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by Dustin Marks

Back in the 1980's, I "took off" several Las Vegas casinos, and other casinos throughout the state of Nevada, at their blackjack tables. After retiring from cheating, I wrote two books: Cheating at Blackjack and Cheating at Blackjack Squared. I also created the DVD: Cheating at Blackjack: The Real Work ( I was never caught.

Editor's Note: Dustin gave a demonstration of his cheating moves at the recently-held Blackjack Ball. This is a gathering of the world's best blackjack players, and we were in awe as we watched him. After his amazing demonstration, I asked Dustin if he would share his story on how he became a blackjack cheater, and how he managed to get away with it for so long. He agreed.

For the first time in print, I will tell my story on how I became a blackjack cheat in a series of articles for the Blackjack Insider. I hope you enjoy reading them and find them interesting.

My story begins when I was seven years old. That's when my father took me to see an amateur card magician. To me he was not showing me card tricks; he was showing me magic and I was hooked.

I was lucky; I found one of my passions at a young age. I started practicing magic and continued doing it for several years. Then about the time I graduated college, several new books that dealt with magic tricks with cards were published. I bought these books and noticed most of the authors lived in Las Vegas. One of my goals was to become one of the best magicians with a deck of cards so in in the summer of 1983, I moved to Las Vegas to meet one of them.

When I arrived in Vegas, I didn't know anyone, I didn't have a job, and I only had $2,100 to my name; however, I knew about Gary Darwin's Magic Club Meetings. This club has been meeting for over 40 years! (Have you ever attended?) All the best magicians would meet weekly at Gary's Magic Club, and it was in its heyday back in the 80's. From the legendary Jimmy Grippo, to young kids like me attended the meetings. I was like a kid in a candy store.

Over the next few months, my knowledge and skill level skyrocketed since I was learning from some of the best card magicians in the country. I began wondering who the absolute best magician with a deck of cards was. I asked the local magicians and all of the names they mentioned I knew, but then one name came up that I never heard of. Actually, it was just his initials "JS." They said he could do things with a deck of cards that were impossible, and the best thing is most of his moves were gambling sleights; however, there was a problem. JS was very reclusive and he had this phantom-like mystic about him.

It took me several months until I finally learned that JS worked at a downtown casino in Vegas. I went to the casino and cut into a boss, asking if JS was working that day. I was told he had quit and moved back east. Instead of giving up, I simply refused to believe him and it turned out I was right! It turned out JS still lived in Vegas, but the trail had gone cold. How do you find someone who doesn't want to be found? Answer: You do whatever it takes.

Back in the 80s, the Gambler's Book Club was the mecca of gambling information. It was located on Charleston and 11th Street in an old, unassuming brick building in downtown Las Vegas. There were books on every conceivable gambling game, including books on magic and con games.

There was this guy who hung around the bookstore that we nicknamed "Bookstore Paul." We called him that because he was there so often the store finally hired him. Paul was a connector. He probably connected more people in the blackjack field than anyone. Paul and I became friends and he agreed to help me find JS. I figured JS would frequent the bookstore so I asked Paul to call me if he ever came in.

A few months later the phone rang. It was Paul telling me he thought JS was in the store. I lived 20 minutes from the bookstore; however, I got there in eight! I remember walking up to JS and asking him, "Are you JS?" He laughed and said, "That depends on who is asking." It knew right there that it was him. We talked for a few minutes and then he asked me a question I will never forget: "Do you have a car? I thought that was a weird question and replied, "Sure, I have a car." He told me to follow him home, which I did!

I left his house six hours later knowing JS was light years ahead of the casinos. He showed me blackjack moves, poker moves, Gin Rummy moves, moves with chop cups and hold out machines. He showed me everything and I remembered virtually nothing. Brilliant!

That night I became a blackjack cheat in my mind. I was not cheating yet or even dealing blackjack, but this was the event that became my turning point. I learned what was possible and that's all I needed. I had spent a lot of time searching for someone who did not want to be found and I found him!

But not all was well...

Note: In my next article I will explain how a trip to the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA kept me from moving back to the Midwest, how many days it took me to learn how to deal the game of blackjack, and my first cheating endeavors as a dealer. Stay tuned.

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