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The full monty
Charlie, you won't many useful responses because this is more sensitive to the people involved than the size of their penis. But for your edification and without stepping outside the limits of secrecy, here's the lowdown from a friend of mine whom I'll call "Jerry Nick":
1. Please give a brief description of yourself.
I am a professional advantage player.
2. Please describe how you got started in professional blackjack, and why you decided to earn your living that way.
I was a gambler relying on luck, until I came across Kenny Uston's book, which changed my whole perspective. I started reading more of that stuff and changed my whole attitude towards gambling. I discovered that I really liked to always play with an edge. And when my income from gambling (advantage play) became substantial enough, I started dedicating a major part of my time to playing in casinos - and elsewhere. I have kept my day job but my day job isn't anything to brag about. With the net, I got more educated and realized that having a big Bankroll, as big as possible, is the only way to go in this life. So I have made it a habit of trying to play with a team, preferably with the same bunch of people (1 woman) year in and year out.
3. Please describe the difficulties you had in starting.
Learning the math and the strategy was easy. What was tough was getting rid of my old gambling habits: I over bet, I steamed when losing, I didn't like going home a loser, I tipped too much (the first thing to go as I got more eduated), etc.
4. Please give a description of your everyday life, focussing on the work at the casino, as that is what my character’s life will be revolving around.
When we hit a particular area with one or more casinos, we spend an amount of time playing there as regular players, betting small amounts here and there, in every game, including 21. We check out if the information we have been given, if any, is accurate, or we get to create our own profile of the casinos' games and their vulnerabilities, if any. That time is only a little tense and mostly fun because no financial risk is involved.
When we hit the casino proper, we alternate between long periods of attention and inaction, due to no opportunities present - and action along with camouflaging, when we swing into it. We don't necesarily work together or even in teams of 2. The pooing of money s the important thing. But sometimes, like when attacking a particular game of ********* ***** we operate as a team of 3 persons.
5. Did anything particularly of interest happen? For example, getting roughed up in ally ways etc…
It's "alley ways" (you said you were a writer) and yes it has happened. Details will not be revealed, until maybe Charlie buys me a beer, because the protagonists are still around and probably read up on these pages too. I will say this: the roughing happened when I was green - and scared when tapped. guys are regular animals and feed on fear. Now I try and mostly succeed to scare them, of course not physically. Mind you, it helps if, no matter what your size, you come on as someone who would probably know how to defend himself physically too. That or looking like you'd have a heart attack at any second. Some joints are careful about their image (heart attack), other couldn't care less and want you hide (zenmaster).
6. What sort of countermeasures have been taken against you?
All of them. Barring, backing off, roughing up, threats, heavy threats (E. Europe), shoving and pushing and shrieking (Asia), you name it. I may write my own book someday.
7. What stakes do you usually play?
I have been in jonts where we were betting, each of us, around $5000 a pop. I have passed 3 hours once betting the equivalent of half a dollar a hand because I was Tom the cat and had Spike breathing down my neck.
8. What is your average income from playing?
9. What makes a good dealer?
A good dealer for me is a dealer who is not very protective of his cards, his game or his pay-offs, doesn't call out to the pit every single time a player breaks wind or breaks a moneywad, and who forgets about you when his shift is over. I don't want junkies or thiefs at my table, even if they try to help me, which they sometimes do. I can take care of my own, thanks.(I don't care if the dealer chooses to hate my guts as long as he offers a fast and discrete game.)
10. Who were your influences?
Kenny Uston, who else?
11. What sort of cover do you use?
Besides the obvious betting techniques, some light camo, such as phony glasses, facial hair changed around, and how I dress. I have come to find out that a different attire makes someone a competely different person to the casino staff's eyes. But you can't fool the eye upstairs with appearances or cover play, not for long and not when you're betting above the radar.
Cover tactics is something that I keep pretty much to myself. I hate it when some guys retire and write books about cover.
What do you look for in choosing a game?
Vulnerability first, and then potential hourly win. Then I check out what countermeasures the casino employs. Then I worry about if I have the required BR.
Anything else you wish to add, or that may be of interest?
In order to be a war correspondent you need to go to the front line with the troops. Instead of asking for such information on an open forum (you wouldn't get them even in the most restricted forum!) try to get in touch with a vainglorious advantage player or two and join them in action.
...That's what Jerry Nick told me and that's all I can tell you. Good luck with the book.
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