Detroit Casino Gambling News, Reviews, Restaurants, Hotels, Travel . June 2002

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In the News

February 26, 2010 Lansing, Michigan--Greektown Casino signs an agreement with the City of Detroit as it moves closer to emerging from bankruptsy.Save on Trips to Vegas (120x240)

January 12, 2010 Lansing, Michigan-- Michigan Gaming Control Board reported the 3 Detroit casinos had a combined 1.33 billion in revenue for 2009, down from 1.36 billion in 2008

Casinos in Space

A full-length novel serialized for Casino Detroit Magazine. Now chapters 1 - 11.

Interview with Gene Palensar: a full-time professional Blackjack player - and a living legend

from Jerry Patterson

In true gambling tradition, all great players come to be known by some fitting nickname.   Jerry has appropriately dubbed Gene the "Lone Wolf."

In his early days, Gene played solo and organized/ran his own small BJ teams, mostly in Atlantic City.  In the mid-eighties, he worked with Ken Uston and lays claim to being the only surviving member of Uston's last BJ team in Las Vegas.  Today, Gene plays in Atlantic City on his own, in the true spirit of a Lone Wolf. 

Jerry and Gene have known each other since the early eighties.  I've known Gene for less than a year.  But in that short time, I've gotten to know him as well as an old friend.  Gene has freely shared his playing philosophies, his methodology, and all the little tricks he uses to "take the money off the tables."

Gene is a very unique individual.  He is a brilliantly skilled player.  He can "count down" a deck of cards faster than any player in history, casually recite over 150 Basic Strategy variations, and can keep an accurate count of several indices simultaneously while in the heat of play.  He can present himself as an astute, well-spoken professional and has a real flair for philosophy, often sharing his own.  Gene also possesses the street smarts of an inner-city bulldog.  He can get down and dirty as well as anyone.  He pumps iron and sports arms the size of tree trunks.  All his skills and diverse abilities give him the tools necessary to successfully exploit any situation in the casino.

Gene employs a blend of card counting, table selection (using TARGET 21 factors), and casino "savvy" to win consistently.  He is also a master at exploiting the "comp game."  He lives rent-free in AC casinos nearly half the year. 

Gene has graciously offered to share with us his background, his insights on winning play and his "spin" on today's casino Blackjack in general.  On a Thursday afternoon last May, Gene and I sat across from one another at a table  in my room at the Trump Castle in AC.  What resulted was an incredible interview in which Gene shared it all.  Here it is.  All of it.  Unabridged, just as Gene tells it.

Many of you aspire to become full-time pros.  Here's what it's all about in the "real world."  Directly from the experience of one who is doing it successfully - today.

EN:  When was it that you first developed an interest in Blackjack?  How old were you?  What were the circumstances? 

GP: Well, to be honest, I was about seventeen years old.  Actually, the first hands of Blackjack I played was when I was six or seven.  I was playing against my dad and I won around twelve dollars - my first winnings.  But  at about seventeen, I started coming to the casinos to play the real thing.

EN: You were getting into the casinos then?

GP: Yeah. I was sneaking in. Me and a buddy, we were just gamblers. We liked the action; we would try to predict when to bet and throw $500 out on the table.  I remember I won a few times.  I was always ahead, at one point up to ten or fifteen thousand. Being a gambler and not knowing what I was doing, I eventually lost. Then at about nineteen, I started in again.  I was being told at the time to stay away from the big money.  They were saying, "Don't go near the big money."  But my philosophy was the opposite: "The big money knows how to get the big money."  I still didn't know how to play  but would sit in the $100 games.  I was only nineteen.  They would say, "Kid, get the hell  off  this game.  You don't know what you're doing.  Find a $10 game."  But I would win!  I was winning thousands and thousands of dollars!  I was getting casino limousine service, big comps, living the good life.  Then, all of a sudden one day, it ended.

EN: What happened?

GP: I lost. ...(long pause)...  My girlfriend left me and everything came crashing down.  ...(another long pause)... It made me more determined than ever to learn how to beat these places.  It made me ask myself, "How can I consistently beat these places without having to rely on Lady Luck?"  I heard about card-counting, so I bought a book.

EN: Up until that time, Gene, you were relying on intuition?  Luck?

GP: Right.  But I figured there was some way for me to become a better player and consistent winner.

EN: Were you using any method?  Basic Strategy?

GP:  Not even Basic Strategy.  The big players on the $100 games at Caesar's would flat bet $2,500 a hand. I would stick my nose in and they hated it.  (laughing) They'd want to beat me up!

EN:  How many casinos did you have to chose from back then?  There weren't very many open, were there?

GP:  No.  There was Resorts, Caesar's, the Claridge, Bally's, Sands,  the Golden Nugget, and I think that was about it. I remember TropWorld was just being built.  So, I decided, I'm going to practice, I'm going to study. And I'm going to be the best card counter that ever was.

EN:  How did you hear about card counting?

GP:  I heard about it from a friend's mother.  She would talk about it.  I saw the "Sixty Minutes" interview with Ken Uston.  And I knew there was a method to beat Blackjack. So I bought Uston's book, Million Dollar Blackjack. I decided to practice day and night 'til I could beat these people.

EN: Did you practice with the information in the book alone?

GP: Yes.  Day and night. ...and I became determined that, not only would I be the best, but I would eventually get on one of Kenny Uston's teams!

EN: Really?!

GP: Yes. I made up my mind while I was reading the book and practicing.

EN: Had you met Ken?  Did you know him?

GP: No.  I just knew that I would do it.  Whatever it would take to do it.  And I did it.

EN: Pretty confident attitude.

GP: Well, I don't know. Maybe it was confidence;  maybe it was sheer stupidity (laughing).  But I knew I would have to use his three-level count. Because he (Ken Uston) would need to be impressed. I couldn't use any old count, and I had to be good.  I kept practicing and studying.  I went to Atlantic City a few times.  Played and initially lost.  I didn't have much of a bankroll.  But eventually I began to win ... and won quite a lot of money in Atlantic City.

EN: On your own?  By yourself?

GP: Yes.  On my own.

EN:  Gene, you have the reputation of possessing some of the most impressive card counting abilities around.  Please tell us a bit about this.

GP: Well, I've counted down a single deck in eight-and-a-half seconds.  I've perfected that.

EN: Very impressive.

GP: Thanks.  I can do an eight-deck "special" in eighty-six seconds.  And I can do a six-deck regular in around sixty-five seconds ... with accuracy, AND  with  a side count of aces on my feet ... (long pause)  ...  It's just my obsessive nature to be the best in order to beat these people at their own game.  And it runs over from my time with Ken ... to show him I was the best ... I had to bring something to the table.  I couldn't be just any Joe Blow, walk in off the street and say, "Here I am. I can count cards. Put me on your team." 

EN:  How did you finally meet Kenny Uston?

GP:  Well, here's what I did.  I knew he stayed at the Jockey Club when he was in Vegas. So I called there several times and they finally gave me his home phone number.

EN:  Really?!  (laughing)  Persistence!

GP:  Yeah.  Persistence pays off sometimes. So I talked with him.  He was living in San Francisco at the time.  I told him that I use his count, I have money, and I wanted to get in on the team play.

EN:  When was this?

GP:  1984.  I was twenty-one years old.  Ken said he was going to get something going. He promised to call me, and eventually he did.

EN:  How long did you have to wait for the call?

GP:  About six months, I think.  He finally called ..  in the spring of '85.  My dad was against it.  He said, "Why go there?" He said, "You're making money here. Why bother?"  I said, "Well, I'm going to take a chance, go out there and try it."

EN:  When Kenny called, did he accept you over the phone?  Did he want to see a demonstration of your skills? How were things handled at this point?

GP:  He said to come on out and asked how much I wanted to put up in the bank.  I told him I'd be willing to put up $10,000. He said to come on out and he would check my skills. I was nervous.  I made a lot of mistakes at first.  But quickly things straightened out.  I became the most consistent winner on that team.

EN:  How many members were on that team?

GP:  People shifted from time to time.  But, overall, nine participated.

EN:  What was the team's profit objective?  Many times a Blackjack team will look to double their bankroll, then disband.  Was your objective similar?

GP:  That's it.  We were looking to double our starting bank.

EN:  What play methodology did the team decide to employ?

GP:  The Big Player strategy.  There would be a Counter at the table and the Big Player would also be present at the table, varying his bets from $25 to $500. We would use "chip signals," placing our bets at set locations in the betting square to indicate proper bet size for the Big Player ... from one to five.  We would also use hand signals to tell the Big Player to hit, stand, double-down, or split.

EN:  Did you move around a lot or stick to just a small number of casinos?

GP:  We played wherever we could find good games.  We played anywhere and everywhere.  Mostly all double-deck, though.

EN:  How many team members did you have in a casino at any given time?

GP:  Just two players in one casino.  The Big Player and the Counter. We broke up the overall team into mini-teams of two.  Maybe Ken would play at the Riviera.  He liked the Riviera.  I would play at the IP (Imperial Palace) most of the time.  Sometimes I would play at Caesar's.  My first session was at Caesar's ... with his girlfriend, Inga.  My first session out, I won $5,000.

EN: Very Nice.  Did you switch back-and-forth between functioning as BP (Big Player) and Counter?

GP: No.  The BPs were always assigned as BPs and Counters were always Counters.  Wait.  There was one time when Ken was a BP for me.  I was calling Ken's signals at the Dunes  because...Umm...Ken was inebriated. 

EN: How many hours each week did the team play?

GP: That's hard to say.  Often I was playing twelve hours a day.

EN: Seven days a week?

GP: Yeah.  Seven days a week.  Ken called me "Dig Out" because it seemed I was the one who always recovered our losses, brought us back from our low points. Ken would mention that it took sheer determination to win.

EN: How long did this team hold together?

GP: It started to break up on July 1.  There was a woman on the team that used a $10,000 concealed Blackjack computer in her play.  She contributed  $7,000 cash to the team bank. On July 1, the Nevada State Judiciary outlawed concealed Blackjack computers.  She immediately pulled out.  I think she was looking for an excuse to drop out anyway.

EN:  Was anyone else on the team using a concealed computer?

GP:  No.

EN:  Interesting.  Did you find her play to be more accurate with the use of the computer?

GP:  Well, I can say that she was a consistent winner.  She was good.  She knew what she was doing. And I liked having her on the team.  I knew we could count on her.

EN:  The computer that she used.  Was it the "George" or the "David?"

GP:  The "George" was one of the first, maybe the very first, concealed Blackjack computer around.  Hers was far more sophisticated than the "George."  Maybe it was the "David." I really don't remember if it had a name.  I do know that it was far superior to anything Kenny had used up to that point.

EN:  Ken had been experimenting with concealed computers, hadn't he?

GP: Yes.  In prior years, Kenny had a computer team.  I had spoken with the computer expert a few times.  I know who he is.

EN:  Back to the team.  Gene, when did the team start and when did it disband?

GP:  It started in June and I left in August.  I was on the team for two months, staying at the Jockey Club.  I stuck it out 'til the very end.

EN:  Members just gradually pulled out?

GP:  Right.  They just couldn't handle it.  Ken wasn't the easiest guy ...  he had his problems.  But the guy was a genius.  He really was sharp.  He just had his problems ... his vices.  He let his vices overtake him.  But he was a whiz.  I thought that if he could straighten out, we could make some real money.  It was funny.  I  would have these talks with Ken and he would say, "Gene, you have the wisdom of a seventy-year-old." I knew what was troubling him and we would discuss it.  His father had died and left unresolved issues behind. It bothered him.  We had one member of the team who was destructive.  He would supply Kenny with his vices  because of his own avarice.  That guy really hurt the team.  He was stealing from the team. 

EN:  Did the team use lie detectors?

GP:  We never did.  We were going to, but never did.

EN:  This was your first encounter with Ken Uston.  Was he everything you expected?

GP:  No.  Nothing like I expected.  It was a letdown.  I could see that the guy was a master at marketing and he knew how to market himself.  He was a brilliant individual.  He really was.  In many ways, I really admired him for what he could do.  Half in the bag, he could still crank out numbers unbelievably.  I liked Ken.  That's why I stuck with him so long.  I liked him.  He had his problems, but I thought maybe we could make it.  We had a bad session at Bourbon Street one time and that was the beginning of the end.

EN:  What happened?

GP:  The team was still together.  In this session, he had a bit too much to drink, too much partying, too much  .....   And he was playing a table at Bourbon Street with  maximum bets of $200.  He was playing all seven spots.  It was around 6:00 AM.  I heard a knock at my door.  It was Ken's girlfriend.  She told me to get down to call plays for Ken.  He was in no shape to play and was certainly going to lose. So I ran down as fast as I could and started calling plays for him.  I was back-counting while he sat at the table ... and we started to win a little bit.  Two security guards rushed me and threw me out.  They knew they had a drunk and were poised to take him for every nickel.  He lost over $5,000 in that session.  Excuse me.  It was about $7,000. This was the last straw.  You can't play drunk.

EN: Where was the bank at that point?

GP: We were down.  I forget how much.  But we were down.

EN:  What was the overall result of the team?  Where did things stand when you broke up?

GP:  Well, I lost only a couple thousand of my own money with the team.  Ken put in more money to keep it going.  He went to San Francisco for a week - to the bank.  He wanted to overcome the problems - keep things going.  He wanted me on his team.  I know I told him I'd stick with him to the end ... but that was it, that was the last straw. You just can't play drunk.  It's a total lack of discipline.

EN:  I guess we all learn that at some point.

GP:  That's what did it.  I was playing my heart out every day ... twelve hours a day.  I remember Ken called me on the phone.  He had a suite downtown at the Sundance.  He said, "Hey Gene, we won twelve thousand this week!"  I responded by saying, "No Ken, I won twelve thousand this week. You didn't win anything."  I said, "Let's get on the ball ... quit playing games ... let's make some real money."  If  we could have kept the garbage out, I know we could have taken the town for a hundred thousand ... easy ... EASY!  The BP's were getting the bets down.  We were getting $500 bets down.  Even $1,000 bets.  Two hands of $500 ... no problem at all.  No heat at all.  Finally, I got pulled up at the Imperial Palace ... because I beat them for so much money that week. They finally snapped and "back-roomed" me.

EN:  Really.  What was the experience like?

GP:  Well it was nerve wracking, hair raising, to say the least. They took me in a back room.  They took my picture, made me sign the "Trespass Act" stating that I'd never set foot in there again, called the police, claimed that I was mucking cards.  They said they were going to call the police.  I said "Go ahead, I want them here."  They looked at me kind of strange.  They said "Let us see your identification."  I showed it to them.  I had a temporary paper New Jersey license.  On the bottom of my license was Ken Uston's name.  It read, "In care of Ken Uston, Jockey Club, Las Vegas, NV." I showed this to the police.  I said, "See this?  It says Ken Uston.  This is who I'm with.  Do you want a lawsuit?  Do you want to beat me up?  What do you want to do?"  They had two big security guards.  After all this was done, the cops said,"OK, let him go."   The guards led me out the back way ... and boy, was I scared.  I thought they were going to kick my ... ! 

EN:  What did they do with your money at the table?

GP:  They let me keep it.

EN:  So that was Ken Uston's last team.

GP:  That's right. That was it. A couple of years later, he died ... in Paris. 

EN:   Did you stay in touch with Ken after the team broke up?

GP:  I called on one occasion about three weeks later ... he was still there at the Jockey Club.  He didn't sound in very good shape.

EN:  You told me earlier that you didn't lose your entire stake on this team.  What happened in the end?  Did you simply split the remainder?

GP:  Right.

EN:  How did you handle expenses?  Did they come out of your winnings? 

GP:  Yes.  At times we were ahead.  Ken handled that.  He was taking care of the condos.  We rented two condos at the Jockey Club.  We did take expenses out of the winnings.

EN:  After that, did you return to New Jersey?

GP:  Well sure ... I came back ... a little bit wiser ... to say the least.

EN:  (chuckling) I see.  Did you resume individual play?

GP:  Yeah.  As a matter of fact, just a couple of days later, I went down to Resorts with a little mini-team and won about fifteen hundred.

EN:  Must have felt good.

GP:  Yeah.  It felt great.

EN:  You've known Jerry for some time.  How did you meet?  What were the circumstances?

GP:  When I first started playing Blackjack, I wanted to get as many opinions as possible.  I saw his book.  I got his number and called.  I asked him about team play.  This was before I hooked up with Ken.  At the time, Jerry said he was moving away from card counting ... that he was involved now in something called TARGET 21.  He told me it was a winning Blackjack  method that could be mastered by average players much easier than card counting.  This was when Jerry first introduced TARGET 21.  I was one of the first to buy the program ... I was about 21 at the time.  It was around $295.

EN:  It's still the same price.  Hasn't changed after all these years.  I believe you've stayed in touch with Jerry over the years.  Is that true?

GP:  Oh sure!  We've spoken frequently. I've called to ask questions and sometimes just to see what's new.  I called recently to let him know I was back playing in Atlantic City.  Jerry's a good guy.  He's always been an honest guy.  When you meet Jerry, you can tell he's an honest guy.  Some of these other characters that are in the game ... they're ... well, in my opinion, they're just a bunch of scam artists.  I know of one guy who tells the story of going into a casino with his 50-man team and winning a million in one weekend.  This is outrageous.  Just not true. How can anyone make such a claim?   Jerry doesn't make these ridiculous claims. He simply states that with his TARGET 21, he gives the player an advantage ... which he does.  And I agree with him.  I think that for anyone looking to make some money in the casino, this is the about the best way to go.  It really is.

EN:  Gene, Blackjack conditions are quite a bit different today as compared to ten or twelve years ago.  How have you seen things change during this period?

GP:  Well, in Atlantic City, ten years ago things were much better.  They've gotten progressively worse.  Some rule changes have also been made.  Overall, conditions in Atlantic City right now are pretty poor.

EN:  What do you think contributes to these bad conditions?  Shuffles?  Full tables? .... ?

GP:  Yes.  The shuffles are a big part of it.  Different casinos have different shuffles.  I've been told by one of my insider friends that the casinos are using computer experts working with different shuffling techniques to maximize their profits.  And it's obvious.  Take a look around for evidence of players winning ... there is none (laughing).  These casinos just continue to increase their profits.

EN:  But Gene, even with such tough conditions, you're able to beat them.

GP:  On occasion ... yes, I can beat them.  But it's very,very difficult to beat these people.  You must use everything to your advantage.  You've got your card-counting.  You've got TARGET 21.  Together or alone, you've got to use these techniques when and where they are most appropriate.  You've got to assess the situation, and when an opportunity presents itself, you've got to exploit it with the best means possible. 

EN:  Do you think in today's game you can beat Blackjack with card counting techniques alone?

GP:  That's a tough one.  I would say probably not.  Sure, there are some Cinderella stories about big wins.  There was a guy who reported winning a hundred thousand playing the Red Seven System.  Why not Black Ace?  Why not King of Clubs or whatever?  What's the point?  These stories insinuate that anyone can go in and win a hundred  thousand overnight using one of these card-counting techniques.  No, I don't think you can win consistently in the eight-deck Atlantic City games using card-counting techniques alone. You've got to use other options.

EN:  Card-counting purists like Arnold Snyder and Stanford Wong still teach card counting in its traditional form ... the way it was taught years ago.  In their publications, they vehemently deny the credibility of all other methods ... as being bogus.  What do you think of their positions? 

GP:  Well, you have to remember that these theoreticians ... most of them never play a hand of Blackjack ... at least as far as I've seen.  These characters think that because you have a "theoretical" advantage over the casinos that you can actually beat them.  It's not true.  I equate "theoretical Blackjack" to "theoretical Marxism."  Looks good on paper, but it doesn't work!  These guys try to talk about how Jerry's systems are bogus.  They're not bogus!  I see TARGET 21 tables in the casinos.  And I exploit them myself.  I use it.  Even Ken talked about how inadequate shuffling creates clumping and how card counting is a failure in those situations.  Ken agreed with Jerry.  In order to win, you need physical production of tens ... on the table ... not a "theoretical" advantage.  You must get a winning hand.  And if you're not receiving winning hands, you're going to lose.  You're going to risk your entire bankroll on a theoretical advantage ... which is just never going to produce.

EN:  What strategies work best to exploit today's games?

GP:  Well, it depends.  You need to use both.  I employ TARGET 21 techniques with card counting.  If I don't have a dealer-breaking table, I am not going to bet up into a theoretical advantage.  I'm not going to put up $500 into a theoretical edge in a game where I'm physically  losing. That's it.  Other card counters tell me I'm crazy.  I'll be flat betting $25 in favorable counts.  I'm just not going to fall into that trap.  I've lost too many times doing it.  Now, there are different situations.  In the multiple-deck shoe games, you must employ these TARGET 21 techniques to win.  In the single-deck games, well that's different ... because you are going to get those statistical tens.  But we're not playing in single-deck games here in Atlantic City.  We're playing in six- and eight-deck games where anything can happen. 

EN:  You know, Gene, Jerry calls you the Lone Wolf.  Because you're in here playing on your own ... a Lone Wolf professional.  What are your thoughts concerning team play versus individual play in today's game?

GP:  Actually, I'd rather play with a team.  If you have good players and honest players, you can make a lot of money.  But those are big ifs.  So I play alone.

EN:  What are the big advantages to team play?  Getting in more hours?  Sharing a bank? ... ?

GP:  Sharing a bank is one.  Covering more tables ...  and seeing more opportunities.  I do this on a limited basis now.  Other card counters who know me will sometimes signal me into a good game.  And I will sometimes do the same for them.  I've won a few hundred in the past couple of weeks just with friends calling me into games.  I was just standing around (laughing) being a dummy.  They called me in and we shared some good shoes.  I'm always grateful.

EN:  How many other pros do you see operating here in Atlantic City?

GP: I personally know two other full-timers and three or four part-timers.  I see them regularly.

EN:  How about heat?  Do you get much?  How do you handle it?

GP:  Well, I've gotten a little bit at Resorts lately.  I'm blown out on a couple of shifts.  The graveyard shift ... I'm out of there.  I've exploited that a little too much.  Other than that, I don't get much.

EN:  When you do get heat, what do they do?

GP:  Basically, they point fingers at me.  They point me out to the pit personnel.  They make gestures and whisper that you're a professional player.  They'll try to stop your complementaries.

EN:  Making you feel uncomfortable ...

GP:  Right.  They'll follow you around.  The best thing that I've found is don't be intimidated by these people.  This is what they like!   They like to feel like they're the second coming of Sherlock Holmes.  They've found a professional  within their midst ... someone with brains ... someone who's not just an average gambler.  Do not be intimidated.  Never be intimidated.  If you show that you're intimidated, they'll never let up on you.  They'll continually hound you.  I know ... by experience. 

EN:  Gene, have you ever tried physical disguises in the casino?  Hiding your identity? 

GP:  Yeah, a couple of times.  But no, I've never really used them.  I've thought about them.  But, no.  I'll use the Big Player method to get my bets down.  The casinos don't catch on to this very quickly.  I'll use a BP to jump in on a back count.  Lots of counters claim they need disguises. I think they're just caught up on themselves.

EN:  Ever been barred here in Atlantic City?

GP:  No.  You can't be barred in Atlantic City.  I was thrown out of Resorts for twenty-four hours once. ...  Just that one time at the Imperial Palace in Vegas.  That's the only time.

EN:  I know you play the comp game pretty well.  Comments?

GP:  Sure.  The thing to do is to get in good with the Host.  If the Host sees that you're a frequent player, you'll be well taken care of.  The Host can override any of the pit personnel.  Pit personnel tend to be stingy.  They seem to like to hold comps for their friends and favorites, regardless of their action.

EN:  As we sit here talking, I understand you're in the middle of accomplishing a specific goal ... sort of like a team objective ... but on your own.  Will you share your general goal with us, along with the strategies you've chosen to achieve it?

GP:  My strategies include using everything I can use ... card counting combined with TARGET 21 ... to reach my objective.  Then get completely out of the game. 

EN:  So this is going to do it for you?

GP:  Well, yes ... for a while anyway.  Eventually, you do get burned out.  Eventually, you get to the point where you don't want to play the game anymore.  And you go through periods of losing ... especially with pure card counting.  There are lots of factors outside of the game itself.  There are the emotions and feelings.  Nobody can play perfectly all of the time.  Some full-time players never learn to master the emotions and self-destruct.  This is why I say TARGET 21 is so good for the majority of players.  They can come in on weekends and win a few bucks for themselves.  It teaches discipline ... money management ... common sense ... and should be used by most players.  And, of course, if  a player wants to use it for professional play, then it can be taken to a higher level.  I strongly believe TARGET 21 is terrific for most players ... I really do.

EN:  Your objective ... when did you start working on this particular goal?

GP:  I started on my birthday.  I was in a bookstore looking for the book, "The Wealth of Nations," an economics book written in the nineteenth century.  I happened to walk by the gaming section and saw Uston's book, " Ken Uston on Blackjack - The Five Million Dollar Man Tells All."  I knew that Ken had written about me in the book.  So I leafed through it.  I didn't like what I read because a lot of it was misinformation.  For some reason, this incident sort of called me to get back into play.

EN:  Fate?

GP:  I don't know.  Fate?  Maybe Ken's ghost?  Whatever it was, I'm convinced it was a sign.  I started to practice .. get back into playing shape.  I knew I had to get back into the casino ... to get winning again ... to make another go at it.

EN:  You had an adequate bank?

GP:  Oh yeah ... you need a sizable bank.  I was all set.

EN:  How long have you been at it now?

GP:  About seven months now.  I've been living down here five to seven days at a stretch ... all on the casinos mind you.  Complimentary rooms, complimentary gourmet meals, expensive wine - King Louis XIII Cognac from the Trop at $75 a shot!

EN:  (Laughing)  How has your weight been doing?

GP:  Fine!  Actually, pretty good.  I spend a lot of time walking.  There aren't very many solid winning opportunities, so I've got to keep moving around to find them.  Really, things are good. If you like life on the road.   I get to meet a lot of interesting people, live like a king for free herein Atlantic City and make a few bucks beating the casinos at their own game.

EN:  You've been at it now for seven months.  How close are you to achieving your goal?  Percentage-wise, how far along are you?

GP:  Percentage-wise, not too good.  It's been tough.  I've had a few setbacks.  Personal situations out of my control.  But I am making progress in a positive direction.

EN:  Do you have a projected time in mind to finish?

GP:  (Laughing) Well, either I'll make it or I'll go broke!  Either one.

EN:  But for seven months you've been making your living with Blackjack?

GP:  Oh yeah.  I've covered all of my personal living expenses, travel expenses, those unexpected setback expenses AND I've managed to chip away at my "nest egg" objective ... although that's the part that's been slow.  I'm really pretty good though.  It's not easy.  But I'm pretty good.   I'm hanging in. Believe me, it's not easy here in Atlantic City.  If there were better games here, I'd be further ahead. 

EN:  Going back to Ken Uston's days, what was the longest team play you remember?

GP:  Just the ones written about.  They ran for several months.

EN:  Gene, many of our Network members have aspirations of becoming full-time professionals just like yourself.  What parting words of wisdom do you have for us?

GP:  If they really want to become full-time professionals at this game, they must be determined.  Determination is key.  Ninety percent of the game is mental.  You have to have a good mental attitude going into these places.  You have to remember, in these casinos there are no windows, there are no clocks ... they're very depressing.  And when you go into a losing streak, you become more depressed.  So you have to know when to leave, when to take your break, when to get a little sunshine, when to revitalize yourself and when to go back in again.  But determination is the key to success in any of these games.  If you don't have a set goal before you start, then don't even bother.

EN:  One last thing before we finish up.  Recently there have been a number of professional players who have taken their battles to court.  Tony Campione was awarded a huge amount of money from the Trop.  Tommy Hyland is in the process of suing every casino in North America.  They claim to be trying to force the casinos to let them play without the threat of being barred ... and to give them a fair game without preferential shuffling.  Of course, this will all take years to play out.  What are your thoughts regarding these actions?  Do you think this will ultimately help us?  Hinder us?  What do you think?

GP:  If anything, it will probably hurt things.  I believe Tommy Hyland is simply trying to take a fast track to making a name for himself ... fame and fortune through lots of publicity.  I don't think he's sincere about creating a fair game for the public.  He's just an opportunist.  You can go back to 1980 when Ken Uston took his case to court to allow card counters to play in Atlantic City.  He won.  But I find that players get more heat in Atlantic City than in Vegas because of that ruling.  And I think that's why we have all shoe games and  poor conditions in Atlantic City ... because they can't bar players.  It's very hard for them to bar a player in Vegas.  I played there consistently for two months without being barred ... except that one time.  And that was with a variation spread ... with a Big Player ... between $25 and $500 and sometimes up to $1,000 ... two hands of $500.  Ultimately, the lawsuit made the game worse in Atlantic City.  Sure, they can't bar you.  But they can harass you, intimidate you, and the game has been very, very difficult ever since.  So I think these actions will make things worse.  I think they ought to leave things alone and try to play on their abilities instead of making a fast buck with legal action.  But if they do, more power to them.  But it's not going to help us.  That's for sure.

EN:  Gene, that's going to do it.  We've covered just about everything.  Do you have anything you'd like to add?

GP:  Yes.  I'd like to mention again that Jerry has been consistent.  He's still here after all these years.  He's not a fly-by-night type of guy like some of these guys.  He's not like these Snyders and Wongs who never play.  Well I guess Wong used to play, but not much anymore.  These guys have way too much to say.  They're just in it for the marketing bucks.  They don't offer very much of value.  These are the "purists," the "traditionalists."  Jerry is"real-world."

EN:  Well, that's it Gene.  On behalf of all our Network members reading this interview, I extend infinite thanks and wish you the best of luck in quickly reaching your goal.  We'll stay in touch.

Editor's Note:  For more on dice control, pick up a copy of Jerry Patterson's book – Casino Gambling: A Winner's Guide to Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Baccarat and Casino Poker.


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