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John Marchel

John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine. Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

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Card counting drills

15 Sep 2018

By John Marchel
One of the things a card counting blackjack player needs to be skilled at is keeping up with a fast dealer. Occasionally, a player will run across a dealer who thinks it's important to move the game along at a very rapid pace, regardless of how it affects the players at the table.

A skilled advantage player should like this type of play. The more hands played per hour, the higher the advantage player win-rate will be. To accomplish this goal, a player needs to practice some exercises that will allow routine play no matter how fast a dealer is. Here are some tips to speed up your hand.

This first one will help you to keep up with the count. Instead of “plus one,” “minus one” or “zero,” count all positive counts as “one, ” “two,” or “five.” You are using real numbers without the “plus.” When working on negative counts say “mi-one” or “mi-five.” In this case you are using “mi” as a single-syllable word instead two syllables of “mi-nus.” Try using “Z” when the count is “zero.” These techniques will help to speed up your count, and it will help against a fast dealer.

The next technique should help with any counting speed. It is easy to count 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. or mi-5, mi-4, mi-3, mi- 2, mi-1 or Z. Now count by 2s; 2, 4, 6, 8, etc., and mi-10, mi-8, mi-6, mi-4, mi-2, Z. Next count by odd numbers; 1, 3, 5, 7 . . . backwards; 9, 7, 5, 3, 1. That doesn’t seem too hard. Try starting at 21, mi-21, mi-19, mi-17, mi-15, all the way to Z, then 1, 3, 5 . . . 17, 19, 21.

Do these drills. They all can be done in your head, without pen or pencil: Z to 21 with odd numbers and even numbers, then do some drills 21 to Z backwards. You might be sitting in the waiting room for a doctor’s visit, do some of these drills while you wait. You might be in a long line at the bank or grocery store, do some drills. You are out walking your dog in the morning, do some drills.

All these exercises will aid you when playing against fast dealers. No matter how fast a dealer might be, you will be able to keep up with very little effort on your part.


• Professional blackjack card counting teams required, at a minimum, 25 seconds to count down correctly a single deck of cards.

• The first step to blackjack card counting is to make sure you can keep the running count quickly. To do this you need to have memorized the value of each card so that it becomes second nature.

• Dealers sometimes change during a blackjack game and each dealer will have a different dealing speed. You should therefore practice with different speeds, since constantly practicing at one speed will make it harder when the speed changes.

• Counting down different amount of decks can be hard to do, but must be learned. Here are some standards to shoot for:

1 deck – 30 seconds
2 decks – 60 seconds
4 decks – 1 minute 45 seconds
6 decks – 2 minutes 45 seconds
8 decks – 3 minutes 45 seconds

• To build endurance, professionals will count down two decks shuffled together (they remove 2 or 3 cards to check accuracy at the end of the two decks). Then do 4 decks, then go to 6 then 8 decks. They vary the amount of decks when practicing.

• The reason why the pros do so many decks, whether they are training for a single-deck or multi-deck game, is to not only get used to retaining the count for a long period of time, but also to get used to wide swings in the count.

• A CSM (continuous shuffle machine) is constantly shuffling the cards between each hand. Previously played cards are usually accumulated only during the course of a hand, then immediately put back into the machine and shuffled back into the mix. A CSM makes counting useless.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at

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