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by Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete's latest books are "I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack!" and "Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!". Both are available from, Kindle, and bookstores. Visit Frank's web site at

The very first gambling article I wrote was titled "Emotional Blackjack." It was published by Win Magazine over 28 years ago. I'd say that article is as true now as it was way, way (way, way) back then.

Its thesis was simple: Generally casino gamblers hope to win but expect to lose. Wins are therefore celebrated intensely while losses are expected so they don't hurt as much. A win for such casino players weighs more than a loss. The distance between the giddiness of a win and the frown of a loss is immense.

Advantage players fit the opposite mold. They expect to win and do not expect to lose. While intellectually advantage players know they can lose, the emotional underpinning of their world is one that relies on winning. A loss is far more emotionally devastating than a win is exhilarating.

Now some advantage blackjack players claim they feel nothing when they win and nothing when they lose. This may be true for them. It wasn't true for me. Every loss hurt. I've had losses where I went back to my hotel room and curled up like a fetus. My greatest wins never elicited that much emotion. At my peak playing years I spent 130 days in the temples of chance and time did not dull my emotions.

I have seen some great wins that overjoyed gamblers. My good friend, the late Walter Thomason once clobbered Treasure Island for 20K. Now you have probably seen gamblers betting that amount (or more) per hand but Walter's win came with $25 per starting hand and, using his progressive betting style, he just kept winning and progressing his bets higher and higher. It was an amazing night and by the end of his run he had a crowd at his table marveling at his amazingly good luck.

I saw a five-dollar player win $500 at the now long-gone Sands in Atlantic City. He'd progress his bets to $50 a hand in good sequences. When he was finished he said, "I just need a few dozen more of these and then I'll be close to even."

I saw a card counter of note (his own note) who went berserk at Golden Nugget in Las Vegas when several extremely high counts saw him losing his biggest bets. He started screaming about the casino cheating him and tried to tip over the blackjack table.

The greatest blackjack game I ever played was at the Maxim in the early 1990's - single deck, dealer stood on soft 17, you could split and resplit, and the casino also offered surrender and for any blackjack over $5 the player received a dollar coupon good for meals and trinkets in the Maxim store. And here is the amazing thing: All but one card was dealt in that game!

Still some good card counters got clobbered in that game during any given session and some ploppy players would have great runs of luck. My wife and I played that game for eight weeks, two hands each, eight hours a day. We had some great moments and some not-so-great moments. The great moments I expected; the not-so-great moments I just didn't emotionally accept them. Intellectually I know the games but inside me is a little kid expecting to win, win, win.

So there it is; a salute to my first article in Win Magazine.

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