HOW AND WHERE IT BEGAN
by Ralph "Silver Fox" Stricker
Ralph Stricker has been a successful professional blackjack player for many years. He is the developer of the Silver Fox Card Counting system and author of "Silver Fox Blackjack SystemóYou Can Count On It." Note: This is the system that BJI contributing writer Barfarkel uses and mentions in his BJI trip reports.
My name is Ralph Stricker, also known in the blackjack community as the "Silver Fox." Iíve been asked many times how I got started teaching and playing blackjack for a living. Actually I didnít intend to do either at first; hereís the true story of how I made blackjack my career.
The year was 1977. My fiancée Vivian Bush was working in a restaurant as a hostess. She was a very intelligent person with a fine mathematical mind plus she possessed an excellent vocabulary and speaking voice. I felt she was wasting her time working as a hostess.
About this time I received the first issue of Gambling Times, the first national magazine for casino players. As I thumbed through the issue I was intrigued by an ad that read as follows:
"Make $500.00 A DAY PLAYING BLACKJACK." MONEY BACK GUARANTEE IF NOT SATISFIED.
The ad was for the "STANLEY ROBERTS SCHOOL OF WINNING BLACKJACK." Roberts was also the publisher of Gambling Times magazine. The blackjack school was located in Los Angeles, CA, and the ad said to call for more information.
During this time I was teaching and playing music full time. But after I read the ad, I thought to myself that attending the blackjack school would be something to try and it might also interest Vivian. We discussed it and she was very receptive to the idea, although she had no previous experience of "blackjack, gambling, or casinos in general."
I finally went ahead and called the school. We were told that if Vivian attended with me, she would only pay half-price for tuition, and I was assured that if we werenít happy with the four-day, 16-hour course, they would refund my money.
Since I had been planning to visit a longtime boyhood friend that I hadnít seen in 30 some years but had always kept in touch (he lived in the Los Angeles area), I decided to attend the course. I went ahead and made reservations for the school, the plane tickets, and the hotel accommodations.
There is another equation to this scenario as to why I decided to get into blackjack. Very shortly, the first casino was about to open in Atlantic City (Resorts International), and it was only a few hours drive from my house. Resorts International was going to be the first ever legal casino on the East Coast and a good place for me and Vivian to use our new blackjack skills.
After we arrived in Los Angeles, we had a free day before the course began. But we were so bushed from the five-hour flight we decided instead to chill-out and just relax.
The next day we drove to the blackjack school and enrolled in the course. At first, I didnít take the course very seriously since it was my intention to have Vivian pursue it diligently and possibly "make $500.00 a day" as advertised. She immediately was absorbed in the course from the start because she had a great mathematical mind. I started to see the logic and the mathematical aspects of the methods they were teaching on how to get the edge at blackjack.
By the second day of the course I was absorbed as Vivian was and enjoyed the patience of the instructor Stephen Goldberg, who had an unbelievable knowledge of the game. While I was sitting in the course, I had a brainstorm: Why donít Vivian and I open a franchise of the blackjack school on the East Coast to coincide with the opening of Resorts International in Atlantic City, NJ?
Both of us impressed Goldberg, who was a partner with Stanley Roberts in the school, and we finally spoke with Roberts on the third day about our proposal to open a franchise in Marlton, N.J. Fortunately, I had impressed Goldberg with my business acumen (something I acquired during my stint as the President and CFO of a multi-national corporation based in the Cayman Islands).
Goldberg informed us that Mr. Roberts wished to have dinner with us at the conclusion of the course to discuss our proposal. After we discussed our idea with Roberts over dinner, we came to an agreement on opening an East Coast franchise of his school based on this criterion: We would have to return to Los Angeles and be checked out as to the assimilation of the course to its full extent.
We practiced diligently for a month, returned to Los Angles, and successfully passed the rigorous test they gave us to prove that we were more than qualified to play and teach the system.
This, in a nut shell, is how I started my career as a professional blackjack player (and teacher).
Next month Iíll discuss my school and what we taught, and how I came to develop the Silver Fox card-counting system.
The Silver Fox
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