No, that’s not a joke. Another in a long line of books I’ve read and posted on about cards. My wife knows I dig poker, so in addition to getting me some really cool poker-related stuff for Christmas, she got me two books — One of a Kind, which I recently posted on, and Busting Vega$, by Ben Mezrich.
While Busting Vega$ isn’t about poker (it’s about blackjack, like Mezrich’s earlier book, Bringing Down the House), it’s got Vegas in the title and is about people playing cards, so that’s close enough.
Anyway, this one reads pretty much like Bringing Down the House, written in the same style by Mezrich. A pretty easy read, but for some reason this one seems a lot longer than it needed to be to tell this story. Bottom line in this one is that this group of MIT nerds, rather than counting cards, used three other techniques to win money at blackjack. All three of the techniques involved “controlling” cards to flip the odds in favor of the player. Whereas card counting can give a player a 2-3% advantage over the house, these techniques could give the player as much as a 50% advantage. As with anything that valuable, the techniques appear to be ridiculously difficult to master. Two of the techniques require the player to catch a glimpse of the bottom card of the six-deck stack when the dealer is offering the cut, and to place the cut card in a precise location (e.g., exactly one deck [52 cards] from the end). By doing this, the player will know when that bottom card will be drawn from the shoe. If it’s a face card, the player will play multiple hands (or play individual hands with a number of teammates) and “force” the card to the dealer (by hitting or not hitting) to try to bust the dealer. If the card is an ace, the player(s) will force the card to one of their hands. The other technique involves following a sequence of cards that includes an ace and actually trying to track them through the dealer’s riffling and shuffling. Not an easy thing to do.
Anyway, this small team made tons of money and got barred from multiple casinos (sometimes through violent means), although the casinos couldn’t figure out how they were winning so much, because their style of play was very different from a card counter’s. If you’re into high-stakes gambling, I guess it’s not a bad read. But I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise, since this post tells you pretty much all you need to know.
Now, about this Tender Bar . . . anybody want to loan it out?