Category Archives: Books

The Best Blackjack Books of All Time

By Michael Dalton

There are many good books that have been written about the game of blackjack. Here are my personal favorites for the best blackjack books of all time. These books have stood the test of time and provide outstanding advice on how to improve your blackjack skills. As a collection, these books cover everything you need to be successful at beating the casinos. Books are listed in order of the year they were first published. If you buy any of these books, be sure you get the latest edition. 1) Michael Dalton is author of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and editor/publisher of the Blackjack Review Network. Looking for other good blackjack books? Check out the product review section of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and the online book catalog on this site.

Beat the Dealer by Edward ThorpEdward Thorp’s Beat the Dealer (First published 1962)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? This is the classic that changed the way we all view the game of twenty-one. This book presents, for the first time, a validated winning strategy (a ten-count) based on the results of computer simulation. The 1966 version has a practical point count (Hi-Lo) that was later revised by Julian Braun. Is this required reading for the aspiring card counter?  Probably not…. but if you are a history buff, it is a must read.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Edward O. Thorp: Beat the Dealer ]

Playing Blackjack as a Business by Lawrence Revere Lawrence Revere’s Playing Blackjack as a Business (First published 1969)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? The classic text that many early card counters were taught by including myself. Contained nice color charts that made it easier to memorize basic strategy. Included four counting systems developed by Revere with computer simulation data from Julian Braun.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Playing Blackjack As A Business ]

Professional Blackjack by Stanford WongStanford Wong’s Professional Blackjack (First published 1975)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? The best book to learn the very popular Hi-Lo card counting system. Be sure to get the 2011 (or later) version for updates and corrections to the count variation charts.  The Hi-Lo count is the most recommended count of all time.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Professional Blackjack ]

Theory of Blackjack by Peter GriffinPeter Griffin’s The Theory of Blackjack (First published 1979)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? This book is considered the bible on the mathematics of blackjack. Probably not required reading unless you are really interested in math.  None the less, this book included ground breaking information on the game including the most complete basic strategy ever published.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: The Theory of Blackjack ]

 

World's Greatest Blackjack Book by Lance HumbleLance Humble & Carl Cooper’s The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book (First published 1980)

Why? Introduces the very popular Hi-Opt I and Hi-Opt II card counting systems.  The Hi-Opt counts did not assign a value to the Ace, thus requiring that they be side-counted.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: The World Greatest Blackjack Book ]

Million Dollar Blackjack by Ken UstonKen Uston’s Million Dollar Blackjack (First published 1981)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? At the time, this was one of the most complete books on advantage play blackjack ever published. Discussed everything from card counting to team play. Included the Uston Simple Plus/Minus, Uston Advanced Plus/Minus and Uston Advanced Point Count systems. Also, chapters on the art of single- and multiple-deck play, team methods, front-loading, spooking, cheating, getting barred and tournament blackjack.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Million Dollar Blackjack ]

Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold SnyderArnold Snyder’s Blackbelt in Blackjack (First published 1983)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? Introduced the easier unbalanced Red Seven count and the two-level Zen count. Topics included depth charging, money management, the true count, camouflage techniques, toking guidelines, hole card play, cheating, team play and the effect of table conditions. Written by the editor/publisher of the outstanding card counters resource, Blackjack Forum magazine.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackbelt in Blackjack : Playing 21 as a Martial Art ]

Blackjack For Blood by Bryce Carlson Bryce Carlson’s Blackjack For Blood (First published 1992)

Why? The best part of this book is Carlson’s insight into what I call the art of twenty-one. Introduced the advanced ace neutral two-level Omega II count.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackjack for Blood ]

Knock-Out Blackjack by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuch Olaf Vancura & Ken Fuchs’ Knock-Out Blackjack (First published 1996)

Why? Introduced the very popular K-O unbalanced card counting system. This count ranks as one of the top single-level counts available to players today. The K-O card counting system eliminates the mountain of mental arithmetic necessary to win at blackjack.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Knock-Out Blackjack ]

Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger Don Schlesinger’s Blackjack Attack (First published 1997)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? The ultimate blackjack reference book for professional players. Covered topics such as back-counting the shoe game, betting techniques and win rates, evaluating new rules and bonuses, statistical insights, the “Illustrious 18”, the “Floating Advantage”, team play, camouflage, risk of ruin, and more.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way ]

Burning the Tables in Las VegasIan Andersen’s Burning the Tables in Las Vegas (First published 1999)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? This was the long awaited sequel to one of the best-selling blackjack books ever written, Turning the Tables on Las Vegas. Included powerful camouflage strategies to avoid detection by casino staff while card counting.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Burning the Tables in Las Vegas ]

Blackjack BluePrint by Rick BlaineRick Blaine’s Blackjack BluePrint (First published 2006)

Why? Think of this book as everything you need to know about team play that Ken Uston never told you. Anyone even considering joining a team must own this book. Revised and updated in 2014.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackjack Blueprint: How to Play Like a Pro … Part-Time ]

 

Modern Blackjack by Norm WattenbergerNorm Wattenberger’s Modern Blackjack (First published 2009)

Why? This two-volume book is massive. It was written by the author of the outstanding Casino Verite suite of blackjack software which he used to provide highly detailed information and analyses of every aspect of the game.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Modern Blackjack Second Edition Volume I ]
[ BUY ON AMAZON: Modern Blackjack Second Edition Volume II ]

Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved
Michael Dalton / Blackjack Review Network

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Michael Dalton is author of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and editor/publisher of the Blackjack Review Network. Looking for other good blackjack books? Check out the product review section of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and the online book catalog on this site.

Bill Zender Newsletter 01/17

Some interesting comments from Bill Zender on the state of advantage play:

January 10, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,
I hope everyone had a great Holiday Season and are looking forward to a prosperous New Year.  It seems that I am always asked about what I see as the biggest Table Game problems, cheating and otherwise, for the year to come.  Following are my answers.  I’ll start with the “core” table games first, and then comment on other factors not specific to table games.

2017 Table Game Advantage Play and Cheating Scams to Watch Out For

Blackjack – Still the dominate table game on the casino floor, I believe the primary avenue of attack will come from advantage players finding weak dealers in order to spy the dealer’s hole-card.  Please don’t rule out shoe dealt games!  Finding dealers that give up the hole-card (unintentionally) in shoe games is more common than you think.  Also, don’t rule out card marking (both daub and punch) and card switching in hand pitched games.  The biggest cost to the gaming industry will come from card counting; however it’s NOT the players at the table creating the cost.  It’s the FEAR of counters that hurts our industry.  For example; do you cut off more than one deck from the back of the 6 or 8 deck shoe games?  If the answer is “yes”, there’s the cost!  Cutting off more cards than necessary decreases hand decisions per hour which costs blackjack revenue.

Baccarat – Baccarat is internationally popularity, simplicity, and offers “sky-high” wagering limits, and it will remain the primary game to beat in 2017.  My biggest concerns lie with cheaters gaining access to playing cards, and either recording pre-shuffled card sequences, or using invisible paints to mark the card (primarily the sides, surprised!)  If you question my thoughts on using invisible paints to mark the sides of cards, please go on YouTube and watch videos (there are several) regarding the “Holdem Analyzer”, and consider how that principle would work in regards to baccarat and card sequence knowledge.  Also, beware of the high limit customer who requests changes to the games dealing procedure (dealer turning up the cards, as well as determining the method for inserting the shuffle point card).  Procedure manipulation through social engineering has been a big problem over the past several years, and probably won’t diminish in 2017.

Craps – One of the hardest games to cheat or gain an advantage by the customers.  Be on the lookout for dice sliding (not controlled throws).  Dice sliding appears to be on the rise in smaller, less game protection educated casinos, or in high limit games with “demanding” VIP players.  Make sure the dice hit the back wall and be done with it.

Roulette – The color scam, buying in for a minimum denomination chip, and getting another person to cash those chips out at a higher denomination, is still being accomplished.  Educate your staff on the technique.  The cheating scam of past posting is becoming a dying “art” with the advent of HD cameras, however don’t rule it out.  Also, be careful with computer “clocking” and “number bias” regarding the roulette wheel head…but not necessarily on the “cloth” table games; on the physical roulette wheel heads used in conjunction with electronic roulette games (you know….the games the slot department think they own).

Alternative Games and Side Bets– Some of the smartest people in the world are advantage players, and they closely examine every new table game and side bet released each year for advantages.  Be sure you understand the procedures and mathematics of any new game or side bet before offering it to the public.  If in doubt; keep the maximum limits low.  Also, be on the constant lookout for dealers unintentionally exposing dealer controlled cards, either a hole-card or a community card (or both).  Educate your dealers and floor staff, and then hold you managers responsible for guaranteeing proper dealer hand/community card protection.  One other point; watch out for possibilities of card switching between two players, especially in Three Card Poker.  Other alternative games are susceptible as well.

And the biggest area of concern moving forward into 2017… Marketing Promotions. – More money is lost every year from bad promotions and programs.  Be sure that someone in your organization runs the numbers!  In addition, don’t copy someone else’s promotion, and then deem it OK just because someone else is doing it (especially from big gaming companies).  If you think your organization’s marketing strategy is OK, ask yourself this question; “Do we use Match Play Coupons and/or Promo Chips as a strategy to attract table play?”  If the answer is “yes”, then you have a problem!

At this point in time in the gaming industry’s history, we operate the safe table games ever.  The recent developments in equipment technology, time tested game procedures, quality floor and table camera coverage, and the availability of game protection education, have made are jobs a lot simpler and easier.

With that said, every organization still needs to stay up to date with the new advantage plays and cheating scams.  One of the best ways to stay up to date is to send at least one person from your organization to the World Game Protection Conference (WGPC) each year in Las Vegas.  This year the WGPC will be held from February 21st through the 23rdat the M Resort.  Anything threating to the casino bottom-line which has arisen in the past year is discussed at length by some of the top game protection experts in the world.  One topic of interest, although not about table games, will be an exclusive look into how computers and devices are being used to attack slot and video machines!!

I hope these prognostications help enlighten everyone about the possible pitfalls of this upcoming year.  I wish everyone a prosperous and safe 2017.

Seminars and Workshop

World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas – M Resort – February 21st – 23rd

Speaking of the WGPC, I will be presenting on the first day of the Conference during three morning sessions.  The topic of my presentations will be:  Bill Zender’s Lessons Learned as an Expert Witness

The title speaks for itself.  Primarily, I will discuss my experience in putting together cheating cases for the police or regulators, and how I proceed with criminal or civil cases as an expert witness.  During the three 50 minute presentations, I will refer to many of the cases I have worked over my career as a casino executive, gaming control agent, and gaming expert witness.  The titles for the three sessions are as follows:

  • Putting the case together for Law Enforcement
  • Conducting my own investigation as an expert witness
  • Testifying in court as an expert witness

For more information on the World Game Protection Conference please go to; http://www.worldgameprotection.com/

Potential Future Seminars

It appears I will have some spare time this early spring so I’m strongly considering holding a March seminar in Las Vegas at the Tuscany Suites Resort.  At will either be a two-day seminar on Table Game Management, or a one-day seminar on the Cost of Table Game Promotions.  I’m also considering conducting a two-day Table Game Protection seminar and/or a one-day Optimal Baccarat Seminar 2017 somewhere outside of Las Vegas this summer.  My last two seminars outside of Las Vegas, in the Seattle Washington, and the Albuquerque New Mexico areas were a big success.
Please watch for future eBlast to find out what seminars, dates, and locations will be available.

On the Move

I’m looking to fill up several weeks in February with March and April wide open.  If you have any questions, let me know [email protected].
 
January
Las Vegas
Indiana Gaming Agent training
Northern California
 
February
Northern California
Open
World Game Protection Conference Las Vegas
 
March
Open
Las Vegas seminar
 
Questions???
 
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate in contacting me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen email on gaming every day [email protected]
 
 
Cheers and best wishes on a new year.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

Ed Thorp’s A Man for All Markets

On January 24th 2017, Random House Publishing will release Ed Thorp’s memoirs in his new book A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market.

A Man for all Markets by Ed Thorp

Nassim Taleb did the foreword for this book and if you are interested you can read it here.  Early reviews of the book appear excellent and I am looking forward to reading it.  You can order this book on Amazon.

Encyclopedia of Blackjack references:

Who has the biggest blackjack book collection?

I’ve been collecting blackjack books since the early 1980s.  It’s pretty intensive but I am sure it is not the largest.  If your collection is larger I would love to hear your comments.  I recently did some organizing in my office and found a few duplicate books – which you can check out on the BJRnet Amazon Marketplace account.  The photo below is just the corner of my office.  It doesn’t include poker books, blackjack software and my other collections.

Dalton's Book Collection 2020
Dalton’s Book Collection 2020