By Yancy Howard
In the last article we talked about choosing the right games at which to put your money at risk, discipline, good and bad players and how they affect your game, and thought processes that knowledgeable players use to maximize their expectation.
Game selection was the key factor discussed concerning your long term profits. In the BJ example we talked about choosing a game that had the best rules, the deepest cut, the ability to get away with a large bet spread, and a fast robot, (that’s the dealer for those of you that didn’t read the last article) that hopefully makes a lot of mistakes.
Now, say you find this game and start exploiting it. Once you start taking a fair amount of checks from the dealers chip tray, what happens? All of a sudden you seem to have taken on a burst of popularity. The floorman comes over to your table. First, he may introduce himself and ask you a few questions. This usually depends on the size of your bets, but you can be sure that he will be particularly interested in your bet spread, and your reaction to his being there.
In our poker example, if you remember, we were looking to get in a game with lots of technically weak, loose players that call a lot. For the time being though, we are going to leave out the maniac who is constantly raising, sometimes with the “nuts” and sometimes with nothing. We’ll deal with him later.
Again, you start amassing a lot of checks. Do you think for a minute that the casino is going to send someone over to monitor your play? Not unless they have a reason to believe you are cheating. Because you are not in a position to hurt their bottom line, they have no reason to feel threatened.
“There aren’t many situations where
you are going to gain anything
by toking the poker Robot.”
Now back to the Robot situation. There are different types of Robots. Good ones, bad ones, fast ones, slow ones, honest ones, dishonest ones, careless ones, and some that can be manipulated through tokes to cut off less cards, raising your overall expectation, as long as you don’t toke excessively.
There aren’t many situations where you are going to gain anything by toking the poker Robot. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t toke after winning a pot, because that’s expected.
Having a good act is a very important part of your BJ playing technique. If you are betting big money, you have to make them think that you are anything but a knowledgeable player. This is of the utmost importance if you are playing in a single deck game. The count goes up and down so quickly that your method of disguise, and how good it is, will determine your longevity.
The act in the game of poker is not important as far as the casino is concerned, because again, you are no threat to them. Any of your Oscar award winning performances are directed toward your opponents rather than the house. If you are new to the poker scene, one bit of advice would be to always act in the same manner in each and every situation. If you have to take a second or two to figure the odds of a drawing hand, do the same thing when you already have the NUTS. Just don’t hold up the game. Don’t reach for your chips until the person to your right has concluded his transaction. If you are a smoker, you’d do well to light up when you are out of the pot, rather than when involved. We’ll get into this later when we talk about TELLS.
“Don’t reach for your chips until
the person to your right
has concluded his transaction.”
In the first article I stated that you had to play BJ like a machine making all of the correct strategy decisions straight from memory. After you have mastered the counting system that you have chosen, it is then time for you to add the refinements that will buy you playing time. Remember, you can only win big money by betting big money. Betting big money is going to draw attention. How you act while your play is being scrutinized by the Floorman or the Pit Boss determines whether the welcome mat is withdrawn or not.
Here is a crazy act1)Editor note: The point of this example is that “acting” is a very desirable skill at blackjack and not quite as important in poker. that will buy you a lot of playing time at the BJ tables. Buy yourself a pair of dark glasses and a cane. Get your girlfriend or wife to accompany you to the casino as your guide. Take hold of her arm and have her lead you to the shoe game of your choice where all the cards are dealt up. Don’t be looking around. Stare straight ahead. After all, you’re BLIND! Have her seat you at the center of an empty table so you can get some heads-up play. Greet the Robot cordially and explain that you are blind and that your wife is going to help you play by telling you what your cards are. Tell the Robot that you want all the same color chips, cause you won’t know the difference. Now this is something that you have to practice at home, and put a lot of thought into. You can’t be making mistakes like taking the cut card from the dealer when he offers it to cut the pack cause you can’t see him offering it. You’re BLIND! You must stare straight ahead at all times.
After the hand is dealt, your wife tells you what your two card total is. You of course can see everything that is going on, while keeping the count, making the proper strategy decisions, and sizing your bets. Remember, don’t move your head when looking down to pick-up your chips for the next bet. Feel for them a little. Maybe knock a stack or two over, It won’t matter, their all the same color, remember?
What really makes this whole thing work is, your wife tells you what your cards are, the total only, but never tells you what the Robot’s UP card is! You can, and should, from time to time ask what the UP card is. If you get a snapper or take insurance requiring odd color chips, ask the Robot or your wife to put the odd colors in a separate stack to the side of the rest of your chips. It works best if you ask the Robot for help rather than your wife. Act like you are having a good time. Be a sport and put out a small toke for the dealer if you’ve just won a big bet. Remember, you can move your eyes all you want. Just don’t move your head! Let your wife take your winnings from the betting circle, but you make the bet. Here is a good way to really jump your bet. Say you just won a hand and the count is high, just slide another stack toward the betting circle. Put it near the circle, not quite inside. The Robot will move it inside for you and place it on top of your original bet plus what you’ve just won. Remember, you’re BLIND!
“Being blind or not, any good size
action is going to draw attention.”
Being blind or not, any good size action is going to draw attention. Someone from the pit may come over to introduce themselves. Welcome them! Act happy. Move your head in the direction toward where the voice is coming from. They’ll tell you that they will be glad to assist you in any way. Just say that your wife is your constant companion since you lost your sight from complications of diabetes. If they compliment your game, tell them that you used to love to play BJ before you lost your sight and you are sorry for being a little slow. Be humble, but very nice. Tell them you appreciate how helpful the dealer is.
Needless to say this won’t work in the poker room, but it will at the BJ tables. After all, how many blind blackjack players do you know that can count?
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[ This article was originally published in the Summer 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]