Who says you can’t get something for nothing?

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I just got back from my first trip to Vegas. I thought you’d be interested to know that I lost a paltry $7 at blackjack over three nights using your Basic Strategy Card, the bulk of my losses coming on my last night when I couldn’t find a $5 table; a rapid losing streak on a $10 table obliterated half of the previous night’s winnings, but I do as you always mention in your column, look for low limit tables.

Now for the part I think you’ll really be interested in. While I was out there, I plunked down a few bucks on a Basic Strategy Card (offered in one of the casinos’ retail shops) for an associate who was attending a seminar with me. A couple of subsequent events led me to suspect that the “casino card” was not quite the same as yours: At one casino, where I enjoyed success and friendly dealer service, I was encouraged by a Pit Boss to “place my card right on the table.” Thinking nothing of it, I politely told him I would just as soon hold it in my hot little hand. I now suspect they wanted to get a surveillance photo of the card.

The next night, the dealer pointed at my associate, who was borrowing my “Pilarski” card, and remarked over his shoulder to the Pit Boss, “He’s got that card!” Nothing more was said, but, to say the least, we felt a little uncomfortable. Sure enough, upon careful examination of the two cards, I noted some discrepancies between your card and the casino’s card-all with respect to splitting pairs: (2s, 3s, 4s, and 6s; your card dictated a “HIT” while they recommended splitting). I should add that your card agrees with my computer program at home as well as the handout from UNLV’s presentation on probability theory and the mathematics of table games.

You have pointed out these discrepancies in prior columns, but if anyone wants confirmation, you can quote me as an eyewitness. John S.

For every little column I write on Basic Strategy for blackjack, I grapple with a monster mailbag. Most comments read, “Dragonet, Mark! I sure wish you had written this earlier as you would have saved me a ton of money.” From those like John who use a basic strategy card, I get remarks similar to those that amputees heard outside the surgeon’s tent at Gettysburg; “Boy, am I glad I didn’t have to have my leg sawed off.” For those who needed the “Pilarski” card earlier hadn’t grabbed one, sorry for the loss of that leg (money).

But, John, despite my knowledge of worthless gambling trivia, I’m not certified genius, and the “Pilarski” card isn’t whippersnapper unique, but my card does have an interesting distinction that it can be had for zilch, zap, nada-AKA, FREE! As for my card being slightly different than others, most are comparable enough for the player to butt heads with the casino, while free of the Gettysburg twitch.

Bottom line, John: The “Pilarski” card is a neatly laminated crib card which is a matrix of 270 hand situations, designed to give you a concise and definitive play for every starting hand you will be dealt. Using my card, or most others, will drop the casino edge to less than one percent, even if other strategy cards differ on a few hands.

Oh yeah, though you’re all set, how does your buddy get one of these cards gratis from Yours Truly? Just send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to: Winners Publishing, ATTN: BJ Strategy Card, P.O. Box 1234, Traverse City, MI 49685

Gambling thought of the week: “The best use for a roulette table that I can think of is that it would make a great dining room table with a Lazy-Susan at one end.” -VP Pappy

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