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by Ralph Stricker 

Ralph Stricker has been a successful professional blackjack player for many years, developer of the famous Silver Fox Card Blackjack System, and one of the blackjack legends described in the book, "Legends of Blackjack." 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. You can purchase a copy of Strickerís "Silver Fox Blackjack System" through Gamblerís Book Club in Las Vegas. If you want the book autographed, send a check for $32.95 made payable to Ralph Stricker (price includes priority mailing in US), and mail to Ralph Stricker, 500 Adams Lane, Ste.14R, North Brunswick, NJ 08902.

In 1986, I decided it was time for a "life change." I was tired of the same old routine of blackjack team play and playing "hide-and- seek" with the casinos (to avoid detection). I was also getting tired of dealing with the different personalities of the players on my blackjack teams, especially listening to their complaining, etc. Playing and counting solo was not an option because I was afraid of being barred from too many casinos. I needed a change.

Coincidentally, during this time I went on a trip to Florida to do a few radio shows on the topic of gambling and blackjack (what else). I was also scheduled to teach three blackjack classes and then spend three or four days doing nothing but just enjoying myself in sunny Florida.

In between teaching blackjack to students, I met someone (who knew my background in blackjack) who raised the question as to why I donít move to Florida permanently. He figured if I moved there, Iíd be closer to the casinos in the Bahamas, Aruba, and the Dominican Republic. He was a real estate agent and during our conversation, he told me that he had a nice condominium for sale at a good price. Moving from N.J. to Florida was the last thing on my mind during this time (1984 and 1985 were memorable years for me because I lost my mother and my son in a span of one year).

The more I thought about moving to Florida, the better it sounded because moving to a different part of the country started to peak my interest. I had lived in the Cayman Islands for three years and really enjoyed the sun year round. I finally asked him to show me the condominium. The condo was beautiful and located in Plantation, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, FL. The real estate agent happened to own the condo and he offered it to me at an excellent price. It only took me a day to decide to purchase it; however, the deal was contingent on the sale of my condo in N.J.

Back in those days, it didnít take long to sell a condo in N.J. and I was able to sell mine quickly. I then made plans to move to Florida. I drove from N.J. to Florida in one of my cars (my sporty 280ZX Turbo), and one of my blackjack team members drove my station wagon (which I used for team play). After we arrived in Florida, I paid for an airline ticket for my team member so that he could fly back home. The movers arrived with my stuff a day later and moved my belongings into my new condo. I was excited about the move and looked forward to just relaxing for a while.

I should have known better because it didnít take long before I was asked to do a radio show (on WIOD). The results from that show was more than I had expected and I wound up spending a lot of my time teaching three, two-day classes (four hours each class for a total of 8 hours). Thatís when I decided that I wasnít going to do any more shows for a while.

Besides teaching winning blackjack strategies to players, I was enjoying the other side of my life, which was music. I went to all of the local jazz spots to listen to some of the best musicians, some of whom were famous. Just when I thought that I could now relax for a while, I received a phone call from a big-name junkateer, Harold N. I made an appointment to meet him in his office to find out what he wanted. He proposed to...

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