[Editor’s Note: This review of Arnold Snyder’s latest book is written by Frank Kneeland, a long-time gambling pro (he was actually raised in an advantage-player family) and author of The Secret World of Video Poker Progressives.]
When I began reading Arnold Snyder’s book, Radical Blackjack, I couldn’t help but think of the scene from Airplane II where the crew must venture into the bowels of the shuttle where there are several barrels labeled in consecutive order, “Danger,” “Vacuum,” “EXPLOSIVE,” “DYNAMITE,” and “A MUST SEE.” This sums up Radical Blackjack well. It is as informative as it is disheartening. It may be disheartening only to people like myself, who spent the last 30 years of their lives in the field of professional gambling. If I had read it 30 years ago, I would have saved myself a lot of pain and made more money than I did. It’s rough to find out at age 54 you had it all wrong for most of your life.
The only way a book like this ever gets written is: 1) The writer is retired; and 2) a global pandemic and corresponding quarantine give said writer too much free time. This happened to me — and I finally wrote down all the stories of my family, which, when I recount over dinners, I always heard, “You should write that down.” My stories might be entertaining. Arnold’s stories are a template for success.
Arnold Snyder would not have written it if not for the pandemic and could not have written this book during his career. I say this with confidence. I’ve never read a book on blackjack with more densely packed proprietary confidential information that countless people would prefer never to see the light of day. I can only hazard a guess, but I assume Arnold’s earn on writing Radical Blackjack might have been bigger if he’d taken money not to publish it. I don’t believe that making the most money was his goal with this project. This was a labor of love. This was a swan song and a legacy to leave for the next generation.
Knowledge is a funny thing. Sometimes all it takes to change the world is the knowledge that something is possible. One can obfuscate the details, misrepresent the rewards, and misdirect the directions, yet the simple knowledge that a new land exists somewhere across the horizon is all that is necessary to spawn a full migration to a “new world.”
Radical Blackjack is the epitome of this dynamic. It clues people into the concepts of how to make money in casinos that I’ve never seen in print before. It shatters the illusion that casinos are infallible and built on losers only. Shatters it, burns the fragments, and scatters them to the four winds in a Tibetan sky funeral, as the birds of prey devour and carry the carcass into the sunset.
Radical Blackjack is not an obfuscated tease at new land over the horizon. It’s a well-documented road map with GPS coordinates to Xanadu. If it’s still possible to make money in casinos, this one book will tell you where to look for the cracks in the armor through which one can drive trucks.
Here’s the thing: Radical Blackjack may discuss a host of things that are no longer possible, but this knowledge is as relevant now as it ever was. Over time, games change and the rules of the games change, but the people making the rules never do. As research for my own book, I read Liber de Ludo Aleae (The Book on Games of Chance) by Gerolamo Cardano. It was the first book on gambling math, written in the 16th century. I’d expected it to be interesting, but not applicable to my modern life. After all, it was 600 years old. I was wrong. Cardano’s descriptions of the trials and tribulations he faced could easily have happened last Tuesday.
I believe Radical Blackjack is a similar book that will stand the test of time to all that is and is not possible where the house and gamblers collide. It is explosive. It’s also a must see.