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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Counting Cards at Blackjack Has Never Been Easier

29 November 2006

Blackjack is unique among casino games in that the odds fluctuate with every deal. Depending upon which cards have been dealt and which remain, the advantage which the house wields over players changes constantly. At times it's greater, at other times less, sometimes even tipping toward player advantage.

Not so long ago it was practical only for professional players to invest the hundreds of hours of time necessary to learn a complicated card counting system in an attempt to capitalize on casino blackjack's vulnerability.

Recently, however, two of the most respected gambling authorities in the country have released ultra-simple card tracking methods that are so easy to learn that casual and recreational players no longer have an excuse not to take their game to the next level.

The first method is available free of charge on Michael Shackleford's marvelous gambling Website, www.wizardofodds.com . Shackleford, a.k.a "The Wizard of Odds", is an actuary by profession whose passion is analyzing casino games using pinpoint mathematical accuracy.

When you log on to the site, click on "blackjack" under "Game Info & Strategies" and scroll down to Appendix 17, "The Wizard Ace Five Count". It's a method founded on the importance of five-value cards first revealed in the 1961 landmark gambling book Beat the Dealer by Edward O. Thorp, who discovered through mathematical analysis that fives are the most powerful cards in the deck for dealers.

Another component is keeping track of aces, the card that makes it possible for players to be dealt a two-card 21 (blackjack) and receive a 3 to 2 payoff. Fewer aces remaining to be dealt translates into a diminished chance of capitalizing on this huge player perk.

Shackleford recommends starting a running count at zero at the start of a new shoe. For every five you see dealt, add one. For every ace you see dealt, subtract one. If the running count is at zero or in negative range, make your minimum bet. Otherwise gamble twice your minimum bet multiplied by the positive running count number. All playing decisions are to be made according to basic strategy.

He says the strategy is designed to give players positive expected value in six-deck games where the dealer stands on soft 17.

The second simplified card counting system is detailed in gambling guru Frank Scoblete's new book, Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution published by Research Services Unlimited (www.rsucasinobooks.com).

Scoblete's "Speed Count" is an easy-to-learn method based on tracking small value cards, the essence of which takes up only a few pages. But it's the supporting chapters along with the free blackjack training CD included with the book that makes this treatise an all-inclusive, information-packed tutorial covering all aspects of the game.

Although neither of the methods gives you the accuracy of a card-by-card count that the pros use, used in conjunction with basic strategy they will improve your blackjack game immensely and permit you to take advantage of the game's mathematical fluctuations.

CASINO NEWS: Majestic Star Casinos in Gary and Clear Channel Radio Chicago are partners in a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool slot tournament that began last weekend and will continue every Saturday through Dec. 2. Each tournament round will be hosted by a Clear Channel on-air personality. WVAC will be on-site for a live remote with Joe Soto from 12 pm – 4 pm for the championship round on Dec. 9. The $99 entry fee may be purchased at the Majestic Star gift shop. Visit www.majesticstar.com or one of Clear Channel's websites for full details.

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