I've been emailing back and forth with a reader who's in his mid-fifties and is about to kiss Corporate America goodbye. Because he's had some success as a card counter recently, the thought occurred to him that it might be fun to become a professional basic blackjack strategy player. The first thing I told him is that it's not fun, but it's certainly satisfying and, under the right circumstances, can be very profitable. Making a living at the Blackjack tables is tough, unless you can put up with smokers, drunks, hustlers, big losses, rude players and casinos that want to toss you out because you're too good at what you do. If you can deal with all that, it's fun to play "their" game - their cards, their rules, their dealer - and walk away with "their" $$$. The way to do it is simple and I'll prove it right here. The way to keep doing it is more of a problem and although I can give you some ideas on how to survive, it's really up to you to present yourself in such a way that the casinos will allow you to regularly make a profit at the game.
Proper game selection and an adequate bankroll are key items in the equation. These days, the best opportunities lie in double-deck (DD) games, in my not-so-humble opinion. I know of at least 10 casinos in the U.S. that offer very beatable DD games - "beatable" in the sense that they give good penetration, allow decent bet spreads and have fairly good rules. In my mind, penetration has to be 70 cards (of 104) minimum or 67%. I'll let the dealer hit soft 17, but I do insist on double on any first two cards and after splitting pairs. Games like this where the dealer stands on soft 17 and late surrender is available do exist, but you're not going to read about them here. After all, I need to keep a few secrets of my own!
For this discussion and for the math I'll show you, the game used is this: Two decks, the dealer hits soft 17, you may double on any first two cards, including after split; split Aces receive only 1 card and surrender is not available, but insurance is. Penetration is at least 70 cards and I'm going to use a $50-$400 bet spread. I'm also going to assume that one does not leave the table when the count drops; this is a "play all" situation, meaning we sit and play, regardless of the count. I'm going to also assume - and this is critical - that the player uses the Basic Strategy variations I show in Lesson 23 over at TopSlotMachines.org I feel comfortable with a bankroll of $50,000, which would mean that our player should have about $8000 available for a four hour playing session. Because this is designed for a full-time player who basically has no means of replacing his $$$ through a job or something like that, the risk of ruin (losing it all) must be very low - preferably less than 1%. With a top bet on one hand being $400 (I'll also show a bet schedule for two hands), a $50,000 bankroll has a risk of ruin of 0.68%. In other words, there's less than a one in a hundred chance of you losing everything because of "variation" alone. For those of you who have a means of replenishing your bankroll, a total of $25,000 will give you a 10% risk of ruin factor.
You can see that the bet schedule is "$100 times the True Count" other than when it's lower than 1. I like it because it's aggressive and easy to remember. In a game like I described above, the player will have a long-term edge of 1.37% and the average bet will be $112.50. This works out to be an expected value of 0.0137 x $112.50 = $1.54 per hand. From here on out, the math is simple; play 60 hands per hour and you'll make an average of $92.40 per hour. Okay, it's not $100 per hour, but at a $50 minimum bet table, it's fair to say that it'll seldom be full, so there should be no problem in getting at least 75 hands per hour. At that rate, the expected income would be $115+ per hour.
Because such a high-minimum table will seldom be full, the wise player will spread to two hands whenever appropriate. Of course, that's done only when the count is favorable AND when it doesn't threaten your "longevity" in the casino. But a lot of high-stakes gamblers (as opposed to advantage players like us) often play two hands to "alter the flow of the cards" and other nonsense like that, so why not look like a gambler from time-to-time?


Sorry, there are currently no episodes available for this podcast.