers and floor personnel are talking to you, which of course can be very distracting. Cocktail waitresses are asking if you want a drink. Many casinos have loud entertainment within range of the gaming tables. In general, the conditions can be extremely distracting as well as intimidating. My practice sessions had gone well. I now was able to react correctly, almost robotic. This would prove to be powerful in maintaining a proper level of energy.
My next trip to Las Vegas was successful. I was now in the groove. Over the next twenty years I averaged forty to forty-five weekends a year in a casino somewhere on this planet. I played winning Blackjack on every continent on earth other than Antarctica. Although I had occasional losing sessions, I rarely had a losing trip. Besides playing a mathematically correct game, other skills were developed through casino awareness. Reading hole cards by playing first base. Reading the warps caused by dealer peeking. Shuffle tracking to keep clumps of high cards to the front were just some of the many tricks of the trade. It’s not necessary to explain how it was done because the casinos no longer peek manually at the hole card and have learned to shuffle better to avoid players cutting large cards to the front. Those changes came about because of people like me. Teaching those skills on the lecture circuit, infomercials as well as home study courses may have taught players the importance of casino awareness but also made the casino executives aware of their fallacies. However because of articles appearing in magazines like Gambling Times, there are some changes for the good.
In the Spring of 2002 issue of Gambling Times magazine, I wrote an article titled “Let’s Save Blackjack.” I urged all Blackjack players, neophyte as well as skilled to please fight back. Don’t play where the rules are not favorable! I also recently wrote an article about the casinos near where I live and how all but one were dealing a game not worth playing, casinos hitting soft seventeen as well as using constant shuffling machines. I’m delighted to now report a changing climate for the better. All of the casinos in my area near Palm Springs now stand on all 17’s as well as deep penetration of the shuffle point. I’m amazed!
I still travel to Las Vegas once or twice a month. It keeps me in touch with the casinos policy of dealing Blackjack. This game is a tremendous source of revenue for the casino. The neophyte loses all and has no concept of the different rules being offered. Most casinos today deal a different game of Blackjack under one roof. The rules for a single deck pay only 6/5 for Blackjack in most casinos. If they offer a double-deck game, the rules are different than the game they deal from the shoe.
We really can make a difference. Help spread the word. If the casino hits soft seventeen, uses constant shuffling machines or doesn’t allow doubling down after a split, just don’t play. They’ll get the message. But then there’s more. It’s really worth learning how to play winning Blackjack. At my house we receive anywhere from three to five invitations a week to different casinos. These invitations include complimentary rooms, food and often tournaments with entry fees paid. The tournaments are fun, often lucrative and complete with prize award banquets. I’m amazed!
Let’s sort out this mess. When you’ve learned to play winning Blackjack, the only casino game the player can have a winning percentage over the house, you will win their money consistently. Equally important is how the average casinos comp policy works. Because you’re winning, the time you spend at the Blackjack table will dramatically increase. You can also help this program by playing at full tables. The more time you spend at the table, the greater the rewards become from the casino. It’s called time and speed. The average bet and length of time played is how the casino bases their comps. If you lose because you’re unskilled you probably are not at the tables very long and therefore won’t get any comps. Lose and pay or win and receive comps. Those are your choices. I’m amazed!
During the last two years another member of my household has learned to play winning Blackjack, which is why we continue to receive invitations for complimentary rooms, shows, etc. The skills continue to get better allowing for more time at the tables and therefore greater rewards both monetarily as well as casino perks. What we do is fun, rewarding and easy. The ingredients necessary are the desire to learn and the discipline to apply. Learn the differences in the game and how to apply your skills properly. Practice to avoid being the losing neophyte the casinos love. Enjoy the comps.
Hopefully I’ll get to meet many of you and watch you win in the casinos, then I’ll really be amazed!