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Topic: Modern Card Counting by Cris Statz
Message: Posted by: M for Magic (Dec 28, 2011 08:56AM)
Modern Card Counting by Cris Statz
Anyone here read this or know about it? I have a few of CC related books both old and new and am interested in this but hesitant.
It is only available as a Kindle for $27.95 and I'm not about to part with that much if it is rubbish.
If anyone has this and/or has read other CC related books, how does it compare?
Is this book worth the money or is my cash better spent on a better source.
Message: Posted by: silverking (Dec 28, 2011 09:13AM)
With this line in the advertising blurb, you'd be wise to consider a different author:

[i]This book is not a purchase, it is an investment. Following the methods in this book will mathematically guarantee the professional counter hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in less than a year.[/i]

Try Stanford Wong or Arnold Snyder for a more realistic take on counting.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 28, 2011 09:48AM)
It totally depends on why you want to learn. If you are looking to win millions, well be ready to risk millions. The swings are HUGE and all within the expected variation.

Wong has some of the definitive work as does the Snyder.

If you want to learn about why systems work there is an under rated book by Sklansky called Skylansky Talks Blackjack. It explains pretty well why each hand in the basic strategy chart is played the way it is. The concept of not necessarily winning more but losing less. He goes through every possible hand and why you play it the way you do. It is not a system, but it is quite a good basic education and explaiins Blackjack pretty well indepth. http://www.amazon.com/Sklansky-Talks-Blackjack-David/dp/1880685213/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_1

Again it is not about counting per se, but rather about the math behind the strategy.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 28, 2011 09:52AM)
If you are looking for more there is a book he also wrote called "Getting the Best of It". Not bad at all.

Also "How to Make $100,000 a Year Gambling For a Living". It is a pretty realistic look at the amount of money you need to put into play in order to actually make money. It tells you which games are beatable and which are money pits. All were written in the late 1990's but are pretty good and cheap.
Message: Posted by: splice (Dec 28, 2011 11:06AM)
Looking at the table of contents, there doesn't seem to be anything new or innovative. Everything's been covered by better authors, and considering this is a kindle-only offering at a ridiculous price, I would wager this is just another one of those "take content from everywhere, aggregate it, publish it, profit" books. Considering also that search results show a lot of SEO sites and essentially no mention of the book on any blackjack discussion site, and I think you're perfectly safe to ignore this one completely and just go to the classics.
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Dec 28, 2011 02:01PM)
I started playing the count in Nevada in 1962 and was one of the original counters. Single decks play, great rules, dealt down to the last 2 to 3 cards or through the entire deck with a reshuffle with some of the cards still left to be played on the layout (known as “end play). Played for about ten years starting at a time when most on the inside knew almost nothing about counting, and many believed the game could not be beat with the count. I played for many years with no or very little heat except for “winning” heat. Had to avoid bust-out dealers from time to time, but it was THE TIME for counting. Played mostly heads-up with no more than two players maximum in the game and moved from joint to joint.

Because the conditions I played under were so favorable, I never had a losing segment of more than 3 hours before I got out and booked a winner. The fluctuations in capital were relatively small, the favorable situations could be very strong and the overall edge was enough to satisfy the most avaricious.

After I got out of counting (because too many newbie square johns where learning to count and bringing “sucker” heat on the game), I wrote in the 1970s, under the pen name of Richard Alan Canfield, a book entitled, (somewhat pretentiously), "Blackjack Your Way to Riches," which at that time had cutting edge material on counting and included the experiences of my team members and myself during the “golden years” of counting. I also helped Specks Parsons (known as Lawrence Revere), write the book, "Playing Blackjack as a Business" prior to that. Julian Braun of IBM did all the Blackjack simulations and we had information about the game that is still relatively unknow today.

Now, 50 years after card counting was published, I look at current playing conditions and the fact that EVERYONE knows about card counting, with people in surveillance also counting when they track your play, I can only say to newbie counters, “Lots of Luck,” because you are going to need it.

My suggestion would be to write a book about counting like the others do who can’t beat the game (or make enough to make it worthwhile) under current playing conditions. Anyone who says you can make millions playing the count under today’s conditions is a charlatan looking to sell a dubious product.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.
Message: Posted by: silverking (Dec 28, 2011 02:44PM)
Great post Cagliostro!

To the OP, most of what you might want to know in order to get started towards understanding counting is freely available on the Internet..........something you may want to take advantage of.
Message: Posted by: mahucharn (Dec 28, 2011 03:40PM)
On 2011-12-28 15:44, silverking wrote:
Great post Cagliostro!

To the OP, most of what you might want to know in order to get started towards understanding counting is freely available on the Internet..........something you may want to take advantage of.

I believe Arnold McDonald has some resource on his website that was setup like a card game, but displayed the current count in one corner.
Message: Posted by: M for Magic (Dec 28, 2011 04:02PM)
Thanks for the responses guys.
Great advice.
I am in the category of just wanting to lose less.
I have no allusions of making millions. Just a few hundred here and there.
The Statz book claimed a lot and and cost a lot. I'm glad I went with my guy and posted.
Thanks again.
Message: Posted by: AMcD (Dec 28, 2011 04:29PM)
I believe Arnold McDonald has some resource on his website that was setup like a card game, but displayed the current count in one corner.

Here -> http://www.arnoldmcdonald.org/code/main.php?p=6600000

I'm currently adding new counting systems.
Message: Posted by: M for Magic (Dec 28, 2011 05:35PM)
Very nice Arnold!
Which count is your favorite?

I just purchased and downloaded Skylansky Talks Blackjack.
$9.99 on Google books! Fantastic book. Thanks for the recco!
Message: Posted by: AMcD (Dec 28, 2011 05:44PM)

I'd say I have a soft spot for the KO count. But I'm far for being a BlackJack pro!
Message: Posted by: JasonEngland (Jan 6, 2012 09:06PM)
On 2011-12-28 15:01, Cagliostro wrote:
under the pen name of Richard Alan Canfield,

I've always enjoyed that book and wondered why you choose that particular pen name. I know who the real Canfield was, but did his story resonate with you in some way? Just curious.

By the way, your own book lists "your" middle name as Albert, not Alan. Just FYI.

Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 7, 2012 03:14PM)
On 2012-01-06 22:06, JasonEngland wrote:
On 2011-12-28 15:01, Cagliostro wrote:
under the pen name of Richard Alan Canfield,

I've always enjoyed that book and wondered why you choose that particular pen name. I know who the real Canfield was, but did his story resonate with you in some way? Just curious.

By the way, your own book lists "your" middle name as Albert, not Alan. Just FYI.

Glad you enjoyed the book, Jason. By the way, the correct name is Richard [i]Albert[/i] Canfield. Just a typo in my post.

Picked the name for no particular reason other than I thought it was catchy. R.A. Canfield was a well-known gambling operator in Providence R.I. in the early 1900s and operated a famous gambling establishment in New York City for many years, (where I am from), a solitaire games was named after him and his name was well known and related to gambling. He was an art collector which also added a little “sophistication” to the name.

It was a long time ago when I wrote that book, Jason. I was still in my early thirties, just winding down a very successful card counting career, thought and felt I was King Kong, and went on to “other” ventures.
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 7, 2012 03:16PM)
Duplicate post. Can't delete.
Message: Posted by: JasonEngland (Jan 7, 2012 05:13PM)

I own [i]Canfield: The True Story of the Greatest Gambler[/i] by Alexander Gardiner. My stated first edition was published in Garden City, NY in 1930 (although copyright dates also say 1928 and 1929 in my copy - perhaps some of it originally appeared in magazine articles before the book?). A decent read and you're right, Canfield was an interesting guy.

Good blackjack trivia information. Thanks for sharing.

Message: Posted by: Tony45 (Jan 8, 2012 03:46AM)
Cagliostro, I have your book also and I think its a great piece on the single deck game. I had mentioned to you before about Humbles book, Blackjack Gold and how this guy had to be the most paranoid guy to ever play 21. According to him, almost every dealer in the state of Nevada was a mechanic and the rougher looking ones were also members of organized crime, lol.
In your experience, how many guys tried to make a move on you on the 21 tables ? And what would you say was the worst incident ?
I know you don't like to say too much, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if you wrote a book about your experiences in the 60,s it would probably be a work of art and probably funny as hell also.
Message: Posted by: luvisi (Jan 8, 2012 09:46AM)
On 2011-12-28 15:01, Cagliostro wrote:
After I got out of counting (because too many newbie square johns where learning to count and bringing “sucker” heat on the game), I wrote in the 1970s, under the pen name of Richard Alan Canfield, a book entitled, (somewhat pretentiously), "Blackjack Your Way to Riches," which at that time had cutting edge material on counting and included the experiences of my team members and myself during the “golden years” of counting.

That was my first book on Blackjack! I bought it in my early teens, and had dreams of mastering card counting by the time I was old enough to gamble. I never did, but I can still remember the excitement I felt reading your book. I haven't cracked it open in years, but I can see it on my shelf from where I'm sitting... Maybe I'll go open it again now!

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jan 8, 2012 10:49AM)
This was the first book I ever read on the subject. It is amazing. The second one was "Playing Blackjack as a Business" by Lawerence Revere. (Talk about pretentious!)

Your book hooked me for one reason and it happend RIGHT IN THE PREFAC! I would like to quote it because it is simply the most accurate statement ever made about Blackjack and what it takes to win consistantly.

"Aside from the audacious pun in the title of the book, there is an incredible assumption: that it is not only possible to win consistantly playing Blackjack, but that it is possible to get rich at the game, as well.


Man that last sentence really hit home for me. That means it is not easy, it means it requires study and practice and once you are good to be great it is 10X the amount of practice and don't think it happens overnight. Thank you for that insight.
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 8, 2012 06:46PM)
Thanks guys for the nice comments about [i]Blackjack Your Way to Riches[/i]. I'm glad that a few of you got a small measure of benefit from it and I was not aware there were a number of members on this board that read the book. It was a long time ago and we had a very professional team back them, all had hustler grift sense mentalities and we mixed it up so much the floor and the sky never had a clue as to what was happening.

Tony, as far a running into bust-out dealers, at that time one would most likely encounter them on the Graveyard shift in Vegas and just about any time of the day or night in Reno and Tahoe. Some of the best BO dealers were woman - a few of who had very big balls. They would smile sweetly and pull a No. 2. One absolutely knockout chick I almost fell in love with (because she had incredible moves – figure that one out guys), but that is for another day.

We could usually notice if someone might be capable before we sat down by their movements and we would simply avoid those dealers. However, sometimes you would not know until you were playing on the game. In that case, if a dealer happened to move during the hand and we lost the hand we would simply pat the table “push,” and get up and leave. We never had a problem with the dealer when we did that. Suffice it to say, if anyone was working the game, it was we and not the dealer.

At that time, busting out was really coming to an end except in very small out of the way spots. But you could encounter it at any time.

I was fooled one time in Harvey’s - Lake Tahoe for about 20 minutes by an elderly woman BJ dealer. The lady looked like my grandmother. I was playing heads-up single deck against this “sweet old lady” who was dealing down to the last 5 or 6 cards. She was a very clean dealer, dealt at a moderate pace, no number 2s, no deck flops, no kill slugs, no short pays and no red flags in the way she handled and dealt the cards. I thought to myself, “How sweet it is – BJ Heaven on Earth.”

I was 22 years old and playing Thorp’s Ten Count. However, I noticed I was getting a lot of favorable situations, more than I normally should and although I was not losing any money to the play, I was not making any either. Then I noticed when the dealer went to shuffle the deck there were only three cards remaining and there should have been six. (With the Ten Count you would know this.) I thought, “Did I lose the count? Is that why I am not making any money on this game?” Next hand the same thing happened – two cards left and there should have been five. I knew the deck could not be short because I was at the table when a new deck was put in.

Next hand when the dealer is scooping up the cards her left hand appeared to be turned a little too much. “Was that a bubble peek,” I said to myself. Next hand she turns her hand a little too much on the pickup and I know, “YUP. That’s a bubble peek.”

What this sweet old lady was doing was peeking at the top card only once on the final pick-up at the end of the hand. If it was a ten or Ace, she would skillfully drop in on top of the discards in her right hand and then bury the cards under the deck. (There were no discard trays in those days. The discards were put face up under the deck.) On the first card of a new hand, if I were to receive a ten or Ace, she would kill it on me and give me the next card. If my first card were to be a small card, she would politely deal it to me. In additiion, the deck would appear to be more favorable than it actually was, or favorable when it was unfavorable. I could stay even with her and maybe beat her in the end, but there were much easier games to beat.

I could not believe my eyes. I smiled at this sweet lady, thanked her for a very pleasant game, gave her a small toke and then went on to another game. I did not rap to her that I picked up on what she was doing. Only a chump or half-smart would do that. Play the “IG” and you last a lot longer.

The good old days were not only good, they were GREAT.
Message: Posted by: Tony45 (Jan 9, 2012 03:38AM)
Great stuff, love to hear about the "bad old days". What you said rings right with what my friend who you knew told me about. The guy George said that while he was at the Riv which had to be between 55 and 58 as far as I can figure, he said that the only times he knew about a mechanic being used was on graveyard when there probably werent any agents around and the customers were half drunk. He had said it wasnt as wide spread as people made it out to be, you didn't have to, most people beat themselves anyway, so whats the point ? Made sense for the big hotels, the smaller ones who had to sweat the bankrolls would be more apt to use a worker.

By the way, if any of you guys want to pick up Cagliostros book, theres still copies to had on Amazon for a good price. Its well worth reading even if it doesn't apply so much to todays game anymore, theres tons of little gems in there.
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 10, 2012 02:50PM)
Arnold did very nice job on the BJ simulator and we appreciate his effort and positive contribution by doing so, but I am going to describe how I learned to count and some of the count techniques we developed in the early sixties.

In 1962 when I was learning my first count, the Ten Count, I would practice by holding a deck face down, turning the cards over one at a time, counting down the deck. Then I would turn over two cards at a time, followed by alternating turning one card and two cards over and going through the entire deck. Next the deck would be turned face up (to create speed) and I would go through the deck one and two cards at a time. The goal was to go through a single deck in about twenty seconds or so without making any mistakes. Finally, and this was the [i]most important part of all[/i], we would practice on a regulation BJ table, dealing out the hands. The goal was to make no mistakes while laughing, joking, acting like square johns chumps and apparently not paying any attention to the cards (to fool the dealer and floor).

I note that on Arnold’s simulator he has Revere’s Advanced Plus-Minus system. Interesting story behind how that system came about. Revere (Specs Parsons) was a good friend of mine and he would regularly consult with me on card counting. Specs was basically a system seller and I was out in the field playing the count all over the state of NV. I would feed him good information about playing conditions and the best way to count. Revere always counted the Ace as a high card and included it in his point counts (for favorability measure). I told him that because the game was single deck and dealt out to the last few cards, or even allowing end play from time to time, that the play of the hand at the end of the deck was extremely important. Counting the Ace as a side card and not including it in the count, but using it to adjust the count for favorability was far superior under those playing conditions. So Specs promptly took Humble’s Hi Opt I, changed some of the values to include the 2 and 9 in the count, had Julian Braun do the some computer runs, and zap, The Revere Advanced Plus-Minus was born. He then had another system to sell to the newbies who were trying to learn the count.

Additionally, Wong’s Half-Count was invented first by Specs. It was called the 11 Count and was not sold to the public, but to a select group of six hustler types. (Just take Wong’s Half-Count and double all the card values and you have the 11 Count. It is a lot easier counting it this way than using halves.)

Incidentally, Jesse Marcum was playing the count in NV before Thorp wrote “Beat the Dealer.” (Thorp consulted with Jesse prior to writing his book and Jesse was mentioned in the book, although not by name.) Jesse invented an unbalanced point count that a number of hustlers were using at that time, and his count, as well as the other counts used by hustlers at that time, did not include the Ace as a high card. (Later, when the joints went to dealing multiple deck shoes, counting the Ace as a high card was preferable and easier because the basic strategy did not vary much against the shoe, so nowadays it is preferable to count the Ace as a high card.

Location play was also very strong against single decks at that time, (especially with dealer help), and when Caesars Palace opened in Nevada they introduced four deck shoes to the game. A couple of top hustlers came out with location play against the shoe at that time and my team and I developed “Big Player Location” which I will describe shortly on a future post. (The Big Player Count plays described in books and in a motion picture was a later day variation of the Big Player location play we developed in the mid-sixties and was less deceptive. That was one of the plays we did not include in Blackjack Your Way to Riches. (C'mon guys. We had to hold out some of the top notch "unknown" stuff for ourselves and not wise up the newbie system sellers that were writing on the subject.)
Message: Posted by: AMcD (Jan 10, 2012 04:21PM)
Really nice information here, Cagliostro.

The Wong system has always puzzled me, to say the very least.

If you don't mind, I have two questions for you. As you look like very proficient maybe you could bring some light for me about the true count. Why do they use half-decks for estimating remaining cards with some systems? I understand that exact true counts are not easy to get in actual play but from a mathematical point of view I don't really get it. Please, be aware that I'm a card player, not a BlackJack guy, my question has probably an obvious answer but I don't see it.

Last question is more simple. Did you met Ken Uston during your career? If so, was he really the awesome BlackJack machine they depict in the books? Any anecdote?

Thanks for your great posts!
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 10, 2012 06:47PM)
On 2012-01-10 17:21, AMcD wrote:

The Wong system has always puzzled me, to say the very least.

If you don't mind, I have two questions for you... Why do they use half-decks for estimating remaining cards with some systems?...

Last question is more simple. Did you met Ken Uston during your career? If so, was he really the awesome BlackJack machine they depict in the books? Any anecdote?

Thanks for your great posts!
Let me answer those three questions in order.

First question: Wong obviously got his halves-count from Specs (Lawrence Revere's) 11 count and cut the card values in half so he could claim it as his own. Using halves IMHO is BS for counting purposes.

Second question: When Thorp published the second edition of Beat the Dealer (BTD), he included Harvey Dubner’s Simple Point Count. The card indices in that edition of BTD were computed on a 52 card deck. (One had to divide the remaining cards into the running count to get the true count, i.e., a true count was computed at the one deck point. Thorp was a mathematician and the word “real world practicality” was evidently not in his vocabulary.

At that time Specs was writing Playing Blackjack as a Business. He looked at the way Thorp computed the actual chart indexes for playing and betting decisions, realized it was impractical to do it that way when playing so he had Julian Braun from IBM run the computations for the playing indexes at the half deck point. All the games were single deck games at that point in time and most of the decisions for hit/stand, double, split, etc., that deviated from basic strategy occurred at the half deck point and lower. Specs then simplified the computation of the playing indexes by dividing the running count by 2 at the full deck point, by 1 at the half deck point (the running count and the true count converge at the half-deck point), and by multiplying by 2 at the 13 card level. At the three-quarter deck level (39 cards remaining) you could divide by one and one-half or just simply estimate what it would be half-way between a true count at one deck and a true count at one-half deck.

Also, the shoes came into being around that time period and they used four decks. So it was easier, faster and actually quite accurate to divide the shoe by four during the first deck dealt, by three after one 52 card deck was depleted, by two when one 52 card deck remained, and by one when a half deck remained. He then renamed the results of that computation the “true” count because in his mind it was the "true" count. Make sense? LOL

Specs was THE pioneer and the first one to come up with this method of determining the true count, and with the actual designation “true count,” which was copied and used by EVERY OTHER BJ writer and guru from that point on. The only BJ writer that did not copy that terminology was me, writing as Canfield in Blackjack Your Way to Riches (BJYWTR). I used the word “adjusted” count. I felt that since I helped Specs write “Playing Blackjack as a Business” and gave him most of the practical application material for the book, I did not want him to know I wrote Blackjack Your Way to Riches because it might offend him as my book was competing with his. (It took him about ten seconds to figure out it was I who wrote the book and we had a good laugh about it.) Specs was a very good friend of mine and I sure miss the little sh_t. He was one of the real old timers and by gosh, looking back, I can hardly believe I’m one of that group now also.

Third question: As far as Ken Uston was concerned, my team members and I did not know, or want to become associated with any of the latter day card counters, BJ writers, “experts” and gurus. We were basically hustler types and the few other counters we knew were all hustlers too. Hustlers have a different mentality or outlook when it comes to beating gambling games and are a different breed of cat.

(PLEASE, don’t anyone on the board, or any new cards counters reading this, take offense to my next statements. I’m talking about 40 to 50 years or so ago and it was a different world back then.)

The reason we did not want to associate or become known to the latter day counters was because to us they were all a bunch of square john chumps and johnny-come-lately suckers. They were starting to blow-out the count in the joints because in many cases it was disgustingly obvious these clowns were counting because they were not hustlers. The joints started to become paranoid and more and more wary of “counters,” it started to bring a great deal of heat on the game and the chumps in the pit began to suspect everyone who was winning and playing decent money of counting. It was a bad scene all around and the start of the BJ heat and the BJ counter measures, i.e., early shuffles, multiple deck games, barring of players, rule changes and so forth.

Even worse, the suckers on the inside of the casinos started to realize the game could be beaten by counting, and a few of these chumps even learned how to count themselves. More importantly, my team and I were using variations of count play that were not divulged in my book, BJYWTR, the latter day counters did not know these methods, and we did not want them to catch on to methods that were a lot stronger than just using the count.

Uston was a coke head and we did not need that kind of druggie action. Uston was a good card counter (but certinly not awesome), when he was not wacked out, and made money with his count team. But like anything else, some count teams made money and others did not. The problem with these latter day BJ teams were the drugs, team member counting mistakes, stealing from each other, blabbing and boasting to other people and other BJ teams, blowing the bankroll and so forth. Real chump stuff. Teams need a strong leader to be successful.

Money was made with team play, in some cases a great deal of money, in other cases there were teams that lost money or blew their entire bankroll. Bottom line is the aggregate money made with team play has been grossly exaggerated, usually for commercial purposes. Learning how to count "awesomely" and getting the money with the count, either single-o or as part of a team, are two different levels of skill and ability. (It is somewhat like having a beautiful and flawless bottom deal. Dealing a beautiful base and getting the money with a base deal are two different animals. Skill at one does not imply skill and ability at the other.)

Finally! – “gosh, is the Cagliostro guy ever going to stop yaking? - did he really say finally? I sure hope he did” – there were a number of latter day counters who became very proficient at counting, developed the necessary grift sense to fool the floor chumps and could get the money. I don’t include these guys in the johhny-come-lately, sucker, chump category.
Message: Posted by: AMcD (Jan 11, 2012 06:33AM)
Thanks for your priceless words, Cagliostro.
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 12, 2012 07:06PM)
Most are acquainted with the Big Player Blackjack card counting concept used against multiple deck shoes. Ken Uston and the MIT team became well known for publishing their experiences and a motion picture dramatized the team play concept. Essentially, card counting team members sit at various multiple deck shoe game tables in a casino, count down the shoe and when the count becomes favorable, signal a big money player to come in and play off the favorable count.

That concept is well known today, but what has never been revealed until now was the big player [i]location[/i] play. It was one of the plays used by my team and me, it was stronger and more deceptive than the standard big player concept, it predated that concept and it was unique to us at that time. Here is how it came about.

Caesars Palace was the first LV casino to introduce four deck shoes in the mid-sixties. My team and I pretty much ignored the shoe games the first day of Caesar's opening as there were so many single deck games available with great rules and playing conditions that playing a shoe did not seem to be very appealing. Plus, the joint was an absolute madhouse. However, we noticed that a notorious and very capable counter was concentrating on the shoe games. That peaked out curiously so we ambled over to scout out the game further.

The dealers were dealing the shoe down to about the last 20 cards or so before they shuffled. However, when we saw the dealer shuffle the cards, a light went on and we knew we had a highly beatable game, even better than the single deck plays we were making. This is what got us so excited and here is the way it worked:

When it came time to shuffle the 4 deck shoe, the dealer would remove that last 20 cards or so that remained un-dealt in the shoe, placed them on top of the previously dealt cards in the discard tray and then place the entire 4 deck shoe pack on the table in front of him. He would then cut this pack of 208 cards in half, placing one half to his right and the other half to his left. The he would shuffle the right hand packet of 104 cards, followed by shuffling the left 104 card packet, each half being shuffled separately. After he shuffled each of these two packets separately, he would place one packet on top of the other and offer the deck to be cut. BINGO. That was all we had to see.

We immediately knew that if we remembered the count for the first half of the shoe, we would automatically know the count for the second half, i.e., we would know the count for each of the two 104 card halves. We could then manipulate the favorable cards, by cutting in different parts of the deck and eventually manipulate the shoe so that one half the shoe was very favorable and cut that half into play to the top of a NEW shoe.

We had 3 team members sit at three different shoe dealt tables and one member would sit out and be the big player. The 3 members playing (on separate tables), would bet very small, play basic strategy, not play the count but simply count the first half of the shoe and remember it what the count number was. By manipulating the placement of the cut card, they could eventually end up with a shoe where one half was quite favorable and the other half unfavorable. As soon as one of the members could cut a favorable portion into play to the top of the shoe, he or she would signal the BP to come in.

The BP would bet the limit right off the top of the deck as the first 104 cards of the shoe were favorable and he would be signaled the count as he walked up to the table. If the favorable portion was in the top half of the shoe deck prior to the cut, we would still cut in the middle and play off the second half of the shoe. By doing it this way, we could keep the favorable and unfavorable portions separate through two, three or more consecutive shoes.

After the big player played off the favorable portion of the shoe, he would leave the table, maybe go to another table if he was signaled in, and come back on the next shuffle to the first table if the favorable portion was again cut into play. If the favorable portion started at the top of the shoe, and since all those cards had to be dealt, it was somewhat like (but not exactly like), playing a very favorable double deck down to the last card.

It could take some time before the right set-up occurred, but by counting a number of shoes down and varying where the cut card was placed, eventually each team member could manipulate a shoe situation that could be exploited. Since we were working 3 tables simultaneously, it did not take too long before one of the shoes was set-up correctly.

My team members were described in Blackjack Your Way to Riches and this was one of the very profitable techniques that we omitted from the book.

Shortly thereafter, Caesars changed the shuffle procedure as someone figured out it had a very big flaw. However, their new shuffle technique was also exploitable although it required a little more effort. Exploiting this new shuffle procedure was actually the beginning of what became known years later as “shuffle tracking.”

Here was the new method of shuffling: It was the same as described above up to the point where the dealer cut the 204 card shoe in half and placed one half to his right and one half to his left. At this point he would take 52 cards from the top of the left half and 52 cards from the top of the right half and shuffle the cards together. Then he would shuffle the remaining 52 cards on the left into the 52 cards on the right and place those cards on the first group of 104 card shuffled and offer the deck to be cut.

Without getting too complicated, all a team member had to do was count the first 52 cards dealt and the third 52 cards dealt. For example, the team member would count the first 52 card segment, remember that number, ignore the second 52 card segment, and then continue the count with the third 52 card segment. The fourth segment was not counted. Since segment 1 and 3 would be shuffled together and segment 2 and 4 would be shuffled together, he or she would know the count in each 104 card segment of the assembled shoe. We are now back to the same situation as the count play described initially above. One half of the 104 cards segment could be very favorable and the other half very unfavorable. When we finally manipulated one segment to be very favorable and knew the location of that segment, either the first half of the shoe or the second half or the shoe, we could signal the Big Player in at the appropriate time. At that point the BP would be signaled the count and play it off while the second team member on the table would again clock segment one and three to see it another desirable situation would occur.

I know it may sound a little complicated and there are several variations depending on where we cut to manipulate the outcome, but suffice it to say we had 3 team members on three different tables, each member playing basic strategy, placing very small bets and looking to set up his designated shoe.

Thereafter, other joints in Vegas started to deal 4 deck shoes and we were able to exploit them with this BP location play. Later on, the six deck shoes were also exploitable in some joints with this type play, but it was much more difficult.

There you have it. One example of how the “real” work was actually used under fire to beat the LV casinos (and casinos in Atlantic City and other areas). Legitimate, safe, undetectable – it absolutely fooled everyone, the floor personnel, surveillance, other counters who wandered in on the game. This is a great example of very high level hustling where one uses his brains (mental ability, psychology, cleverness, human nature, good framing, team work, etc.), to get the money (and a lot of it), and not manipulation or moves. This type play lasts forever until changes in procedure, whether by accident or design, eventually knock it out.

While we were making these plays, after a while a different hustling team came in and beat Caesars with a count play in which the shoe was ALWAYS favorable. They were not aware that we were making a count play but we knew right away what they were doing. We did not get involved or rap to this team (we never rapped to any other count team because no one knew what our play was or even that we were making a play), and we did not get involved with their type play as it was a very low-level, rough and tumble, street hustler type play which I will write about in a later post.
tej type street punk play they sued could ut you in prison.

In the meantime, anyone on this board know which particular "dirty" play I'm referring to and know how how the deck was kept favorable all the time?
Message: Posted by: AMcD (Jan 13, 2012 07:13AM)
Nice post again, Cagliostro.

Hey, just a few more questions if you don't mind.

- What was the table limit in the mid-sixties? I suppose there was private games or ones reserved for high rollers, but I mean the table limits for gamblers like you. I assume you were playing standard tables?

- Why do you say Caesar's was a madhouse?

- Reading you, I understand you made some serious money. But what about bad beats? I'd like to read from a pro what kind of trouble you find in that business. I mean bad counts, mistakes, floor detecting you (or at least that there's something going on), team members going nuts, etc. What cost you a lot? What did you try to avoid at any cost?

It's really great reading someone with such experience. And rather rare. Thanks for your invaluable prose.
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 13, 2012 07:49PM)
On 2012-01-13 08:13, AMcD wrote:

Hey, just a few more questions if you don't mind.

What was the table limit in the mid-sixties? I suppose there was private games or ones reserved for high rollers, but I mean the table limits for gamblers like you. I assume you were playing standard tables?[/quote]
The standard table limits in most decent joints was $500 in the sixties and into the seventies. It was $200.00 in some of the smaller casinos. I would guess that $500 back then is comparable with $1000 or maybe more today when we take into consideration the depreciation of the US dollar. If you had exceptional credentials and a very high credit limit, in the premier joints you could request and receive higher limits, but in the early days $1,000 was about max. It was not like the limits of today. Of course, you could spread out and play multiple hands which we did most of the time, especially if the deck or slug was Ace heavy in addition to being ten heavy.

[quote]Why do you say Caesar's was a madhouse?[/quote]
I was referring to the opening couple of days and the hoopla surrounding same. Big crowds milling around, floor personnel not sure of all procedures, confusion with the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing sometimes. Even had one hustler in a suit, posing as a floorman, get a chip fill from the cage. There is generally a lot of commotion at times like these.

[quote]Reading you, I understand you made some serious money. But what about bad beats? I'd like to read from a pro what kind of trouble you find in that business. I mean bad counts, mistakes, floor detecting you (or at least that there's something going on), team members going nuts, etc. What cost you a lot? What did you try to avoid at any cost?[/quote]

For new players or those with unstable or overly emotional personalities, drug users and so forth, all of the above would present problems. However, keep in mind that my team and I had tremendous experience behind us so all the mistakes, miscounts, steaming when losing, etc., were behind us as counters when we got to this high level of play. Everyone was hand-picked for the team. When you know exactly what you are doing, have the experience to back it up, have a stable and rational personality and eliminated any emotion from playing, aside from an occasional or rare playing mistake (which does not have much effect in the overall picture), these things are not a problem. We actually had a well-oiled machine, disciplined, almost mechanical in structure and very well-rehearsed. Since we all had mastered the game on an individual play basis, when we got involved with team play, the problems mentioned above were things of the past. However, when one first learns to count, the above are problems that have to be overcome and some of the reasons why most card-counters fail, no matter how well they count.

I recall when I first started counting, when I got an 8, 10 or 12% advantage on the next hand I would over bet my bankroll. Then if I lost that bet and still had a big advantage, I would again over bet my bankroll to get even. I quickly found out that was a good way to lose all your money. The distinguishing feature between a pro and an amateur is how he plays when losing or after experiencing a loss. Money management is extremely important and I quickly learned that you play exactly the same when losing as when winning. Keep in mind, except for the “con” of the play, playing professional blackjack is rather mechanical and just about every aspect of it can be laid out before sitting down at the table.

You have to get to the point where you are not affected by the emotions gambling can produce to be successful. Of course, you feign all the irrational things that square john players do, make all the silly remarks, etc., to look like a “normal” player. When you really get good it is almost mechanical and somewhat boring. Even if you are stuck $20,000 or $30,000 or so, you get to the point where you just know that it is just a matter of time before you get out and book a win.

Very importantly, when I say “you just know” I don’t mean “intellectually” know. You have to know absolutely, with every aspect of you being, in every pore of your body, that you will pull out from the loss and end up with a win. When you get to that point, it is a piece of cake. You know you have to play a certain number of hands for a certain period of time for the outcome to be inevitably favorable.

I got so blasé at one point that once I was playing with a dealer who was winning every hand. I just kept playing, varying my bets and playing the count, losing hand after hand. Playing like a machine. After a while, the dealer stopped and looked at me and said. “I don’t believe this. You are losing every hand and most people would be moaning and groaning or run to another table, but you seem completely undisturbed by it all. She hit me right between the eyes with that statement. Thereafter, I made sure I moaned and groaned when losing and showed elation when winning. “When in Rome…” But you learn all these things from experience.

I was teaching someone to count once and he was very proficient at counting. So I took him out with me a couple of times, letting him play small on the same table with me so he could see how I applied the count in action. I also had him observe me from a distance to see how I blended in with the other square johns on the table. He always asked after the plays, "why did you do this, why did you say that, why did you reduce your bet when the deck was getting more favorable," etc. I actually had to give it a lot of thought to explain why I did all those things. It was all so deeply imbedded in my subconscious, through a great deal of experience, that I did all these things correctly by instinct. It is called grift sense and is part of the art of the con.

Of course, the problems you mentioned plagued many other teams which is why we did not associate or get to know other counters or others who worked with teams. Most people who learned to count, even those that could count very well, lost their money or did not make enough to make counting worthwhile. They caused themselves to lose because learning to count is only a small part of being successful and most do not have what it takes and can't handle all the other elements that must be mastered to achieve a high level of accomlishment.

By the way, I could write another book on all of this but I am not going to.

Keep in mind we are just talking about professional counting at this point. There are many ways to make big money in the casinos aside from counting, both in the past and at the present time. In my mind, consistently beating the casino table games or casino poker rooms is at the higher level of hustling achievement - but - you had better know what you are doing.

Maybe that post is for another time.
Message: Posted by: RCP (Jan 13, 2012 09:10PM)
Where you been John?
Message: Posted by: Cagliostro (Jan 15, 2012 03:11PM)
It seems that no one has attempted to figure out how the count play (where the deck was always favorable), mentioned at the end of my post of 1/12/2012 at 8:06 pm above worked or perhaps did not find it intriguing enough to comment on. However, it would seem to me that beating the casinos is ALWAYS intriguing. They have all that money just for the taking - that is for those who have the determination, ability, knowledge and balls to get it.

This play was first used against the 4 deck shoes at Caesar’s Palace. The reason I called it a “dirty” play was because cheating was involved to make it work. I want to point out that cheating a casino is very naughty, highly unethical, most reprehensible in the extreme and I vigorously condemn such nefarious activity. However, and surprisingly to me, it seems there are some people in this world who like to live an expensive lifestyle without having to work at a day job for it. That being said, let’s get to the matter at hand.

This is what I would call a “rough and tumble” casino scam and keep in mind it was used against a four deck shoe being dealt face down. (In the early days of shoe play in Vegas, the cards were all dealt face down, not face up like nowadays). Okay. Here is how it was done.

A couple of hand muckers would sit down at the face down 4 deck shoe game at Caesar’s and bet the table minimum or a little more. They each had a supply of ten count cards and Aces in their “kick.” Every time one of the muckers received a 4, 5 or 6 in his hand, he would muck it out and substitute a ten or Ace in its place. Using a simple point count in this example (which is all you really need), by the time they had mucked out 20 small cards and substituted 20 big cards in their place, the running count off the top of the shoe would be plus 40. Assuming a “true” count computed at the one deck level, that would convert to a true count of plus 10 at the top of a 4 deck shoe, or [i]approximately[/i] a 5% edge from the “get go.” Of course, that percentage tends to increase as the deck depletes. For example, everything else remaining constant, if the running count stays at about plus 40, at the two deck level that converts to a true count of plus 20 or about a 10% edge on each hand played. Once the deck had been “loaded,” the muckers would leave the table and signal the Big Player that everything was copacetic and it was time to “rock n’ roll.”

Needless to say, the Big Player would bet the limit off the top and pretty much stay at a flat bet throughout the entire shoe. Of course, he could vary his bets a little to make it look better, play one hand, then two or three, then back to one, etc., but in any event he would make a good win. He could also leave the table for a while, get a little something to eat, maybe shoot some craps to make the play look better, wander back to the Blackjack table again and win some more. The shoes were left in for eight hours before they were changed so there was no real rush.

At that time, when the shoe cards were exchanged for new cards, the floor person would simply wrap a rubber band around the old cards and throw them into a receptacle located in the desk in the pit. They did not mark the table number the cards came from, there was no recorded surveillance in those days and the cards were not sorted until a few days later.

Of course, for obvious reason this was not a long term play like the Big Player Location play described above. Once the cards were sorted, and the pit was notified that there was a MAJOR anomalous distributional discrepancy in the denominational composition of the cards (in other words, the deck was “loaded”), the floor personnel were now on the lookout for the play and the hustlers had to be more careful. Of course, this was somewhat annoying to the hustlers, but if you can pick up $50,000, $100,000, $200,000 or more in a short period of time, it helps to ease those minor annoyances somewhat.

The thieves still continued to play at busy times on full tables for a while after the play was known and simply cut down the size of their bets to be less noticeable than a big player would be. Since Caesar’s had so much big action with two BJ and wheel pits, separated by the dice pit, one could bet rather substantially without attracting unwanted attention. However, it became more and more dangerous to do as time went on.

If the floor person, or the sky, though something was amiss at the table, all they had to do was count the number of tens and aces that had been dealt. As soon as they counted 81 of those denomination cards played (80 is maximum in a 4 deck shoe), especially if they were only halfway through the shoe, they tended to suspect something was amiss. At that point they would pull the deck. But if you have people playing at a table and the composition of the payers keeps changing during an eight hour shift, most of those people are betting decent amounts of money and the deck has been in for 4 hours or so, who is the bad apple? You don’t really know. And if the hustlers keep rotating and different ones come in to play, who do you point the finger at?

Of course, there were other joints in Vegas starting to deal face down shoes, so I will leave it up to the reader to fill in the blanks. Eventually the scam got played out and became a dead number, mostly because the casinos went to face up shoes and that knocked out the mucking part of the play. (Let me tell you, these casino operators have no sense of humor and sometimes take all the fun out of the game.)

For some unforeseen reason, this method of playing the count is not in any the card counting books on the subject. This omission is somewhat puzzling to me as the method seems to have some positive points to recommend it. LOL