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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. In his articles for the BJI, Stricker describes his blackjack career, specifically how and where he started playing, teaching, and managing blackjack teams, as well some personal experiences that affected him along the way. He is one of the blackjack legends described in the book, "Legends of Blackjack."

My next series of articles will describe what happens to a person who has no discipline and eventually self-destructs along with his family. 

I remember it as if it were yesterday. After appearing on a T.V. show in Boston, I was teaching a blackjack class. There were three "high rollers" in the class who received every perk that a casino can offer. Why? Because they were LOSERS, and the casinos wanted to keep them coming back.

I will key in on one of the high rollers. He became my student, a BP, and contracted with me to play blackjack with him in a "Counter/BP scenario." I will not use his real name out of respect because I donít want to compromise his identity. Letís just call him "M.R." He attended the class along with his two other friends and they were very good students. They had previously lost an unbelievable amount of money, mostly at Foxwoods Casino (the Mohegan Sun casino was just opening and not very attractive at this time).

I always offer students the opportunity to attend another class with no charge if they feel they need more reinforcement or practice. I also offer to "check them out" to be sure they are playing and betting correctly. M.R. was the only one of the three that took another class and then got checked out by me. From what I gathered from M.R., the other two high rollers never fully completed the required practice time to play the counting system I was teaching to its fullest parameters.

After a month or so, I received a call from M.R. and he said that he wanted to discuss a business scenario with me regarding blackjack. I told him I was going to be in Boston the following weekend and he could meet me at the hotel I was staying.

 We met at dinner and he said, "Why should I play blackjack by myself if I can hire you to do the playing for me?" I said that that I would never play for him unless he was there to witness the results. I suggested the Counter/BP scenario. I would do the counting at the table and avoid escalating my bets to not arouse suspicion. He would play his hand and bet according to signals that I would give him. The signals also included when to leave the table (until summoned back), and leaving the table to end the session in a particular casino.

I explained that it would take at least 15 hours of practicing to master that playing scenario. I also explained to him that if he didnít follow my instructions and signals perfectly, I would pull the plug on our business association. He agreed and we started practicing, sometimes in Boston and other times at my home.

After fifteen hours of practice, I found M.R. to be a very astute individual and a fast learner. The hours he had spent in casinos gambling at Foxwoods, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas, were well served to make him "casino smart."

We made our first forage to Atlantic City, starting at Resorts International. We had planned to play for two days, during the day shift, night /morning shift, and the afternoon shift.

M.R. passed with flying colors, missing only two signals, one on betting, and the other on leaving the table. We won enough to pay for my expenses and a small profit for him. We made plans for another play the following week at Resorts since we had aroused no suspicion and we had a good rapport. We decided that we would raise the stakes and see what the outcome would be.

 M.R. and I met the following week at Resorts and went into the high roller pit to play. There was one other player at the table and he was "flat betting" $1,000 a hand. This was good for us because the pit critters spent most of their time watching the flat bettor. The table had a $25.00 minimum, which enabled me to flat bet the minimum and occasionally raise my bet, but not enough to raise suspicion. M.R. made bets on my signal from $50.00 to $500.00 (1 to 10 spread). 

We had successful two days of playing as a team, and I was very enthusiastic with the performance of M.R. I looked forward to playing with him again. In my opinion, he was one of the most casino-savvy persons I have had as a contractor. He also was a pleasure to be with and we enjoyed being, and playing, together.

To be continued next month.  

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