Chapter 1: Entry Points

Blackjack Therapy by Clarke Cant

Chapter 1, entry points.

There are four situations that will be discussed below that are typical of people using this book and beginning or restarting their adventure in advantage play in blackjack. This discussion may seem off topic but it is vital to go over these life situation suggestions to get over the greatest obstacle we may have, how to get over the fact that money we win did not fall from the sky, or is somehow undeserved, by going over some of the traps, we may face if we are:

Homeless or near homeless

Living a normal middle class life but having to justify our playing

Wealthy but overcoming inhibitions to now taking the edge on the casinos

A past card counter that is re-entering the fray and reclaiming the edge.

No matter how low life has gotten you down you can start now almost, but you must take a hard look at all the traps….I have had to deal with them all…

If you are homeless or near homeless you will be thankful that places exist that will provide free meals or a place to stay for a few nights, until you get “back on your feet.” Prepare to be shocked to find out however how huge the disincentives are for such missions and agencies, far more than the “old welfare as we knew it,” to help you, and how likely they are to, through obvious and deliberate neglect, to keep you trapped, where your painful status is money in the bank for such places and you are their cashcow.

A good place to start is by access I have had to the online version (via some nice hacker types) of a publication first brought to public attention by Chuck Harder, of For the People (, who obtained access to the 1991 print edition of a publication for congressional aides to aid constituents, called, Cash and Non-Cash Benefits for People of Limited Incomes.

(The moral question of what the federal government is doing by giving tax dollars to groups that also solicit from the public is not too far removed from what would happen if Compaq and IBM were allowed to hold telethons to subsidize their bids to sell servers to the Pentagon.)

The reembursement rates and calculated equivalent costs, for the same services in the normal business world will shock you. Here are the latest figures I have to date for the moneys that the federal government is required to pay to any charity (whether the charity even likes it or not) serving meals to the needy that qualifies or participates in any USDA or other food programs in the USA.

  • Breakfasts $1.65
  • Lunches $2.65
  • Dinners $3.15

Such compares on the low to median side for such meals at typical fast-food outlets across the USA. Cost equivalents will be made however to reflect the advantages such groups have over private enterprise. Such programs are sold to the public in the excuse that the cost to the taxpayer is less than the old welfare system, while the total taxpayer impacts and total costs to society of such activities are ignored.

To begin with, at least 60% of all such foods are donated, with costs being typically 50% of what you pay in restaurant. The equivalent costs become:

  • Breakfast $2.15
  • Lunch $3.45
  • Dinner $4.10

25% is normal wages where at least 80% of the servers and preparers being some sort of voluntary person, who may actually be in some sort of rehab program. The first raises the equivalent to:

  • Breakfast $2.48
  • Lunch $3.98
  • Dinner $4.73

The rehab people, those in some sort of program no doubt, are entitled to be paid at minimum wage, which may or may not be paid them, are usually 60% of the staff, which now adjusts the figures, if kept for rehab services by the agency to:

  • Breakfast $2.73
  • Lunch $4.38
  • Dinner $5.20

The tax impact of the donations of food, in tax deductions and direct tax credits, matches the value of the donated food in full and amounts to another 50% of that original price:

  • Breakfast $3.54
  • Lunch $5.70
  • Dinner $6.78

Another 40% of the original price comes in additional private donations of cash:

  • Breakfast $4.21
  • Lunch $6.76
  • Dinner $8.35

And then you can add still more for direct grants from the federal government over and above these program costs, but by now you can see we are not eating at the Circus-Circus buffet at all, but may be headed to the Bellagio. Now can you believe it that these same missions, may demand $1 for some meals, taking food stamps illegally (typical of the Union of Gospel Missions) or trying to get regulars to assign their food stamps to them (typical of the Salvation Army).

The same holds true for the similar reembursement that is paid for bed space each night of between $18 and $22. For $58.30 you could stay at the most expensive Motel 6 locations in the USA, San Francisco or New York City. Here the multipliers are similar staffing and largely donated blankets and sheets etc.

At each, very pointedly you will be asked to leave your belongings too in very unsecured spaces, such as demanded to leave your backpack away from you because of supposed fire hazards, before you partake of such “services.” The real purpose of such and proof of keeping people trapped, even though it is not consciously done, the incentives are certainly followed, can be found in virtually every other issue of the Salvation Armies, Battle Cry, magazine. About that often you will find some article about someone forced by some life crisis to seek help and losing whatever little belongings they have while in shelter, and then deciding that it was all part of some plan by Jesus to get them to give up their addiction to things and turn to him.

The states get in the act too, which I will not detail except in one example. You can manage quite well with good budgeting to survive on food stamps. If you are issued paper stamps you will find the change quite handy. You may have even read how Anthony Curtis once credited couponomy with his initial survival when he first decided to become a professional gambler. In one conversation with Paul Keen, quoted by him to me, he also added that food stamp change, after being laid off from one bar-back job helped too. Well every so often a county or state will switch over to an ATM like system, where some racist walking stereotype from some studio call will be shown on TV saying, “I likes this new card system so much because now my kids won’t have to go hongry if the stamps are stolen.” BS

If you are probably in this situation you probably will have to use such services for a time. But don’t fall for being offered to go into some rehab program or bible training program. You will be working for free in some thrift store without any wage and hour protection. You will not likely be placed in anything resembling AA or the like either, just fed that religion. You certainly will not be allowed to gamble in any way shape or form. As little as $4 can be enough to begin optimal play with Basic Strategy and playing bet $1, win $2 coupons, and letting your money build. You perhaps should keep to state employment agencies for such things as day labor to get cash in your pocket, apply for paper stamps, and try to avoid the temp agencies—both they and the state offices will require long hours waiting for a job, but less of the money paid for you will be yours in the temp agencies and the temps have a tendency to put drunk and other dangerous workers to you out on “tickets” because they know damn well that such people if injured will flunk any drug tests and they will not have to pay the medical bills. You can get hurt working with such “expendables.”

Try to get a bicycle and campout if you can to get away from such pressures and save expenses. Don’t teamup with anyone else, in that the “heybros” are likely just trying to make sure you are a boozer or druggy too, to make sure you become their alternate reserve supplier of physcoactives. A used bicycle can not only pay for itself in transportation savings quickly, but you would be surprised at the rate you find spare change on the streets with one. Tents, such as the $12.95 A frame found at Wal-Mart often will do. Also develop skills at dumpster diving. Food can be found at 7-11s and Circle Ks that is only slightly expired and will outlast the computer you are reading this on. Clothing can be found at virtually any laundromat—which is where that odd sock goes….Shave any beard (it is amazing how far down some street people get to where they want to be IDed as homeless and hassled) you may have and keep your hair short but not in any atypical style. Keep clothes clean and try to stay away from clothing giveaways unless you like dressing in bizzare polyester or are an extra in some new Austin Powers movie (and take note of the above where the hidden agenda of the missions, even when not conscious of it, may “dress you funny.”). Later on, during early Januarys, you can find working last years computers behind offices, especially phone sales companies and real estate offices. Bike parts are easy – especially in Laughlin – except in Las Vegas, to find (the drivers are often DUI or feel because they have a juice job on the strip they have a right to target joggers and bicyclists and anyone else who is in better shape then they and threatens their self-image.).

Now before you start thinking that this is bizzare to discuss, after all how many of you are this broke, you should consider this as a good example of how to think about the hidden costs of playing hunches or not being able to understand how basic and count strategies rate different playing recomendations. The money paid out by the government and by donors is hidden in a shell game where each contributor is tricked into thinking he is getting a bargain because others are also paying in, not seeing how a contributor donating food is also himself a tax-payer and the like. The same fallacies can hit when not splitting 8s (as is recommended by John Patrick in several writings on blackjack) does result in 2 losing new hands, but 2 hands that lose less than the original 16. Other similarly sneaky points will be made in the same way, in this text.

Similar concerns will haunt you if you are a more typical member of the middle class and still have it together. Blackjack Attack, by Don Schlesinger, and his SCORE articles, can give the impression that you shouldn’t play until you have $5K or $10K, or until your expected value per hour is higher than your job earnings. Even if you are playing instead of on a normal job, this is misleading. You should look toward playing as the start of a new business like any other new business venture that is going to take a little time and a lot of hard work to turn to the black. You also have to deal with spouses and normal expenses and the unique viewpoint where a dollar won today may not really be yours to spend for sometime. Right from the start you are going to have to have good estimates of your expected value and your required bankroll. Another major hurtle is looking at the relatively meaningless term, advantage, when hands to double or Schlesinger’s DI (still not as meaningful), is a far better way to rate games (hands to double, or HD as given here is not the same as the H0 that Brett Harris uses either). The experiences of Stuart Perry, writing in, Blackjack Diary, are perhaps indicative of this. You most of all have to directly confront just who you are trying to justify your playing to.

Your day to day and hourly experiences of play are simply meaningless compared to the expected value you have while playing, even in the best games. You have to be stubborn to the point of being compulsive to reach success, to play long enough to win, only having the math, and not results, to go by, until far down the road. While I believe that things like remote viewing and psi sense exist, these are not the same as spousal intuition and you will have to often explain things. You also have to be absolutely firm about not talking about your advantage play in any casino situation and stopping people from viewing your legitimate concerns as “paranoia” (actually they are the clinically paranoid ones in that there really are “boots under the bed,” here, and they are the ones refusing to deal with actual reality). Such people can really screw you over when they try to prove that you are “worried over nothing” and insist on talking in the wrong places.

For the wealthy, which can be very relative in terms of the casinos you play and etc., and players known for their formerly losing play, there are limits to what tactics you can apply. Couponomy, which is suggested in the next chapter as an introduction to advantage play and seeing how your bankroll runs up and down is not going to be available to you. You are limited by having to stay within the playing styles and profiles that you have already established. Many of you are going to have to jump into games that are not as good as those available to others because of that. You have to look at yourself as an income rather than investment player: you will not have as much oportunity to seek out games that provide quick bankroll growth, but will be able to find games that can give you high dollar returns. The difference will be explained in chapter 4.

The biggest problem is that you will have already been profiled by the casinos as gambling to meet non-monetary goals. Suddenly leaving a game because conditions are not as good for maintaining your advantage is likely to be interpreted as “your pockets going empty,” by the casinos. Your increase in skill, suddenly playing at least basic strategy for example, is not as serious a problem as you might think however. A casino is more likely to give you breathing space in that a player who bets black chips, and plays basic strategy, and maybe tries to count but appears to be bad at it, appears to be much more profitable than a $5 bettor who plays basic strategy. The $5 chip basic player will be viewed as not necessarily giving up enough money to “pay the rent on that chair,” while the same percentage appearing to go to the casino, but from a $100 chip player, is more than enough to get the casino to comp you to room, food and beverages. The same cover for your play can come from exploiting the comps in other ways. When a game goes bad try to make a little more unreasonable demand than usual. You not only can create an excuse to leave that is unrelated to playing conditions, but you can gauge more accurately the pit’s attitude toward you by the tone and manner of their yes or no.

For the player who has left the game for awhile there are changes that are very subtle. Every game will tend to appear to be better than it really is, with the trend toward moving initial game observation to the staff monitoring the overhead cameras (the sky) than from the pit bosses. Shoe games that a player would never play as recently as 5 years ago, may be the best games around you, with the revelations of shuffle tracking. Tell play is nearly totally gone, while front loading (the attempt at detecting the quick inadvertent exposure of the dealer’s hole card) is perhaps more doable than ever—with the countermeasures that have been taken to stop players exploiting bangers (my own term), which has itself replaced playing the warps. Trying to form teams is different now that the trend is away from more complex counts to unbalanced systems where true counting is optional. You are going to be puzzled over the new terms that have cropped up: such as popularizing the use of the term, “system tags,” for card values. These are the most troublesome perhaps.

Computers have advanced forward over the years where older ways to estimate your edge, such as the Blackjack Formula revision given here, will seem archaic, until you consider the risks involved in having your own computer with you, and the shear meaninglessness of the extra precision that these advances have brought. Some people have recognized this point, such as Arnold Snyder in his revised edition of Blackbelt in Blackjack, where he shows how to simplify the indexes for the hilo count, with very little impact (though in my opinion the true edge concept carries the concept too far). There are also newer studies showing that there is limited impact in what would seem to be drastic overbetting; though it is more proven than ever that using bet sizes of twice your optimal bet will reduce your gains to zero, long term, and you will absolutely wipeout at bet sizes any more than this, and that an optimal bet is well optimal for your long term gains—there will be some controversial discussion of ways to estimate optimal bankroll requirements in Chapter 4, that point-out how some famous books have miss-used normal statistical methods.

Consider these comments however most of all to get over the idea that money you can win from blackjack is somehow the result of magic of some sort, simply because the causal link between the way you play and the money you gain is so spread out over so many hands, or that in any way you should have less respect for money that you win, as compared to money from your usual career. Chapter 10 will cover these issues which go back to the roots of statistics; back to people like Cardano and Fibinacci who originated such concepts.

Chapter 2, basic strategy fast and easy; your first step in advantage is couponomy.

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