GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 25 - June 2013

Still, for any player who wants to become a winning casino player, blackjack remains the obvious starting point. Every successful advantage gambler I know started by learn- ing to win at blackjack. For that reason, I still enjoy providing the information and advice that players need to become winners. You started competing in blackjack tournaments in the mid-90s. How do tournaments differ from cash games? Which do you prefer playing in – tour- naments or cash games? Tournament blackjack is the most difficult gambling skill I know. No matter how much I learned and wrote about the game, there was always more to learn. It is truly stag- gering how complex the strategies can be- come when you take the simple game of blackjack and add the competition among players at the same table. I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, so tour- nament blackjack was a huge draw for me right away. The money was really good, too, although it was less reliable than the income from cash blackjack. No question for me, though: Hands down, tournament blackjack is far more fascinating than cash blackjack. If you’re an avid game player, it’s quite a rush. How did you get involved in televised blackjack? Were you on just as a player, or did you do more? I had been writing articles for some blackjack magazines for quite a while before the televised black- jack shows emerged. That, coupled with my tournament website, meant that I was well known in that niche. When Game ShowNetwork developed a series of shows called the World Series of Blackjack , I was fortunate to garner one of the 40 in- vitations to participate. In subsequent seasons, the player field was expanded somewhat, but it was still a combination of invitations and qualifying events. Unfortunately, blackjack just doesn’t work for television like poker. It is nearly impos- sible to convey in a TV show the strategies involved in skillful tournament play, and viewers aren’t interested in working that hard to watch a show anyway. In the end, both World Series of Blackjack and a ri- val show, Ultimate Blackjack Tour , just couldn’t draw the viewer numbers needed to survive. I am proud, though, to have been one of only three players who played in every sea- son of GSN’s World Series of Blackjack . Tell us about how your interest in blackjack eventually led to developing I had a vanitywebpage very early in the history of the Internet, and I wanted to learn about scripting languages. As a result, I created the first Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine using the Perl language, sometime around 1996. Because there were few reliable sites about blackjack strategy, the feature be- came popular, and it ranked well on the search engines of the day. (Google didn’t exist yet, of course!) Seeing an increase in visitor traffic, I decided to migrate the Engine to a new domain in January 1998 and thus was born When did you launch the other two sites ( and, and what did you hope to accomplish with them? BlackjackTournaments.comwas launched in 2003 to fill a void that appeared when a popular tournament magazine ceased Ken with Penn Jillette at the World Series of Blackjack. 45 GPWA Affiliate Interview Series