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Blackjack Bluebook II - the simplest winning strategies ever published (2006 edition) Paperback – May 1, 2006
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About the Author
Fred Renzey is a freelance casino gambling advisory columnist for the Daily Herald newspaper in the Chicago area. He also writes several monthly blackjack and poker articles for other magazines/internet sites, and is a recognized 'advantage' blackjack and poker player.
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Top Customer Reviews
Its chapter on the "art" of skillful play offered some advanced, yet easy tactics regarding camouflage, truing up an unbalanced count, etc. Even the pure recreationalists will find practical ways to improve their game beyond correct basic strategy by using information from the cards showing on board. There is also quite an interesting analytical perspective on betting progressions.
One thing I liked in particular was that nearly every strategy or technique presented was given a percentage value, backed by millions of computer generated hands. That gives us all a better feel for what our various efforts are worth; something I haven't always had.
Another big plus was all the card hand graphics that were used throughout to illustrate its strategic points. For hard to grasp concepts, the pictures were a big help.
After reading 20 blackjack books, if I can get just one or two new helpful things from the next one I consider it time well spent. This one provided lots of them.
I own the book. It's a great starter card counting book. Renzey really lays out the core components of the game and the order content is almost flawless. However, you absolutely must take your time! I knew basic strategy to a "T" before I bought the book. Well, actually the book corrected me in some small details because I didn't know basic strategy changed given the rules of the table (e.g. dealer hits or stands on soft 17). Renzey comments on these variations starting on page 55. Even though I had been playing blackjack for years, I set the book aside right then (obviously keeping it close for reference) and spent at least two weeks mastering each variation! Again, take your time.
I then moved on to advanced plays and then to card counting. I've had the book for over a year and I still practice, practice, practice. I also re-read several key sections in the book. As for learning the KISS Count (Stage I), I again set the book aside and practiced for what I know was at least two months. I practiced until I NEVER messed the count up. Anyway, I decided to stop at the stage 3 KISS Count. I'm still trying to master the surrender deviations. The only part of the book I didn't care for was the explanation of "Board Composition." I did read it thoroughly, but I never practiced it. However, if you want to relax after each time your cards are dealt, this may be the way to go. If you have one of the seven hands discussed, all you have to do is scan the table to see what is out there. You may or may not change your action (e.g. hit instead of stand).
Finally, Renzey suggests reading all the books you can about blackjack. I'm taking that advice and that is why I am on Amazon today.
The fact is, the book reads like a high school textbook and that's a really good thing for people that really want to learn. It progressively starts with the basics, as well as simplest ways to tune your play and gradually evolves to more complex methods, going through more advanced strategy and intermediate modifications of play, all the way to a beginner's count. This evolves to an intermediate count and eventually an advanced count that rivals the capabilities of Hi Opt-II and Zen, all on the same foundation that Renzey started with.
What makes the book different from other books I've read is that:
1) It's readable. The book is almost conversational in nature. It's got just enough proof points in it without going all 'Grosjean' on you. (No offense to the mastermind that James Grosjean - another of my heros - is but I'm not the PhD Mathematician that he is, and I suspect, neither are you if you're reading this)
2) It explains why things are important, what the benefit is in terms of the 'percentage edge' you get with every concept you learn, and it gives you concrete visual examples/scenarios with pictures of hands, and a discussion of each.
3) It's evolutionary. Very rarely have I read a book that allows you to stop in the middle of the book and test your skills downstairs in the casino, then later read some more by the pool and learn additional tactics to evolve your game as you master the book's concepts.
What I also found very useful was the section rehearsing certain key hands versus dealer up-cards. Frankly, I think Fred Renzey should create a card deck of 'difficult hands' and sell them has 'flash cards' to people to learn and practice with. It's frankly better than dealing cards yourself on that Southwest flight into LAS. [grin]
I won't blow too much smoke up anyone's butts though: The section on Hand Interaction is a little much. I understand why he put it in there - after all, it appears to be the most opportunistic way to poach good hands at the table. But it takes a fair amount of balls to 'buy people's hands at the table' and 'fill up someone else's double down'. He advertises it as a differentiator for the book being that I'm sure he's correct that no one else has published much on this topic, but still, I don't consider this to be a real value: There's just too much superstition and too many barriers between players at the table to pull off some of the moves he recommends.
That being said, I think his KISS count is pretty damn cool and although I haven't mastered it and still play with another count, his numerical evidence for the strength of the Advanced version of KISS count relative to Uston or more conventional counts is impressive.
If you doubt the "student's text book" nature of Blackjack Bluebook II, consider that he dedicates a page or two to a list of bulletted 1-2 sentence summaries of every key point he's made at the end of each chapter. The only thing he's missing from making this ia true high school textbook is a "Test Your Knowledge" section where he quizzes you on important concepts after each section. [grin]
Renzey's chapter on "15 hands to play incorrectly to camouflage your intellect" has been invaluable. I've been trespassed from two casinos and drawn heat from the eye more times than I can imagine, and I've recently seen pit bosses "drop me as a concern" when I pulled a couple of these hands like a drunk conventioneer. I was just at the New York New York and I think they even thought I had a computer based on the shake I naturally have in my leg but the moment I doubled down on what looked to be a reckless hand and started to play some of these gems, they started to waive off the black suits.
I carry 3 Blackjack books with me whenever I go on a vacation or to Vegas and this is one of them. I consider Fred Renzey one of the people I would someday like to meet and shake hands with. Thank you for improving my play, Fred. Your book is worth much more than $16.50 on the basis of your authoring skills alone.
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