In 1976, Ian Andersen (a pseudonym) produced the now classic Turning the Tables in Las Vegas, which has always been the reference on blackjack "casino comportment", that is, how to fool theNick 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/ casino into thinking that you're not counting cards. Now, almost 25 years later, Andersen has authored a sequel or update, depending on your perspective, that covers new techniques that the author has adapted to the game over the years.
The first few chapters are the standard introduction to Blackjack and card counting, and can be skipped by the familiar reader. If the first two chapters are new material, then this book is probably the wrong place to start. In the third chapter, Andersen gives his reasons as to why he believes that simpler counting systems like the Hi-Low and Hi-Opt I, both of which he uses, are sufficient for card counters, even at the professional level.
With Chapter 4, we get into the heart of the book. Andersen has studied the betting and playing habits of big bet blackjack players for many years. Based upon these observations and some computer simulations, he has devised a playing pattern that provides excellent camouflage while maintaining a healthy edge. His calculations back up the fact that this new strategy, which he calls the "Ultimate Gambit", in my opinion, may be the most revolutionary and exciting "discovery" in blackjack research since Don Schlesinger wrote his Blackjack Forum article about the "Illustrious 18" strategy changes.
In addition to the explanation and defense of this strategy, several chapters also cover changes Andersen has noted in the way casinos respond to the threat of counting, and how he has evolved his techniques to compensate. There's plenty of new stuff here that I haven't seen discussed elsewhere. Even when the material had previously been covered, usually Andersen's observations are fresh enough to be worth reading.
Some chapters are less substantive, but no less fun to read. For example, one chapter covers unusual things Andersen has seen at the tables. Most of these are quite amusing, although few will help one play better blackjack. The author has probably seen a great deal more of these situations, and if he wrote a book just about them, I'd buy it. He also talks about sports betting, although, this is more entertaining than useful, but entertaining it is. Although few of us will gamble overseas nearly as much as the author has, the information on casinos outside the US is worthwhile, although I think more specific information on what one can expect on a country-by-country basis would have been even better.
The final chapter deserves some mention. Andersen attributes some of his success to his daily regimen which he believes keeps him mentally and physically at the top of his game. This includes a special diet and the consumption of fairly significant quantities of nutritional supplements. While I do not wish to claim that his conclusions in this regard are inaccurate, certainly this author has better qualifications as a blackjack player than he does as a medical or dietary specialist, and as such, I would advise considering the information he gives here with that in mind. However, he knows that some of his beliefs in this regard are likely to be controversial, and I do not believe that presenting this material detracts at all from the quality of this book.
Burning the Tables... is primarily aimed at high stakes players, although middle stakes players will also benefit greatly from this information. I strongly recommend that those folks buy and read this book. I doubt if many nickel bettors will find it beneficial to adopt these advanced camouflage techniques, but at the very least they'll find this information entertaining and informative, and some of the information is likely to be quite valuable. I recommend this book highly.
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