Advantage blackjack has come a long way since the days of Thorpe. With casinos using facial recognition systems, computers that count cards along with the player, and other high-tech mechanisms, ifNick 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/ players aren't continually improving their skills they soon wouldn't be able to find a game anywhere. What new methods are there that a player can use to get an advantage over the casinos? Several answers to this question can be found in Get the Edge at Blackjack.
In his new book, John May discusses many techniques which can be used to get an edge against the house at blackjack. The first chapter covers basic strategy and card counting, summarizing some of the most significant literature on the topic. May also compares several of the most popular card counting systems, largely summarizing the work of the late Peter Griffin in his seminal book, Theory of Blackjack.
Next, May moves on to cover some other ways one can gain an advantage, including card sequencing, dealer hole card play, and exploiting dealer errors. Here May also covers the new automatic shuffling machines and explains Kelly betting, although several chapters after it was first introduced, which might be confusing. The author also covers some miscellaneous topics, including spooking, playing blackjack on Internet casinos, and a play May calls "The Stacker".
These are all interesting advantage plays, but May's description is very superficial. The book ends up being like a survey course, where the reader is informed about the existence of each of these techniques, but none of them are covered in sufficient depth to truly benefit the reader. For example, I know about front loading, that is, looking for a dealer who will flash their hole card to the players, but I don't know how to look for this without appearing suspicious, I'm told something called a "T-scope" will help train me for this, but I don't know where to get one or how to build one, not to mention how I should bet without giving away what I'm doing to the casino. At least the latter question is answered in James Grosjean's Beyond Counting, but my main complaint with Grosjean's book is that he doesn't provide enough details on technique, but this is far more true of May's book.
While a lot of topics are covered, none are covered in significant detail. Get the Edge at Blackjack refers to a large number of excellent books and articles which cover these topics in more depth, but in my opinion, most of these sources should be part of every serious blackjack player's library. Therefore, this book would be very useful to someone new to advantage blackjack play who is looking for an overview and advice on how they ought to proceed, or it might be valuable to someone who hasn't followed the field for a number of years looking to get caught up-to-date. However, there are only a few topics here that aren't covered in more detail elsewhere. The well-read blackjack player would probably be better served by Grosjean's book than this one.
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