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Blackjack Insider

23 October 2007

By John Grochowski

Dr. Henry Tamburin has been one of my friends in the little community of gambling writers practically since the first time I typed the phrases "basic strategy" or "random number generator." When I was learning to play, his early books were among the first I pored over.

Tamburin has been around long enough to see big changes in the casino industry, as well as big changes in the ways we deliver information about it. While neither Henry nor I are about to give up on print, he's been making a splash in the world of e-publishing with his Blackjack Insider newsletter, and now with Ken Smith's e-book, How to Win More Blackjack Tournaments: Tips, Tricks and Strategies to Supercharge Your Game ($14.95, www.bjinsider.com)

The October issue of Blackjack Insider struck me as so chock full of useful information not only about blackjack but also about poker and even touching on craps, video poker and slot machines that I invited Tamburin for one of his occasional visits to my WCKG-FM talk show.

One of the things we talked about was the immediacy of publication. There are about 10 articles in each edition of Blackjack Insider, and Tamburin said most are received only a week before the newsletter goes out via e-mail. As one well acquainted with deadlines for magazines and newsletters in print, I remarked that was something that could never be tolerated in a more traditional publication.

Then Tamburin let me know just how timely the newsletter could be.

"The article on the blackjack tournament cancellation came in two days before publication," he said. "TWO DAYS!"

That article couldn't have come a minute sooner. Tournament player Peter Nathan reacted as soon as a big blackjack tournament series was canceled at the Las Vegas Hilton and filed a detailed report on just what went wrong.

Blackjack Insider usually brings 10 useful articles for those who are serious about the games. In addition to Nathan's piece, the October issue brought Joe Pane's report on blackjack conditions in Las Vegas, Frank Scoblete and his wife Alene Paone on Atlantic City, a Tunica, Miss., report by Jerry "Stickman" that included not only blackjack conditions but where to find the best in craps, video poker and advantage-play slots, Bill Zender's insider's view on what casinos look for in spotting card counters, Bill Burton's monthly poker tips and much more.

Smith, whose e-book is a must for blackjack tournament players, contributed an article this time on a specific situation: Last hand of a tournament, two players left, the leader opens with a maximum bet. How should you size your bet? It's fun reading that brought a useful tournament tip.

Tamburin is offering a free three-month trial subscription to Blackjack Insider. Go to www.bjinsider.com/trial. A paid subscription for $19.95 brings a collection of bonuses more than worth the cost by themselves --- a three-month subscription to Casino Player magazine, a three-month online subscription to the Las Vegas Advisor, three months on Stanford Wong's bj21.com Green Chip Forum, Blackjack Mentor training software and more. Go to www.bjinsider.com/offer.

** ** **

Speaking of veteran gaming writers, John Gollehon has been at it for 28 years, and has just published his 28th book, Strike the Casino With Winning Strategies ($7.99, Gollehon books, 237 pages, softcover).

Gollehon says this is his final book, so I spoke with him to look back on three decades of writing about gambling.

"The book is designed for players who aren't experts, but want to be better players," said Gollehon, based in Grand Rapids, Mich. "It's for players who are not really experienced, but maybe they've played 10 or 15 times and wished they knew the tricks of the trade.

"The difference between the short term and the long term is very important, and that's the first chapter. It's important that players know that. They also need to take a long look at what game they play. Negative expectation games, well, even blackjack is a negative expectation game the way it's played today. The rules have made it extremely hard to beat."

One of the things gambling writers try to do is raise awareness in the betting public of the best bets. Take roulette, where most bets at a double-zero wheel have a 5.26 percent house edge, and those at single-zero wheel have a house edge of only 2.7 percent.

"I did an experiment about 20 years ago," Gollehon said. "I watched four roulette tables, two double-zero, and one single-zero, and there was the same amount of play at both tables. No one knew, or cared about the difference."

The biggest change in gaming in the last 28 years?

"The comeback of poker caught me by surprise, it really did," he said. "It could only have happened in poker. This could not have happened with blackjack, craps and roulette, that people are wanting to see it on ESPN. Viewers are interested in the personalities. Players have developed into celebrities. It's TV that's done it, all television. It could only happen in poker."

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago, with podcasts at www.wlsam.com/sectional.asp?id=38069. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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