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March 11th, 2012
01:20 AM ET

My Take: Jesus would be OK with card counting

Editor's Note: David Drury is featured in the documentary "Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians” and is writing a book about his card-counting adventures.

By David Drury, Special to CNN

(CNN)–“Shackled by a heavy burden/'neath a load of guilt and shame/ then the hand of Jesus touched me/ and now I am no longer the same.”

So begins the popular William Gaither hymn. By popular, I mean Elvis once recorded a version of it, which is what it takes for a hymn anymore.

When I stumbled into a church on the outskirts of Las Vegas one Sunday morning in 2007, I was shackled with my own heavy burden of sorts. I had $80,000 in cash hidden on my person. It was crammed into pockets, stuffed into socks and strapped beneath my clothes. The pastor was just getting his sermon fired up when I slipped into a back row with all the grace of a stiff-limbed Frankenstein.

So much for going unnoticed.

The pastor stopped midsentence and stared my way. Had he cleared his throat or even made an offhanded comment about punctuality, I would have understood. Instead, he called my first and last name into the microphone, and every head turned.

Believe it or not, I had never been to this church. While I traveled to Vegas often, my time was spent in casinos, not churches.

Blackjack is a beatable game. With card counting, perfect decision-making and plenty of capital, you can gain and cash in on an advantage against the house. East Coast college students, known as the MIT Team, used the method to plunder casinos in the 1980s and 1990s, inspiring books and movies and making card counting famous. But people have been employing this winning strategy in casinos for 50 years.

Mark Treas stands outside of a casino.

A card counter assigns a value to every card as it is dealt out of the shoe. This creates a running count that always changes and allows a player to determine when a statistical advantage falls to him or her, by virtue of more aces and face cards than usual being poised to appear. More faces mean the dealer will bust more often.

More aces mean more natural blackjacks, which pay the player at a higher rate. A card counter keeps bets low when the casino has the statistical advantage and raises them high when the advantage shifts to them.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

When I lost my Seattle office job in 2006, this was the strange career path down which I found myself traveling. I was not alone.

It started when I met a guy at church named Ben. He had made a small fortune counting cards. Ben was putting a team together comprising people he’d found through mostly church connections — pastors, worship leaders and students of theology. This was the team I trained for and joined. As card counters, our common faith was incidental, but as team members it held us together.

A scene from the new documentary Holy Rollers about Chrstians who count cards at casinos.

We took our craft to casinos, from Vegas to Atlantic City to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Bremerton, Washington. We won millions of dollars. The money was not funneled into any ministry or religious consortium.

Instead, the winnings were split between those who invested in the operation, those who managed the team - which ran between 10 and 25 players – and the players, who didn’t risk any of their own money at the tables. As a player I made what amounted to a modest annual salary with no financial risk and maintained, on average, a 10-hour workweek.

We returned home with the gift of time to our ministries and families and, yes, to plenty of questions.

If the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, as the Bible suggests, what business did a bunch of Christians have throwing around big money on a game of chance? For us, chance had nothing to do with it.

To count cards is to remove the gamble. Anything can happen in one hand or on one night, but slowly, over time, the advantage you earn by executing perfect playing decisions and betting according to your advantage bears itself out. Playing the stock market is much more of a gamble.

Yes, money is attractive, and we dealt with a lot of it. Tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. You can’t withdraw $50,000 from a casino ATM and it can take a half -day of red tape to get as much out of an account at a big bank. Our assets had to be liquid.

Until we had the better sense to put it in safety deposit boxes, we kept our cash in freezers and under mattresses. For our investors and for tax reasons, we were tasked with reporting our wins and losses accurately, but at any time any one of us could have pocketed thousands without a hint of suspicion.

While we were left to weigh our own motives, as a team we were forced to trust one another with money that could have collapsed the business if it ever went missing.

We were an uncommon fellowship, to be sure. But while we never claimed a full understanding on how God viewed our activities, I felt that he never left the room. He was ever present in our musings, discussions and deliberations. With the math on our side, we took confidence in the fact that that we lacked any of the traits of wild gamblers. But were we deceptive by hiding our intentions at the tables? Were we providing a service to the world by playing a card game? The answers varied.

Mark Treas baptized a woman before heading off to a casino to card count in the documentary 'Holy Rollers.'

Which is worse? To declare your path the righteous one and retire all questions of God’s will to the back of your mind, or to seek them out?

We chose the latter, engaging the hard questions as they arose rather than pretending to corner the market on righteousness. We wrestled with them in a way that we came to know intimately the stink of our own individual natures. But there was something pure born out of abandoning an easy, comfortable existence for a true fellowship with my teammates that came with plenty of hard questions.

Casinos have a dubious reputation as the gateway to vice and temptation. I think that’s unfair. I had Internet access and a bar around the corner from my home, so the casinos never represented any particular threat to my morality I didn’t already have at my fingertips.

Maybe that day I stumbled into that Las Vegas-area church I was looking for a familiar face in a strange town. For all the secrecy and questions, maybe I was looking for a little validation, too. I knew two of the pastors on staff because they had served at the church of my childhood.

One of those pastors was at the pulpit that day. He called my name out when he recognized me. After the service I had a brief conversation with the other in the church lobby.

“What brings you to Las Vegas?” he asked.

“I’m on a card-counting team.”

“Well, God can change anyone.”

What? I thought.

“I know a young man,” he said, “who came to Las Vegas for a dodgeball tournament. Now he’s on staff with us. Who knows what God has in store for YOU?”

This man of the cloth had essentially stuffed the cloth right in my mouth, as if to say that even I could be saved from whatever silly game I was playing. But he needn’t have tossed me a lifeline because I didn’t need saving.

Engage me. Ask the hard questions. Be confounded as I am confounded. But don’t write me off. We are all in the water together. Faith is a journey, and God calls us into relationship.

I remember a man at my table once who was furious with the aggressive way I was playing. “A fool and his money are soon parted,” he said in a huff. For six years I stood ready as ever to be the fool. But me and the money, by way of card-counting wins, never parted.

The team ended with the making of a documentary about our journey. My blackjack career ended with it. I have taken to writing my tales in the hopes of forging a new journey that doesn’t involve stacks of cash. I guess I am a gambling man after all.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Drury.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (1,821 Responses)
  1. Lillith

    What would Jesus think of CNN's jumping the shark in their attempt to bait the religion argument?

    March 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Observer

      CNN reports facts. Why is that a problem for you?

      March 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • MissusPowell

      Jesus didn't create religion. And Jesus doubted, "Father, Why has thou forsaken me?" so I really do think Jesus would understand.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  2. Don'tBelieveTheLiesOfReligion

    How boring, wondering what Jesus would think. What excites me is wondering what Zeus, Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and Crom would think. Now that's something worth wasting some time over!

    March 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • bpadraig

      Zeus would make a gambling god, Santa would give profits to some Dutch kid, the Easter bunny would like to chew the money.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  3. William

    "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." ...etc, etc

    Matthew 6:24

    March 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      "Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines." Bertrand Russell.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  4. Rob Vukovic

    That's the inherent beauty of religious mythology. It can be stretched, twisted, massaged and/or outright reformed just to fit whatever activities and/or behaviors an adherent chooses to engage in no matter how egregious. A minor example is the absurd proposition that god not only approves of war, he or she takes sides.

    March 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  5. bpadraig

    Gambling is an addiction, like smoking crack. GLUTTONY is sinful. Human indulgence as a bad thing (though you have the freedom to do it) don't give me any bs religious justification.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Flinders the Butler

      Gluttony is eating too much. Idiot.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Rob Vukovic

      Flinders, over eating i.e. gluttony IS an addiction, moron.

      March 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  6. momoya

    Why is this news?. Every christian does whatever she wants and justifies it with a combination of scripture interpretation, "a feeling of confirmation by the 'spirit'," and an "only god can jude me" att.itude..

    March 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  7. sam

    Am I the only one here who doesn't give a damn what Jesus would think about anything?

    March 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      No. I couldn't care less as well.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      there's more interesting questions to ask about more interesting people... that actually existed. i'd rather play cards with Mark Twain than hang out with Jesus any day of the week.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Martin

      you're not alone...the jesus myth still lingers in medievil minds that long for a benevolent ruthless King...on well, evolution takes time

      March 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • john

      I don't give a rat either,

      March 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  8. pious

    Dude, cheating is still cheating and so is stealing! Bless me lord for I have sinned..now lets go out and rip off some people. You would fit perfectly on that new tv show GCB! This is the type of stuff they make fun of on that show! Sounds like the money has stolen your heart!

    March 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      Card counting is neither cheating nor stealing. It isn't illegal, just against casino rules.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      churches steal money every sunday from their sheep. the biggest do it on TV and are called evangelists. the 700 is all about ripping people off. it's an infomercial for fear and guilt. that's much worse than card counting.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      ???Bootyfunk. Why did you change the definition of cheating to suit your needs? Churches take money volunteered to them, not stolen. They use it to pay for many things like the church building/renovation/expansion, church programs and staff, philanthropic giving, and different ministries. Also, learn the terminology! Evangelists are called that because they evangelize to people. This is America, we don't kill the 1% of preachers that are fake! We pray for them.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Robert

      Its not cheating. Card counting is just using all available information to your advantage. If you play a game with your friends, do you intentionally play below your potential? Probably not. So why should someone who has the intellectual capacity to count cards not use it while playing black jack?

      March 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Really-o

      @GauisCaesar – "Bootyfunk. Why did you change the definition of cheating to suit your needs?"
      Bootyfunk did not change the definition of cheating; he asserted that "Card counting is neither cheating nor stealing. It isn't illegal, just against casino rules", which is correct.
      From Merriam-Websters...
      Cheat: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud.
      Fraud: deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right.
      So, card counting is neither cheating nor fraud. However, misrepresenting reality and making false promises to needy and ignorant people in an attempt to garner donations, now that is fraud...and that is what you can watch on television for hours each Sunday morning. Disgraceful.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Really-o

      @@GauisCaesar –
      Sorry, @Charles Darwin said, "Card counting is neither cheating nor stealing", not Bootyfunk...my bad. That said, your "Bootyfunk. Why did you change the definition of cheating" post is irrelevant with regard to Bootyfunk's "churches steal money" post.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  9. edmundburkeson

    Sounds like a question my grandmother would ask! The answer is "priorities." The James Bond lifestyle tends to lose its luster when you tune in to who Christ really is. Its not necessarily wrong but how does it fit in to God's plan? One thing this generation needs to learn, Christ will not bend to fit into your plan. the Christian life is transformational but it is not Christ that needs the change.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      Who Christ really is? You mean an imaginary, mythical figure from ancient mythology?

      March 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Bo

      Ditto

      March 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Flinders the Butler

      God's plan ? Ya mean all those dead babies in Africa last year ? Yeah right.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  10. Ron

    Last time I checked, Jesus would be against any kind of gambling..

    March 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      Oh? Did he tell you that? The Magnificent Flying Spaghetti Monster told me it was okay.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • svann

      Who did you check with? Ask him to quote chapter and verse next time you see him because I dont see where Jesus said any such thing.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Glen

      Jesus overturned the money changers tables as an act of rebellion against their practices. Could this also be an act of rebellion against the casino's practices?

      March 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Glen, the moneychanging tables were knocked over by Jesus because these represented the attempt to make money off the worship of God. It wasn't the principle of changing the money, it was the principle of ripping people off along with using indirect scare tactics to con people into getting ripped off...to honor God. It was a business, and the business was to rip people off a bit at a time. This wasn't the same as Matthew's occupation, nor did it have anything to do with gambling.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Flinders the Butler

      The entire economy of Jerusalem was based on the temple economy..fees for sacrifices, fees for this fees for that. It's why they executed Jesus when he treatened the economy. He died 2000+ years ago. Grow up. There is no easter bunny.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  11. Observer

    Many Catholic churches run a lottery called bingo. The ironic part is that you have a tiny chance of increasing your chances of winning in Las Vegas, but absolutely none at the Catholic lottery.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  12. Writerscramp

    Just another case of a hypocritical Christian bending the teachings of Jesus to fit his own needs

    March 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • svann

      I dont think Jesus ever said anything pro or con on gambling. Feel free to correct me with chapter and verse.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  13. Steven

    Counting cards as Christian? Hmmmm. I don't know. As a struggling believer I have a tough time with a lot of things I should or should not do but I always think what was Jesus trying to teach the world when He was here on Earth. Well I gleam from what I have read and heard, that Jesus was trying to teach people the true path of peace and happiness was not in worldly things, i.e. money, power, status, etc. Knowing that I think the people taking part in this really are missing the point, not to judge what they are doing as good or bad, but in the end will it give them true peace and happiness? I don't think so. For the moment they may feel great but feelings are fleeting. Nothing is black or white in life, we live in shades of grey.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  14. Bootyfunk

    why wouldn't jesus count cards? he supported slavery:

    Luke 12:37-38 (New American Standard Bible)
    37 "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
    38 "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.”

    March 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • windshadowmoth

      That's an interesting perspective, that gambling is a form of slavery in some way. I don't feel that the scripture that you mentioned actually showed a support of slavery. It says that the slave master finds his slaves "alert" and will "gird" himself to serve them. It's saying he will dress as a slave. Then it talks about them sitting at the table with the slave master, "reclined", comfortable, relaxed, and that the slave master will in fact wait on them. Jesus did not support slavery. Read what he did in the temple of the merchants. He hated power-mongering. This is a scenario where the slaves awaken to their masters' schedule, and the master finds them in this awakened state and is eager to be at their service for seeing how they feel now that they are aware.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      come on. jesus says right there that blessed are the slaves that are working hard when the master is away. but that's not approval of slavery. you can try to sugar coat it, but there are rules in the bible for how to beat your slaves too. that if you beat them so bad they die or can't walk after 3 days, you've gone too far. otherwise, you haven't. and because you let a human you own eat at a table with you doesn't make it okay for them to be a slave.

      christians often try to make excuses for the support of slavery in the bible. there are several places where slavery is supported, but not a single one where it is condemned. that's the truth.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Notice this verse is only ever misinterpreted by those who don't actually read the Bible. If you read the full passage instead of taking a single verse out of context (keep in mind, the Bible doesn't seperate sentences inot different verses, the sentence might include 3 or 4 verses...a complete thought even more). The verse if very sumbolic, and doesn't deal almost at all with actual slavery.

      Also, get some perspective on history. The word slave didn't even come into being until recently; it is named after the Slavs that have been decimated. Modern day slavery has nothing to do with ancient slavery. To lump them into the same definition is extremely uneducated and shows a complete lack of understanding of the ancient and the current.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Bootyfunk...if you are not willing to read the entire passage where the verse comes from, there is NOTHING anyone on this blog can do to help you. You can certainly walk away feeling like you have made your point, but you haven't walked away with the truth. (hey, some people don't care...have an axe to grind, and dont care how they grind it)

      Sheesh...why is it that leftists always try to insult you by misrepresenting what they know you know better? Crazy! It's like an American trying to correct a Bolshevic about what Lenin believes! It's just pure arrogance and a lack of even caring whether you are getting the information correct.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  15. BJJCA

    "To count cards is to remove the gamble."

    This ultimately is the crux of the issue if you are the ostensibly moral individual you claim to be in my opinion. While others are of course free to learn these techniques, the fact of the matter is that the majority of gamblers engage in gambling in order to... well... GAMBLE. You are not playing fair, essentially. You are taking what is designed to be, and when consistent with the spirit of the game, IS, a game of chance... a gamble... and turning it into something else, without the public knowledge of your fellow players. This is inherently dishonest and unfair.

    You can twist it around in a neat little bow of cognitive dissonance all you want, and tell yourself all is fair in cards and cash, but at the end of the day,you are still being dishonest. Your religious beliefs are irrelevant. Whether you're religious, an atheist, or agnostic, you would still find a way to justify to yourself that this is acceptable and fair, because it is in your personal interest to do so.

    Just my frank opinion. No offense.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • svann

      Counting cards is still a gamble. You dont win all hands – far from it. You only increase your odds to about 51%.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if you think 51% win, 49% loss isn't big - you need to do some math. a 2% more chance to win over the other guy is huge. absolutely enormous.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • svann

      You can still lose with 51% chances. You can still lose several times in a row. If your bankroll is not large enough you can bust out.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • BJJCA

      "Still a gamble" =/= "anequal gamble to that made by the other non0counting players." This is about fair play. Card counting is not fair, period.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • ravx25

      That's not unfair nor dishonest. Just because the casino wants to make it a game of chance doesn't mean the 'gambler' has to. Card counting takes work, and I can guarantee you there are a lot of people that are not intelligent enough to understand it.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      svann, if you're bank roll is too small, you're playing at a table that is too rich for your blood. step down a table or two.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • BJJCA

      It "taking work" is just as irrelevant as the gambler's religious beliefs. The game is supposed to be fair. Everyone is supposed to assume equal risk and equal probability of fortune smiling on them. That's why it's a game of chance. If one or two people at the table are using a technique to improve their mathematical odds, even by 2% (which as has been pointed out by others here, is HARDLY insignificant,) then the game is no longer fair. And because they conceal the fact that they are doing this (because if they didn't they'd be thrown out... which should be a big clue as to its inherently dishonest nature, incidentally,) they are being dishonest with regard to their fellow players.

      I will not budge on this position. As I said, people can justify it to themselves however they want through cognitive dissonance (most people aren't even aware they're doing this, which isn't particularly surprising especially when it comes to ones religion conflicting with ones desires and self interest – a textbook example of dissonance, in fact!) but that doesn't change the fact that if they think they are playing fair and all things are still equal despite them giving themselves this advantage, they are deluding themselves. Period.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  16. svann

    If you are thinking about trying this be warned – you only get a tiny advantage. What that means is you will know what hands you have a 51% chance to win and can raise your bet for those hands. 51% chance means you will still lose almost half of those hands you bet big on. Its not for the feint of heart, you need a big bankroll and you CAN still lose. And its not easy, and they can kick you out.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if you have a 51% chance to win and only a 49% chance to lose - you will become rich. you really think that 2% isn't big? it is. huge. for instance, if people play craps and only choose the pass/don't pass option, which is their best chance of winning, they win 49% and lose 51%. and the house rakes it in - all because of 2%.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • svann

      You will become rich only if your bankroll is large enough to suffer through the longest losing streak – and there will be losing streaks. 51% isnt 100%. Also, consider the chances that the house is not honest. Its surely not 0%. They could concievably count cards and reshuffle when the odds favor the player.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Aceinthehole

      I always find it funny that casinos can kick you out (or go old school on you) for counting cards. We have this game that we want you to spend (or should I say give) your money. The only rule is that you can't think of ways to beat the game ok? You have to just sit there and slowly give us your money. LAME!

      March 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • svann

      Also – consider your example of the house winning in craps. They have a 51% chance and they "rake it in". And yet the house does lose against some players. Some players win big at craps just because they got lucky. And some nights counters lose because luck doesnt go their way.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  17. a

    It's easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      try to explain that to all the rich christians.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • windshadowmoth

      Still, consider all of the Kings of Israel and their own great wealth, versus say, a prophet. In scripture it has God choosing them to rule over Israel; but see what Gideon's answer was when he was offered the crown. He refused to be the king of Israel, and became its judge for fourty years. Some scripture must be weighed with the fruits of the spirit because there has been tampering throughout history to favor those that want to pervert the words in order to misguide others or, as you just pointed out, fatten the pockets of many, some of which are false shepherds. This is an argument many non-believers have (other than the silly wars that are fought which date back to when it was primarily "church" or "temple" funds subsidizing such things) that certainly should be given thought, and not for the same reasons as insincere "apologetics".

      March 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  18. a

    That guy will burn in hell. At least he wasn't playing online poker.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      So, your god sends people to be tortured forever, screaming and burning throughout all eternity, simply for being raised in another faith or for not seeing any real evidence of his existence? Nice guy your god. Sorry, I'll take logic and reason any day over an archaic old book of myths.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Kristal

      on-line poker is the biggest cheat EVER AND WHY ? BECAUSE TIME IS MONEY MEANING THE FASTER THE STREETS THE QUICKER THE HAND IS OVER THE FASTER THEY TAKE THEIR CUT THERE IS NO WAY THAT THE bad BEATS CAN HAPPEN SO REGULAR its set up 4 the house 2 get richer quicker idiots have 2 get bad cards so they can continute 2 play so thats also set up or theyed play a little then not deposit anymore government should definitly look in2 this form of online stealing better still get rid of any sites and have their own government site then place huge taxes great 4 the economy

      March 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • windshadowmoth

      I sincerely doubt that. The concept of eternal damnation scriptural cheapens the sacrifice of Christ and has been used far too long as a fear mongering tool for wealthy false prophets. Gambling addiction itself could be considered a form of "Hell", in so many ways. Not saying the people in the article are addicted; but it is a game of chance between the "house" and the "player". The house will do what it can to win, and, I have seen that such houses absolutely do what they can to win in politics in order to be built in the first place. Now...in order to beat them in the game of them even existing they must be played against at the political level, which is a gamble, ( but there are so many cases of testimony before committees where a win of a city means schools stay open, there is less crime, families experience less hardships) and yet would it be anymore sinful to lobby against them, or anymore sacred to turn away and allow them to do what they will if they are disagreed with? The sin is not found so much in being enslaved (as bootyfunk nicely suggested) it's more so in the shackling, increases of turmoil, and deprivation of funding for schools via the very existence of such an establishment if that is the concern and a simple way of offsetting that is through through fair and honest taxation. After-all it is (in some cases at least) taxpayer dollars going into it. Whether those dollars comes out or not depends on the honesty of the "house" and the politicians lobbied to by the owners and builders of the "house".

      March 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  19. alpinedon

    Um...okay. I don't believe JC would be okay with gambling at all. What don't you guys get? Christianity is not something you can just adapt to your life and make it easy for yourself. I'm not a Christian either, but hell, even I can see that it is pretty spelled out plainly for you if you are. There is a certain path he laid out for his followers and if you deviate from this path than you have broken your covenant with him.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • svann

      What chapter and verse supports your position that Jesus was against gambling? Or did God tell you directly?

      March 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
      • alpinedon

        No, I do not have conversations with God, just pretty certain JC wouldn't be too hip with the whole gambling thing period. Don't understand what is so hard to figure out about that. How many religious figures Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, etc. have EVER said, yeah, go ahead, go out and gamble.

        March 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • notimportant

      I'm not christian either, but I just wanted to clarify that counting cards would not be considered gambling. That's why the article says "Blackjack is beatable." and all you need is "Perfect decision-making."

      March 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
      • alpinedon

        I guess that makes sense.

        March 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • svann

      It is still gambling. You increase your odds from 48% to 51%. You arent guaranteed to win any hand, and you arent even guaranteed to win "in the long run". You can have a large enough losing streak that you bust out.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  20. lv_nonanon

    The elephant in the room is the fact that a casino can legally ban anyone for winning too much in the first place.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • BldrRepublican

      Exactly.

      So, if you go into the casino with the expectation that "spending $100" on a nice evening gambling is no different than "spending $100 on a nice dinner" or "spending $100 at a performance", then it's no different.

      The casino would kick you out if you just happened to repeatedly win many times in succession, card-counting or not.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Aceinthehole

      Agree 100%. Feel free to come and give us your money but don't expect to win too much or we'll throw you out on your ass or beat the crap out of you.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
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