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Going Full Time Pro.


Guest CarlosM

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Guest CarlosM

Charlie wants to go full time pro. So do I. I will start next week or the week after. Say November. I plan to play daily, full time pro, for my source of income. Mad Dog, Keith, Ellis! Any advice?

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Well here's a tip for ya. Pack your dirty clothes in your suitcase. Then, as soon as you get to the hotel, dump it all in the hotel laundry. Then head straight for the tables. Play like a mad dog, and get comped. Then get your clean laundry back and head home. I really do this, and it works great.

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Well, here's a few pointers from my pro days.

First, I stayed there but I didn't live there. AC I mean. It's a nasty town. I used to rent effientcy apts until I realized that there is no grocery store in AC. So I got weekly rates at the Madison House.

The first thing you'll notice is that you have a whole lot more time on your hands. No travel, no family no nothing but you, the ocean and the tables.

You need to use this time wisely. I scouted casinos and took notes, Today I would use one of those miniature tape recorders like Hanson uses. I knew everything about every casino in AC. I knew their shift hours, their card preps, everything. I new which pits were ripe for first base at the beginning of which shift, which were ripe for third base and how long these good games lasted. I knew exactly where the best place to be was at 7:30 in the morning on each day of the week.

One of the reasons I could easily win EVERY day was because I ALWAYS won in the morning because I always knew from my notes exactly where the best NBJ game was. Afternoons were tougher. But I ALWAYS captured my morning buyin for the day. So if I had any trouble in my afternnon session I quit for the day ahead at least $300. So winning every day was simply a function of winning every morning. And that was easy. My goal for the morning session was $1000 and I always played green in the AM. So my first tip is KEEP GOOD NOTES and study them.

My next tip is eat HEALTHY and get daily exercise. Don't get tempted by those fancy menus. I thought I did good with this but as it turned out I should have been doing a whole lot better.

In the afternoon I usually played black because the high stakes rooms were just opening up. I had learned that new cards are far better because they are more consistent whether you play third or first. While I seldom overstayed my morning sessions, I often ran my afternoon session right into my night session if my table stayed good. I did this because I knew that good night tables are much harder to find.

I was very stingy with my daily bank roll at the night session because I captured $2100 of my winnings that day. If I was only up $2100 after the afternoon session I didn't play that night. On the other hand if the night session took off I got very aggressive. But that 2100 stayed in my pocket.

It's a very lonely life and you need to be with people just for good mental health. The best people to hang out with is the dealers. Back then the biggest dealer hangout was the huge bar/restaurant downstairs at the Madison House. So I bought a dealer shirt and blended right in. Man o man you pick up a lot of stuff hanging out with the dealers. They start their war stories about how they fleeced their players that day and the biggest fleecer that day is always the center of attention that night. That's how their hierarchy works. And there you are quietly smilling and taking it all in.

If anybody asked, and they seldom did, I'd say oh I'm just fill in, I teach over at the college. I'm just here to buy the beer and get some tips from you pros. They'd go right back into their war stories and I'd buy the next pitcher. All in all it was a pretty darn good life.

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Thank you Ellis,

That's exactly what I'm talking about, details of life as a pro. Please post more, anything about that whole life and the ups and down you dealt with. What you described here is so valuable to me because i don't know or know of any real pros.

I was wondering, did you stay in AC one week at a time as a pro, how often would you be there and in what intervals. Did you pursue other interest at the same time or was that too distracting, and what kind of daily money did you earn on average/ was your goal realistic?

The way I am seeing it as far as the money part, is too have a large bankroll, say $10,000 and only shoot for $300-$1000 per day by playing green and black depending on the game. If Ii make say $400 in the first 15 minutes then I'm done for the day. That seem to "guarantee" me my money on a daily basis. BUT it also will limit a possible huge win, or perhaps a major loss?

This way it seems to me with my past performance that I CAN'T LOSE. I/m laughing just saying that because I truly feel I can do that if played purely for business and no fooling around.

It's the rest of the time I'm concerned with? I would have to build a life living in AC. Maybe not though if I could figure a way to stay in intervals that would still maximize my winnings?

But what if I do find myself losing on a given day, when should I stop for the day?

If I may ask Ellis, what about your life away from blackjack? Did you have any? Relationships, family, friends, pursuits? Were these affected in some way?

One more thing Ellis, do you know anyone doing it right now, I mean making thier primary income from blackjack? Or anyone who did in the past that would be willing to give me thier insight to how they did it?

Thanks again, I really appreciate having your knowledge as an asset to me.

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Thank you Ellis,

That's exactly what I'm talking about, details of life as a pro. Please post more, anything about that whole life and the ups and down you dealt with. What you described here is so valuable to me because i don't know or know of any real pros.

I was wondering, did you stay in AC one week at a time as a pro, how often would you be there and in what intervals. Did you pursue other interest at the same time or was that too distracting, and what kind of daily money did you earn on average/ was your goal realistic?

The way I am seeing it as far as the money part, is too have a large bankroll, say $10,000 and only shoot for $300-$1000 per day by playing green and black depending on the game. If Ii make say $400 in the first 15 minutes then I'm done for the day. That seem to "guarantee" me my money on a daily basis. BUT it also will limit a possible huge win, or perhaps a major loss?

This way it seems to me with my past performance that I CAN'T LOSE. I/m laughing just saying that because I truly feel I can do that if played purely for business and no fooling around.

It's the rest of the time I'm concerned with? I would have to build a life living in AC. Maybe not though if I could figure a way to stay in intervals that would still maximize my winnings?

But what if I do find myself losing on a given day, when should I stop for the day?

If I may ask Ellis, what about your life away from blackjack? Did you have any? Relationships, family, friends, pursuits? Were these affected in some way?

One more thing Ellis, do you know anyone doing it right now, I mean making thier primary income from blackjack? Or anyone who did in the past that would be willing to give me thier insight to how they did it?

Thanks again, I really appreciate having your knowledge as an asset to me.

Well you are asking the right questions Char:

First, I started with $8000 in winnings. I had won substancially more than that but It did not occur to me to save money for a bankroll because at first I didn't know I would be needing one. I had just received tenure as a college professor and together with a good Summer business I was making about $80,000 a year. That was a LOT of money in the late 80's. So going pro was a big decision for me. But a tiff with the college made up my mind. I refused to teach a blind black boy mechanical drawing. I was immediately charged with racial bias as the college was in hot water with the feds over their black quota. I explained to no avail that I was not racially biased whatsoever; that I wasn't refusing to teach a black boy, I was refusing to teach a blind boy to draw; that the whole idea was preposterous. But colleges can be incredibly stupid. The union would have backed me and I certainly would have won but it was the straw. I drove to AC directly from the college (2 hrs) and was up 8 grand in 2 days. I called home and told my wife I was going pro and I'd be home in a week. She was overjoyed. See, I always gave her half my winnings. When you do that they start booting you out of the house, you know, as long as you are winning. That worked great the whole 3 years.

The first thing that impressed me was that I was almost always the only winner at the table. You know, I had read all these books and I thought all these guys were pros. But I never saw any of them. So I called them one by one and invited them to come and play. One by one they all turned me down. Meanwhile the casinos were treating me like a celebrity. EVERYBODY knew my name, even cocktail waitresses. One morning at the Sands I sat down alone at a table that had not been played yet. The very young female dealer burst into tears! I said what on Earth is wrong with you? You're Ellis! How do you know that? I just saw a movie of you playing in the dealer room. They got a movie of me?!? Yeah and they are threatening us to beat you no matter how. I'm just a beginner and I don't know how to do that stuff yet and I'll be in big trouble. I said no you won't because I'm not going to play you. Tell them you scared me off!

I wasn't there 2 months when I noticed I had a group of about 15 blue coats with clip boards following me everywhere I went. I used to tease them because I didn't know any better. You know, I'm going to the john guys, watch my chips. Or hey, lets go get a Pizza, don't worry, I'll buy.

I sat down at an empty quarter table at the Claridge one morning and immediately 4 blue coats sat down and bought in before I even got my chips. I looked at them and I said, Geez guys, you've got to be the best dressed BJ players in the entire world. Their leader mumbled "we're bartenders" and they all jumped in unison and left, chips in hand. So I yelled after them "hey, can one of you bartenders bring me a Scotch rocks? The war was on! and it was just beginning.

But where were the pros? In six months I never saw a one except Kenny Houston. So I watched him play and quickly realized he couldn't play for shit.

But all these things were beginning to add up in my head. One night at the Madison house with a table full of dealers over a Scotch, it finally hit me. These guys aren't asking me who I am because they all already know who I am. These guys aren't the enemy, they are my friends. I'm their hero. They don't bother the other pros because THERE ARE NO OTHER PROS. That's why I'm the center of attention. These book writers are ALL phonies. That's why they refused to come. Hey! Geez, why not! I'm gonna write my own book. A REAL book on Blackjack. I think I'll call it just what it is. Yep! New Blackjack!

Well I guess I didn't get to all your questions yet, but I will.

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Ellis, I would really love to hear more about your days as a pro, the last few post were great because it gave validity to my thoughts of going pro. Any other details you are willing to share about the daily life. I want to hear about all of it! Was it relaxing or high tension? Were you overconfident or perhaps cautious? How about money matters-security, taxes, money managemnet away from the game? How many actual play hours did you do daily? Most impotantly what are the pitfalls of full time blackjack?? What do I need to really worry about? Again, I'm greatful to have a REAL player/teacher to learn from. Thanks.

Hey Carlos, I know you intend to start soon, I hope you keep me posted on how its going. I wish you great success. If I decide to do this full time, my target date will be early in the new year. Perhaps we will be able to keep each other informed on data we accumulate.

MadDog, are you playing as a fulltime pro?

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My best advice is make short trips when you are feeling your best. I just spend one or two days. I play very aggressively. I realized I am playing way more aggressively than is recommended. I increase the stakes each time I make a pile of twelve. NBJ calls for something a little more forgiving. I am always right on the edge. As soon as I make a second pile of twelve, I am right back to one pile of twelve at a higher multiple of my original unit size. I think this is a matter of personal style, and NBJ is flexible on this point. It has more to do with what you deem to be acceptable risk.

William Shakespeare wrote: "From this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety."

I think that in blackjack, acceptance of risk also brings gains that offset losses. Just like you need torque to win, I say you need some kind of geometric progression built into your playing profile. So be disciplined about buying in for a fixed, low amount, but don't be afraid to go for it with by raising the stakes. In my opinion, you must be just as disciplined about raising the stakes as you are about anything else.

I am not in a casino every day. I go when I am at my best and don't stay too long.

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With money management, there really is a lot of room for changing the program to fit your risk profile. I think with my profile, I am walking a tightrope because when I raise the stakes, I have a pile of 12 again. As soon as I reach two piles of twelve, I am back down to one. I lock up some money though according to Fibonacci, and hit the table again with a pile of 12 heftier units. I will give you a narrative that explains how one wins money this way.

Let's say a player was playing my way using quarters as his base unit. He would buy in for $300. Let's say the table was good, and he made a second pile of 12. Now according to a strict application of Fibonacci, he would lock up his original $300 and play again at the same stakes.

Now let's imagine that he makes another pile of 12. Remember, he only has 12 units to play with, and he's got to make it to 24. Once this happens, he does not lock up anything, and proceeds to bet with double sized units, $50 bucks apiece. A total of $600 is in play. The geometric progression is already working for him. His chips are already multiplying like so many rabbits.

Let's say he makes another pile of 12. Fibonacci calls for him to lock up another $300, and start playing with 12 triple sized units, $75 each. So at this point, the original buy-in of $300 is locked, and a profit of $300 is locked also. Our player has $900 in action, and $600 locked up.

Let's say the lucky bastard plays wins another pile of twelve of these triple sized units. OK. At this point he has $2,400 at the table, and $300 more gets locked for a total of $900 locked. The remaining $1500 is in play at a new unit size of $125. That’s five times the original unit size of $25. Four times in a row, he has managed to take a single pile of 12 and double it. NBJ players know that this is achievable. If he fails at this point, he walks away with $900 profit. If he succeeds, he surges to a lofty new betting level.

Let’s say that once again, our player has succeeded in doubling his pile of twelve. He will now be betting double black units, and locking up $600. He has $3,900 at the table, and a total of $1,500 is locked. He proceeds to play double black units. He might be tempted to walk away with the $3,900. He might ride the ride. Let’s say for example’s sake that he does try to double the $2400 in play. This guy’s got balls.

Our player has won again, turning his double black pile of twelve into two double black piles of twelve. At this point he locks up $900. He has $6300 at the table, and he has $2400 of that locked up. He now increases his unit size to $325.

I will accelerate the narrative with a list of the amounts at the table as our player advances to successive levels:

$10,200

$16,500

$26,700

$43,200

$69,900

These numbers are getting pretty high, and the betting levels are very lofty. They probably will exceed table max, and so you must at some point stop the Fibonacci progression.

Now remember, this guy is walking a tightrope. Every time he raises the stakes, he is exposed to great risk in that he could lose his pile of 12 in play, which comprises most of his cash at the table at any given time. That's the way Fibonacci works. Most of your rabbits are in there making more rabbits, while modest portion of them harvested as profit. That means if you lose the pile of 12 in play, you walk away with only the modest portion. The reason this is a good thing to do is this: Fibonacci provides for this locked up portion to experience the same geometric growth curve that the units in play experience. It is the same curve. It is just two steps behind. Your locked up amount will soon grow huge, just as the in-play amount is growing even huger. You don't know how long the ride is going to be, and so you are hammer down, heading for table max. Sometimes you want to leave the game at an arbitrary point with all your chips including the in-play chips. Sometimes you want to see how far Fibonacci will take you.

Remember that Fibonacci automatically locks up money as you go. It’s a wild way to play. When things are going well, people will gather to watch. You have to do your home practice to get your hands won rate good enough to walk the Fibonacci tightrope.

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So I'm walking the tightrope by playing with one pile of twelve in front of me. Most of you guys are, I assume, playing with two piles in front of you and you try to make a third pile. So I guess it is slower to raise the stakes, but you don't fall off the tightrope as often as I with my frequent return to a single pile of 12.

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Perhaps both methods can find a middle road in this: The main tennant of both NBJ and going Pro is this: Find the conditions you play and play the conditions you find. We all recognize that conditions have a big and ever changing range from barely playable at the bottom to can't do anythig wrong at the top. We all adjust our card play and our betting to match the conditions we find ourselves in. Our degree of aggressivity must do exactly the same. How easy was the last pile and how consistent was is? Was it getting easier or harder or remaining constant? Now we have a basis for an enlightened decision on how to procede. In great conditions we match our aggressivity to those conditions. We "go for the jugular"! But the Pro, likewise uses measured restraint in tougher conditions. Sometimes 3 piles after your buy-in pile is captured is the right approach. And sometimes one pile, raise the stakes, is the right approach. Sometimes doubling the stakes is right and sometimes the Fibonaci is right. Pros don't march blindly on, they're Pros!

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Hey Char,

I think you are setting your daily sights too low. I think you should win more per day and play fewer days. I did the worst when I played seven days a week. I actually made more PER WEEK when I played only 4 days a week. Actually 3.5 because I always quit early on Friday.

I eventually learned to also avoid Mondays along with Saturdays, Sundays, and Friday nights. While of course you would avoid Holiday mondays, I found that Mondays contained too many weekend straggelers trying to win back their weekend losses and you were better off to avoid all Mondays. Save your energy for Tuesdays. The best day was Thursday.

Like you, at first, I did a lot of financial planning and goal setting. But what really happens is a lot of that went out the window. The stakes you play end up pretty much dictated to you. You will quickly learn to avoid the red tables except first thing in the morning. After that, they get too much play to be viable. Then, eventually you learn to play green in the morning because new cards give you your best unit win performances.

The same phenomenon happens again in the late afternoon around 4P. Except now it is green that is becomming less viable, forcing you to black. Night play is almost always better at black tables. So on a good day, and most of your days will be good, you end up making a lot more than you planned. Overall, this works out well because the good days carry you through the bad days. By bad days, I'm not referring to losing days, I'm referring to days where its a struggle to make anything.

There are two kinds of bad days. First there are days when you just don't have your shit together. And, there are days when the casino DOES! You may know it as soon as you get up in the morning. Or, you realize in your first game that you aren't playing well. Or maybe you failed your alacrity test you give yourself every morning. Good! That gives you a good reason to take the day off. Treat youself to a day at the spa or the pool or even the beach. Just don't swim in the ocean there. Long hours of BJ take their toll. You need rest and relaxation. The test is to keep yourself in tip top shape mentally and physically and to recognize the first signs of fatigue and correct the situation. Those really good days allow you to do that without any feelings of guilt. You earned it and you need it to keep earning it. Tomorrow will be a better day for it.

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Guest CarlosM

Hey Ellis! Why don't you tell us about your typical losing, or I should say, bad days? Give us examples of on a tough day, on average, how many tables of testing the water it took before you landed on a winning table? This way we can all see that the bad days aren't as bad as we would think! Charlie, have you started full time play or decided? Ellis! Can you tell us on good or bad days, when you go through a series of test the waters tables before landing on a winning game, on those test waters games, on average how many units would you lose? In a bad or tough game that you are playing, those games on average, how many units would you lose? I know for the few years you played full time pro, you never had a losing day. What percentage would you say the days you had where you went there and didn't play, wether bad conditions or you are in no conditions those days? If you could total all the tables you attempted to play and played in, in those 3 years, even though you never had a losing day, what percentage would you say were losing games? Before and after you found the best days to play! Just on winning tables, on average, how many units would you win, per game, on average? For Third Base? For First base? Tell us that story you told me when it was the toughest day you had, and still made money and the bet with the casino manager! That was wild!

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Ellis, Thank you for that info, it is so valuable! I too have discovered that it is easy to win from 4-6 pm. But I have always had problems in the morning around 10-11am? not sure why. also i am on the fence with new cards, i always thought they were harder to play? I can use some knowledge on that?

I have been thinking that I would infact play Monday-Thursday but I see your point so perhaps Tuesday-Friday is best. I see your point that I may be setting my goals to low but I'm just trying to guarantee myself the win daily. WHAT ABOUT BAD DAYS, HOW SHOULD I DEAL WITH SEVERAL LOSSES-STOP LOSS FOR THE DAY?

Ellis, let me be blunt, don't answer if you don't want to but I want to ask some hard questions that would help me greatly with your very honest answers:

1. Why did you stop if you were doing so good? What kind of income did you have yearly and for how long? Have you ever busted out your bankroll and need to start over?

2. Because of distance to the nearest casino I am now considering quitting a very easy and good state job, benifits etc.. to pursue blackjack, AM I NUTS?? I know I will make more playing blackjack and it will also allow me to pursue my other interests since I will have more time to myself or am I kidding myself? I am confident but doubt is lingering??

3.What do you think my bankroll should be before I start this as a living?

4. ONE MORE THING-the biggest problem i have with the game or should i say with me is that after I suffer several losses in a row from bad table selection or perhaps bad play I tend to get too aggressive and try to get it back quickly-THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I LOSE. Otherwise I tend to always win. Now that I am aware of this and I'm going into pro mode I have a handle on it. Your thoughts on this?

PLEASE CONTINUE TO OFFER YOUR INSIGHTS, IT IS REALLY HELPING ME DEVELOP A PLAN.

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I really think that you should not make this plan based on the ideas of others, but rather from personal experience. Do not quit your job until you have enough experience to know that this is a safe thing to do based on actual results. You can make a number of short excursions using vacation days and extrapolate from those results what you can expect. This bankroll question is impossible, since each man's skill level is different. You really need to know what you are doing, and the fact that you are asking what your bankroll should be says that you do not have the experience you need to quit your job and go pro full time.

Build your experience to the point where you know your abilities well enough to decide all these things on your own.

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Hey Ellis! Why don't you tell us about your typical losing, or I should say, bad days? Give us examples of on a tough day, on average, how many tables of testing the water it took before you landed on a winning table? This way we can all see that the bad days aren't as bad as we would think! Charlie, have you started full time play or decided? Ellis! Can you tell us on good or bad days, when you go through a series of test the waters tables before landing on a winning game, on those test waters games, on average how many units would you lose? In a bad or tough game that you are playing, those games on average, how many units would you lose? I know for the few years you played full time pro, you never had a losing day. What percentage would you say the days you had where you went there and didn't play, wether bad conditions or you are in no conditions those days? If you could total all the tables you attempted to play and played in, in those 3 years, even though you never had a losing day, what percentage would you say were losing games? Before and after you found the best days to play! Just on winning tables, on average, how many units would you win, per game, on average? For Third Base? For First base? Tell us that story you told me when it was the toughest day you had, and still made money and the bet with the casino manager! That was wild!

WHEW! Carlos never asks just one question! Well, first recognize that in the time period that I played full time, I had not yet written NBJ. NBJ was the end product of those 3 years. I had my card play down pat when I started but not my table selection. In fact, when I started, I didn't even reaize that table selection was a topic for learning, let alone half the battle. Nor had I developed the first base system yet. So when I started, I strictly played Third Base 1-4-6. If it didn't ALWAYS work at the FIRST table I sat down to, it ALWAYS worked at the LAST table I sat down to. It NEVER took more than three. Almost never.

I had read every BJ book there was and already knew that MY card play was ten times better than theirs. So I had thrown out the books BUT that part about it doesn't matter when or where you play or where you sit still lingered with me when I started. In fact, when I started, I was still waiting 2 hours before I would play new cards. But playing three sessions a day every day and keeping copious notes, it wasn't long at all before I realized that EVERYthing in those books was wrong. The FIRST thing I learned was to play third base. My notes clearly determined that. The 2nd thing I learned was to avoid Fri and Sat nights, again, from my notes. The third thing that I learned was the fewer the players the better. But the night you are referring to was before I had that third revelation. In fact, that night BEGAN my third revelation!

It was a Fri. night, the LAST Fri. night I ever played. I had been playing every day for two months and I had had an excellent day. I was about $8000 up for the day when I hit the Boardwalk to find my night game. I was totally confident that I was about to have my first $10,000 day. After all, $8000 up in two sessions playing quarters was extreme even for me. I ducked into Caesars. I sat down in the first empty third base seat I saw and lost my 12 unit buy-in in 4 or 5 hands. Changed tables and did it again, and again and again and again. It all took less than an hour. At that point I had broken two of my own records. It was the first time I was ever up $8000 in two sessions and the first time I was ever down $1500 in one session.

The casino Mgr. had watched the last three buy-ins. This was not unusual at all for me. I was on a first name basis with a dozen of them by then. I didn't like a one of them and they hated me. So he says, "Ellis, it's just not your night! Try again tomorrow! It wasn't what he said that got me, it was that mocking tone he used. I said, when I leave, I'll leave here a winner. He says a hundred dollars says you don't. I plopped down ten hundreds on the table and said a thousand says I do! YOU'RE ON! he says!

Then I took a long walk around the casino with my mind racing. I had about $6000 in my pocket which was more than enough. But what was I doing wrong? What was I doing different from what I had done all day. NOTHING, It's not me, it's the game! I've seen nothing but class C hands since I got here. WHY? What is different from what I've been seeing and playing all day long? PLAYER NUMBER! I played two and three player games ALL DAY LONG and tonight I'm only playing 6 and 7 player games.

I had seen this 2 player $100 game in the back before and had immediately discarded it because it was a $100 game. I had never played a $100 game before. Recognize in current dollars, that's a $1000 game! I went back to look again. These two players had been playing at least two hours and were both obviously way ahead. They were also lying across the seats taking up 6 seats. Why? They obviously don't want anyone else to sit down. Why? Right back to it. PLAYER NUMBER! They KNOW something I don't. Much to their disgruntlement I took third making them sit up a little. I bought in for $1200. A shoe later they were sitting up straight and taking notice. All unfriedliness had vanished. I was breaking the dealer like crazy! The casino mgr came over and watched me break even for the night. But I didn't quit. In about four shoes I had my $10,000 day plus a bonus from the casino mgr. I never made that mistake again! I learned two valuable lessons that night. Don't play Fri nights and don't play full tables. Oh, and one other thing, Stakes are meaningless. Game quality is everything!

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These are all excellent questions Char and point out to me how serious your contemplations are. I'll take your questions one at a time below but first a couple of general notes:

I think that both of you should recognize and make use of the fact that you know a whole lot more starting out than I did. If I wrote NBJ over again only for professional players I wouldn't change a thing. NBJ & WCB are the pro's bible even if that wasn't my initial intention. But you need to be proficient in ALL of it to turn pro. You need to avoid the mistales that I made. As a pro, table selection and searching out the right table on the right day at the right time is just as important as card play. And First base play and Third Base play are equally important.

It is true that NBJ conditions are better today than ever before but recognize that advantages are advantages only if you take advantage of them. Also, while casinos are having a hard time keeping their tables full these days, they are still 20 years smarter than when I played full time. This means that you must continue learning from your experiences. They will always be deploying new tricks. The game is never stagnant. Going pro isn't a new job, it's a new life. It isn't just about playing right, its about living right.

Certainly Mad Dog is right. You need to send up some trial ballons. Try playing for a week or two full time. See how you handle the stress of it and the rigors of it. Sure, you can do it when you're doing it for fun. But can you do it when your life and the lives of your dependants are at stake?

Ellis, Thank you for that info, it is so valuable! I too have discovered that it is easy to win from 4-6 pm. But I have always had problems in the morning around 10-11am? not sure why. also i am on the fence with new cards, i always thought they were harder to play? I can use some knowledge on that?

When you go pro, new cards are your bread and butter. Few people have experience with them because few people are in the casino at that early hour. They are only the easiest cards all day IF you know how to play them. The big advantage is that there are no dealer biases in new cards. New cards were either prepped for random cards, third base, or they were prepped for boxed card clumping, often ideal for first base. You need to be able to watch a card prep and know which is which. Then you need to record exactly where and when you find these gift games. If you don't do well in these ideal early morning conditions, you are done for the day. It is the ONLY time you risk YOUR money. The rest of the time you risk their money, never yours. Yeah, I know that there are writers who say its NEVER their money. It's a good thing they can write because they'll never make good card players with that attitude. 10 to 11 AM is NOT early enough. Be there at 8 and watch the card prep. Some casinos its 7 and some its 9. You need to know which is which. We can go over card prep pointers later. It may seem like a small thing and it is, for an amateur. But for a pro, its everything. It's the ONLY time you risk money. The rest of the time you play only with your winnings that day.

I have been thinking that I would infact play Monday-Thursday but I see your point so perhaps Tuesday-Friday is best. I see your point that I may be setting my goals to low but I'm just trying to guarantee myself the win daily. WHAT ABOUT BAD DAYS, HOW SHOULD I DEAL WITH SEVERAL LOSSES-STOP LOSS FOR THE DAY?

Losses are to be avoided, not dealt with. Until you are skilled at finding the gift games and confident with new card play you can play red. New cards don't know what color the chips are. Old cards, for practical purposes, DO!. You don't have bad days, just bad mornings. A break even day is not a bad day, its a good experience. You learn what not to do. Edison said "I didn't fail, I learned 814 ways NOT to make a light bulb."

Ellis, let me be blunt, don't answer if you don't want to but I want to ask some hard questions that would help me greatly with your very honest answers:

1. Why did you stop if you were doing so good? What kind of income did you have yearly and for how long? Have you ever busted out your bankroll and need to start over?

Let me take the last first. No I never busted out or even come close. I NEVER took that kind of risk. I started with $8000 and played nickels in early morning games until I could win every time. I did that BEFORE I went pro. After I went pro, I never played red again. When I went pro I KNEW that I could ALWAYS beat the Sands new cards game. I was at that pit every morning BEFORE the card prep less they change something which eventually they did. In the card prep their first move was to invert every other deck. They did 4 2 deck shuffles first. Strait box card order got shuffled with inverted boxed card order so that highs shuffled against lows and vice versa. It made for perfect third base conditions with no dealer bias. I went for $1100 and captured $600. That $600 was my stake for the day. Some days it was only $300 and some days 0. Oh, BTW I always started with a 112 prog and worked my way up. But I never went to 2 until I had won a hand. If I lost the first 3 hands I changed tables. That was quite rare and I never lost the second table but If I couldn't get anywhere I quit for the whole day. See, I did something wrong. I either read the prep wrong or I played wrong. Either way, I was't fit that day. I got maybe one no play day every two weeks. Fine, a day off was probably just what I needed.

I made $64,000 a year AFTER ALL expenses. That number matched my take home pay before I went pro. Now remember that was in the late 80's. You would have to multiply by 5 to get to current dollars. While housing and vehicles have gone up 5 fold, utilities, medical and gasoline have gone up 10 fold. When I got to $64,000 I quit for the year and took the Summer off and played golf. I draw a lot of parallels between BJ and golf. Both are the measure of a man.

I quit after three years because I came down with Diverticulitus. Ended up in the hospital with a 50 -50 chance of surviving. While, as a retired Plant Manager, I was used to high stress jobs, that combined with good restaurant eating were my downfall. A perforated colon haunted me for several years more. Then on my first trip back, Foxwood, I had a heart attack and 5 way by-pass. Then several more years to recover again.

2. Because of distance to the nearest casino I am now considering quitting a very easy and good state job, benifits etc.. to pursue blackjack, AM I NUTS?? I know I will make more playing blackjack and it will also allow me to pursue my other interests since I will have more time to myself or am I kidding myself? I am confident but doubt is lingering??

When I played, I played. No other interests, no schedules. I stayed at least a week at a time, often two or three. But, I always got at least 3 months off. That's when I played golf.

3.What do you think my bankroll should be before I start this as a living?

Depending on how well you have all the bases covered, at least $10,000. And that should preferably be from winnings.

4. ONE MORE THING-the biggest problem i have with the game or should i say with me is that after I suffer several losses in a row from bad table selection or perhaps bad play I tend to get too aggressive and try to get it back quickly-THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I LOSE. Otherwise I tend to always win. Now that I am aware of this and I'm going into pro mode I have a handle on it. Your thoughts on this?

When you turn pro, you absolutely MUST leave your ego at home. Ego has no place at a BJ table. You simply don't look at a game the same way when you are playing for revenge. The time to get aggressive is when everything is going right, NEVER, when everything is going wrong. You MUST know how to retreat and how to handle retreating. Once you have the skills mastered, pro play is a frame of mind. Some never master that.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO OFFER YOUR INSIGHTS, IT IS REALLY HELPING ME DEVELOP A PLAN.

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When you go pro, you are paying the mortgage and other vital bills with your bankroll. You have placed yourself into a situation where your bankroll and your net worth are the one and the same. This means that when you pay bills, you are voluntarily giving up some of your bankroll. If you are like me, that is very painful.

You will say to yourself, "Hmmm. If I pay the mortgage this month, then I'll be down to this much bankroll, but if I put off paying the mortgage, then I will have less risk of ruin this month."

I found myself thinking this way in the summer of 1997. I said to myself "This is nuts." and paid the mortgage. Then I decided to keep on getting consulting work. I play a lot now, but my situation is different.

Another idea is that they can bar you if you are too successful. When you go pro, your job can "fire you" if you do too well. Of course if you do poorly, you don't get paid, but rather, you pay them.

Going pro eats away at your time and as a result, all of your connections to people. For a pro, time is money. You have to be able to act when the conditions are good.

Also, you always have people asking you how well you did. If you did well they want the money. If you didn't do well, they say discouraging things.

I know that most of what I am saying is discouraging, but this profession is maddening. It is better to think about these things in advance.

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Thank You Ellis.

Your insights and experiences continue to be so valuable to me. It's funny though, that we've never met.

I too had learned not to play new cards so I'm glad you had mentioned the prep issue. Please more insights on this and any other details.

I believe I will be starting on this new life in the early part of the new year. I thank you once again (for sharing your knowledge) and for allowing this to be an option for me. Well, i need to go practice so I will await another post.

I hope you realize how important your posts are to us.

Oh by the way, if you are ever in georgia and want to have some great golf I'll hook you up with my brother who is a club pro.

Plan on any AC trips in the future? I'll be there for sure.

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