Tales from the Felt - Blackjack Apprenticeship

Get The Illustrated Anthology of True Card Counter Tales


In this beautifully illustrated coffee table book, 21 infamous card counters go on the record to share their first-person never-before-told tales of adventure, intrigue, and loneliness on the path to beating the game of blackjack.

Proceeds from this book are being donated to help those affected by problem gambling.

About the Book

Learn about Tales from the Felt – An Illustrated Anthology of True Card Counter Tales

If you’ve ever wondered what unfolds in the day-in-day-out life of a professional blackjack player, Tales from the Felt features 21 of the most notorious card counters in the world recounting a memorable moment or experience. Willing to go on the record in their own words, they tell the real-life triumphs, tribulations and/or turning points that have stayed with them, equally thrilling and thoughtful.

Threatened by casinos, chased by police, cornered by loneliness—this book is about more than just big wins and high adventure. It is about the daily grind, managing expectations, wrestling with doubt and sadness, as well as the truly strange twists and turns that can arise for those who travel the road to beating casinos at their own game.

In the first exquisitely-illustrated anthology of its kind, advantage players step out of the shadows to speak to their own unique experiences in pursuit of legally beating the game of blackjack for millions of dollars. No two stories are alike, and the full range of emotions is on display. Each story is full of What-would-you-do(?) moments, brought to life by original full-color illustrations.

These stories will not disappoint—from big wins to big screw-ups, celebrity sightings, cheap motels, bad teammates, family curses, indigestion, entanglements with police, the mafia at home and abroad, loneliness, panic, late-night pizza and fine French pastries. It’s all here, suitable to display and share.

Proceeds from this book are being donated to Blackjack Hall of Fame Inc. a 501c3 that helps those affected by problem gambling.

Plus, access to exclusive bonus content when you order through Blackjack Apprenticeship!

Tales From The Felt Blackjack Stories

About the Authors

21 authors, 21 stories.

Tommy Hyland is a Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee whose chance encounter with a New Jersey politician led to protections for card counters that still exist today. Richard Munchkin is a Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee who went from dealing to counting in an origin story like no other. Max Rubin is a Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee who speaks to a vulnerable international incident from his storied career.

Josh Axelrad is the published blackjack author of Repeat Until Rich, with a comically dark vantage point on the daily grind. Nathanial Tilton once played a table when he was called out by a pit boss who had read his published book, The Blackjack Life. Colin Jones, author of The 21st Century Card Counter and founder of Blackjack Apprenticeship gets real with a gut-busting tale of indigestion at the tables.

Contributors also include star of Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians Dusty Wisniew, high stakes card counter Joanna Henderson, AP blogger extraordinaire rxgamble, Church Team members Rich Braaksma and Brad Clark, “Most Notorious Card Counter in America” David Drury,  Guerrilla BP Grace Jones, as well as celebrated and longtime APs representing thousands of hours played and millions of dollars won—Joe748, Cartwright, SD1, Stan Podolak, Ryemo, HitA7, SassyRed, and Byrnen D.T. House.

The Tales

Get a glimpse inside the stories.

“Very late one night, I followed an exit sign out a door at Mandalay Bay casino only to find myself on a barren loading dock above a pitch-dark back alley. The door banged shut behind me and I was locked out with no way back inside. I realized at that moment, making my way back to civilization in a blind panic down a dark alley, just how vulnerable I was as a female in Sin City, often carrying the equivalent of a year’s wages in cash in my small clutch purse.”

– from “The Mansplainer” by SassyRed

“‘Did I win a jackpot or something?’ I say. Chad laughs.’ No. You didn’t.’ We step into a service elevator and as the doors close one of the guards says, ‘If you’d turn around, I’m just going to pat you down to make sure you don’t have any weapons.’ ‘Naturally…’ I reply, rolling my eyes. When I turn back around I read their badges. ‘Milwaukee Police Department’.”

-from “Return from the Hideous Universe” by Dusty Wisniew.

“I handed off a credit card to an aggrieved-looking man who had a small head. While the printer was printing the contract I saw a sign-in marker on the wall, warning of their policy of no refunds. He’d swiped the MasterCard and we were standing there. Taped to the counter between us they’d scrawled a second sign about the policy. A third was attached to the door. The connotation of the triple warning struck belatedly in my excessive weariness, but by then I was signing the contract. I passed that night in a hell-soaked room with carpets that were soggy near the bathroom, a blanket so repulsive that I dumped it, curling in distress beneath the thin sheet.”

-from “B.C.” by Josh Axelrad

“He was amazed that the casinos were treating people like criminals for merely using their brains. He vowed to do something about it. We parted company and went our separate ways. The next morning, I was shocked to see a story about our experience on the front page of the Atlantic City Press. The headline was huge; probably about the same size they used more than a decade earlier for the moon landing.”

-from “Card Counting with the Congressman” by Tom Hyland

“I was sure I knew exactly where I had parked. I told my wife I’d call her back after I found my car. One minute later, my wife texted me a screenshot. It was the GPS location of my iPad sitting in the trunk of my car. According to the GPS signal, my car, or at least my iPad was not in this parking garage at all. It was over the river and across state lines. Now I was panicking.”

-from “Dude, Where’s My Car?” by Ryemo

“In the two-and-a-half years since that moment, I have taken back half of what my father lost over his lifetime to casinos. I’ve traveled the country and internationally. I often wonder if my father can see what I’m doing from where he is, or if he knows that I turned this potentially addictive gene into something that has allowed me to get our family back to even. I have no respect for casinos and often consider my big wins to be revenge for my father.”

-from “The Betting Heart” by Byrnen D.T. House

“When I entered the giant suite, there were six people in bathrobes and a seventh guy who quickly disappeared and then reappeared in a bathrobe. I swear to God this was the scene. It wasn’t a creepy sex thing, it was just a bunch of people in bathrobes smoking cigarettes and drinking. I asked them their names. ‘I’m Tony,’ said the first one. ‘I’m Tony,’ said the next one. One by one they each gave their name as ‘Tony.’ I was clearly outnumbered by the Tonys.”

-from “The Seven Tonys” by Joanna Henderson

““Ten minutes later, I whipped into the parking lot, still studying my mirrors. Was THAT car following me? How about THAT ONE? –And then it happened. BLAM! A gunshot! I’m under attack! My back window went out, or at least I thought it had, and I felt something wet and warm on the back of my neck.””

-from “Bang Boom Pow” by Rich Braaksma.

Story Preview: "Mixed Martial and Me"

By SD1

I was looking for a good spot to finish a long card-counting grind. Red Rock Casino was way off the Las Vegas strip, but I’d had success in the High Limit room playing double- deck. It was a weekday evening so I figured I could get a relaxed heads-up game.

I was wrong.

Upon arrival, one double-deck table was packed, and the other had a “reserved” sign on it. Seeing no other options, I turned for the main casino floor when something caught my eye. The game at the full table had come to a halt. Curious, I took a closer look. It was a full table, but only one person was playing. An intimidating muscle-bound man with a shiny bald head seemed to be the center of the action. A petite woman next to him and three equally large and menacing men in his circle were merely his entourage. Play had stopped for a chip fill. In came six or more racks of chips in color combinations I had never seen before, and play resumed.

I got up the courage and asked if I could join. The man hardly looked up. “I’m kinda betting a lot,” he said, “so I’d like to play alone.” He was nice enough, and it was only at this moment that I realized he was betting with $25,000 chips, two at a time. “All good man,” I said, wishing him luck as I backed away from the table.

“You want to play at my other table?” he asked. He turned and signaled to the dealer at the “reserved” table, and she removed the sign. I thanked him and sat down.

I was happy to get a heads-up game. My dealer, a smaller woman with a soft voice, agreed that it was nice for such a big player to let me play on his table. Who was this guy? I couldn’t help staring. Finally, during a shuffle, it clicked. Dana White. The former boxer who was president of the UFC—the biggest mixed martial arts organization in the world.

Dana White Playing Blackjack

When I asked my dealer for confirmation, she quietly said, “No,” but nodded her head “Yes.” This is perfect, I thought, a heads-up game and every camera is probably on his action, not mine.

But If I thought I could shrink into the background, I had another thing coming. After a while, Dana White sat up and yelled our way. “Is he good?” The dealer mustered an affirmation. Dana signaled for me to join him, “to change up the cards.” I had to make a fast decision. My current situation was great, and at his table, I could attract scrutiny. Screw it, I thought and joined his table.

I sat on his right and put out two bets of $100 each. He commented that two hands were a smart move. Play began. He knew basic strategy better than the average gambler but also made gut decisions. The count skyrocketed, and I decided to bet more than usual because of his action. Two hands of $1500. “Big bets,” he said.

“Not compared to yours,” I replied. He smirked. At that moment my first big deviation came along, and I was hardly prepared. My soft 19 called for a double down against the dealer’s six card. Dana was not a small man and the three dudes around him were downright monstrous. Gamblers are superstitious, and the moves of a card counter can appear not only stupid but disastrous to the “flow” of the cards. Screw it! I flip my cards, put out the money, and call for the double. The card came face down. Dana silently stayed on two poor hands. I’ve never prayed harder for a dealer bust in my life.

The dealer busted. Thank God! I’m not going to be killed. “Huge fuckin’ balls,” Dana said. A couple of hands later the count rose further, and I was looking at a running count of six with three-quarters of a deck left. Dana had a hard 16 and a hard 13. My first hand was two queens. Holy shit! I need to split tens against the dealer’s five. Most high-limit players would think I was a complete moron to split tens. Some have gotten enraged. How big are my balls, exactly?

I had visions of being picked up from behind and bounced within an inch of my life.

I flipped the cards and separated my fingers signifying a split. The dealer paused for what seemed like an eternity. I could tell he was thinking, Are you serious? I got a ten on both hands, making two hands of twenty, but couldn’t care less. The orifice I was sitting on had never been tighter in my life. Dana stayed on his crappy hands. Time for the dealer to play.

Vision of Demise

Understand that as a card counter our edge is about 1.5 percent on average. Dealers draw to make a hand all the time, no matter how high the count. The dealer flipped his hole card, revealing a six. Oh no! Eleven for the dealer, so many bad possibilities. I kept my cool as best I could, but was sweating and feeling chills all at once. I started to pray. I knew a ten was likely coming next, to give the dealer 21. But the next card was a three. Hope! I kept my eyes on the dealer’s cards, sure Mr. White was staring at me. TEN. Dealer busted. I breathed a massive sigh of relief. “Holy shit,” were the only words that Dana White could muster.

The cut card came out, and I couldn’t push my chips in fast enough. “I hope I changed up the cards well enough,” I said to Dana White. He only smirked.

As a skydiver, I have jumped out of planes thousands of times. When I left the table that day, I was certain I had come closer to death than ever before.

Step inside the life of a card counter