Reward&Risk > Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.) >
F.A.Q. 2012
Last revised: January 10, 2013

who needs 12/31/12

We prefer this question: "Who would want to read"

To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, "If you face--or might face--one of life's many gambles, want help figuring out how to manage it, and has published a readable, helpful analysis of that gamble, then you just might want to read"

Is "Who 'need's x?" ever the right question? Just sayin'.

oh! You're another gambling website! can you help me win at blackjack?

"... another gambling website!"

We're not just "... another gambling website!" We're a unique "... gambling website!"

Everyone's life is full of gambles. These gambles have RewardandRisk. At we analyze the RewardandRisk of Life's gambles. In that sense, is "another gambling website". However, that conclusion misses the point.

Look in our masthead, above, at the graph. We aim to put RewardandRisk in the spotlight and examine it. However, usually, we reserve detailed, quantitative analysis for our affiliated website,

We don't analyze for the sake of analyzing. Our analysis is the foundation of our opinions about managing RewardandRisk.

How to "win at blackjack"

Can we help you "win at blackjack"? Of course! It's too easy. To make it more interesting, we'll explain by posing the following riddle:

The riddle

Almost every night, at almost every casino, the customers (in aggregate, anyway) at the blackjack tables, lose money. Otherwise, the casinos would go out of business. Yet, at these same tables, night after night, certain professional blackjack players play hand after hand and consistently"win at blackjack". These pros don't need to count cars, yet they have an edge in most hands. These winners rake in chips almost every night, and casinos know this, but casinos don't ban them from playing and even want them to continue playing. This sort of professional blackjack winner has a name. What is that name? Answer

No fair. You know That's not what I meant. I want to play blackjack against the house and win consistently, every night. How can I do that? 

We're not mind readers. We could provide more useful answers, if you would say what you mean.

"Case file: Blackjack cheaters" (CNBC, acc. 12/31/12)

Winning consistently at blackjack, while playing against the house is more difficult than winning consistently, while playing for the house, but it's doable--and it has been done. For example, the Tran family won consistently at the blackjack tables, but did best at mini-baccarat. They won "hand, after hand" and "many times" took "$30,000 to $90,000 a day" from a casino. This ambitious family included several immigrants from Vietnam, and they couldn't have achieved the success they achieved (making millions of dollars), without help from natural born American citizens. That sort of cooperation is sort of heart-warming, in the sense that it may have given heartburn to the managers and owners of casinos. Follow the nearby link to see the teaser for a TV show that explains in detail how the Tran family won consistently at the Blackjack and mini-baccarat tables. On the same page with the teaser, you'll find details on the Tran family's winning strategy.

You are starting to annoy me. Quit playing games. I want to play against the house, violate no law, outsmart the house and its minions, and win consistently at the blackjack tables. How can I do that?

This has been fun, and your questions have been improving, but we have a few other things to do. So, this is our last answer. First, some caveats.


"More Than 400 New Laws Take Effect Tuesday" (CNBC, 12/31/12)

"New year to bring 876 new laws to California" (VCStar, 12/30/12)

First, concerning your wish to "violate no law", we can't help you. Retain a lawyer for that sort of information. We aren't licensed to practice law, don't practice law, and the laws and legal system make up a vast landscape that is beyond our abilities.

"State gambling laws" (, )

You might choose to discuss your legal issues with an appropriate lawyer. We don't know who that might be, but we would start by looking for a lawyer who specialized in the right kind of law (whatever that might be) in the right jurisdiction (wherever that might be). Don't forget state laws. (See nearby hyperlink.)


Second, even if you violated no criminal law--such as a law that made counting cards a criminal offense--you might still violate a regulation, such as a gaming commission regulation against counting cards. That violation could land you in front of a regulatory law judge. You may see some federal regulations by following the nearby hyperlink. Don't forget about state and local regulations.

Third, even if you violated no criminal law and violated no regulation, you could violate the terms of a contract, in which you agreed not to count cards, etc.

"Guido's Livelihood - Risky Business (3/4) Movie CLIP (1983) HD" (Youtube, acc. 1/1/13)

Fourth, even if you violated none of the above, you clearly intend to violate "the law of the jungle".  As Guido said to Joel in Risky Business (1983), "In a sluggish economy, never, ever f___ with another man's livelihood." (Follow nearby hyperlink to an excerpt from Risky Business (1983). Joe Pantoliano utters the words at (1:50) in the clip.) That is, however, exactly what you hope to do.

Our answer

Keeping in mind all the legal considerations, the most optimistic answer we can give is, "Maybe." Once upon a time, by some accounts, it was possible to "beat the dealer", legally and consistently. Maybe, it still is.

Many people did this by counting cards in the tradition of Ed Thorp, who wrote Beat the Dealer, which spawned a card-counting industry. By keeping track of cards played at a blackjack table, a player could know when the odds were in his favor. At such times, he would be heavily. If he could play enough hands on a casino , the probability of walking away from the table a winner could be sufficiently close to one--if one managed risk properly.

"MIT Blackjack Team" (Wikip., acc. 1/1/13)

"21 - Movie Trailer - Kevin Spacey" (video) (Youtube, 5/7/8)

"MIT blackjack teams" did this for many years. (See nearby hyperlink.) A popular movie 21 (2008) (See hyperlink to trailer, nearby.) "dramatized" (fictionalized?) the team's activities.

Now, all you have to do is the following:

  1. Learn everything the professional card counters knew, better than they knew it.
  2. Know how to do everything they do, better than they did it.
  3. Learn everything the casinos did to stop card-counting teams, and learn more effective ways to defeat these countermeasures.
  4. Find a casino that can't or won't prosecute card counters for what would amount to the crime of counting cards, that won't pursue civil remedies (e.g., suing to recover losses in a fraud) against successful card counters, and doesn't take other effective extra-legal counter- measures (whether legal or illegal) against card counting and/or card counters.
  5. Do your due diligence to make sure that what you plan to do is not illegal, against regulations, or in violation of some agreement to which you are a party, and that the house won't stop you by "whatever means necessary" (e.g., kill you) to stop you from counting cards.
  6. Also, do everything else necessary that we didn't think to mention.

 Good luck. 

The riddle (solution)

The name for this sort of professional blackjack player--this winner--is dealer. The casinos can't make money, unless their dealers are winners. Also, even if a table has a bad night, the dealer "makes money"--earns wages--as long as the dealer is honest. Otherwise, he may go to jail.

So, if you want to "win at blackjack", almost every night, get a job as a dealer at a casino's blackjack table. Happy, now?