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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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An Unorthodox Look At Blackjack

22 September 1999

Blackjack remains incredibly popular in spite of the extraordinary measures casino executives have taken through the years to combat the advances made by the players.

Today's blackjack nevertheless remains the one casino game that players can "handicap" in much the same way that horse players study the races. In horse racing parlance, a horse's future can be judged by his past. When playing blackjack, it is possible to use information collected from past deals out of any one shoe to predict with an escalating degree of accuracy what will happen in the remaining deals.

Using what has become known as "basic strategy" when playing blackjack gives the player an edge founded not on empirical knowledge, but rather sound mathematical principles and probability. If you take this one step further by using a card-counting technique, you can increase your advantage over other players even further.

Future throws of the dice or spins of the roulette wheel are totally independent of what happened in the past. Not so with blackjack. That's why casino supervisors will not allow anyone to take paper and pencil to the blackjack table with them. If you're going to use your head when playing the game, you must keep your knowledge in your head.

Scores of gaming writers have written books and articles about blackjack, capitalizing on the perception among the public at large that the game is close to being beatable if you use maximum strategy, keep a running count of the cards, and have a bankroll sufficient in size to stretch out over the long haul. Short-term results, even with top of the line play, can put you in the red.

But there's one nationally recognized gaming authority who insists blackjack is not worth playing! In fact, he advises people NOT to play the game. That gentleman's name is John Patrick, a New Jersey-based writer and lecturer. He has forged a reputation that goes back at least two decades on being the gaming world's "Lone Ranger".

Patrick insists he can play the game to perfection. He's a self-professed expert card counter. But he prefers not to play blackjack. It's not our purpose here to certify his theories, or on the other hand, debunk them. Patrick himself realizes that people are still going to play the game in spite of what he says, so he has written books about how he feels the game should be played if you insist on playing it. His gut feelings about the game are refreshingly off-the-wall:

"Most of the decisions players make in blackjack are based on what the dealer's up-card is, correct?," Patrick begins. "O.K. Of the 13 possible cards the dealer can show, are you happy with an ace, a king, a queen, a jack, or a ten? How about when you see a seven, an eight, or a nine? Of course you're not happy, especially if you're holding a 'stiff' (2-card total of 12 through 16).

"A dealer's two or three are not that good either. So in essence, the only cards you really want to see for the dealer's up-card are a four, a five, or a six. That's only THREE cards! If you don't like nine, or at the most, 10, of the 13 cards the dealer can possibly show, why play the game! I'm a card counter and I don't play!

"So, you may ask, if I'm so smart, why don't I play? I answer by saying that if people would avoid the blackjack tables for a month and instead play the other games according to the strategies that I've outlined in my books, the casinos would go out of business!"

Patrick insists that no matter how you play, it's money management that ultimately keeps you alive. In that regard, he has many interesting theories on money management techniques while playing craps, roulette, and baccarat. Sure, he's going against the advice of other experts, but Patrick insists that "house vig" is way overemphasized when it comes to making money in the casino.

If you'd like more information on John Patrick, contact him at 973-992-3862, or e-mail him at johnlpatrick@worldnet.att.net.


For more information about blackjack:

Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp