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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, April 2005, #63


By Eliot Jacobson

Eliot Jacobson has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Arizona. He was Professor of Mathematics from 1983 to 1998 at Ohio University, and currently holds a teaching position in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Jacobson recently published his first book on blackjack ("The Blackjack Zone," Blue Point Books, 2005) and it is available in our BJI store at 10% discount. To read a review of Jacobson's book that appeared in issue #61 of BJI, click here. You can also visit him online at his web site:



A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

-- Alexander Pope (1688Ė1744). Essay on Criticism.

As a college teacher, I am continually presenting the same elementary material. Each term, my goal is to find the right mix of words, examples, diagrams, and tempo to have students get it effortlessly and automatically. I have a pile of books 30 deep to choose from for each course. There is no end of authors who think they have found the right way to explain the ideas. But explaining the ideas is not enough. It takes a teacher to complete the package. Teachers are there to inspire, encourage, stimulate, motivate, and ultimately judge the studentís accomplishments. In the end, very few students get an "A", which means very few students understand the course in its entirety. While the penalty for a lack of excellence is just a letter grade for students, for those of us who venture into casinos the penalty is our hard earned cash.

It takes an "A" to beat a casino, a grade that very few have the talent or motivation to earn. This inability to beat casinos extends beyond those who donít bother or donít care (we call these individuals "ploppies"). Losing reaches right into the middle of our clan: to those who read the books and use the simulator software, to those who ask intelligent questions and study hard, to those who play hundreds of hours. There is a silent epidemic of losing among us.

I have a friend who "knows" High-Low card counting...

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