Blackjack, from Steve Leslie

March 29, 2008 |

21I worked the East Coast blackjack circuit back in the 90s from Atlantic City through the Bahamas and Mississippi, not on the level of the MIT team profiled in the new film "21"  but I had full comps — RFB, show tickets and air. Mostly on the weekends. I did it for the comps and the travel. I read the books, Ed Thorp's Beat the Dealer, and Stanford Wong's Professional Blackjack. My bible became Million Dollar Blackjack by Ken Uston, perhaps the greatest blackjack player ever. Back then the game was beatable and you could still get single and double deck games in Mississippi. Played at the highest level and flawlessly and if the rules were fair — dealer stands on any 17 and player can double down on any two cards — the player had a 1.5% advantage over the house. Believe me, played alone it is a lonely grind. Uston perfected the counting strategy to three levels and organized teams working through the 70s and early 80s. Ultimately, he was barred virtually everywhere, and the teams were very hard to keep together. It has been nearly 10 years since I seriously played blackjack. I am not sure the game can be beaten today.


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