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Thread: Opinion of Blackjack Apprenticeship?

  1. #1


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    Opinion of Blackjack Apprenticeship?

    Hello all,


    I just finished reading The 21 Century Card Counter for the lolz because I had some downtime. It was a fun read, a little cringey in parts ("Washington Young Bloods" is like the name that a parody of suburban white kids would choose for an AP crew), but it had some decent stories. That being said, the book is essentially a giant advertisement for Blackjack Apprenticeship and Blackjack Bootcamps. It really felt like every other page had some reference to the program or the bootcamps and how great everyone was doing. Then I started to think about criticisms I had heard that Colin had been keeping any negativity of AP life of his site, which seemed duplicitous and at least morally questionable (if true, as I have never had a subscription to their site. I would welcome anyone who has solid info on this one way or another to chime in).


    I think Colin is truly amazing at marketing. I read the amazon reviews for the book before getting it and was amazed by how sunny they all were with hardly any dissent whatsoever. I never hear about any failures or donks from the program. Gambling with an Edge seems to have more and more guests somehow affiliated with the program. I have no idea how the bootcamps are and I have no reason to do some deep cover investigative journalist operation to find out (given that I already know how to count cards), but I again never hear of people unsatisfied with the program, which is both impressive and slightly odd.


    This all being said, the actual monetary results of the Church Team and Colin himself seem rather underwhelming in comparison to other teams and individuals with whom I am familiar. Supposedly the Church Team made $3 million over 6 years, or around $500.000 a year. This sounds fine but the team was huge with over a million dollar roll. If you are going to burn a bunch of players you would think you could achieve a bigger win. Colin states that in his career he personally made $600.000, but he has been doing this for IIRC around 20 years. I assume Colin quickly went full managerial/back office in the team but still that does seem quite low.


    On the other side of the coin, I find it odd that the book celebrates several examples of people shooting to the moon starting with minuscule bankrolls. I started with a larger than average bankroll and so I recognize my potential for bias, but I do find it irresponsible to constantly be celebrating people who started with $1000 rolls and took them up to the stratosphere. To me, starting with that kind of roll is just gambling--it's not "let me use some insane quantum theoretical mathematics to exponentially grow this roll via hyper card counting," it's more like "let me flip coins with the casino and hope I luckbox fifty in a row." Again, this is probably going to come off as just playa hatin', but I do think it's morally irresponsible to champion this sort of thing, even if you add an asterix with a footnote that says something to the effect of "I knew I had to get lucky and I definitely don't encourage anyone to do this super cool thing I did but now I'm rich lol."


    This probably came off as overly disparaging, but I did want some opinions from the greater community about this rather than have to rely upon reviews from online accounts made yesterday about how they did a bootcamp and now they're ready to take on the world. Any well-thought criticism either for or against is more than welcome.
    Last edited by houyi; 08-15-2020 at 10:24 PM. Reason: font consistency

  2. #2


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    Opinion of Blackjack Apprenticeship?

    Those who can do, do. Those who can’t do, teach. I’ve always held this to heart for anything and everything that’s high risk high reward. If you’re so good at something and can get paid well, why would you give it up?

    600,000 in 20 years? That’s a little better than minimum wage right?
    Last edited by Hsiaodi; 08-16-2020 at 05:21 AM.

  3. #3


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    Quote Originally Posted by Hsiaodi View Post

    600,000 in 20 years? That’s a little better than minimum wage right?
    500k for me, a lot less time, secondary to main activity.

  4. #4


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    Quote Originally Posted by Member Name Hidden View Post
    500k for me, a lot less time, secondary to main activity.
    I always thought the “pros” need to make more than $30K a year. I am sure my wife wouldn’t be happy...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hsiaodi View Post
    I always thought the “pros” need to make more than $30K a year. I am sure my wife wouldn’t be happy...
    Secondary to main activity means that this is not main vocation. A lot less time means a lot less than the suggested time span reported for Colin. Other regular business activities trump advantage play. AP play was icing on the cake.

  6. #6


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    I think of BJA the same way I think of a megachurch. You have a charismatic leader duping the weak-willed and uneducated into parting with their money.

    At least BJA provides a real service, teaching people how to count. It's not strictly a con game like the churches.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful. Did you find this post helpful? Yes | No
    Houyi, thank you for your critical view of BJA. You made some valid points. I have followed BJA for the videos on YouTube and for a while I had a paid membership early on when it was cheap and then I was a free use member until they shut that down.

    Colin's book is great. I thought it would be an average blackjack book. Instead, I was impressed by his look at the psychological aspects of the game plus one analytical math chart which I had never seen in print before. I feel, despite its promotion of BJA, that it is worth reading.

    In the back of my mind I have wondered about the numbers too. It is too rosy and just unrealistic. It is a hypocrisy on his part to promote those players who started with just $1000 and hit $100k in a year. In a YouTube video he created in the last few months, he states that it is best to start with at least $10k or more if you wish to generate some income. In effect he is doing the casino industry a service. The untrained majority will go out with a small amount and blow it.

    https://youtu.be/9gftB0n5S-A

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    I read through half of the book last December but had to take a break for professional and health reasons. But I must say that I'm tired of all these euphemistic, unrealistic hero storys about guys who were succesful despite of a shoestring bankroll. This not only holds for Colin's, but for several other books, too. The essence always is "I was just lucky and did not survive by my system but of pure luck."

    After all, why should I believe such stories whilst running CVCX sims saying that ruin is almost certain with just 500 or 2000 dollar starting bankrolls, especially with nowadays increased table mins? Hardly they ever mention that, or 6:5, let alone CSMs. Even the really good books like Professional Blackjack assume S17 and good rules, or even Early Surrender at four deck shoes in AC back in 1978, as Ken Uston reported. Not very useful nowadays, so I would expect something more helpful from a 2019 book than pure euphorism. But I want to finish the book first before finally judging it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member MJGolf's Avatar
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    The book is a good read................anecdotally v a "how to" book. I don't think Colin was trying to write the book to "teach" a new generation of card counters but more to relay their/his experiences in the past and his team...............and the changes in playing conditions since then. Many had asked him to write about his experience in more detail than just the film, The Holy Rollers (Church Team) documentary
    "Women and cats will do as they please, and Men and dogs should just relax and get used to the idea" --- Robert A. Heinlein

  10. #10


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    Quote Originally Posted by MJGolf View Post
    The book is a good read................anecdotally v a "how to" book. I don't think Colin was trying to write the book to "teach" a new generation of card counters but more to relay their/his experiences in the past and his team...............and the changes in playing conditions since then. Many had asked him to write about his experience in more detail than just the film, The Holy Rollers (Church Team) documentary
    I agree it's a good read. Initially reflecting on it after reading, I thought it read like watching his youtube videos. But some details were added that wouldn't translate well to youtube. He talks about bankroll and bet spreads. It seems cautionary and well thought out. He constantly warns the reader of risk of ruin which is responsible of him. I would recommend it to beginning and seasoned card counters as required reading. It seems like an advertisement for his website and bootcamp though. I think it would be beneficial to attend a bootcamp but, there are many other comparable and less expensive ways to achieve knowledge and expertise. Read Nathaniel Tilton's "Blackjack Life" for a excellent example of how to get where you need to go.

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