Modern Blackjack
My First Trip







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Chapter Minus 2

My First Trip


I have decided to start this book in the middle. Well, my beginning — but the middle of many books. You can skip ahead to Chapter Minus 1 to see the rules of Blackjack, and Chapter Zero on how to play without counting. Playing to win does not start until the chapters hit positive numbers. However, before we learn how to win, I want to spend some time talking about how not to lose. Patience, there is method to my madness.


It was 1974 or 1975 – maybe 1976; I never was very good at dates. (I love history – except for the dates part.) Like so many others, I discovered the Thorp book, Beat the Dealer, which opened the world to card counting. Dr. Thorp did not invent card counting. Advantage play, including some attempts at counting, has been around for a long time. The genius of Thorp was the codification of card counting into a fully realized, workable, relatively simple strategy. Like so many others, I said, “This can work.” One week later, I was on a plane to Las Vegas.

I had a round-trip ticket with an open return, no hotel reservations, just what cash I found in the house, $400, and one change of clothing. This was my first visit to Vegas and I had no idea how long it would last. I had read the book, but having no knowledge of casino play felt a need for experience and throwing myself into the pool (or off a cliff) seemed a logical step.

Getting off the plane, I saw a clump of casino signs in the distance and figured that’s where I’d find the casinos. No, it was just a clump of signs. I had a lot to learn. I instructed the cab driver to take me to the casinos. “What casinos?” “The biggest


 © 2009 Norman Wattenberger

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© 2009 Norman Wattenberger