There are a lot of very good books that contribute to the wealth of Blackjack knowledge available today, but few of them are aimed at the true beginner. In Sklansky Talks Blackjack, noted gamblingNick 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/ authority David Sklansky attempts to provide a substantive work that meets the needs of the neophyte card counter.
Sklansky Talks Blackjack starts with an explanation of why card counting works and a general description of how the game of Blackjack is played in the modern casino. It's all pretty straightforward and well written, but nothing we haven't seen before. He also explains how to count, using the familiar Hi-Low as his system, and makes some suggestions on how the beginner should go about becoming proficient with this system.
The second chapter is where the action is. Sklansky devotes a couple pages to each player hand total explaining both basic strategy and variations from basic strategy as the count changes. The novelty of Sklansky's approach is that he does this with no charts, only with a conversational explanation, hence the title of the book. This seems to work fairly well, although certainly charts are far more compact and, therefore, more efficient. However, a not insubstantial number of people will probably find Sklansky's technique easier to comprehend. Besides presenting the strategy, Sklansky also tries to motivate the reasons why a particular play is made and why deviations from it are appropriate at various count levels. Sklansky gives up a little in precision here, dealing with basic strategy deviations at small and large positive and negative counts rather than at particular values. This is easier for the beginner to understand without giving up a great deal in expectation.
The third chapter covers basic casino comportment here. Not a lot of new ideas are covered, but there were one or two that were interesting that I haven't heard before. He then provides an even more basic presentation of how the mechanics of casino Blackjack work, including hand and card signals to indicate to the dealer how players intends to play their hand. Finally, Sklansky gives us a brief set of other references the reader may wish to consult.
It should come as no surprise to readers familiar with other Sklansky works that his explanations are clear, concise, and accurate. Sklansky certainly achieves his goal of providing a high quality introduction to card counting at Blackjack without the use of charts. Therefore, I definitely recommend it to its target audience. Even though there are a couple of tidbits of information that everyone may not have been completely familiar with, I don't think there's enough new here to make it worth the investment for the experienced card counter. Overall, I'd have to rank this as my second favorite book for the beginning Blackjack card counter after Vancura and Fuchs' KO Blackjack. Sklansky Talks Blackjack is certainly a good work of comparable quality, and I'd give it an even more enthusiastic endorsement for those folks who think they're likely to have difficulty memorizing Blackjack strategy charts.
ReadyBetGo! is an independent gambling news and information service. If you plan to play in casinos, ensure
that you are not breaking any local laws. It's up to you to know the legality of your actions when you gamble.