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Some people play blackjack for fun. Some play the game for profit. Still others play for both fun and profit. I have come to know someone who plays the best of both blackjack worlds. On the condition of anonymity, he agreed to talk about the game and how he has managed to play successfully for so many years.
What follows is the first installment in a three-part interview with "Mr. Aces". His average wager is greater than that of budget-minded players, but it's his consistency of play and high percentage of winning gaming sessions that The Thrifty Gambler will highlight in the hopes we may all be able to pick up some valuable insight into this fascinating game.
More books have been written about blackjack than any other casino game simply because the rules make it "beatable" if players employ correct strategy. Still, blackjack's vulnerability remains an illusion for a majority of people who play the game. Perhaps Mr. Aces can break down some of the barriers:
The Thrifty Gambler: How long have you played casino blackjack?
Mr. Aces: I've been a blackjack player since the late 1960's. Before casino gambling was legalized in the Midwest, it would be four or five times a year during trips to Las Vegas. Now it can be as often as once a week.
TG: Have you ever read any books about the game, and, if so, have any of them been helpful?
MA: I've read a multitude of books over the years. The information proved helpful only when I found a consistency or common thread. When I did, I'd highlight it and make a note in a journal. Such information seemed to prove out over the long run to be the most valuable. On the other hand, if I came across something I hadn't read before, I'd make note of that, too. If I didn't come across it again, a 'red flag' went up in my mind. Such information did not work out to be significant and I tended to disregard it.
In connection with reading books about blackjack, I always practiced playing the game a lot. Before computers, I'd just practice playing hands out of four-deck shoes, which happened to be the predominant game in Las Vegas at the time. The practice proved very helpful, especially during the days when my play was restricted to my visits to Las Vegas. When you haven't played in a while, your game can be a little hesitant when you return to it. Practice can eliminate this and also build up your confidence and consistency.
TG: What do you consider to be the ideal playing conditions?
MA: Single-deck blackjack is obviously the best game. As for the more popular six and eight-deck games, I really haven't noticed a significant difference between them. I know that there's a player edge in the six-deck games, but I can tell you that on occasion I've played at a table when eight decks were in play and not realized it, yet I've had some profitable sessions there.
The number of people at the table can make a big difference. Playing one-on-one with the dealer is the ideal condition, to be sure, but finding that situation is very rare. Short of one-on-one, playing at a table with two to four other players is the best. I max out the games I play at five players. A table with six or seven players makes for bad playing conditions as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't be sitting down at such a table for very long should such a condition develop.
TG: What system of money management do you use?
MA: I always try to set a loss limit for my playing sessions along with a win ceiling, which is usually three to four times that of my loss limit. Also, when I set a win ceiling for myself, I approach the goal in smaller increments rather than going for big scores. I may set a short-term playing goal for myself of sixty or eighty dollars, then start all over and try to do it again. If you're successful at this often enough, say ten times, you're talking about $600 to $800 in winnings. When you go for it all at once, your bankroll can be wiped out during a cold run of the cards. Also, if you use a progressive system of wagering and the play starts getting choppy, you can get into big trouble real quick. There are rare occasions when I'll deviate from this system, but I have found it's really the best way to go. You just have to stick with it.
Next Week: Mr. Aces expands on his money management technique and offers some revealing insight into the importance of basic strategy.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
John G. Brokopp