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straight to the podcast

(straight to the podcast)

GWAE

To me, Gambling With An Edge is the greatest resource available to current and future advantage players. It’s a collection of some of the greatest minds from all different forms of advantage play. There’s decades, centuries even, of experience and insight all collected on one website, for free!

I’ve been lucky for the chance to work with this group. GWAE hosted my blog “Behind the Curtain”, which is currently on hiatus. With it, I tried to communicate my Inside perspective on everyday events and happenings in the casino. It’s an attempt to bridge the gap between casinos and players, between dated and modern. In the comment threads, you’ll see that it’s a tall task. There’s strong perceptions out there that can be difficult to overcome. Hopefully my work continues to chip away at that perception.

THIS PODCAST

The podcast episode I’m posting was a blast to be a part of. I was asked to come on as a guest, along with the man himself, Anthony Curtis. For those that don’t know, Anthony is the lead publisher of Huntington Press, and the founder of the Las Vegas Advisor. Anthony and I, along with hosts Bob Dancer and Richard Munchkin, dive into my book, The Blackjack Insiders. Of course, we got side tracked, getting into some fun stories from our time at the tables. Maybe most importantly, we weighed in on the status of advantage play in today’s casino climate. (For more of my thoughts on today’s casino climate, check out my other posts here.)

It was a great chance to chat with three of the biggest names in the gambling world. Promoting my book was a bonus.

Click here to listen, or click the link below:

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Could Card Counters Actually Be Good For Business?

I know, it sounds crazy. Maybe even unfathomable. But think outside the box with me. It’ll be a quick one, I promise.

For decades now, the main concern of table games management has been advantage play, specifically card counters. Now, there have been select few, who we’ve all read about, who have done serious damage to departmental bottom lines across the country. Across the world even. But the fact is, the overwhelming majority of card counters are not a threat at all. I’ll tell you why.

The problem that most advantage players have, is they go out and start playing before they have a full understanding of what they’re doing. They read a book, study how to play the game and eagerly go out into the field, unprepared. Without an understanding of how to structure their bets, what rules to play, or how much money they need, these players are likely not playing with an actual mathematical edge. They may know how to play the game, but they’re still at a disadvantage. Most players are vastly under-bankrolled, and don’t know how to manage their money according to the count, which is great for the casino. Anytime someone plays and thinks they have an advantage, that’s an ideal situation for the house.

Also, as I mentioned, many players do not fully understand the game, so they’ll play a game that they can’t beat. Such as a 6:5 table, or a spinoff like Super Fun 21. Not to say these games can’t be overcome, but it takes more than simple Hi-Lo counting, which is what most people try to play with. I’ve seen players attempt to beat these games but the fact is, the advantage is too much to overcome by simply counting cards. With that in mind, when you see someone on your games moving their bet with the count, there’s a high probability that they’re still playing at a disadvantage.

Another problem a lot of players have is their unwillingness to put in a complete effort into learning to count. Many players are out there moving their bets with nothing on their mind other than the running count. When asked about true count conversions, index plays, ace tracking, or any other aspect of a serious advantage player’s game, they can muster nothing more than a blank stare and a raised eyebrow. The fact is, without the true count, without index numbers, they’re probably playing against a house edge. This could be even better for the casino than a standard player. They’ll stay longer and dig deeper, because they think they’re supposed to come out ahead.

The fact is, very few people truly understand card counting, both players and casino staff. Obviously, the players who do, can cause a threat to the bottom line and need to be prevented from playing. However, so much effort is exerted trying to prevent and detect these players, when really, most of them don’t even have an advantage. Sure they may win, but even the worst gamblers win sometimes. And if they do win, the other players around will see that, and maybe stay a little longer, maybe bet a little more. And who doesn’t want that?

So, considering all these variables, maybe we need to redistribute our efforts elsewhere? Is it possible that how we’ve thought about advantage players all these years is wrong? Could be…

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Insider Chronicles – Is It Playing Both Sides?

In the course of talking about and promoting my book, something that comes up a lot, and understandably so, is the “insiders” aspect of the book. It goes beyond the book even, to my life in general. It comes at me in a lot of different ways and with different words. The basic question though, is, “Andrew, you’re a card counter and you’re in the casino business. Aren’t you playing both sides?”

It’s a fair question. I think it’s a great first blog topic, since it’s such a big part of what’s going on right now for me.

The answer to the question is layered. The outside layer is simple and visible, but the inner layers start to get harder and harder to peel back. Frankly, they’re even hard for me to peel back.

Put simply, the outer layer so to speak, no. I do not play both sides. I’m a casino professional who has a unique understanding of the other side of the table. Advantage play is a hot topic in casino gaming. It always has been, and always will be. It’s quite hard though, to gain a good understanding of how these players can threaten a casino. I happen to have some experience in the area, on a level that not many other casino professionals have. That’s the simple answer.

On the slightly more complicated layer under that, is another answer. I have played on both sides. I’ve already stated my positon as a casino professional. If you’ve read Blackjack Insiders, you know that I spent some time as a fairly high level card counter. Due to that, yes, I have been on both sides.

Now we’re in murky waters, because there was a time when I did indeed play both sides simultaneously. The dichotomy of that point in my life was fascinating to me. Luckily for me, it was fascinating to other people too. You can read all about the struggles of being a pit boss by day and advantage player by night by picking up a copy of Blackjack Insiders here. Well, you can read almost all about it. I couldn’t possibly put every juicy story in the book now, could I?

Today, I don’t play blackjack anymore (or do I?), but I have friends that do. I also have colleagues who are spending their days trying to catch these players. If you have some sort of cognitive dissonance over that, well, I can’t help you with that.

What I can do is tell you that when I’m in a casino these days, I’m wearing a suit and tie. In the book, I use my Insider knowledge to make me a better player. These days, I’m using that experience to make myself a more valuable (in theory) casino gaming professional. I think I’ve found a good balance, the perfect separation of church and state, if you will. Both sides know who I am, what I’ve done, and what I do. I never use one side against the other.

When I’m at work, I’m all business. When I’m talking to my advantage player buddies, it’s all business too, but from the other side of course. I don’t consider that playing both sides. Do you?

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