My Last Post

After 16 months of fun and frolic, this will be my final blog entry on this website. I sincerely appreciate all of you who visited often…or even once. According to statistics, there were hits from 65 countries. Although, I suspect that some of those were spammers–penis pills from Malaysia, really?!

I also want to thank the magazine, newspaper, and website editors who featured me or “1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors–Finding Profit and Humor in Card-Counting” on their own mediums. Mindy Sue and others at Smith Publicity promoted the hell outta the book! It is comforting to know that when I am dead and gone from this world, others will still be able to read it or hear me doing lousy voice imitations on a podcast interview with Howard Schwartz and the Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas.

Who knows? I may return to blogging here one day. Until then, I ask that you play blackjack smartly and have fun doing so. Everyone who plays blackjack has a story. You will too!

Glen Wiggy

Welcome (click to reply)

Welcome to a website dedicated to the only casino game in which a knowledgeable, card-counting player can have an advantage over the house – BLACKJACK!  (Just hearing that word makes your private parts tingle, doesn’t it?)

This blog is not intended to trump other sites that offer quality blackjack and card-counting strategy, such as The Wizard of Odds or Arnold Snyder’s Blackjack Forum .  It is also not an online blackjack casino or simulator like Bovada or Blackjack Trainer.

Instead, this is the place where you can read about:

–  A blackjackally challenged player with a deformed hand who caused hysteria on a riverboat

–  The man who lost $50 because of an improbable streak of cards and a silly superstition

–  A woman with significant cleavage who made the dealer, other players, and the pit-boss drool like a puppy

–  The genius who scared the livin’ bejesus out of other patrons in a Kansas casino

And much, much more from real players, like you.  Have fun!

My Book Reviewed in German

I don’t know if the last two paragraphs are a good book review or a bad one, but I like it!

No Humor Here

I live in Monument, Colorado, five miles north of Colorado Springs and 10 miles northwest of Black Forest. I took this photo of the growing Black Forest fire a couple days ago on my way home from work:


Over 30,000 people have evacuated the 55-square-mile affected area around the fire. Our house is not in the mandatory evacuation zone, but it may be soon. Don’t worry about us. We have the important things packed and ready to go, including Newman and his dog bowl. In a wonderfully sweet gesture, Lori packed my collection of 500+ casino chips!

Fatherly Advice Applied to Blackjack

Have you ever been in a restaurant or some other public place when a nearby father says to his young son, “Sit up straight!” I saw this happen at the casino once, but the father was about sixty years old, and the son looked forty. Hardly a youngster needing advice. Besides having terrible posture, I remember that the son was also a horrible blackjack player. When I heard the dad’s comment, my first thought was…The father should be telling the son how to play better. As Father’s Day approaches, here is my interpretation of how everyday fatherly advice could be translated for use on the blackjack table:

A father’s advice, “Stand up for yourself. Don’t be a wimp.” This advice is usually meant for the playground, but on the blackjack table this advice applies to players who are afraid to double-down an eleven against the dealer’s face card, or split eights against a face. Do you only double-down when the dealer shows a five or six? If so, you are being bullied by the dealer. Stand up for yourself. Double-down when you are supposed to double-down.

A father’s advice, “Don’t drink and drive.” Similarly, “Don’t drink and gamble.” Both adages apply in moderation. It is OK to have a drink or two, as long as your driving or card-playing abilities are not impaired. Over-indulging can lead to loss of life or limb on the road. Drinking too much at the casino can lead to loss of cash plus credit card advance fees. There are obviously many times when a drunk-driver makes it home safely. Likewise, there are many occasions when you see drunken blackjack players betting crazy, defying basic strategy, and walking away big winners. Keep in mind that both groups of idiots will suffer the adverse consequences of their actions eventually.

A father’s advice, “Never speak unless spoken to.” Try practicing this advice at the blackjack table when you see a blackjackally challenged player make a bad play. I had a heckuva hard time doing this in the early days of my blackjack career. I almost always made some sort of comment to the offending player, the dealer, or to myself. It took me awhile to hold my tongue. Now, I never give playing advice unless asked. If the other player asks me nicely, I will respond with the correct way to play according to basic strategy or, sometimes, the index play. I’ll say, “Normally you should hit a twelve against a two, but there have been a ton of little cards out recently. My advice is that you should stay.” If a rude or obnoxious player asks me for advice, I’ll say, “My advice is that you play at another table…away from me.”

Oftentimes, fathers use famous quotes or sayings to impart wisdom on their children. Some of these sayings also find practical application at the casino:

A father’s wisdom, “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.” Originally, only farming fathers gave this advice to their children. The next time you double down a huge sum of money on a ten against the dealer’s bust card, then you draw a face card for twenty, then the dealer turns over a card which sums their other card to eleven, then gets a face card for twenty-one, remember this saying. Then say aloud, “Stupid chickens!”

A father’s wisdom, “Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.” Is card-counting cheating? No? Then I have no problem with this wisdom being associated with actions at the casino. Does this advice mean that I should point out when the dealer overpays me or pays me on a losing hand? Yes? Then I have a problem with it. I think the saying in a casino should be, “Cheaters sometimes win, and winners sometimes cheat.” [Before any of you pass judgment on me, like the last time I posted similar sentiments, please answer one question: Have you ever driven 56 miles per hour or more when the posted speed limit was 55 mph? Then you are a cheater. Welcome to the club!]

A father’s wisdom, “The early bird catches the worm.” Card-counters should try visiting a casino at 6:00 or 7:00 AM on a weekday. There are usually no other players and/or the table minimums are lowered on the games with the best rules.

A father’s wisdom, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” This is the easiest one of all to interpret—simply look at everyone playing on tables with 6-to-5 payouts on blackjack.

Finally, many fathers would strongly impart the following wisdom in general to their children, “Don’t gamble!” I agree. If you play blackjack without being an advantage player, or if you indulge in any other casino game where the house has an edge—meaning all of them—this advice is practical. However, as all us card-counters will attest, what we do is not gambling. You’d never hear a father say to their son or daughter, “Don’t use applied math.”

Card-Counters Aren’t the Only Ones Banned

Being a Smartass Cost Me $50

I have been a smartass for forty-seven years. That would be socially accepatble if I were one hundred years old, but the fact is that I am forty-seven.

Throughout the years, being a smartass has cost me plenty in immaterial ways. While attending second grade at a Catholic elementary school, I received several smacks on the hand by one of many crazy nuns, most notably for putting Alka Seltzer tablets in the holy water basins. The act itself didn’t cause much commotion, until I raised my arms and uttered loudly in the back of church, “Behold, the power of the Lord!” The other kids laughed. Sister Mary What’s Her Face did not. In junior high and high school, being a smartass cost me considerably when pursuing the affections of young ladies. I had made many jokes and cracks at their expense. I thought I was charming and witty like a young Jim Halpert, when in fact, I was mean and obnoxious like a Dwight Schrute. (I sincerely apologize to every girl that I offended from 1978 to 1984–that would be all of them.) As an adult, you’d think that the regulations and the discipline required of armed forces personnel would have made me quit being a smartass while in the Air Force. Not true. I still made smartass remarks from time to time to supervisors. I simply prefaced the comments with a “sir” or “ma’am,” you know, as a sign of respect. My family and friends are OK with me being a smartass because they’ve learned over the years to ignore my antics at will. Plus, most of my family and friends are smartasses themselves, albeit in a tamer manner than me.

Being a wiseguy is a conscious choice. I certainly know how to NOT be a smartass–that clearly distinguishes me from someone who is a “dumbass” or a “jackass.” I choose not to be ordinary or lame. The fun associated with being a smartass has always outweighed the cost. Until last week.

While playing blackjack at a casino in Colorado, I held a hand of A-3 against the dealers eight. Basic strategy called for me to hit, which I did by dragging the cards over the felt toward my body. The dealer gave me a ten, face up on the table. Fourteen. Using basic strategy again, I motioned for another hit. It was a face card. Twenty-four. I busted and lost. Here is where my brain and mouth shifted into smartass gear. In an attempt to be funny, I motioned for a third hit, thinking there was no way that the dealer would give me another card. I had two cards in my hand, plus twenty that was already showing in front of my hand. The sleepy dealer gave me another face card. Thirty-four. Even more busted. The dealer noticed the snafu the same time that I flipped over my cards and exclaimed, “Crap, I was just messin’ with you!” His expression was an equal combination of amusement and anger. He responded, “Hah, hah—you got me.” He then called the pit boss over who was not amused in the least. “Burn it!” she said loudly without lecturing me. The dealer took the face card and tucked it away in the discard pile.

The story takes a dark turn at this point. I was sitting on third base with only one other player at the table. The dealer continued the game by showing a four underneath his eight. He had twelve. The next card was another eight. The dealer totaled twenty. He would’ve busted with a twenty-two if I had not been a smartass moments earlier. The man sitting to my right had a nineteen. This man, who resembled a well-fed and well-connected mafia boss, was not pleased. You should’ve seen the look he gave me—it was the same look a guy once gave me at a bar in Daytona Beach while I was partying with a bunch of friends during Memorial Day weekend. The look came seconds before the guy cold-cocked my face, sending me to the floor with a black eye, because I had made a drunken, smartass comment. Meanwhile, my friends did nothing to help or protect me against the guy who cold-cocked me because they knew I had probably just made a drunken, smartass comment to the guy who had every right to cold-cock me for it seconds later.

After his $25 bet was whisked away, the large blackjack player to my right grumbled and started to stand. Something was gonna happen. I pleaded to the pit boss, “Please don’t make this guy lose because I was a smartass!” No luck. The pit boss said that the card must be burned since it was uncovered in play. The cards could not be backed up. In response, I quickly tossed the other player two $25 chips. One that he lost on the hand, plus another for what he should’ve won. I also quickly apologized with a beet-red face. The man sat down and gave me a sarcastic little smile, obviously still miffed, but satisfied at the turn of events. The incident was over. Being a smartass cost me $50.

Do you think that was the end of my smartassedness? No way. Just yesterday, as I was emerged from a pool after swimming laps with an underwater iPod adapter and waterproof headphones, a guy pointed to my ear and asked, “Do those things work?” I was a little confused by the obvious question, so I responded, “What do you mean?” The guy repeated, “Do those headphones work in water?” I was dumbfounded. He just WATCHED me swim and emerge from the pool wearing waterproof headphones and the iPod adapter strapped to my arm. My entire body was dripping wet. I answered, “No. They don’t work,” then rolled my eyes and walked away. Whatever the cost, being a smartass is way better than being a dumbass.

Review of “Risk of Ruin,” by Arnold Snyder

While I am not a professional book reviewer, I feel compelled to write a few words on behalf of the man who has helped earn me money at the blackjack table. Arnold Snyder has written books on blackjack strategy, gambling in general, and Las Vegas lifestyle for decades. “Risk of Ruin” is his first published work of fiction.

Without knowing anything about the two main characters in the book–a gambling biker and an underage stripper–you might think that the contents of this book are immoral and salacious. After getting to know the two main characters, you’ll see that the book is indeed immoral, yet delicious! Arnold vividly describes the dark thoughts and desires of Bart Black, as he travels the open road searching for answers about his social and sexual insecurities and where to find blackjack dealers who show their hole card most often. Helping Bart along the way (I think) is Stacy, a desirable and poetic young woman who thinks she is a human manifestation of God, if not actually God.

At the beginning of “Risk of Ruin,” Snyder uses satirical dialogue and medically-induced flashbacks between Bart and a police sergeant to set the scene for a wild and unpredictable story. It reminded me of the first chapters of “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller. When it comes to the main character taking advantage of casino dealers who don’t protect the cards adequately, he writes in the style of Hunter S. Thompson–Snyder has obviously lived part of the life of Bart Black. The author’s attention to detail and imagery lets the reader know what it’s like to ride a motorcycle, visit a prostitute, get a tattoo, fall in love with a stripper, commit a horrible crime, and scam a casino–everything you wish you could do in real life, but can’t due to the norms of society who have a collective stick up its ass.

The story was colorful, exciting, painful and thought-provoking. I didn’t want it to end. I highly recommend the book to gamblers and non-gamblers alike.

Casino Visit #1000 and Gambler’s Book Club Podcast Interview

Those of you who read my book know it chronicles 864 of my casino visits during the period from January 2001 to June 2008. Last weekend, I experienced the 1000th visit during a trip to Las Vegas. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from the trip:

HIGH: On the flight to Vegas, I finished reading Arnold Snyder’s novel, “Risk of Ruin.” It was superb! I’ve never been sadder to be on the last page of a book. I plan to write a complete review in the next week. Also on the flight, I had the pleasure of listening to the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, “Mosquito.” Another superb work of art. Finally, I was seated next to a four-year old boy. You might think this was a lowlight, but the kid was a perfect little gentleman…he read books when the plane was on the ground and played a Curious George animal game on his dad’s iPad while in flight. The only time he spoke was when I pointed to an animal and said, “Giraffe.” The kid replied, “No silly…that’s a rhino.”

LOW: Shortly after landing and checking into the Hard Rock Hotel for a three-day comped stay, I learned that their relatively decent $25 double-deck blackjack game had been replaced by a blackjack-pays-6-to-5 monstrosity. I checked out of the hotel instantly. No free stay is worth that nonsense.

HIGH: My favorite hotel, which still has a great double-deck BJ game, and which I have never been given a second look while card-counting, was able to accommodate me on short notice for a free stay. I will not divulge its location for selfish reasons.

LOW: In less than an hour of playing blackjack, I had experienced a horrible losing streak. I began by losing approximately 18 out of 20 hands. And, in the first hour, I must’ve lost 7 or 8 double-downs in a row.

HIGH: The next day started well at the tables, and got even better when I was featured on the Gambler’s Book Club Podcast. The host, Howard Schwartz, and the Sound Engineer, Bill Coveney, spent an hour before the interview and an hour afterwards showing me books and telling stories about some of the notorious guest authors who occupied the same chair as me: high-stakes gamblers, Mafia kingpins, FBI agents, felons, con artists, and Sin City celebrities. It was truly an honor and a privilege for me to be there. (The most notorious thing I had ever done was let my dog crap in the neighbor’s yard.) In addition to discussing blackjack and my book in the interview, I did my best (or worst?) to imitate an evangelist, a Harvard lawyer, obnoxious blackjack players, and a few other random voices. I also defended my devious behavior in and around the casino. Finally, I may or may not have divulged a government top secret. The full interview can be heard at the following link:

LOW: That night, for the first and last time in my life, I made a bet on pro basketball because my son is a huge Denver Nuggets fan. I lost $100, plus the $10 vig, when Golden State beat Denver by four points.

HIGH: As a big fan of the Blue Man Group, I was tickled pink to see their new show at the Monte Carlo. About 80% of their bits are new, and the sound and light show was like experiencing Laser Floyd. During the finale, all the children in the audience (plus a forty-seven-year-old man) screamed and gasped with joy.

LOW: Outside the Blue Man Group theater, I noticed an 8-deck blackjack game near a catwalk stage where a scantily-clad woman performed. The game paid 6-to-5 on a blackjack. I repeat…an 8-deck game in Vegas that pays 6-to-5! Who cares if lotsa skin was visible nearby? I asked the pit boss and the dealer if they had trouble sleeping at night.

HIGH: Conversely, in the high-limit pit at the Monte Carlo, there was a $50 double-deck game with the dealer staying on soft 17 and dealing approximately 75% of the cards. Great stuff! I played there for 26 minutes with moderate success.

LOW: The reason I played there for only 26 minutes was due to the pit boss asking me to leave the game for card-counting. Too good to be true.

HIGH: In-and-Out Burger. I had a 3 by 3. Those of you who live in Vegas or the Western part of the United States should never take for granted the cheeseburgery goodness you have at your fingertips…literally.

LOW: At the pool, I lap swam for an hour before realizing that my back was sun burnt to a crisp. I always knew that the sun affected you even in the water, but one hour in April? C’mon! To even the redness, I had to backstroke awhile. I hate the backstroke.

HIGH: A good run of cards at my favorite hotel and casino, which still will remain nameless because I don’t want to share it with anyone.

LOW: Playing blackjack next to a guy who stacked his chips in stacks of six. Almost every other player in the world makes stacks of five or ten. After a couple hours of watching this guy, my OCD tendencies were kicking onto overdrive. Why does he stack chips like that?!

HIGH: Leaving Las Vegas a winner, albeit with a slight sunburn.

LOW: Two days later at my home in Colorado, it snowed six inches. In May. When is my next trip to the desert?

Fedex Saved by Blackjack

The above story details how a winning run at the blackjack table helped save FedEX from financial ruin in its early days. Because of my favorite card game, now I can send lobster or prunes to someone overnight.

Combing the internet, I also discovered that someone used Fedex to ship two Giant Pandas to the National Zoo in Washington, horses to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia, white tigers, elephants, rhinos, lions, gorillas and a 13-foot tiger shark used in the filming of the movie “Jaws.” Other unusual cargo shipments sent by FedEx include: 17 classic Ferraris, a yacht for the U.S. Paralympic sailing team, a windmill from Denmark, Catherine the Great’s collection of historic artifacts, a Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter weighing 11,000 lbs, a statue of Filipino war hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal, a communications satellite, a giant snowball picked up in Wisconsin and delivered to a child in Memphis, and a four-ton high press water drill and 5,700 pounds of equipment to rescue 18-month-old Jessica McClure from a well in 1987.

The next time you use Fedex, think of blackjack.

My Book as a Movie

Did you ever wonder how many movies feature the game of blackjack? The following article mentions a handful:

Now that my book has sold somewhere between 7 and 1000 copies, it is only natural that I speculate who would portray me in the movie adaptation of the book. Those of you who know me realize that Suraj Sharma (the actor who recently starred in Life of Pi) is out. Also, Denzel Washington is out–not because of his looks, but because his agent said that Denzel was unavailable. How about Castle? (I’m sure the actor has a real name, but I’m too lazy to look it up on IMDB. I’m also embarrassed to say that I’ve watched Castle.) Chris O’Donnell, maybe? I’ve been told more than once that I resemble Matthew Perry from Friends. That might work, but he would have to be funnier.

Let’s switch gears and determine who would portray my hot wife, Lori. (See the “About” link above to get a glimpse of her.) My father once said that Lori looked like Katherine Bell when she was younger, but I don’t see it. Someone else said that Lori looks a little like Morena Baccarin (Brodie’s wife on Homeland). That would work…Morena has already done nude scenes that would be made prevalent in the screen adaptation of 1536 Free Waters.

My daughter, Sarah, can be portrayed by Princess Kate, since they are both princesses, and my son, Mitchell, would obviously be played by Ricky Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves. My father would play himself, since nobody else could pass for Tom Wielgoleski. Finally, Todd Crites would be played by Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons. Many of the stories in my book feature male blackjack dealers and female waitresses. That one is easy…Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, but only if they promise to get along on the set. And, Brad isn’t allowed to bring along the international adopted offspring. They attract too much paparazzi.

Last but not least, it is essential to the success of the movie that my dog Newman, be portrayed by Newman.

Newman and Newman

Now all we need is a script.

Critics of My Morality Have Spoken

If you didn’t know, I often post copies of my blog entries onto other blackjack and gambling forums. Last week, when I posted “The Lost and Found Scam,” the story prompted several viewers to comment on my “blatant stealing” and other lapses of judgement. Most commenters did not think highly of my comparison of “dishonesty” and “strategy.” Some commenters were supportive, or at least understanding. Either way, I like it when my words fire up passion in others. See for yourself:

My favorite quote: “I thought being deeply unfunny was this guy’s most distinguishing feature. I was very wrong.”

The Lost and Found Scam

Six or seven years ago, a regular blackjack player at Sandia Casino in Albuquerque told me a fun and interesting story. Unfortunately, I thought the story was unbelievable. A downright lie. In fact, I almost retold the story in my book, but decided against it at the last minute because I thought it was too much of a bullshit story. He said that while visiting a new casino, he would always check in with the Lost and Found office to see if anyone had turned in the “…$20 bill that he had lost.” He says that the trick had worked a few times over the years. He also said the trick worked once when he had asked, “Did anyone turn in a green ($25) chip?” The rationale behind the trick was that casino employees are forbidden to keep any cash or chips found in the casino. Since there are surveillance cameras everywhere, the rule usually results in the employee turning in loose chips or bucks to Lost and Found. Otherwise, they risk losing their job. The player also told me that he would never risk trying the trick more than once at the same place. Makes sense, but still unbelievable, right?

Last month, I experienced the unbelievable. While walking to the bathroom at a casino in a state that shall remain nameless for my own protection, I witnessed a female custodian picking up a bill about ten feet from a snack bar that sold coffee and pastries. I yelled out while walking in her direction, “Hey, I think that’s mine.” The custodian grinned while tightly clutching and covering the bill from my view, “Oh yeah?! How much is it?” I guessed, “Twenty.” The woman giggled while showing me the evidence, “Nope, it’s a ten.” I smiled back, and walked away silently as not to make a bigger fool of myself.

While in the bathroom, I thought to check Lost and Found later for the ten-dollar bill. Perhaps the custodian would turn in the money. I returned to playing blackjack for about thirty minutes. I figured I better wait awhile, or else the custodian may not have gone there yet. Or worse, she might be there when I asked about it again…that would REALLY be embarrassing. Then I had another thought: does this place even have a Lost and Found? I asked the dealer. She directed me to a podium near the casher’s cage where a uniformed guard usually sat. There was nobody there. I went back to playing blackjack.

While cashing out chips a couple hours later, I noticed that a guard was now manning the post. I said to him, “There you are. Is this Lost and Found?” He nodded. I then asked, “This may sound utterly ridiculous, but did anyone turn in a ten-dollar bill a few hours ago?” I expected the guard to reach under the podium and produce a cardboard box filled with sunglasses and gloves. Or, I expected him to look at me and start cracking up because I had asked such a fool question! Instead, he said, “Hold on.” He was a man of few words. The guard then walked into an area that appeared to share the same back-office space as the cashier’s cage. He returned a few minutes later with a small slip of white paper. “Here you go. Take this to the cashier.” He handed me a computer-generated voucher that was similar to cash comp coupons I had received at the casino on promotion days. It was for $10. I responded with a lie, “Whew…now I have gas money to get home.” I cashed out the voucher and left the casino in disbelief.

In hindsight, I wonder how much trouble I would’ve been in had the eyes in the sky reviewed the tape to see that my inquiry was false. Did I break a law? Will I get arrested or kicked out the next time I visit that casino? Now for the bigger question…will I begin asking Lost and Founds in other casinos for lost stuff out of the blue in the future? I don’t know if the con is worth the consequences.

Has anything like this ever happened to anyone else?

NYC Cheater, Denver Bronco Cheater, and Aussie Cheater

One of the three cheaters in the below stories was smarter than the other two. Can you guess which one?–nfl.html

The Biggest Idiot in Wendover

I recently returned from a 3-day trip to Wendover, Nevada.  I can say with utmost certainty that it will be my last trip there to gamble.  I saw too many things that caused me agita.

Keeping in the spirit of the recent Academy Awards presentation, here are my nominees for “Biggest Idiot(s) in Wendover:”

1. Nominee: The blackjack players who religiously play the Royal Match side bet.  The three main hotels/casinos in Wendover are the Montego Bay, Peppermill and Rainbow.  (For the purposes of this blog entry, and since I will never gamble in Wendover again, I will refer to them as “Greedy Trinity.”)  The Greedy Trinity properties now offer a Royal Match side bet on single-deck blackjack tables that pays 10-1 if your first two cards are a suited king and queen and pays 3-1 if the first two cards are the same suit.  The probably of getting a suited king and queen is approximately 1 in 331.  The odds of getting any suited pair are slightly less than 1 in 4.  [Note: it is not exactly 1 in 4 as you might think.]  Combined, the probability of winning the Royal Match side bet is 26.4%.  What a greedy proposition for the Greedy Trinity!  Yet, players flock to the side bet like it was a Krispy Kreme doughnut.  At one time during my recent trip, I saw a guy betting two hands of $25 on blackjack, but playing an additional $100 on each hand for the Royal Match bet.  I asked him, “Do you ever play slot machines?”  He responded, “Hell no!”  I then responded with a chuckle, “You know, there’s not a slot machine in this entire building that has worse payouts than the Royal Match bet.”  His response, “I’m here to gamble.”  The next hand, he won $300 when he received a suited pair.  He looked at me like he was Albert Einstein.  I looked at him like he was an Einstein bagel.  A stale one.

2. Nominee: The person or persons in Greedy Trinity senior management who decided to change their single-deck blackjack rules so that a player can only double down on a ten or eleven.  From what I understand, the other two casinos in Wendover followed suit thereafter.  Before the change, Wendover was known as the Blackjack Mecca in the US for card-counters.  Now it is a wasteland inside the casinos more than it ever was outside the casinos.

3. Nominee:  The pit boss in one of the Greedy Trinity casinos who was smoking and checking his iPhone while in the pit.  I’m not judging his smoking or surfing, but c’mon…while you are working?!  Very classy behavior.  I wish I was a thief…I suspect that it might’ve been relatively easy to get away with a crime during his shift.  I gave this guy a nickname: Turd Ferguson.

4. Nominee: A different pit boss who chastised me for cursing.  I usually remain calm while playing blackjack, but I lost my cool one day last week when the guy next to me hit a 14 vs the dealer’s six.  I was playing two hands of $200 since the true count was +4.  I even asked the guy beforehand, “You’re not gonna hit that, are you?”  The man pondered for a second, then hit…and busted.  I stayed with two pat hands.  The dealer uncovered a face card then drew a 5 for a 21.  I can’t remember exactly what I said loudly, but it was something that contained a less-than-fond reference to our almighty creator.  The pit boss raced over to our table and informed me in a teacher-like tone that I was not allowed to curse in the casino.  Here he was, taking a rusty knife on behalf of his corporate masters and using it to carve out all humility and money from the average player, and I was was being lectured for exercising much needed freedom of speech.

5. Nominee: The Greedy Trinity marketing staff who creates their promotional posters and flyers.  All of them feature pretty white people laughing at the tables with stacks of black and green chips in front of them on the table games.  In reality, the casinos mainly cater to scraggly white people who reek of alcohol and cigarettes or asians and hispanics who have stacks and stacks of chips, but they are $1 each and used mostly to play the Royal Match side bet.

6. Nominee: The Greedy Trinity pit bosses and floor managers who constantly manage the blackjack tables so that they are occupied by at least three or four players.  Even at $25 tables, playing by yourself is rarely an option.  On this most recent trip, I had better luck playing with myself in the hotel room.

With all these great nominees, it is hard to select a winner.  However, I have determined a clear cut winner with extreme prejudice and confidence.  Envelope please…the biggest idiot in Wendover last week was me!  Wendover Will (the giant neon cowboy who greets visitors on the west side of town) may be the biggest icon in Wendover, but for a brief few days last week, I was the biggest idiot in town.  You know why?  Because I went to Wendover not knowing that the ludicrous ten and eleven double-down only rule had been instituted by the Greedy Trinity on all their single-deck table games almost six months previously.  I knew about the goofy Royal Match players, and the almost-always full tables…I used workarounds for those obstacles on many previous trips to Wendover.  There is no work-around for the new crappy rules.  I was the biggest idiot in Wendover for going there in the first place.  I am the biggest idiot for not paying closer attention to online blackjack blogs.  If I had, I never would’ve ventured to the land of the Greedy Trinity.

I accept this award on behalf of all advantage players.  Pretty soon, there will no blackjack games for us to take advantage.

Blackjack Robot and Maryland Casinos

Here are two current events that impact blackjack players in different ways:

If I had to sit at the table with the blackjack dealing robot, I would eventually jump to his side and tear off those hamster-wheel hand thingies!  I hate slow dealers.  This mechanical pile of plastic and wires would drive me nuts.  I couldn’t even make it past the 32-second mark of the YouTube video.  The Japanese genius who built the BJ robot would’ve served his nation better by designing a new and improved vending machine that dispenses schoolgirl panties.  (Google it…I don’t make up everything that I write!)

On a more pleasing note, congratulations to the state of Maryland for approving live blackjack at some of their gaming halls.  Now, half the gamblers on the east coast won’t have to schlep there way up I-95 (following the stinky smell) to get to Atlantic City.  Too bad Maryland blackjack didn’t happen 5-10 years ago…there was a time in which I went to the Washington DC area a couple times a month for military duties.  Now, as a government civilian, I won’t be traveling anywhere due to budget cutbacks.  If any government civilians at the Pentagon want to give it a shot, they can take their reduced paycheck to the Maryland casinos in order to win back the 20% taken from sequestration.  Good luck.


Mitch Hedberg on Gambling

I regret not knowing about Mitch Hedberg’s comedy before he died of a drug overdose in 2005. He was hilarious. Mitch was part stoner, part country bumpkin, part chill, and part illiterate…but all comedic genius. Here is a sample of his stand-up routine, starting with an observation about your favoritie pasttime and mine, gambling:

Mitch Hedberg

Jamaican Accent Controversy and Poker Pro Magazine Feature

Did you see the Super Bowl commercial by Volkswagen where the cheerful, white guy from Minnesota was talking to everyone in the office with a Jamaican accent?  If not, feast your eyes on the following:

I loved the commercial, but a few media outlets and tweeters questioned the content as racist.  The expression, “You can’t please all the people all the time” certainly applies.  In America, the quote should be re-written as, “No matter what you say or do, somebody will bitch or whine about it.”  Don’t these folks know that there are white people from Jamaica too!  The last time that a Jamaican accent caused so much controversy was in my book, “1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors.”  You don’t believe me?  Read on.

The online magazine, Poker Pro (also Poker Pro Canada and Poker Pro Europe), featured an excerpt of my book called, “The Superstition Experiment” in its January 2013 issue.  In the story, there is a fictional Jamaican woman named Anisha’keekwa taking part in various blackjack experiments.  The first editor of my book thought all the characters in the story were somewhat racist.  I thought she was somewhat screwed in the head.  I love all the characters.  Quoting Jerry Seinfeld, “If I like their race, how can that be racist?”

Poker Pro magazine can only be found online for a subscription fee.  However, thanks to kindness of Johnny “Quads” Wenzel, the Editor in Chief of Poker Pro, you can see the story at the following link using the user ID ““ and password “44444444“ :

After you click the link, select “Check out our E-Magazine,” then go to “Back Issues,” then “Jan 01 2013.”  After browsing a few pages, you’ll be asked to enter the user ID and password to continue.  If you are able to go through this maze of instructions and actually read the article, let me know if you have any racial comments or concerns.  By the way, be sure to also check out the magazine cover and table of contents.  I got my first call-out on a magazine cover!

Blackjack Around the World

I found the following stories around the globe:

Key question:  What is a lucky punter in Scotland?

Key question:  Will the most popular chips at the Russian casino be red?

Key question:   How far did you get into this story before realizing it had nothing to do with the card game blackjack?



Blackjack is Kinky

A reviewer recently commented on the Preface of my book where I describe a long list of strange and unusual patrons who might be spotted in a typical casino.  Among many others, I mention: millionaires, Japanese businessmen, reality TV aficionados, dog owners, surfers, fat guys who are good at racquetball, newlyweds, vegetarians, hillbillies, telephone call center operators from New Delhi, pro bowlers, chain smokers, worthless co-workers who say, “I can’t do anything in the morning until I get my caffeine fix,” farmers, weight-watchers, tourists, hot dog vendors, people who still like Family Circus, Buddhists, Avon ladies, tweeters, and just plain ugly people.  I haven’t met all the unique blackjack players in the world, but I’ve seen enough of them to make a relatively credible claim. The book reviewer told me that he had experienced the opposite phenomena throughout the years at the casino—to him, the patrons always seemed to be the same, ordinary looking people day in and day out. 

What do you think?  Does the normal casino look like a public library, or does it resemble a zoo exhibit?  Before you answer, I offer photographic proof to support my claim:


The gentleman in the photos was playing blackjack at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 19th, 2013.  Before commenting on his atypical attire, I must first let you know that the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards were being hosted by the Hard Rock the same weekend that my son and I visited there.  Everywhere you looked in the hotel lobby and casino, there were porn actresses falling out of the clothes, porn merchants promoting their products/websites, and porn fans gawking at everyone and everything.  There were also a couple booths in which merchants were promoting what could only be described as “dungeon leisure wear.”  I suspect this gentleman was working one of these booths earlier—or maybe, shopping there.

He was a distinguished looking man, approximately seventy years old.  He could’ve been anyone’s grandpa or their retired high school principal.  From the waist up, he looked like an older Ozzie Nelson or Mister Rogers complete with long-sleeved, button-up sweater.  From the waist down, he was kinky as hell—sporting a leather smock like the type worn by the torturers in the movie “Hostel.”  He also wore knee-high patent leather boots with five-inch heels and gold spurs.  I don’t know much about the practice of S&M, but I suspect that this gentleman was one of their Lifetime Achievement Award winners.  When I first saw him at the blackjack table, I didn’t know whether to chuckle or run for my life.  I imagine that other players at his table might’ve been afraid to say “hit me” on their hand while in the presence of this master.  Or maybe they would love just that!  After all, it was the weekend that the porn Oscars were being awarded.