The Life of a Blackjack Pro: Hard Work, Strategy, and Card Counting

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Blackjack combination

The history of blackjack is long and tangled; and, indeed, this game is really not so easy to master at all! In fact, one of the key reasons for its popularity is precisely this: that it doesn’t leave everything to chance. On the contrary, every action and decision you make is directly affecting your chances of success. But why did this game end up with such a notorious reputation?

Those less involved in gambling are given to caricaturing blackjack players as manipulative scammers who are likely to exploit the game, purely to get more winnings! So of all the strategies that may come to your mind, we bet that card counting has to be the first one. Card counting is known for consistently bringing winnings to those who use it, and it is defined as shifting the house odds in your favor. Yes, this does sound a lot like cheating; but actually, this kind of strategy is actually classified as “legal” in the gambling world!

One of the main reasons blackjack has become one of the most popular games is its low house edge, in comparison to the rest of the gambling repertoire. So no matter what venue you’re planning to visit, you will never encounter a house edge that is higher than 2–3%! And whenever players opt for card counting as their primary strategy, this edge can go even lower! This is obviously not good for casino operators, so blackjack players really don’t tend to score their winnings so easily.

In fact, sometimes hostile staff members at the casino really make it hard for them, preventing them from even sitting down at the table! Because after all, if you stay focused (under the right conditions, of course!) you can take away a big part of the casino’s money; and this is why operators have started to bring in a few precautionary measures which have forced blackjack players to be even sneakier.

Casino precautionary measures include placing limitations on the tables, introduce extra measures of monitoring, or simply denying blackjack pros from playing at all.

However, a real blackjack pro will still manage to overcome these obstacles; and this is where they show their true craftiness, of course! So, let’s see how they get to the top, and what it actually takes for them to get there…

The Golden Days Are Gone

Casino Blackjack Cards Ace and JackWalking up to the hottest table in Las Vegas and playing like a pro are vestiges of the past. Because nowadays, casinos are actually aware of the possible consequences if they allow a blackjack pro to enter their venue! During the World Economic Crisis in 2008, many operators were forced to make drastic changes to their management teams and to the way they conducted their business. The post-recession period led them to include fewer high-stakes tables, and this in turn has affected the way the game is played today. So nowadays, if you wish to take the stakes to a much higher level, you will need to get approval from the management!

The next and most apparent change when referring to casino comps is the incentives, which are really not what they used to be. The current milieu requires different conditions, which are not attainable for everyone. For example, if you want to receive some high-quality comps that are worth their weight in gold, then you need to be a part of the high-status crowd. The card counting technique is now seen as a risky venture, and it is simply not worth your time or your money in today’s casino environment!

Day in, Day Out

The one thing that separates a blackjack pro from other players is the way they conduct their playing strategy. They play at a high intensity, with laser precision. They are not fans of individual work, but instead prefer teamwork. You will often encounter these players in teams, working hard five days a week as if Blackjack were their actual day job! Every member of the team makes their own contribution and tend to make a sizable bankroll before they head out to get their winnings.

The common rule among the professional blackjack players is that they never carry more than $5000 per visit, while usually limiting themselves to using around $25 to $100 in one sitting. This tactic is often the key to their success; since this way, they get to lower their losses and also establish a system that everybody sticks to; and most importantly of all… They all manage to go unnoticed!

Going Full Ninja

Due to their notorious reputation, card counters have a real problem trying to stay unnoticed. Sometimes, their bankroll limitations seem anomalous, and so they’re easily recognized by the vigilant eye of the casino. And besides taking care of how much they’re spending, the card counters need to evaluate their every move as well; and that also includes how much they are winning.

Blackjack pros are even forced to wear a disguise, quite literally! They tend to alter their everyday appearance with different kinds of accessories. For instance, they add a pair of glasses to their look or a casual beard or even change their haircut. This list just goes on and on. Hiding this way may seem excessive; but, in fact, that is not actually the case! Staff members are very skilled at recognizing these players. This is why they are always keen on changing their wardrobe or simply adding something different to their appearance.

The locations of the casinos they plan to visit change regularly, and the teams are divided into shifts, with each member holding three shifts in the course of 24 hours.

Planning ahead is a key part of their daily routine, and this is why they always try to stay one step ahead of the casino security team. So far, they’ve managed to figure out that the tables offering more decks are the tables that are also closely monitored. Because of this, card counters tend to avoid them. Interestingly enough, six-deck games are generally discouraging to these ninja teams; since the more decks are used, the deeper the cut card is placed, and this makes the shuffling time much shorter. But it’s the shuffling time, in the end, that’s supposed to help them gain the advantage they are looking for!

Masters of Their Strategy

You may be wondering how to play blackjack like a pro. If you take a look at a blackjack professional’s strategy book, you will encounter a number of various methods that are used to increase profits. There is a ton of “dos and don’ts,” but the main and most exciting thing you could find in their rule books will be the card counting method. The main tool this strategy uses is manipulating certain advantages that are inherent to the game. Because if you think about it, the primary quality of blackjack is that with every game, the player becomes more and more experienced; and in doing so, he manages to lower the house edge. The house edge of blackjack is already low, but a skilled player can reduce it to less than 1%. In case the player is that good, he can create his odds, giving the house a 0% advantage, which is genuinely impressive! And what many find interesting about this game is that it is the only game that affects the results of a subsequent session. So, the appeal of card counting methods continues to rise; especially since they are obviously bringing astonishing results and all it takes is some careful planning.

So, How to Successfully Count Cards?

Hi-lo Value System

The first thing a player needs to learn is the value system, which is more commonly known as “hi-lo system.” This system marks a group of cards with a certain value. The group of cards from 2 to 6 receive a +1 value, and the group of cards ranging from 7 to 9 get a zero value, whereas ten through Ace receive −1. So, when the dealer hands out the cards, a player needs to add or subtract 1, or do nothing if the value of the card is zero. This way blackjack players can all be sure of a new hand value, and they are able to establish a running count.Casino Game with guy playing blackjack

Running Count

As the dealing progresses, the player should use the ‘running count’ which means adding or subtracting every card that is revealed for both dealer and player. With more cards being dealt, this calculation needs to be updated accordingly. The goal of this technique is to be sure of the odds at any given moment. If the number increases, the odds move into the player’s corner. However, if the running count decreases those odds move to the favor of the house.

The Calculation of the True Count

The true count is defined as the total value that the player chooses to assign to each deck, and that calculation comes from the running count. The player should pay attention to the high cards the most. The ability to know the difference between the concentration of high cards for five decks and for only one deck is crucial, as it it this that determines the size of the true count. Let’s take a look at the following example. If your running count comes to 10 and there are five decks remaining, the math will be the following: 10/5. However, if the running count is set to be −7, and you have two decks left, the true count will be −7/2.

The Playing Deviation

The playing deviation is used to determine when exactly a player should bet, and how much. The more experienced player needs to up his wager according to the information he has gathered, and he certainly ought to take the rise of the true count into consideration. Because after all, if the true count works in your favor, you could be looking at a huge profit! This kind of strategy relies purely on the mathematical intervals at stake and the abilities of the players. The professionals tend to memorize the rules of this happening on the basis of certain computed formulas for blackjack card counting.

So now that we’ve introduced you to the everyday life of a blackjack pro and to the basic principles of card counting, how about we give you a short list of blackjack pro tips you could use, if you plan on finally joining the classiest team of gambling experts out there: Blackjack pros! So just read on now for some crucial “dos and don’ts” of blackjack.

Don’t Buy Insurance

There will always be the possibility that the dealer gets blackjack, and as you probably know, you have the option to bet on that too, or in other words: to buy insurance! This means that you’re effectively betting half of your initial wager on the hope that the dealer is going to hit a blackjack, and then you might just be looking at a 2:1 payout. However, if you follow the advice of professional players, you shouldn’t be doing that! Because in most cases, this bet may well cost you the entire wager.

Strategy two tens on the table Don’t Split Tens

Every time you are dealt two ten value cards, you have the opportunity to split them and double your profits. However, by doing so, you’re also lowering your chances of winning, since there’s a statistically lower probability of winning on a split pair of tens! There’s a much higher chance of winning if you’re playing with 20; since the only hand that can win that pair is 21, which means there is a greater likelihood that the dealer is going to lose in this situation.

Don’t Play on a 6:5 Table

There’s no further explanation required for this one, other than that the edge is in the casino’s favor. Instead, play on a table that pays out 2:3.

Don’t Chase Your Losses

Always make sure you show up with a plan! It would be smart to designate a separate account for your bankroll just so you don’t hurt your actual finances.

Do the Basic Strategy

Players tend to explore new strategies, and they’re always looking for some more innovative options. All you have to do is follow the basic strategy since its concept will already be based on predetermined rules of the game; so it’s never going to leave you hanging!

Do Split Aces and Eights

If you decide to split, you should always do that when the cards you have are aces and eights. The main reason behind this is that, statistically, you have a much higher chance of winning if those cards are split. Don’t look at any of the other ‘expert’ advice out there; because if this is good enough for blackjack professionals, then surely it’s good enough for you!

Do Enjoy Yourself!

We’ve done our best here to introduce you to the life of a blackjack pro and their daily struggles. Some will call this behavior dishonest: after all, the only purpose is to gain more profit! But we choose to see it differently; and clearly, so do you! So, if by any chance you choose to take up this game, be sure to study this strategy more thoroughly; so you can finally become a true master at exploiting blackjack probabilities. Also, don’t miss your chance to read a blackjack guide with card playing tips that is sure to be very useful in your future games.

Most importantly of all, make sure you have some fun in the process too! Some people do this for a living; however, most of you have the luxury of playing blackjack for entertainment only, and you should try and keep it that way!

Lucky Winners

Card counting techniques and complicated strategies have helped many people go from rags to riches. Frequently their stunning success inducted their names into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Their stories are unique and have been used for the creation of the major blackjack guides.

James Grosjean

James Grosjean

Have you ever heard of this gambling icon? If not, you should definitely get to know more about James Grosjean. He is considered to be one of the top blackjack players in the world, whose experimenting and mathematical analysis have helped him scooped a million dollar fortune from the casinos. The author of “Beyond Counting: Exploring Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker” has crushed dozens of venues, sometimes snagging more than $100,000 an hour together with his team.

The phenomena of James Grosjean hides in his extraordinary mathematical thinking, which allows him to move the player’s edge far beyond the standard 1,5% leverage. He has also been developing various programs that have helped him take casinos by storm. Furthermore, he practices hole carding, which allows him to spot the dealer’s cards, which really confuses the administration of the casinos he plays at. The biggest win Grosjean’s team has ever had is rumored to be one night when they won as much as $225,000!

Still, his biggest victory happened in court when he sued Caesar’s Palace and Imperial Palace for illegal detention and privacy violations. The basis of the case was that both of the casinos used private investigation company called Griffin Investigations to spot card counters, spy on them and put them on a blacklist. As a result, Cojean sued all of them, and ended up getting compensation of $599,999 from Imperial Palace, which he split with his partner Michael Russo. Also, his lawsuits brought him $25,000 from Caesars Palace a compensation for this defamation, which made Griffin Investigations go bankrupt.

Stanford Wong

When it comes to card counting, the personality of John Ferguson, better known as “Stanford Wong,” really does stand out from the crowd.This finance professor from Stanford changed the whole game of Blackjack with his “back-counting,” otherwise known as ‘wonging.” Waiting for the moment when the shoe gets exhausted and then hopping into the game brought him constant wins in different casinos. His titanic work was embodied in the Professional Blackjack book, which became a bestseller. However, shortly after the “wonging” technique was revealed, casinos got rid of the rules that allowed players to hop into the game until the current shoe is exhausted.

There are no facts about how much money Stanford Wong has won in total, but it is well known that his official teaching salary was as little as $1 an hour; which gives us a bit of a hint that his blackjack games were bringing in quite a bit for him!

Donald Johnson

The biggest win in the history of blackjack belongs to the CEO of Heritage Development LLC. His stunning $15.1 million win is more than legendary! Donald used to find some gaps in casino rules that allowed him to double the bets anytime he wanted and to split his hands into four, which is really a rather unconventional practice. In the end, he cashed out millions, by exploiting the kindness of the system at different venues.

Nowadays, Donald is a frequent interview guest and golf player; however, he isn’t welcome in most of his favorite casinos.

Gambler Tommy HylandTommy Hyland

Since 1979, this man has been treating Blackjack as his actual job. His team has been crushing casinos for more than 4 decades! His shuffle tracking system and low/high betting have made him “the Godfather of Blackjack.” Investing $16,000 at the beginning of his career, he and his team moved up to $300,000 within a year, and then the rest is history! This is the type of the player, who never loses and has exactly the kind of brass cojones you need to become a true leader of Blackjack!

Keith Packer

They say you can’t always get what you want. And Keith Packer’s luck in blackjack and in baccarat really do go a long way towards proving this saying! While he did manage to win over $7 million over the course of one night at the blackjack table, he could easily lose $27 million over a year of baccarat. This maverick was never scared of losing, and he always bet it big! Once he lost $10 million picking the wrong night to gamble. However, his legend still lives on, and his classy games have made blackjack history.

So if you are inspired by any of these examples, there’s always an opportunity to improve your skills. Start playing blackjack online now! There is so much you can learn from this game!

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