Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Toothless Old Man Walked into a Las Vegas Club

Wearing an old wrinkled suit and a wrinkled sports shirt and carrying a small, old traveling bag, a toothless old man walked into a Las Vegas club a few years ago and started to play 21, betting $200 and $300 a hand.

He would play few minutes at a table win a few hundred dollars lose a couple hundred cash out come back play at another table, and do the same thing over again. Toothless stayed about nine days and never changed his suit. About every three days he would buy a sports shirt at the men's shop. He said he was retired and had homes in California and Florida. At the end of his stay we figured he had lost around $20,000.

Three weeks later here comes Toothless again. Of course this time they gave him a fancy suite. He had on the same old wrinkled suit and one of the sports shirts he had bought on the earlier visit. He started the same procedure: betting $200 and $300, cashing out every few minutes more than a hundred times a day this would go on.

Goldberg "work"

If the average casino gambler were to watch Goldberg "work" for a few hours he would be tempted to try his hand at counting; . Goldberg makes it look so easy. He smiles and kibitzes with the dealer and other player’s looks at his watch as if he was bored yawas and stretches, and sips a glass of beer. But that's only on the surface. Actually, Goldberg is concentrating every minute he is playing. Sometimes he'll sleep for sixteen hours after a mentally exhausting session.

Goldberg's greatest asset is control. If he goes badly at one table. He’ll get up and try another, or even another club. Goldberg has told me he, has gone bad many times and has been a couple of thousand dollars loser in a few days. But he has confidence and control of his money and the know-how to overcome his losses. Goldberg's betting method is the secret of his not being detected as a counter. He will make only two types of bets. His opening bet is $20, and that is his smallest bet. If he wins the hand he'll bet $40, and that is the largest bet he will ever make. He stays at the $40 bet until he loses a hand, then Starts at $20 again. Of course, he will double down and split cards if the hand calls for it. And if he starts winning, he will take the chips and put them in his pocket instead of letting them pile up on the table the way most players do to show everybody how much they have won.

Goldberg doesn't want to attract attention and will continue beating the clubs for years to come unless he becomes greedy like most other counters and gives himself away. It is a known fact in the gambling business that counters like to brag about the scores they have made in Nevada clubs and in foreign casinos. They become greedy and egotistical and start telling others how smart they are. Soon these counters are known and are run out of the clubs. Instead of limiting their bets to $40 and grinding out like Goldberg, they try for the big score and jump their bets drastically when the count shows the cards may fall in their favor. But any boss who knows anything about the game can spot this move and soon the counter realizes he's been nailed and leaves meanwhile. Goldberg could be playing a few tables away, smiling, yawning and sipping his beer-and grinding out his $1,000 a week.

Friday, November 14, 2008


One of the few counters who have remained undetected by the casinos is "Goldberg."

If you were to sit next to Goldberg at casino, you would think he was just an ordinary player. Short, skinny, balding, and middle-aged, Goldberg appears to casino bosses like a businessman in for a few days to playa little golf, sit in the sun, and gamble a few hundred dollars. He often wears a gold hat with the name of the club where he is playing. In fact, Goldberg is a Southern California businessman who bought the business, a wholesale liquor distributorship operated by his brother, with the winnings from counting against Nevada clubs.

I know Goldberg very well. I spotted his moves several years ago in a Las Vegas club where I was working. He doesn't play where I work but always stops in to say hello. For the past five years, Goldberg has been winning an average of $1,000 a week playing the count against a single deck. He also plays the count against the shoe, but he prefers the single deck. Goldberg bas even established credit in several clubs and uses the credit occasionally to make it look as if he is an ordinary player. His rounds include clubs from Reno to Las Vegas and occasionally abroad. He may play in one club and not return for a month or so. He knows exactly which clubs are soft and which are tough to beat. Goldberg has a routine he follows automatically. After playing the "circuit" (as he calls it) for a month or so, Goldberg returns to California for a few weeks' rest and relaxation with his family. He's said to me that his wife knows he is a counter, because in the early days she would go with him, but his two teen-age sons think he is a traveling liquor salesman.