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By Rick "Night Train" Blaine



Rick "Night Train" Blaine, an executive with a Fortune 500 Company, has applied his corporate management experience to the structure of blackjack teams.  His new book, Blackjack Blueprint, How to Play Like a Pro .... Part Time, devotes a section with over 70 pages to the nuts and bolts of blackjack team play.  The book is available at 10% discount in the BJI store.


Youíve been counting cards at blackjack for a while and may have been successful. Youíve read many of the books, including those written by Ken Uston and now have an interest in team play. You want to waltz into a casino and start slamming down table-limit bets, win tons of money, and stroke your ego to boot. This is most common amongst younger players just starting out or having played for only a short while. You can spot these guys a mile away. I too read Ken Ustonís Million Dollar Blackjack in the early 1980s, and at the time caught a small dose of that fever. I was working full-time at a good-paying job and could only take weekend trips to Atlantic City or a couple of week-long trips to Las Vegas or other destinations during the course of the year. After mastering the Uston APC, I started playing solo and winning at a respectable rate. Then I hit my first extended losing streak. It was back to the books for a refresher course. I realized that the negative swing I had just experienced was quite common. I needed to get used to it and respect it. The main problem I was experiencing was that I had nobody to talk to about the game! I hoped to have the opportunity to hook up with a team at some point, where I could bet higher and reduce the variance you experience as a solo player. I was fortunate when I was recruited onto a high-stakes team in 1985.

Over the years Iíve played on various teams of different sizes and bankrolls. The one key factor in whether a team is right for you or you are right for that team is identifying the objectives of everyone involved. Different players have different goals. Some teams have a "revolving door" of players. These teams play to maximum expectation and they take no prisoners. As a result, players become subject to overexposure and are likely to end up getting barred on sight. When this happens, such a player has much difficulty being able to play for any length of time and quits. This is fine for someone looking to make a few quick dollars without the desire of making a career of playing blackjack. This works well with some teams that make a practice of recruiting such players. On the other hand, players looking to maintain longevity need to be certain that the method of play the team requires will permit certain forms of camouflage to minimize detection.

Team play works. When approached in the proper manner it is strong and the casinos are in fear of teams. The team, with several players, can put in more hours of more money in action, which adds up to faster and higher earnings than one solo player can achieve.

Here are some things to consider about getting involved in team play Ö.

Recruiting Players

In this day and age, many acquaintances are made via blackjack-related Internet Web sites. It then makes lots of sense you might have an interest in teaming up with players whom youíve meet from the Internet, and have corresponded with only via email. Remember this and remember it well Ö.. There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction.


In order for a team to be successful, it is essential to have a strong sense of management. A good way to assure this is to have one person in charge of the day-to-day operations of the team. Such an individual must possess strong organizational, leadership, motivational and planning skills. A team manager should be prepared to be on "24-hour call." There will be times when a player is in action and runs into a problem, which could be a need for cash. There is a chance that a player in this situation will need to phone the manager at some late hour. Sorry, but its part of the job! It is also important that everyone on the team have the utmost faith in the manager. Everyone involved must trust the managerís judgment in all matters. This is especially important in the managerís decision on selecting players. The manager MUST be 100% reliable. Players and investors need to know the manager is on top of things. As a result, a manager should be in contact with each individual involved on a regular basis. A manager who possesses the "laid back" attitude of not contacting folks unless they initiate the contact first, is headed for disaster. Initiating and maintaining constant contact creates a high level of comfort for all involved. A team manager should be entitled to some form of compensation in line with the duties performed. Such compensation should be agreed upon where it neither overcompensates nor underpays the manager.

Player Honesty

This is one of the concerns most players have and you need to be well aware of this mutual concern. A team needs to put together some controls that would put everyone at ease, and outline some methods where everyoneís risk would be minimal.

Try to be careful in your judgment of character. However, keep in mind that others are judging your character as well. Even though you may be confident in your judgment of others, they may have reservations in their judgments of each other as well as their judgments of you. If you are in a leadership position, this is something you need to address. Try to install policies that provide a bit more comfort. If you can successfully put the players at ease with one another, you can then focus on the common goal of winning money from the casinos.

As the Boy Scout Motto goes, "Be Prepared."

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