"In the afterward of this book is the following quote: "You want to make God Laugh?
show Him your plans". In my mind, if you want to make God laugh, show her Guerrilla Blackjack..."
"In every area of expertise, there is one or more original works and then those which follow. A subsequent work can be either a blatant rip-off, or can be a work which stands on the shoulders of the original. In my mind Guerrilla Blackjack clearly fits the first category."
In my mind, from the beginning, this book is all wrong. This work is CLEARY an abridged attempt to rehash card-clump methods which have gone before it. This might not be so bad were the author to acknowledge the influence of that material, as I have done over the years. Instead, in reading this work, the impression is given that card-clumping is something new, just recently discovered by Frank Scobolete. If that WERE the case, we could forgive the inadequate coverage of the subject, passing it off to the newness of research, hopefull that in time, more would be discovered.
While this book has some merits, the quality of the Guerrilla Blackjack material leads me to wonder if it was in fact writen by the dictator of the government the guerrellas are attempting to overthrow. Guerrilla Blackjack has every opportunity to be a wonderful book, failing miserably on almost all accounts.
Mr. Scobolete explains to us that he came to card-clump play by evaluation of the other approaches that went before. While he doesn't exactly TRASH card-counting, he poo poos shuffle tracking (which is normally based on card-counting). My guess is that shuffle-tracking was beyond his grasp, so instead, he trashes it, rather than take the time to truly understand it. Without naming the system he takes a shot at Patterson's Target 21, and therefore the concept of winning player-zones. At once, the reason for his past losses become rather clear to me.
In the book, Frank makes reference ONLY to the 8-deck games. It leads me to wonder whether or not he has ever played in any place other than Casino de Montreal; altho he DOES mention Atlantic City games, somewhat.
I personally have difficulty with people who profess knowledge of something they know little about. No more is this in evidence than in chapter 4 of the manual. Frank offers a luke-warm description of the origins of clumping in the shoe game. Unfortunately, his information is riddled with mis-conceptions.
For example, he claims that all decks of cards (whether for casino play or home play) are box-ordered as: A-K, A-K, K-A, K-A. This simply is NOT TRUE. The cards can be ordered from the manufacturer in ANY ORDER the casino choses. And in fact, cards bought in the store are usually ordered: A-K, A-K, A-K, A-K.
While you may accuse me of splitting hairs on this one, it is representative of his having done POOR research in the matter of cards, shuffles and washes. He also assumes that cards come in the box ordered to create clumps, that they could just as easily come randomly mixed. Anyone who believes that simply does not appreciate the need for security in the casino environment.
When the dealer opens a new box of cards, what does s/he do? S/he spreads the cards out to determine if any are defective or marked in anyway. S/he ALSO determine that all the cards are there; that none are duplicates. You can't do this very quickly and accurately when the cards are randomly ordered in the box. To be sure they are present would require some procedure which would result in the cards ending up back in box-card order. Oooops. As we know, in theory, the card-wash is supposed to "randomize" the cards after they have been checked. That washes actually CLUMP the cards instead of randomize them is a separate issue.
Chapter 5 begins a discussion of 1st-base play. While it is not badly written, it is riddled with errors. Frank says, "you can't get a solid 20 without a Ten; ignoring that A-9 is ALSO a solid twenty. Then in referring to the first-base player he states, "The player sitting at this seat gets the first card out of the shoe in any game no matter how many players are sitting at the table". This is resoundly untrue. The first card out of the shoe is ALWAYS BURNED.
Later in this chapter, in describing "card-streaks", Frank labels card values 7 thru 9 as NEUTRAL - Huh? Last I checked, the 9 was high. As we know, one of the major flaws with most card-counting systems is their mis-labeling the 9 as NOT being a high-card.
Next, Frank tells us: "Well, I refuse to talk in terms of "units" because that's a ploy other Blackjack authors use and it plays right into the hands of the casinos". It does? WOW! When I last checked, we use the term "units", because it communicates well. How it can play into the hands of the casino Frank never explains. But then, we turn the page to find a table describing how to bet. The only thing this table is missing is a header over each column of the table proclaiming: "1-unit, 2-units, 3-units, 4-units".
The playing chart on Chapter 5 Page 4 is riddled with errors. Here he is attempting to explain how to read the dealer's holecard and yet completely ignores the effect of soft-hands on the dealer. He should've read his NBJ or PBJ manuals more carefully. His mis-duplication of their material is VERY misleading.
The chart on Chaper 5, Page 5 is close but still contains a fundamental error. One or two mistakes in our play and we are HOSED, eh? Then, in chapters 6 and 7 it gets worse. In chapter 6, Scobolete recommends leaving the table if "streaks of cards don't occur". I assume by "streaks" he means card-clumps. This advice comes under the chapter heading of "How To Win At Any Seat". One wonders why you would have chosen such an unclumped game in the first place.
In chapter 7, Frank correctly acknowledges that splits and double downs are risky plays, but he nearly abolishes them completely by saying: "...but personally, I NEVER Split ANY pair if I am playing in the first seat, not 7's, not Aces, not 8's. If I do this according to the [BS] chart, I am no better than the legions of losing players that pay for the lights in the casino".
While it is true that Basic Strategy is a losing proposition in these games, that does not mean that you abandon splitting altogether. It means that you need more spophisticated card-reading abilities (than is taught in this manual) to make the split decision. Although split opportunities are INDEED reduced, Splitting Aces and 8's can STILL be an excellent play, IF matched to the current-clumping in the game.
Scobolete's advice on doubling down is almost non-existent. He makes a one sentence mumble something to the effect that you should double a 10 or an 11 against a weak dealer hand (except that, as you will recall, I mentioned that his material on determining the dealer's hand strength (the playing chart) is flawed.
Frank gives us good advice when he says: "In real casino play, the cards are UNrandom, thus your playing decisions must often depart from what the [Basic Strategy] chart says, what other players are doing, and what you have probably done in the past." Unfortunately, he never explains to the reader how to accurately/properly bring this about. What a shame... he brings us soooo close to the mountain-top; then abandons us mid-air.
This book is not completely a waste. In Chapter 9 (entitled "Your Lieutenants: Bankroll and Discipline") Frank offers us some EXCELLENT advice. This chapter upgrades my rating of the book to a grade of "C". If frank spent as much time and accuracy on other chapters as he did on this one; he might well end up with a best-seller.
In chapter 10 ("7 Things The Casinos Want You To Believe"), Frank's attempt to point out certain "myths" doesn't quite make it. This chapter was obviously written by someone who doesn't quite understand the subject. Scobolete feels that you should NOT think in terms of units when you play but in terms of "this $50 bet is represents 2.5 hours of work at my job", etc. This is ridiculous. When I play, I want ALL unnecessary outside emotions (i.e. baggage) checked at the casino door. I continue to think in units because it is the BEST way (that I know of) to manage my money. Units are easy to keep track of. Thinking about how that bet was a waste of nearly 3 client-hours can make me feel sick and nauseous; the very kinds of things I do NOT need to have happen while I am attempting to focus on my play.
I'm almost through folks.
Later in chapter 10, while Frank wants us to believe that he understands the subject of clumping, he then belies this by explaining that many of the reasons why crowded tables increase the casino's Hold are not yet fully understood. He needs to re-read the material that he drew this book from. It's all there. Crowded tables are no mystery to strong Clump-Tracking players.
A very dangerous concept in chapter 10 (on myths of the game) appears on page 5. Franks informs us: "The moment you win a bet, that money is yours. It no longer belongs to the casino." Close, but no cigar. The money isn't yours until you get OUT of the casino; maybe even out of the city, safely home. There have been many times, when after cashing in I spy a HOT table on the way out the door. Luckily, MOST of those tables WERE Hot, but not ALL of them were. I've given back a few units here and there "on my way out the door".
Lastly, his description of capitalizing on the over/under bet is flawed. He feels that if you ALREADY have a high-bet out that you should then not make an over/under bet. This is simply not true. Over/Under always has been, and should continue to be, a SEPARATE bet. If it is appropriate to make the bet (based on the card-flow), then you make the bet - REGARDLESS of your original wager. Tying the two bets together may seem to have an advantage. However, in my mind it only muddies the water.
Chapter 12 ("7 Pieces of Winning Advice) contains some juicy morsels of insight: (1) Know Thyself; (2) Obey the rule of THE LONG RIDE HOME; (3) Beware the first table and the last table; (4) Win by not losing; (5) Learn to play, don't play to learn; (6)Remember the Myth of the Black chip Bettor; (7) If you don't know, ASK!
The material in EACH of the above-mentioned sections is well thought out and well written. If the REST of the material in the book were of this calibre, he would TRULY have an amazing book. This chapter upgrades my rating of the book to a "C+".
In summary, it may seem as though I am being tough on Frank Scobolete. I am not. I am being critical of the material he has written. After all, it is the Quality of the MATERIAL the reader relies on, not on the author himself. The author will be gone in a few [dozen] years, but the material will endure, if no place else than the reader's mind.
We as writers should endeavour to ensure that the material we leave behind is as accurate as it can be. In my mind Guerrilla Blackjack has to a large degree failed in this mission. However, IF you have already read well-written material on the subject of Clump-tracking in general, this book can serve to augment that knowledge. In my opinion however, it should not be devoured as the main (or only) course.
It is my wish that Frank read this review and learn from what I have said. Then, PLEASE Frank, revise the manual, clean up the existing material and add some additional meat. You have something to contribute to this body of knowledge. You just need to prepare and produce it more carefully.
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