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The Playing Habits of Imbicilicus Touristicus… Or, Absolutely Moronic Play That Costs You Nothing

By Allan Pell
© 1992 Blackjack Forum
[From Blackjack Forum Vol. XII #3, September 1992]

Imbicilicus Touristicus, commonly (albeit perhaps cruelly) known among card counters as the Stupid Tourist, is a unique species that makes its primary habitat within the gambling establishments of Nevada's Vegas Strip territory. Imbicilicus can also be found in northern Nevada, Stateline, Reno, and also in outlying areas of the world wherever gambling is present.

Although Imbicilici, as a species, are diverse, they all possess an important common trait — they know zip about games of chance. Imbicilicus is the preferred prey of gambling establishments, having swallowed, in a glassy-eyed manner, its natural enemy's bait that "gambling is fun and exciting." Imbicilicus plays only to play. This factor, combined with the total lack of game knowledge, makes survival of this species' bankroll short-lived.

How then can our species, Predacious Cardus Counterus, benefit from the habits of Imbicilicus? We can assume some of the outrageous and stupid characteristics of Imbicilicus, however, we must not make any plays which will actually cost us money. We shall become, in effect, Predacious Imbicilicus Imposturus.

Before my stint in Japan, I made my living as a writer in television. Characters and story lines come easily to me. The real secret to it is that writers don't make up characters; we find them on the streets and then put them on paper. My "Imbicilicus Blackjack Act" didn't have to be invented. I only had to mimic and refine what was already there. And believe me, the idiots are abundant.

Distinctive Markings And Colors Of Imbicilicus: Cultivating That Proper Look

All varieties of this species, in fact, look like dumb tourists. Cruise the Vegas Strip in summer and you'll see them — displaying herding instincts and migrating between Circus Circus and the volcano at the Mirage.

Gambling towns are tourist attractions, and 80% of their traffic is out-of-state. So, look like you're from out-of-state. Appear to be on vacation. In the summer months, sport shorts, tee-shirts, a cap, and brand new tennis shoes. If you're young, your tee-shirt should display a Michigan State, a U.C.L.A., or "I'm With Stupid" logo. Your hat should have any kind of logo but John Deere — that's the local Reno look.

If you're thirty to forty-ish, keep the shorts but wear an Izod Lacoste or Polo shirt - and have the collar turned up. Very important! This is no longer fashionable in Vegas and it tells everyone that you're a hick from Armpitsville. [Note: A slight sun-burn will seal the deal that you're a seasonal visitor.] If you're in the autumn years, wear anything you like. Your age is your best cover — just be your crotchety self.

In the winter, delete the shorts. Bum Gear sweat-pants or jeans. Leather coats or snow boots when appropriate will be your best cover for young to forty-ish ages. Look like you've been skiing. This works well in Reno, Stateline, and also Vegas. It tells them you've been hitting the slopes.

The waist bag (fannypack) is the single most important piece of apparel worn by Imbicilicus. The waist bag is to the tourist what the woods are to the bears. The more colorful your waist bag the better. It should sport a logo like Aspen, Disneyland, New York — anything! The pit bosses and dealers notice these little details.

The key to the logo is to have it tell a story of where you've been, without saying where you've been. The Michigan State logo on your tee-shirt tells them where you're from. The Aspen or Squaw Valley logo on your cap tells them what you are doing or how you got to the area. And the shorts, sweat pants and waist bag confirm that you are Imbicilicus. The absolute worst look would be to dress up like a character from a James Bond movie: wraparound sunglasses, black suit, etc. Dress like Imbicilicus. Your welcome will wear out slower, if at all.

Vocalizations In The Wild: Your Card Counting Camouflage Legend

In the spy trade, a "legend" is your cover background. The worst thing for you to do at a blackjack table is to sit and be an emotionless card counting machine. You must learn to converse with the indigenous Imbicilicus, the dealers and the pit bosses. Pick a simple legend — something you know about — and stick with it. The simpler the better. Make your "travel legend" fit your apparel. If you talk about skiing, make sure you know about the resort you've been to. Make sure it's open. Know the conditions, etc.

Pick a personal legend using your own name, but only your first name. Never use a pseudonym. You may get called upon to provide ID. In Nevada, you must provide ID upon request, and if your pseudonym doesn't jibe with your actual moniker, you may have to answer some uncomfortable questions. Never sign up for the Player's Club and the like. You don't want the casino tracking your action and having your address at the same time. Your personal legend can be anything from brain surgeon to Congressional Aide. I used the legend of civil rights attorney in Reno once. No one touched me.

Keep your legend within an area you can freely converse in. Talk to other players. Talk to the dealer. Talk to pit bosses. Crack jokes! When I get a blackjack, I lay the cards down one at a time saying, "Meet Mister Black and Mister Jack." When you win do the tequila dance, when you loose piss and moan. Talk! Talk! Talk! If you can't count and talk, learn. I personally keep track of my running count between rounds with chips. Many pit bosses believe that counters can't talk and count. Play along with these foolish mortal beliefs. The trick is to hide in plain sight.

The Playing Habits of Imbicilicus: Buying Into The Game for Camouflage

Never display the extent of your bankroll. Do as Imbicilicus does. Appear to possess a short bankroll. At small stakes games of $1 to $5 minimums, buy in with 30 to 50 bucks. At larger stakes games, $10 to $25 minimums, lay no more than $200 on the table when you make your first appearance.

If you fluctuate down, pull out some more bills from the waist bag. Imbicilicus always digs deeper to chase losses. If you cash into a game with $100 or more, the pit bosses in most casinos make a note of your action on paper and track you more closely. Never use the teller machines in the casinos in which you play. Many mark their money to see if it's drawn from their machine. And it's simple to line up your name, bank account number, etc., with the eye-in-the-sky picture of you drawing money.

In larger clubs, purchase $40 worth of dollar slot tokens from the slot cashier's cage. Dump them into a boob bucket (plastic containers supplied by the casino). Scout the blackjack tables with boob bucket in hand. Amble along like Imbicilicus. Wong, sit-in, whatever. The boob bucket provides lots of cover. Circus Circus boob buckets (carried from and to the casino) are tops in boob buckets.

More Card Counting Camouflage: Dogging the Game

Imbicilicus always dogs the game with lack of knowledge. To be a complete blackjack neophyte, on your first round dealt in a face-down game, hold your cards with both hands. This will merit a reprimand from which you must sincerely and quickly apologize. Do this only once per casino per session! Do not invoke the ire of the dealer!

If, on your first round, you must hit, lay the cards down behind your bet and verbally ask for a hit. The dealer will then tell you how to do it. Pretend to be intimidated and choke-up on the implementation. Now, this will earn you a crash course on playing etiquette from other players and the dealer. The dealer will physically show you how to hold the cards and scratch for a hit. More apologies are now due, but it's worth it because you are now firmly and solidly cast as Imbicilicus.

Bust & Tuck Camouflage, Or, Standing On 22 And More!

This is my next step — and my favorite because after this they'll think you belong in a developmentally disabled center. There are several ways to play these.

Firstly, seemingly a zillion percent of the time you will draw stiff hands. I love 8, 7 on a dealer's 10, then hitting to get another 8 or 7 early in the session. Basic strategy dictates hitting 15 against 10. You will break more often than not, but when you do, why not make it pay?! Make them think you're Imbicilicus. When you break, tuck your cards under your bet. Wait for the dealer to discover your mistake. Look embarrassed!

Now you've earned more cover. Keep your cards to yourself until the dealer exposes your first mistake. Afterwards, hold the cards looser. Either other players will tell you your totals or the dealer will to speed the game. Players who can't count the card totals surely can't count the cards!

The bust and tuck ploy also works with multiple-card soft hands and all hard hands of four or more cards. Note: if you stay in the game a while, appear to get up on the learning curve and let your skill progress. Tell the dealer you're getting the "hang of it," thanks to everyone's help.

You may also have help from the dealers. They'll sound out your totals so you can totally concentrate on the count. [Note: I don't recommend this on crusty, old dealers who don't talk, who've been with the casino since the lot was cleared, and who show no emotion. This type of dealer could care less if you slid under a burning gasoline tanker.]

Toss The Winners!

This is the opposite spin on bust and tuck. You will hit to 21 on three or more cards many times. Turn a winning hand into both a winning and cover-inducing hand. Thinking you busted, toss the multiple card hand and one of three things will happen.

1. Another player will catch the mistake.

2. The dealer will catch the mistake and give it back to you.

3. If neither another player nor the dealer catches it, catch it yourself at the last possible moment, showing the greatest amount of embarrassment and shock you can muster!

Use your fingers to count up the totals while moving your lips silently. Remember to always look embarrassed! You can't lose on this move. It costs you nothing and only deepens your cover as Imbicilicus. (After doing this dozens of times, to date, I've never had a dealer scoop up a 21 without catching my mistake.)

The Multiple Choke Card Counting Camouflage

You will draw two small cards and then hit to get another small card, then another. This is great! If strategy dictates, hit again and prepare to choke on the total. Show your hand to the dealer asking if it's "too many?" Either 20, 21 or bust make them work for cover. This choking technique can be used indefinitely, even after you've worn out some of the above moves.

Indecision, Indecision. . .

It's just what it sounds like. Don't know whether to hit your 16s against the 10s?! Don't know whether to double, split or stand?! Ask advice from other players, especially one that you know knows basic strategy. If the advice is bad, ignore it. Make faces, whine, piss and moan. It only helps you. It especially helps when you need an extra few seconds to calculate a difficult true count and make that strategy decision.

Brilliantly Stupid Blackjack Play

As you can see, "stupid camouflage" without "stupid costing" camouflage will postpone casino analysis of your card counting play. Cost-free stupid play will allow you to hang in there until you are ready to strike. And when you do, there are two ways to do it. 1. Traditional parlay cover play. 2. Nuclear War, meaning whack it out when you have a big, big advantage. Remember to play the "steamer" if you choose this method. I advise playing only one short session per casino per day else they'll get wise when they see you're actually playing perfectly.

Remember, luck has nothing to do with this game.

Sayonara from Pell-San. ♠

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  Blackjack Card Counting Camouflage
Camouflage is the single most important part of winning card counting in terms of your career profits. Too many blackjack card counters, even professionals, take a confrontational attitude to surveillance and other casino personnel. But data on card counters is now easily shared between casinos, and getting the boot for card counting at enough casinos will eventually prevent your playing. Think about card counting camouflage early in your career to make more money and make it longer.