Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter's Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars

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9781594202476: Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter's Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars
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A deliciously wry, edge-of-the-seat memoir of making a fortune with card counters across a wide swath of blackjack in America.

At twenty-four, Josh Axelrad held down a respectable and ominously dull job on Wall Street. Adventure was a tuna fish sandwich instead of the usual turkey for lunch. Then one night, a stranger at a cocktail party persuaded him to leave the nine-to-five behind and pursue an unlikely dream: the jackpot. The stranger was a blackjack card counter, and he sold Axelrad on the vision of Vegas with all its intrigue, adventure- and cash.

Repeat Until Rich is Axelrad's taut, atmospheric, and darkly hilarious account of ditching the mundane and entering the alternative universe of professional blackjack. Axelrad has one thing in common with his team: Jon Roth, the leader and a former options trader; Neal Matcha, a recovering lawyer; Aldous Kaufman, a retired math Ph.D. candidate. They all thrived in the straight world, found success boring, and vowed to make life more exotic. Axelrad adopts Roth's philosophy-"repeat until rich"-and from his strategy and skill spring hasty retreats across casino floors, high-speed car chases, arrests on dubious grounds, and the massive cash paydays that make it all worthwhile.

Along the way, he unveils the tactics and debunks the myths of professional card counters. In team play, he's either the "big player," who bets the big money, or the "controller," who subtly coordinates the team's betting while wagering only the minimum himself. Counting is not illegal, and it's less intellectually daunting than its MIT-level mystique suggests. With clarity and wit, Repeat Until Rich proves the old gambler's maxim that "if you can tip a waiter, you can count cards." But it also proves how zealous, even forceful, casino bosses can be in "backing off" counters-seeing past their undercover methods and banning them from the tables. Josh soon grows to love all this trouble, and discovers, more than the money, what he needs most of all is the rush.

Filled with actual bad guys, chase scenes, and high stakes, Repeat Until Rich offers an intoxicating, unprecedented view of the dangerous allure of living off the cards and one's wits.

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About the Author:

Josh Axelrad played blackjack professionally for five years and poker unprofessionally for one. A graduate of Columbia College, he languished briefly in investment banking before he turned to cards. His personal win as a card counter, at $700,000, has left him eighty-sixed from the finest casinos in Vegas and around the United States. His subsequent losses at poker (exceeding $50,000) have cost him credit privileges at the Internet’s most reputable poker rooms. A commentator on the casino industry for National Public Radio’s Marketplace program, Axelrad also performs at Stories at the Moth in New York and has been featured on the award-winning Moth Podcast.

From Booklist:

Axelrad was a Columbia graduate with a boring Wall Street job until he met a guy who knew a guy and became a professional card counter, playing blackjack in casinos across the country as part of a well-oiled team made up of counters, spotters, “gorillas” (players who don’t count cards), and BPs (players who also count). No math whiz, Axelrad took awhile to learn how to keep the running count in his head, but he got there eventually and, with his elevation to BP, became one of the team’s stars. His account of winning more than $700,000 for the team in about four years is fascinating, both for the insider details (especially the back and forth between counters and the casinos, who do their best to ban pros from the tables) and for the repartee between teammates (imagine a real-life Elmore Leonard caper novel). The tale turns more serious, however, when the blackjack run ends following 9/11 (too hard to carry large amounts of cash on planes), and Axelrad turns to online poker and becomes dangerously addicted. A fine portrait of the highs and lows of the gambling life. --Bill Ott

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9780143118855: Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter's Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars

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Publisher: Penguin Books, 2011
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