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Old 10-31-2015, 08:28 PM   #1
suitedjustice
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Nit-tastic Tales

I've been passing judgement on ops in this subforum for a while now. So it's only fair that I stick my neck out at least once. Here it is, FWIW, my first (and likely last) BVB op.

Blackjack: Easy Game

Ever think about becoming a card counter? Cliffs: It's easy. TLDR in the spoiler.

Spoiler:


I mention this because I was a card counter. Well, I was a nit who counted cards, and I was pretty good at it, because it was easy.

Before I learned to count, I started playing blackjack at Foxwoods, very soon after they opened their tables, just a few months after I turned 21. Iíd previously visited their 18+ bingo hall and won heaps ($300+) so I was primed to try my luck in a real casino for the first time in my life.

On my first trip I won heaps ($500+), having no idea how to play or what I was doing.

Easy game, I thought. Why not learn just a little bit about it so the other players at the table will all stop yelling at me.

That's when I ran into Ken Uston's blackjack books, and there I found my inspiration in a man who was a legend in the blackjack community.

;

Cliffs: Ken Uston was a straight up bawss and I wanted to be like him. TLDR in the spoiler.

Spoiler:


So I quit my job, ran off and started my own blackjack team. No I didn't. I'm a nit, remember? Instead, I worked full time at a ****ty retail job and took a few college classes here and there, trying to put myself through school without taking out any loans. I played blackjack down at Foxwoods and later at the Mohegan Sun whenever my school and work schedule didn't eat up all my time, and when my ****box car felt like it was up for the one hour trip. I played and practiced enough to get very good at counting, but did not put in enough time for it to make me any real money. Any of that counting money went right into classes in any case.

That business lasted for a good chunk of the 90's. A great high school teacher had gotten me very interested in Psychology, and I wanted to become a college professor in that field, eventually. That would be the life, all right. That dream came to an end when a little white rat decided to throw down on me.

Cliffs: I quit school for a trivial reason not long before I was due to graduate. TLDR in the spoiler.

Spoiler:


A few days after I quit school I was at Mohegan, putting the finishing touches on a new insurance sidecount I'd added after finding it in one of Stanford Wong's early editions of Professional Blackjack

"I'm in my late 20's now, with no degree, a **** job and no real skills," I thought, as I correctly took insurance for the third time that night and idly watched the dealer turn over a blackjack.

"What am I going to do with my life?"

I gave my notice at work a few days later, then booked a one-way ticket to Las Vegas and two weeks at the Gold Spike hotel. Rates there were $25 a night. I hoped that would give me enough time to find a cheaper weekly or monthly getup somewhere. I was on the last month of my lease in my crappy apartment, so I wasn't going to lose out there. I wasn't expecting any security deposit back, though, as I'd put a few holes in the drywall a few years back due to Crazy Girlfriend Problems.

I didn't have many possessions; all of them fit easily in my parent's shed. And luckily a nice young couple I knew had met and fallen in love with the Little Guy (my pet rat from the last TLDR), and they agreed to take him in. The car was on its last legs and I didn't expect to get anything for it, so I asked my parents to junk it after I left and keep anything the junkyard would give them for it for themselves.

So I had about $1200 in cash, which was about half of what I wanted for a bare minimum roll, but it was something. I planned a few trips to Mohegan the week before I left to try to increase that substantially.

I showed up at Mohegan that last week with a plan and I stuck to it. I didn't tilt, not even once. I played well and got my money in good in good spots. I kept my session stop loss at $200 for the sole reason of keeping tilt to a minimum, and when I lost that $200 I packed it up and came back the next day...and the next day...and the next day. Two days after all that I boarded the plane to McCarran with less than $400 to my name.

I had a room paid for two weeks, and feeding myself there was not much of an immediate issue. The Gold Spike had a $.99 breakfast. The Boardwalk casino had a $3.99 midnight buffet, and the Sahara charged the same for their breakfast buffet. Westward Ho had a 3/4 lb hotdog for $1.99, and a 32-ounce (later reduced to 27 oz) $.99 margarita if you wanted to get your drink on. And there were a number of other food deals along those lines that I can't remember now.

As far as playing went, late 90's Las Vegas had quite a few good $2, $3 and $5 blackjack games, but I wasn't rolled for them any more. With less than $400 I was rolled for the $1 double deck at the Western Hotel & Bingo Parlor on Fremont and 9th Street.

;
The Western in a nutshell.

Almost everyone who visited the Fremont Street Experience for the first time back then found themselves wandering out past the canopy, drawn past the old lit-up neon 7-11 store (now gone, I believe?), and then found themselves stopping and saying, "holy **** I'm in a really bad neighborhood all of the sudden." The Western was right in the middle of that neighborhood.

I couldn't afford to be picky; their $1 game was the very best fit for my pathetic roll. AIWEC.

The second shift dealer crew were nearly all recent immigrants from Eritrea. I have no idea if they were recruited en masse or if one or two of them tried the place out, then sent word home to come and work in the paradise that is the Las Vegas downtown barrio.


Hmm...stay here or work at the Western? Seriously, here or the Western?

First off, all the Eritreans dealt way, way deep into the double deck. This detail is extremely important for counters, as the count becomes an exponentially better predictor of EV the further you penetrate through the shoe, especially in the last third of it. Most double deck games aren't dealt much past the first deck. The Eritreans universally dealt way past that, down to a sliver so small you could slice cheese with it. More than once, one of them ran out of cards mid hand, an insta-fireable offense in any other casino, but one that earned them only a gentle rebuke from the pitboss at the Western.

That pitboss was an All-American white kid, probably 22 or 23 years old. I can't remember his name for the life of me. Eric maybe? He looked like an Eric. He was backed up by a security system comprising a dozen or so sporadically-manned, decades-old black and white monitors, all set on a open dais near the storefront. That was the entirety of their 'eye in the sky'. The kid was a card counter himself, and not shy about telling everyone about it. Many, many months later, when he finally dropped the banhammer on me, he tried to play it off like he'd known all along that I was a counter, but had kept me around out of the goodness of his heart, but I seriously doubt that.

My cover was good for quite a long time. I pretended that I was one of those WorkForce type day laborers, showing up every afternoon to drink and degen away my day's paycheck. There were plenty of those guys playing there and I fit right in with them. I'd already tested my counting under the influence back home and found it to be accurate up to the point where I was seriously drunk.

So as soon as I showed up for the day I ordered a shot of Jack and a beer chaser, and followed up on that around once an hour, making sure to make the pit see me drinking whenever they looked over. I could also carry on a loud and friendly conversation with anyone and everyone at the table without losing the count. It was all very easy with practice.

Finally, the most important thing to counting, besides deck penetration, is the spread

Spoiler:


You want to be betting the minimum when the count is bad and the maximum you can get away with when the count is good.That's the bet spread. The minimum bet was $1, or nothing if I could get out on a bathroom break, which I did as frequently as I could. Eventually I found I could get around $40 out for a max bet when the count was good. That would be $20 each on two spots, the Western being so chintzy that they made their dealers call out to the pit bosses whenever someone put a green $25 dollar chip in play, so that was to be avoided.

A 1-40 spread in blackjack is very, very good indeed. After 2 weeks I had around $800 on me and was ready to find a new place. My room at the Gold Spike was fine, but would've cost me $750 a month: too much for my still-nitty bankroll. I knew that I was running good at the tables, and that wouldn't last forever. Also, the Gold Spike and the Western were both owned by Jackie Gaughan, an old school Las Vegas dinosaur with purported old school mob ties, so I didn't want to be living in one place if I got in trouble at the other.

So I found a room in a tiny boarding house on 17th street, also in the downtown barrio--an area of Las Vegas which is quite large, actually. Price was $300 a month. The landlord was one of those Christian types who actually practiced Christianity, helping the disadvantaged and down-and-out whenever he could and not casting judgement on anyone.

The man didn't charge me a security deposit, or last month's rent. It was just $300 cash up front, and I would also pay my share of the electric bill starting the next month. Naturally the rest of the house was filled with crackheads, tweakers and last-chance losers, but I couldn't put on airs when I fit solidly into the third category myself. The other guys were actually very nice, like most people are, and I had little trouble with them.

In this fashion, I lasted for 3 more months.I couldn't bring myself to play for more than 30 hours a week. Blackjack is assembly line work. You assemble the correct hands and bets at your station according to a prescribed formula, and you do it over and over again for hours at a time. I hadn't thrown everything to the wind to labor 40+ hours a week on an assembly line.

As with poker, you never truly get into the long run in blackjack, that mythical place where you're 100% guaranteed to be ahead. But in my spot I could expect to get into the long-ish run--where I would have a somewhat reasonable expectation to be close to my EV--within around 25000 hands (quite a bit less than poker, which is nice). I hit that around the 3 month mark and crunched the numbers..

I was making almost exactly $7.00 an hour cash, which was a livable wage in Las Vegas at the turn of the century, especially with my nitty lifestyle. Unfortunately I was paying out $2.25 an hour in tips to the dealer and waitress, and $4.75 an hour was not a livable wage if you weren't willing to work more than 30 hours a week, and I wasn't. If I cut down on the tips I would hurt my image and risk bringing down the banhammer soon afterwards.

Well, maybe 25k hands wasn't enough. Maybe I was running bad. Well, maybe I was deluding myself. When I paid my rent and electric for the 4th month, I had $180 left to my name.

I walked up to the Western and punted it over a marathon session.




The next day, I slept in and spent most of the afternoon reading a Robert Jordan book, trying to lose myself in Rand al'Thor's mythical world, since my real deal hadn't turned out to be so hot.

That worked for me until the hunger kicked in. I had $1.03 and one coupon, left over from my Gold Spike stay, for one free meal at Jackie Gaughan's Plaza. I grabbed the dollar to tip the waitress. I think the tip might have been included in the coupon, but I didn't trust the Plaza to tip their waitresses.

The Plaza was less than a mile from 17th street. I made it on foot as far as the old bus stop on Stewart before I hit some kind of wall.

Suddenly walking became incredibly difficult, like in a nightmare when you try to run but can hardly move at more than a snails pace. To this day, I don't know exactly what it was that made me so weak...To be honest I'd been eating poorly and cheaply for the past week: just the Gold Spike breakfast on some days, alternating with the hot dogs at the Westward Ho. But I'd had plenty of Jack Daniels shots and beer chasers, and that's a lot Calories. I was young and in shape and chronically healthy, but I was on the verge of collapse right there on the sidewalk. Every step was an incredible ordeal, and I had blocks to go before I could secure the nourishment that might help. Really it takes weeks to die of malnutrition. Maybe my blood sugar was low or something.

I stopped there on the sidewalk and took a minute to survey my overall situation. And I found it to be absolutely hilarious. Something about it tickled my funny bone and I was wracked with uncontrollable bouts of laughter. I sat down on the sidewalk, put my head in my hands and I laughed for a very long time.

Now the next time you're in Las Vegas and you spot a young hobo shambling down the street at one-quarter-speed, his long hair getting in his eyes and his beard flowing off to the side in the breeze, and he seems to be uncontrollably laughing to himself, and you wonder what could possibly be going through his head, this post might at least provide you with one point of reference.

All right that's it. This post is WAAAAY TLDR. I'm going to wrap it up here. If you want moar, ask for it. If not, then I will be happy to fade once again into the background.
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Old 10-31-2015, 08:50 PM   #2
Whiskeyneat
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Read the whole thing. Moar is necessary. Even more enjoyable cause I know those exact streets haha
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Old 10-31-2015, 09:14 PM   #3
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Jesus **** that is a long ass op....shockingly it is good as well
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Old 10-31-2015, 10:57 PM   #4
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Great read. I gotta know what happened next op. Felt like I was there with you at certain points. Subbed and looking forward to more quality posts and images.

:edit: you should have kept Little Guy with you heh

Last edited by challenger; 10-31-2015 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 10-31-2015, 11:32 PM   #5
Unsporting
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

A great read. Deffo moar.
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Old 10-31-2015, 11:56 PM   #6
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

You're my hero
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Old 11-01-2015, 12:33 AM   #7
ryan0665
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

moar
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Old 11-01-2015, 03:40 AM   #8
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

solid OP.

So many spoilers and no half nude girls drops it to a 8/10 though
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Old 11-01-2015, 04:05 AM   #9
BlueLagoon32
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Nice read, would like to hear more
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Old 11-01-2015, 05:58 AM   #10
Morphismus
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

good read OP
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Old 11-01-2015, 11:37 AM   #11
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

would read more for sure
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Old 11-01-2015, 11:59 AM   #12
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Subbed. Great read 👍
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Old 11-01-2015, 01:23 PM   #13
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

i wont lie, i read the whole thing at once
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Old 11-01-2015, 01:30 PM   #14
rtd353
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

OP- i tried the same thing as you, the whole thing with memorizing basic strategy and practicing keeping the count at home. Only difference was i tried mine at the $50 minimum tables and the horseshoe only dealt through about half of the double deck. It did not work out well for me.
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Old 11-01-2015, 03:06 PM   #15
Sheep86
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Ban OP for including a dated map without the Sudan - South Sudan border.

No really, this is easily five stars. Moar!
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Old 11-01-2015, 05:31 PM   #16
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Excellent read. Thanks for taking the time to share.
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Old 11-01-2015, 08:03 PM   #17
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

5 stars. Moar please.

I see that the story took place in the late 90's. So what happened after? What's your situation now?
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Old 11-01-2015, 09:43 PM   #18
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

definitely wouldn't mind more
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Old 11-02-2015, 05:59 AM   #19
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Quote:
Originally Posted by fidstar-poker View Post
solid OP.

So many spoilers and no half nude girls drops it to a 8/10 though
Hell, I put 'em in your rungood thread and was out of the tourney before the dinner break

Spoiler:

Last edited by suitedjustice; 11-02-2015 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 11-02-2015, 06:19 AM   #20
suitedjustice
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Wow, thanks for the kind responses! There's really only one more story's worth to tell before my life's return to crushing normalcy. It won't be nearly as inspirational, I'm afraid, but there is always a slight chance that it'll get me b&, depending on how obstinate a certain admin might be about holding on to an old grudge. So it has that going for it, which is nice.

I'll write it up this week, at my boring office job.
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Old 11-02-2015, 06:22 AM   #21
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

good op. Not cause I read. Cause I didnt. But I trust others itt.
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Old 11-02-2015, 06:55 AM   #22
suitedjustice
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtd353 View Post
OP- i tried the same thing as you, the whole thing with memorizing basic strategy and practicing keeping the count at home. Only difference was i tried mine at the $50 minimum tables and the horseshoe only dealt through about half of the double deck. It did not work out well for me.
Wow, being a nit, I wouldn't touch that without a 35k roll and a better game.
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Old 11-02-2015, 07:02 AM   #23
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Loved it and would love to read more.

Last edited by Blizzuff; 11-02-2015 at 07:03 AM. Reason: Also pics of Little Guy imo
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Old 11-02-2015, 07:02 AM   #24
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Quote:
Originally Posted by suitedjustice View Post
Hell, I put 'em in your rungood thread and was out of the tourney before the dinner break

Spoiler:
Quote:
Originally Posted by fidstar-poker View Post
suitedjustice you're off to play poker
unfortunately it will be mediocre
while the girls you have provided are just fine
they aren't to me like a fine wine
i think you may be getting a min cash
unfortunately it won't be a big splash
I was right with the mediocre and I'm going to stick with the min cash can technically be 0 dollars.
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Old 11-03-2015, 01:30 AM   #25
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Re: Nit-tastic Tales

Too much text. I lost focus after pacman story.
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