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Lesson 5

Not surprisingly, Resorts had begun to take counter-measures, notably by installing six-deck shoes at all the bigger games, which made counting less productive.  Although the casino was jam-packed with gambles morning, noon and night, the ‘counters’ convention’, as one dealer termed it, was evidently putting a crimp in the management ’s bottom line.  Even so, as the only casino then open, Resorts was still doing unbelievable business.  ‘This joint, ’ one of the bosses confided, ‘is a money machine.’  The team continued to pull ahead.

During one session, Uston’s mom and Dad dropped in, to watch their boy play.  but it was not a family game, as the technique involved in playing a six-deck shoe shows.
When it was time to bet, I would note the ‘running count ’ and the number of aces, as indicated by the position of my feet.  I’d calculate the ‘adjusted running count ’ by adding ‘4’ for every ace rich [remaining ] in the remaining cards, or deducing ‘4’ for every ace poor in the deck.  I would then estimate the number of half-decks remaining in the shoe by eyeballing the discard pile.  Dividing the ‘adjusted running count ’ by the number of half-decks gave me the ‘betting true count ’, which I multipled by 1.5.  Then I added $ 150.  That is the amount I would bet, rounded to the nearest $ 100…
When it was time to play the hand, I went through a similar process.  Sometimes playing decisions were required… there were about 140 numbers on which we had to have nearly instant recall.
In short, it was more like being a human computer than playing game, except that at the same time as playing, it was necessary to be nice to the dealer, josh around with the pit bosses and act pleasantly to all the other players at the table.  Uston relished the challenge.  He prided himself on his accuracy, eliminating his inner feelings while playing, and avoiding mistakes (which cost money).  The team continued to pull ahead.  Then came Black Tuesday.
Word flashed round that the  casino was going to bar counter that night at 8 p.m.  The atmosphere was weird.  Counters kept coming up to the table where Uston sat, retailing the latest rumours.  Meanwhile the tables were virtually unsupervised by floor personnel, as if the management was standing back, watching from the ‘eye in the sky’.  The rumours continued, the barring would be at 9 p.m., then 10 p.m. Uston felt a sinking feeling in his stomach, it became impossible to count correctly.  He decided to leave the casino and joined some of the others up in their hotel room.

  Like some affluent hippie crash-pad, the room was a jumble of bedclothes and laundry, strewn with betting chips and bank-notes.  It was their ninth day in town.  $ 181,900 was scattered around of which the win from the second Atlantic City Bank was $65,000.  Uston feared more than a barring – reprisals might follow.  He was, admittedly, paranoiac, having been slugged in the jaw by a security guard in Reno a while back in a little ‘accident ’, and was still undergoing dental surgery.  They reviewed the alternatives and decided to cash out.  If the barring was only a rumour, they could return.  The emergency ‘get-out-of-the-casino-immediately’ signal (right fist pounding on the chest ) was given to the rest of the team.

Uston loaded $ 25,000 worth $ 500 chip in a chip rack and stuffed a few thousand more in assorted denominations into a laundry bag, and went down to the cashier’s cage.  The casino seemed calm.  He opened the laundry bag and gradually pilled up his chips.  There was a commotion behind him.  He turned and saw an entourage approaching, led by an official-looking grey-haired man in a business suit.  he was followed by three plain-clothes security guards.  The official was wearing an ‘A’ badge, the top designation in the Resorts administration.  ‘What ’s your name?’ Ken told him.  ‘Address?  Phone number?  Date of birth?  Social security number?’ The information was written down on a clip-board, then the official uncovered a tiny 3 by 5 inch card from his board and read it out:
I represent the landlord of the premises.  I am informing you that you are considered to be a professional card-counter, and you are not allowed to gamble at any blackjack table in this casino.  If you attempt to gamble at a blackjack table, you will be considered to be a disorderly person and will be evicted from the casino and return, I will have you arrested for trespassing.  If you refrain from gambling at a blackjack table you are welcome to participate in any other game offered by the casino.
All right, they had it coming to them.  Uston was native, you may say.  But note that he wasn’t going in for any kind of sharp practice, let alone cheating.  He was simply playing the game according to the rules.  He was plying the game better than the casino, he knew much, much more about blackjack than the casino.

Indeed most counters know more about the gameof cards than the casinos do.  Uston took up his barring with the Control commission.  His proposal was for a kind of fair deal for both sides in blackjack, which he termed, in a memo on the subject, an ‘Open Environment ’ for blackjack in New Jersey.  So far this has not come to pass and one must doubt that it ever will.
For the sake of basic sanity as distinct from basic strategy it was essential to inject some humour into blackjack, and it came from a very funny man, arnold Snyder.  He was a counter like all the rest, but also held down a job as a postman in a small town in California.

Perhaps it was on his delivery rounds that the revelation came to him that the cult of blackjack was really a form of religion.  It had that intensity of belief and commitment about it.  At the National Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking in 1981, one of the heavy-weight gathering of specialists from across academe and the gaming industry.  Snyder promulgated his First Church of Blackjack, ordaining himself Bishop.
My people, I have a vision.  I see the dawning of the age of Blackjack.  I see a world with a casino on every street from Atlantic City to L.A., New York-Chicago, Your Town-My Town.  I see a world where dealers make house calls!

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