Chapter OneWhat Lead Me to the Blackjack World?
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In 1983, I went to Las Vegas with a few friends.
I had never been to Vegas before and had no idea as to what to expect.
When I got to Vegas, I thought I had docked at the MotherShip.
I felt as if that was where I was supposed to be in life.
A good friend of mine went to play Blackjack shortly after we got there.
I had never seen a Blackjack table before but I thought I was being drawn to it by some subversive force somewhere in the universe.
But I didn't know the first thing about Blackjack except for the goofy rules we played by when I was a kid.
Well, my friend returned a couple of hours later with $135 worth of chips in his hand.
I said, "Where did you get all that damn money?"
He said, "Playing Blackjack."
I had to know more about this game.
I found a table, stood way back and watched.
I was intrigued by the way everyone would sit around the table, money being pulled by the Dealer, money being paid by the Dealer, cards being dealt and all this without a word being said by anyone.
It was as if they all belonged to this secret cult with a mysterious hand shake or something.
I was mesmerized.
When I got home, I started inquiring whether anybody knew anybody who knew how to play Blackjack.
Everybody knew how to play.
I found out later that they knew as much about Blackjack as I knew about nuclear science.
As the saying goes, they only knew enough to hurt themselves.
So I bought a "how-to" book about Blackjack.
Then I bought another and another and another.
I bought videos, flash cards and audios.
I found out that there really weren't that many different ways to play Blackjack.
Edward O. Thorp was the man who revolutionized Blackjack with the aid of a computer.
Everything else is a by-product of his work.
Most of it was just refined or tuned a little differently.
The true results of Blackjack have to be obtained through the shuffling, dealing and human error of actual card play.
Even with all this in mind, I knew that Blackjack was going to be part of my life.
Chapter TwoHome Schooling
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How do you teach yourself to play Blackjack?
I had my books and tapes.
But I was still skeptical of what I was reading.
It just didn't make sense.
So, I armed myself with several # 2 pencils and some "Eye-Ease" graph paper and started charting every play that I made.
I recorded down what my cards were and what the Dealer's cards were and what the final results were for every hand.
Man, was that one time consuming process but I loved it.
I found that the plays developed by Thorp were indeed accurate to a certain point.
I tried many variations to test the theory behind all the plays.
I had to be convinced in my mind that these were indeed the correct plays and no matter how silly they sounded, I would blindly follow them.
I had to have complete faith in what I was doing to be comfortable enough to go to the Blackjack tables.
It's sort of like the trapeze artist catching his partner in mid-flight.
The one partner is working, for the most part, in the dark.
They have to have blind faith in each other to be where they're supposed to be when they turn around.
Much like a receiver in football.
He's running a pattern down the field and it looks as if he's lost when the quarterback releases the ball.
But as the play progresses, the receiver cuts, adjusts his speed and the ball drops into his hands.
That's the faith I was going to have to have before I went to the tables.
I practiced with single decks, double decks, and multiple decks, still recording the results of every hand.
I would practice for up to four hours a night and maybe eight to ten hours a day on the weekends.
I was consumed with mastering this game.
I wanted to be the best.
After three years of intense study, I was ready to take a small plunge into the Blackjack world.
I was a $5 player.
Good God, when I got to the Blackjack table, I was like a three-legged pig on ice.
It was a helluva lot different sitting at a live gaming table than sitting at my desk at home.
The quiet serenity I imagined at a Blackjack Table was shattered on my first trip.
I couldn't concentrate or remember the correct plays.
There were so many people at the table, cigarette smoke everywhere, slot machines rattling, gorgeous Cocktail Waitresses sticking their pretty boobs in my face, people fussing with each other, fussing with the Dealer and someone was always acting stupid.
Yes, that is the life at a $5 table.
But that's where you have to start if you're going to make it.
Damn! I lost even though I had prepared myself for this event for years.
So I tucked my tail between my legs and dragged my broke ass back home for more practice.
I had to try to create the Casino environment at my house.
I sat at my desk with incense burning, cigarettes burning in an ashtray, the television and radio turned up loud and I got up and walked to the front door every six to seven minutes.
I did all this to get myself conditioned for Casino activity and the misdirection of my thoughts.
I did this to increase my concentration.
I kept this ritual up for about ninety days.
I was ready.
I headed for the Casino.
The environment didn't rattle me anymore.
I played the cards I was dealt without making a mistake.
Damn! I still lost!
What had I done wrong this time?
I had played well.
I thought long and hard about what I had done wrong.
Then it hit me.
My card playing was like an unplanned pregnancy.
I didn't pull out in time to avoid getting in trouble.
My Money Management was all wrong.
The next chapter will explain my Money Management plan.
Chapter ThreeMoney Management
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Why did I put this chapter so close to the front?
Most people stick this in the back of the book, don't they?
They treat this as if it isn't important.
This is the most (listen up now) important aspect of the game.
Without this, you will never win consistently.
Blackjack has to be treated as a business.
Treat it as such and you will prosper.
How much money are you willing to throw out the car window on your way to the Casino?
That's how much you should take to gamble with.
You need a set bankroll devoted to nothing but playing Blackjack.
Any winnings go back into the fund for that rainy day, and believe me, you will have some really bad days.
I cannot stress this to you enough: use your Blackjack fund only for Blackjack play.
Run your Blackjack playing on a fiscal year.
Keep accurate records of wins, losses and expenses.
If you do exceptionally well, you will have a partner in this venture and his initials are IRS.
Do not try to screw your partner out of his share because he will get very angry with you.
Now, decide what your fund, purse or whatever you want to call it will be for a year.
Here's how I work it.
Let's say you want to play for $25 per hand.
In order to keep going, you need to have $2,500 in gambling money on hand.
And that's $2,500 in your pocket or in a safe, not a line of credit at the bank.
Do not ever dip into this fund for anything other than gambling.
If you can't control this first function of Money Management, you'll never make it to the second function.
You'll be broke.
If you have a really good day, that's great.
But don't go down to the strip club and celebrate with a few lap dances, don't buy the girlfriend or wife a cute little trinket, don't take everyone out for a lavish dinner.
This fund is used for gambling only.
Because believe me, down the road, you'll wish you had that money back in the sack.
Here's some Money Management advice that is going to set your hair on fire, and you're going to say, "That idiot doesn't know what he's talking about."
We're going to use $25 chips here for educational purposes.
Go to your purse that has the $2,500 in it and get $750 out of there.
Don't take your whole wad with you into the Casino.
Remember the rainy days ahead.
Go to the table and buy ten green ($25) chips.
Stack your chips so that you know exactly how many chips you have at all times.
It will get hectic and you will lose your concentration.
I like to stack my chips with five chips against the rail and five chips directly in front of those.
Don't worry about trying to hide your chips from the Casino, those bad boys know everything that's going on with your hand.
Now, let's gamble.
Place one green chip out there in the circle.
If you win, place the chip you won directly to the right of your chip stacks, against the rail.
That chip is never to see that playing circle again.
If you win again, that little chip goes over to the win pile with the other little chip you just won.
As soon as you win five chips, color up and leave the table.
That's right, leave the table.
Anytime you get ahead of the table by five chips, say "Adios" and get the hell away from there.
Oh, you wanted to make more money, everything was going so well "I was hot".
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.
You cool off just as fast as you heated up.
Just remember, you'll never go broke turning a profit, no matter how small of a profit.
But wait, what if I wasn't winning?
Let's pick up where we left off.
You have your original two stacks of five chips each, plus the two chips to the right that you have wonyour profit chips.
Now the losing trend begins.
All of a sudden, the Dealer is red hot.
So you have your two stacks of five chips each and they are fading fast.
As soon as you lose seven of those ten original chips, you need to piss on the fire and call in the dogs because this hunt is over.
This is it in a nutshell.
Be willing to win five chips and leave or be willing to lose seven chips and leave.
You started with ten chips, you won two chips, you lost seven chips for a net loss of five chips.
Lick your wounds and get on down the road.
But why did I buy ten chips if I was prepared to lose just seven?
You can buy-in for as much as you want to but you're not going to fool the Casino Boys.
They will track you by your average bet and length of playing time.
That's where you get your rating, by the playing time, not how much you bought in for.
If you play heads-up with the Dealer, you won't log as much playtime as you would if you were playing at a full table.
They really don't pay attention to how many hands you play, just how long you play.
When I play $500 to $1,000 per hand, I sometimes request a heads-up game.
I'm trying to speed up my play because I usually have multiple Casinos to get to and time is important.
Get your gambling over with before fatigue sets in on you.
It makes a big difference.
Back to the ten chips.
No matter what denomination of chip I am playing with, I use the same strategy.
I always buy ten chips.
Countless times I have been down to my last chip (the 7th chip) when I've had the opportunity to split or double down.
This is the purpose of having just a little extra money on the table to throw in the pot.
This is the only time you will want to extend your own personal line of credit to yourself.
Besides, with a few extra chips on the table when you need them, it makes you look like a real player and not some piker who has to dig in his pocket for some spare change.
When you leave this table, go to another Casino and start the same process again.
I call each completed play at a table a session.
Always follow the rule of winning five chips or losing seven chips for each session.
Remember, you do not reinvest any chips that you have won in a set session.
Forget you have these chips until you tally up at the end of your session.
Chapter FourBuy-In and Cash-Out
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This is some information that will come in handy when you work yourself up to the top of the food chain.
If you "buy-in" or "cash-out" for $10,000 or more in one 24-hour period, the Casino is obligated to report it to the IRS and that ain't good.
This is not a combination of the two, it's "buying-in" or "cashing out".
Now, I know that when you hit the big-time action, you will do the right thing, which is to report your earnings and pay your taxes on your profits.
That is why it's so important to keep up with the "Daily Log Card" while playing.
The Casino will also have a record of your play if you ask them for it.
No one is trying to skirt the IRS but we all want to avoid as much unnecessary paperwork as we can.
Do the Casinos really keep up with your play?
You bet they do.
I was working three Casinos really hard one Friday night.
I was buying in at $3,500 per session to keep a low profile.
Later in the night, I was making my third stop at one of the Casinos and asked for $3,500 in chips.
The Pit Boss stepped over and said, "You know we have to report anything of $10,000.00 or more within a 24-hour period?" I said, "Yes, I'm just buying in at $3,500."
He turned the computer monitor to where I could see it and said, as he pointed to the lines on the screen, "You bought in for $3,500 at 7:03 p.m. and came back at 10:47 p.m. and bought in for $3,500, and now, at 2:16 a.m., if you buy in for $3,500, you will be over the $10,000 limit."
Since I still had some chips in my pocket from that Casino from a previous visit, I decided just to buy $2,000 in chips and I went about my business.
I eventually bought one of those little fire boxes like you see for sale in the stores that locks and you can put all your insurance papers and such in there for safekeeping.
Well, I took this over to a friend who was a whiz at crafting specialty items.
We found some large prescription drug bottles that the Casino chips would fit in.
It was as if the bottles were made for them.
He hand built an insert for this box and it was designed so that when you laid down the fire box and opened it, these pill bottles would slide in and out.
I bought chips from the Casinos that I frequented the most and kept them in the fire box.
I had a specially built lockable hidden rack in the trunk of my car and this little baby would slide in and out so I could just pick it up and go.
I tried to keep in the box whatever denomination of chip I was playing so that when I hit the Casino, all I had to do was pull out the chips.
Then I could cash out my winnings (or get a friend to do it) at my leisure.
My friend who built this thing would ask me every now and then, "How's that "Chip Bucket" working out for you?"
That's one way to get around a little paperwork and still pay your taxes on your earnings.
Just be sure that you and your attorney are the only ones who know about this "Chip Bucket."
I mean that; don't let anyone know about it.
Things like that have a habit of disappearing and no one knows a thing about it.
The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.
Chapter FiveDaily Log Card
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Your "Daily Log Card" should look something like this at the end of the day:
Let's look at this Daily Log Card.
A. That first box under "A", where you see "$500," is the dollar amount of the chip you will be playing.
B. This is the date you were playing
C. The top box under "C" represents the number of times you have been in a Casino to gamble during your fiscal year. It can be the same Casino over and over or several different Casinos. You might go once a week, twice a week or once a month.
D. There are four lines to the left of "D". Starting in the far-left column, you will see the name of a Casino. That box represents the name of the Casino where you were playing. A small number in the upper right-hand corner tells you how many decks were being used. Each circle around the name of the Casino tells you how much you tipped. Each of my circles represents a $25 tip. The second box from the left represents how many units (chips) you got ahead during that session. The third box from the left represents how many units you lost during that session. The last box, to the far right, represents a running total of your wins or losses for the day up to that point.
E. The far left figure is the dollar amount you won or lost for this particular day and the figure to the right of it is the number of chips you are ahead or behind for the day.
F. This is about the same for "E" except that it is a running total for your fiscal year. For example, you are 57½ chips ahead for this fiscal year, for a total of $28,750.
G. This is the "tip jar." The far left figure is the amount of tips for the day and the figure to the right represents total tips so far this year.
H. This is how many Casinos you have been in during the year. That doesn't mean how many different Casinos you have been in, it is the cumulative total of how many times you walked into a Casino to play.
I. This is a good figure. This is how many units you are plus/minus for the year on a per session basis. You are ahead 57½ chips and you have been in 121 Casinos, which actually means you have had 121 sessions. This translates to winning 0.48 chips per session. A good number to shoot for at the end of the year is 0.84 per session. You're cooking if you can end up with that number.
This little card is something I made from card stock paper and it is the same size as a business card.
You can make it on your computer using Excel.
Or you can just go to a print shop and buy some blank business cards.
I prefer the nice lines myself.