Jerry L. Patterson
[With Eric Nielsen and "Sharpshooter"]
Normally after having read and re-read a book for nearly a week, "cranking" out a review about it seems relatively easy. As it turns out, with Jerry Patterson's "revised" Edition of Casino Gambling, for me, this is a rather difficult task. The difficulty is due, in part, to my past association with Jerry and Nancy, as well as input from others "who were there" during "key years". Such data offers an inside look at the OTHER SIDE of many events related in Jerry's book; after all, Boris' website is all about the OTHER SIDE of Winning Blackjack. Contrast that with my desire to continue writing accurate, objective and informative book reviews, and you can appreciate my dilemma.
To make my job easier and to give the book the fair evaluation it deserves, I have decided to break this review into two parts. Part I of this review will focus on the first half of this book (plus some material near the end) - all which is largely devoted to Blackjack - as well as the book overall. Part II will devote it's attention to the second half of this interesting book, which deals mainly with Craps and Roulette; altho includes short chapters on BAC, various Poker-related games and even Internet Gambling.
As with most Blackjack Reviews that I write, this one will include historical-asides to support many of the points made; whether in favor of the book or otherwise. This will not be your usual 1 page watered-down English 101 essay ("Why I LOVE this book" / "Why I HATE this Book"). Such a review is as worthless as any material I might label as such.
My Purpose with this Review
My purpose in writing this review depends on whether or not you have already read the book. If you have not, then allow this review to serve as a guideline on how to benefit from the book along with the potential traps too look out for when you read it.
If you have already read Jerry's new book, then allow this review to serve towards providing additional information pertaining to the subject matter discussed in the text. I trust that some of the confusions you may have encountered during your reading will surprisingly be sorted out.
Casino Gambling: The Book Overall
Overall, I like Jerry's new book. Despite my agreement (or not) with what he says, I personally am glad this book was written. That is NOT to say that I wholeheartedly endorse the material presented in the book or the WAY in which it is laid out (more on that later). In my mind, even the chapters on Blackjack leave something to be desired.
Essentially, my overall feelings about this book nearly mimic (mirror) those I expressed in my review of Blackjack: A Winner's Handbook. As I will detail later in this review, it is my professional opinion that this new book is one of the most (if not THE most) clever marketing approaches ever launched on the player's-side of the Gaming Industry.
As we shall see, this book is FAR MORE than JUST a rewrite of Jerry's "82" Edition of Casino Gambling. It also marks the beginning of a subtle image repackage of Jerry Patterson Enterprises Inc., seeking to bring new life into the Jerry Patterson Network. As we shall see, the ORDER in which the chapters appear is CRUCIAL. It's not surprising that Blackjack is the first (and most) extensively covered game in the book. Jerry has written extensively on the subject in the past. Unfortunately, as we shall see, even the Blackjack section, while extensive, glosses over many important aspects of the game; not the least of which is card-counting; offering barely a page on the subject.
The players in JP's network are constantly changing; as demonstrated by the book's dedication to the late: Steve Heller, George Stanton, Howard Kaplan, Richard Hoffman, John Painter and Harvey Oliver. During the last 20+ years, these colorful figures all weave in, out, and about the Jerry Patterson Network.
Acknowledged new faces (since Jerry's 1990 Winner's Handbook) include: Eric Nielsen "Sharpshooter" (of Frank Scoblete fame), and Bob Bowser.
One of my problems with the book is not with the material per se' but with the fact that the majority of what is presented in the book (or the systems you can send away for more info on, in the back of the book; with their attendant exorbitant prices) are actually rewrites or repackaging of material developed by numerous other individuals. Those who are NOT acknowledged in Jerry's new book (and probably should be) include:
I acknowledge the above contributors for many reasons; one of which is that because I will be commenting about the efficacy of the material presented, the REAL authors have a right to know that my evaluations may well apply to THEIR system (or variation, before it was "borrowed" and "enhanced"). Fortunately, the design-code which makes up Boris' Blackjack Simulation software is proprietary, and therefore not "borrow-able". As such, I never had this kind of concern in my brief dealings with Jerry and Nancy.
While as a writer I am certainly influenced by my experiences in working with Jerry and Nancy (they gave Boris' Blackjack Software it's first real market exposure), I have chosen to keep anything I may have learned from my private conversations with them, private. However, where appropriate, I will include historical perspectives from others who were there and have forwarded me information (which I have checked against yet others who were also there). My goal in all this is to provide you, the reader, with an objective look at Jerry's new book and what I think it is really all about.
Delving into the Book
Overall, the layout of Casino Gambling is well done. As I shall point out later, each section of the book was WELL thought-out; from the standpoint of Jerry's objectives for writing a new book, as well as that of the reader. Each section presents its material in a crisp lucid manner. The editing behind Casino Gambling seems to have been more-carefully done, especially compared to "Winner's Handbook"; which as I said in my review of that book was rather deplorable.
Earlier I suggested that Casino Gambling is one of the most clever marketing ploys I've seen in a long time. However to be honest, some of what I might label a marketing ploy is actually nothing more than a carefully controlled application of "Learning Theory", as you might encounter in Tony Buzan's book Using Both Sides of the Brain. We can summarize Learning Theory with the following anecdote about the black mammy explaining the method she uses to teach her children new things: "First, I tells them what I is gonna tells them; then I tells them; and then I tells them what I told them".
Jerry's new book certainly does that! Even before we get to Chapter 1, the introduction is setting us up for the rest of the book; as any good introduction should do; except here, we have OVERKILL. This is the first book I've ever read with a 3-Part Introduction; each part saying the same thing differently.
The Intro begins with a paragraph about each major casino game (to be covered in the book), each with a "plug" for how this book is going to allow you to become a winner in that game (or NOT in the case of Baccarat; which Jerry claims cannot be beat). Part II, labeled "A SUMMARY OF WHAT YOU WILL LEARN IN THIS BOOK" details on a per-chapter-basis the way Jerry wants you to look at the major casino games.
Finally, under the heading of "HOW TO READ THIS BOOK", we have yet another level of reinforcement. Yes, learning theories can also be used with a marketing-bent; remember, Jerry's Master's Degree was in advertising and marketing.
Chapter 1 is simply a glorified Introduction (or is the Introduction a watered-down Chapter 1?). Each major casino game (Roulette, Craps, Blackjack, Baccarat and Poker) receive an (approx.) one-page description, offering an overview of the game, replete with the theoretical house edge (Ex. 5.25% in "00" Roulette, etc.) and a suggestion that these advantages can be reversed with [sic] "newly discovered" techniques. The significance of this point will take on greater significance in Part II of this review; which will lend considerable focus to the Craps and Roulette aspects of the Jerry's book,
Chapter 2: Mental Preparation for Becoming an Advantage Player
This is arguably the most important chapter in Jerry's new book; especially if you have read Ian Andersen's latest book: Burning the Tables in Vegas. By now, most books on Blackjack parrot some of the usual rhetoric on the importance of self-control or some such hazy concept related to Blackjack play. The section headed "CASINO MIND PLOYS" is probably the best summary of this subject I have seen. Jerry quotes psychologist Dale Patterson (no relation to Jerry, so we're told) to give the book an aura of respectability. (People are often in awe of psychologists; why I don't know - their success rate tends to be even worse than that of the Channel 7 Weatherman.)
The material under the heading "DEVELOPING A GAMBLING PLAN OF ACTION" is an 8-Step Action Plan that I feel should be freely offered on one of JP's websites. Not only would this serve as an excellent public service, it would also allow Jerry Patterson Enterprises to exploit it as a clever marketing tool (wake up Jerry!) . I long-ago learned the value of offering "freebies" on websites - this review is one of those freebies. Jerry and Nancy taught me well.
Chapter 2 ends with an excellent section entitles "SIXTEEN AXIOMS OF SUCCESSFUL CASINO GAMBLING". These axioms are hardly new, however they are written with a simplicity and directness that make them worthy of notice. These axioms would make for a wonderful public-service website offering as well.
Chapter 3: Blackjack at Long-last
Section Two (BLACKJACK) opens as Chapter 3 entitled "Blackjack Basics", with an interesting history lesson on the game - Jerry's "Old-West" studies finally payoff. The rest of this chapter is the usual Basic Strategy drivel (necessary, yet BOR-ing), exception for pages 44-45 (Table Selection, Table Departure, and Betting Strategies for the Recreational Player). This little section ties in with the section from Chapter 2 on "Casino Mind Ploys" and is EXCELLENT advice for the average recreational player who is too lazy to learn anything further before hitting the Blackjack tables.
Chapter 4: An Introduction to non-Randomness.
Typical of what I consider to be "not insignificant" mistakes or blunders in Jerry's books, the acknowledgment section of Casino Gambling incorrectly labels Bob Bowser the author of Chapter 4, which in my mind is a bit of a slap as this chapter has quite a not-insignificant marketing bent to it; and that is NOT how Bob normally writes. At any rate, this chapter (which is essentially an introduction to non-random shuffles) is little more than a summary of the material in Jerry's previous book Blackjack: A Winners Handbook carefully orchestrated as a setup to pitch the infamous "Target 21" system.
To gain a bit of respectability, later in Chapter 4 Patterson quotes one of Ken Uston's comments on
card-washes that produce like-card clumping (yes, Uston used that terminology - way back in 1981).
You may recall that from the beginning, Boris' website has sported a page entitled Ken Uston on
Clumping - which makes me wonder when/why Jerry decided to quote Uston on this subject. I also
find it curious that he spends a couple of pages discussing Stuart Perry's Blackjack Diary (reviewed
elsewhere on this website). His comments about Perry running into Card-clumping (after having
trashed E.C. Davis and NBJ) are a near mirror-image of what I wrote in my review of Stuart's book.
Thank you for allowing me to contribute to your section on Blackjack, Jerry.
Chapter 4 essentially introduces the concept of non-random shuffles, as they apply to the multi-deck "shoe" games. Unfortunately, no mention is made of the plethora of shuffle machines in use today (ShuffleMaster and the Random-Ejection Shuffler, in particular). For a book which is in essence claiming (or at least strongly implying) to represent the state-of-the-art in casino gaming, this is a glaring oversight. Pay attention Jerry - Boris' Website showcases articles on Shuffle Machines.
Chapter 5: Exploitable Biases in Multiple-Deck Blackjack Games
Chapter 5, although brief, is technically very thorough; but then I would expect that from Bob Bowser, considering that he (not Jerry) is actually the writer of the material that comprises the "Blackjack Masters Home Study Course" (advertised in the back of the book). That is why I am disappointed that the opening credits label Bob as having written Chapter 4, and not this one. Was this TRULY an oversight? Or?
This brings me to repeat one complaint I have always had with Jerry's books by Perigee: Jerry - who DOES your Editing? This book isn't too bad... the 90's Winner's Handbook was HORRIBLE in that regard, Break the Dealer had problems.... I could go on. As Blackjack players, we are taught that a mere one or two mistakes per hour can eradicate any perceived-advantage a player may have. And then these books on how-to-win have mistakes? Oooops!!
(BTW, to be fair let the record state that I have an even BIGGER Beef with Revere's Playing Blackjack as a Business. Many of the chart-tables in that book simply don't cross-foot! So, how can we POSSIBLY TRUST that the methods derived from this data is accurate? It no longer surprises me that I bought my copy of Revere's book at the gift-shop in the Excalibur Hotel shortly after it opened, in 1990.)
Bob Bowser's write-up on "Exploitable Biases", draws from a large pool of Blackjack material. Knowing Bob personally for many years, I have always found him to be well-read and very much deserving of Jerry's gracious acknowledgment in the current book:
"I would also like to acknowledge Bob Bowser. When Bob looks at a blackjack game, his intense analytical mind and powers of observation allow him to see the game as few others do." (P. XVI)
Bob Bowser is the only person I know that I have been able to converse with "intelligently" on the subject of "Core Cards", as put forth in Scott Frank's book Blackjack for Winner's. He is one of a handful of people who understand how to accurately evaluate shuffles and washes.
I find that Bob possesses an open mind when it comes to alternate approaches to Blackjack play, while at the same time possessing a firm-grasp of the "Basics" which underlie the game; something even most alleged-PRO players have yet to grasp.
I remember playing Blackjack and Table-Scouting with Bob many years ago. Just WHO He is brought about a more controlled-demeanor to our Hit-N'-Run play that evening. He was far more cautious with table-entry than I was. As a result he didn't have a losing table, until we hit that table at the Vegas Sands patrolled by a female (former U-Boat captain) dealer - she BLEW US RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER. As I recall, we both had 4 winning tables that evening, except that I lost a "suicide" game that Bob had enough fore-sight to sit and WATCH.
(I told you I would offer a little "history lesson" from time to time.)
I offer the above resume' in the hopes you get what a "quality" player Bob really is. His Chapter-5 write-up on Dealer-biases, Player-biases and Card-clumping mirrors the reality I discovered in late 1990, which over time led to the creation of the "Shuffle Engine" as it exists today in Boris' Blackjack Simulation Software.
Picking up where "Winner's Handbook" left off, chapter 5 contains a section entitled "Influence of Shuffle Procedures on Card Clumps". In this section, the effects of Plugging, Stripping, Pick-size and Intertwine are introduced. Having studied these subjects extensively during the design phases of Boris' Blackjack Software, I can vouch-safe the accuracy of Bob's material. My only complaint is that for me, it is not enough. I guess that means I get to write some website articles on the subject.
Chapter 6: Dealer-breaking and Player-favorable Games
This chapter picks up picks up where Chapter 5 leaves off giving Jerry an opportunity to address his critics who complain that Target (in particular) has no mathematical-basis.
It is well known that Dealer-Breaking is the heart of the game of Blackjack. It is also a fact that in today's clumped shoe games the Dealer-Break-Ratio (DBR) is considerably lower than normal. (1) This fact has been proven on a per-shuffle-basis using Boris' Blackjack Simulations.
Chapter 6 presents Dealer-breaking in a long-overdue mathematical way. Card-counters indirectly monitor the break-ratio, but not to the degree that Clump-Tracking players do. It has been well documented that in today's shoe games, Dealer-breaking drops dramatically! While Jerry points this out in Chapter 6, he offers little in the way of a "solution" to this problem (presumably leaving this for "Target" and the "Blackjack Master's Course"). Then, near the end of this chapter, Jerry tells one on himself.
You may recall that the Target 21' "pitch" is that it will point us to "Hot" (what Target calls "HomeRun"); tables where the dealer is breaking "excessively", or otherwise drawing to lousy hands. In 1992, over lunch with a bunch of Target students (i.e. they paid their $299 or received a comp-copy, like me), Jerry admitted that less than 3% of the tables are Target (i.e. "HomeRun") tables; translated: you're going to do a LOT of walking and endure a LOT of disappointment along the way (as "Target" tables are discovered to be "Mirage" tables). On P. 70 of Casino Gambling we actually see it in print:
"However, the strongest games, and thus the most profitable, will be confined to only about 2.5 percent of available tables - the higher end of the two standard deviations encompassing 95 percent of all tables."
Understand that Chapter 6 is telling us two things:
The above implies that while Dealer-Breaking tables exist, even with a $299 training tool we will rarely encounter them; so, we had better play for larger stakes (even tho Target tells you not to), in order to make the 6 (or whatever) hours of table-searching - before finding this one - worth something. It makes me wonder.... is there a "wheelchair" version of Target? Hey Gramps? Whattaya think?
The bottom-line is that while the material in this chapter is (in my opinion) responsibly accurate, more important, it serves as a credibility build-up; important later, when Jerry introduces more "math" into the works, but this time with regard to Craps and Roulette instead of Blackjack.
Chapter 7: Target 101?
Coming to Chapter 7, we find a short-course in the Essentials of Target 21 (Target 101 anyone?), Patterson's "infamous" Table-selection system. It is important to realize that in the world of declining prices, Target has remained a pricey $299 item for nearly 15 years; costing as much as the ENTIRE Professional-PLUS Edition of Boris (coming in 2001).
I would venture that most, if not all, of the 21 Target Factors have readily appeared in print, in one form or another; by none other than Jerry himself, or at the very least, by someone (such as me) reviewing his books and courses. Keeping the price tag at $299 tends to smoke-screen this issue a little. Case in point?: Jerry's current book (Pp. 75-77) details a betting approach which he admits was taken from Target. This in no way demeans the material; which I find factually-accurate (based upon my own playing experience). I just want you to know where the material comes from.
Likewise, up next in Chapter 7 are the details on "An Aggressive Betting Strategy - Ride the Bias". This is nothing more than a questionably-complete adaptation of Doug Devine's "B.I.A.S." method (did Jerry devise THAT name too?). Without being coupled with some sort of legitimate Card-count or Clump-Track strategy, "Riding the Bias" alone is not ONLY aggressive, it is HIGHLY risky!
Chapter 7 moves on to a discussion about Money Management, which I find a cut-above most other discussions I've read in this area. Unfortunately, it feels more like a teaser to this reader, leaving me wanting for more, without having to SPEND more. However, Jerry quickly moves on to introduce "A Risk-Averse Basic Strategy".
As this review goes to initial-press, I have not had time to study the above-strategy thoroughly, nor have I submitted it to a thorough Boris Software-analysis. Possibly in time for Part-II of this review I will have the results. At face-value however, I question it's efficacy. It looks, at first, to be a derivative of Boris' "Basic Strategy II" (a copy of which I sent to Jerry in 1993). Before detailing the strategy, Jerry tells us:
When using blackjack's winning factors [the abridged-Target from earlier in the book-ed.] to enter a qualified game, you are starting out even with the casino... All doubles and splits listed here deliver a 10 percent player expectation of winning.
No matter HOW you interpret the above paragraph, there are problems with what is being said. At the VERY least, we are not told how Jerry comes to his 10% conclusion, or even what that REALLY means - translate this into $$$ Jerry. At face value, 10% sounds like a horrible return! Am I missing something here? What happened to Standard-deviations and all that?
Chapter 7 ends with some good card-counting information and useful information for "recreational players". P. 82 is simply a summary off useful points which are of course elaborated on elsewhere, "Winner's Handbook" in particular, while the chapter ends with a brief but succinct sales pitch for Patterson's privately offered blackjack materials (a convenient information form is in the back of the book - complete with their easy-to-call 800#).
Chapter 8 Advantage Blackjack for
Single and Double-Deck (Handheld) Games
This part of the book is essentially a "collage chapter", containing more information on card-clumping and non-Random shuffles, as well as some insight into playing Single/Double Deck games. It is in this section that we find the [sic] detailed section on Card-counting.
Under the heading "AGGRESSIVE BETTING TACTICS", Jerry introduces the idea of a 3-bet 1-2-4 negative (i.e. up-as-you-lose) progression, the kind of betting strategy that was so heavily panned in Snyder's review of NBJ ("New Blackjack, same old Baloney"). While I have used 3-bet negative progressions to considerable gain, it contradicts Jerry's own test for a valid strategy, as detailed in the open-letter he wrote to the player base of the gaming community.
Rounding out the Blackjack Material
Essentially, Chapter 8 ends the material on Blackjack, with the exception of Chapter 20 (CASINO VARIATIONS of BLACKJACK), where Jerry details a number of Blackjack variations; such as the old Single-Deck, deal-to-the-bottom-of-the-deck game at the old Vegas World (now the Stratosphere) - Blackjack's Pay Even-money; Double Exposure & Multi-Action Blackjack (now the rage in Atlantic City).
Chapter 20 wraps with a discussion on the Spanish 21 Blackjack Variation. Here, Jerry treats us to a "Basic Strategy" that looks nearly identical to the material in [(Mathematician and Gaming Analyst]) Lenny Fromme's little booklet on beating Spanish 21. Unfortunately, the irony of THIS "Basic" Strategy is that it is based on data derived using (horror-of-horrors) a random shuffle - Oooops. If anything, the shuffles and washes used in the Spanish 21 ENCOURAGE like-card Clumping; which is DEADLY to unsuspecting players. As we know, like-card Clumping reduces the Dealer Break-ratio CONSIDERABLY, as does removing 10-Value cards (which Spanish 21 does). C'mon Jerry... if you're gonna "borrow" other people's strategies, at LEAST test them for yourself and give us ALL the Caveats.
Some final thoughts regarding this book
Well dear reader, that pretty much wraps this Review. As I promised opening this write-up, the Historical perspective will be the guiding force behind my comments. Also as promised, this is Part I of two parts.
Part II of this Review is currently in the outline stage, as I study books on gambling by other authors and pour over a TON of material provided me by people who "were there" during the tenure of the many different Systems and Products marketed by Jerry and Nancy over the last 15 years. Thanks to the wonder of e-mail, many people have come forth (usually anonymously at first) with input and ideas for both parts of this Review. Unfortunately, some of the e-mail exchanges have contained material which I have been unable to verify, leaving me with no choice but to exclude it.
Because I have been recently made aware of other articles in progress concerning the Patterson's and their gambling enterprises ( by well-known gambling authors) I will entrust the unverifiable material to these writers, for the time being. After all, this is a Review of Jerry's new book, not necessarily an indictment of Jerry Patterson Enterprises in and of itself.
To summarize, I feel that Casino Gambling by Jerry Patterson is a truly unique and interesting book. Retail-priced at $12.95, I feel this book offers a ton of interesting and even useful ideas. Unfortunately, in most cases, what is presented is simply not enough to create consistently-winning activity.
To reiterate, when it comes to the Blackjack aspects of this book, again, I am not so much in disagreement with WHAT is presented as I am with the WAY in which it is presented and the fact that in most cases the material on a given subject is simply incomplete.
It is for these reasons that I give the Blackjack sections as well as the otherwise "neutral" material, a letter Grade of B-. However, when we factor in the letter grade to be assigned to Part II of this Review (unknown at this time), overall, it will probably average out to be much lower.
Stay Tuned for Part II.....
1. For more information on this, see the article on this website entitled: The Truth about Dealer-Breaking - Are We Being Misled?