1. How did you get into card counting?
I first heard about card counting about 25 years ago. A friend mentioned he had bought some videos that taught you how to do it. I was always a bit of a numbers and statistics geek so the idea was intriguing. Over the next 24 years that conversation kept me from sitting down and playing BJ more than five or six times because I knew the game could be beat, and I wasn’t really interested in handing over my hard earned dollars to the casinos with the odds stacked in their favor. I didn’t live in an area of the country that had casinos nearby so I was never really motivated to learn. That changed however about a year ago, when a new casino opened close to me. I decided it would be a good time to learn to count and after some quick research, started with the KO system. I then discovered BJA while doing research on the web, met Colin last summer for some one-on-one training, and switched to Hi-Lo. It was really the November 2013 BJA Bootcamp however that got me much more serious about my training. It’s now a serious hobby for me. I usually play weekends only, and am trying to build a bankroll that would give me the option of doing this professionally.
2. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced/had to overcome?
Distractions! Training at home, on the computer, or on a phone app is one thing, but dealing with the distractions inside the casino is quite another. I’m getting much better at blocking it out and keeping the count, playing accurately, etc. I’ve also had to overcome simply playing too fast. I’ve learned very recently to slow the game down in my head, and in actual play.
3. Any advice you would give to others? Anything you wish you would have known?
Trust the numbers, learn basic strategy and deviations, and play the system. I’ve heard both Ben and Colin talk about playing perfectly. There’s no room for error – one misplay can blow a whole night. Also, work on bankroll management. I’ve worked with Colin, and have used CVCX extensively so I know when I sit down at the table exactly how many units I’m going to bet at what count.
4. Any highlights of your career so far?
I actually feel best when I’m finished playing for a night, and I can look back and know I played perfectly. For me, counting takes a lot of concentration. There are nights when I know I’m on, and nights when I feel off a bit. I think it’s like a lot of professions (although I’m not yet a professional), there are times when everything is clicking, and other nights when things feel a bit off. When I’m on, all the distractions around me seem to disappear, and it’s just me and the game. That’s a great feeling.
5. What’s your favorite thing about being a card counter?
Knowing that when I sit down, I can flip the advantage, take it away from the casino, and win some money. I’ve been fortunate to have never had to dip beyond my initial, and very small bankroll.
6. Any memorable story you’re willing to share?
Most of my memorable stories have to do with ploppies or basic strategy players getting really really hacked off when I play deviations. I had a guy come around the table and get in my face for doubling a soft 19 against a 5. He complained to the dealer that he couldn’t beat her AND me, and stormed off. I’ve taken some advice from a comment I read on the BJA forum and have asked some complainers what the next card coming out of the shoe is going to be, if they think my play is causing them to lose.
7. What’s the most you’ve ever won/lost in a day? How did that feel? How did you respond?
I’m playing with a small bankroll, and playing at H17, 6-deck, $25.00 tables 90% of the time, with a maximum spread of 1-5, sometimes 1-6, so my big days are not huge compared to professionals. My biggest day actually came at a $10.00 table on a slow Sunday afternoon/evening, and at an 8-deck table. I took home $1,765.00. I responded by thinking I should have been pushing more money out when the counts got high! My biggest loss was $1225.00. That was a couple nights before I headed to Vegas for the November Bootcamp. I was a bit discouraged, especially with a small bankroll, so the timing was actually perfect. I learned so much at that session.
8. How long have you been card counting?
Technically since last spring, but I didn’t really get serious about it until this past November right around the BJA Bootcamp. I started learning Hi-Lo last July. The two days of training in Vegas pushed me toward being more serious about it, and it has really paid off.
9. How long did it take to trust your skills? How do you know you’re any good?
Good question! I own a business and am a single dad, so I train when time allows. I practice counting drills every day though on a cool little phone app, or by studying the BJA deviation charts, or using CVBJ. I also have a felt, card tray, 6-decks and a discard tray permanently in place on my coffee table. Helps being single in that regard. I got tested out this last month at the advanced Bootcamp, which clarified for me what I know my main weaknesses are – distractions at the casino, and rushing into plays. I’ve been working hard on that, and have seen improvement just over the past couple weeks. I’ve just slowed the game down in my mind, and in actual play. I track each and every session…how long I play, where, and how much I win or lose. And I track to the penny so I know exactly what my results have been. Since the November Bootcamp, I’ve had 40 sessions with 33 wins and 7 losses. And my total bankroll is now up by just under 120%. Positive variance? Sure! But I’ll take it.
I met “Moses” when he called me up to do some private training. He took the game seriously, and it’s been really awesome to watch his bankroll grow and his skills continue to improve! He’s a great example of someone who didn’t start with a 6-figure bankroll, but has put in the time and is putting the hurt on casinos in his area. Thanks for sharing your story with us!
And to the rest of you, keep up the great conversations on the forum!
Until next time, keep Generating EV!
Author: Colin Jones