Vegas may have tons of skilled blackjack players, but world-renowned card counter, Anthony Curtis, is still in a league of his own. The legendary player, and best-selling author, stopped by TVT to talk blackjack and share his insider gambling tips.
Shapiro asked Curtis to bring us back to the moment it all started — when he first got that itch to play blackjack: “I was in 10th grade in Dearborn, Michigan. A friend of the family came over, and we played speed monopoly. He told me: ‘You’re a damn good game player,’ and handed me a book called “How to Win at Blackjack” by Charles Einstein. It just clicked for me right away. I ended up reading everything I could during that five year wait, before I turned 21.”
Those five long years of studying paid off for Curtis. He started college at Duke, and then transferred to UCLA, which brought him closer to Vegas. “As soon as I turned 21, I dropped out. I came straight to Vegas and hit the streets. I got my rear end handed to me right off the bat, regrouped and came back. You meet people, and you watch them and you know when they’re making the right plays. We know better than the casino does. You go out for beers and before you know it, you have a team.”
Curtis pointed out while this may sound like the plot to a sleek Hollywood movie, playing blackjack is more about skill and strategy, over sexiness: “You want to stay under the radar for very low amounts. Don’t get flashy, don’t be seen, take out small amounts, like 2-3k a night. Sometimes we’d lose and sometimes we’d have really big nights. Our main thing was longevity.”
Curtis then broke it down with a simple analysis on how card counting actually works – What happens is dependent on what happened before, which is not the case with a roulette wheel: “You want high cards and Aces — you wait the cards as they come out, and give them a number value. It’s like working a number line, you have to be able to go back and forth, with negative numbers, and not get fouled up. Then you’re able to tell when it’s time to make the bigger bets.”
Shapiro then interrupted Mr. Curtis momentarily to share breaking news that just hit, while on the air — world famous attorney, and friend of TVT, Michael Avenatti, was just convicted on all counts, on the Nike extortion case, facing up to 44 years in prison. “Avenatti is now a convicted felon. I’m in shock,” Shapiro stated.
Adding some irony to Curtis’ TVT appearance, Shapiro recalled that he had actually just played Blackjack with Avenatti about six weeks prior. Sharp chimed in that he “wasn’t exactly a great blackjack player.” “He didn’t have great money management,” Shapiro jokes.
After the shock of that breaking news wore off, the conversation switched back to Curtis’ tips for “getting an edge” over the casino. While classic movies like Casino depict brazen forms of cheating- like signaling to other players through a mechanical device on the thigh, Curtis stated his group drew the line at illegality: “None of us wanted to go to jail.”
But, Curtis’ group had no problems with finding creative loopholes: “We’d go find the dealers who were sloppy and flashing their cards. That’s rare now, in comparison to what it was like back then.”
Shapiro asked a question for all the casual gamblers out there – is there such a thing as “casual counting?” Curtis, who made millions throughout the years, shut that misconception down right away: “There’s nothing casual about it, you really need to be on the game if you’re going to get the money. Something easy to do is to count Aces against fives. You look for situations where there’s an abundance of Aces versus fives remaining in the deck.”
Shapiro asked for more specific mathematical strategies and Curtis made sure to deliver the goods: “You should always be hitting the twelves against twos and threes, and you should be doubling elevens on all cards except Aces.”
In addition to Blackjack, Curtis stated there are four other games you can play according to strategy and become a winner – poker, video poker, sports betting and race betting.
For video poker, Curtis recommends starting at lower levels and making sure to take advantage of the perks, like using a players card and bonuses. The best bet to make on a $100 bankroll would be 25 cents per hand, for $500, take it up to 50 cents.
And if you want to shoot for the big leagues, read a book by Bob Dancer called “Million Dollar Video Poker” (which was distributed by Curtis’ publishing company). As if that title weren’t enough to grab you, Curtis shared that the author provides a first-hand account of how he turned 7k into a million bucks in two years! Curtis feels the books published by his company are “the best gambling books in the world” and can immediately make you a better player.