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!
So I had been milking Barona for a good 6 months, visiting about every other week. Had gotten just a bit of heat, but never felt anything too aggressive. JCnote had once told me they were “smart”….and that it “would just be a matter of time” before they gave me the boot, and well, they did just that this week.
I got there at about 12 noon, started playing in the main floor (DD). By this time the tables start getting a bit crowded, and to avoid the crowds, I walked into the high limit room (which I had done in the past, with no apparent heat). By that time I was down almost $1K, so I was hoping to at least make some of it back before calling it a day as to not over-expose myself. As I started playing in the high limit room, I got one of those “I just can’t lose” streaks. Also, got to use some deviations such as A8 vs 4, and hard 12 vs 4. In matter of about 30 minutes, I had made what I lost and then some! I was about to call it quits…then the inevitable happened. My recollection is a paraphrase, although very accurate, I may not be 100% in my quotes.
A gentleman in a suit, young guy (I know that’s relative, he was in his mid 30’s), comes up to my table where me and another player were playing and he asks
Suit: hey guys, how’s it going on this table?
I acknowledged him, but just nodded my head as in “not sure if you’re talking directly to me”…I get dealt one more hand, and he asks
Suit: hey what’s your name?
At that point I realize “ok, stick a fork in me!” So without any emotion (I’m actually really good at keeping calm), I tell him my name (what I go by in casinos).
Suit: “can I speak to you for a second away from the table?”
Me: sure, let me just finish this hand.…so I finish my hand, which btw I won, then I get my chips and walk with him a few steps away, and he says in a very polite tone
Suit: Hey _____, I just want to congratulate you on your game. You have a very solid game….unfortunately, you are a bit too good for us. Because of that, I am going to have to restrict you from ALL [emphasis mine….more on that later] table games here at Barona, I am really sorry about that.
Me: Ok, well, I understand, you are actually just doing your job.
Suit: Before you go, is there anything I can offer you? Do you need anything?
At this point I’m thinking “hmmm….is this a trap??”
Me: hmmm…not sure
Suit: Yea I mean, would you like something to drink or eat before you head out?
So I’m thinking…what the heck, if I’m already backed off from here, might as well get a free meal!
Me: Actually, sure, if possible, I’d take a meal from the Asian noodle restaurant.
Suit: You got it. You can cash you chips, I’ll be waiting over here.
So I go get my benjamins and walk up to meet him.
Suit: Ok cool, lets go I’ll walk with you.
Me: Thanks for the meal.
Suit: Hey man, I’m really sorry. Hope you didn’t drive from too far only to have your trip cut short.
Me: Na, no worries, it’s all good.
Suit: Just so you know, we have no hard feelings, it’s just what we’re here to do with Advantage Players
Me: Like I said, I totally understand, you are doing your job, and I’m doing mine…
Suit: So what would you like to order?
I proceeded to order…then he ordered a meal as well.
Suit: It’s actually close to my lunch time now, so do you mind if I sit with you and eat?
At this point, I’m like ok, well, if this is some sort of trap, this is very unusual…but what the heck, I already have my money in my pocket…so I used my discernment and accepted the now improvtu “lunch date”.
So we got to talking about casino life and how long he’s worked there. He asked me how long I’ve been doing AP, and how I like it. Then I asked
Me: Hey doesn’t Max Rubin work here?
Suit: Yes he does. As a matter fact he has something he calls “SJDFR” which stands for “Something Just Doesn’t Feel Right…” and that’s the feeling he had about you.
Me: really?? Max is one of my heroes!
Suit: Yea, he has certain things that he has taught us on what to look for.
Me: Oh ok, well, you definitely have a pro on your side.
Suit: So would you like to know what tipped us off?
Suit: The first thing was the way you were dressed…too nice. Gamblers here usually don’t dress like that. You are dressed like you could be my co-worker
Suit: Yes…then after the SJDFR flag, we started to evaluate your play and confirmed you were counting.
Me: Just so you know, when I wonged out those couple times, I WAS actually getting texts
Suit: Really? That’s funny!
We then talked about career paths, family, and what not. He showed me the blackjack wall of fame they have there and we said good bye.
I then went to the bathroom to lock myself in a stall and make sure all my cash is in order before I walk out to the parking lot. As I walk out of the restroom, the suit is standing there with a big smile
Suit: Hey ______, meet Max Rubin!
Me: wow..really?!..no wonder I got backed off! …Mr. Rubin, what an honor to meet you!
I then chatted with Max for about 5-10 minutes. He told me a couple of cool stories from “back in the day” when he did AP as a living. He then mentioned that before he started working at Barona they had people that were milking the place daily and the crew had no clue….and how when he finally backed them off these people were literally begging him to let them play at least a “break-even” game.
He then proceeded to give me some pointers on my play!!!!!!!!!! …I will say though, that he also advised me which casinos in So Cal are good for blackjack and which to avoid, both from a rules standpoint as well as from a surveillance standpoint.
He mentioned how Holy Rollers played at Barona and that he knows Colin and Ben (he brought them up, not me…so I thought that was kind of cool). He said he made a deal with them to invite them to the Blackjack Ball as long as they don’t play at Barona. And he said other AP’s complained to him about that, since Colin still runs BJA (this site) and his students still play at Barona. We had a couple good laughs….I then jokingly told him “you know, you have a great DD game here, I love the surrender option…but I’m disappointed you don’t offer S17”…we both laughed. Then he mentioned something that to me, was a bit cryptic, this goes back to my earlier emphasis on how his guy that backed me off restricted me to ALL tables games. Max said that currently there are a select number of APs that are “burning” down casinos on other table games (not BJ), and by and large, the casinos have no clue about it. I’ve been pondering about that….i know there’s other types of AP, but he specifically said TABLE games, not slots, not promotions. So in my mind, I think that’s why they restrict APs there to ALL table games, not just blackjack, in order to avoid the chance of these APs branching out to these other “rare” forms of table AP play.
So anyhow, after making a good chunk of cash for this session, then getting politely and professionally backed off, getting a great comped meal, meeting, chatting, and taking a picture with Max, i drove home not being able to believe what strange back off I had just experienced!…for some reason I would ‘bet the farm’ that this will be the best back off I will ever experience…definitely one for the books!
Profile of a Counter: HitA7