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HOW AND WHERE IT BEGAN:

LACK OF DISCIPLINE LEADS

TO DESTRUCTION-Part 6

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, and in his book, "Youíve Got Heat." 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."

Editorís Note: This is a continuation of a story about M.R., one of Ralph Strickerís Big Players (BP). The period was mid-1990.

After the "debacle" at Foxwoods Casino, I decided to postpone our plans to play in Las Vegas. Since Atlantic City had been "kind" to us in the past and it involved less traveling time. I discussed going there instead with M.R., and he agreed. I booked a room at the same motel that I always stayed at, which is about six miles from the casinos. M.R. had a three-night "comped" room at one of the casinos. We finalized plans to make our first play in the afternoon since M.R. had to fly into Atlantic City Airport and have the casino limo pick him up and drive him to A.C.

After we met and decided which casino to play in, we proceeded to the Trump Plaza. It was already 3 pm and our plans were to play for about two hours, have dinner, and then resume playing about 8 pm.

When we arrived at Trump Plaza, I found a $50.00 minimum six-deck game and proceeded to "back count," eventually entering the game at a plus count. After one-half of the shoe was dealt, I walked away and started counting at another table. There were three players at the table, so I knew that it would not take long to find out whether the shoe would turn positive and I could join the table and beginning playing or leave to find another table to back count.

Fortunately, after three rounds the count was positive enough for me to enter the game. I was hoping no one else would enter since M.R. would be playing two spots when I signaled him in. After the next round, the count went positive enough to signal M.R. to enter the game. He did and immediately bet $500.00 on two spots; unfortunately, this caught the eyes of the pit. They asked him for a playerís card and he gave it to them. They didnít stand around watching his play, but I could tell that they were being very observant. He had a couple of bets of $1,500 and then the shoe ended. M.R. asked the dealer to hold two spots for him while he went to the menís room.

The shoe very quickly went positive and I called M.R. back into the game. He bet two spots of $1,000 and once again, the pit started watching him, but this time they were standing right next to him. Fortunately, the way I had devised the betting and playing signals, M.R. did not have to look directly at me and could play and converse with pit personnel. After two forays at the "Plaza," I decided that it was time to leave to not "overstay our welcome." It was now 4:30 pm and we had recouped about half of our last trip losses to Las Vegas. We decided to meet after supper at the Taj Mahal.

I arrived at the Taj Mahal about a half an hour earlier than scheduled and was shocked to see M.R. playing. Our playing agreement was that on any of our scheduled trips, he was not to play without me. This was so that the casino didnít get a "make" on him as an "advantage player." This was now the second incident that caused me consternation, according to our agreement. I signaled him to leave the table and we met at a pre-determined place. I asked him why he violated a part of our agreement. He said he just didnít think that it would jeopardize our situation. I told him that any more of these infractions and our playing/business relationship would end. We agreed to meet at the "Showboat casino."

The Showboat was not one of the better casinos to play in, but the game was beatable using our playing scenario. Besides, we had not yet tested the waters there yet.

I found a table with one player and proceeded to back count. After two shoes (I was able to back count two shoes simultaneously), nothing happened, so I moved to another pit. The first shoe I counted turned positive after two rounds (table had two other players) so I entered the game. After another round, the shoe became positive enough to signal M.R into the game.

I gave M.R. the signal to play one hand until further notice. He bet $250.00 and had a double down on a hand consisting of 6-5 against the dealerís 7. He drew a 7 on the double down, which gave him 18. The dealer subsequently turned over his hole card, which was a 6, and he had 13. Unfortunately, the dealer drew an 8 for 21, which cost us the hand. I signaled M.R. to play two hands when I called him back to the table. We continued playing since there was no conspicuous heat. (No one was standing by the table and there was no telephone action in the pit.) After about two hours of playing, we decided to stop for the day.

We met the next day and played in the morning because M.R. had a 1 pm flight back home. The morning play was uneventful and we broke even for the session. However, over the three days we played on this trip, we had completely wiped out our loss from Vegas and felt good about the results. We decided that our next play would be at Foxwoods Casino.

In my next article, I will describe a betting scenario that over the years had enabled me to play almost undetected. I had taught it to M.R. and we used it in most of our playing sessions. I also will start to detail what the specific "lack of discipline" was that M.R. began to exhibit that ultimately leads to his destruction (the focal point of this series). What happened is not a very pretty story but I hope it will be a lesson to many of you reading the BJI.

Stay Tuned.

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