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world's foremost blackjack authority
state lotteries and the professional compulsive gambler Professional Compulsive Gamblers
    By Arnold Snyder
Arnold Snyder and the world's foremost blackjack authority World's Foremost Blackjack Authority
    By Arnold Snyder
Arnold Snyder and Blackjack Forum Sermon: Here We Go Again
    By Arnold Snyder

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By Arnold Snyder
(From Blackjack Forum Volume XXIV #2, Spring 2005)
© 2005 Blackjack Forum

I’m willing to bet that when you saw the title of this Sermon, you immediately assumed that I was about to launch an attack on some pompous, pedantic fool who is laying claim to that overblown, stuffed-shirt title. Your assumption is wrong.

In fact, I am here to make a feeble attempt at defending the honor of that man.

Any of you who may soon pick up a copy of the new 2005 edition of my book, Blackbelt in Blackjack, will discover—as I just did when I finally opened my box of author’s copies—that the back cover of the book touts yours truly—in bold, 36-point Helvetica type—as "The World’s Foremost Blackjack Authority."

Oh, no…

I am trying to imagine the look on Wong’s face when he first sees a copy. Or Thorp’s, Grosjean’s, Hyland's, Francesco's. Or Braun, Wilson, Revere, Uston, or Griffin up at the Great Blackjack Table Beyond. Or…

And how can I possibly show my face at the next Blackjack Ball? How can I take the ribbing? How will I ever survive the party to come in Fight Club?

How in the world did this situation ever come to pass?

A few weeks before the book went to press, I got a PDF file from the publisher that showed that bombastic back cover text. I called him.

"Avery," I said, "you can’t call me the world’s foremost blackjack authority."

"Why not?"

"Because all my friends will laugh at me for claiming a title like that. I don’t think of myself as the world’s foremost authority on the game. I can think of half a dozen players I call when I have a question."

"You’re not calling yourself the world’s foremost blackjack authority, Arnold. I’m calling you the world’s foremost blackjack authority. If you pick up a copy of my book, it says: ‘Avery Cardoza, the World’s Foremost Blackjack Authority.’ Now that I’m publishing your book, you’re the world’s foremost blackjack authority."

"But it’s not my style, Avery. Look, I have to be firm on this."

"I’ll see what I can do, Arnold. By the way, can you send me some endorsements I can use on the cover?"

"I hate endorsements, Avery. I don’t want a lot of hype."

"Just a few quotes, Arnold," he said. "Something to help guide the decision of the average Wal-Mart shopper."

"I’ll see what I can do, Avery."

I made exactly three phone calls to collect endorsements. I called Howard Schwartz at the Gambler’s Book Shop; Max Rubin, author of Comp City; and Richard Munchkin, author of Gambling Wizards. All three provided some very nice verbiage, and I emailed their quotes to my publisher.

A week later, he sends me another PDF file, this time with two endorsements, the one by Howard Schwartz, and another by Avery Cardoza.

I emailed Avery and asked him where the other endorsements were.

He emailed back another PDF file of the inside title page, which included endorsements from Jerry Patterson and Stanley Roberts! (But no Rubin or Munchkin...)

I called him.

"Avery," I said, "Where did you get these quotes from Patterson and Roberts?"

"They were on your other book," he said.

"Avery, those were taken from my first book, the Blackjack Formula, which came out in 1980. Believe me, you don’t want those quotes from Patterson and Roberts!"

"They’re big names," he said.

"What happened to the quotes I sent you from Max Rubin and Richard Munchkin?"

"Who are they?" he said. "I never heard of them."

"Avery," I said. "You cannot use that quote from Jerry Patterson on my book."

"Why not?"

"Because in 1982, he started selling this system called TARGET, and for more than 20 years, I’ve been telling players they can’t trust anything he says!"

"He’s a big name, Arnold."

"No! And please don’t use the quote by Stanley Roberts either. Not only is it 25 years old, he used to call himself blackjack’s 'Grandmaster.' Now he’s just publishing a poker tabloid. He has nothing to do with blackjack."

"I’ll see what I can do, Arnold... He’s a big name. That’s a great quote."

I thought back 20 years, when I got a call from Julian Braun. He was very distressed. His first (and only) book was about to come out, and he was calling to tell me that he did not write the chapter on money management. "The chapter was written by my publisher, Arnold," he said. "It’s just a worthless betting system. He didn’t like my betting advice, and he felt that players would win more if they bet according to trends of wins and losses. But my name is on that book, and everyone is going to think I wrote that chapter."

In any case, the new 2005 Blackbelt in Blackjack is now out. Thankfully, the endorsement from Jerry Patterson is gone, and the endorsements from Rubin and Munchkin have been added. But the endorsement from Stanley Roberts was not taken off. After 25 years, ol’ Stanley is still calling me a genius. Thanks, Stan. I had a few anxious moments as I frantically leafed through the book to see if any "money management" chapter had been added with a betting progression system.

No, the inside text of the book is mine.

But there it is, still on the back cover, "The World’s Foremost Blackjack Authority," along with some other stuff I will probably never live down.

Sorry, Ed, Julian, Tommy, Al, Ken, Nick, Deep... You guys were just a bit slow on grabbing the title. In this business, if you snooze, you lose. ♠

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