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Poor Joe

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In the summer of 2007, my wife and I stayed at Harvey's as we do every summer. Her cousin who has been a resident of South Lake Tahoe since 1976 visited us in our room. He brought his wife, son, and an old friend of his. His friend was named Joe. When he introduced us, he said Joe was the casino manager of Harvey's, but now retired. I looked at him and knew him right away since I worked at Harvey's in 1979. They laid me off because of the gas crisis then. Last one hired, first one fired. I told Joe this and he was shocked. He asked the name of the shift manager at the time. I said his name and Joe believed me. I told him it was a blessing because I moved on to deal the best craps games in Las Vegas. I was upset that I had to leave Lake Tahoe and my dreams were crushed then. For payback of my layoff, I used my JSTAT Count in 1992 at Harvey's and crushed them at single deck blackjack. Joe was surprised that I got away with it under his watch. I spread $5-$150 and only made big bets when the hi-lo count was negative and the Ten Count showed positive blackjack expectation. I assumed the eye in the sky used hi-lo to evaluate blackjack skill. Won $4000 in 6 hours of nonstop play utilizing card counting. This fooled his bosses, and Joe was dismayed.

Our conversation changed to Ed Thorp. Since Joe was the casino manager at the time, I asked him about Thorp's story in "Beat The Dealer(1962)" about Harvey's. Thorp wrote on page 112, "In two hours we broke the bank again. The great heaps of chips in front of us included more than $17,000 in profits. I had won about $6,000 and Mr. X, betting wildly, had won $11,000. I was tiring rapidly. The aftereffects of our huge dinner, the increased effort in managing two hands, and the strain of the last few days were telling. I began to find it very difficult to count properly and saw that Mr. X was equally far gone. I insisted that we quit, and I cashed in my $6,000." Joe's eyes lit up and said,"I threw that bum out of here and you know what he did? He hugged me and kissed me and said thank you!" I asked him about Mr. X and Joe said that he was a known player and let Mr. X play on. Thorp was backed off by Joe instead of "insisting that we quit" as written in "Beat The Dealer." It was surreal spending that afternoon with a part of blackjack history. To hear the untold story of Thorp's adventure at Harvey's with the casino manager whom we both beat as card counters right under his nose.
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