I thought this was a perfect example of expecting the unexpected.

I arrived at a smaller casino resort destination in the west with a handful of casinos. Almost immediately, I ran into another card counter I knew and trusted. We arranged to meet off-property. He had been in town for several days. “This place is really bad,” he said. “I’ve only gotten in five hours all week. I get backed off now before I even sit down.” According to him big action was suspect, backoffs came quickly and flyering was unavoidable. This was his first trip to the state, and it was my 12th, so concerns were amplified. In spite of this, I managed to get 19 hours of play in a day and a half, reaping $800/hour of EV along the way. How did I do it?

 

1. I found and played decent single and double deck games, whereas he was sticking to shoe games. The betting pattern is way more fluid and believable (at times using only black and purple chips).

2. I assumed the persona that this town accepted as a big player (It’s a resort town). I dressed like I just got off the golf course, and made sure I knew the names of a few local courses to throw around. They ate it up. (Later I learned I had been pronouncing one of them wrong. Oh well, I am an out-of-towner).

3. My friend had a bearded emo-looking friend in a flannel shirt that he brought along standing behind him. Not playing, not saying anything, just watching without expression. It looked weird to me. I bet it looked weird to the casino. Friends of people throwing money around don’t look or act like they live out of a rusty Subaru and just ate lunch off a trash can lid.

4. Rather than avoid the places that blackjack sites suggest to avoid, I chose to dive in at one. Sometimes this pays off, as other card counters are likely consistently following the advice, and in the void, the casinos have gotten lax on their approach when a big money player comes through.

5. Graveyard, graveyard, graveyard.

6. Based on Ownership groups, reported conditions, games offered, most likely to flyer, and everything else under the sun I could find out beforehand, I had created a document that contained all info, and from which I had created a list of the casinos I wanted to hit IN THE ORDER THAT I WANTED TO HIT THEM. My friend was walking in blind. ORDER is key, because if the first casino you hit flyers you, you are toast. Save the ones with a reputation for flyering for last.

7. Strike hard, strike first, no mercy sir. I do short trips with lots of hours, as opposed to longer trips with less hours per day. I think my way is better. Call me on it if you think differently.

—Loudon Ofton