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Poker, baccarat & blackjack card counting

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In 1980, I was a craps dealer in Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas before getting a legit job at the USPS. Before becoming a dealer, I loved playing poker with my Greek-American friends once a week before turning 21. Also sneaked into casinos and played poker before coming of age. One time I drove 6 hours from a Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena lake party (a Greek-American fraternity and sorority & Junior Order of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association or AHEPA) at Millerton Lake near Fresno to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

With the poker experience provided by the weekly home game with my Greek-American friends, I was ready to compete against Vegas's poker players. Seven card stud was the game offered at Caesars Palace in 1975. One hand stood out and here is how it played out. I had pocket threes and connected one three from my open cards. When I received the last card down and dirty, it was a three! I had quads and a poker face that did not give a tell. I raised and re-raised and several hundred dollars were eventually in the pot. When I showed my cards, the Caesars players were amazed that I had four of a kind without showing emotion. That was my baptism to Nevada gambling.

Frequently I played seven card stud at Sahara Tahoe leaving San Francisco by Greyhound bus at 6:30 pm after delivering groceries at Chicos Market on Nob Hill, my Saturday job. After work at 6:15 pm, I'd run down the hill from Leavenworth/Sacramento street to the bus terminal (at least a mile) at Seventh Street near Market Street, buy my ticket, and off to South Shore Lake Tahoe casinos.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, five card Lowball was offered in California card rooms in those days. The Casino Royale in San Bruno on El Camino Real Blvd. is where I played. The casino collected its money on a time basis instead of collecting it out of the pots. The players were the dealers. The regulars were not fun to compete against, so I gave up playing poker until the '90s.

My sister's boyfriend at the time (James Stratigos) gave me books on blackjack card counting by Stanley Roberts and Edward O. Thorp's "Beat The Dealer" (1966 2nd edition) in 1977. I wondered, why the get rich quick scheme for the masses? Being a sceptic, I observed these card counting systems while dealing blackjack at casinos in Nevada. A dealer friend of mine tried playing Thorp's Hi-Lo Count while I was dealing $1 blackjack at Harolds Club in Reno all-night long heads up (one on one). He lost $100, and we were both disappointed with the results. I also dealt to the "legendary" card counting king Ken Uston and cleaned him out along with hundreds of delusional card counters. With the hundreds of thousands of blackjack hands I dealt in casinos, I thought card counting was bunk and a scam.

However in 1991, I created the JSTAT Count that used actual mathematics based on the perfect probability of blackjacks and the utilization of perfect insurance. I won a good amount of money as a single deck blackjack counter from 1991-1997. Reno and Lake Tahoe casinos were ATM's in those years. In 1997, I got cocky and played six deck games in Las Vegas and was barred from playing blackjack in Nevada. So I applied a hit and run strategy without giving my name to nosy pit bosses after receiving the bum's rush from Nevada's gambling casinos. That's what you get for betting with your head instead of over it.

While working at the post office, I dreamed of writing a book about casinos and its games. The Internet came along and I was concerned about others stealing my material, so that was shelved. But if any blackjack expert wants to debate about the validity of my count, bring it on! I tried to share my card counting method on Internet message boards and YouTube, but was shouted down by "agents" of the casino industry! What are they scared of? I can prove that blackjack books by "recognized" experts were not accurate as promised. One day I hope my card counting method will make mainstream media and truth will prevail. If you are willing to bet with your head, not over it, winning long-term at baccarat and 21 can be had via counting cards. I worked in the casino industry as a craps/21 dealer in Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas before getting a legit job at the USPS. Using this experience and my love for math, I managed to make a spare income playing in casinos a couple of times a year for the last 30 years. I shared some of the knowledge on YouTube and Twitter to the dismay of "recognized experts" who refuse to address my serious concerns.

Casino/Advantage Play consultant Eliot Jacobson did a a card counting analysis of the EZ Baccarat Dragon 7 side bet that was published on the Wizard of Odds site in 2011. Using a linear count simulation, Jacobson concluded a shoe depleted of more eights and/or nines than normal provided an advantage for the Dragon 7 side bet which pays 40-1. I upped the ante by tracking ten cards with my JSTAT Count (2-9=+1 and 10-K=-2) with an 8/9 side count (Quantum Strategy) and have been very successful playing in casinos. It only makes sense that a winning three card Banker 7 cannot happen with a ten card (on plus JSTAT Counts) along with the 8/9's as a third card in this non-linear count.

As an additional bonus, I discovered the JSTAT Count with the side counting (and the lack of) of 8/9's remaining in the shoe with minus counts works very well with Player Bets in conventional mini/midi baccarat. A deck particularly poor of 8's/9's and ten value cards diminishes the power of the third card rule favoring the Banker side. Because any 8 or 9 and ten card value as the third card determines many times the standing Banker action where the Banker takes the most of its advantage. Moreover whenever a deck is poor of 8's, 9's, and 10's frequently, it means that more small-medium cards are available to catch for the Player side as the third card. Obviously the (slight) main effect favoring the Player side is due to the second issue, along with the fact the Player bets are paid 1.1 and not 0.95:1.

Side counting the 8/9's are just as effective in blackjack as it is in the EZ Baccarat Dragon 7 side bet or reducing the Player bet house advantage at conventional baccarat. At blackjack, with a plus JSTAT Count with more 8/9's remaining than normal, our double downs will improve on 10/11 and the dealer will bust more often than average. In my opinion, the side counting of 8/9's with the JSTAT Count enhances card counting at blackjack and baccarat to the point of long-term wins.

One day, I'll expose the "experts" who push blackjack Level One counts such as the Hi-Lo Count and Zen Count among others that doesn't include the side counting of 8/9's. With most 8/9's depleted than normal, the dealer will connect more on stiffs and our double downs on 10/11 will weaken. This ignorance eliminates most of the advantage (if not all) from Hi-Lo/Zen Counts or other linear counts.

A recent study by MIT and CalTech researchers found that side counting (Quantum Strategy or Entanglement) increases a card counter's advantage. How can "recognized blackjack experts" miss this? Many have played and lost in the long run. "Those who can't do, teach". Thus the book writing to echo the sentiment that card counting is easy money. It is not! Study hard and make sure after hundreds of thousands of hands at the kitchen table to be convinced. You might find practicing just as enjoyable as playing in casinos. I have during this pandemic!
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