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The Mysteries of Card Counting (Part I)

Sep 1, 2015

Wolf Pack Alan Card Counting

Card counting takes practice and great concentration (Image: Warner Bros.)

What makes a big blackjack player? Learn some tips and tricks from the legendary card counters of the Art of Cheating ball by the Obscura Society.

We’re surrounded by mysterious phenomenon and as curious beings we’re blessed with a natural drive to track them down. In the history of mankind there were numerous clubs and societies established with the sole purpose to expose the unusual. Founded in 2009, the Obscura Society belongs to these. “In an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found, we celebrate a different way of looking at the world,” puts the official site, Atlas Obscura, the brainchild of two amazing folks Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras.

Foer, the author of the international bestseller ‘Moonwalking with Einstein’, is a science journalist who explored many curiosities around the globe. Thuras, Foer’s partner in founding, has an innate interest in uninhibited buildings and “Eastern Europe’s obscure and wondrous locales.” After meeting each other they’ve teamed up to create a collective site for people of similar taste and interest.

Rick Blain, the World’s Greatest Blackjack Player

Fans of blackjack know that this historic game is surrounded by myths and for many, card counting is one them. But then, counting is a legit technique with strict mathematical base. In August, the Obscura Society has decided to showcase these exceptional smart strategies in Monaco at the world-famous Casino de Monte-Carlo. A group of well-dressed man took 500 dollars in casino chips to take their place at one of the luxurious blackjack tables. For that night the redesigned place had been devoted to the Art of Cheating, a gambling spectacular of the society.

card counting master Rick Blaine

Rick Blaine, the master of card counting demonstrates his skills (Photo: Today)

It was a gathering for professional, with attendants like Josh Axelrad or Rick Blaine, the World’s Greatest Blackjack Player and the writer of ‘Blackjack Blueprint: How to Play Like a Pro’. “It was just luck of the draw,” he comments humbly on his title obtained in January. Blaine and his crew became notorious for their well-thought-out personas, disguises and professionalism. Even though the counting of blackjack cards is legal, some casinos have strict in-house rules to shy away card counters. “The casinos are very hip to that. You have to camouflage a big play in various ways,” explained Blaine.

Card Counting and the sense of danger

Card counting systems were popularized by movies like Rain Man and 21, but the act itself was always mystified and represented as some kind superpower. Blaine finds a part of his success in something that seems much more attainable. “What I do best is I sell it. I sell myself as a player who’s a fun-loving gambler and has money to spend, so I fit in wherever I’m playing,” he comments. He also plays in teams, sometimes with more than thirty partners. Understandably, Blain is really strict when it comes to choosing his companion, sometimes he even uses a polygraph to make sure that he plays with honest and trustworthy people.
Disguise is extremely important since as Blaine puts “when someone is winning, the casinos want to find out, ‘Who is this guy?’” Actually, “one of the first things they do is run him down on the computer software.” However, Blain is pretty safe as he was never once identified or kicked out of a casino thanks to his extraordinary casino table manners and blackjack strategy. “I try to use instincts when I sense I’m being watched. I hit them big, get out of there, and they just think I got lucky,” he adds.


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