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Beyond Counting by James Grosjean, Review by Arnold Snyder
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Review of Beyond Counting, by James Grosjean
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By Arnold Snyder

The 223-page Beyond Counting established James Grosjean as an expert on casino gambling at the very top of the upper echelons of expertise. I cannot praise this work highly enough, nor begin to describe the value contained within its pages for professional players in this concise review. In my opinion, Grosjean is on a level with Peter Griffin and a handful of others in both his understanding of advantage play and in his original work on not only blackjack but many other casino games. Grosjean seems able to put almost any concept into a chart, a table, or a mathematical formula.

This is not a book for beginners. Grosjean assumes his readers are already familiar with the basics of blackjack, card counting and the mathematics of gambling in general. As with Griffin’s work, I do not believe a serious player needs to understand all of the math to find value in the book. Also, this is not just a math book. Grosjean discusses innumerable psychological factors of the game that I believe all serious players should read. Don’t be scared off by the math.

The book is a series of essays and analyses, divided into nine sections:

  1. Gamblers: discusses the play of "civilians" at your table.
  2. Counters: Big chapter. Talks about everything: casino comportment, comps, VIP membership, disguising winnings, switching shifts, your "act," security, dealers, pit personnel, blackjack cover plays, heat, fake ID, CTRs, safe deposit boxes, Royal Match, ace coupons, Casino War, bankroll, and lots of other stuff.
  3. Partners: the value of using an insurance count, card eating, the cut card effect, risk-sharing scams, communications/signals, and more.
  4. Dealers: tipping, payoff errors, misdeals, etc.
  5. Cheaters: preferential shuffling, short packs, upcard selection, hole card swapping, dealing seconds, etc.
  6. Spotters: Grosjean uses this term to describe players who use information obtained by "spotting" the value of a card or cards which are not supposed to be known to the player(s)—such as hole card play, or seeing the value of the next card to be dealt, etc., usually due to slopping dealing practices. This is an excellent treatment of hole-card play, including mathematical analyses of the proper plays, the costs of misplays, the overall advantage, etc., plus the numerous camouflage considerations necessary. Goes beyond the work of Uston and Wong.
  7. Travelers: Hotels, airlines, car rentals, taxis, etc. from the advantage player’s view.
  8. Other games: Analyses of Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Monopoly, Three-Card Poker, Colorado Hold ‘Em, Craps, Roulette, Mini-Baccarat, Video Poker and the Big Six Wheel. Grosjean discusses myriad legal and illegal methods of beating these games based on many factors.
  9. The End Game: Random thoughts, a huge glossary of terms, blackjack basic strategy, useful statistical principles for gamblers, random number generators, etc.

In addition to providing brilliant analysis, Grosjean writes well. He is witty and an elegant stylist.

Only 1000 copies of Beyond Counting were printed, and professional gamblers have been snapping up any rare available copies at $500 a pop on eBay. James Grosjean is planning a second, longer edition soon, but it will be made available only to a select list of players. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who subscribes to Blackjack Forum not finding a treasure of information in this book. ♠

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