I used to teach card-counting in 'real-time' and have many students out there who continue taking $$$ out of the casino on a regular basis. Two students have been particularly successful and I'd like to tell you about some of their adventures.
That's not his real name, but he took my course about three years ago, studied hard, practiced at home and went into the casinos here in St. Louis and began losing like crazy. Tony lost so much that he was convinced I worked for the casinos in order to steer suckers their way. But he hung in there and one fine day the money started rolling the other way. Tony liked to play and, while he never made a lot of $$$, he got all his investment back and usually showed a profit at the end of the year.
In February of 1997, Station Casino St. Charles introduced an excellent double-deck game and Tony took to it like a duck to water. I was there one day, playing video poker with a lady friend, and Tony sat down at the next machine. (We never admit we know each other; you'll see why in a bit.) Anyway, he told me, as he played a bit of VP, that he was winning at the double-deck game at the rate of about $50 an hour, yet never betting over $100 a hand. I was, naturally, very proud that I had taught him and was very happy that he was doing well.
That's not his real name either, but Don also took my course and has done very well. Don began winning right away and has never looked back. He has a job where he worked a week, then had a week off, so Don traveled a lot to Vegas, Reno, Laughlin and other places in search of beatable games. But when the double-deck game opened in St. Charles, Don realized he didn't have to spend money on travel; a great game was right in his own backyard. He would go to the casino about 3 or 4 times a week and in August, he called me to let me know he was ahead by over $10,000 from that game alone! That's a nice part time job.
What Happened Next
Sometime in September or October, 'Tony' called me to tell me he had been barred from play at Station Casino St. Charles. The supervisory personnel had basically told him that he was welcome to play any game there, except Blackjack. Prior to his outright barring the dealers had been instructed to cut the deck in half, thereby negating his edge as a counter. Tony was, of course, upset and angry that this had happened, but as we talked, he admitted he hadn't been hiding his skill very much (and, from my observations, neither had a lot of other counters) and just a few days prior to this event, he'd won a bundle and then won again the following day. It's too long a story to tell you everything that transpired, but let it suffice to say that unless he wins some sort of lawsuit, it's not likely that Tony will get many more $$$ from that casino.
I called many of my students to tell them what had happened, my first being to Don. He said he'd go the next day to see what happened to him. I went the next evening myself and found that I was still getting a good game; Don later called me with the same report from the day shift. To this day, both Don and I are extracting nice sums of money from those double-deck games. The difference is the tactics we use in the casino.
Looking Like a Gambler
I teach my students to show the casino employees what they expect to see. They expect to see gamblers and gamblers have certain traits which I try to imitate. By doing so, the casino personnel welcome my action and I keep walking out with their $$$. How I do that is by following a few simple "rules".
1. At a $5 table, always buy in for less than $100.
Generally, a dealer has to get approval to change $100, so I attract a lot less attention by purchasing $60 or $80 worth of chips. Plus, the 'pit critters' expect to see gamblers pulling more currency out, so by buying in for less, I'll often have to get more chips. At a $10 table, I will buy in for $200 or so; you're going to get noticed anyway, so it makes little difference there.
2. I never, never buy in for a large amount, then bet the minimum.
This is a sign of a counter; he's geared up for a big bet, but because the shoe's just beginning (and the house has an edge), he bets small. Sometimes (generally when a pit critter is looking), I bet two or three times the minimum 'off the top'.
3. I never admit I'm a counter and I don't help others to play their hand.
Even if, like in Atlantic City, the casino cannot bar counters, I never admit to my skill. Some day that could come back to haunt you and I want the $$$, not the praise. One day a supervisor tried to trick me by asking "What's the count?" My answer was "Oh, I'm up about twenty bucks."
4. Try to 'parlay' your bets.
If I win and the count has gone up, calling for a larger bet, I just add my winnings to the original bet. Gamblers do that; counters bet precisely.
5. I hesitate when making some plays, like hitting a 16 against a 10.
But don't be 'fake' about it. I've seen other counters just stop for a second, then take a hit. Say something like 'I love hitting 16" in a sarcastic manner, then hit it, if that's the play.
5. Always try to keep a bet in the betting circle.
Remember that gamblers never hesitate over a bet, but they do hesitate over the play of a hand. Pit critters know that counters have to do a lot of calculation to figure the proper bet. Either learn to do it quickly. or bet the minimum if you're confused. If you're paid for a natural, drag all your money back, then get a bet out as soon as the dealer's played his hand.
6. Don't move your lips when you're counting.
Have a friend who knows you're a counter watch you play from another table to see if you look like you're concentrating too hard. Counters concentrate, gamblers don't.
7. Counters don't drink, I do.
But I don't drink alcohol. I like the non-alcoholic beers and will order one at the bar and carry it with me to the table in a cup. You can also get orange juice, or a club soda and lime. Generally you shouldn't order from cocktail servers because they're so slow and you might get stuck at a negative deck waiting for your drink.
8. Don't stare at the pit critters.
One time I thought some young male game supervisor was on to me, so I kept looking at him. Turned out he was more interested in a 'date'.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea here. You can be the best counter in the world, but you won't make anything if you can't play. You must camouflage your skill to keep the bucks rolling in. I'm proud to say that in my 18 years of play, I've never been asked to leave a casino.