The following is part of a series of interviews of notable blackjack figures by Robert V. Lux, produced for the Swedish gaming website, Kasinocentralen. This inteview with Henry Tamburin is ofRobert V. Lux is the author of a number of interviews with well-known poker writers and strategists. He is also a succesful poker player and was in the 2004 Online Poker Nordic Championship. He currently resides in Florence, Italy. one-half of the total interview, with the complete interview reserved for Robert's future book. This interview was done in 2002.
Q I begin with a classical question. When did you start playing blackjack and why?
A I played for the first time in Las Vegas in the summer of 1968. I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland. A fellow graduate student and spouse convinced me and my wife to go with them to Las Vegas
. I knew very little about gambling and to be frank I wasn't very interested in going (we had little money back then for gambling). But they were persistent and so we went. When we arrived at the hotel there was a long line to check in. My wife stayed in the line and I went to play a little blackjack because I read somewhere that it was a beatable game. By the time she got the room keys I had managed to blow our entire gambling bankroll
in my first blackjack session. That's when I made a vow to study the game. And I've been doing it ever since.
Q When playing, at what level do you bet?
A I usually bet at the $10 to $25 minimum betting level and then increase my bets from there depending upon the count. In single and double deck games my first bet after the shuffle is two units and then I go up or down depending upon the count (spreading to 1 to 4 or 5 betting units). In 6 or 8 deck games I use a larger betting spread (1 to 12 units) and often play two hands when the count escalates.
Q Casinos have always treated black betting card counters very bad, i.e. insulting, harassing, etc. What's your opinion on this? Have you ever been a "victim" of this kind of treatments?
A Casinos set the rules and offer blackjack games to the public. It's always been my opinion that they shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against skillful players. Unfortunately casinos are very watchful of $100 bettors and have low tolerance if they suspect someone at that betting level is counting. Several times during my playing career I have been backed off in casinos in Atlantic City
, and Las Vegas
. I've also had the cards unexpectedly reshuffled and had floor supervisors stationed at my table. But the frequency of these occurrences has been low as I try hard to stay under the casinos radar for counters.
Q As far as I am concerned, the greatest blackjack authors regularly gather for a seminar, on which they exchange information and share knowledge on blackjack. Have you been to any? If so, what was your impression, meeting other world famous authorities? How did it affect you?
A I've attended several Gaming Festivals in the past with other authors where we have presented seminars to the gaming public. I've also given "how to play & win" blackjack demonstrations at some of these events. Some of the authors that have participated include Frank Scoblete
, John Grochowski
, Max Rubin, Jean Scott
, John Robison, Stanford Wong
, Bob Dancer
, Jeffrey Compton, and others. I've also participated on industry gaming conferences with Arnold Snyder, Stanford Wong, Anthony Curtis
, Olaf Vencura, Steve Bourie
, and others. In fact I'm scheduled to be a panelist at the upcoming Global Gaming Conference in Las Vegas. I usually network with other authors through email although we usually get together every now and then when we are all in Las Vegas. Of course it's always a thrill to meet other famous blackjack authorities and to hear them speak. No matter how much I think I know about the game, I'm constantly learning something new from them and from other experienced players that post on sites such as bj21.com and rge21.com.
Q You have already written the thriving book, Take the Money and Run. Do you have any plans on writing any additional books on blackjack? If so, what will they cover?
A I am in the process of updating my book, Blackjack: Take The Money & Run. There will be new information on a generic basic strategy
for all games, a section on some advanced basic strategy plays, an easy betting system for the basic strategy player that involves only counting tens and aces, an easy to learn unbalanced card counting
system for the entry level card counter, analysis of different side bets
that often appear on blackjack tables, a more expanded section on risk of ruin
and evaluation of different blackjack games, specific advice on how to learn basic strategy
and card counting, plus more tips on the art of getting away with card counting.
Q You arrange courses in blackjack. Can you specify this by giving any general piece of information about these? How long does it take? Costs? Location? What do the courses cover? Are there different levels on the courses (beginner, intermediate and advanced), or do you focus on one specific level of players?
A One of my strengths has been teaching the intricacies of blackjack to players in a way that they can understand (at one time I operated a successful blackjack school in New Jersey). Currently I teach beginners and intermediate level blackjack courses to residents of different communities in Las Vegas. I started doing this after I purchased a second home in the Las Vegas area. The 3-hour beginner's course covers the basic playing rules, basic strategy, and money management and is geared to novice players. The 3-hour intermediate course is for basic strategy players that want to learn card counting. I teach the K-O unbalanced counting system in this course. Currently these workshops are not open to the general public. However, I'm toying with the idea of offering blackjack classes in Las Vegas to the general public but I haven't made up my mind (but I will do private lessons in Las Vegas (if any reader is interested they can email me for details at HTamburin@aol.com
Q Will any of these courses manage to improve advanced players and pros?
A Beginner and experienced players who don't have a thorough understanding of basic playing strategy, card counting, bankroll setting
, and risk management will be able to improve their game by attending one of my courses (or private lessons). I've had several local advance level players hone their skills by attending my course.
Q Do you play any casino games besides blackjack?
A Within the past year I'm playing a lot more video poker in Las Vegas. The reason is because there are many profitable video poker opportunities in that market.
Q Do you regard yourself as a professional blackjack player?
A My winnings from blackjack have never been my sole source of income so therefore I have never claimed to be a professional blackjack player on my income tax returns. However, that may change. I recently retired from a 30-year career in management for a large international chemical company and I am playing a lot more blackjack.
Q There are many skilful, serious and knowledgeable authors on blackjack, though, there are also a bunch of authors, who make up their own systems and give a "mathematically erroneous view" on the game. I won't mention any names, as I presume you know whom I refer to. What's your opinion on these authors, who fanatically spread an invalid rip off way of playing blackjack?
A I expose fraudulent blackjack systems in my columns and articles when they come to my attention. I don't have a high opinion of authors of these systems. Unfortunately as long as unwary blackjack players purchase them, there will always be a market for them.
Q As you do not use an alias (at least not as I am aware of), neither when writing nor answering questions on blackjack on the net, while there's a picture of you on ReadyBetGo!, how can you possibly get any privacy while playing in any casino? The casino knows you are a skilful player. Do they, yet, allow you to continue play?
A Yes, they allow to me to play because I am not greedy.