Ten stupid questions
Exhibit CAA is a pseudonym of James Grosjean, a professional gambler and author, well known for his book Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker.
The old saying, “There's no such thing as a stupid question” is wrong when it comes to blackjack.
Sometimes, inexperienced card counters ask questions of casino employees that inadvertently bring attention to the fact that the counter just might be more knowledgeable than the average casino patron (“civilian” or “ploppy”).
For example, don’t ask if there are any tables without CSM’s. Don't tell me that “lots of civilians dislike the machines, so it's a common question.” Some civilians dislike the machines (and fewer still will actually take their business elsewhere because of it), yet ALL counters hate the machines. Why would you raise a red flag when there is a simple method of getting the answer: just look around! Check with online sources (like BJ21 and the casino's website), and then look around at all the tables for confirmation.
Similarly, do NOT ask:
- How many decks are in use (I picked off a member of a well-known team years ago before he even played a hand because of this question, when it was obvious that it was an 8-deck game! If you can't tell how many decks they're using, you're not ready for serious play.)
- To see the burn card (not worth the red flag)
- Why they put the shuffle card so shallow (civilians rarely notice penetration)
- Why a natural pays only 6:5 (are you Al Rogers or something?)
- If they offer surrender (just try to surrender a small bet early on)
- How dealer rotation works (just check with others and then verify by watching)
- If you're allowed to play other games after you’re backed off from blackjack
- If your comps/points are still good after they back you off
- Anything personal about the dealer (try to absorb by eavesdropping, but direct questions generally trigger reciprocation)
- How much you've bought in so far (shows awareness/avoidance of the CTR threshold, and you shouldn't cut it that close, and you shouldn't need their help to do your accounting).
Avoiding stupid questions can often avoid attracting attention that you don’t want, and sometimes can enhance your longevity in a casino. Don’t be stupid!
Originally published on bj21.com Green Chip, lightly edited for this format.