It has now been about 35 years since Lawrence Revere (a pseudonym) published his book, Playing Blackjack as a Business. At the time, this was the most comprehensive single source for someone to learnNick Christenson is widely regarded as one of the best gambling book reviewers publishing today. He is a contributor for Poker Player magazine, and has published in Full-Tilt and Gambling Times. He is also the editor of the very funny 'Casino Death Watch,' which chronicles the comings and goings of casinos in Las Vegas. He is an avid poker and blackjack player. Nick's website is www.jetcafe.org/~npc/ how to beat the game of blackjack. Since it was first published, a large number of blackjack books have been published, some good and some bad. So, how does Revere's work stack up today?
Organized in the same way as nearly every other book on blackjack, Revere begins with some introductory remarks followed by a detailed basic strategy. This book focuses on one deck and four deck games. This made sense at the time the book was written, but both types of games are pretty rare these days. The amount of information Revere provides is remarkable even by today's standards. For example, in his one deck strategy he differentiates between the proper play when one holds a 5-3 vs. a 6-2 against a dealer 5 or 6. Many of today's players could still learn a thing or two from Revere on this topic, although similar information is available from Stanford Wong's Basic Blackjack and Peter Griffin's Theory of Blackjack.
The author then describes a very basic counting strategy he calls, the "Revere Five Count Strategy". Basically, it tracks the number of fives in a single deck game. It is functional, but one may as well skip ahead to the "Revere Plus-Minus Strategy", which is the same strategy that Ed Thorpe included in later editions of Beat the Dealer and Wong wrote about in his books as the "Hi-Low". It's a strong system that forms the basis of strategies used by many serious blackjack players even today.
Revere then discusses what he calls the "Ten Count Strategy", which I found to be unnecessarily complex and confusing, followed by his "Revere Point Count Strategy", which is a level 2 counting system. Revere provides a great deal of information about how one would use these methods in real play. I don't think either of these are worth using these days, but those interested in the history of the game may find their descriptions interesting. If I were going to learn a level 2 system, I'd probably use Bryce Carlson's "Advanced Omega Two" from Blackjack for Blood. Most blackjack experts these days seem to believe that the added complexity of a multi-level counting system isn't worth the extra effort.
After explaining these count strategies, Revere provides suggested strategy changes and betting strategies as the count changes for each. Again, a lot of material is presented. One has to be impressed with the author's thoroughness. Revere concludes the book by hawking his "Advanced Point Count System", for which one would have to pay extra and by denigrating most of the other blackjack systems on the market. His criticism, and his writing style in general, is harsh, but in my opinion most of what he has to say is fair.
The author spends very little time talking about avoiding heat in casinos. In fact, he manages to give off quite a "bull in a china shop" vibe about his whole attitude toward the issue. It's not surprising that eventually he was "barred from playing in all Nevada casinos." Moreover, given the amount of time that has elapsed between his original thoughts on the matter and the present day, it's not surprising that most of what he has to say on the subject should be treated as history rather than recommendation.
If one wanted to learn how to count cards at blackjack, there are books that present this information in a more thorough, efficient, and easier to digest form than in Revere's book. Still, given the bevy of bad books on blackjack available, a person could do a whole lot worse than to follow Revere's advice. In the final analysis, though, I'd have to say that Playing Blackjack as a Business is more a curiosity these days, although a fairly interesting one, than a serious source of state-of-the-art blackjack information. I enjoyed reading it, but it's no longer an important part of contemporary blackjack literature
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