In June of 2005, I was busy playing Three Card Poker in a downtown Las Vegas casino as a member of a “team.” By no means were we a serious group of APs. Our team consisted of a friend who traveled with two others from Florida for their semi-annual vacation to Las Vegas. Together, we had been hole-carding Three Card Poker for several years, making tens of dollars in profit. On this particular day, I learned that just down the street an important trial was coming to an end. James Grosjean’s trial against Griffin Investigations and Caesars Palace was in its closing arguments. And the courthouse was just a couple of blocks away.
I walked down the street to the courthouse and for the first and only time in my life, I saw and later met James Grosjean. I watched the final witness testify. I watched the closing arguments. I waited outside the courthouse with Grosjean and his attorney Bob Nersesian for the verdict. I was inside the courthouse when the verdict was read. Afterwards, I personally congratulated Grosjean and Nersesian .
I still remember the first time I heard Grosjean’s name. In late 2001, as I was busy counting cards, an AP who went by the name “El Burro” told me that I should buy a copy of “Beyond Counting” by James Grosjean. He told me it was worth every penny of the $39.95 price tag. I didn’t buy it. There were bookstores full of over-priced gambling books that made extraordinary claims; I had a hard time believing a book with such an outrageous title could be any different. It was an arrogant view. Yes, I did judge the book by its title. Now, Beyond Counting is widely recognized as one of the most significant books ever written on the subject of advantage play. It is on par with “Beat the Dealer.” It is iconic.
Here is a review of Beyond Counting by Nick Christenson, dated November 5, 2000:
If you want to get one of the original copies, you will have to pay a lot more than $39.95. But for the AP or casino manager who believes that advantage play means blackjack card counting, it is still worth every penny.
In 2009, James Grosjean updated Beyond Counting. This new iteration of his book is a 700 page opus titled “Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting.” Grosjean's massive collection of information goes way beyond what the original covered.
James Grosjean is a hero for those on both sides of the table. His willingness to write about a portion of what he knows has improved the quality of life for hundreds of highly skilled APs, while simultaneously raising the awareness of casino management to the scope of AP tools. His book shows game developers that they had better be careful; APs are waiting to beat their games.
Grosjean stated that “Casinos are Scum …" While I completely disagree with this sentiment, his academic approach certainly inspired the mission of this website: fact-based information that affects people with opposite goals is best served in the public domain. However, Grosjean’s true motive still eludes me. Who was his target audience? Why did he write out this information in such detail? Why did he make the first edition of his book available for public purchase? What will be the ultimate result on quality and quantity of high-level AP opportunities as a result of the publicity he has generated? What did he gain from writing, publishing and selling his book?
Here is a recent exchange from a message board forum on a website James Grosjean used to host:
Brock Windsor, Wednesday May 30, 2012: Is anyone else finding it significantly more difficult to find and keep opportunities this year than it had been in the last two years?
WRX, August 25, 2012: Yes, I think that it's become much tougher in MANY locations within the past couple of years, and particularly within the past several months. ... Maybe the Bill Zenders and Eliot Jacobsons of the world are finally being listened to … There may simply be too many of us ... It's so hard to find a game that the temptation is to bet the bejeezus out of it when we find one ... That leads to more scrutiny, and more games being fixed, a vicious cycle.
Ace-King, September 24, 2012: It is my opinion that this information & discussion online is too easily available to the public... With fewer reckless rookie attempts, the less pressure, the less scrutiny, the less that casinos will listen to the Zenders & Jacobsons of the world, and hopefully keeping lucrative opportunities widely available at our disposal.
Is it possible that the "James Grosjeans of the world" have shared too much for the good of the AP community?
Finally, there are two great articles on James Grosjean that tell his story. Both are written by the journalist Michael Kaplan:
The Game Killer, Cigar Aficionado, March/April, 2009
Casino Killers: How a Harvard Maths Graduate is Beating Vegas, Wired Magazine, January, 2010