Card Counting Legend Tommy Hyland – Exclusive Interview


– [Colin] This is
always a special treat, if you guys don’t know
who Tommy Hyland is. He would never call himself this, but he’s a legend. He’s a huge hero to us, inspiration. He’s become a friend. So, give Tommy a round of applause (audience applauses) – Basically I didn’t have any
particular affinity for math, no background in math, I
just went to a small college in Ohio, Wittenberg, and I was taking Political Science and a lot of the guys I hung
around with liked to gamble. We were playing some
poker, and some backgammon. This was a small blue-collar town in Ohio. And there wasn’t much to do, so one time we happened
to go in a bookstore and there was a Blackjack book which I later found out was really an incredible book for it’s time. Playing Blackjack as a
Business by Lawrence Revere and we bought the book and for a simpleton like me
this was the perfect book. It had these nice beautiful color charts, it illustrated how to play basic strategy, and explained card counting pretty well. And so my roommate and
I started practicing. And the one thing the book didn’t tell us, is they didn’t tell us how to actually do the running count at the table. They told you that the two
through six was plus one, and seven, eight, and nine was nothing, and ten through ace was minus one. So we understood that, but we didn’t actually physically
know how to do the count. And we saw how fast, to
us, these dealers dealt. And we figured, well you
must have to be some kind of memory expert to keep this count. So what we used to do is
we’d sit next to each other on the five dollar table. And I would count the high cards and he would count the
low cards or vice versa. And then whisper after every
round to each other what we had and then we would subtract. And we knew how to do
the true count and all but nobody, and this went on
for like, believe it or not, this went on for like two months. We must’ve played 20
or 30 times like this. And we were winning, you know. The rules were very favorable
back then in Atlantic City. And we only had 1000 dollars each, and eventually we ran into
some other card counter He told us, well look
all you do is wait ’til the person on first
base gets a second card then you cancel out. You know, all this time
playing we were concentrating on not making any playing
errors and all that so we never, so anyway it took us about six
months to build up the 1000 up to 4000 each. And then we met these other two guys that were card counters, young guys, that were just starting out. We used to find a casino
that you know we didn’t want to play regular Blackjack at and we used to use it
for a training casino. And I’d just stand behind him and you know they have
to do three or four shoes you know bet reasonably correctly and not make any playing errors. And every time they’d make an error, I’d hit em, why did you do
that, and stuff like that. Yeah I wasn’t always the guy in charge. I was usually like a co-manager, or I bet I’ve been on
bankrolls with probably well over a hundred different people. Over the years, probably
closer to two hundred. When I was kinda young
and a little reckless, people would be coming out the, they heard about the success we were
having around this golf course and the word spread like wildfire and basically people would come up to me and say, hey I got a cousin,
he’s really good at math, can he play, and I’d say oh I’ll meet him. I would take him on the team eventually and as you can imagine that
led to a lot of problems. I had a lot of good players,
some of my best players were close friends, and some
of my other best players I just met, somebody introduced me to em. Starting in October or
November, I try and play a lot until next April. When I say a lot, I’m not
talking about at Joe’s level, he plays way more hours than I do. But like this year I
should end up with about 350 hours or something. So seven hours a week
or something like that. People ask me that all the time they say “Aren’t you banned everywhere?” and I say well, these days it’s impossible to not be able to play, if
you wanna play Blackjack. I mean there’s so many casinos I mean hundreds and hundreds of casinos You know some people might think that the old days of Blackjack were better when the games were better,
they had four decks, they dealt down the half a deck or they had better rules. But there’s a lot to
be said for these days. What is there over 30 states for sure probably 35 states with Blackjack, and a lot of them are not that smart and there’s no way you
could get kicked out of every casino where you could make money. I haven’t been to some
states in 10 or 12 years where I know there’s good games. Luckily I’m not six foot
ten or something like that. My face is not that
memorable, I grow a beard, and I comb my hair different, wear a hat. Until I start betting really big, they don’t really notice me right away. My philosophy almost since the beginning, and I had arguments with other
team members or something is always get the money first. Don’t worry so much about
if the casino likes you, if you’re gonna lose your comps, getting the EV, and getting the money is way more important than worrying about getting kicked out. That happened on our team a lot. People were so scared,
they might’ve had a nasty back off or something like that and they were so scared that they were afraid
to put the money out. And you gotta put that money out there when the count’s good. I mean you can mess around, your small edges you can fool around at True one and True Two. But when that count gets good, you gotta send that money out there. And when a count gets bad, you gotta get off the
table, or bet the minimum. Luckily, these days, I’ve
had some nasty incidents in the past, but, I’d say
in the last eight or ten years almost every back
off has been pleasant. Or they might tell you,
“We’re gonna arrest you for “tresspassing the next time.” And I don’t really let that stop me if they tell me that, I
don’t go in the next day or something, but I’ll go in
six months or a year later. And then what invariably
happens, almost every time, is they say the same thing,
“The very next time we’re “gonna arrest you for trespassing.” And most of the time it’s a bluff. Once in awhile they’ll follow
through, but it’s very rare. They don’t wanna have the hassle, and it’s not clear that they’re allowed to arrest you for trespassing. It’s basically a gray area and they’re not sure what
they’re allowed to do, and we’re not sure, now in New Jersey they absolutely can’t do it, in Missouri they can’t do it. And other places, maybe
they can maybe they can’t. Certainly card counters
aren’t in the wrong at all. I think it’s one of the most ethical, and honorable things you can do, is play Blackjack against the casinos. I’m sure everybody knows
somebody or has heard of somebody that’s had their life ruined by a casino. Where somebody’s lost their family, or their house or whatever. And these casinos are ruthless. I mean just read, there’s a good book, Whale Hunt in the
Desert, by a casino host, or it’s about a casino host, absolutely how ruthless these people are about trying to get every last cent from these high rollers and stuff. Now I think that’s, the
money is certainly better off in your pocket, than in these casinos. They’re not really nice people. They have a lot of influence
with these politicians and these courts. And for them to be able to, for
just doing math in your head while you’re playing a game, by the rules that they offer. For them to be able to arrest,
or threaten to arrest you or force you in a back room,
and all this, is really wrong. It’s not a close call as
to who’s in the right, the card counters or the
casinos, I don’t think. Well there’s a lot of good
things about card counting, to be thankful for. I mean the fact that
your time is your own. The one thing we all are
gonna run out of is time. Some of us may run out of money, all that but time is the
most precious thing you have and to have the time your own, to be able to go out and
play when you want to, to not have to be at a certain
place at a certain time, is worth a lot. I’ve had 40 years of
that, where if I feel like playing Blackjack I play Blackjack. If I feel like I wanna play
golf, I can go play golf. You know whatever. So that’s
probably the best thing. And then another great thing
is all the people you meet. I’ve met some incredibly smart guys. One of my early teams I
had, there was five of us. One guy’s probably gone on
to be the highest winning gambler in the history of the world. And he was one of my first teammates, in fact he started out similar to me, he had basically no money and he was just about to take a job, at a Burger King, on the graveyard shift, because he was down
below a thousand dollars he happened to be playing, and he met some other guy
who was a card counter, and the guy saw he played really well, and he invited him back to their place to join the team. And now he’s a billionaire from gambling. Some of the people you
meet, it’s been phenomenal. Be aggressive. The other thing
we didn’t talk about much is you really have to bet in
proportion to your bank roll. You have to size your bet to
how much advantage you have, on a particular thing. That’s really important. You can’t go betting black chips when you have five or
ten thousand dollars. You have to put the hours in, keep your expenses down, and build your bankroll up. And then you bet in
proportion to that bankroll. And be aggressive, don’t be worried about getting kicked out of one casino, there’s a thousand other
casinos to play at. I don’t know why more
people don’t do this. I think it’s a really
good way to make a living. There’s not that many
people that play Blackjack for their main source of income. When I first started
doing it, I didn’t know that I was gonna do it for 40 years. I figured oh I’m gonna do this for awhile, and then I was thinking
of teaching school, or you know various things, doing something with golf. If I had to say when
would be the best time to play Blackjack, I might say it was now. You know, that’s only my opinion. Other people say it was
definitely better in the old days. But I think this is a real good time to make money at Blackjack. In the beginning, I was a young kid, once we learned this stuff and the money just kept coming in, we thought that this is the
easiest thing in the world. And I did a lot of careless stuff. I was real sloppy with the accounting, I remember one time we
had a house down off of Atlantic City Brigantine, I remember walking into
the house with a briefcase, full of money, I forgot
to secure the latches on the briefcase, and it was windy and the briefcase just popped open and there was money blowing
all around the neighborhood. (audience laughs)




Comments
  1. Hey Colin awesome video man 🙂
    Just wondering do you still think card counting is a profession in 2017?
    Im new to Blackjack and contemplating studying it and hope to excel and make some money.
    Thanks man

  2. He is one of the kindest, most humane animal advocates I know. If you love animals, fight for those who can't fight for themselves, be it four-legged or two-legged, it sure says alot about someone. Tommy is one very kind and compassionate person, and I am proud to have met him once.

  3. Finally got a +7 true count on 2 deck lucky ladies a week ago. $100 bet. Was dealt two 7s against a 5. Split for another 7. Split again. 17, 13, 15…. dealer shows a 5-3, draws an 8 and then a 5 for a 21.. SAVAGE!

  4. In this documentary, Tommy said there were times when he'd walk into a casino after being barred and they DIDN'T arrest him for trespassing. I don't get it. Under what circumstances is a card counter justified in risking an arrest and reentering a casino after being barred? Is there any way to know how much time is passed and where you can pull it off (besides AC) before you can pull off something like that?

  5. Thanks for opportunity to listen the best of the best 🙂 Great interview. I just strarted my journey playing 21

  6. When faced with a backoff/89:
    1. Don't say anything to anyone.
    2. Don't let them take you to a backroom or everywhere out of public view – resist forcibly if necessary!
    3. Don't show ID.
    4. Grab your chips and leave. Come back later after a shift change or at a later date to cash them.
    Never forget: Casino security are like cops, they think they're above the law and won't hesitate to fuck you up. Casinos regularly have to pay massive payouts to settle lawsuits from customers.

  7. "You can't bet black chips if you have five to $10,000" I thought as a general rule you needed to have 100 times your maximum bet, so wouldn't a black chip be okay to bet?

  8. Check out our interview with two long time members of the church team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv1aU_XNuac&list=PL4HeBZsaiIf4otKzjmjtwkBGb0XFBXRtS

  9. “Time is the most precious thing you have”, true statement and that’s what brought me to this channel.

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