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!
1. How did you get into card counting?
I’m part of the wave of counters that developed a serious interest in blackjack AP after watching the infamous movie “21“.
2. How long have you been counting cards?
3. How long did it take you to trust your skills? How do you know you’re any good?
After two months practicing, I thought I had counting down. I went to the closest casino just to do some back counting (without playing). I was mediocre at it. So there was much more work to do. After about 6 months I was ready to roll.
I validated my skills by having others deal to me (and even dealing to myself), then counting the discard tray to ensure my count was accurate. Of course, after getting counting done, that’s the easy part. Next comes actually surviving in the “real world”. That is difficult.
4. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced/had to overcome?
1. Initially getting my wife to support me on this adventure was tricky. It took a while to gain her full support.
2. My real job gets in the way! (I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s true, nevertheless, I need my real job LOL!)
3. Making noticeable money as side income (which is the category I fit in) takes a lot of patience and hard work, counting is easy, but having the time, learning the in’s/out’s of advantage play, cover, longevity, etc., that is an art, not everyone is called to be a successful card counter once all is considered.
5. Any advice you would give to others? Anything you wish you would have known?
1. If you are single, put in your hard work and go destroy the tables.
2. If you are married, don’t embark on this trip if your spouse does not support you. Try to come to an agreement, and if you can’t, your spouse and family is more important than blackjack.
3. Always remember this is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Chances are, this is harder than your day job.
4. I can’t emphasize this enough: be mentally (and physically) ready for your first major down swing, it will happen.
5. Be passionate and diligent about the AP life, but remember, there are other things more important than blackjack.
One thing I wish I would have known (or understood better) is how the rules of the game can have such a significant impact (e.g. H17 vs. S17, DOA, Sur, deep vs poor pen., etc)
6. Any highlights of your career so far?
Other than actually seeing this whole AP thing generate some decent side income, the major highlight of my short AP career has been to meet and chat with Max Rubin at Barona after being backed off by one of his main guys.
7. What’s your favorite thing about being a card counter?
Mainly two things: One, there’s no set schedule, when i’m ready to play, there’s a game ready to go. And two, I just love, and I mean LOVE “sticking it to the man!” 🙂
8. What’s the most you’ve ever won/lost in a day? How did that feel? How did you respond?
Major loss in one sitting was $5K about two months ago in Vegas. I was mentally ready for it, but it still felt like an elephant kicked me in the gut!…Major win in one sitting $4500 last year also in Vegas. How’d that feel? “I’m the king of the world!” haha JK…,like I said earlier, love the feeling of punching “the man” in the face. Other than those, it has been a sequence of many, many smaller wins/losses anywhere from the single digits to four digits.
9. Any memorable story(stories) you’re willing to share?
I’ve already shared the Max Rubin story, but another cool little story came not too long ago after reading the BJA blogpost about being aggressive with dealer errors. I’m sitting at first base on a 6D table, the dealer deals super fast. She’s showing a 3, flips a 10, then a 4…and due to her speed she couldn’t count her total fast enough to realize she had to stay so she pulls another card, an Ace! Then quickly puts it back face down under the lip of the show, and get this, DID NOT call the floor. I stood quiet as if nothing had happened and very calmly get half of my chip stack and put it on my bet circle (remember i’m at first base!)…so I get my “dirty” Ace and play the hand without the dealer saying anything. Bad news, I didn’t get a BJ, but did win. Loved it! As an AP, I have learned to be very vigilant for when opportunities like this emerge.
10. What’s your favorite advantaged play have you done in your life that didn’t involve blackjack or casinos?
Involves a fast food chain restaurant that was offering a unique coupon for people to sign up for their fan club and receive a free meal. Lets just say there was a glitch in the system and I was able to get about 13 free meals (note, not scamming them, but following their rules).
And here’s a graph of his bankroll progress over 2 years…