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Best of Henry Tamburin

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'Blackjack Autumn' review

18 August 1999

Imagine what it would be like to spend two months doing nothing but playing blackjack in EVERY CASINO in the state of Nevada. Barry Meadow, in fact, did just that. He left behind his business, his fiancé, his son, and with one suitcase and an $8,000 bankroll, he drove 4,000 miles over 9 weeks to play blackjack in nearly 200 different Nevada casinos in 30 different towns. Along the way he recorded his adventure of a lifetime and published it in his new book, Blackjack Autumn: A True Tale of Life, Death, and Splitting Tens in Winnemucca .

Meadow is no newcomer to the gambling world. He is well known for his horse racing expertise. He publishes two newsletters on Thoroughbred and harness racing, and he has authored several booklets and manuals on how to make money at the track. He is also a skilled blackjack card counter, and this is his first effort at writing a book on blackjack.

To begin, let me say that this book is much, much more than a diary. It's a blackjack primer that will show you how card counters win. It's a travelogue of cities and towns in Nevada, some of which are not even on the map. It's a directory of blackjack playing conditions for casinos in Nevada. It's a book that reveals the real world of gambling with all the emotional ups and downs. And above all, it's an educational, entertaining and often humorous book. Once I started to read it, I couldn't put it down.

What makes this book unique is Meadow's wit and his ability to narrate his journey and adventures in vivid detail. He writes about his gaming sessions from a card counter's perspective, but you don't have to be a practicing card counter to understand and appreciate what Meadow is doing. His descriptions of the different characters he meets at the blackjack tables is sometimes touching and sometimes hilarious (you'll thoroughly enjoy reading about the Cloud Man). Ditto for the different towns and cities, some of which were "glitz and glamour" and others nothing more than "an unattractive place filled with trailers, dogs, rusted car hulks, gutted sheds, boarded-up buildings, and abandoned shacks."

Here's a sample of Meadow's wit. On his visit to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he says: "The MGM grand is truly that, 5,005 rooms worth, everything about this place is big, big, big. It is possible to enter the hotel and disappear for years before finding your way out." On the oppressive heat in the Nevada desert he writes: "It's so hot outside I hear the radio announcer say it's 'four twenty nine' and I don't know whether he's telling me the time or the temperature. Lizards are dropping from heat exhaustion. 'It's a dry heat' say the natives, although so is the inside of an oven and I don't think you'd want to spend an hour there." Then there is his encounter with a chain smoker at the tables. "I went next door to the Casino Royal, which offers $1 blackjack. I sit down at a vacant spot in a two-deck game next to an older chain-smoking woman. I hope to win a few hands quickly, then leave before I am saddled with emphysema. I do and am able to depart before my lungs collapse."

But this is, after all, a book about blackjack and one man trying to beat the casinos at their own game. Meadow accurately describes his playing sessions, how much he bets, the memorable wins and crushing defeats, and keeps a score on how much he is ahead and behind during his adventure. Every would-be card counter must read this book to appreciate the negative emotions that sometimes befall blackjack players when the going gets tough. For example, in one nightmarish playing session Meadow writes after he changes tables: "I sit at a head-up $25 blackjack table and lose my first six hands. A new dealer arrives, reshuffles the deck, and we begin. This time I lose my first 5 hands, meaning I have lost my first 14 bets at this casino. I finally win a hand, then let it ride and the deck is equally positive with the same result -- one victory all deck. In less than 15 minutes, I have lost $1,800." Or the time Meadow attacks the blackjack tables at Circus Circus Casino in Reno. He can do no wrong at the table and "the money is rolling in. Just as suddenly, it rolls out, heading directly from my wallet into the vault of Mr. Circus himself. By the time the slaughter stops, I have bought in for $1,200 and have only about $250 left." But he also writes about his memorable winning sessions (his biggest win was just under $3,000). The final accounting after his Odyssey is over shows Meadow was an overall winner.

This is a refreshingly entertaining, educational and hilarious book that I recommend to anyone who has ever placed a bet on a blackjack table, or for that matter, in a casino. The copy on the book jacket state,s "You'll never forget Blackjack Autumn." And guess what? It's right.

Recent Articles
Best of Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

Winning Baccarat Strategies

> More Books By Henry Tamburin