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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. (This is Part 2 in this Series. Part 1 appeared in March issue of BJI.)

...But not all was well. My girlfriend and I were running out of money and we started planning to move back to the Midwest. Neither of us had been to California and it was only four hours from Vegas. We figured we would take a trip there and then start moving back home.

There is a place in Hollywood, CA, called The Magic Castle where many of the best magicians perform. It was a Victorian Mansion built in 1902 and converted to the Magic Castle in the 1960s. I wanted to go, but there was a problem: You had to be a member and I was not. I called JS and asked him if he had heard of the Magic Castle. He laughed and said, "I have been there several times". I told him I was going this weekend. He replied, "I will be in LA this weekend and we can go." Perfect.

I remembered driving up the steep road to the top where the Magic Castle was illuminated against the pitch black sky. Men were in suits and ties; women in evening gowns. I walked into a little 20 x 20 room with no other entrances or exits and I thought to myself: What's going on? The receptionist told me to stand in front of the bookcase and say "Open Sesame," and just like you have seen in the movies the bookcase swung open into the Magic Castle.

Adorned on all the walls were paintings and photos of the masters of yesteryear. In one room there was a piano with no pianist that magically plays any song requested. There are four showrooms where the country's best magicians perform.

Unknown to me until several years later, my girlfriend cuts into JS that night and told him of our predicament: We were running out of money and moving back to the Midwest. The day after we returned to Vegas, JS called me and told me to come over.

He taught me to deal the game of blackjack in two days; on the third day I was employed as a blackjack dealer in a downtown Vegas casino. Back in those days, I was literally dealing the game six hours a day. For six hours, I was practicing moves at the table. I didn't have an agent play at my game; I was only practicing. I had a blackjack table at my house and I would videotape myself practicing. I played the video and watched myself doing the moves on TV. When I couldn't spot the move, I knew I was ready.

Seven weeks later, I got a job on the Las Vegas Strip dealing blackjack. I had my first agent come in and we took off the game. I was primarily...

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