This week we had the opportunity to ask our long-time BJA member, “Eddie”, about his journey as a card counter. He’s been to two Blackjack Apprenticeship Bootcamps and oh yeah, he’s been counting cards for over 30 years—so he might know a thing or two about counting. Please sit back and enjoy Eddie’s story!
I started playing cards as a very young kid. I played poker games with my friends and soon started dealing blackjack to them. In 1981 I read the book “Million Dollar Blackjack” by Ken Uston. I was fascinated by the book and Mr. Uston. I proceeded to learn his advanced point count system (“Uston APC”). In the 80’s there was very little information about advantage play. I’d seen other things regarding card counting, but this book was the real deal, the first tool I had.
I was naive to think that my skills were at a professional level. I had learned and mastered the Uston APC system in about six months. I trusted the math. With that said, trusting your skills and making money as an advantage player are much more difficult then mastering a count system. The only true way to know if you’re any good is by results. If you’re making money over the long term, you’re doing something right.
There are a number of hurdles that I have experienced. The first is bankroll issues. Many successful players have made fortunes starting with a very small bankroll and building it. Proper money management is a must in becoming a successful advantage player. If you don’t adhere to strict bankroll management it will destroy you.
I would tell anyone that wants to start, to master the skills before ever entering a casino. Everyone wants to play, but if your game is not perfect or you play outside your bankroll, you will fail.
I struggle with playing rated versus not rated. The early comps and cash that the casinos gave me were helpful in the beginning but are a doubled edged sword. Once the casino personnel know your name and face, it changes the way you can play at that location.
If you really want to get to know the insides of the game and the industry take a job as a dealer at a casino. They will train you and it will open your eyes to the other side of the game.
The weekend of November 11th 2016. I went to my second Blackjack Bootcamp in Las Vegas and got to meet and chat with Tommy Hyland. That evening I was out playing and won $15,000 on the side bet “Lucky Ladies”, a countable advantage play side bet.
I love taking things from casinos! Whether it’s cash, free meals, or gift cards, I enjoy taking it all. Card counting offers you the opportunity to make as much money as you desire. If you come up with an annual goal you can back into how many hours you need to play, how much bankroll is required, and how much you need to bet. It’s no different then any other business, but you have to have a plan.
That November 11th weekend was my largest winning session. I had been down several thousand prior to hitting the “Lucky Ladies” side bet. At the end of that weekend I was up almost $17,000. The feelings you get from that are no different for me when I ran my business. When you’re in business for yourself, some months you make money, some months you lose money. But at the end of the year if it’s not a positive number, you need to go back and check that you followed your business plan.
I have been playing for over thirty years, and every time I play something happens. Most of the stories are minor things that every counter experiences when they play. At the end of the day, I share them with my wife, but most aren’t worth mentioning. I do find that most of the issues that I have while playing are with other players at the table and not the casino itself. Everybody’s an “expert” at the table, but so few really understand what you have to do to walk away with the casino’s cash. In my 14 months dealing blackjack, I only encountered one true expert.
Always play the best games and conditions you can find. Don’t be afraid to travel to get to those games. Look for other players to network with and share thoughts and ideas with.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Eddie!