Books on Advantage Play Cannot be a Strategic Roadmap


Advantage play (AP) books usually teach strategy tables and are meant to provide a good conceptual understanding of the game. They cannot be expected to provide AP strategy/career roadmaps. If they did, they would become outdated very quickly.

What can be expected in most good books? Mostly operational, some tactical and a little bit of strategic flavor that the curious and intelligent AP must thoroughly absorb.

Operational: These ideas talk about how to go about implementing a system; for example, a card counting system or the strategy tables to learn a particular game. A good book is going to help you learn the system and understand why the system is designed the way it is (writing about Effects of Removal, what is the source of the house edge, how do counters get an advantage, how to increase your advantage, what are the tradeoffs in the process etc.). If you are a curious AP, you should read every good book out there right from Beat the Dealer to all of Stanford Wong’s books, Arnold Snyder’s books, Don Schlesinger’s books, Norm Wattenberger’s Modern Blackjack and of course James Grosjean’s Beyond Counting. You should also get all of Norm’s software. The technical knowledge will be very valuable in fine-tuning your game along the way and also help how you approach other games.

Tactical: These talk about how to implementing your method to survive and last. A simple example would be talking about obvious bad moves. Going from one spot of x to multiple spots of 10x with the count in a sweaty shop like Cosmopolitan or Valley Forge (and probably in many other places) for example would be recipe for disaster. However, good moves are going to have a shelf life, more so when everyone starts using the same ones. Books describing different camouflage packages are intended to give the reader a flavor of the possibilities that are there and it is for the individual to tailor his game to be able to beat the modern game and conditions.

Strategic: This is about how you can get the most money out of a casino or finding a way to make a career of the game. These are things that are learned over a period of time and the more areas you get proficient at, the more likely you are going to have a long and successful career.These are dependent on individual skills, personalities and how he/she can adjust dynamically to the casino perception of what a skilled player is IN THAT casino. It is a combination of networking, (what is likely to work in THAT casino) and some trial and error. Sometimes you can get picked off way too early but if you are flexible and seeking to adjust your game constantly towards that goal, you will succeed a lot more than you fail.

A lot is going to depend on individual goals- Are you trying to make 1.5-2 Million in 5 years and quit or make 250-300K/year for maybe 15 years and then retire?

One of the prerequisites for this is to be extremely good in your primary skill. If you are a card counter, you should be able to tell the count with barely a glance while you are talking to the pit staff. If you have the basic aptitude (for both technical and nontechnical stuff), you will be able to get better in the technical aspects and the comportment/artsy aspects of the game. Books cannot be expected to teach this. If they did, they would become outdated quickly, as everyone would follow the same instructions.

If a book says to use a 1-12 bet spread: Sometimes you have to find a way to beat a great game with 1-6 and sometimes you have to clobber a bad game with 1-20. You will often have to break the “rules” in both directions and know when it is appropriate to do so. Get used to it — the books give you the basic underpinnings, the rest is up to you.

About the Author

Steve Waugh is a Professional blackjack player who has contributed his knowledge to BJ21's Green Chip forum for many years. For more information, listen to his interview with GWAE where he details how he turned blackjack into a professional career.

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Listened to the interview with Steve Waugh. Wondering if he uses any shuffle tracking or key card tracking skills. I’ve been out of the game for some time but am entertaining the idea of teaching / coaching talented players who have a sophisticated understanding of the game. Players who want to go on to greater edge plays to add to their skill set. My name is recognizable to many of the older players and my reputation stands on its own merits. I can be contacted at [email protected].

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