Take The Money And Run
Henry Tamburin

Originally published in 1994, this title is a tad dated now, although the copy I picked up was published in 2005 as part of the twelth reprint - so some people must have recommended it somewhere. I never read this one during my blackjack apprenticeship some years back, and as I was able to pick up a secondhand copy for a couple of quid fairly recently I thought I'd catch up with it.

Take The Money And Run's not a particularly long book, just 150 pages including the index, publisher's blurb and similar, and I'd say it's probably written for the benefit of those who've never played blackjack before, or have tried, lost money and wanted to improve their chances at the felt. Across it's chapters it covers the rules of the game, why blackjack is different to other negative expectation casino games and can be beaten by skilled players, the need to learn basic strategy, game selection and recommended approaches for novice, intermediate and advanced players - with advice for applying various bet ramping and counting techniques at each level.

At the "advanced" end of Dr T's spectrum is the hi-lo counting system (including calculating the true count from the running count), although the recommended max bet of 8 units for a six deck game (page 91) isn't going to provide any sort of long term advantage over the house - it's closer to cancelling out the house edge and leaving the game a breakeven one. OK, the book was originally written over twenty years ago, but the game and the underlying numbers for the number of decks and rulesets etc haven't actually changed, and a few minutes doing some sums based on the frequencies of true count episodes can solicit something more akin to what you'll need to put across the felt to take advantage of your advantage.

For novice and intermediate level players, in addition to the (very correct) advice to learn and apply basic strategy, Dr T suggests a mix of increasing bets after you've seen lots of small cards played, applying a positive progression (double or treble your bet if you win) or applying the "streak/count system" - a hybrid counting and progression system where you should be increasing your bets if you win regardless of the direction of travel of the count. Hmmm . . . I struggle with this. If you're interested in taking your game above basic, why not just learn to do it all properly? Following the chapter on "advanced" play, there are four chapters on risk (includes a very rough explanation of variance and calculating the standard deviation), disguising your skills, one entitled "Take the money and run" and one covering some miscellaneous stuff - all rounded off with a single page summary, a three page list of further reading (largely obsolete now) and a raft of basic strategy charts for various decks and rulesets.

Overall then, even when this was first published in 1994 it was really a lightweight in comparison to many other blackjack related titles already in circulation, and ten years after the last print run, and with other titles having hit the bookshelves, I just don't think it's worth bothering with. Frankly there are, and were, far better books on blackjack available. If you're interested in developing your game, my advice would be to obtain all of the titles on my blackjack recommended reading page instead, and be prepared to get stuck into crunching a few numbers.

Henry Tamburin is a lifetime gambler now in his seventies, with a PHD in Chemistry to his name. He's authored four other casino games titles, including "Winning Baccarat Strategies", a short 86 page title which originally went on sale in 1983 for $20.00 - equivalent to around $50.00 at today's value. In addition to more progression ideas (groan), it discusses whether an advantage can be derived using a counting system when playing Baccarat, and comes to the conclusion that although in theory it can be the payback's just not worth the effort. Even back then I think this must have been a ($20) case of "no shit sherlock?". Perhaps the title should have had a question mark at the end of it? So I wouldn't recommend anyone part with any money for this one either - there aren't any winning strategies or methods that produce a mathematical advantage with baccarat (that I'm aware of anyway), and the lose less strategy doesn't need a book - it can be summed up in one line; bet on the Banker every time!.

At the time of writing there are four secondhand copies of "Winning Baccarat Strategies" on sale by Amazon sellers at prices ranging from $699.95 to $1,872.21. People having a laugh surely? Yes, I think Henry was a bit naughty with that one . . . and other people are being even naughtier. Dr T also continues to lead classes in blackjack and applying "the speed count", with attendance at his up and coming one-day event on 18th September costing $697.00 (although those who book two months in advance qualify for $100.00 discount). Nice work if you can get it.

June 2016.