Golden Touch Craps

My Pet Peeves

by Henry Tamburin

When I was younger, nothing much bothered me when I played blackjack. But now that I’m a "senior," I’m getting grumpier (at least that’s what my wife tells me), and that includes when I play blackjack. What about? Here’s my list of pet peeves.

Jumping-in in the middle of a shoe.

This never bothered me; now it does but not for the reason that you think. I say this because most players don’t like it when other players enter a game in the middle of the shoe because "it changes the flow of the cards," and can result in players losing (which is hog wash). The reason I don’t like it has to do with the fact that when I play shoe games and count, I often have to wait patiently until the shoe becomes positive (and I have the edge). That’s when I fire away with big bets. And it’s precisely at this point that I don’t want another player entering the game because this player could dilute my chances of getting the high cards plus I will get less rounds to play before the shuffle. So if you see me playing a shoe game, please wait till the shuffle before you enter a game.

Players playing more than one spot.

I don’t mind if a player plays more than one betting spot but I do mind it when he decides to do at the very moment in the shoe when the count goes positive. (For the same reasons as above.) So if I happen to be at the same table as you go ahead and play as many spots as you like, just don’t spread when it’s near the end of the shoe and you see me make a big bet.


Other players telling me how to play my hands.

God only knows how many times I’ve been lectured to about how I should be playing my hands. And because I sometimes deviate from the basic playing strategy (based on the count), this seems to always bring out the worst behavior from other players. "You know you’re supposed to stand on 12 against a dealer’s 6." (If the count is negative, I’m going to hit.) "That fellow over there just split tens." (Yep, and I’ll do it again when the count gets to +5 or higher.) The point is this: unless another player asks for playing advice, don’t offer it. And if you see me playing, dummy-up and just play your game (and don’t worry about how I play my game).

Chastising my third-base play.

I often take a seat at third-base. It’s not because I get to play my hand before the dealer plays hers and can influence her busting by my playing decision (more nonsense); no, it’s because I’d like to see as many cards as possible before I have to play my cards (translation: I want my count to be as accurate as possible before I play my hand.) So if you see me sitting at third base, don’t expect me to sacrifice my hand for the good of the table.

Calling my name out loud.

Sometimes other players recognize me when I’m playing, and then they introduce themselves to me and proceed to brag about how much money they won after reading my blackjack book (or after taking one of my blackjack courses.) I try to keep a low key when I play; please wait till I’m done playing and then come say hello.

Blowing smoke in my direction.

I respect the fact that smokers have the right to smoke. But lately I seem to always get the smokers who don’t respect the fact that non-smokers prefer not to inhale their hazardous smoke. I’ve even had a few smokers deny my request to either stop smoking or to please blow their smoke in another direction. So please, if you are a smoker and you happen to be on my table, either refrain from smoking or be careful where you blow your smoke.

Grumpy dealers.

In my 36 years of playing blackjack I’ve had many pleasant dealers. But I’ve also had the grumpy ones, you know the ones that don’t say hello, don’t say boo when you tip them, deal the cards at 100 mph, or give the body language that they would rather be on their break than dealing the cards. My solution to this peeve is the following: if they are fast dealers, I purposely take my sweat ole time deciding how to play my hand (that really burns them) or I don’t leave squat for a tip or I’ve even called over a pit boss and say something like this: "what did you do to Sherri (the dealer) that she’s so pissed off?" If you are dealer and reading this, better be pleasant if I’m on your table.

Recreational players who don’t give a damn.

Many players tell me they don’t want to learn card counting or even the basic strategy because, "I’m a recreational player and I only play a few times a month." Folks you don’t have to be a professional player to play blackjack intelligently. In fact, the frequency that you play blackjack and your betting level has nothing to do with playing smartly. The mere fact that you are betting your hard earned money at a game where you could lose your shirt if you have no clue should be enough impetus to make some effort to at least learn how to play your hands correctly And please: don’t tell me you can’t afford five bucks for a strategy card when you’re betting ten bucks (or more) a hand.

Tournament Directors who won’t let some players play in their tournaments.

Some of my tournament buddies have been banned from playing in blackjack tournaments. Hello there tournament directors: It’s not your money that these skillful players are winning in tournaments but other player’s money. And don’t tell me the reason you don’t want these skillful players in your tournaments is because "you want to give your regular (translated: losing) players a chance at winning." First off, there’s a lot of luck involved in winning a tournament; secondly, most tournament players prefer to be pitted against a well known blackjack pro so he can have bragging rights if he beats the pro (which is why many players like to play in professional poker tournaments). If anything you should be inviting the well-known blackjack pros into your tournaments and advertising this fact to the public.

Pit Bosses who get their jollies backing off card counters.

There are, unfortunately, some casino supervisors whose only goal in life is catching card counters and throwing them out of the casino. It doesn’t take much effort for a supervisor to determine if a player is actually skillful enough to be a threat to their bottom line. I guarantee you that most of the time you’ll find that’s not the case. If you are a casino supervisor and reading this, you need to read Bill Zender’s book, Casino-ology, specifically Chapter 20. What he says about the threat of card counters to your bottom line will surprise you.

Now that I’ve gotten my pet peeves off my chest I’m no longer in a grumpy mood. Just don’t tell my wife.


Henry Tamburin is the author of Blackjack Take The Money & Run, editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter (, and Lead Instructor for Golden Touch Blackjack Course ( For a FREE three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to To receive his FREE Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit