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Cover Part I

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This is a cross-post from my blog
This series of posts is dedicated to killing sacred cows about “cover” (I use quotes because I think even the basic mental assumption of cover advice are bad). The purpose of these posts is to get you to realize that most of the advice out there is garbage, and shamelessly sell our class “Getting Away With It.”

The Cancer That is “Cover” Advice
Nearly every new card counter that comes to one of our classes, or stumbles across an internet forum has been given some horrible advice about cover. First of all, none of these people have even developed their skills enough to play a winning game. Almost no one that thinks they can count at a competent level is really ready for casino play.
If that weren’t bad enough, they’re convinced the casino is after them, and they need to make drastic “cover plays” in order to avoid being kicked out for counting cards! You or I might sit and play with them for an hour and not even think they were an AP (because they can’t play), but they’re so worried about backoffs, they’re giving up more of their (nonexistent) advantage!

The Source of The Cancer
There are many books that have given horrible advice, but I’m going to focus on one because he is smart enough to know better. Don Schlesinger’s book Blackjack Attack is a great book if you want to gain a deep understanding of the theory and math involved in card counting. Buy his book, because the math really is that good. But Schlesinger’s advice on cover, comportment, and other practical aspects is bad. Awful, really.

Intentionally Misplaying a Hand?
He spends a great deal of time discussing the impact of intentionally misplaying hands. Like, you’re sitting there, and you waive off 16 v. 7, not because the count is screaming high, but because he thinks it will throw off game protection employees! Now, I’ll be the first to admit, there are times to forego hitting a hard 19, or even splitting tens. But not hitting 16 v. 7 is a horrible decision on multiple levels.

What Schlesinger Is Thinking
Let’s begin with the flawed thinking behind Schlesinger’s discussion.

  1. There are people trying to stop me from counting
  2. These people are experts on the game
  3. If I make a real boneheaded move, they will assume I am a bonehead
  4. I will then be free to play with impunity

Let’s go step by step. First, is anyone trying to stop me from counting? That is debatable. Some casinos do not even bother protecting their games most of the time.
Second, who is trying to stop Schlesinger? 99% of the time, it ain’t George from the El Cortez. Does this person even know how to play the game?
Third, assuming someone is even watching, and knows how to play basic strategy, they will be thrown off by a single move. What if they just assume you made a mistake? Or what if they’re not even watching how you play the hands? Or…gasp… what if they don’t know their index plays, and think standing on 16 v. 7 is correct?
Finally, he assumes that skill evaluation is always a once-off event. Does Schlesinger think Laurence Fishburne’s character from 21 is sitting in his Bat Cave, and if he throws the guy off one time, he’ll call of the hounds?
“Well, I thought that guy was counting, but he stood on a 16 v. 7 below the index. Guess I don’t get to beat him into a pulp in the dungeon, because he’s a total moron!”

The Wrong Mentality
Schlesinger’s fundamental mistake is he assumes that game protection is just like him. This faulty assumption underlies almost all of the bad advice out there on how to get away with counting.
I once walked into a casino and spotted a counter just by his appearance; I talked to him later, and he told me he knew I was sharp at about the same time.Why am I so good at spotting other pros? Because I do this for a living!
Casino employees don’t do this for a living! They sit around trying to make sure dealers aren’t stealing from the tray. They are worried about homeless people harassing the elderly slot players. Most know almost nothing about advantage play, so cover plays that would throw you off are worthless.

Why You Should Take The Class
Our class Getting Away With is an in-depth seminar on how to gamble with an advantage without getting caught. We chose not to even use the term “cover play” for the class, because the whole mentality is so mistaken.
We don’t start by teaching “top-secret” tricks that will magically throw them off your scent. That’s not how we got the money. Most of the class is understanding how casinos protect their games, and discussions to change your mentality. Only after this foundation is laid do we discuss a few specific, effective cover plays for specific situations and run through drills.
Right now, do you know how most card counters get caught? Do you know what play is responsible for about 90% of the entries in OSN? Can you tell me every single job title in a casino that could have game protection responsibility? If not, you should come take our class.

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BJTF is an advantage player site based on the principles of comity. That is, civil and considerate behavior for the mutual benefit of all involved. The goal of advantage play is the legal extraction of funds from gaming establishments by gaining a mathematic advantage and developing the skills required to use that advantage. To maximize our success, it is important to understand that we are all on the same side. Personal conflicts simply get in the way of our goals.