By Naomi Smith.

Blackjack, often dubbed the game of skill among casino offerings, has captivated players for decades with its blend of strategy, luck, and mathematical precision. While mastering basic strategy and delving into card counting are crucial steps for any serious player, advanced techniques can elevate one’s game even further.

In this article, Minimum deposit casinos explored some advanced blackjack techniques, delving into nuanced strategies, psychological considerations, and alternative approaches to gain an edge at the tables.

Understanding Variance and Risk Management

Before delving into advanced techniques, it’s crucial to grasp the concept of variance and the importance of risk management in blackjack. Variance refers to the fluctuations in your bankroll over time, influenced by factors such as luck and the inherent randomness of the game. Advanced players understand that even with a perfect strategy, swings in fortune are inevitable. Therefore, effective risk management becomes paramount to mitigate losses during downswings and capitalize on winning streaks.

One advanced technique for managing variance is the Kelly Criterion, a mathematical formula devised by John L. Kelly Jr. This formula helps players determine the optimal size of their bets based on their perceived edge and bankroll size, thereby maximizing long-term growth while minimizing the risk of ruin. By carefully adjusting bet sizes according to the Kelly Criterion, players can more confidently and precisely navigate the turbulent waters of variance.

Hole Carding and Edge Sorting

Hole carding and edge sorting are advanced techniques that exploit imperfections in the game or casino procedures to gain an edge over the house. Hole carding occurs when a player can glimpse the dealer’s hole card due to sloppy dealing or other factors. By obtaining knowledge of the dealer’s down card, players can make more informed decisions and adjust their strategy accordingly, effectively turning the tables in their favor.

Similarly, edge sorting involves identifying subtle asymmetries or irregularities in the patterns on the backs of playing cards to gain insight into their values. While this technique requires acute observation and meticulous attention to detail, skilled practitioners can gain a significant edge over the casino by exploiting these imperfections. However, it’s essential to note that casinos frown upon hole carding and edge sorting  and may expel them or cause legal repercussions if detected.

Shuffle Tracking and Ace Sequencing

Shuffle tracking and ace sequencing are advanced card-tracking techniques that capitalize on the inherent patterns created during the shuffling process. Shuffle tracking involves monitoring the clumps or packets of cards as they are shuffled and tracking their movement throughout the shoe. By doing so, players can anticipate favorable clumps of high-value cards and adjust their betting accordingly, effectively skewing the odds in their favor.

Ace sequencing takes this concept a step further by attempting to predict the location of aces within the deck based on subtle cues or irregularities observed during the shuffle. While shuffle tracking and ace sequencing require a keen eye and considerable skill, proficient practitioners can gain a substantial edge over the casino by exploiting these patterns.

Psychological Warfare: Exploiting Player and Dealer Behavior

In addition to mathematical precision and strategic insight, advanced blackjack players understand the importance of psychological warfare in gaining an edge at the tables. By exploiting the psychological vulnerabilities of fellow players and dealers, astute players can manipulate the game’s dynamics to their advantage and tilt the odds in their favor.

One psychological technique involves exploiting the fear of busting among fellow players by strategically standing or hitting in situations where conventional wisdom dictates otherwise. Players can disrupt their decision-making process by inducing uncertainty and doubt in opponents’ minds and capitalize on their hesitation to gain an edge.1)EDITOR NOTE: In blackjack, other player’s actions have no affect on your long term prospects.  However, their very existence may have an affect in a number of ways including slowing down the game, preventing you from getting the cut card, forcing the dealer to shuffle up early, being in a preferred seat or being in the way during a card steering operation.  Card counters and advantage players often use psychological tactics to get another player off a table that they want for themselves.

Similarly, adept players can exploit dealers’ psychological vulnerabilities by engaging in friendly banter, establishing rapport, and subtly influencing their behavior. By creating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere at the table, players can subtly influence the game’s speed, the frequency of shuffles, and other factors that can impact their overall edge.

In conclusion, advanced blackjack techniques go beyond basic strategy and card counting, encompassing numerous nuanced strategies, psychological considerations, and alternative approaches to gaining an edge at the tables. Whether managing variance, exploiting imperfections in the game, or leveraging psychological warfare to tilt the odds in your favor, advanced players understand that success in blackjack requires a multifaceted approach that combines mathematical precision with strategic cunning and psychological insight. By mastering these advanced techniques, players can elevate their game to new heights and achieve sustained success at the blackjack tables.

FAQ: Advanced Blackjack Techniques

Are advanced blackjack techniques legal?

The legality of advanced blackjack techniques such as hole carding, edge sorting, shuffle tracking, and ace sequencing varies depending on jurisdiction and casino regulations. While these techniques are not inherently illegal, casinos reserve the right to expel or ban players suspected of using them. Additionally, exploiting imperfections in the game or casino procedures may be considered unethical and could result in legal repercussions.

Can anyone learn advanced blackjack techniques?

While anyone can theoretically learn advanced blackjack techniques with sufficient time and dedication, mastering these techniques requires a combination of skill, discipline, and experience. Successful implementation of advanced techniques necessitates acute observation, mathematical proficiency, and maintaining focus under pressure. Additionally, some methods, such as card counting, may be more accessible to specific individuals based on their aptitude for mathematics and memory.

Are there risks associated with using advanced blackjack techniques?

Yes, there are risks associated with using advanced blackjack techniques, including the potential for expulsion or ban from casinos, legal repercussions, and financial losses. Casinos employ surveillance systems and security personnel trained to detect suspicious behavior, including card counting and other advantage play techniques. Furthermore, attempting to exploit imperfections in the game or casino procedures may result in expulsion, legal action, or reputational damage.

How can I minimize the risks associated with advanced blackjack techniques?

To minimize the risks associated with advanced blackjack techniques, it’s essential to educate yourself thoroughly on the legal and ethical implications of these techniques and the potential consequences of being caught. Additionally, practicing discretion and maintaining a low profile at the tables can help avoid detection by casino personnel. Finally, diversifying your game-play and not relying solely on advanced techniques can mitigate the impact of any potential losses or setbacks.

Are there resources available to help me learn advanced blackjack techniques?

Yes, numerous resources are available to help individuals learn advanced blackjack techniques, including books, online forums, instructional videos, and professional seminars. However, it’s essential to exercise caution when seeking out information and verify the credibility of the sources. Additionally, joining a community of like-minded individuals who share an interest in blackjack can provide valuable support, guidance, and camaraderie on your journey to mastering advanced techniques.

IMAGE CREDIT: AI generated by Microsoft Copilot

Footnotes

↑1 EDITOR NOTE: In blackjack, other player’s actions have no affect on your long term prospects.  However, their very existence may have an affect in a number of ways including slowing down the game, preventing you from getting the cut card, forcing the dealer to shuffle up early, being in a preferred seat or being in the way during a card steering operation.  Card counters and advantage players often use psychological tactics to get another player off a table that they want for themselves.

Announcing The Encyclopedia of Blackjack

PRESS RELEASE:

The Blackjack Review Network, a website that provides information and resources for blackjack players, has announced the launch of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack, a free online edition of a 1000+ page book by Michael Dalton, which is the most comprehensive resource available anywhere for everything blackjack related.

The Encyclopedia of Blackjack covers topics such as rules, variations, odds, betting and basic strategies, counting systems and strategies, blackjack history, personalities, and more. It features over 2000 references and product reviews of blackjack books, reports, videos, and software.  It even has a historical publication index of some of the best blackjack publications.

The Encyclopedia of Blackjack is the result of over three decades of research and writing by Michael Dalton, a semi-professional blackjack player and the author/publisher of Blackjack Review magazine in the 1990s. Dalton has updated and expanded his original book, which was first published in 1991, to reflect the latest developments and innovations in the field of advantage blackjack and advantage gambling.1) The Encyclopedia of Blackjack was originally titled Blackjack: A Professional Reference and underwent two name changes since 1991.

The Encyclopedia of Blackjack is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, and it is constantly updated with new information and feedback from the readers. Dalton invites anyone who has a blackjack product or item that they want listed or reviewed to contact him and send their materials to his address.

The Blackjack Review Network aims to be the ultimate destination for blackjack enthusiasts, offering them a wealth of information and resources to help them improve their skills and enjoy the game. The Encyclopedia of Blackjack is a testament to Dalton’s dedication and passion for the game of blackjack.2)EDITOR NOTE: Ahhhhh… the age of artificial intelligence is here!  The majority (>90%) of the above press release was written by AI.  There were a few mistakes which I corrected, but in general, the ability to create content is amazing.  FYI: The book image shown was created by AI and is not real!

Website: https://www.blackjackreview.com

IMAGE CREDIT: Created by AI (DALL-E 3) from copilot.microsoft.com

Footnotes

↑1 The Encyclopedia of Blackjack was originally titled Blackjack: A Professional Reference and underwent two name changes since 1991. EDITOR NOTE: Ahhhhh… the age of artificial intelligence is here!  The majority (>90%) of the above press release was written by AI.  There were a few mistakes which I corrected, but in general, the ability to create content is amazing.  FYI: The book image shown was created by AI and is not real!

The Ongoing Battle Against Card Counting

By Chloe Lunn.

Card counting in blackjack has long been a thorn in the side of casinos. This practice, which can tilt the odds in favor of the player, led to an ongoing cat-and-mouse game between casinos and skilled gamblers. Over the years, casinos have employed various strategies to counteract card counters, evolving their tactics as card counting methods became more sophisticated. This article explores the measures casinos have taken to protect their interests against the art of card counting.

Early Responses: Increased Surveillance and Shuffling

Initially, casinos responded to card counting by enhancing their surveillance systems. This included closely monitoring blackjack tables through cameras and training staff to spot potential counters. Another early method was frequent shuffling of decks, which disrupts the count and makes it challenging for players to gain an advantage.

Implementing Multiple Deck Games

One significant change that casinos introduced was the shift from single-deck to multiple-deck games. This strategy dilutes the impact of card counting as the increased number of cards in play makes it much harder to maintain an accurate count.

Betting Limit Variations

Casinos also started varying betting limits to counter card counters. By limiting the range of bet sizes, casinos reduced the potential profitability of card counting. This strategy was particularly effective against players who would significantly increase their bets when the count was in their favor.

Banning Known Card Counters

In some cases, casinos resorted to outright bans, ejecting and blacklisting known card counters. While effective, this approach often led to legal challenges and public relations issues, as casinos were accused of discriminating against skilled players.

The introduction of automatic shuffle machines was a game-changer in the fight against card counting. These machines continuously shuffle the cards, making it virtually impossible to maintain a count. The use of such technology has been a major deterrent against card counters.

Behavioral Analysis and AI

Recently, casinos have started employing advanced behavioral analysis and artificial intelligence to identify card counters. These systems analyze players’ behavior, betting patterns, and play strategy to flag potential counters, allowing for subtle interventions without causing a scene.

The Legal and Ethical Debate

The measures taken by casinos against card counters have sparked a legal and ethical debate. The question of whether skilled players should be penalized for using their intellect and skills has been a topic of discussion, with varying opinions in the gambling community.

Enhanced Dealer Training and Tactics

Casinos have not only relied on technology but also on the human element in their battle against card counters. Enhanced training for dealers and floor managers in spotting card counting behaviors is a key strategy. Dealers are trained to look for signs such as betting patterns, extreme concentration, or consistent winning. Some casinos have even employed tactics like engaging players in conversation to disrupt their concentration and break the count.

Changing the Rules of the Game

Another approach has been to alter the rules of blackjack to reduce the effectiveness of card counting. Changes such as reducing the payout for a blackjack, restricting the ability to double down, and limiting the use of splitting and surrendering can all affect a card counter’s edge. While these rule changes can apply to all players, they particularly target the advantage strategies used by counters.

Networked Information Sharing

Casinos have also started to use networked information sharing to combat card counters. By sharing information about known or suspected card counters, casinos can preemptively prevent these players from gaining an advantage. This collaboration extends across different casinos and jurisdictions, creating a more challenging environment for professional card counters to operate in.

Psychological Tactics and Player Profiling

Some casinos employ psychological tactics and player profiling as part of their strategy. This involves creating a more challenging and stressful environment for suspected card counters, such as through increased scrutiny, frequent dealer changes, or even subtle distractions. The goal is to unsettle the player and disrupt their focus and concentration.

Encouraging Other Forms of Gambling

Casinos also mitigate the impact of card counting by encouraging players to engage in other forms of gambling where the player’s skill does not significantly impact the outcome. This includes promoting games like slots, roulette, or other table games where the house edge is more consistent and not susceptible to counting strategies.

Navigating the Modern Blackjack Landscape

In the modern landscape of blackjack, where the strategies of both players and casinos are continuously evolving, platforms like HideousSlots.com become essential for players. Hideous Slots provides up-to-date information on where to play blackjack, highlighting casinos that offer a fair balance between player-friendly rules and measures to counter card counting. For players looking for an enjoyable and equitable blackjack experience, Hideous Slots offers insights into the best places to play while respecting the integrity of the game.

The strategies employed by casinos to counter card counters have become increasingly sophisticated, incorporating a mix of technology, rule changes, and psychological tactics. These developments reflect the ongoing evolution of the game of blackjack and the casino industry as a whole. For blackjack enthusiasts and players looking to stay informed and enjoy the game fairly, resources like HideousSlots.com offer invaluable guidance and information in this ever-changing landscape.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chloe Lunn is content writer at Hideous Slots.

The Long Road to Playing Winning Blackjack

By Chip Green.

You’ve heard it before, anyone with enough desire combined with an iron will and proper training (also, assuming a full size brain) can learn to play winning blackjack. I define winning blackjack as average-units-per-win greater than average-units-per-loss, coupled with winning more frequently than losing. Think of it as a batting average >0.500 with more RBIs scored for winning games than for losing games. Easy, right? (Note that either one of the above taken separately may result, but does not necessarily result, in net winnings. Taken together, playing winning blackjack is a certainty.)

Obviously, getting to a point where it all comes together: the basic strategies, money management, employing a counting scheme, surreptitious play–or a good act, all while maintaining a positive attitude and self-control, can be a long, long road.

So what’s your point, Chip? It’s all been said before. Well, almost all of it: I believe that there is a majority of experienced, well-read players who go through an extended period of playing losing blackjack, before finding the right road. Why? My theory is that some people are stuck in a losing rut while paying their blackjack “tuition”, before they graduate to winning blackjack. Why? Probably due to blowing the very slim edge that is (sometimes) attainable for only the best of players. Realize that with a 1-1/2% edge (about the best you can hope for), if you lose more than 1-in-100 hands due to playing errors, you’ve lost your advantage, and in the long run –YOU WILL GO BROKE!

A friend of mine did a
little four-wheeling in
the woods before
finding the paved road
.”

A friend of mine did a little four-wheeling in the woods before finding the paved road.  He bought every book in sight: Uston, Wong, Snyder, Thorp, Griffin, Andersen, and even Dalton… He read and re-read every nuance… He studied the various basic strategies and 100+ indices for the Hi-Lo count… He practiced hundreds of hours on a blackjack computer program… He was ready…a self-proclaimed expert! He puffed out his chest and strutted into the Valley of Death…into casinos in Las Vegas (got booted twice)…into A/C (lost nearly every single visit), at Indian reservations (got scalped), and he lost lots. He was losing 60% of the time and he was losing way more each session than he was winning. Only occasionally would a good size win surface. Technically, his knowledge was sound; but, in practice he was losing at an unheralded rate for over two years. Recently he found the road, and this last year joined a small minority of blackjack players who can honestly call themselves winners. His batting average is >0.580 (58% wins) and his average win exceeds his average loss by »40%. How did he do it?

He was honest; there were four weaknesses he admitted to and overcame:

1. drinking at the tables to try to “fake” a drunk act (and not having to act!);

2. staying too long at a single table or casino and not using a stop-loss (translated: “refusing to accept any loss, great or small”);

3. playing at games with a negative expectation (those rotten A/C 8-deckers or L/V shallow 1-deckers1)EDITOR NOTE: Remember that this article was written in 1994, when playable single deck games were still available.  Today, all single deck games pay 6 to 5 on a blackjack, rendering them unplayable unless you are using other advantage play techniques.) without appropriate counter-measures (Wonging, money management); and,

4. realizing that if (1), (2), or (3) is ignored, a loss was much more likely than a win.

My friend now has a positive attitude, his expectations are more realistic, his playing sessions are more brief, he selects only beatable games (and uses Wonging), his imbibing is saved for after playing (the beers are cheaper that way), and his winning continues. He never stops reading, he never stops re-reading and studying. Rarely does a 1-in-100 error occur. He is a cold, steely-eyed blackjack winning machine (with a new appreciation for beer, after a win).

The graph shown depicts actual results for one year’s blackjack play of 135 “visits” (a visit »1-3 playing sessions of »2 hours each). The results shown are as follows: batting average =0.585, average win =89 units/visit, average loss =63 units/visit, net result =+25 units/visit. Longest losing streak =6 visits; longest winning streak =10 visits. Even with these favorable results, it is interesting to note the statistically acclaimed random walk with an upward trend

Coincidentally, my friend has recently graduated from units of \$10 to green chips.  Can “black action” be far away?

[ This article was originally published in the Fall 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]

Footnotes

↑1 EDITOR NOTE: Remember that this article was written in 1994, when playable single deck games were still available.  Today, all single deck games pay 6 to 5 on a blackjack, rendering them unplayable unless you are using other advantage play techniques.

Card Counting: Myth vs. Reality

By Lua Mawate.

The world of casinos is light and glitzy and this, in combination with the thrill of winning, has a big allure for the millions of gamblers online. Now that it’s also an option online, the allure is even fiercer. And while all players have different preferences in terms of what they prefer to play, blackjack remains one of the top choices for years now. At its heart lies a strange concept: card counting.

Card counting is a popular strategy that’s said to maximize the winning potential. Even so, it’s used in a hushed tone and comes with endless misconceptions, making it seem like a myth. In this article, we’ll dive deep into card counting, debunk some of those myths and tell you the facts about card counting.

The Concept of Card Counting

Card counting is a methodical strategy where the player keeps track of the ratio of cards left in the deck during a game of blackjack. The player tracks the ratio of high to low cards to predict what will come next – and what won’t.

As a fan of blackjack, getting familiar with strategies like this can give you a serious advantage over other players1)EDITOR NOTE: Well, just remember, the object of the game is to beat the dealer…. not other players. :-). First and foremost, you should make sure to choose a trusted casino where you can practice your new techniques whenever you have the time for it. Online gambling gives you instant access when you wish, and Casushi is one of the top choices today as reviewed by the Wageringadvisors.co.uk. Once you have picked the site where you can play blackjack and enjoy a huge bonus as a welcome, you can dabble into the concept of card counting.

In blackjack, low cards from 2 to 6 are more advantageous to the dealer. As a player, you are aiming for high cards like 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. As you see a shift in card ratio, you can adjust your bets to gain a competitive edge – that’s how card counting works.

Card Counting Myths

To better understand what card counting means – and what it doesn’t, we’d like to debunk some of the common myths among players.

Myth No. 1: Instant Wealth

When you read about card counting or watch movies with blackjack experts who are masterful at the technique, it’s easy to start thinking of it as a magic spell for instant wealth.

However, things are not as straightforward – or simple.

Card counting is, above all else, a statistical strategy. It can be used to improve your odds over time. You can use it through consistent play to get small gains and potentially, higher success over time. It’s not a way to get an instant jackpot or become a millionaire overnight.

Myth No. 2: Illegal Activity

Card counting is not an illegal activity. It’s a mental skill, something that casinos can’t prove or ban. However, since casinos have the right to refuse service to players they want to chase away, they can show you the door if they sense that you are using this strategy.

So, card counting isn’t unlawful, but if it’s noticeable, it can get you outside the casino.

Myth No. 3: Eidetic Memory Required

No, you don’t need an eidetic memory to count cards when gambling. This is achieved through practice and requires good math skills. You don’t become great at card counting as soon as you sit on the blackjack table. You need some guidance, a lot of practice, and some good math skills. Still, you needn’t have the highest IQ in the room to play this way!

The Strengths and Pitfalls of Card Counting

Card counting might not offer a guarantee of victory or fast winnings. However, it has proven itself to be a great strategy to tilt the odds in the player’s favor. It’s like an investment but in your skills.

There are pitfalls of card counting that you should be aware of, too:

• High risk and variance. Card counting is not a guarantee for a steady profit. You can experience short-term losses and, if you have streaks of bad luck in the game, you can lose a significant portion even if you are great at counting cards.
• Surveillance technology. To prevent players from gaining said advantage, casinos invest heavily in surveillance technology. This is more difficult for them with online gamblers, but they can still identify patterns in behavior and betting. This can lead to an instant ban from the casino.
• Shuffling machines. Some casinos take an extra step and use automatic shufflers that ruin your chance to count the cards.

Conclusion

Card counting was shrouded in mystery in the past, and reserved to selected few who knew how this technique worked. Today, with the array of information thanks to the Internet, everyone can test their luck and practice this technique. Card counting is not magic that will help you win every time, but it can slightly tip the scales in your favor. It’s a blend of psychology and mathematics that makes blackjack even more entertaining.

PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr.com

Footnotes

↑1 EDITOR NOTE: Well, just remember, the object of the game is to beat the dealer…. not other players. :-)

Getting Away With It!

By Allan Pell.

Most casinos are very paranoid about card-counters.  They know good counters can beat blackjack.  They are on the alert for any signs of card-counters.  But that does not mean you cannot easily get away with it, if you know what you are doing and if you know what signs to look for.

1)EDITOR NOTE: This article was excerpted from the Blackjack Bootcamp video course workbook by Allan Pell and originally published in Blackjack Review Magazine in 1998.  This product is no longer available.  If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of Allan Pell or if he is still alive please contact me. Don’t be worried or intimidated by casino personnel — they won’t hurt you.  They are in fact intimidated by you.  They fear having a lot of money taken on their shift.  They fear being cheated by scam artists.  This is a real fear — there are crooks with countless schemes and illegal tricks for removing the casino’s cash.  But remember, card counting IS NOT cheating and card counting IS NOT illegal.  It is merely a mental strategy of play.  You should never feel guilty about being a good counter.  You are not “stealing”;  you simply have a skill that can help you make a little more money than the next guy.  Which is not much different from what the casinos are doing:  using every trick in the book to take money from the gambling public.  You should be proud of your skill, but always be sure to use it wisely.  The last thing to do in a casino is to announce to the world that you are a skilled card counter.

Blackjack is the one game that can cost the casinos a lot of money, especially if they are hit by the teams.  So they are constantly on guard for counters (and real cheats, for that matter).  They believe that they know how to detect card counters, but if you know what signs they are looking for, you can usually outsmart them.

Do not walk into a casino with a sign over you head blaring “Card Counter Here.”  It sounds ridiculous, but some players are practically doing just that.  Some people like to play “know-it-all” and be the table instructor.  The casinos will use any and all evidence they can pick up from you to determine whether or not they want your business.  They can scrutinize your manner of dressing, body language, eye movement, tone of voice, table behavior, and of course, your playing and betting.

“You can’t expect to keep coming
back to the same casino day
after day while taking their
money and be welcomed with
open arms.”

Different casinos have differing levels of tolerance for counters.  Some are more paranoid than others.  While one casino will play the game with you, letting you win a bit, others believe they must show “Zero Tolerance” to all counters and will attempt to come down hard on you.  In reality, there are so many counters out there who don’t know what they are doing (not playing blackjack basic strategy, for example) that the presence of a counter does not necessarily guarantee a big winner.  So some casinos are actually wasting their time and money to eradicate bad counters who were going to lose money anyway.

When a casino wants to show you that you are unwelcome, it has several methods for making you uncomfortable.  You want to avoid what is sometime called attracting “heat” or attention to yourself.  Don’t worry about anything serious happening to you.  The worst thing they can do is kick you out, though in some states they can kick you out permanently.  This is called “barring” or “banning.”  Atlantic City is one jurisdiction that doesn’t allow barring of players.  That might seem like an advantage to counters, but the Atlantic City casinos counteract the fact that they must deal to counters by offering less favorable rules and conditions.  For that reason, most pros would rather risk being barred in places like Nevada where the rules are generally more favorable.

Creating an Act or Legend

To conceal the fact that you are a card counter, you must fabricate an “act”.  You must pretend to be someone besides yourself, someone who has a perfectly natural reason for being in a casino.  You want to avoid all the telltale signs of card counters, which we’ll cover later.

Blend in.  Be like everyone else who has come to the casino to have a good time.  Do not do anything to call attention to yourself.  Most are tourists on vacation.  Look like a tourist.  Tourists wear tourist clothing — casual clothes, T-shirts and caps with imprinted logos from other vacation spots, Bermuda shorts and so on.  Even if you feel silly wearing this stuff, you will be safer if you blend in.

Have a reason for being on vacation.  You must be able to talk to people as if you were a real tourist, so you must create an identity for yourself that is more or less complete, consistent and believable.  This is all part of the act.

You can’t expect to keep coming back to the same casino day after day while taking their money and be welcomed with open arms.  They will get wise to you eventually.  So your act has to be constantly changing.  You need a handful of personae that you rotate.  You also will want to move from casino to casino.  Take a break after you pull in some decent money.  Keep it fresh.

If you’ve been playing for a while and you’re winning, the house may offer you their player’s club card.  The advantage of a player’s card, they’ll tell you, is that you can get free drinks and meals by showing it, based on how much action you put into play.  The more you play, the more freebies they’ll give you.  What they don’t tell you is that the card is a way for them to keep track of you.  Keeping track of you lets them rate your play, and keep tabs on you.  I don’t recommend getting a card, but if you do get one be sure to NOT give your real name.3)Not giving your real name may no longer be an option in today’s casinos as they will ask for an ID.  Many card counters just refuse to be rated.   The advantage of having a player’s card is that they will mark down how much you’ve played and how much you’ve bet and won or lost (as well as your playing history and skill level.)  “Comps” or complimentary food and drinks are given to players based on how much they play, or how much they have bet.  So you increase your chances of getting comped on food or a room if you have a player’s card that shows you’ve spent quite a bit of money.  Its a form of bribery — if you play long enough, we’ll throw in a couple bucks worth of grub or booze.

Nearly all casinos track your play using computer systems.  Each time you play or use your player’s card to get comp food or drink, casinos will collect data on you and store it in their database.  So, the next time you show up at that casino or hotel, even if it’s a year later, they know what to expect from you.  And if they have rated your playing ability as expert or professional, you will be greeted with more scrutiny than the average player.  The casino will most certainly know that there is an expert player at the tables to keep an eye on.

Originally published in the Winter 1998 issue of Blackjack Review Magazine

Footnotes

Evolution of a Card Counter

By Mike “Bootlegger” Turner.

This post came about as a result of a chat-room conversation I recently had [sic, in 1997] with Stanford Wong. I was describing to him the vast differences between single and double deck games and six deckers I had been experiencing in my hourly win rates. Wong suggested that I make a green-chip post on the subject. I decided that before I made such a post, I better pour over my records and make sure that what I told him was accurate.

I got out my records and as I was assembling them, a story began to develop. There, beneath the stark facts and figures, was the tale of the development of a card counter. I decided to tell this tale, in the hopes that it may prove useful to any fledgling counters or would-be counters who may be curious about the game and all of the claims counters make about its profitability.

First off, I’m no high roller or blackjack expert. I’m just a regular working stiff who became intrigued by the idea that it was possible to beat the casinos at their own game. In fact, I had never set foot in a casino before 1992, when I attended a convention in Las Vegas. My wife and I stayed at the Mirage. We were fascinated by the casino and the excitement that it generated among its patrons. Neither of us were gamblers and we didn’t even attempt to play until the day before we left. We timidly approached the nickel slots and put in a few dollars.

We loved it! As we walked around the casino, we watched the winners and the losers experiencing the agony and the ecstasy of gambling. I was particularly impressed by the amount of money I saw changing hands and determined to find a way to get some of it.

“Somewhere in that morass
of the good, the bad and
the ugly…, I picked up
early on keeping records.”

As soon as I got home, I went to the nearest used bookstore (yeah, I’m cheap) and found two books on gambling. One of them was “The Gambler’s Bible” by M.C. Fisk, while the other was “Oswald Jacoby on Gambling“.  Fisk’s book was nearly useless, but Jacoby’s book, published in 1963, included a chapter on blackjack which contained a rudimentary version of basic strategy. Both of them mentioned card counting, but neither book contained any kind of counting strategy which made sense to me.

Still, armed with Jacoby’s basic strategy, which I had practiced for hours at home, I ventured into a casino to play blackjack for the first time. It was the King’s Club in Bay Mills, Michigan. In 1992, the tiny casino wasn’t much bigger than your average bar. It had three or four blackjack tables offering a four deck shoe. I went to the cashier’s cage and asked for twenty dollars worth of chips. With a friendly smile, the cashier explained that I had to get my chips at one of the tables. I nervously approached the dollar table, presented my twenty and said “T-t-twenty d-dollars worth of chips, p-please.”

I sat down and doubled my money at that dollar table. “This is easy!” I thought. “I can do this anytime. What a way to make money!

And so it began.

After that, I read every book I could get my hands on. I learned how to count with Arnold Snyder’s “Blackbelt in Blackjack.” I then purchased my first new blackjack book (sorry Arnold, yours was used), Humble and Cooper’s “World’s Greatest Blackjack Book“. Armed with the strategies from these books, I would visit the casinos and give it my best shot, winning a little, losing more. I would practice and practice, but I just couldn’t seem to make it work.

“No betting progression, no
money management system,
no psychic ability, no magic
combination of prop. bets
can beat the percentages.”

I backslid. I bought Dahl’s “Progression Blackjack” and learned his betting progression. I even bought how to win at the slots books. I delved in craps, using betting progressions described in Barstow’s “Beat The Casino.” I bought Mike Goodman’s books, John Patrick’s books, systems by Frank Scoblete, gambling books by Lyle Stuart, even mail-order systems by Martin J. Silverthorne. They all promised the easy road to riches without having to count. It just had to be true. There had to be a way to win without the strain and work of counting cards.

There wasn’t. All of the systems in the world couldn’t beat a kid on the corner tossing pennies if he has the house advantage. No betting progression, no money management system, no psychic ability, no magic combination of proposition bets can beat the percentages. Einstein said math was the language of God, and God doesn’t lie!  System sellers do.

So it was back to work. This time I bought Wong’s “Professional Blackjack.” I learned the Hi-Lo system and discovered standard deviation, risk of ruin, hourly win rates and indices. Endless indices! More practice, this time on the computer with a realistic little program called Riverboat Blackjack.

Back into the casino I went. Slowly, steadily, surely, I began to win! Lots of starts and stops, but I was winning. Not as fast as I’d like to, but anything on the positive side was good. I kept at it and the win rates began to get better and better.

So here I am. As Churchill said, I am “not at the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.” I still have much to learn and (I hope) much to gain.  Somewhere in that morass of the good, the bad and the ugly of gambling books, I picked up early on keeping records. The figures of the story? The following is the distillation of a red-chip bettor’s winnings and losings.

BC (Before Counting and after backsliding):

Single deck hourly rate:       -\$2.69

Two deck hourly rate:          -\$10.14

Six deck hourly rate:          -\$45.50

(that’s right! woefully so)

AW (After Wong)

Single deck hourly rate:        \$9.68

Two deck hourly rate:           \$11.76

Six deck hourly rate:          -\$13.92

(still needs work, doesn’t it?)

Those AW rates include the early hours of learning, making mistakes, finding out about bet spreads and so on. Its getting better. Since I found BJ21 and began to absorb the information found here, those rates have begun to climb. In fact, my two-deck rate has been \$43.75 per hour over the last few months. I haven’t played enough single or six-deck recently to give a reliable figure (for the same period, single deck is \$100 per hour), but its rising. I’m now using the KO system, but I don’t think the figures would be appreciably different if I had stayed with Hi-Lo.

Many thanks to Stanford Wong and some of the brilliant posters on these pages. I wouldn’t have discovered my current betting strategies or important tools like Schlesinger’s Illustrious 18 if it weren’t for these pages. My subscriptions to CBJN and Green Chip have been worth every penny. Thank you all!

EDITOR NOTE:  This article was originally an Internet post on Stanford Wong’s Green Chip page in the 1990s.  It was reprinted for Blackjack Review with Bootlegger’s permission who I met at one of Stanford Wong’s Green Chip events in 1997.  Sadly, Mike “Bootlegger” Turner died in 2011, from lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma at the young age of 60.

Originally published in the Fall 1997 issue of Blackjack Review Magazine

Blackjack Tips from the Silver Fox: Ralph Stricker

EDITOR NOTE: Here is a collection of blackjack tips of the week (circa 1996) from blackjack expert Ralph Stricker, otherwise known as the Silver Fox.  He was a former blackjack instructor and a well known card counter in the Northeast USA.  Arnold Snyder once commented that he was a “Master in camouflage betting” and Don Schlesinger has commented that “Ralph Stricker (was) a gentleman, a world class player, and truly our ‘elder statesman’ of the game today”.  The Silver Fox passed away in 2012, at the age of 81.  He is sorely missed. 1)Ralph Stricker was the author of The Silver Fox Blackjack System – consisting of a book and tapes.  This excellent product was reviewed in the Spring 1996 issue of Blackjack Review,  but is no longer available.  Please take into account that these tips were written in 1996, and may no longer be applicable.

• When making bets for the dealer, don’t place the bet in front of your bet. Place it on top of your bet, so that if you win, he can not take the entire bet. He must pay you. You then give him “one” of the bets and you put the other on top of your bet again. You are reducing the amount of money bet for the dealer by half the amount. This saves you money.

• If you are a counter, do not get in a game until you have a TC [True Count] of 1. You are then reducing your over-all negative hands by 20%.

• If you are a card counter and are playing a shoe game — if you see the back card of the shoe and it is a 2,3,4,5,6,7  cut the shoe towards the front as thin as you can and you will “cut” that card out of play. Therefore your count would start at a +1 [Running Count] because that card never comes into play. If the back card is a 9,10,A  cut near the back of the shoe.  This will insure that these cards come into play. [9,10,A help the player]

• When playing basic strategy you should know that you are playing with a negative expectancy. Therefore, the less hands you get, the less money you are expected to lose. You should sit at crowded tables where you will get less hands per hour. Also, bet the least amount of money —  table minimum.   When you card count, reverse these playing scenarios.

• If you are a small limit player and want to find one of the best games of blackjack offered go to any casino in Colorado, USA  They offer low limit games and offer the most favorable option in blackjack called EARLY SURRENDER. This adds .663% to the player’s expectancy, so that just by employing flat betting, you will have an advantage.2)Well, this was true in 1996.  Anyone care to update us on Colorado rules?

• When you first sit at a table, do not ask to be rated until you have put up a bet bigger than your minimum. It will be that bet that you will be rated on. If you back count, and get in on a positive count, your bet should be higher than your minimum. You will now get a better comp.

• The Las Vegas Hilton3)The Las Vegas Hilton became the Westgate Las Vegas in 2014. has (had) a fantastic game. The rules are (were) LS, DAS, double on any first two cards, and resplit 4 times. The other great feature is that the tables have (had) only 5 spots, consequently you do not get as many people playing. It is a marvelous game for the counter.

• The Las Vegas Hilton has (had) a table for the handicapped that has (had) only 4 spots. It is a dream situation for a counter because there are less hands to “eat” up the cards.

• Do not ever play a form of Blackjack known as Double Exposure. People think that they have an advantage because both dealer’s cards are “exposed.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The house takes the pushes (tie hands) and 7% of your hands in blackjack are pushes. You are adding 7% to your disadvantage, plus the house pays even money on blackjack, therefore adding to your disadvantage.

• When you do not want to stand in line at one of the buffets, ask for a “line pass” at the table you are playing at. This will allow you to enter the preferred customer line, thereby avoiding having to stand in line.4)Here is another tip: Having an Mlife Mastercard automatically gives you Pearl status and a line pass to the buffet on MGM properties.

• Resorts Hotel and Casino has (had) the best blackjack game in Atlantic City. The deck penetration in their 8 deck games is 80-85%. The 6 deck games in the “pit” are (were) also great. The rules are (were): Double after splits, split and resplit pairs including Aces. Double on any 2 cards.

• When playing, always wear a cap or a hat that has some kind of a visor, e.g., a baseball cap. This will prevent the “eye in the sky” from getting a look at your face. Remember to wear different style and color caps/hats on successive nights.  Also, do not wear identifying jewelry.  Change watches, necklaces, etc. frequently.5)Of course, today casinos have facial recognition and other ways to identify you.

• Casinos believe that card counters do not drink and play, therefore to have additional “cover” in the casino, put a little alcohol on your skin or beard. You will have a scent of alcohol, and the floor people will have less suspicion of you being a counter. You can also order a drink from the cocktail waitress and make believe that you are sipping it. Then go to the rest room and dump it, and fill the glass with water.

• If you are ever ID’d (asked for identification) in a casino do not ever show any ID. The only ones having a right to ask for this, is Metro (Las Vegas) or the local police department. (Unless you are under age.)

• Many people have stated that they “practice” at casino nights sponsored by local charities. Most of these affairs the rules consist of the House taking the “pushes.”  In blackjack 9% of all hands are pushes, therefore you are adding an additional 9% to your disadvantage. The place to practice is HOME.

• Any time you have a multi-card (more than 2) total of 16 vs. the Dealer’s 10, you should stand as opposed to hitting. This is called “Composition Dependent” strategy.  Of course a card counting system would supersede this.

• When playing single deck with Strip rules, there is a slight advantage off the top.6)Well, there used to be.  All single deck games today only pay 6 to 5 on blackjack. Assuming you are counting, you would bet 2 units off the top. If the count went up, you would raise your bet accordingly. If the count went down, you would go to another table where the dealer was shuffling up, and you would then repeat the scenario. You are now “Wonging” a single deck game.

• I recommend Casino Verite as one of the finest simulators and practice programs.

• In single deck we double down 4,4 and 5,3  against the dealer’s 5,6 if no double after splits is allowed.  Why not 6,2?  Answer:  Because when we have 5,3  or 4,4 — we have cards in our hands that help the dealer and he has less chance to make his hand. Conversely when we have 6,2 in our hand, all of the 5’s and 4’s are left in the deck and they help the dealer.

• The Mirage and Treasure Island Casino (sister casino) are now exchanging information on known card counters previously identified at the respective casinos. Until July 1996 neither casino exchanged information.7)Yes, it appears that the modern world began in 1996, where many casinos started sharing information.

• If you are planning to play the “Graveyard Shift”  do not look wide awake. Appear as if you have been up all night. No one gets up in the wee small hours of the morning to play blackjack except a card counter or insomniac.

• Do not “open” a table where the cards are already in the shoe. The dealer could have put them in the shoe in a way as to favor the house.  Always make sure the cards are laid out on the table before starting at that table.

• When “back counting” a table, do not stand too long at any one table. If  the running count goes to minus five or more, go to another table. You should never “circle” a pit more than twice in any one hour. This avoids you getting attention from the pit and possibly “making” you as a counter.

• Until you become confident of your counting. It is advisable to sit in the middle position of the table. This enables you to see cards on the left and right of you without “straining.” You are less obtrusive to the “pit.”

• In order to help avoid the floor people from detecting your betting:  If you are betting \$50.00 for example at a small minimum table, put the green chip on the bottom and red chips on top. “Tilt” the red chips slightly  towards the dealer.  BE SURE that when you get paid that the dealer pays you the correct amount. You can use this formula for any table amount.8)I’ve tried this several times and it has worked, however, a good dealer will often catch it and straighten your chips up.

Originally published in the Winter 1997 issue of Blackjack Review Magazine

Footnotes

↑1 Ralph Stricker was the author of The Silver Fox Blackjack System – consisting of a book and tapes.  This excellent product was reviewed in the Spring 1996 issue of Blackjack Review,  but is no longer available.  Please take into account that these tips were written in 1996, and may no longer be applicable. Well, this was true in 1996.  Anyone care to update us on Colorado rules? The Las Vegas Hilton became the Westgate Las Vegas in 2014. Here is another tip: Having an Mlife Mastercard automatically gives you Pearl status and a line pass to the buffet on MGM properties. Of course, today casinos have facial recognition and other ways to identify you. Well, there used to be.  All single deck games today only pay 6 to 5 on blackjack. Yes, it appears that the modern world began in 1996, where many casinos started sharing information. I’ve tried this several times and it has worked, however, a good dealer will often catch it and straighten your chips up.

Mastering the Art of Blackjack Card Counting Deviations

By ChatGPT.

In the world of blackjack, card counting is a highly sought-after skill that can give players an edge over the casino. It involves keeping track of the ratio of high cards to low cards remaining in the deck or shoe and adjusting your bets and playing decisions accordingly. While basic card counting is relatively straightforward, experienced players take it a step further by incorporating card counting deviations. These deviations allow players to make more accurate and profitable decisions based on the specific composition of the remaining cards. In this article, we delve into the fascinating world of blackjack card counting deviations and explore how they can elevate your game to a whole new level.

Understanding Basic Card Counting:
Before we delve into card counting deviations, it’s crucial to have a solid grasp of basic card counting principles. The most common card counting system used is the Hi-Lo system, which assigns a value of +1 to low cards (2-6), 0 to neutral cards (7-9), and -1 to high cards (10-Ace). By keeping a running count of the cards dealt and adjusting it based on their values, players can estimate the proportion of high cards to low cards remaining in the shoe.

The Role of Deviations:
While basic card counting provides a good foundation, it fails to account for certain nuances that can significantly impact optimal playing decisions. This is where card counting deviations come into play. Deviations involve making strategy adjustments based on the specific count, taking into consideration the composition of the remaining cards. These deviations enable players to maximize their advantage by altering their bets and playing decisions based on the true count.

Deviations in Action:
There are various types of deviations that card counters employ, such as playing deviations, betting deviations, and insurance deviations. Playing deviations involve altering basic strategy decisions based on the count. For example, a player might choose to deviate from basic strategy and hit a hard 16 against a dealer’s 10 when the count is sufficiently high, even though basic strategy recommends standing. This adjustment is made because the increased proportion of high cards makes it more likely to improve the hand.1)All card counters will know this is NOT correct.  The correct answer is the opposite.  You stand on a hard 16 against a dealer’s 10 when the count is sufficiently high.  Basic strategy for this hand is to “hit”, not “stand”.

Betting deviations, on the other hand, involve adjusting bet sizes based on the count. When the count is in the player’s favor, indicating a higher proportion of high cards remaining, the player can increase their bets to capitalize on the increased chances of winning. Conversely, when the count is negative, indicating a higher proportion of low cards, the player can decrease their bets to minimize losses.

Insurance deviations are another type of adjustment made based on the count. Generally, basic strategy advises against taking insurance bets. However, when the count is sufficiently high, indicating an excess of high cards, taking insurance can be a profitable decision.

Mastering Deviations:
To effectively incorporate card counting deviations into your blackjack strategy, practice and experience are key. It’s essential to have a solid understanding of basic strategy and the underlying principles of card counting before attempting to implement deviations. Additionally, mastering deviations requires hours of practice and honing your skills in a casino-like environment, simulating real-life playing conditions.

Conclusion:
Card counting deviations provide experienced blackjack players with a powerful tool to increase their edge against the casino. By adjusting playing decisions, bet sizes, and insurance bets based on the count and composition of the remaining cards, players can make more accurate and profitable choices. However, it’s important to remember that card counting deviations require diligent study, practice, and discipline. So, if you’re ready to take your blackjack game to the next level, delve into the world of card counting deviations and unlock the potential for greater success at the blackjack table.

The above article was created by the free research preview of ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022. There were NO edits made to the article.  A couple of incorrect statements are obvious (see footnote).  See Wikipedia for more information on this amazing technology.

The original question that was asked of ChatGPT was: “Create an article about blackjack card counting deviations“.  If you submit the question, you will probably get a differently worded article.

Of course, ChatGPT doesn’t always get things right.  Try asking, “Write an article about blackjack expert Michael Dalton“.  I think you will be amused. 🙂

Footnotes

↑1 All card counters will know this is NOT correct.  The correct answer is the opposite.  You stand on a hard 16 against a dealer’s 10 when the count is sufficiently high.  Basic strategy for this hand is to “hit”, not “stand”.

Blackjack is a fascinating game.  It is simple enough for beginners to understand and grasp the rules and a game that is also potentially beatable with skilled play.  However, gaining an advantage over the casino is usually never an easy task.  Here are some truths and facts about the game that all good players should know.

1. All blackjack games are not the same.  Casinos can have different rules and options that may have a positive or negative affect on your advantage in the game. One of the worst rule changes many casinos have implemented in recent years is only paying 6 to 5 on a blackjack.1)The term 6:5 is an abbreviation for a game in which naturals are paid only 6 to 5. This is not only a sucker bet, but they are cheating you in plain site. A natural blackjack is meant to be paid at 3 to 2. DO NOT PLAY in these games! For more information check The Numbers of 21 section.  Some games have side bets and some games are considered variants of the game.  Good examples of a variant of the game are Spanish 21 and Blackjack Switch.

To gain deeper insights into blackjack offerings at different online casinos, explore specific casino reviews. For instance, Yukon Gold Casino is renowned for its diverse range of blackjack games. They offer traditional versions as well as unique variants like Spanish 21 and Blackjack Switch. By consulting the Yukon Gold Casino review, you can understand the game rules and available options comprehensively.

2. The correct blackjack basic strategy will reduce the casino house edge to its absolute minimum.  But remember, the basic strategy can be slightly different depending on the number of decks and the rules of the game.  Basic strategy is the players first and best defense at lowering the casino advantage.
3. Progressive betting systems of any kind can NOT beat this game.  The same applies with any money management system.  Of course, that does not mean that card counters can’t use them to camouflage their play.
4. It is NOT illegal to count cards at blackjack.  Counting cards is simply using your brain and playing by the rules.  But casinos have the right to throw you out if they suspect you are too good or you are a threat to their bankroll.
5. Most good card counters can count down a deck of cards in under 30 seconds.  If you can’t perform this simple task, don’t pretend that you can beat the game with card counting.
6. You don’t need to understand the math behind card counting or any blackjack advantage technique to beat the game.  You just have to be a good practitioner of the techniques that are required.
7. They say that blackjack is not a team sport.  Well, tell that to all of the blackjack teams in the past few decades that have beat the casinos for millions of dollars.  A blackjack team has many advantages, including the ability to play with an increased bankroll, lowering individual risk, scouting tables and camouflaging a big player’s bet.  But, of course, their are some disadvantages including the trust factor.
8. Most card counters will use basic strategy the majority of the time while playing.  As the count changes, play variations may be warranted.  Many professional players go to great effort to memorize most of the possible variations, however, we have learned that over 90% of your potential gain from variations can be obtained by learning only 18 plays and if surrender is allowed, 4 additional plays.  These have become known as the Illustrious 18 and the Fab 4.  According to Don Schlesinger, the insurance play alone is worth over 30% of all your gain from card counting.2)Insurance is the most important play variation in a card counter’s play book.  The house advantage for this bet ranges from about 5.9% (single deck) to 7.5% (8 decks).
9. There are many legal advanced advantage play techniques in blackjack including hole carding, shuffle tracking, ace location and team play. Yes, even hole carding is legal.  Most will think that gaining a peek at the dealer’s hole card is cheating but you are simply playing by the rules of the game — by taking advantage of a dealer who is sloppy.
10. Over betting your bankroll is probably one of the top problems that skilled players make.  If you are skilled enough to get an advantage in blackjack, or in any game, your bankroll and tolerance for risk will determine your end result.  Stick to a reasonable risk of ruin and you will have a fighting chance.

James Grosjean’s Opportunity Theorem

“There is an edge in every game.”

Blackjack is NOT the only casino game you can gain an advantage in.  Most people realize that skilled poker players can beat the game of poker but practically all games have the potential of being beaten.  Advantage players are always on the lookout for ways to beat games or reduce the house advantage.  Even slot machine type games can be beaten given the right situation or circumstance.  When you walk into a casino, don’t just look at the blackjack games – you might be missing out on something much more profitable!