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Feb 23

Aramon – The Comeback

Posted by THEPOGG in Blog.

As I’m packing for my trip I feel adrenaline rushing through me like never before…..or maybe it’s like many years ago when I took my first similar trip, I can’t remember back that far, it’s been over 16 years. This isn’t just any old trip, it’s not a vacation, its business. And it’s not any old business trip, my business is professional advantage playing blackjack. And this is not any old blackjack trip, this is my first meaningful play in about 2 years, and damn do I need to be good. I need to be great.

I have been hired to play a game that has been deemed beatable by others who scouted the game. They call me with what they believe to be the details of the game and we discuss if it’s a game we can get the advantage on. This is really a simple premise, but usually a flawed way of going about it. Many games theoretically can be beat. If the math used to figure the game out lands the advantage on your side, well then, if played in a vacuum, it’s a beatable game. Well, we know these games are not played in a vacuum, and there are variables that should be taken into account along with game rules and procedure before planning an attack strategy. I’ll get more into that later. It’s been my experience over the years, that if I am not doing my own scouting then a lot of the more practical nuances of the game get left out. It makes the job tougher, but like I said, jobs have been hard to come by lately and I figure they hired me because they thought I can get the job done. They are right to believe that.

I am skilled at what is commonly referred to as advantage play when it comes to blackjack. There are many ways to gain the advantage playing blackjack. Counting cards is usually the first step. It’s a necessary step for sure, but not one that pays well in this day and age of blackjack. There is a time and place for it, and for the hobbyist it’s what I recommend most, but when you’re playing for your supper, you better have a few other tricks up your sleeve. This is where I excel. I can track cards that have been previously played, through a shuffle, and then have a significant amount of information about the cards about to be played knowing when I should bet big, or lay off. It’s not an easy skill to acquire, but once mastered, makes you a very dangerous opponent to the casino, and highly undetectable. Let me reiterate, it’s not an easy skill to acquire, almost all who try it are bad at it. Being bad at what I describe as shuffle tracking makes you a casino’s best friend. It’s one thing to play blackjack for fun with a disadvantage, almost all do it, that’s the price of entertainment. It’s a totally different animal playing with a disadvantage when you THINK you have the advantage but are wrong. Betting up when you are wrong like that will kill bankroll, bankrupt a player and can destroy a person. Don’t half ass this, a casino has no mercy for fools, you are their largest commodity.

Anyway, I am what many in the business would describe as a blackjack expert and a shuffle tracker. I have never invented any new ways to gain an advantage over the game. I have never been a mathematical genius that has discovered new ways in figuring odds and edges to games and deemed them beatable. I am in no way innovative when it comes this game, but I have learned to take what seems impossible and make it work incredibly well based on what has been discovered and usually unsuccessfully applied by others players. Nothing is ever a given when playing blackjack, there is no-one who always wins, but I always like my chances I step onto a casino floor. Otherwise…..I never would.

So I finally get to my playing destination and I relax in my hotel room and wait for my contact instructions. Really all I need is my playing stake, or trip bankroll as its commonly called. I have all the casino info they had to give and I’m ready to play. 30 minutes after I check in my hotel I get the call to meet my contact in another hotel. I get there in 15 minutes. He hands me my bankroll and a cellphone. I am to use this cell phone every evening to report on each days sessions to a number already programmed into the phone. I am to use the phone for nothing else. No problem here. I leave, go back to my hotel secure the bankroll in my room safe and go to check out the casino for myself. Here is where my job officially starts.

The above video is a demonstration of the shuffle tracking techniques Aramon discusses in this article.

I walk into the casino and am immediately taken back by how small it is. This was not mentioned in the scouting report. Upon examining the only 5 bj tables open I noticed the limits on the table alarming low. How the hell am I supposed to beat this game for any real money with $200 max! I call my assigned number right away to inform them their scouting was for shit and I can’t operate at any real stakes in this low limit joint. The response I got wasn’t good. It was along the lines of “you need this more than we do so f’ng make it work! You’re supposed to be the professional, so act it and make some f’ng money!” Well needless to say I was besides myself in anger. Partly due to the fact that they would be so ignorant and disrespectful in dealing with me, but also because they were dead right….I needed this in a bad way and they knew it. So I swallowed my pride and went to work. First off I looked at the shuffle to see if it’s as easy to beat as told to me…..and damn it was! Easiest 1 pass I have seen in a long time. Okay, 1 check in the good direction. Next I looked to see what the pit personnel were like. They were used to seeing low rollers and I’m about to stand this place on its ear, how are they going to react? Well another check on the good side. The workers here all had a laid back carefree attitude I was sure I could manipulate in my direction. Now, what are the other patrons like? I don’t care how they play per say, I want to see their attitudes so I can see best how to either get them out of the way, or put them in my way for cover. It seems to be another homerun here as these people don’t seem to be real serious players as this casino is in a real scenic vacation spot and gambling is not what they are here for. A good crowd because they won’t fight me for a table. Alright, time to go back to my room, eat, take a nap, and come back and turn this chickenshit situation into chicken salad.

Four hours later I’m coming through the casino doors again, this time with a bankroll and a playing persona in place. I step up to a pit boss that has 2 empty tables not open in the pit and ask her in an ever so friendly manner, “excuse me darlin’ I need to play some blackjack but I need a little more than I see here, would you be kind enough to open one of these tables for me so I can get rid of some of this loot a little faster. ” As I say this I have a good wad of cash in my hand and a big silly grin on my face. She looks at me for a second and says “sure why not, but don’t be so negative hun, we just had a guy walk out of here today with over $1000!” I am bursting inside, this is just too good to be true. I let out a laugh for her and sit at a table as a dealer comes over for me. I make conversation with the pit boss and the dealer making up a vacation story, but also setting up the fact I love to gamble and talk about places like Vegas and other big gambling venues. Now they know before we even start they have this super friendly guy playing here that likes to play for as much money as he can. It’s set up, now I just have to keep them from thinking anything different as the play begins. They set my table limits at $25 min $300 max. Its gonna keep most of the others away from my table as they are mostly playing $3 min tables, but I’m hoping to bump up the max as I go. We’ll see, for now it’s a little better than before.

The dealer is finished preparing the shoe and begins to deal to me. I start counting and at the moment am betting the table min. I actually play a slight positive progression through the first shoe and don’t bet with the count. I don’t want any trouble for later on when the fireworks start, so I appear as the typical gambler. With the first shoe dealt out I find myself down slightly but all the groundwork is laid. I’ve got my persona that they seem to love, I’ve got the table to myself, and most importantly, I’ve got these cards all counted and accounted for and am ready to start laying into this casino for all I got. Next shoe I cut what I believe to be the best cards in the shoe right to the top. Let’s roll. As the shoe plays out I’m betting with all the knowledge I have of the cards I tracked and I’m dead on. Only problem I still take a hit on this shoe too, but this time much bigger than the first shoe. Guess what, that’s great! I am fully aware that I can lose at this game at anytime, so that never bothers me. But the casino is absolutely unaware that I play a dangerous game against them, so I hold the upper hand. The big loss prompts the pitboss to advise me maybe I should lower my bets to weather the storm. Au contraire, please nice pit boss lady, can you up the table max so I can get this money back? I plead and come off as a hopeless yet delightful sucker. I am only going to be here for a short stay ma’am, its either go big or go broke sweetheart is the message I convey. So guess what, they bump me up to $500….to help me out. Yeah right. The casino thinks they got a live one here, and they do, just not in the way they think. Well it plays out like this, in 1 hour I got all my lost money back plus about 5 units. In the next 3 hours I beat them for over 400% of my original buy in. I cleaned out the dealers racks twice. The great thing about it, they loved me. The pit and dealers were cheering me on. People gathered around to see me play what they thought was big money and cheered me on to whip the casino. When I quit that session I knew a few thing for sure. This was one of the easiest shuffles to beat, I had free reign over the pit personnel so for the next couple of days I could do what I wanted in the way of manipulating my own table and betting limits, and the casino knew they had a lucky gambler that like to bet bigger than the rest of the patrons. That was good for them, because they knew I’d be back to give it all back to them, but in the meantime all the other suckers, as the casino sees them, got to see someone win. That’s good for bringing in business. Little did they know, I wasn’t anything what they bargained for.

That night I called in my results to a very pleased backer, had a drink and went to bed. I would only hit the casino in the evening to try to play on those I set my whole act up with, and to not over do something in a place so small. Besides this place as I said before was in a beautiful vacation spot and there was actually no casino action during the day. So the next 2 days were spent hanging out, working out, and just fine tuning myself for this fine game. In the evenings after dinner, it would just be a repeat of the night before in the casino. Upon me leaving the table the last night I was there, the pit bosses I had played with the last 3 nights all hugged me congratulated me and wished me well and hoped I would be back soon. Oh how I wish so too.

The morning before I left I met with my contact and handed over their money. I had made them triple the total money they gave me to play with. It was an extraordinary feat given the conditions in which I had to play in. I couldn’t help but think what a huge hit this could’ve been had they actually had some decent higher limits at this place. But then again if they had been higher, I’m sure the game wouldn’t be so vulnerable, that’s usually how it goes. Either way, a great shuffle and a friendly clueless staff equal profit. Big or small that’s the name of the game. As for me, I got compensated for my play at a daily flat rate. It’s not how I like to do it usually, but its guaranteed money for me win or lose. Had I worked off a percentage of what I won I would have been compensated far greater, but the situation a player is in dictates what one chooses most times. Currently I just can’t turn down guaranteed money, but there’s always next time. Which isn’t too far off, my phone rang before I got home from the airport. Looks like another possible job….but this time……You better talk to me with some f’ng respect – I believe I earned it.

5 Responses

UK-21
Mar 03, 2013

Nice article. The author doesn't say how much the bankroll he was given was, or what his initial buy-in on the game was, so it's hard to put the 400% x BI win into perspective (for spreading $25-£500). Can you find out?

ThePOGG
Mar 05, 2013

Hey UK-21 - Great to hear from you.

We're very keen to post articles from players who can beat various casino games - personally i think they make for a thrilling read and i'm sure many people will agree with that - but we are walking a very thin line. Basically no casino wants players at their tables that can beat their games, it's not good for business, so certain details have to be withheld to help protect the player's identity and ensure they'll be able to play in the future before they'll agree to write an article like that. I also suspect that the people bankrolling the play may not be happy with figures being thrown around.

All that said, i'll direct Aramon over here to see if any further detail can be added - or you should be able to talk directly on the message boards.

ThePOGG

Aramon
Mar 05, 2013

Hey UK-21, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. As ThePogg has stated their is a fine line on specific details that I'm able to give. Very rarely do I give out exact figures that may tie me to a certain place. Especially a smaller place like this one that isn't handling loads of big action. What I can tell you is, I played in U.S. currency, my initial buy in was a 4 figure amount, my take that 1st evening was a low 5 figure amount as was the case the next 2 evenings with the last night being the largest. The starting bankroll given to me to play was more than 10k but less than 25k. The overall profit was outstanding given the limitations on what amounts I could play, but still did not approach anything near the 6 figure range.

I would say I pushed the boundaries of this game at this casino. A game like this is fantastic to have around, and is not one to burn out in one sitting for 2 reasons. First the limits are not quite high enough to actually warrant just a one time big score. Which leads me to the second reason, that this game if milked properly is one that will stay around for a long time. Numerous mid level scores will far outweigh the 1 time big hit at a place like this. If I was just playing this game on my own dime I probably would have played it even more conservative, but when you have to answer to an anxious investor, sometimes you have to very carefully push the boundaries.

UK-21
Mar 06, 2013

Thanks for the responses. In view of your comments, I leave it at that !

Brooke F. Mckee
Jun 22, 2013

Assuming you’re up to the challenge though, a great way to practice is by dealing cards to yourself and trying to keep a count. The better you get, the quicker you can deal. Another helpful practice is to watch cards being dealt in a casino while not playing the game; the idea is to keep up with the count and get used to a casino setting.

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