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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.

Sometimes I feel it was predestined that I would become a professional blackjack player. So many things happened as I was growing up that reinforces that feeling.

I was raised in an area that was predominately" farm country." My parents were immigrants who struggled to make a living and raise two boys. I started working on farms when I was 10 years old. Eventually, I wound up working on a chicken farm, which entailed the feeding, and whatever else had to be done. The owner was a marvelous person and became a mentor to me. I eventually worked with him, delivering eggs and chickens on Saturdays. We would be done about 5 pm, and as was the custom, we would have dinner and then he would be sure that I got on the right bus to get home. He would stay in town because this was his "night out." I was 16 years old at the time, and one Saturday after dinner, instead of sending me home, he said, "Let me show you where I go afterwards."

He took me to a pool and bowling alley called the "REC." I had never been exposed to anything like this and was mesmerized by the place. He gave me some lessons on how to play the game, and, I was "hooked." I became quite good and eventually was proficient to play with some of the best players in the world. (When I later lived in the Cayman Islands, I won the pool championship two years running.) I also played a lot of poker, since the natives were the worst poker players I have ever seen and played with.

In 1948, I enlisted in the Navy, and while on the train to the Great Lakes Naval Station, I was introduced to the game of blackjack. The porter of our car saw all of these young fresh "lambs" and started a game of blackjack. In two days, I won about $225.00 (i.e., dumb luck). When I was stationed at Great Lakes, I played throughout my days in "boot camp." After my discharge, I never played the game again until I went and studied how to play professionally. However, I dealt poker in a Greek Coffee house, not so much for the money, but mostly for the food. I love Greek food, particularly boiled Beef with Orzo. I also played poker at three places in the town that were open (not legitimately).

I ran a blackjack school in Marlton, N.J., initially called the "Stanley Roberts School of Winning Blackjack." I later gave up the Roberts franchise and opened the "Professional School of Winning Blackjack." You would be surprised at the many different types of people you meet in the "gambling world." For example, one day one of my ex-students comes in and tells me about this person who can deal poker and give a partner any hand they needed to win. He also claimed that he could deal seconds in blackjack. My ex-student asked me if I was interested in meeting him. I said sure, and he made an appointment and brought him to my school. The person came in and gave a demonstration of his dealing prowess. I have never seen anyone deal cards like this before. We played about an hour (single deck), and I never won a single hand. He then proceeded to demonstrate his poker dealing skills. We set up four hands (one person was acting as a partner), and, unbelievably, he dealt winning hands every time to the "partner."

He asked if I would like to see a real game of blackjack and poker that was being run at a Motor Inn located directly across from the Garden State Race Track. I accepted the invitation and a few days later attended the game (however, I did not play).

There were about 15 people playing either blackjack or poker. There was one person whom I recognized. He was a well-known jockey, who raced at all of the Jersey racetracks. I saw him lose...

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