Although you will win with correct blackjack card counting, you'll often feel like you'll never win because of how extreme losing streaks, or bankroll fluctuation, can get in card counting. This is Arnold Snyder's classic article about how you feel when you're going through one of these bankroll fluctuations. Losing streaks have killed the ambition of many blackjack card counters.
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The Big Winner's Secret Ingredient
By Howard Grossman

(From Blackjack Forum Vol. II, #1, March 1982)
© Blackjack Forum 1982, 2013

[Note from Arnold Snyder: Howard Grossman, founder of the Las Vegas Blackjack Academy, a school for card counters, played high stakes blackjack professionally for many years. An original teammate of Ken Uston's, he jumped the fence in the early 1980s to work for Las Vegas casinos as a card-counter catcher.]

Despite all of the lengthy discussions and the numerous books on the virtues of card counting, one and only one thing has started more big winners on the road to success—LUCK! Now I'm not saying card counting doesn't work, or that blackjack can't be beaten (Ugh! Heaven forbid!) What I'm saying is that most, if not all, big winners owe Lady Luck a big thanks for their success.

Let's face it. People learn to count cards to make money and usually want to go from rags to riches. They start with meager bankrolls and most will never make enough to payt expenses, let alone keep expanding their bankrolls. Many technically fine players will meet with early bad fluctuations, or they will not make enough money to make the hassle of playing blackjack for profit worthwhile.

I've found most big winners (including myself) did a "little" overbetting at the beginning, and received the blessing of good upwward fluctuations. With this initial good fortune, combined with fine blackjack skill, and eventually the knowledge of proper bet-sizing, a few "lucky" people have become big winners.

Now, armed with an adequate bankroll, a good player—through experiences from playing and reading good material—can consistently make fairly huge sums of money. A big winner learns to accept his losses (without hurting his ego), and more importantly, knows when it's ripe to win large sums at one sitting.

He chooses a profitable game, puts on a good act, and realizes that the casino has pegged him as a temporarily lucky sucker. He doesn't worry about the fact that he's winning a lot of money and could easily lose it back. He has the advantage; he keeps pressing; he goes in for the kill.

To sum it up, a big winner must believe in his ability, really believe blackjack can be beaten, and never give the casinos an even chance. Blackjack is not an easy way of life, especially if you want to make some real money at it.

Snyder Comments: More than one blackjack pro have told me they are glad they'd never read my books when they started out, or they never would have tried card counting for profit. They started with small bankrolls, grossly overbet, and as luck would have it, soon had large bankrolls and a new way of life.

I won't advise this. Many more players have told me that it wasn't until they'd read decent advice on bet-sizing that they realized why they'd sometimes suffered such great losses, including total wipe-outs. Were the casinos cheating? Was their system no good? Were they actually terrible players? No, they were simply experiencing normal fluctuations.

How lucky for those few players who experience normal fluctuations early in their careers in a consistently profitable direction! One professional player told me he'd increased his initial $2000 bankroll to more than $50,000 in a single month. Sometime later he learned a bit of math, and calculated that he'd only had about one chance in a hundred of doing what he'd done.

"It hit me," he said, "that for every lucky stiff like me, somewhere out there were 99 other players who'd quit or gone broke trying to do what I'd done." ♠


To learn how to bet and play optimally to make the most money with the least risk, see Arnold Snyder's Blackbelt in Blackjack.

To read more about the experiences and methods of professional gamblers, see the Blackjack Forum Professional Gambling Library.

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