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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 System—You 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, "You’ve 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."

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

I mentioned in my article last month that I would describe a betting scenario that enabled me to play almost undetected. I have to go back in the past when blackjack and card counting were still in its infancy. One of the pioneers of card counting systems was a man named Charles Einstein. (I will refer to him as "Charles" because we became very good friends.) Charles was a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, writing sporting articles. He was also the author of a book about Willie Mays, whom he considered one of the greatest baseball players ever. Charles also developed the counting system known as Hi-Opt I. It was the pre-cursor to the famous counting system known as Hi-Opt II. Hi-Opt 1 was more effective in single-deck play rather than in multiple-deck play. When Charles developed his count system, there were only single-deck games being dealt in casinos.

Charles also published a method that he referred to as "Rhythm Betting." It was based on his writing as a baseball journalist, where the "home team" won more at home than on the road. Therefore, Charles determined that if you lost the last hand, you did this, and if the player won the last hand, you did that. It sounds confusing, but no one knew whether it worked because of single-deck play or because not enough trials were ever done to really prove the system. However, Charles swore by his system and believed it worked.

I had done a radio show in Los Angeles and Charles was listening. He called me at my hotel later and asked if he could come and discuss blackjack with me. I was delighted to meet him and spend some time with him. He eventually had Harry Jupiter, a writer at the San Francisco Chronicle write an article about me. We became friends and later, he moved to New Jersey and lived in Atlantic City.

 I never subscribed to his system, but I believed it could be used as "cover" play for blackjack. I worked on developing this modified system and named it "Cycles & Circumstance."

I will not go into details in using the system as I have only shown it to a few people who signed agreements not to divulge it. Essentially, I incorporated it with card counting and this is what I taught M.R. (my BP) when he was playing on his own. M.R. used it at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos and played 3-5 years before he got sloppy. As the saying goes "Familiarity Breeds Contempt."

Previously, I had warned M.R. of...

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