We recently had the pleasure of asking one of our Bootcamp Alums, “SmurfAP,” about his blackjack journey. He had some great nuggets of wisdom to share with the community so without further adieu, here are his answers to our questions:
How did you get into card counting?
My buddy and I have always sought to be business minded. We’re barbers by trade and, since cosmetology school, we’ve always thought ahead to how we can invest our money like the rich, while also starting up our own small business.
One day my buddy kind of jokingly told me he found a great investment but he was pretty sure I wouldn’t approve because I come off as a conservative guy. He told me it was beating blackjack through card counting and to his surprise I responded with great enthusiasm. I’ve always been mesmerized by movies and shows where people can outsmart casinos and others through playing cards, but I failed to learn because of how obscure resources were in learning the craft. With the movie 21 portraying young geniuses, the endeavor seemed impossible.
During my first blackjack lesson, my friend had to first teach me how to even play blackjack, let alone count. When he showed me basic strategy and how to count everything made complete sense and I knew that it was profitable. We had a few practice sessions together and headed off to the casinos with a few hundred bucks and of course lost most of it. After that day I made the commitment to not lose any more money to casinos until I was fully prepared to beat blackjack.
My friend was skeptical to paying for a Blackjack Apprenticeship membership and didn’t think it was worth it since he already made a good amount of money with the information he already knew, but I had to find out as much as I could even if a scam was waiting for me at the end. I started out paying for one month of membership, soaked it all up, and couldn’t get enough of it. I then bought CVBJ and the training kit and shared whatever knowledge to my friend. We invested into full membership, Bootcamp, CVCX and have been taking down casinos ever since.
How long have you been counting cards?
I’ve been playing professionally for 1 year
How long did it take you to trust your skills? How do you know you’re any good?
Nine months. I had intense preparation; practicing 8 hours a day. I got myself to a level where I made no mistakes on CVBJ and playing heads up with my friend many nights til 4am. At the blackjack Bootcamp we tested out with 1 mistake each.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced/had to overcome?
Cut off half the time from my job to play blackjack and not withdraw any money from the bankroll. Scheduling and sleeping patterns differ so much each half of the week.
Any advice you would give to others? Anything you wish you would have known?
Have a perfect game, learn CVCX, trust the math. Do not expect to win money overnight. Just because you win hundreds, thousands, and get kicked out of a casino doesn’t make you an AP. Being in the positive after thousands of dollars in losses and hundreds of hours will tell if you are beating the game. Ben an Colin give solid advice.
Any highlights of your career so far?
Before being introduced to card counting I didn’t even know the rules of how to play blackjack nor set foot in a casino. In a year I’ve been to countless casinos in 5 different states, Vegas twice, backed off from several properties multiple times, and trespassed by a chain.
To date my investment has reached a 1000% return. My wins alone make about 60% of the current team bankroll.
What’s your favorite thing about being a card counter?
Being able to see money as just a tool; a means to an end. Having the mindset of trying to see the true value of things.
Whats the most you’ve ever won/lost in a day? How did that feel? How did you respond?
Biggest win $4100 in half an hour. I felt real slick but paranoid. I’ll explain with a story for the next question.
Biggest loss $5000. I felt suspect of my game, a little embarrassed, but not despaired. My brain was fried from outside stresses from home, but I still wanted to make sure my skills weren’t slipping. I believe I took a little break from blackjack and had my teammate retest me when it was time to come back.
Any memorable story (stories) you’re willing to share?
I’m really eager to close off the bankroll and I’ve been putting in more blackjack hours than I have before on top of my normal job. I’m going through the most amazing streak of my short blackjack career and it’s the last session of the week. I should prepare myself for a loss.
I’m playing in a casino that I previously had a pretty messy backoff but the shift I decide to play had no idea and the workers on that shift are pretty chummy with me. I found a perfect heads up table with no mid shoe but as I buy in the dealer informs me the minimum is $100 because the previous player changed it up; it’s usually a $25 minimum pit. No big deal, I start scanning for the next open table but the pit boss insists I stick around so she can call upstairs to change the minimum on the table, so I stick around.
After the first round boom, the count heats up. I end up having to play two spots of $100 anyway. “Black action”, “go ahead”. Boom 2 x $200. Pit raises brows. “Splitting 10’s!” Pit boss walks conspicuously over to my side. I end up splitting 10’s 4 times on one side then splitting 7’s and doubling on the other on the same hand. BUST.
The pit boss heads straight for the phones. Uh-oh they should have my picture, I gotta hurry up. 2 x $300 an there’s still about four decks left to be played. Oh man do I look like a scumbag, I make the pit call to lower the minimum and I bet several times over that anyway. Every time they look away I stuff the chips in my pocket because the last time I got backed off they held my chips as I was coloring up unless I showed them ID.
The shoe finally hits a running negative. I ask the dealer to hold the 2 spots for me so I can head for the door, stuffing handfuls of blacks into my pocket. The dealer is about to ask me to color and the pit leans in to imply the same. I reach my phone for a fake call ranting hysterically like I had a mini emergency yelling aloud “You did what!? Why!? Why would you do that!? I’m here at the corner! At the back! I’ll be right there! I’m coming!”
After all the smiles and excitement on their end there’s now an empty table, two reserved spots, no tip. Before scurrying out to the parking lot and skipping the cage I decided to round my way back and look from afar. Dealer’s heading hanging low and pit confounded. I chuckled my way home. hahah
What’s your favorite advantage play that you have done in your life that didn’t involve blackjack or casinos?
I’m actually having a hard time thinking of one. I probably have had a few AP moments in life but maybe its more true that I usually got the bad deal of things; mostly so I wouldn’t be accused of taking advantage or cheating somebody. Boy how things have changed.
Thanks for Sharing your story with us, SmurfAP! Keep generating EV!