805
8 min 19 sec

Math Major Counts Cards, Beats Vegas Dealers

Beat the dealer! Putting his college degree to good use, a Christian card-counter earns hundreds of thousands of dollars at the casino.
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What It's About

A math major teaches others how to beat the odds and casinos at their own game using card counting.

Business Model
Coaching
Skills Required
Math & Teaching
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Colin says that business is no different from card counting. That it’s about knowing how much value you are currently creating, figuring out how you can add to that, and making the right decision based on your observations. If you have the necessary skills, faith, and patience, you’re going to win in the long run—no matter how stacked the odds are against you.

Fun Fact

Card counting is a perfectly legal way of gaining an advantage in the game of blackjack. But there’s also no professional card counter that doesn't get asked to no longer play at casinos. It’s known as a "back-off"—you’re told that you’re too good and that you’re no longer allowed to play at the casino anymore. Talk about beating someone at their own game!

Notes from Chris

Episode 805
The right book can change your life—but nobody could’ve guessed the impact that one would have on the life of Colin Jones. After graduating from college with a math degree, Colin had no idea what he wanted to do. One of his friends loaned him a book about blackjack card counting, and he thought to himself, “Hey I’m a math guy, I could do this.” With his wife’s support, Colin took out $2,000 of their savings to put his skills to the test.

Over the next five years, Colin personally won over $600,000 from playing blackjack at casinos. He even started a team with his buddy, which eventually went on to win more than $4 million over the course of eight years. They called themselves “The Church Team” because the members had been introduced to each other at church, and a documentary was even made about them.

But all good things must come to an end. The team had to constantly travel around the country because casinos would blacklist them simply for being too skilled—they were beating the house consistently with completely legal methods. Travel eventually took its toll, and the team disbanded.

Yet Colin realized that card counting was something that a lot of people might be interested in. There was a certain appeal to it—not only could you make money by sitting at a casino table (at least if you did it properly and if certain conditions were met), but you also got the thrill of beating the system. That’s why he started Blackjack Apprenticeship, an online resource that would teach others how to count cards.

This was the year 2008, and e-commerce options were scarce. Colin and his friends invested a few thousand dollars of their winnings and hired a WordPress developer to build them a membership site. This would not only host an in-depth video course but also include perks such as a forum and training drills for members to hone their skills.

But Colin still needed traffic. He had a good business model and the necessary skills, but getting customers wasn’t easy. Since he had no idea what he was doing, he approached a friend who owned a small SEO agency. The friend told him that he had a conversion problem - “I don’t even know what you want me to do when I show up on your website.” This prompted Colin to start reading blogs to learn everything he needed to succeed.

One of the strategies Colin adopted was the skyscraper technique. The idea is simple: you can stand out by being the very best at what you do. Focus all your efforts into a single post and make sure that the post is better than anything else on the Internet. And so Colin went about trying to create the world’s best page on counting cards. He spent more than ten hours writing that one post, and included numerous high-resolution photographs to illustrate his idea.

Six months later, he was ranked number one for the search term “how to count cards.” This was clearly a strategy that worked, and Colin repeated his process, eventually ranking well for other competitive keywords such as “blackjack strategy.” This increased web traffic and added to the bottom line as well.

Despite the well-planned approach, Colin admits that he also may have gotten a little lucky. He had managed to run the wave of interest in blackjack following the release of the movie “21” in 2008, which was inspired by the true story of how an MIT blackjack team traveled around the world to beat casinos. That led to a surge in web traffic, even helping one of Colin’s YouTube videos to be ranked number one for card counting.

Colin’s advice is that running a business is a lot like counting cards at blackjack. It’s about knowing how much value you are currently creating, figuring out how you can add to that, and making the right decision based on your observations.

 
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Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Running a business is a lot like counting cards at blackjack. It’s about knowing how much value you are currently creating, figuring out how you can add to that, and making the right decision based on your observations."
—Colin Jones #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau