MMD July 31, 2014 0

Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk into a casino and know that even if you lost this time you would finish up in the long run? That’s the life story of Colin of who is an experienced card counter and has made some serious dough playing blackjack. Coming into this interview I was under the impression that there were two types of card counters. The first type would spend a few hours at a table then take his winnings and spend it on expensive dinners and gorgeous women. The second type I imagined was a math genius slash Rainman type. Luckily, Colin who is not only a professional blackjack player but also teaches others how to count cards schooled me on the intricacies of card counting. He gave me the skinny on dealing with the casinos, hot and cold streaks, and how he taught himself the art of card counting.

Mens Mag Daily: Okay Colin, first question, can you tell us how you got into card counting and how you were able to teach yourself?

Colin: My buddy, Ben who is co-founder of our Blackjack Team and, told me he had bought a book on card counting and was teaching himself. He loaned me the book with the important chapters highlighted. I read the chapters and started memorizing Basic Strategy. Teaching ourselves was tough because you don’t know what you don’t know. My guess is that we sucked for a long time, but we did the best we could to train. Since I was just coming off of getting a BA in Math, I was used to studying until I was perfect at something. And fortunately for us, we were able to train ourselves well enough to beat the game.

Mens Mag Daily: Just to clarify this, card counting is not illegal, correct? Do casinos frown upon it?

Colin: Yeah, you’re just using your brain at the game they created, so it’s not illegal. That would be like telling someone they’re “cheating” at chess by using their brain to beat you. BUT, casinos have a right to refuse service to anyone they want. So if a casino considers you a threat, they’ll tell you that you can’t play blackjack anymore at their casino, or limit how you play so you can’t have an advantage anymore. It’s kind of like if you brought 100 kids to Denny’s “Kids Eat Free” day every week. At some point, they’d either find a way to limit how much you order or they would tell you they can’t let you keep showing up to eat for free day. The thing that’s slimy about it is that most Vegas casinos make over $1M a day off of selling the false dream that people can come in there and beat them for profit. Then, the .1% of people that do come in and beat them for a relatively small amount get treated like criminals.

Mens Mag Daily: You were actually able to quit your job and make a living playing blackjack. How does it feel to have what I’m assuming is one of the coolest jobs in the world?

Colin: (Laughs) It was incredibly exciting at the beginning. I always figured I’d have to pick some job that I’d hate that I would work until I was old and could retire. But at 23, I had complete control of my own schedule, running around besting casinos, getting free meals and comps out of it, and creating stories I’ll never forget, and growing my own “business.” What most people don’t realize is that card counting is actually a grind. Sure, I made about $300 an hour for my career, but casinos are shit-holes, you’re constantly waiting to be told that you can’t play there anymore, and the financial swings are exhausting, well, the losing streaks are. But I still love the craft of card counting and hope to take money from casinos the rest of my life.

Mens Mag Daily: Had you not decided to get into card counting, what do you would be doing?

Colin: Who knows? I hope I still would have taken the chance on starting some sort of business, but I probably would have become an engineer or programmer.

Mens Mag Daily: Famous gangster Meyer Lansky, who ran several large casinos, once said that Blackjack was the fairest game in the house and the player had a better chance of winning at Blackjack than any other game. As a professional do you agree?

Colin: First off, thanks for doing me the favor of putting “gangsters” and “casinos” in the same sentence. They’re no longer run by the mob, but they exploit people to their own gain like the mob did. Yeah, technically, there are a few bets that are better odds than blackjack assuming you aren’t counting cards. But if the average person is going to gamble at a casino, they’re probably best off memorizing basic strategy, or just buy one of those little basic strategy cards and use it at the table, which they allow, and play at a crowded blackjack table. The basic strategy player only has a .5% disadvantage. So if you sit there at a crowded table betting $10, playing perfect basic strategy, you’re only expected to lose about $3-5/hour.

Mens Mag Daily: What’s the best run you ever went on in a single night?

Colin: I once won about $45,000 in an hour or 2. That was at a $1,000 limit game. Even more impressive may have been when I won about $35,000, but at a $500 limit game. That’s the equivalent of winning $70,000 if I had been able to play at a $1,000 limit game. One player on our team won $98,000 in one night (I think he was playing up to 2 spots of $3,000). It was pretty wild.

Mens Mag Daily: Have you ever had a bad night or do your abilities help prevent those altogether?

Colin: Oh yeah. You only win about 55% of the time, so you lose or break even the other 45% of the time. And that’s for a perfect card counter. On my first trip to Las Vegas I was down $40,000 in a couple hours and got banned from playing blackjack at all MGM properties, Bellagio, Mirage, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay. It was lame. But I’m still on top plenty.

Mens Mag Daily: I’ve played blackjack several times but I’m obviously no pro. When I’m at that table I’m nervous and praying I win. Does that feeling even exist to you anymore or do you know exactly when you’re going to win?

Colin: Yeah, you have no idea when you’re going to win, just that you will end up on top after hundreds of hours. I still get nervous, but more about when they’re going to back me off, ask me to stop playing. I still hate losing but you have to have thick skin and remember that card counting is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re in it for the long haul and can’t expect to win every time we play.

Mens Mag Daily: I wanted to get your professional opinion on this. Ben Affleck was banned for life from the Blackjack tables. In your opinion, was this due to his card counting abilities or just his huge bankroll?

Colin: It was definitely his card counting abilities. He’s legit. Casinos aren’t afraid of money; they’re just afraid of anyone who can beat them. I’m sure casinos would back off the President or the Pope if the casino thought they might not have the advantage.

Mens Mag Daily: Do you have any casinos that you prefer to play at?

Colin: In Vegas I prefer the big places. They can usually handle money better and it’s easier to fly under their radar. Outside of Vegas, I prefer middle-of-nowhere hole-in-the-wall casinos. They’re the most likely to not know what you’re doing. And the people always seem a little more real.

Mens Mag Daily: Are there any perks you get when you’re a professional Blackjack player?

Colin: Other than taking money from corporations that exist solely to prey on peoples’ ignorance and weakness? Yeah, you sometimes get comps. I’ve gotten comped suites, hotel rooms, meals, show tickets, boxing matches, drinks, airfare reimbursement, totem poles, cheesy jewelry, bowling games, thousands of dollars of free gas, and even cash. Casinos put tons of energy into keeping you intoxicated on free crap while they fleece you. But if they don’t know that you’re not a sucker, you can still get the great comps while actually having the advantage over the casino.

Mens Mag Daily: What made you decide you wanted to help others learn the art of card counting?

Colin: Ben and I love teaching people and I think we were already thinking forward while running our blackjack team about what we wanted to do next. That was the impetus for Blackjack Apprenticeship.

Mens Mag Daily: Are there any prerequisites to learning how to count cards? Do you need to be a math whiz to learn?

Colin: Yes, but it’s not being a math whiz. You don’t really use anything above 5th grade math, but you do need other characteristics. I wrote a pretty thorough piece about what it takes here:

Mens Mag Daily: Have you ever had a student pick up the concept so fast that it just blew your mind?

Colin: The concept is pretty easy. It’s mastering the craft that takes time. I’ve been really impressed a few times. One guy that wanted to join our team showed up and had trained himself to the point where we didn’t have to teach him anything else. That happened only once. (Laughs)

Mens Mag Daily: Where can my readers find more information about your program and do you have any other cool stuff coming up?

Colin: For people that are just getting started, I recommend our membership. It has a really comprehensive video course, a forum with hundreds of card counters, training drills, and Casino411, which is like a Yelp for card counters. For people who want serious training, we have our next Blackjack Bootcamp coming up on Nov 1.  That’s hands-on training for 10 people, with guest speakers like surveillance experts and some of the most famous card counters in the history of the craft. It’s pricier but everyone leaves it saying it was well worth the investment.

Article By: Jon DaBove

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