BLACKJACK HYPE VERSUS BLACKJACK REALITY
By Arnold Snyder
© 2005 Blackjack Forum Online
The best hustler is not necessarily the best player among hustlers.
He has to be a very good player, true, but beyond a certain
point his playing ability is not nearly so important
as his skill at various kinds of conning.
— Ned Polsky, Hustlers, Beats, and Others
When you first enter the world of gambling, you only see what this world pretends to be. You see casinos touting their "loose slots" and their "liberal blackjack games" and their "big winners." You see system sellers promoting their "professional gambling secrets," sure to change your life and your tax bracket. In the world of gambling, it seems everyone’s trying to give you money.
That’s the hype.
The reality is that this world is after your money. The casinos brag about their winners for the sole purpose of bringing in more losers. The system sellers and phony "professional gamblers" tell you they’re giving you the keys to the vault, but when you get to the vault, you find a combination lock. Funny, they never mentioned the combination.
Some of the con men are easy to spot. They take out slick newspaper and magazine ads and promise you $500 or $1000 a day, no work required.
But others are more difficult to identify. They drape their books or advice with lots of complex-looking math and false claims of experience at the tables. Their books may even be endorsed by well-known, reputable experts (who didn't have the time to actually read the books before providing their endorsements, or who lacked the expertise to validate the books’ claims).
How do you spot this type of con artist?
He tends to provide a lot of scholarly citations, but few details of practical application based on his personal observation and experience at the tables. No matter how complicated the system, the phonies always say, "It’s easy." They use a lot of jargon meant to confuse beginners. Their writing is often deliberately hard to understand, designed to make you feel that your lack of understanding is your fault.
When Uston wrote about team play, you know he did it. You can feel it on the page. When Wong wrote about tournament strategies, you know he played in these tournaments. When Bill Haywood wrote about Internet gambling, you know he spent many hours in online casinos. When Charles Lund wrote about beating the slots, you know he did it. All of these authors fill their books with a hundred problems they’ve had in attempting to execute their strategies. They discuss how difficult it is to get everything right. Real professional gamblers always give lots of clear warnings to beginners. They tell you what it’s like when the casinos become suspicious, when the play goes wrong, what kinds of mistakes you will make. They’ve been there, done that.
Many intelligent people flock to the con artists because they don’t really play themselves. The purpose of the groups formed around such "gambling experts" is to foster a sense of elitism among their members, who all want to be perceived as experts, though they’re not willing to test their "expertise" at the tables. They don’t care if you don’t win, or even if you lose, because they don’t risk their own money at the tables and they don’t know how it feels. To them, blackjack has nothing to do with putting their financial positions on the line; it’s just a mutual admiration society.
Nobody succeeds at blackjack because they are the best at doing what "authorities" tell them to do. They succeed because they are able to think on their own.
On the other hand, if all you want to do is talk blackjack instead of beat it, these groups are fine for you. If you pat the right people on the back, they’ll soon be patting you, and there’s no money lost in that.
Anyway, we hope you get something out of this Web site. I do want you to know that there really is such an animal as a professional blackjack player, and you will find many genuine professional gamblers here; but if this is your goal in life, you’ve got to be careful. We know better than anyone that you can succeed, but it’s a jungle out there. Though some players do make a lot of money at this game, most never acquire all the skills needed to win over the long haul. I don’t know who’s more dangerous to your bankroll—the casinos, the system hawkers, or the Internet "experts" and phony "pros."
Professional blackjack is a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest world. Ultimately, your success will depend less on your bankroll than on your decisions. Whom are you going to trust? What do you really have to know?
Where will you rank in the gambling food chain? ♠
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