More Ladies of Blackjack

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about Paris Hilton at the blackjack tables?  Here are another couple ladies who played my favorite game in Vegas at the same time that I was there.  Alas, I was nowhere near the Wynn last Sunday.  I was busy “working” at another casino down the street:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2267038/Krysten-Ritter-hits-blackjack-table-Las-Vegas-Ashley-Greene.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

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David Drury, “Jesus Would be OK with Card-Counting”

Amen, brother!  A few months ago, I posted a newsclip about this story.  Here is a more detailed account of it, plus spirtual color commentary by David Drury:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/11/my-take-jesus-would-be-ok-card-counting/?iref=allsearch

Top 10 Things to Say at the Blackjack Table

Over the last week, I’ve seen many TV and media outlets post their “Top Ten Lists of Yada, Yada, Yada for 2012.”  Why should they get a Top Ten list and I don’t?  No good reason.  Therefore, here is my input for the top things you should say while at the blackjack table:

1.  “Push.”

Say this when you have a four or five card seventeen and the dealer draws an eighteen.  You’d be surprised how often the trick works.  Dealers get tired and complacent just like everyone else.  If they hear you say “push,” their subconscious thinks your hand is a tie.  Once in a blue moon, the dealer will pass right by your hand without taking the bet.  Of course, you risk getting a butt-chewing from the pit boss or casino manager if you try this trick too often.

2.  “I bet you’re not the second worse blackjack player in the world.”

Play blackjack long enough, and you’ll be seated next to a player who makes horrible decisions.  It is inevitable.  Most experts say you should bite your tongue when this occurs.  Not me—I have to say something, but I prefer the indirect approach.  If a blackjackally challenged player is at my table, I’ll wait for another player to arrive.  Then I’ll say, “I bet you aren’t the second worse blackjack player in the world.”  The new player will always say, “Why?”  Then I respond, “Because that would be too much of a coincidence!”  Anyone with half a sense of humor will get the joke.  The baffoon you are insulting probably won’t.

3.  “This hand is so bad, even if you bust, I’ll still lose.”

Say this to the dealer when you stay on a poor hand.  It makes absolutely no sense, but it is better than saying something that the dealer has already heard a million times.  Originality is the key to eccentricity.

4.  “Don’t give me a big card.”

Declare this to the dealer when you want a ten while taking a hit in a pitch game.  If a face card appears, the dealer and everyone else will think you’ve busted.  Quietly tuck your cards afterward, you sneaky, mysterious bastard.

5.  “That is why I keep a picture of you in my wallet.”

Say this to a dealer who has been good to you.  Again, it is better than saying the overused cliché response, “You are my favorite dealer!”  My thanks to Brian Pierret for telling me this quote.

6.  “Let’s see—what would Jesus do?”

Ask this question aloud whenever you refer to a basic strategy card for a hand.  It won’t take long before you incite rage or passion from someone nearby.

7.  “Marry me—our babies will be really cute.”

Once again, this is something you can say to a dealer who has given you a great run of cards.  However, I only say it to male dealers.  Declaring this to a female dealer would make me sound creepy.  Saying it to a male dealer also makes me sound creepy, but with a hint of intrigue.  One time it backfired—the dealer gave me a coy smile and responded, “They would!”

8.  “Did you know that the game of blackjack was invented in America in 1962?”

Say this to another player during a shuffle or when there is some other break in the action.  When the other player calls you on the obvious falsehood, argue passionately with them using as many lies as possible.  Say things like, “Uh huh, blackjack was invented right after the TV game show, Joker’s Wild aired.”  Or, “JFK invented the game while in office—That’s why they called him Black Jack Kennedy!”

9.  “If you deal me one more losing hand, I’m gonna shit in your gas tank!”

Usually, cursing or threatening a dealer would be grounds for a patron being thrown out of the casino.  However, saying the above quote will typically draw a smile from any casino employee within earshot.  When I say it, and the dealer wins the next hand, I get up quietly from the table and head for the exit. 

10.  “Good thing I got out that hand.  You got a blackjack.”

This is my absolute, all-time favorite thing to say at the blackjack table.  Anyone who counts cards knows that it is advisable to leave the game when the true card-count is relatively low.  If I sit out of the hand, and the dealer subsequently gets a blackjack on the next hand, I say, “Good thing I got out that hand.  You got a blackjack.”  Invariably, a pissed-off player seated at the table will get mad and reply “THAT’S BECAUSE YOU GOT OUTTA THE GAME!!!”  They think it is silly superstition.  I know it is skill, coupled with a dose of bad luck on their part.  Their angry reaction makes me smile for hours.

Not All Blackjack Stories are Funny

While I’ve had the urge to harm many a blackjack dealer during a bad run of cards, I’ve never taken things to this extreme:

http://www.lvrj.com/news/casino-dealer-slashes-another-at-the-bellagio-184573901.html

Two Book Reviews from the Midwest

The heartland showed me some love recently in the form of two separate book reviews.  Here are some fun words from the Chicago Sun-Times, circulation 400,000:

http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/gaming/16868338-421/book-informative-and-entertaining.html

The circulation of My Springfield Mommy is a tad less than 400,000, but their review was just as entertaining, and just as welcomed:

http://www.myspringfieldmommy.com/2012/12/gift-for-gambler-1536-free-waters-and.html

I wish all of you a happy (and lucky) holiday season!

Glen

America’s Love Affair With Gambling

A couple weeks ago, I submitted an exerpt to an online business and finance magazine for an article about America’s supposed love affair with lottery gambling.  This was during the period when the Powerball was up to 8 billion dollars or some ludicrous total like that.  I never heard back from the reporter, so I assume my material was not used.  Why waste good stuff?  Here is what I submitted:

Glen Wiggy, probability and statistics instructor, and author of “1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors—Finding Profit and Humor in Card-Counting,” offers a lighter side explanation to why American’s love a huge lottery jackpot.  The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are the same whether the jackpot is $5 million, $50 million or $500 million.  However, the bigger the jackpot, the bigger the fantasy value.  Americans line up in droves to purchase a shot at a half-billion dollar jackpot for three reasons:

(1)  It is cheap.  A Powerball ticket costs $1 or $2 tops.  That is the same amount of cash that most people spend on an afternoon soda each day to pep them up for those last few horrid hours of work.  Even folks delinquent on multiple credit card payments can find $1 in change somewhere to buy a small chance at glamorous fortune.

(2)  Despite the overwhelming odds, winning the grand prize in lotto is a possibility.  Unlike the fantasies of marrying Jennifer Aniston, partnering with Oprah on her surprise, comeback, daytime talk show, or being the first man to walk on Mars, picking the winning Powerball numbers is a distinct possibility.  Everyone knows that—everyone has seen the poor sheet metal worker holding that big-ass check on national TV.  They’ll say, “If it can happen to him, it can happen to me.” 

(3)    Buying a lotto ticket lets adults return to playing make believe.  When you’re a kid, you can dream of doing anything or being anybody.  In fact, daydreaming and playing make believe are considered normal childlike behaviors.  When you’re an adult, however, playing make believe is prohibited.  If you tell your cube mates at work, “When I grow up, I’m gonna win the Super Bowl as quarterback for the Cleveland Browns!” they will make you see a special doctor.  Also, lotto jackpot fantasies are acceptable to discuss in mixed company, unlike those naughty fantasies that you tell your wife that will never, ever come true. 

Big jackpots also make story-tellers out of all of us.  All lotto fantasy stories begin the same way, “If I won the lottery I would…”  Some of the fantasies are grand gestures, “If I won the lottery, I would give half to charity, then pay off the mortgages for my parents and thirteen brothers and sisters.”  Other lotto fantasies are less ambitious, “If I won the lottery, I would buy everyone on the block breakfast burritos—the good ones, with chucks of fried potatoes.”  Many people who aspire to win millions are pragmatic, “The first things I would do are hide the ticket and hire a lawyer.”  Others claim that they would never quit their day job after striking it rich.  I’m more of a realist.  The first thing that I would do after winning the half-billion dollar Powerball lottery is change my soiled underwear.

Overlooked by Paris Hilton

Regarding the following story:

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/video/paris-hilton-wins-30k-in-las-vegas-15757715

I’m glad that Paris Hilton won big at the blackjack table the other day.  However, I’m disappointed that she didn’t mention anything about the guy with the blackjack basic strategy card in Las Vegas last summer.  She also didn’t mention who pointed out when and why you should sometimes buy insurance against an ace when the true card-count is relatively high.  Paris didn’t say anything like “Wiggy, Wiggy, Wiggy, Wiggy, Wiggy,” which I heard continuously during a win streak that night in the casino.  Finally, Ms Hilton didn’t say a single thing about me putting her in my book (pg 207).

I understand that a tweet can only be 25 centimeters long, but c’mon, Paris!  You could’ve at least mentioned me in a different tweet.

Feeling slighted,

Glen

Anna Karenina and Blackjack – Spolier Alert!

Edward Thorp, Stanford Wong, and Arnold Snyder did not have this problem when they wrote blackjack books–I am compelled to let everyone know that the last chapter of my ridiculous, literary masterpiece contains a spoiler alert for the movie, Anna Karenina.

In the last chapter of 1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors, I mention that all great books or movies have a memorable or unexpected ending.  I reference the endings of The Shawshank Redemption, Catch-22, Citizen Kane, and The DaVinci Code.  I also discuss what happens to Anna in Leo Tolstoy’s literary classic.  For those of you who plan to see the latest movie adaptation of Anna Karenina starring the delicious Keira Knightley, I must warn you that my book blows the ending for you.  For those of you who have already read my book, and are plannning to see the movie, Anna Karenina, starring the scrumptious Keira Knightley, I apologize in advance that my last chapter already ruined the ending for you.  For those of you men (and maybe a few ladies) who will never in a million years watch something as sophisticated as the the movie, Anna Karenina, but instead will do Google image searches of Keira Knightley all day, then my book will spoil nothing for you.  (By the way, did you see the picture of her wearing the gold and black men’s tie with an unbuttoned white, collared shirt and black lace bra?  Rrrroooowwww!!!)

For those of who plan to buy my book, and also want to watch the movie, Anna Karenina, without having the ending spoiled, do I advise that you steer clear of the book?  No way!  I’m trying to make a profit, buddy.  Here’s what I recommend that you do: (1) Buy the book, maybe two copies, just in case something happens to the first, (2) Read the first 209 pages, pausing several times as needed to recover from the laughter, (3) Skip the first paragraph on page 210.  All you’ll miss is that I emphasize the need to have a good ending to the book, (4) Read the last ten pages, still laughing up until the last page, where you might shed a tear, (5) Go see the movie, Anna Karenina, starring the delectable Keira Knightley.  Don’t forget the popcorn, (6) Then, maybe, you download some sexy pictures of the lass.  Did you see the one of her in the white, polka dot bra and panties putting on a gray tanktop nightshirt?  Tolstoy never had a more happy ending!

Cheater-Cheater-Pumpkin-Eaters

Whenever a news article like this appears, it is my duty to remind all of you that card-counting in blackjack is not cheating.  What these guys did was cheating:

http://www2.nbc4i.com/news/2012/nov/28/4/10-central-ohioans-indicted-accused-cheating-colum-ar-1255809/

Casino Chip Crud

Have you ever played blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold’em or other casino table games in which the chips were dirty and disgusting?  When casinos do not regularly clean or replace their plastic, clay, or ceramic tokens, the filth on the chips accumulate into dotted black or gray deposits that I call “chip crud.”

Chip crud reminds me of the thousands of round splotches on sidewalks and streets where irresponsible gum chewers carelessly discard their wad instead of throwing it in the trash.  When the wad is new, it usually ends up on the bottom of your shoe or wedged in between the toes of your dog’s paw.  When the gum has been stepped on all day or continuously rolled over by tires, it becomes a permanent part of the leopard-like, spotted pavement.  Ridiculous.

If I had enough time and motivation, plus access to a chemical laboratory, I’d submit a sample of casino chip crud to have its composition analyzed.  I suspect it would be a combination of dirt, skin, cigarette ash, e coli, hair, lotion, sweat, lint, gum, dander and make-up.  Couple that with the things that everyday casino patrons come in contact with during the course of the average day, I bet that chip crud would also show traces of chocolate, stripper glitter, Chap-Stick, boogers, tuberculosis, pumpkin flavored vodka, urine, marijuana, Nacho Cheese Doritos, dental floss, beer, cocaine, urine, feces, plum-pudding, and moose semen.

While driving to Oklahoma a few summers ago, I stopped at a Native American reservation casino which had the worst chip crud that I’ve ever seen.  I was so appalled by the quantity and denseness of the gunk on the chips that I considered leaving.  However, it was the only casino around that offered an ante-free game of double-deck blackjack.  [Casinos in Oklahoma are required to charge twenty-five cents to a dollar ante per hand as a tax.  During some promotions, the house “absorbs” the tax by paying the player’s ante].  I had to put up with chip crud or pay a high per hand premium somewhere else.

I complained about the chips to the dealer and pit boss as soon as I bought in at the table.  Crud was on almost every chip.  “We know,” the dealer responded, “We get that complaint from everyone.”  I questioned, “So why don’t you do something about it?  Why don’t you clean the chips?”  The pit boss said that it was, “…not his show.”  A few minutes later, I gave the pit crew and all the other players at the table a show of my own.  I grabbed a couple toothpicks and a cocktail napkin from a dispenser near the casino snack bar.  When I had returned to the table, I placed the square napkin a few inches below and to the left of my stack of red and green chips.  In between hands, I used the toothpick to scrape the dark crud off the chips in my pile.  I then wiped the toothpick on the white napkin leaving numerous trails and small clumps of chip crud on the napkin’s surface.  When I finished with my chips, I traded a $100 stack with the guy sitting next to me.  He was supportive of the dreadful spectacle that I was making for everyone’s shock and my amusement.  After awhile, the napkin resembled a Rorschach inkblot test.  I held it up proudly, “Wow! This one looks like a pirate!”

“That’s disgusting!” a new dealer commented upon seeing the mess.  I responded, “It sure is…and you touch this crap for eight hours a day.  Think about that the next time you’re eating with your hands.”

Over a billion books sold?

I have to admit, I found this website when I was surfing for myself online.  Embarassingly pitiful to do, but fun when you find something like this…my book advertised for sale in China:

http://www.books.com.tw/exep/prod/booksfile.php?item=F012806548

Backed Off vs Banned

As you may know from various books and movies about card-counting in blackjack, casinos don’t usually allow card-counters to continue their ingenious practice once it is discovered.  You cannot be kicked out of a casino for counting—card-counting is legal as long as you do not use any mechanical or electronic devices to aid in tracking cards.  However, practically all casinos worldwide are private businesses which can restrict patronage for any reason.  You’ve seen the signs, “No shirt, No shoes, No service…No card-counting .”  If you are asked to leave a casino for counting, off the table or out the door you go.

To a card-counter, there is a distinct difference between being “backed off” from playing blackjack versus being banned by the casino.  Both result in your inability to play at that casino, but the distinction regards if/when/how you are able to return for more glorious blackjack action on future visits.  When you are “backed off” by a pit boss or casino manager, it means he or she wants you to leave the table or casino immediately.  Usually, you get a courteous tap on the shoulder, “Excuse me sir, your action is no longer welcome here.”  Or, you may be told, “You are welcome to play any game in our casino except blackjack.”  I’ve even been told, “You can play blackjack here if you like, but you cannot alter your bet” meaning—you cannot use card-counting to your advantage so the house still maintains an edge over you, shithead!  You may be able to return on a different shift, a different day, or six months down the line without being noticed or hassled.  It all depends if your identity has been compromised and recorded by the casino staff.  Since I began counting cards in January 2001, I have been backed off from approximately 20 different casinos.  In downtown Las Vegas in 2007, I was backed off from five different casinos in a three-hour stretch.  I suspect that some of the staff might’ve been talking to each other about me on the phone.  Plus, it was the middle of the night and I was wearing a bright yellow T-shirt.  Not very conspicuous, “Hey Frank, be on the lookout for Tweety Bird.”  At one time or another over the past five years, I have returned to all of those casinos without being backed off again.

When a card-counter is “banned” from the casino, there usually involves formal documentation restricting the player from ever returning.  For instance, when I was banned from the Sandia Casino in Albuquerque in May 2008, I was required to sign a document acknowledging that I would be trespassing if I ever returned to the casino, hotel or golf course.  (The golf course restriction hurt the most, since Sandia had an incredible 18-hole layout!)  I recall the form that I signed had a photo of me sitting at the table in my dingy Denver Broncos hat.  My rugged, handsome identity was definitely compromised.  I’ve never been banned from a Las Vegas casino, but I‘ve heard stories of players being detained for countless hours while the paperwork was prepared.  I’ve also heard that chips were taken back from the player prior to showing him the exit.  Once banned from a casino, it is difficult and impractical to attempt a return.  Unless it is the only game in town, the hassle is not worth the benefit.

Last Monday, I experienced a backing off in Las Vegas which may be more serious than the usual backing off.  I had been playing at a $50 table at the Bellagio for approximately two hours.  My wife and I were staying in the hotel and I was using an M-Life player’s card to earn comps, so I made no attempt to conceal my identity.  I had a good session after a string of increased bets and multiple hands due to a large true count.  The casino manager, who resembled the character on Seinfeld who told George Costanza, “Yeah, it’s a money thing” when George was using a jackhammer to drill the streets of NYC, approached me from behind saying, “Mr Wiggy, can I have a word with you?”  He had a security guard on his side.  I responded sarcastically with a lighthearted smile, “That’s not necessary.  I know that you want me to leave.  I just wish you had told me ten minutes ago before I lost that last shuffle.”  The manager responded with a sarcastic smile of his own, “I don’t give a shit!”  At that point, the lightheartedness was over.  I gathered my chips and started walking quietly toward the elevator.  The casino manager also stated, “You can play any game you want on our property, but not blackjack.”  I figured that, but I didn’t anticipate what he said next, “…this also applies to all M-Life properties.”  Ouch.  There are dozens of hotels in Vegas operated under the M-Life umbrella, many of which offered me comped rooms and meals, and sometime show tickets.  I had never been backed off at an M-Life property previously.

The big questions are:  Will I be banned if I try playing again at the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, New York-New York, Aria or other M-Life properties?  Will I be recognized at any of those places if I don’t use a player’s card?  Will the marketing departments and VIP hosts for those hotels still send me promotional offers?  Will I be able to accept?  Will I be recognized by the same casino manager and staff at the Bellagio six months from now?  (Which I will obviously try, just for the sport of it!)  Is this what happens to famous blackjack authors?  Is this what happens to less than famous blackjack authors named Wiggy?  Stay tuned as the situation develops.

Me in the Huffington Post? Really?!

I want to sincerely thank Mindi Sue from Smith Publicity for getting me into the Huffington Post, and Erin Ruberry from HP for inviting me.  When I saw the article yesterday, I almost wet my pants.  Do you want to see a picture of that?  No?  Then you’ll have to be content with reading the article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glen-wiggy/card-counting-blackjack_b_2118949.html

Is There Anybody Out There?

In the past six months, this site has had over 3000 hits.  That means someone is reading this drivel.  On the contrary, this site is averaging 0.00001 responses per day from visitors.  Why the imbalance?  Doesn’t everyone have a blackjack story?  If so, please tell me about it.  Do you have a funny story?  How about a big win or loss?  What about a strange encounter with another player or casino employee?  Anything!  At this point, I’d even accept pictures of cute dogs and cats.  Lay it on me…As I have fully demonstrated, the words don’t have to be Shakespeare.

13 Ways to Get Extra Attention at the Blackjack Table

Most blackjack strategy books advise that a card-counter should remain relatively quiet at the table.  Obvious card-counting or strange behaviors can make the dealer and pit boss suspicious.  My philosophy is quite the opposite—I try to draw as much attention as possible each and every time I visit the blackjack table.  My goal is to amuse or annoy the other players, plus the dealer, pit boss, wait staff, and any unsuspecting spectators.  I’m trying to give them an amazing story that they’ll repeat over Sunday dinners.  The stranger the story, the better.  Here are thirteen ways to get extra attention at the table:

1. Carry a basic strategy card, but only pull it out of your pocket on obvious plays, “Hmmm, I have a 2-3 and the dealer is showing a king.”  [extra long pause]  “Hit me!”

2. Instead of a red $5 chip, place a red unrolled condom on the betting circle.  For extra emphasis, stack one red condom on top of a green condom to simulate a $30 bet, then place a white rolled condom in front for a dealer toke.

3. Buy in for $100 using quarters…unrolled quarters.

4. Most casinos have live prize drawings for player’s club members. When they draw an unusual, foreign-sounding name, try to claim the prize.  [Intercom: The winner of our nine o’clock drawing is Thiruvanamthapuram Patsurashasham.]  Stand up screaming, “Yee haw—that’s me.”  Note: this gag only works if you are not the same race or nationality of the actual winner.

5. Have you ever seen a $10,000-a-hand baccarat player who rips the cards on each play?  Try doing the same thing on a $5 bet at blackjack.  You will be talked about for a loooooong time.

6. When faced with a tough decision on a hand, pull out the basic strategy card again.  This time, ask aloud while looking at it, “What would Jesus do?”

7. Excuse yourself to the bathroom.  When you return, announce with a straight face, “The sink was broken.  Pardon me if I get some urine on the cards and chips this next shoe.”

8. When a waiter or waitress stops by, order drinks for everyone at the table.  However, order the exact opposite of what you think the players would want:  “The big biker will have a virgin Shirley Temple, this lovely octogenarian to my left will have a triple Red Bull, and Sister Mary Agnes over there will have a Sex on the Beach.  Also, bring me a Long Island iced tea—no rum, no vodka, no tequilla, no gin, extra ice, and a splash of prune juice.”

9. Bring a life-sized, stuffed ostrich into the casino and place it on the seat to your right at the table.  When the dealer, pit boss, or other players ask you questions about the stuffed bird, pretend that don’t speak English.  If you’ve made it this far without being kicked out of the casino for good, take it further by playing a second hand in front of the bird.  When the decision comes for the bird to take a hit, just squawk continuously.

10. In a shoe game where you use a single finger to signal for a hit, use your middle finger.

11. If you lose all your chips, get up from the table with a remorseful expression, “My wife’s gonna kill me—that was her colostomy bag money.”  Note: this gag is only effective and humorous if your wife does NOT actually need colostomy bags.

12. Some fun dealer’s announce, “Winner, winner—chicken dinner” after you get a blackjack.  Turn the tides on them.  When the dealer gets a blackjack, yell “Loser plucker—chicken fucker!”  For some reason, this joke only works once for me before I get a visit from the Casino Manager.

13. This one is my favorite.  Before sitting at the table, visit the casino snack bar and place four ketchup packets in your mouth.  Keep ‘em there secretly while you play blackjack.  Wait a long time—play all night if necessary—until someone gets dealt three sixes in a row.  Then, crush the ketchup packages with your jaw and spit the bloody mess all over the table screaming, “THE DEVIL, THE DEVIL!!!”  If you really want a story that will be told forever, scream in Spanish, “DIOS MIO, EL DIABLO!!!”

Happy Halloween

Here’s the way I feel after losing at the casino!

WARNING – Blackjack Article Features My Picture

When I wrote in my book about my mother and father’s roots in Pittsburgh, I didn’t know that they (and I) would be featured in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newsapaper:

http://triblive.com/aande/gambling/2833935-74/casino-wiggy-card-counting-blackjack-percent-players-says-cards-counter#axzz2ASPMPevM

I want to thank Mark Gruetze for spending time with me on the phone a few days ago.  He told me all about the growing number of blackjack locales in Pennsylvania…I told him about my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandmothers growing up in Pittsburgh.  Although it is written in the Preface of my book, I did NOT mention to Mark that my Aunt Wilma died at a bingo hall in the Steel City!  Some things are better left unsaid when having a fun interview.

Detroit Blackjack Team Quiz vs the Monument, Colorado Blackjack Humor Awareness Evaluation

The Detroit Blackjack Team Quiz is a tough, comprehensive online exam designed to distinguish novice card-counters from technical experts.  If you haven’t tried the quiz yet, go to www.detroitblackjackteam.com/quiz/

The following quiz is much different—it tests practical awareness about blackjack and whether or not you have a sense of humor.  See how you do:

1. While playing a friendly game of blackjack at the local casino, an incredibly drunk and obnoxious man takes the seat to your left. He has two large handfuls of green $25 chips. He reeks of booze and barely has the manual dexterity to push chips onto the betting circle. He is loud and crude to you, the dealer and the other players. During the course of play, the drunk makes several mistakes against Basic Strategy, and appears to be on the verge of passing out in the middle of hands. You should:

A. Ignore the gentleman.

B. Notify the pit boss of the situation.

C. Calmly and silently move to another table.

D. Watch the guy like a hawk because he is likely to drop chips on the floor in the middle of his drunken stupor enabling you to have a shot at one or several of the greens chips he will mistakenly lose over the course of the evening.

Answer: D. It might be stealing, technically, but I’ve pocketed chips dropped or mishandled by a drunk three different times at the casino. I’ll even follow the drunkard around from table to table.

2. Some die-hard card-counters advise that you should never tip the dealer, because the act reduces the overall expected profit gained by card-counting. This advice is:

A. Sound. You should never tip the dealer.

B. Silly. How much you tip, and how you play blackjack are independent events.

C. Solid. The dealer is already well compensated by the casino.

D. Stupid. Only a cheap prick would give that kind of advice. In fact, let’s all gang up and beat the crap out of the idiot who said such a thing.

Answers: B or D. Call me a ploppy if you want, but I think dealers should be tipped routinely when you enjoy their company and/or service, and maybe tipped more when you are winning.

3. After years of practice and experience, you’ve established yourself as a relatively good card-counter, and always play according to Basic Strategy. You are also a huge fan of the Denver Broncos. One Sunday in January, you find yourself trying to simultaneously count cards and watch the playoff game between the Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts on the big-screen television on the wall over and beyond the dealer’s head. You mistakenly stay on a thirteen against the dealer’s ten. By the time you notice the mistake, the dealer has already taken the next card, an eight which would have given you a twenty-one. You lose $35 as a result of your inattentiveness on the hand. You should:

A. Never, ever try to count cards while pre-occupied with something else.

B. Quit playing cards, or quit watching the game, one or the other.

C. Consider killing yourself for continuing to be a Denver Bronco fan and season-ticket holder after John Elway had retired.

D. All of the above.

Answer: D. This happened to a guy who is just like me, except dumber.

4. True or false. Using Basic Strategy in the game of blackjack is guaranteed to make you a winner.

Answer: True. I absolutely, positively, guarantee that if you play one-hundred hands in blackjack using Basic Strategy, you will win at least three of those hands.

5. You walk up to a table and attempt to enter a six-deck game of blackjack mid-shoe while another player is head’s up against the dealer. The other player kindly asks, “Can you please wait until I lose a hand? I have a good streak going.” You should:

A. Wait until the player loses a hand. She did say “please” and appeared considerate with the request.

B. Reply, “I’ll wait just one hand. You can’t really expect me to wait much longer.”

C. Ignore the player and her goofy superstitions, then continue to enter the game quietly.

D. Reply humorously, but conveying a serious message, “Okay, but then I want you to wait thirty-two hands while I play alone.”

Answer: Any of the above answers are correct. A situation like this happens quite often. A player who asks you to wait is a bit selfish, but there is no reason to be mean or rude in response. We are all trying to accomplish the same goal of winning a few bucks. Actually, if you are counting cards, the answer to this question is “E. A card-counter should never blindly enter a game mid-shoe.” 

6. You are seated at a table with one other player to your right. The player is a tall, slender man approximately fifty-five years old wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap and playing $800 on the hand. You are playing the table minimum of $10. You are dealt a twelve against the dealer’s two. The other player stands on his pat seventeen. Since you are playing by Basic Strategy, you signal the dealer for a hit. Before the dealer reacts, however, the other player interrupts, “I wish you wouldn’t hit. I’m betting big, and I don’t want you to take the dealer’s bust card.” You should:

A. Ignore the other player and signal for a hit.

B. Kindly inform the man, “I’ll play the way I want, you can play the way you want.”

C. Reply, “Fuck off, Joe DiMaggio!”

D. Tell the guy, “Okay. I’ll stay, but only if you give me $10 if I lose.”

Answer: D. The guy gave me two red chips even before the hand was finished. We each won our hands because the dealer busted. The dealer would have busted even if I had taken a hit. I netted $20 on the hand. Note: in this situation, if you say, “Okay. I’ll stay, but only if you give me $10 if I lose,” and the other player declines the offer, the correct response is then C, “Fuck Off, Joe DiMaggio!”

7. True or false. A player dealt a blackjack may double-down.

Answer: Absolutely true in most casinos. Sometimes this is also done during blackjack tournaments when a player needs to get more money on the table. Someone once told me that the strategy is also good in a single-deck blackjack game where the true count is extremely high and the payout for a normal blackjack is six to five. I cannot confirm or deny that is the right move, but it doesn’t sound logical to me.

8. Which of the following phenomena cannot occur during a game of blackjack under the standard rules applied at most casinos:

A. A player loses or wins eight times the amount originally bet at the start of the hand.

B. A man with $500 bet on a hand of blackjack stays on a pair of aces against a dealer’s four.

C. A dealer runs out of cards.

D. A player with a hard total of twenty-one asks for, and is given, another hit.

Answer: This is a trick question. All four of the answers are possible. I’ve never seen situation (A) occur, but it is possible. Most casinos allow a player to split pairs four times. If a double-down is made on all four split hands, the player could win or lose eight times the original bet. I witnessed situation (B). The player knew that splitting aces was the correct way to play the hand, but he did not have the money to cover the bet. I had $500, and wanted to buy one of the split aces. The player refused my offer. He also chose not to hit, fearing he would take the dealer’s bust card. He stayed on a two—and lost, by the way. Situation (C) can occur in a single-deck game if the dealer inadvertently plays too many hands or there are many splits and low cards in the deck after the penetration card surfaces. Situation (D) came up in a hypothetical discussion. A guy at my table was complaining that he lost seven hands in a row. I bet him $100 that I could lose the next ten hands in a row. He didn’t take the bet knowing there was a catch. There was. I told him I would simply bet $5 a hand and purposely hit until I busted every hand. The guy replied, “What if you got a twenty-one? You couldn’t take another hit.”  I responded, “Yes I could.” The dealer disagreed with me. I told him and the player that they were both wrong. Most casino rules say a player can hit until the hand is busted. The pit boss settled the argument saying that I was correct, “But, you’d be stupid to do it,” he clarified.  My response: “Not if it won me a $100 side bet.”

 9. Your spouse wants to spend $1000 on a new chair and ottoman for the master bedroom. The love of your life asks if you have any extra money in your secret gambling stash. You have a hair more than a thousand tucked away, but buying the furniture would deplete your gambling fund for future casino visits. You reply:

 A. “Sorry, honey, I only have a few dollars left in the stash.”

B. “What happened to all the money you’ve saved over the years?”

C. “We already have a bed in the bedroom. Why do you need a chair? And, why the livin’ hell does anyone ever need an ottoman?”

D. “I have $1083.50 in the stash. It’s yours, my darling.”

Answer: D. What do you think I am, crazy?

10. What is the most politically correct term to call blackjack players who routinely deviate from basic strategy?

A. Stupid

B. Goofy

C. Crazy

D. Blackjackally Challenged

Answer: D (copyright, Glen Wiggy, 2012, from the book, “1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors.”)

My First Negative Book Review

Richard Munckin is a renown blackjack author and professional gambler.  Here is his review on my book:

 http://www.richardmunchkin.com/2012/10/1536-free-waters-book-review.html

Despite his negative review on my literary masterpiece, at least Mr Munchkin printed my response on his website.  I have no problem with what he said–diehard card-counters and professional gamblers are not my target audience.  I just wish Richard would’ve mentioned one of the ten-thousand funny anecdotes or stories from the book.  He mentioned zero.  For instance, when I made the decision to Martingale $100 in an attempt to buy a TV, I was sitting on the toilet!  How could that tidbit from the story go unmentioned? 

The whole thing was like someone doing a book review of The Bible and saying, “The weather conditions were always horrid and the main characters were poorly dressed.  Also, the food and beverage choices at the last supper leave something to be desired.  I give it one swarm of locusts on a scale of five swarms of locusts.”

Life goes on.

 

My First Casino Visit as a Published Author

I played blackjack in a casino today–the first time since being published.  As I approached the entrance to the facility (which shall remain nameless), I wondered if anything would be different.  Maybe there would be a special greeter for me outside the door, “Good morning, Mr Wiggy, excellent book!  We have a special table set aside for you in the PLUSH VELVET room.  Do you want some champagne or a mango and passion fruit smoothie?  What about a scone?  Would you prefer that we wash and dry your feet like Jesus while you play?  We introduced new chips today–they have your picture on one side.  Plus, there are 47 of us casino employees waiting for you to explain every intricacy of the game, even though we’ve been working here day in and day out for centuries.  Please dazzle use with your brilliance!”

Or, perhaps I would be treated oppositely upon arrival, “Freeze asshole!  Get on the ground–NOW!  What made you think you could ever come here again after writing a blackjack book?  Who are you working with?  How come you have a bottle of Carmex in your right, front pocket?  Who is Talmadge?  We’ve called the FBI, CNN, TMZ.com, and the United Nations.  Your days of counting cards are over.  Plus, there is an excellent chance that you will be executed in our back parking lot in 15 minutes.  We have a guillotine!”

Something in between those two extremes actually occurred.  Nothing.  I went in the building, played blackjack for three hours while counting cards in a mostly vacant pit, made a small profit, cashed out a $20 coupon, received a comped breakfast burrito (bacon, egg, potato and cheese) and drove home listening to the new Mumford & Sons CD.  Great music.  You know, they released that album to commemorate the publication of my book!