I once partnered up with a guy I met on Green Chip years ago. After a couple of losing sessions, I became very suspicious that he was hiding chips from me. I quickly dissolved the partnership. I usually go to Las Vegas alone, but live far away so the hassles of traveling there plus the loneliness made me quit. I'd like to try this again but am skeptical of the trust issue again. I know I could pay someone an hourly or session wage where I could count and play minimum, then signal when he should come in with the big bets (“gorilla”). But even this gets quite messy when it comes to the large bankroll he would have to carry. If he were an advantage player, he would probably be thinking the same thing about me. Any advice on playing with strangers?
DD’: This is difficult starting out, but later you simply only do business with people who have a good reputation in the AP community. Almost all successful pros I know have had various partnerships. There are lots of things you just can't exploit properly on your own. Once you screw somebody over your reputation is shot and nobody will do business with you. So... you choose partners who have a good reputation to maintain -- people who have more to lose by ripping you off than they will gain.
When I started, all of my partners were close friends and family members. After I had a good deal of success my partners were only people who were well known in the AP community.
Emerald City BJ: Team play is a gamble initially. I've been on a common bankroll with others for a few years now, and over that period of time, I have learned and experienced a great deal in terms of working with other advantage players.
In addition to trust issues around the bankroll, there are a number of other issues that can come up, including:
As DD' commented, starting out is difficult, and until you establish enough credibility yourself to network with established pros, working with anyone is a gamble and comes with an inherent risk. My recommendation is to start at lower stakes. Like any other gamble, don't invest more than you are willing to lose in the venture. As you build trust with your teammates, you can gradually increase the stakes.
Baddog: I dealt with a group I met online. Another I partnered with a good friend who had become a card counter. The group fell apart because of management issues. The two-man team is still going well after 10+ years. In discussing the issues with others, it seems the main requirement of a team composed of more than two or three people is effective management and the use of polygraphs and the like.
DD: We didn’t use polygraphs. As soon as you suspect someone of dishonesty, the business relationship is already over. It doesn't matter what the result of the lie detector test is. They have already failed your test. Also, as soon as you ask them, you have failed them. They now know that there is no longer mutual trust. The relationship won't work.
You may be able to do other business with this individual but it will have to be of a nature that this type of absolute trust is not required. Something where there is a concrete system of checks.
There are actually not many people who have this type of character, who can instill confidence in others that they have this type of character, who can trust others to be completely trustworthy, and also have the skills needed to be a successful AP. This why extremely few of these types of teams can ever get going and survive.
The next step removed is doable but not as efficient. You always have two team members working together. And not always the same two. This way two team members have to actually conspire. This significantly reduces the chances of theft and embezzlement as neither knows if the other will go along with it. Many teams work this way. It is not as efficient as each member being able to do his own thing, but it is the only workable way when you don't have absolute mutual trust.
casino zerg: I play on a shared bankroll with a few friends I knew before getting serious about AP. I have complete trust in them.
I also do networking and share information with some people I have met online. It is possible that someday I will trust these people enough to team up in a shared-bank way, but I think it would be really hard. There are enough things in this business that it is hard to be sure about. I can't imagine adding the trust issue.
It’s a waste of time, effort, and hourly EV to try to set up a two-man spotter/gorilla team. Just count different tables.
Originally published on bj21.com Green Chip, edited for this format.