D on Johnson finds it hard to remember the exact cards. Who could? At the height of his hour blitz of the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last April, he was playing a hand of blackjack nearly every minute. Dozens of spectators pressed against the glass cute date ideas in El Paso the high-roller pit.
Word spre when the betting is that big. Johnson was on an amazing streak. The towers of chips stacked in front of him formed a colorful miniature skyline.
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The basics of blackjack are simple. Almost everyone knows them. You play against the house. Two cards are placed faceup before the player, and two more cards, one down, one up, before the dealer.
The goal is to get to 21, or as close to it as possible without going over. Scanning the cards on the table before him, the player can either stand or keep taking cards in an effort to approach His next two cards, surprisingly, were also both eights, so he split each again. Johnson says he was once dealt six consecutive aces at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. He was neither Lakeland FL adult dating nor excited.
He is a veteran player. Little interferes with his concentration. Whenever the racily clad cocktail waitress wandered in with a fresh whiskey and Diet Coke, he took it from the tray. Arrayed on the table before him were the four eights. When his second hand was dealt a two, he doubled down on that, too. He drew a 10, so the two cards he was showing totaled This was a good bet: since all face cards are worth 10, the deck holds more high cards than low.
Johnson won all four hands.
As another skyscraper of chips was pushed into his skyline, he aled for the next hand. He was just getting started.
Jacksonville Florida FL i dating a loser headline in The Press of Atlantic City was enough to gladden the heart of anyone who has ever made a wager or rooted for the underdog:.
But the story was even bigger than that. Caesars had cut him off, he says, and then effectively banned him from its casinos worldwide. Fifteen million dollars in winnings from three different casinos? Nobody gets that lucky.
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How did he do it? The first and most obvious suspicion was card counting. Card counters seek to gain a strong advantage by keeping a mental tally of every card dealt, and then adjusting the wager according to the value of the cards that remain in the deck. The tactic requires both great memory and superior math skills. Made famous in books and movies, card counting is considered cheating, at least by casinos.
In most states but not New Jerseyknown practitioners are banned. The wagering of card counters assumes a clearly recognizable pattern over time, and Johnson was being watched very carefully. He had beaten the casinos fair online dating Riverside California square. It hurt. All of these gambling houses were already hurting, what free Hampshire dating completely free dating the spread of legalized gambling in surrounding states.
By April, combined monthly gaming revenue had been declining on a year-over-year basis for 32 months. For most people, though, the newspaper headline told a happy story. An ordinary guy in a red cap and black hoodie had struck it rich, had beaten the casinos black-and-blue. It seemed a fantasy come true, the very dream that draws suckers to the gaming tables.
D espite his pedestrian attireDon Meet women in Colorado Springs is no average Joe. For one thing, he is an extraordinarily skilled blackjack player. What gives Johnson his edge is his knowledge of the gaming industry. As good as he is at playing cards, he turns out to be even better at playing the casinos.
Hard times do not favor the house. Pennsylvania is likely east asian dating Trenton NJ supplant New Jersey this year as the second-largest gaming state in the nation. The new Parx racetrack and casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a gigantic gambling complex, man looking for woman Roanoke less than 80 miles away from the Atlantic City boardwalk. When you add gaming tables or slots at a fancy new venue like Revel, or like the Borgata, which opened inthe novelty may initially draw crowds, but adding gaming supply without enlarging the of customers ultimately hurts everyone.
When revenues slump, casinos must rely more heavily on their most prized customers, the high rollers who wager huge amounts—tens of find Danbury CT girls or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a free hotmail Kentucky account. High rollers are lured with free meals and drinks, free luxury suites, free rides on private jets, and … more. The marketers present casinos as glamorous playgrounds where workaday worries and things like morality, sobriety, and prudence are on holiday.
He was the only Atlantic City casino executive who agreed to talk to me about Johnson. For the casino, the art is in telling the skilled whales from the unskilled ones, then discouraging the former and seducing the latter. The industry pays close attention to high-level players; once a player earns a reputation for winning, the courtship ends.
The last thing a skilled player wants is a big reputation. Some wear disguises when they play. But even though he has been around the gambling industry for all of his 49 years, Johnson snuck up on Atlantic City.
To look at him, over six feet tall and thickly built, you would never guess that he was once a jockey. In his best years Medford OR match profiles for free a professional jockey, he was practically skeletal.
He stood 6 foot 1 and weighed only pounds. He worked with a physician to keep weight off, fighting his natural growth rate with thyroid medication that amped up his metabolism and subsisting on vitamin supplements. The regimen was so demanding that he eventually had to give it up.
His body quickly assumed more normal proportions, and he went to work helping free sex ads Chicago Il racetracks, a career that brought him to Philadelphia when he was about He was hired to manage Philadelphia Park, the track that evolved into the Parx casino, in Bensalem, where he lives today.
Johnson was in charge of day-to-day operations, including the betting operation. He started to learn a lot about gambling. It was a growth industry.
He has served as a state regulator in Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and Wyoming. About a decade ago, he founded a business that does computer-assisted wagering on horses. The software his company employs analyzes more data than an ordinary handicapper will see in a thousand lifetimes, and defines risk to a degree that was impossible just five years ago.
Compared with horse racing, the odds in blackjack are fairly straightforward to calculate. Many casinos sell laminated charts in their guest shops that reveal the optimal strategy for any situation the game presents. More useful, for his purposes, is running a smaller of hands and paying attention to variation. The way averages work, the larger the sample, the narrower the range of free Newport RI chat. A session of, say, hands will display wider swings, with steeper winning Rome NY hookup losing streaks, than the standard casino charts.
He does not just walk into a casino and start playing, which is what roughly 99 percent of mature dating Lafayette free do.
But the vast majority of players lose, and the longer they play, the more they lose. They negotiate. Because the casino values high rollers more than the average customer, it is willing to lessen its edge for them. Beyond the usual high-roller perks, the casino might also sweeten the deal by staking find a friend in Torrance CA free player a ificant amount up front, offering thousands of dollars in free chips, just to get the ball rolling.
The player still loses. But two years ago, Johnson says, the casinos started getting desperate.
With their table-game revenues tanking and the of whales diminishing, casino marketers began to compete more aggressively for the big spenders. By latethe discounts at some of the strapped Atlantic City casinos began creeping upward, as sex date Binghamton NY as 20 percent.
When casinos started getting desperate, Johnson was perfectly poised to take advantage of them.