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Profile of a Counter: BJA Member Skywayman

October 16th, 2014

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing BJA member Skywayman on his blackjack journey. Here are the questions we asked him and his responses.

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1. How did you get into card counting?
I got into card counting when I first watched Holly Rollers on Netflix. That led me to BJA.

2. How long have you been counting cards?
I’ve been counting for a little over a year.

3. How long did it take you to trust your skills? How do you know you’re any good?
It took me about a month and half of training for me to trust my skills. I knew I had it down when I could deal multiple hands to myself while carrying a conversation and watching TV. Also, playing CVBJ was a great tool that I used when I was practicing every day. If you can play flawlessly on their live game mode, you aren’t too far away from moving your training into the casino.

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Jack’s Success Story

October 9th, 2014

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This came in an email this week and warmed our heart so we can’t wait to share it with you.- Ben & Colin

“As of today your services will no longer be required….no reason, we’re just changing direction… would you like to take your personal things with you now, or make arrangements to come back for them?”

Is there an option C where I shove them…..”

And thus ended my twenty plus years of corporate life as a senior manager.

At fifty years young, I suddenly realized that I had just invested most of my life in security that didn’t exist, for fewer peanuts than it takes to make your average chimp dance.  As I walked out the back door with a cardboard box containing family pictures, some mouth wash, shoe polish, awards, certificates and a plant, I decided  that my next adventure would be exciting, stimulating, lucrative and a whole lot of fun.  I had no idea what it would be.

My wife and I grew up in the same small town we live in today, raised five kids here, and have two still in high school.  She’s had the same job for thirty years, and though she loves her work, it does not pay enough to keep the wolves away from the door. Employment opportunities are as rare as hen’s teeth, but we have both agreed that moving at this time in our lives is not an option.  I received a small settlement that would last nine months if I was careful.

Enter… my 15 year old son with a deck of cards “Let’s play blackjack Dad”.  Who would have guessed he was about to save his family from financial ruin.  I had seen the movies, and was totally intrigued, but counting cards, in my mind, was reserved for those blessed with genius (which I am certainly not)  Besides, I had not spent more than $100 gambling in my entire life and I even regretted that.

And so my training began.  I shall never again doubt that we learn as much from our children as they do from us – in many and often surprising ways.  Thanks bud.  You are truly awesome.  For the next nine months I practiced from four to six hours a day, striving to master basic strategy and Hi Lo, and committing thirty nine variations to memory.  I also read every blackjack book I could get my hands on including T. Dane’s “Behind the Black Dome”.

I used real cards and learned to count multiple hands, quickly and effortlessly.  I created my own distractions by playing loud music, having the TV on, talking to myself or singing while I counted.  I used my peripheral vision, turning my head as slightly as possible.  I focused on, making quick glances to count and learned to count in pairs to improve speed.  The speed, I discovered was not as important to keeping up with the game (it became easy to keep up with even the quickest most distracting dealers) but rather to minimize the risk of detection.  (It’s much more difficult to spot a counter who takes two seconds to count a table of six hands, than it is to spot a counter who stares at each players cards for two seconds with a puzzled look on their face…I’ve seen them).

I also discovered Ben and Colin’s website early on and the drills they provide online were key to my success.  Even though I play at least twenty to thirty hours per week in casinos, I still use the drills every single day without fail.  I do this to monitor my accuracy and skill.  If I pick up a habit that causes errors I get immediate feedback from the drills.  Errors cost money and I can’t afford to loose money.  I owe Colin and Ben an enormous debt of gratitude and hope to attend their Blackjack Bootcamp in the near future.

I remember clearly the excitement the first morning I crossed the casino parking lot with a $100 bankroll in my pocket.  I felt like I was one of the new Ocean’s 11 (Okay, a bit dramatic, but I had led a pretty sheltered life for the previous nine months). I had never even played blackjack in a casino…ever.  I sat at the $5 minimum table.  I played for three hours and made $15.  Success!!  I was elated, but I also realized that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what I needed to know to become a professional advantage player.

Even with all my preparation I didn’t start to win money (with any consistency) for at least six months.  I kept comprehensive records of every hour of my play and attacked my new career like I would any conventional business.  As a result of persistence, discipline and let’s not forget some good fortune, I started seeing results.  At one point I had twenty two winning days in a row and netted $9,000 that month.  I started traveling a bit to other casinos to reduce my exposure.

I still consider myself a rookie having entered a casino to play blackjack for the first time just over a year ago.  I did, however, spend 600 hours at the tables in the first year and as near as I can figure (using frequency distribution charts for the games I play) I have wagered about 1.5 million.  I rarely take more than $2,000 into the casino with me and I normally buy in for $500.  My goal now is to grow my bank roll and start playing higher stakes.

If pressed to pass on one thing that I learned it would be this.  You must have discipline or you will loose money.  My big losses and there were quite a few, could always be attributed to errors I made due to panic or lack of discipline.  Please don’t try to make up losses by betting with progressive systems.  I even tried to incorporate them into my play as camo and it didn’t work for me.  I now play an extremely tight and simple game.  I bet one unit until I see a true count of two (even when I’m winning on a negative count).  Then I spread according to the Kelly Criterion (sometimes a bit more aggressively if I can afford it).

I still occasionally face what I call “the attack of the bad math” and endure some painful losses as all advantage players do, but my win rate (by day or session) is over 75% and I’m paying my bills. It hasn’t been an easy road, but “easy” wasn’t what I signed up for.  My wonderful wife has been enormously patient and understanding and I couldn’t have attempted this adventure without her support.  It has been exciting, fun, challenging and I have met the most interesting and wildly unique people I could imagine. It’s also awesome knowing I could make some mad stacks!!

Play smart, be patient and disciplined and good luck to you all!!

-Jack

 

BJA Podcast – Josh Axelrad

September 30th, 2014

I got together recently with friend and fellow card counter, Josh Axelrad. Josh wrote “Repeat Until Rich”, which chronicles his involvement with one of the most active Blackjack Teams of the late 90′s and early 2000′s, as well as Josh’s addiction to online poker.

We discuss his book, his card counting exploits, pathological gambling, and why to treat card counting like an investment, rather than a job.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

*MUST BE LOGGED IN TO LISTEN DO OR DOWNLOAD PODCAST

 

 

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Blackjack Bootcamps – 5 Years Later

September 24th, 2014

by Colin Jones

event_193839662Just over 5 years ago, a group of about 10 aspiring card counters took a huge risk to fly to Las Vegas to spend the day with a couple of guys who had been posting blackjack training videos on an oddly named website called “Blackjack Appretish”, or something like that.

Ben and I had a vision of taking card counting training beyond our $1M blackjack team (which we never mentioned on the website or even at our first few bootcamps).

We knew we had something to offer to the card counting community, and we wanted to see card counters crushing casinos  long after we were no longer playing or running a team.

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Deck Estimation

September 19th, 2014

Member Story Time – Getting Backed Off by the Legend, Max Rubin

September 18th, 2014

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This is an awesome story we received from a card counter friend of ours, “HitA7″.  After reading this story, make sure to read our recent interview with him!

Here’s a picture of me earlier this week after being backed off at Barona, with the man himself Max Rubin!

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Interview with BJA Member “HitA7″

September 18th, 2014

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For this edition of “Profile of a Card Counter”, we interviewed our friend, “HitA7″ about his training, exploits, successes, and failures.

If you’re new to card counting, don’t overlook the value of learning from others.

If you’re a seasoned counter, you should be able to relate to the highs and lows of fleecing the casinos!

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How to Know You’re Ready

September 17th, 2014

 

New  Video on how to know if you’re ready to take on the casinos!

Story Time: “Hitting a 21″

September 5th, 2014

Ben Long HairI was playing in the high limits room in a Harrah’s property talking with the Pit. It was slow and I was one of the only few people there. The lady I was talking to seemed like she was tired and was having a bad week, but our conversation made her a bit more cheery.

Another man walks in, a regular, who started buying in for 20 or 30 grand at a time and playing $5,000 or more a hand. As soon as the lady in the Pit saw him her entire countenance fell. It turns out this guy is a royal pain in the ass. Read More »

How to Lose at Blackjack

August 20th, 2014

How to Lose at BlackjackEveryone loses.

I’m not sure how many sessions of backjack I’ve played in my life.

My guess is around 1000.

Far less than many advantage players, even ones that played on our team.

In fact, if we want to talk about other embarrassing statistics we can talk about how much I’ve won at casinos. Or rather, how much I haven’t won. I was just told by Colin that my lifetime win is actually under $100,000. Good thing there’s multiple ways of calling yourself a “professional” (one is just having a low standard of living).* So, how was I able to start a team and a website that teaches people like you how to extract money from casinos? Well, I was reading a book this last week and I stumbled across a little insight that I think contributed to my success and I would like to share it with you here. It’s how I became good at losing. Read More »