james grosjean

The name James Grosjean might not be that familiar to more casual gamblers. But in professional ranks he’s very well known.

James Grosjean has a background in all-round advantage play. Through his writing, he’s also shone light onto many of the secret strategies that the very best gamblers in the world use.

Blackjack beginnings

James Grosjean was born in New Jersey and from an early age was fascinated with games of chance. Early on it was Mahjong that got him interested in games and the maths behind them.

Grosjean’s father was involved with computers when they weren’t as accessible as they are today. This access allowed Grosjean to develop a very basic computer program that calculated optimal strategies for Mahjong. As he grew older, his attention turned to blackjack.

Grosjean had a considerable mathematical prowess, and upon leaving school received a scholarship to Harvard. As is often the case however, his studies soon took a back seat to his interest in blackjack, and he started travelling to Las Vegas regularly to play.

At this stage he was still using basic blackjack strategies. One night, however, a careless dealer revealed her hole card to him while he was playing. That gave Grosjean an idea.

Knowing the dealer’s hole card made a huge impact on the odds of the hand. The edge was now significantly in favour of the player.

From here, Grosjean went on to seek out edges in all sorts of casino games. He looked for them in games that are traditionally avoided by advantage gamblers, such as roulette.

James Grosjean: Beyond Counting

In 2000, Grosjean published a book: Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker.

The book outlines a range of different casino games and legal ways in which a player can gain an edge or, at the very least, break even.

Some of the strategies the book touches on include:

Hole Carding

One of the biggest edges an advantage player looks for is sloppy dealers. These are dealers who let the player inadvertently see the hole card. Grosjean ran extensive analysis on what to do when you uncover different hole cards.

Shuffle Tracking

For a deck of cards to be shuffled to a point that they are truly random takes 30 shuffles. As a result, a player can track clumps of cards throughout the shuffle and gain an edge.

Roulette Wheel Clocking

While most consider a roulette wheel to be perfectly balanced, the reality is that many likely contain some type of mechanical bias. If you track the numbers there is the potential to detect a bias and capitalise on it.

Bankrupting Griffin

In 2000, Grosjean and his friend Michael Russo were gambling at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Before long the pair were approached by security guards. They were forcefully removed from the tables and taken to a back room.

They were accused of cheating and detained for more than five hours. From there the pair were sent to the Clark County Detention Center. Grosjean was held for five days with little evidence. Only a few months later, a similar incident occurred at Imperial Palace.

This had been happening to advantage players and card counters for years in Las Vegas, and Grosjean had enough. So he decided to sue, and eventually sued everyone.

After gathering evidence over a number of years, Grosjean and Russo first sued the casinos. During the case the casinos pointed out the techniques used in Grosjean’s book as evidence that they had been cheating.

It didn’t take long for the courts to rule in favour of Grosjean and Russo and the pair were awarded $50,000 for damages.

However, the bigger case was against the famous security firm Griffin Investigations. Griffin maintained a database of advantage players and known cheaters from across the world. They worked directly for casinos and were the ones that had identified Grosjean and Russo.

Given the nature of the incident, Griffin were found to be directly responsible. In the second incident Grosjean hadn’t even sat down at a table before being detained. Grosjean and Russo were awarded $400,000, and Griffin Investigations were forced to file for bankruptcy.

Blackjack Hall Of Fame

In 2006, Grosjean was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Not only was he a top player, but he had opened people’s eyes to new and interesting ways to gain an edge over casinos.

His book ‘Beyond Counting’ is now out of print, with copies often selling online for close to $1000.

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