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LOOKING FOR KEN FUCHS ABOUT K-O
Posted by Larry Cage on 16 August 1999, at 4:08 p.m.
Olaf Vancura & Ken Fuchs
c/o Huntington Press
3687 South Procyon Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89103
This letter is part therapy and part suggestion, as I have just returned from my second trip to Las Vegas ... down over $600 and looking for answers. I wanted to write you because I greatly enjoyed your book Knock-Out Blackjack, but found myself knocked out after this recent trip because of a few things I was not prepared for.
This letter will outline a few topics or tips I think would have been very helpful to me, in the hopes that maybe you would consider them for future revisions or updates. First, because itís important, let me tell you how I came to read your book.
Iím like many people, I think, in that my first visit to Las Vegas was a whirlwind. At that time, I had no knowledge or theory about blackjack but I found it very enjoyable to play. Later I gambled in Mesquite, Nevada and did quite well at the table Ė walking away with over $500 in profit after six hours of play. Again, even then, I had no knowledge or theory to back up my good fortune. After that trip, I decided to study the game, become knowledgeable, and start playing with theory. I was hooked. Through Amazon.com, I found your book well rated and bought it. At that time I also purchased Don Schlesingerís Blackjack Attack. This was the extent of my library on blackjack.
I read your book first, and although very well written, I found myself struggling with some basic concepts. After practicing your suggested drills, etc. Ė I suddenly found that things were clicking. I read the book again, cover to cover, and this time it all came together. I understood the system, I hoped.
At that time, I purchased Casino Veritť Blackjack and started practicing although I could not figure out how to customize the software for K-O (any thoughts?). The point here is this Ė I studied. I studied hard. I played the game, I read the books, and now I was ready for Vegas.
Within the first three hours of play at the Monte Carlo on a Saturday night, I was down almost $400. Then, against your wisdom but desperate, I started making huge bets to try and win my money back. These bets were, I thought, correlated to the count ... but I still lost. Within four hours I was busted so hard it hurt. I spent the rest of the night scoping the tables and practicing my back-counting and so on, trying to observe the casino environment, etc.
At 4:30 A.M. I sat down at the bar with a Coke and wrote these notes to myself. I pass them on as notes made by a Very-Novice Player who wants to learn, only in the hopes that people like me may someday not make the same mistakes.
These things, while maybe elementary to you, were foreign to me. Again, this was only my second trip to the mighty Vegas. Forgive me if they seem juvenile, itís just that these were things I found myself naÔve about even after reading your fine book. Perhaps they could be incorporated into a future appendix for any revised edition. Something like Appendix for Chump Novices or that. Okay, here it goes.
1. THE COUNT RE-SETS AFTER THE SHUFFLE. While basic and almost moronic to miss, the only clue I had to this concept was on page 64 Ė "The RC is the important count that we need to remember, even during and in-between hands, and keep updating until the next shuffle." This is the basic concept of the RC but the phrasing confused me in that I thought that "updating" meant keeping the count into the next shuffle. I learned my mistake while studying on Casino Veritť, but it took me a while. For the novice, the amateur, the Me-Type-Person Ė this is a vital concept and it alluded me. I scoured the book looking for some other info to help me, but I couldnít find it. Again, my apologies if I missed it.
2. Absolutely, positively, always bet the minimum per hand while counting for the first time. When one like me reads these books, we are filled with a burst of bravado and excitement Ė thinking mistakenly that we know have the advantage simply by knowledge. This makes it all too tempting to start out at the $10 or $25 dollar tables, but going to the Frontier for $1 hands to practice on would have saved me a lot of money. Perhaps some cautionary words about desperation betting (for the novice) would be helpful. This is how I lost the big bucks, by desperately trying to regain my losses with outrageously reckless big bets. This is not your fault, but again I think this tactic deserves to be debunked for the amateur who will no doubt be spinning if he suddenly loses big as I did.
3. By and far, I think the biggest mistakes I made were with table selection. I had no concept of how hard it would be to count for the first time in the casino environment (which you cautioned) but here are my observations. NEVER play the tables in the casinoís main pit. They are far too busy and filled with numerous distractions. People winning at craps, crowded rooms full of people, etc. Again, this may be basic for some but was new to me. I sat down in the middle of the action thinking thatís where I wanted to be. Oh, boy. Not only did I find it nearly impossible to count, I found it nearly impossible to think. I later found the secondary pit around the corner and did much better there. Again, never play the big casino pits. On that same note, NEVER play the big casino pits on a SATURDAY NIGHT. Weekends were the worst time for me to go and practice my new found skills. I got slaughtered in the amped tempo of the Weekend Rollers. If I were to do it again, I would go, check in, take a long nap and then get up and play in the middle of the night, hoping for the enhanced clarity of the environment. NEVER DRINK. If you are like me, this is an easy concept to understand, but I thought Iíd have one cocktail to "fit in." That one was enough to cloud my head just a tad, making it even harder to focus in the whirlwind environment of the casino. NEVER turn or acknowledge the cocktail waitress. I did this to be polite and found that I missed cards. Now I will just keep my eyes on the table and ignore them. Again, I was just trying to be nice but what I found was that once I had smiled and acknowledged them, they would ALWAYS stop and ask me, sometimes tapping me on the shoulder and making me TURN AROUND, even when I did not want a drink. Again, this may be basic but was new to me. NEVER PLAY AT THE TABLE THAT LOOKS LIKE ITíS HAVING THE MOST FUN. The social temptations of the "Hot Table" were a killer. People that seemed nice were in fact nice, and wanted to talk Ė a killer to my fragile new card counting mind. I found myself with two choices: look extremely rude or keep the count. Iím from the Mid-West so being rude is not my thing and of course I lost the count. Again, if I did it over I would play at the tables that looked the LEAST social: maybe even foreigners or tourists that I know will not want to chat while they play. Maybe the table with the least players too, etc.
4. My biggest tip may be the one most hard to swallow for fellows immersed in the logic of card counting, but I put it here because well, I can Ė TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS ON THE DEALERS. What I mean here is this: dealers are as varied as people and you get your own personal vibes from each. While it maybe post-play logic, as I remember I lost big with the dealers I most disliked and won big with the dealers that seemed most likable. Again, this has no basis in fact or evidence of any kind but here is something to think about. If you are going to lose, itís at least some small conciliation to lose to a friendly face, one that will at least feign sympathy for your plight. I also noticed that the dealers I felt shifty about would periodically re-cut the penetration cards for players, giving us a 40% penetration vs. the 75% the player actually cut. They did this totally on the sly (is it legal to re-do the playersí cuts?) and the minute I saw it I should have walked away. I didnít because I was of course waiting for the big count to come but it wasnít worth it. Player instinct on dealers should be trusted and players need to know that there is nothing wrong with leaving a table you feel spooked about. You may disagree, but again, this is the total amateurís thoughts here.
5. My biggest question of all is this (and this may have been my total demise): HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT HOW MANY DECKS ARE IN PLAY. It looked to me like the Monte Carlo was playing 3 deck games, but then later I thought I was wrong and it was 4 deck shoes and then later I got paranoid and thought it may even be 6. The point is, the number of decks in play was not posted anywhere, I looked hard. That left me, the novice, to ask a dealer Ė a move I never committed to since I thought it would be an instant flag to them that I was counting. Obviously, this may be where everything went wrong since if I had miscalculated the initial figures, my counts would have been way off. Again, this may not be a hard question, but I got caught not knowing how to calculate this. Is it simply eyeballed, a skill I canít find info on or is it perfectly all right to simply ask?
Iím still a believer in K-O even though I got spanked to the mat the first time I tried to put it into play. This must be a natural step for the card counter (at least I hope so). I learned some expensive lessons that Iíd like to see others avoid. I will continue to practice my skills but NOTHING could have prepared me for the casino madness. I just would have liked a few of these real life tips to help me along the way. I really congratulate you on the book, even being a novice it definitely strikes me as revolutionarily simple and Iím confident I can master it eventually. I just wanted to share my experiences to let you know how people are doing with your knowledge. My game needs vast improvements but Iím willing to keep at it. I would greatly appreciate any response you may have time to craft and will consider your knowledge invaluable.
Thanks much for your time and happy counting. Cheers.
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