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  1. #1

    Default Card counters and lawyers

    Getting The Advantage
    What card sharks can teach you about the practice of law

    By Jake Miller
    New York Lawyer
    March 2001

    When most people think of card counting, they think of secret computers hidden in a gambler’s shoe, or of Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie Rain Man, an idiot savant who is a human numbers-crunching machine. But the truth is, to count cards you don’t have to remember the values of every card played as it’s dealt, all you have to remember is a simple single-digit number that tells you when the cards are running in your favor. Start at zero, and subtract one for every ten or face card that’s played. Add one for every low card. When the count is high, raise your bet. When it’s low, walk away and find another table. The technique works so well that the casinos pay private detectives to keep track of known card counters so they can be barred from playing. Even if counting cards is perfectly legal the casinos don’t have to let you take their money from them.

    Advantage Play
    It doesn’t stop with counting cards, either. John May’s Get the Edge at Blackjack details a set of strategies that world-class card counters call advantage play. Using statistical analysis to refine their method, along with careful observation — and manipulation — of the casino’s shuffling patterns, they maintain that it’s even possible to predict when an individual card — say, the ace of hearts — will be dealt.
    Great news for blackjack players, you say, but what’s that got to do with being a better lawyer? Simple: You can use the same strategies to gain an advantage in your cases and in your career.

    The System
    Just as people assume that to count cards, you need to be a math whiz, the conventional wisdom is that to be a successful attorney, you need to have an uncanny ability to instantly recall the details of obscure pieces of information.
    “Often, it’s not good memory that you’re seeing,” says Adam Culbreath, Project Coordinator of the School Justice Center at Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn. “It may just be good organizational skills, the little secret that makes people think you’re pulling something out of a hat, when you’re really pulling it off an index card.”
    After all, why would you want to try to find a needle in a haystack when you could just bring a box of needles? David Boies, one of the top litigators in the country and the National Law Journal’s 1999 Lawyer of the Year, is famous for his ability to pull the details of long-forgotten memos and e-mails seemingly out of the air in the heat of a cross-examination.
    “People say, ‘What a great memory to remember that obscure thing,’ ” Boies has said. “Well, it’s not obscure. It’s something that I knew was going to be important.” Boies is extremely organized, with outlined notes alphabetized in separate folders for each witness. It’s not that Boies has memorized every e-mail and memo — just the ones that matter. Like a card counter, he focuses on the facts that he needs to keep at his fingertips, tracking the play of the case as it unfolds.

    Stacking The Deck
    Walter Leach likes to know what the cards are going to be before they’re played. Former in-house counsel for Snyder Communi-
    cations (until the completion of the company’s sale to French advertising giant Havas last December), Leach is now in-house counsel for the John Sculley–backed private wireless networking company, InPhonic.
    “I don’t depend on memory,” Leach says. “I’ve done all the background research. I’m meticulous.” And he isn’t just researching statutes and precedents. Whenever he’s dealing with new colleagues or opposing counsel, he looks them up in Martindale-Hubbell and on the Internet, trying to find information he can use to connect with them on a more personal level. Do they come from a small town that Leach has lived in? Did they go to the same college? Are they 10K runners or photographers?
    Once, researching an opponent with a reputation for being particularly hard to get along with, Leach typed his name into a search engine on the Web. The name was Andrew Pickett, and up popped dozens of links to Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.
    “When I got him on the phone,” Leach recalls, “the first thing I said was ‘You aren’t by any chance related to the Pickett of Pickett’s Charge, are you?’ ” Not only was attorney Pickett a great-great grandson of the Confederate cavalry officer, he was a bona fide Civil War buff.
    “We were brethren,” Leach says. “I still get Christmas cards from Andy.” Leach didn’t let on that he’d been reminded of the charge by his online detective work. “I created the impression of familiarity, as if I just happened to remember the charge,” Leach says.

    Sharpening Your Edge
    Of course, collecting intelligence and organizing your information is only helpful if you’re able to remember it when you need it.
    “In my practice, I get a lot of calls,” says Bernie Cohen, a solo practitioner. “People want to feel like they’ve made an impact or an impression. If I handle a case and the clients call back five years later, I need to remember them, or they’ll feel like they might just as well call someone else.” To aid his memory, Cohen tries to make a mental connection between the clients and some unique element of their case. “I have a kid in one case with the same birthday as my kid,” he says. “Little things like that help me to remember people.”
    Cohen says he tries to train his memory to keep it sharp. “I started honing my memory as a kid by memorizing baseball statistics. I can still tell you what Willie Mays hit in 1951 with the Minneapolis Millers before he was called up to the Giants: .477,” Cohen says.

    Extreme Memory
    Practice does make perfect, according to Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist and professor of cognitive science at Johns Hopkins University, and author of Memory. People with extraordinary memories have the same innate abilities as the rest of us, Gordon says. “What creates an extraordinary memory in otherwise ordinary people are strategies and connections,” Gordon says. “Most mnemonists don’t seem to have been born with these strategies; they learned them. So can you.”
    Seven-time World Memory Champion Dominic O’Brien certainly has. Diagnosed as dyslexic as a youngster, O’Brien did poorly in school and discovered the powers of these mnemonic strategies late in life.
    “The first step in improving your memory is to have faith in memory as a perfectible faculty,” he says. He should know: He can memorize the sequence of cards in eight randomly shuffled decks. In his book, Learn to Remember, he outlines the techniques that he uses. One, which is similar to a technique ancient Greek orators used to memorize seven-hour speeches, is called locus. For each piece of information he wants to remember, he creates a mental “place” in his mind where he stores a symbolic representation of the datum. When he needs to recall the information, he simply travels around from place to place on a mental journey, collecting the information.
    This technique can be as simple as getting into the habit of looking down and to the left to memorize and recall phone numbers, and up and to the right to learn and remember names and faces, or as richly developed as a system of visual cues that you create to remember the key points of a closing argument.
    As you prepare the speech you’re going to deliver, place each element in a symbolically resonant spot in the courtroom. Imagine the points of law stacked up on the judge’s bench, an important point about the case’s chronology of events hanging by a wire from the courtroom clock, and the motive sitting squarely in the defendant’s lap. When you deliver your close, you will glance around the room from spot to spot and your memories will flow.

    Not-So-Secret Techniques
    Some of the keys to excellent memory are so obvious they may be easy to forget: Exercise regularly to build cardiovascular fitness, so your brain gets plenty of blood. Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fatty acids — there’s a reason they call fish brain food. Get plenty of rest and try to stay relaxed.
    It’s also important to pay attention: “You will not remember something if you do not hear it or if you are thinking of something else,” Gordon says.
    O’Brien recommends practicing some form of meditation to develop your ability to focus, which can have the added benefit of relieving the feelings of stress and anxiety that can dull your ability to remember when you need it most.

    Memory Aids You Can Use, Though Card Sharks Can’t
    For other tips, try to think of the kinds of behavior that casinos (not to mention professors administering exams) frown upon. Counting cards in your own head is legal, but using any kind of device is not. That’s because things like computers — or notebooks, calendars, electronic organizers and mini-cassette recorders — make it too easy to remember things. Ah hah.

    It’s also illegal to have other people help you count at the gambling tables. Ah hah again. According to Gordon, one of the most powerful memory aids is a social network: Different people remember different kinds of things, depending on their personal interests and aptitudes. If your husband is better at remembering birth dates than you are, ask him to remind you to send cards to the senior partners. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and team up with colleagues whose memory specialties complement your own. Whatever strategies you use, don’t strive to commit everything to memory. There’s every chance you’ll be overwhelmed. Instead, develop systems to simplify and organize the information that you need so that you can access it when you need it, either by pulling up a document on your laptop or by pulling it from memory like an ace out of your sleeve.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Atlanta area


    But what can lawyers teach advantage gamblers?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    posting from Bethesda, MD


    Quote Originally Posted by DDutton View Post
    But what can lawyers teach advantage gamblers?

    How to take advantage, naturally.
    Aslan 11/1/90 - 6/15/10 Stormy 1/22/95 -8/23/10
    “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church,
    but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
    Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

    “It takes a very long time to become young.” Pablo Picasso

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    In the YO


    Aslan, I think you mentioned something about not playing blackjack all that much any more... having found more satisfying endeavors to pursue. That being said, perhaps you would consider writing a little on this topic:

    Long ago on another place, Sonny wrote that in his considered opinion, only around 1:10,000 wannabee card counters will reach the required proficiency level to actually make any real money from counting cards. This statement which I remember from Sonny, was a shock as he was speaking on Ken's BJ website where card counting was a cult. It demonstrated that not all APs are convinced in the math concerning the alleged goldmine of card counting.

    In your experience of wonging in and out of this table, that table; what conclusions have you, or did you reach, if any... on the discipline of counting cards and calculus in your head so as to produce a meaningful consistent profit? In other words, is this shit real and does it work?
    Last edited by Katz; February 10th, 2014 at 04:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    In the YO


    Aslan, the world awaits your rely on this. Are you there? All there?

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Katz View Post
    In your experience of wonging in and out of this table, that table; what conclusions have you, or did you reach, if any... on the discipline of counting cards and calculus in your head so as to produce a meaningful consistent profit? In other words, is this shit real and does it work?
    The Katzman still doubts the efficacy of counting.
    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Jewnited States


    Quote Originally Posted by zengrifter View Post
    The Katzman still doubts the efficacy of counting.
    I wong in and out all the time when playing heads up. Confuses the hell out of the pit.

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