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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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"Mr. Aces" Deals Out More Winning Blackjack Advice

8 February 2006

Call him "Mr. Aces", a blackjack player whose discipline, skill and precision money management techniques make him one of the most astute and successful casino gamblers I've ever met.

In today's second installment of my three-part interview with him, Mr. Aces offers some revealing insight into the importance of being the smartest blackjack player you can possibly be.

The Thrifty Gambler: Do you use a card counting system?

Mr. Aces: I have tried counting in games using six and eight-deck shoes, but I discovered that finding situations that were heavily balanced in the players' favor were few and far between. Putting so much effort and concentration into counting down the shoe for so few opportunities where it became an advantage just wasn't worthwhile. When I did, on rare occasions, find a window of opportunity, there still was no guarantee of winning. Eventually, the intense scrutiny that my money management system requires suffered at the expense of the effort I gave to counting, so I just decided to devote all my concentration to my money. By all means, if you have the capabilities of keeping track of the cards in the back of your head, do it. But the manner in which I manage my money requires intense concentration.

Now, playing in Las Vegas is a bit of a different story. If you can find a single-deck game where the penetration is good, counting can be a significant advantage. But the casinos with such games may also stipulate a lower table max. My advice is to reserve your card counting energy for one and two-deck blackjack games.

TG: Do you use basic strategy all the time?

MA: It is extremely important to use basic strategy all the time. On rare occasions I'll deviate from it, and quite frankly it is one of my downfalls. For example, if I have a two-card total of 15 or 16 and the dealer shows a seven for an up-card, I have a tendency to hesitate, especially if I have a large bet on the table. Basic strategy tells you to hit the hand, but when I see that dealer's seven I think that if there's anything except a ten or an ace in the hole he's going to have to hit the hand. There is something to be said about playing a 'gut feeling'. Sometimes you just have to give it a try so long as you don't get into a pattern of continually second-guessing your better judgment. I can tell you honestly that when I make a play on feeling, I'm wrong 60 percent of the time. That's when it gets back to basic strategy.

TG: Do you play different during winning and losing streaks?

MA: Yes, but only when it comes to my system of money management. For example, if I lose a few hands I'll drop my bet to what I set as the minimum for that particular session and then ride out the storm. If I didn't do this and played, for example, $30 hands and then wound up losing five out of seven, I'd be out $150. I prefer to drop my bet to, say, $10 during losing streaks. Under those same conditions, therefore, I'd only be out $50. This is essential to preserving your bankroll while pursuing the session win ceiling you have to set for yourself.

Winning streaks are a different story. If I've reached my profit goal for the session, do I want to play more by putting my profits to work for me? I may set a larger profit goal for myself and at the same time increase my minimum bet for the session by fifty percent. For example, if I used a $30 minimum bet to reach my goal, I may step it up to $45 minimum to reach a higher profit ceiling. But remember, this is only when I'm on a roll and the table is real hot.

TG: How do you handle losing streaks?

MA: I don't do it as consistently as I should, but as a rule if I lose five straight hands I'll get up and take a little break. Usually I'll just have the dealer mark me up (save my spot at the table) and I'll walk around the casino for a few minutes. Taking a break during a bad streak just seems to stave off a prolonged streak of losing.

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