Tips from the Silver Fox: Ralph Stricker

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The Silver Fox: Ralph StrickerBy Ralph Stricker.

EDITOR NOTE: Here is a collection of blackjack tips of the week (circa 1996) from blackjack expert Ralph Stricker, otherwise known as the Silver Fox.  He was a former blackjack instructor and a well known card counter in the Northeast USA.  Arnold Snyder once commented that he was a “Master in camouflage betting” and Don Schlesinger has commented that “Ralph Stricker (was) a gentleman, a world class player, and truly our ‘elder statesman’ of the game today”.  The Silver Fox passed away in 2012, at the age of 81.  He is sorely missed.

  • When making bets for the dealer, don’t place the bet in front of your bet. Place it on top of your bet, so that if you win, he can not take the entire bet. He must pay you. You then give him “one” of the bets and you put the other on top of your bet again. You are reducing the amount of money bet for the dealer by half the amount. This saves you money.
  • If you are a counter, do not get in a game until you have a TC [True Count] of 1. You are then reducing your over-all negative hands by 20%.
  • If you are a card counter and are playing a shoe game — if you see the back card of the shoe and it is a 2,3,4,5,6,7  cut the shoe towards the front as thin as you can and you will “cut” that card out of play. Therefore your count would start at a +1 [Running Count] because that card never comes into play. If the back card is a 9,10,A  cut near the back of the shoe.  This will insure that these cards come into play. [9,10,A help the player] 
  • When playing basic strategy you should know that you are playing with a negative expectancy. Therefore, the less hands you get, the less money you are expected to lose. You should sit at crowded tables where you will get less hands per hour. Also, bet the least amount of money —  table minimum.   When you card count, reverse these playing scenarios.
  • If you are a small limit player and want to find one of the best games of blackjack offered go to any casino in Colorado, USA  They offer low limit games and offer the most favorable option in blackjack called EARLY SURRENDER. This adds .663% to the player’s expectancy, so that just by employing flat betting, you will have an advantage.
  • When you first sit at a table, do not ask to be rated until you have put up a bet bigger than your minimum. It will be that bet that you will be rated on. If you back count, and get in on a positive count, your bet should be higher than your minimum. You will now get a better comp.
  • The Las Vegas Hilton has (had) a fantastic game. The rules are (were) LS, DAS, double on any first two cards, and resplit 4 times. The other great feature is that the tables have (had) only 5 spots, consequently you do not get as many people playing. It is a marvelous game for the counter.
  • The Las Vegas Hilton has (had) a table for the handicapped that has (had) only 4 spots. It is a dream situation for a counter because there are less hands to “eat” up the cards.
  • Do not ever play a form of Blackjack known as Double Exposure. People think that they have an advantage because both dealer’s cards are “exposed.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The house takes the pushes (tie hands) and 7% of your hands in blackjack are pushes. You are adding 7% to your disadvantage, plus the house pays even money on blackjack, therefore adding to your disadvantage.
  • When you do not want to stand in line at one of the buffets, ask for a “line pass” at the table you are playing at. This will allow you to enter the preferred customer line, thereby avoiding having to stand in line.
  • Resorts Hotel and Casino has (had) the best blackjack game in Atlantic City. The deck penetration in their 8 deck games is 80-85%. The 6 deck games in the “pit” are (were) also great. The rules are (were): Double after splits, split and resplit pairs including Aces. Double on any 2 cards.
  • When playing, always wear a cap or a hat that has some kind of a visor, e.g., a baseball cap. This will prevent the “eye in the sky” from getting a look at your face. Remember to wear different style and color caps/hats on successive nights.  Also, do not wear identifying jewelry.  Change watches, necklaces, etc. frequently.
  • Casinos believe that card counters do not drink and play, therefore to have additional “cover” in the casino, put a little alcohol on your skin or beard. You will have a scent of alcohol, and the floor people will have less suspicion of you being a counter. You can also order a drink from the cocktail waitress and make believe that you are sipping it. Then go to the rest room and dump it, and fill the glass with water.
  • If you are ever ID’d (asked for identification) in a casino do not ever show any ID. The only ones having a right to ask for this, is Metro (Las Vegas) or the local police department. (Unless you are under age.)
  • Many people have stated that they “practice” at casino nights sponsored by local charities. Most of these affairs the rules consist of the House taking the “pushes.”  In blackjack 9% of all hands are pushes, therefore you are adding an additional 9% to your disadvantage. The place to practice is HOME.
  • Any time you have a multi-card (more than 2) total of 16 vs. the Dealer’s 10, you should stand as opposed to hitting. This is called “Composition Dependent” strategy.  Of course a card counting system would supersede this.
  • When playing single deck with Strip rules, there is a slight advantage off the top. Assuming you are counting, you would bet 2 units off the top. If the count went up, you would raise your bet accordingly. If the count went down, you would go to another table where the dealer was shuffling up, and you would then repeat the scenario. You are now “Wonging” a single deck game.
  • I recommend Casino Verite as one of the finest simulators and practice programs.
  • In single deck we double down 4,4 and 5,3  against the dealer’s 5,6 if no double after splits is allowed.  Why not 6,2?  Answer:  Because when we have 5,3  or 4,4 — we have cards in our hands that help the dealer and he has less chance to make his hand. Conversely when we have 6,2 in our hand, all of the 5’s and 4’s are left in the deck and they help the dealer.
  • The Mirage and Treasure Island Casino (sister casino) are now exchanging information on known card counters previously identified at the respective casinos. Until July 1996 neither casino exchanged information.
  • If you are planning to play the “Graveyard Shift”  do not look wide awake. Appear as if you have been up all night. No one gets up in the wee small hours of the morning to play blackjack except a card counter or insomniac.
  • Do not “open” a table where the cards are already in the shoe. The dealer could have put them in the shoe in a way as to favor the house.  Always make sure the cards are laid out on the table before starting at that table.
  • When “back counting” a table, do not stand too long at any one table. If  the running count goes to minus five or more, go to another table. You should never “circle” a pit more than twice in any one hour. This avoids you getting attention from the pit and possibly “making” you as a counter.
  • Until you become confident of your counting. It is advisable to sit in the middle position of the table. This enables you to see cards on the left and right of you without “straining.” You are less obtrusive to the “pit.”
  • In order to help avoid the floor people from detecting your betting:  If you are betting $50.00 for example at a small minimum table, put the green chip on the bottom and red chips on top. “Tilt” the red chips slightly  towards the dealer.  BE SURE that when you get paid that the dealer pays you the correct amount. You can use this formula for any table amount.

Copyright © 1997 – 2023 All Rights Reserved
Originally published in the Winter 1997 issue of Blackjack Review Magazine



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