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Re: Going Full Time Pro.


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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Here's his reply:

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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And here's my reply:

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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  • 2 weeks later...
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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Re: Going Full Time Pro.


Charr here:

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.


11-10-2007, 11:25 PM

charr here again

Re: Going Full Time Pro.

Ellis and everyone,

As a pro relying on the game for your income do you think we should get to know the casino personel or a particular person or be in complete stealth mode, in and out of there??

Pros / Cons?


#27 11-11-2007, 05:30 AM

E. Clifton Davis

Professional Player Join Date: Nov 2005

Posts: 297

Re: Going Full Time Pro.

Char, forget stealth mode. Forget getting to know them. THEY will get to know YOU much quicker than you think. Don't make the mistake I made! Be friendly with these people. They make strong alliances. Tip well when you win and DON'T tip when you lose. They catch on quick.

New cards make a great asset. Your biggest obstacle is not clumping, it's dealer biases. New cards do not have dealer biases. Dealer biases are inherant in repeated play of the same cards but cannot exist in new cards. It's very refreshing to see dealers getting only 4 ten ups in 13 hands rather than 6 or 8 like they do later in the day. It's also very refreshing when the dealer CAN'T push your 20's and 21's with the amazing frequency she will later in the day. And it's refreshing not to see dealer 5,6 and 7 card 21s like you will see later in the day.

But recognize that there are THREE types of new cards. First base, Third base and unplayable. You will learn how to watch card preps and know what to expect. But it is MORE important to record which casinos produce which results with their preps. It takes an act of God for a casino to change their initial new card prep. They all think THEY have the best one but they aren't prepping for NBJ players. We are only 1 in a thousand.

When you find a good morning First or Third Base situation it often stays that way for weeks. The card prep Mgr doesn't have the authority to CHANGE the prep. This must go through channels. But, the more morning "gifts" you find the better. Because The less you exploit the same one, the longer it takes for them to change it. Find 3 or 4 because they aren't that hard to find. Find them playing nickels. That's what nickels are for. Once you find them and prove them out, go straight to quarters. But also watch the card preps from afar to make sure they didn't change their routine. If you suspect a change, go back to nickels until you "verify".

Remember, when you go pro, you have the extra time to take advantage of these things. BUT, advantages are not advantages unless you take advantage of them!


E. Clifton Davis

#28 11-11-2007, 05:37 AM

E. Clifton Davis

Professional Player Join Date: Nov 2005

Posts: 297

Re: Going Full Time Pro.

Hi Charr, You know, you have one big advantage over me when I went pro. You have a reliable mentor. I thought I had several. Until I found out that they were WRONG about virtually EVERYTHING!


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