Why Big Money Card Counting is Not Sustainable
I felt like writing a post so I figured I would ramble like usual.
I have lots of time to think and after some hard times mentally evaluating where my life was going It created a lot of turmoil for me. Surprisingly this was after I actually hit a long term goal I had set out to hit. I hit my earnings goal and I became more miserable then I have every been before and I thought once I hit this goal I would be generally happy and pleased where my life was heading. The one thing I thought money could achieve was security and freedom and at a point where my bank was at it highest ever this was ironically the most insecure I had ever been. I think I have come out on the other side better with a new and refreshed perspective somewhat. Here are my thoughts on a professional solo card counter who wants to make more than 250k a year (usually much more than that).
Ok so when you have no bank or a net worth less than 100k (ideally 50-100k to start with) brick and mortor card counting (you say table games ap if you want I'm just dealing with counting but substitute counting for watrv table game ap, and it really doesn't matter). This is a great spot to work your bank to a min of 300k. Depending on your skills, comportment and your monetary goals, if you're willing to play a burn-out strategy you can prob make a min of 300k. The funny thing is there are a lot more counters up and coming I see now from when I started just 3.0-3.5 years ago. I think there was a point where people where only playing 25 min good count games with min scores of 50s and people where counters really weret touching the 100 min AC type count games sprinkled throughout the country. There where the games I specialized in and it seems they have heat now or are heatier then when I started. I haven't been able to play any of them in a year or more that's why I focused on international play for awhile. I know big money teams played these games too but it seems these games were under heavy attack mode from 2008-2012 so they had some time to cool down heat wise and they let a solo counter bomb on them for a while. Casinos hate count teams. Those games where tolerant when I started and reports from other counters are that tolerance is diminishing. Maybe I had something to do with it cause I trade a lot of USA games for international games but I doubt it was all my fault as I'm sure those stores will still let people play and win 50k plus with a right approach. They all make really good money so its impossible for them to stay intolerant to heavy action play. I don't know, maybe people don't have the comportment thing I had down but I have been 86ed from all of them that took action and average win per store was like 50-100k with big swings with the occasionally massive high 5 figure loss with a backoff. (Pretty rare but it did happen but I kind of learned to avoid that behavior that caused it, when I had a big loss at a tolerant store I was just grinding it out till I won my cash back. I didn't do anything else except play until I won but I was stupid with surrounding casinos and flyers in semi beginning which started my heat at the tolerant joints.)
So really there is going to be an earning cap for an aggressive player and I'm going to call that cap 250k -1.5 million dollars (I really think anything over 1 million is a gift and I would wager that less than 95 percent of capable counters who set out to use the burn out approach would hit that number the way logistics are now).
My next statements are going to be an educated guess but I think there pretty much on the right. There are two ways to remain a card counter indefinitely (for at least 10 years plus). The first would be if you where a very skilled and a very tricky player with your play. I would say the earnings potential is 150k per year in EV and you can earn that every year. You're gong to need a supporting family and you're going to do a lot of driving then flying and the accomodations are gong to have to be budget not plush like where I was staying and I was always flying first class. Your Ev is just not high enough to have big trip expenses. The reason why its hard to get the daily EV this wasy is you can't just play endless sessions; you have to stop on days you're winning and you can sit and get the hours on the days you lose. Back offs hurt with this approach cause longevity is key as you need to keep playng the same stores. You need to have a rotaion in every major location west, east, south Midwest (maybe you can make a little more than 150k if you play all markets politely)
The reason I never wanted to do this is because there is still a lot of travel to be done to play like that, and I personally feel I have other life skills to earn atleast 150k. It might take 2-3 years from this day going forward but I know I can do it. This is why this was never attractive form of advantage play for me but I think the 100-150k card counter can have lots of longevity if played right.
The next way to play indefinitely is to literally travel everywhere. I mean literally every continent and try to have a top bet of 2x1200-2x2k or whatever the limits are up to a max bet of 2x2k. The reason the max bet is capped at 2x2k is because you can never have a safe trip roll on you. Even 150k trip roll will have a 10 percent shot of busting out in es10 s17 das rsa games. You really also putting your life in danger transporting those funds. I didn't think much of it when I was doing it but now looking back at it I kind of think it was nuts. The worst is when you have a winning trip because now you have big bricks to take home and theres no way security is not going to check your bag. I never had an issue but tons of close calls. This style of play is better suited for someone who is not an American Citzen. Lots of countries will not open a bank account for an American nowadays because they are required to report the account back to America. So we need to bring cash or wire cash to the casino cage. I garentee you if you deposit cash and wire transfer for international casinos your USA bank account will get shut down. I found lugging cash to be safer as long as I declare but also its very dangerous. Don't kid yourself like I did, people will not think twice to kill you for 100k in cash. I really just didn't think much of it. The truth is my drive to make money was higher than my drive to live a safe life. I didn't realize that shit going through it but all it takes is one time for something bad to happen and that's it. People will kill you for 100k in cash. I have had trip rolls where I have taking 250k out of the country and thought nothing of it.
The reason this way of play/living hurts is because you have to be 150 percent committed. You can't have any other life, you can't have balance, and I think the longer you life live like this the worse a person you become because you become so self centered that nothing else matters except you and your money. Sure there are other professions like that but every day traveling all over to find a tolerant casino that will let you bet up 2x2k will turn you into a bitter person eventually. I came to realize when you are on your death bed and you are reviewing your life its going to be more about who you loved, how much you loved, what you did for others vs how much money you have. I also started to realize this when I started visiting some poor countries and I would realize literally how happy these people where ear to ear with minimal money. It really was an eye opener. I think a lot of American culture has it backwards to work so hard that sometimes family and loved ones get put on the back burner. Its kind of like in other countries sometimes people just work to get enough money to provide for their family and spend the rest of their time with them just relaxing and enjoying life.
I dunno maybe I'm getting older but at 30 years of age I stil feel the need to work hard and make money but I don't see it as the driving force of my life any more. I am not even saying I'm done with counting because I don't know if that's the case. There has been lots of time and thought put into my decision and I'm going to start working making 75k a year with the potential to make 150k in 4 years with a unlimited earning potential but most likely if I work really hard and am successful I can prob cap out at 300k a year if I approach it with the same passion I approach blackjack with. If it doesn't work out I can always go back to making 100-150k as a counter but I know my high stakes days above 2x500-2x800 are behind me. After going through trying to figure all this stuff out I felt the worst I have ever felt followed by a calmness I haven't really every felt since I was a child. I have already lost close to 30 pounds since I started to play less and started staying closer to home and working out more.
I am basically choosing balance over making 500k a year as a card counter. I'd rather have a good life then a traveling wealthy pro because in the end the more loved ones and friends you have around you, your life will be richer than someone who has a ton of money. Some of the richest people I know have the most unhappy life and the biggest emotional problems going and using money as a way to over compensate for something else. I refuse to let that be me anymore! Thanks for this board for always be a sounding board for my thoughts even though they got crazy and egotistical at times. It was fun ride and I hit every goal I set out to hit but I rather have a meaningful life then grinding out hour and after hour in an airport and a casino!
I invested all my cash and will have enough to retire on by the time it all compounds when I'm 60, now I'm just going to act like I'm broke and work hard and try to develop balance and a career so I don't spend my savings. In the end I know the driving force behind me was attention seeking behavior and a drive to be approved by others. Once I started working on these issues I realized just how much I was giving up by dedicating my whole life to making a lot of money playing blackjack when I never needed the money to begin with. I realized I could be far happier earning less and living a less exciting life.