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Thread: *** OFFICIAL Blackjack Card Counting Thread ***

  1. #21
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MiracleCard View Post
    Our humble host, Dan Druff, has indeed posted some very good strategies. I have known Dan Druff as an acquaintance for several years and can verify that he knows what he is talking about with said card counting. I'm neither a professional blackjack nor a professional poker player, but I am pretty knowledgeable about both games, and I have been kicked out of my fair share of casinos for card counting.

    I'd like to add an interest anecdote whereby I was barred from a casino, and then "unbarred."

    About a year ago, I was playing at the Bellagio in their $25 minimum, 6-deck shoe game. After about 15 minutes of play, I was down a moderate amount, about $400.

    In the middle of a shoe, a guy in a suit comes up behind me, and says "Tommy, I need to have a word with you." (Tommy is not my real name.) The suit says that I am no longer welcome on the property, and that I must leave.

    I was surprised that the suit said my name, since I had not given out a players card or any other form of ID to the dealer or pit boss when starting my session. In fact, I hadn't used a players card in over 5 years at any MGM Mirage casino (of which Bellagio is a part of). I had, however, been backed off at Mirage and Aria over the past couple of years.

    Clearly, the suit must have known my name from Bellagio's facial recognition system. The suit, by mentioning my name, was clearly trying to say "We know who you are, and you're not fooling anybody."

    I was clearly very disturbed at this turn of events, not so much because I was no longer able to play blackjack at Bellagio, but more so because Bellagio is a place where I come frequently to do non-Blackjack stuff, such as playing in their poker room, eating at their buffet, staying in their hotel, and probably most importantly, meeting friends there.

    In any case, without making a scene, I calmly say OK and ask if I can just cash out my chips. (I had been in for a grand, so I had about $600 in chips.) The suit says OK, and he and I walk over to the cashiers cage. There is a person ahead of me in line. While I wait, the suit says, "Tommy, you know, I respect what you do, but I hope you respect what we do as well."

    I then decided to pull a line out of my "public relations" frame of mind. I said to the suit, "I definitely respect what you do, and I do realize that this is private property and that you have the right to ask anyone to leave for any reason."

    The suit, who looked surprised - probably because he never heard of such a line from any card counter he's barred before - then said, "OK, Tommy, I'm not going to bar you from this property, but - and I'm being serious - you are not allowed to do any more gambling, all right?"

    I was elated to hear that he rescinded my barring, likely because I treated the suit with respect. Note: This is the Bellagio, and they like to do things in a very professional manner. There were no security guards, and, given that the suit was not accompanied by any other people, it's likely I would have been able to walk out on my own even if the suit maintained his barring decision.

    My car was parked in their self-parking garage, and just for my own security, I decided not to head there, just in case they could catch my license plate number. I had to meet a friend around that time anyway near the strip, so I just took a taxi over there. I came back to get my car later that night during another shift.

    I have not gambled in any MGM Mirage property since that time, including in any of their poker rooms. While my playing poker at the Bellagio would be unlikely to cause a problem, I don't want to take any chances just in case.

    A few lessons: Don't be antagonistic when/if you're told to leave. Calmly ask to cash out your chips, and do as you're told. (An even better alternative is to have a friend that you trust cash in the chips for you, so you can just get the hell out of the casino. Of course, this is something you'll probably have to know beforehand, and if there's any doubt that you won't be able to have a friend get your money, just cash out right then and there.)

    Don't go to the "back room" and don't give any identification.

    Don't ask for permission to come back to the property if you've been barred (although you could try something like the line I used above).

    Don't play any Blackjack at a sister property (although you can probably step foot on a sister property as long as you don't gamble there.) At the very least, they'll know your face, and they may even know your name, even if you haven't used a players card in years. Once you get into their system, you'll probably be there forever.

    I have since stayed at the Bellagio a couple of times without incident. For extra protection, I've had a friend who plays -EV gambling, get a discounted room for me, and he checks in for me under his name.
    This is a very interesting story, and I'm sure it's true, because I know MiracleCard personally.

    It also shows the importance of NOT counting cards at properties where you really don't want to get banned.

    Every time you sit down at a blackjack table and start counting cards, ask yourself, "Will my life be negatively impacted if I can never set foot in this or any of the same company's properties ever again?"

    If the answer is YES, don't do it.

    For this reason, I no longer play blackjack at any Harrah's or MGM properties.

  2. #22
    I've been starting to practice on the iphone with "Card Counting Practice". anyone use it?

  3. #23
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goodpoop View Post
    I've been starting to practice on the iphone with "Card Counting Practice". anyone use it?
    Never used it, but the truth is that you don't really need a complex or expensive card counting program in order to get good enough to win in real life.

    As mentioned before, blackjack card counting requires discipline, the ability to not get distracted, and quick thinking.

    It does NOT require an amazing memory, critical thinking, "reads", skill gained from experience, etc.

    You can become a good card counter within a very short time, which makes it different from poker.

    Here's what you want in a card counting program:

    - Ability to adjust rules and penetration.

    - Ability to see if you did it right (that is, if you are keeping a correct count).

    - Ability to play at both slow and fast speeds. Make sure to play fast before trying real card counting in person.

    - Ability to play with the cards both face-up and face-down. You will need this because the real life games are of both varieties.

    That's really it.

    Don't worry about all of the other bells and whistles of these programs.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Goodpoop View Post
    I've been starting to practice on the iphone with "Card Counting Practice". anyone use it?
    Never used it, but the truth is that you don't really need a complex or expensive card counting program in order to get good enough to win in real life.

    As mentioned before, blackjack card counting requires discipline, the ability to not get distracted, and quick thinking.

    It does NOT require an amazing memory, critical thinking, "reads", skill gained from experience, etc.

    You can become a good card counter within a very short time, which makes it different from poker.

    Here's what you want in a card counting program:

    - Ability to adjust rules and penetration.

    - Ability to see if you did it right (that is, if you are keeping a correct count).

    - Ability to play at both slow and fast speeds. Make sure to play fast before trying real card counting in person.

    - Ability to play with the cards both face-up and face-down. You will need this because the real life games are of both varieties.

    That's really it.

    Don't worry about all of the other bells and whistles of these programs.
    Thanks. I down loaded a free basic one. It just flashes the cards and you can adjust the speed and and few other options. The most important think is you can always find out what the count is. I thought I'd start with the basics and move up from there. Thanks again.

    Have you ever thought of building a 21 team like MIT? You could teach and the new kids could play until they got caught.

  5. #25
    Serial Blogger BeerAndPoker's Avatar
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    I watched this recently. I'm not sure how new it is but very interesting going on the history of blackjack counting which I've heard some of these stories before seeing this but still I enjoyed this documentary.


  6. #26
    Bronze sd858duece's Avatar
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    a good book to read is: Blackjack for Blood by: Bryce Carlson

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Von Strucker View Post
    Jesus forgives a little card counting?

    )–“Shackled by a heavy burden/'neath a load of guilt and shame/ then the hand of Jesus touched me/ and now I am no longer the same.”

    So begins the popular William Gaither hymn. By popular, I mean Elvis once recorded a version of it, which is what it takes for a hymn anymore.

    When I stumbled into a church on the outskirts of Las Vegas one Sunday morning in 2007, I was shackled with my own heavy burden of sorts. I had $80,000 in cash hidden on my person. It was crammed into pockets, stuffed into socks and strapped beneath my clothes. The pastor was just getting his sermon fired up when I slipped into a back row with all the grace of a stiff-limbed Frankenstein.

    So much for going unnoticed.



    The pastor stopped midsentence and stared my way. Had he cleared his throat or even made an offhanded comment about punctuality, I would have understood. Instead, he called my first and last name into the microphone, and every head turned.

    Believe it or not, I had never been to this church. While I traveled to Vegas often, my time was spent in casinos, not churches.

    Blackjack is a beatable game. With card counting, perfect decision-making and plenty of capital, you can gain and cash in on an advantage against the house. East Coast college students, known as the MIT Team, used the method to plunder casinos in the 1980s and 1990s, inspiring books and movies and making card counting famous. But people have been employing this winning strategy in casinos for 50 years

    full article
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/0...ing/?hpt=hp_c2
    the holy rollers documentary about the christian card counters is on netflix. watching it now. its ok so far.

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Charham View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Von Strucker View Post
    Jesus forgives a little card counting?

    )–“Shackled by a heavy burden/'neath a load of guilt and shame/ then the hand of Jesus touched me/ and now I am no longer the same.”

    So begins the popular William Gaither hymn. By popular, I mean Elvis once recorded a version of it, which is what it takes for a hymn anymore.

    When I stumbled into a church on the outskirts of Las Vegas one Sunday morning in 2007, I was shackled with my own heavy burden of sorts. I had $80,000 in cash hidden on my person. It was crammed into pockets, stuffed into socks and strapped beneath my clothes. The pastor was just getting his sermon fired up when I slipped into a back row with all the grace of a stiff-limbed Frankenstein.

    So much for going unnoticed.



    The pastor stopped midsentence and stared my way. Had he cleared his throat or even made an offhanded comment about punctuality, I would have understood. Instead, he called my first and last name into the microphone, and every head turned.

    Believe it or not, I had never been to this church. While I traveled to Vegas often, my time was spent in casinos, not churches.

    Blackjack is a beatable game. With card counting, perfect decision-making and plenty of capital, you can gain and cash in on an advantage against the house. East Coast college students, known as the MIT Team, used the method to plunder casinos in the 1980s and 1990s, inspiring books and movies and making card counting famous. But people have been employing this winning strategy in casinos for 50 years

    full article
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/0...ing/?hpt=hp_c2
    the holy rollers documentary about the christian card counters is on netflix. watching it now. its ok so far.
    Watched the whole movie, it is not very interesting so can't recommend it. Basically a bunch of younger "christians" got together (they all have hipster beards and drink micro brews, play electric guitars in small churches, etc.) to pool resources and share in the profits. Despite card counting and being fronted a lot of money, it appears they don't make money in the end. They rely on the christian angle to keep everyone honest and not skim profits off the top. Basically whatever you make you put back in the pool. Pretty obv what happens, people steal and the pool falls apart. I think the term is affinity scam, but basically people let their guard down when they think they are dealing with someone "like" themselves, same religion so no way they would steal from me.... one thing struck me about their technique, they hit these casinos hard with tens of thousands of dollars and get kicked out pretty quickly.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Charham View Post
    ............................. one thing struck me about their technique, they hit these casinos hard with tens of thousands of dollars and get kicked out pretty quickly.
    I heard a guy, Rusty, or Dusty, and he said they just admit it, they don't fight it at all.
    If security asks them if they are counting, they say yes.

  10. #30
    Bronze sd858duece's Avatar
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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyG_415 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Charham View Post
    ............................. one thing struck me about their technique, they hit these casinos hard with tens of thousands of dollars and get kicked out pretty quickly.
    I heard a guy, Rusty, or Dusty, and he said they just admit it, they don't fight it at all.
    If security asks them if they are counting, they say yes.
    back in 2001 I used to count at all the indian casinos in san diego area... I would build fat stacks of chips then bet max bet on random freshly shuffled decks and just gamble sometimes I would win ridiculous amounts of money and sometimes I would lose ridiculous amounts of money but I would always leave a couple grand...

    all the pit bosses knew I was counting but also liked the fact that I would put out max bets on freshly shuffled decks and gamble... I would just make sure I was still leaving with a little profit

  11. #31
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sd858duece View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyG_415 View Post

    I heard a guy, Rusty, or Dusty, and he said they just admit it, they don't fight it at all.
    If security asks them if they are counting, they say yes.
    back in 2001 I used to count at all the indian casinos in san diego area... I would build fat stacks of chips then bet max bet on random freshly shuffled decks and just gamble sometimes I would win ridiculous amounts of money and sometimes I would lose ridiculous amounts of money but I would always leave a couple grand...

    all the pit bosses knew I was counting but also liked the fact that I would put out max bets on freshly shuffled decks and gamble... I would just make sure I was still leaving with a little profit
    I hate to tell you but putting max bets at the wrong time (such as right after the shuffle) will kill your edge enough to where you're not +EV anymore.

    That's why the pit bosses tolerated it.

    Similarly, they tolerate card counters who make incorrect (major) decisions and/or lose the count while playing.

    This is especially true at bigger joints where they are more sophisticated at figuring out whether you are a +EV counter. At small Indian casinos, they tend to kick you at the slightest sign you're counting. Interestingly, -EV counters take these ejections as a badge of honor, and assume they're doing something right.

  12. #32
    Bronze sd858duece's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sd858duece View Post

    back in 2001 I used to count at all the indian casinos in san diego area... I would build fat stacks of chips then bet max bet on random freshly shuffled decks and just gamble sometimes I would win ridiculous amounts of money and sometimes I would lose ridiculous amounts of money but I would always leave a couple grand...

    all the pit bosses knew I was counting but also liked the fact that I would put out max bets on freshly shuffled decks and gamble... I would just make sure I was still leaving with a little profit
    I hate to tell you but putting max bets at the wrong time (such as right after the shuffle) will kill your edge enough to where you're not +EV anymore.

    That's why the pit bosses tolerated it.

    Similarly, they tolerate card counters who make incorrect (major) decisions and/or lose the count while playing.

    This is especially true at bigger joints where they are more sophisticated at figuring out whether you are a +EV counter. At small Indian casinos, they tend to kick you at the slightest sign you're counting. Interestingly, -EV counters take these ejections as a badge of honor, and assume they're doing something right.
    that's why I would leave with 50k or I would leave with 2k... either way I was happy and being able to come back is a plus...

  13. #33
    Bronze sd858duece's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sd858duece View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post

    I hate to tell you but putting max bets at the wrong time (such as right after the shuffle) will kill your edge enough to where you're not +EV anymore.

    That's why the pit bosses tolerated it.

    Similarly, they tolerate card counters who make incorrect (major) decisions and/or lose the count while playing.

    This is especially true at bigger joints where they are more sophisticated at figuring out whether you are a +EV counter. At small Indian casinos, they tend to kick you at the slightest sign you're counting. Interestingly, -EV counters take these ejections as a badge of honor, and assume they're doing something right.
    that's why I would leave with 50k or I would leave with 2k... either way I was happy and being able to come back is a plus...
    I used to be a big degenerate back in those days...

  14. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Charham View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Charham View Post
    the holy rollers documentary about the christian card counters is on netflix. watching it now. its ok so far.
    Watched the whole movie, it is not very interesting so can't recommend it. Basically a bunch of younger "christians" got together (they all have hipster beards and drink micro brews, play electric guitars in small churches, etc.) to pool resources and share in the profits. Despite card counting and being fronted a lot of money, it appears they don't make money in the end. They rely on the christian angle to keep everyone honest and not skim profits off the top. Basically whatever you make you put back in the pool. Pretty obv what happens, people steal and the pool falls apart. I think the term is affinity scam, but basically people let their guard down when they think they are dealing with someone "like" themselves, same religion so no way they would steal from me.... one thing struck me about their technique, they hit these casinos hard with tens of thousands of dollars and get kicked out pretty quickly.
    I just watched this, finally. I wouldn't recommend it either, then again it is gambling.

    What I couldn't believe is they kicked that guy out for stealing, not w/any proof, but because god told 2 people he was stealing.
    WTF? he had the biggest month at that luncheon.
    When they said they fired him, I thought they meant they fired the whack job that has the relationship w/god.

    I wish they put that firing on tape, ala Hard Knocks. How did that conversation even go? "We talked to god, and even though you are our # 1 guy, we know you are stealing"

    They seem like wannabee stoners.
    Last edited by JimmyG_415; 07-10-2014 at 07:53 PM.

  15. #35
    So I'm starting to get into the advanced play here.
    I love black jack again.

    My biggest problem is distractions. I mean the cocktail waitress comes up to the table, I'm done for.
    Luckily in Reno, there are all kinds of single deck, but still I need to improve that.

    There are 2 types of dealers I can't stand.
    # 1 the one that won't shut up/w/ the real high energy, I find them so F'ing distracting.
    # 2 then the ones that look down on you for not playing basic strategy every hand. I used to be like this as both a dealer (in college), and as a player.
    Now I love shitty players at my table, so no one questions me
    When you hit a 14 vs a 2, people just get angry, i avoid 3rd base for this reason.

    I've been keeping track w/my chips, but I know if I raise the stakes that would be a dead give away.
    I'm pretty sure druff said he chats up the table, so he must not have any problems keeping count.
    anyone, else, Grenada, JSTAT, tips for avoiding distractions, and keeping count?

  16. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyG_415 View Post
    So I'm starting to get into the advanced play here.
    I love black jack again.

    My biggest problem is distractions. I mean the cocktail waitress comes up to the table, I'm done for.
    Luckily in Reno, there are all kinds of single deck, but still I need to improve that.

    There are 2 types of dealers I can't stand.
    # 1 the one that won't shut up/w/ the real high energy, I find them so F'ing distracting.
    # 2 then the ones that look down on you for not playing basic strategy every hand. I used to be like this as both a dealer (in college), and as a player.
    Now I love shitty players at my table, so no one questions me
    When you hit a 14 vs a 2, people just get angry, i avoid 3rd base for this reason.

    I've been keeping track w/my chips, but I know if I raise the stakes that would be a dead give away.
    I'm pretty sure druff said he chats up the table, so he must not have any problems keeping count.
    anyone, else, Grenada, JSTAT, tips for avoiding distractions, and keeping count?
    avoid answering questions by the dealer and counting...just figure when you first sit down the dealer will ask polite questions to make conversation (particularly if you are the only one at the table)...give short answers and don't light up to a question...generally after a 5 minutes or so the conversation will stop and the dealer focus on the game...then you can count...so the first 5 minutes play basic strategy without counting and flat bet the minimum...once the dealer stops chatting, then up your bets stakes/bet level, starting with a fresh deck, begin counting and moving your bet sizes--the problem is if you want a heads up action but are likely to have another player sit down in a few minutes...ploppies love to follow, even if there are other tables empty, they will go to the table with someone sitting at it...in that case, be loud and excitable while the table is heads up and you are counting...call for cards to make you hand, celebrate winning hands and grumble at losses...the dealers will not talk to you as it looks like you are out for fun and you don't look like a stoic counter...but keep the session short, your noise attracts attention...its easy for me to count while doing that as i am saying the same phrases over and over--little thinking needed, unlike answering questions

    re waitress...get a drink while playing slots first, and take it the table with you, nurse it, you have an excuse to say no to the waitress

    let me ask you this though...are you playing a level 2 count, or side counting aces with a level one? those are good counts for single or double deck games, but they do require more focus/skill, and may not fit the playing conditions you encounter...simple level one counts may be better for you
    (long before there was a PFA i had my Grenade & Crossbones avatar at DD)

  17. #37
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyG_415 View Post
    So I'm starting to get into the advanced play here.
    I love black jack again.

    My biggest problem is distractions. I mean the cocktail waitress comes up to the table, I'm done for.
    Luckily in Reno, there are all kinds of single deck, but still I need to improve that.

    There are 2 types of dealers I can't stand.
    # 1 the one that won't shut up/w/ the real high energy, I find them so F'ing distracting.
    # 2 then the ones that look down on you for not playing basic strategy every hand. I used to be like this as both a dealer (in college), and as a player.
    Now I love shitty players at my table, so no one questions me
    When you hit a 14 vs a 2, people just get angry, i avoid 3rd base for this reason.

    I've been keeping track w/my chips, but I know if I raise the stakes that would be a dead give away.
    I'm pretty sure druff said he chats up the table, so he must not have any problems keeping count.
    anyone, else, Grenada, JSTAT, tips for avoiding distractions, and keeping count?
    I'll tell you that there is one and only one distraction which makes me lose the count: A stressful, high-count hand, where I have a big bet out. Win or lose, sometimes the excitement over the result can make me forget the exact count. I try to avoid that occurring, though.

    Anyway, everyone has their own distractions. You need to figure out what yours are (looks like you have) and then figure out a way to tune it out.

    I would ignore the players who bitch at you. No matter what position you're at the table, someone might complain that your non-standard play caused the dealer to make 21 instead of bust. You can't avoid these people. Either ignore them or calmly say, "I like playing my own way. If that bothers you, maybe you'd be better off being at a different table than me."

    Players are not allowed to harass you at the table, so if someone gets too obnoxious, you can also call the pit boss over and complain. I have never done this, though, and just choose to ignore such people.

    When I talk at the table, I just run my mouth about the ongoing hand without really thinking about what I'm saying, so as to not distract myself from the count. I'm sure it annoys some people and the dealer, but that's the breaks.

    Like someone will have 15 and draw a 5, and I'll be sitting on 15 myself (acting after), and I'll say, "Oh wow, look at that. You took my 5! Well, maybe there's a 6 for me! Come on dealer, let's see a 6! Actually a 5 is cool too! Come on, no ten, no ten, no ten...."

    Or I'll start jabbering about how the dealer is/isn't busting a lot recently, how "yesterday" the dealer was hitting everything (I like to say this when I'm winning, so as to make it look like I'm just a sad-sack gambler who is winning right now through dumb luck), etc.

    Not sure how the cocktail waitress is distracting you. Because she's hot? Because she is serving drinks? I would just ignore her if she's such a distraction.

  18. #38
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Also I would revisit your play if you aren't getting barred in Reno.

    They clamped down on me super fast at nearly every casino I tried there.

    If somehow you are playing single deck and counting, and nothing is happening, perhaps you are making big mistakes that you're not aware of.

  19. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Also I would revisit your play if you aren't getting barred in Reno.

    They clamped down on me super fast at nearly every casino I tried there.

    If somehow you are playing single deck and counting, and nothing is happening, perhaps you are making big mistakes that you're not aware of.
    LOL, I've read some horror stories, like a guy getting chased for raising from 5 to 17.
    Last week was only my 4th trip since trying to count, so I'm playing small until I feel comfortable.
    1-5 spread, so mostly $ 5-25. but sometimes $ 10-$50.

    I used to be a gambler, but I just can't do anything for over the minimum unless I'm +EV, anymore.

    Before I started this, I was trying Video poker.
    I can go over 1000 hands at 100 % accuracy at Jacks or better, but I can't find a slot club to take the payback from 99.54 to 100.
    I saw your thing on the seven seas, but I'm only interested in profits.
    TR's (even the one's outside of vegas) only add .1, so 99.64.
    If there was a way to get that to 101 %, I'd get a BR together.
    Last edited by JimmyG_415; 09-01-2014 at 06:00 PM.

  20. #40
    That is some solid advice for the tables, thanks.

    I started w/the basic hi lo, but Richard Munchkin suggested the KO (and some other one) I had the book for KO from Full tilt pointd, so I've been using that and it has been working pretty good.
    But I have casino verite, so I can put any system in, which one are you suggesting?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrenadaRoger View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyG_415 View Post
    So I'm starting to get into the advanced play here.
    I love black jack again.

    My biggest problem is distractions. I mean the cocktail waitress comes up to the table, I'm done for.
    Luckily in Reno, there are all kinds of single deck, but still I need to improve that.

    There are 2 types of dealers I can't stand.
    # 1 the one that won't shut up/w/ the real high energy, I find them so F'ing distracting.
    # 2 then the ones that look down on you for not playing basic strategy every hand. I used to be like this as both a dealer (in college), and as a player.
    Now I love shitty players at my table, so no one questions me
    When you hit a 14 vs a 2, people just get angry, i avoid 3rd base for this reason.

    I've been keeping track w/my chips, but I know if I raise the stakes that would be a dead give away.
    I'm pretty sure druff said he chats up the table, so he must not have any problems keeping count.
    anyone, else, Grenada, JSTAT, tips for avoiding distractions, and keeping count?
    avoid answering questions by the dealer and counting...just figure when you first sit down the dealer will ask polite questions to make conversation (particularly if you are the only one at the table)...give short answers and don't light up to a question...generally after a 5 minutes or so the conversation will stop and the dealer focus on the game...then you can count...so the first 5 minutes play basic strategy without counting and flat bet the minimum...once the dealer stops chatting, then up your bets stakes/bet level, starting with a fresh deck, begin counting and moving your bet sizes--the problem is if you want a heads up action but are likely to have another player sit down in a few minutes...ploppies love to follow, even if there are other tables empty, they will go to the table with someone sitting at it...in that case, be loud and excitable while the table is heads up and you are counting...call for cards to make you hand, celebrate winning hands and grumble at losses...the dealers will not talk to you as it looks like you are out for fun and you don't look like a stoic counter...but keep the session short, your noise attracts attention...its easy for me to count while doing that as i am saying the same phrases over and over--little thinking needed, unlike answering questions

    re waitress...get a drink while playing slots first, and take it the table with you, nurse it, you have an excuse to say no to the waitress

    let me ask you this though...are you playing a level 2 count, or side counting aces with a level one? those are good counts for single or double deck games, but they do require more focus/skill, and may not fit the playing conditions you encounter...simple level one counts may be better for you

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