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Best of Henry Tamburin

Gaming Guru

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You're an idiot!

19 March 2010

I sometimes receive compliments from readers on something that I write about blackjack. But I also sometimes receive scathing e-mails or letters that basically say what an idiot I am. Trust me when I say you have to have a tough skin to be in this business of writing about blackjack and casino gambling in general. I've taken my career as a blackjack writer very seriously, and I would never say or write anything if I didn't believe it wasn't true or factual. But apparently, some folks disagree, and what follows are some of the criticisms I've received (I've kept a file of them).

The first negative letter came about when I first wrote about card counting in a newspaper column a long time ago.

Tamburin, you're an idiot for writing about this card counting. Haven't you read what Scarne said about it: it doesn't work and it's a ruse used by a few system sellers to make a buck. You should be ashamed of yourself for writing about it in your column.

This letter caused one of the biggest commotions for this newspaper (the writer actually sent his comment to the editor who forwarded it to me). For those that don't know, John Scarne was a famous gambling authority back in the '60s and early '70s. He wrote several best-selling books on casino gambling and was considered the expert during this time. However, Scarne got it all wrong when it came to his comments on card counting. There was, in fact, a flak in print over Scarne's comments and the new breed of blackjack experts who came on the scene. Of course, it turned out that as more mathematicians began studying the game of blackjack, it became widely known and accepted that card counting will give the player the edge at blackjack. I actually answered this irate reader's comments on card counting in my column with facts and figures. Scarne never retracted what he said about card counting and I never heard any more negative comments from this reader about anything else I wrote about in my columns.

You're dead wrong and stupid when you say that betting progressions don't work. I've been using one for 40 years. So have all my buddies and we all are winners.

I've received hundreds -- no, probably thousands -- of negative comments about my position on betting progressions in blackjack. I, and dozens of other mathematicians, have studied betting progressions in blackjack in great detail. The bottom line is this: Betting progressions on a session by session basis will increase the fluctuation in your bankroll compared to always betting the same amount and, long term, they will not change your odds of winning one iota and they won't decrease the house edge one iota. All this means is that in any particular playing session you could win using a betting progression. However, if you continue to use betting progressions time after time after time, in the long run you have to lose because the math is on the casino's side. I challenged this critic whether he really kept accurate win and loss records but never got a response.

Telling your readers not to take even money is the dumbest advice I've heard. You need to get a life.

I've obviously touched a nerve with this critic. I realize it's tough to pass up getting paid a sure even money on your bet when you are sitting with a blackjack and the dealer is showing an ace. The fear, of course, is that if you don't take the sure even money, the dealer could have a blackjack and you wind up winning nothing. The long and the short of it is this: Say you bet $10 a hand and you always take the sure even money. Do it 100 times and you'll wind up $100 ahead with no risk. If instead you decline even money, there is a risk that sometimes you'll win nada and sometimes you'll win $15 (the former when the dealer has blackjack, the latter when she doesn't). If you decline even money 100 times, guess what? On a hand-by-hand basis you've accepted some risk but after 100 even money situations, you'll have more than $100 in winnings. That's the math behind even money. You win when you always take it but you'll win more in the long run if you always decline it. So if you're only going to play one session of blackjack your whole life, go ahead and take even money. But if you are going to play a lot of sessions of blackjack during your lifetime, you'll end up with about 4 percent more profits in your pocket when you always decline the even money.

You're a con artist for endorsing Speed Count when the experts say it's less powerful than Hi Lo.

First off, I never said Speed Count was as powerful as or more powerful than Hi Lo. The objective of Speed Count was to provide a simple system for average players that could be learned in less than hour and would give them the mathematical edge when they play blackjack. It's been my experience over 30 years of teaching Hi Lo and other counting systems that: 1) most average players don't want to put in the time or effort to learn card counting, 2) many players find it to daunting to learn, and 3) the ones who try it make too many mistakes, mistakes that wipe out their edge.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are players who have mastered Hi Lo (and other counting systems) and have profited very well. But they have spent months mastering these systems. Speed Count, on the other hand, bridges the gap between a basic strategy player and Hi Lo player and allows the masses of blackjack players to finally play with the edge. And, yes, it takes more bankroll to play with Speed Count than Hi Lo for the same risk of ruin, but that is the price you have to pay for a much simpler system. All of the details on Speed Count, including bankroll requirements, are spelled out in English in the book Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution.

Are you crazy endorsing dice control? You know it's impossible to control the dice when they have to hit those pyramids on the back wall.

My endorsement of dice control as a valid strategy to get the edge at craps didn't come lightly. I spent over a year playing with, and studying, a team of dice controllers (Golden Touch Dice team and others). I was with them in casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Chicago, Tunica, New Mexico, and Canada. I was impressed with what I saw and what they were winning. I then got a math guru (Dan Pronovost, who also developed Speed Count) to mathematically analyze the dice results of these so-called dice controllers.

When Dan started this project there wasn't even any software on the market to do the analysis, so he developed the statistical software himself that allowed him to analyze the results of their throws (Smart Craps software). Several dice controllers were tested using the software and the results proved they were in fact influencing the outcome of their throws with statistical certainty, and they did in fact have the edge. However, dice control is not something you can learn overnight. It's a physical skill that you must master, just like mastering golf or tennis requires a lot of practice. As to those pyramids on the back wall ... yes, they cause the dice to randomize to some extent but not enough to overcome the skill these dice controllers have in setting and throwing the dice in a manner so that the 7 appears less than the expected once in every six tosses.

So, as you can see, I've been called a con artist, idiot, stupid, dumb, crazy and a few other choice words I can't mention in this family publication. But I'll also tell you this: Everything that I have written has been well researched, studied and factual. If this weren't the case, I wouldn't be starting my 35th year as a gambling writer.

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:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin