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'1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors' by By Glen Wiggy - Book Review

What's Inside

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

Photo courtesy (Glen Wiggy)

1536 Waters Book Cover

Photo courtesy (Glen Wiggy)

1536 Free Waters is a humorous look at the world of casino gambling through the eyes of a blackjack player. Author Glen Wiggy presents nearly a decade of blackjack experiences, over 800 sessions, as he bucked the odds, learned basic strategy and card counting, and beat the casino at the only game that can be regularly beaten by a skilled player.

With Illustrations by Leif Olson, Wiggy dedicated the book to his wife, and others, including: "To my harshest critic, my dog, Newman, one day you will die, and then a month later, I’ll get a new dog." For those who are learning blackjack, the whole key to the game is in that sentence - sometimes your bankroll for a session will die, but you can start a new session very soon, as long as you still have money left.

High Points

  • Lighthearted but factual accounting of blackjack and card counting
  • Humor and sarcasm are equally available at no extra cost to the reader
  • Just enough blackjack terminology is explained for any reader to understand the game
  • The author was an associate college professor of probability and statistics at the Air Force Academy
Low Points
  • The book cover and graphics could be better
  • The first 20 pages are devoted to Glen's teenage years playing poker and blackjack
  • Dozens of pages on the Wiggy family and golf
Description
  • 1536 Waters by Glen Wiggy was released in 2012
  • 232 pages with hand-playing charts
  • Published through iUniverse

Guide Review - '1536 Waters' by Glen Wiggy - Book Review

1536 Waters starts off with a precursor to how to play blackjack and includes terminology and a humorous look at what a player can expect when they first try their hand at casino blackjack.

From the title alone, readers should understand that this isn't a standard blackjack instruction manual. In truth, the text reads more like a memoir, starting with the high school adventures of a poker and blackjack player (and it's realistic, speaking as one who had much the same start in gambling). Fortunately Mr. Wiggy is fairly literate and funny, so reading his narrative is enjoyable, if you don't mind getting several pages about his family and his father's golf-directed existence.

Fortunately, the author returns to blackjack and the idea of counting cards, giving the reader a chance to understand the basic concepts and a simple plus/minus count. Strangely enough, he follows this with basic strategy instruction, and while the order is odd, the information is good, so a little leeway is allowed here.

Mismanagement of Resources

Like so many gamblers, Mr. Willy falls into a trap littered with the bodies of earlier, winning gamblers: mismanagement of his gambling bankroll. Although he learned basic strategy, card counting, and even shifted his focus to getting hundreds of free bottled waters, there was a major disconnect when he used his gambling money for other things (mostly a house down payment, so that's not so bad) and then had the proverbial "bad month," that every gambler has at some time or another.

As with other players, it put him out of business for a while, but his quest to become a winning player was not over. He continued playing smaller stakes (feeling like a pro ballplayer who gets sent to the bus leagues to start over) and simply returned to his roots. After he had a few winning sessions he was ready to risk more of his hard-earned money (from the Air Force) at the casino, even if his wife was still a Doubting Mary, as many wives of winning players will be. He also learns, and relays, how to keep your ego and emotional bankroll in check while choosing the right dealer for your needs.

Overall Impressions

Overall, this is an entertaining book with enough beginning blackjack and card counting theory and instruction to make it a reasonable purchase for new players. Experienced players are likely to have their own blackjack stories, so there may not be as much for them to glean from the 200+ pages of the book.

In addition, as mentioned above, all gamblers are going to experience good sessions and bad sessions. Missing from the text is any detailed instruction on bankroll management, especially when bet-size is considered. In some session stories Mr. Wiggy seemed to simply bet whatever he had available on his person, not a sound approach to casino gambling.

When playing a game that can be beaten, such as blackjack, a look at the players' element of ruin and their overall chance of long-term success should be a vital factor in bet size. In addition, with most rules in US casinos, a bet range of at least 7-1 is necessary to achieve reasonable numbers to continue playing- and winning. Red-chip players need to vary their bet from $5 to $35 to achieve even a 1/2 percent edge when counting, and a more realistic goal of 10-1 is necessary to maintain a reasonable return on the players time. Those aspects of card counting seem to be missing from this otherwise fun and enjoyable read.

The E-book cost is just $3.99, making it an easy purchase that will be enjoyed by most new casino gamblers.

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