System Review: Blackjack-101

by Keith Smith


Hardly an original work, in my mind, Blackjack-101 is hardly (as its promotional material promises) "the Professional's Choice". However, it DOES have some redeeming qualities.

Blackjack 101 is touted as being for professionals. Unfortunately, it's a minor-league book. In order to make it to the major leagues, it is going to need considerably more meat than a mere 40 pages. On the cover of the manual the price is listed as "$495.00 US Funds". Even with the accompanying audio tapes and the 10 page Home Practice Manual, in my mind, the system doesn't live up to its price.

To its merit, Blackjack 101 has some good information; just not enough of it. Chapters 2 & 3 are reminiscent of John Taormino's Universal Confirmation Procedure, although in my mind a more accurate and workable approach. The Card-reading diagrams are truly the best I've seen. Unfortunately, Examples 4 and 4a (Pp. 22-21) are flawed. Because I already understand card-clump theory, this was not a problem. However, someone new to this subject could easily be confused by these mistakes.

Chapter 5 (on Card-reading) is quite good. Unfortunately, it is only 2 pages long. It is like seeing a menu of rich-tasting entrees and then being served only an appetizer. A similar problem exists with chapter 7 (also 2 pages) on Table Selection. Next, when it comes to betting and insurance, the manual lacks considerably.

Regarding insurance, we are told to to ALWAYS insure a Blackjack, in direct contradiction with the earlier chapter on card-reading. This advice was wrong when Ellis suggested it, and it remains incorrect to this day. Amidst a low-card clump, we NEVER insure; regardless of what our hand is.

Chapter 8 (on Betting) leaves me wanting in the same way that the previous chapters did. One of most difficult aspects to master with card-clump systems is the betting approach. With Blackjack 101 the author uses a number of terms (negative progression, game type, unit, stop loss) which are not previously defined in the manual, nor do they appear in the glossary.

As I understand it, this manual was written for a relatively beginning player. You cannot assume that a beginner would understand such terms. They MUST be properly defined. In the author's defense, chapter 10 (2 pages) DOES cover the subject of stop loss and stop win. Unfortunately, the other terms are never defined.

Finally, the Home Practice Manual (10 pages) is more appetizer. Like most other writeups involving card shuffling and washes, the material in this little manual is grossly incomplete and for that reason misleading. People who conduct their home practice, based on the material in this manual may well be wasting their time.

In summary, Blackjack 101, while a great introduction to the subject of card-clumping, does not live up to its claim of being "the Professional's Choice". This manual would make an excellent overview or lead-in manual for NBJ or PBJ, but as a stand-alone document, it simply doesn't make it. Also, considering the price, we should be able to expect higher quality printed materials. Even the Blackjack Express manual (reviewed next) has THAT much going for it.

While the Blackjack 101 system is considerably less-expensive than other clump-card systems, the truth is you get what you pay for. If you are committed to the Blackjack 101 route, at least do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of the Boris Blackjack Simulator.

While yes, I am tooting my own horn here, with Boris, at least you do not have to rely on the Home Practice Manual for obtaining an accurate game simulation - the software will automatically do that for you. Then, put in a LOT of practice time. One way or another, you're going to need it.

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