Card Counter 'Mike' vs the CSM - Blackjack Apprenticeship

“Mike vs the CSM”


The following is a story from running “The Church Team,” the blackjack team I ran that beat casinos for over $3Million. It’s a funny story, but it also teaches a valuable lesson…

CSM continuous shuffle machine

Mike was one of the biggest members on our team, both in stature and personality. You always knew when he was in the room.

Like many other people, he tried to use sheer intimidation to “test out” for our blackjack team. But the cards will not fear you… you must fear the cards.

Fortunately for Mike (and our team), he put in the time and eventually reached the skill level to pass our test. Eager to start making some money and kicking some casino tail, he planned his first trip. But Mike needed a trip worthy of his personality, so he planned a 4 day assault on the Mecca of card counters: Las Vegas. And he wasn’t going alone, but with one of the most infamous card counters on our team, Ford.

One of their first stops was the Wynn Casino. Their approach was to play separate tables, spread their bets aggressively (2 spots of $100 to 2 spots of $2,000 in those days), and play until Wynn would no longer let them play.

Mike found a 6-deck game that was empty, so he sat down and bought in for a couple thousand. After a few minutes, the count started to climb. +5, +9, +17. As the count rose, so did Mike’s bets. And he was killing it. But something seemed odd. He’d been playing for a while, but was still in the first deck of the shoe. Oh well… The count was still high!

Then Ford gave the team signal to meet in the bathroom.

Ford: “Mike, what the hell are you doing?!?”

Mike: “What do you mean? It’s going great!”

Ford: “That’s a CSM table.”

Mike: “CSM?”

Ford: “Continuous Shuffle Machine. The cards are re-shuffled into the shoe every few rounds. You can’t count at that table!”

Mike: “Uhhhh. Ok. I’m up $20,000. Please don’t tell Colin or Ben.”

Mike finally fessed up. It was as much our fault for not training him to look out for CSM tables. Other players’ mistakes, like accidentally playing a 6:5 table for several minutes, didn’t work out as fortuitously.

Here’s the lesson:

basic strategy, counting, true count conversion, and deviations are the basics. Don’t run out and start risking your money at the casino without taking the time to get fully trained.

Imagine if you wanted to become a pilot. Would you watch some YouTube videos, read a book, then “try” flying a plane? NO!!! You’d make sure you absolutely know everything you need to know before getting into the cockpit in real life. You’d spend time in flight simulators, get training from experienced pilots.  Then, and only then, would you start flying in real life.

If you want to beat the casino at blackjack, here are 3 things you can do to make sure your game is well rounded:

  1. Watched our entire video course, that’s a great start. Every bootcamp, people ask us questions that we’ve already answered in the video course. Every card counter should have watched the video course at least once, if not twice.
  2. Keep up to date on our Forum. There is SO MUCH knowledge on our forum, it’s ridiculous. Check the most recent conversations at least once a week, as well as looking at some of the older discussions. I guarantee you’ll learn a ton.
  3. If you REALLY want to know if you have holes in your game, invest in your craft by attending a Bootcamp. You will leave knowing every flaw in your game that YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW EXISTED, as well as how to fix it. You’ll learn more about EV and beating casinos than you even knew existed. And you’ll leave with contacts that could serve invaluable for your card counting career.

And if you’re not ready to invest money into your training, you can still start learning now from our FREE Card Counting Mini-Course…

Until next time, keep generating EV!

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