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 BlackjackInfo.com. 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 BlackjackInfo.com. When did you launch the other two sites (BlackjackTournaments.com and SlotCharts.com), 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

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