James Grosjean – Established Author and Gambling Enthusiast
It would be very uncommon to hear James Grosjean’s name
without some reference being made to blackjack. In addition to
mastering the art of card counting himself, he’s also a major
advocate for card counters whose rights have been violated by
James is also an author, known for writing, “Beyond Counting:
Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker.” He uses
this book to explain the mathematics behind many of the popular
casino games, while giving players tips on how to play to the
best of their abilities. For more information on the life of
James Grosjean and his impact on the world of blackjack, please
read through this detailed biography.
James spent his early years growing up in the picturesque
borough of Chatham, New Jersey. Rumor has it that his father was
an editor for the computer themed magazine named Sync, alongside
the legendary Ken Uston. Ken apparently had a great deal of
impact on young James’ life, inspiring him to not only become a
writer but to play blackjack as well.
Like many preteen boys, James loved to play games with his
friends; one of his favorite games to play was a tile-based game
named Mah Jong. While playing this game, he would use a Sinclair
ZX80 computer to analyze the different playing strategies of his
friends. He would then apply that information to ensure himself
a win, which is why his friends eventually stopped playing
against him. He was known for always finding the optimal plays
to make, no matter what games he played.
James studied diligently in high school, earning himself a
scholarship to Harvard Business School. Although his schoolwork
kept him very busy, he would spend the weekends playing
blackjack against his friends. Upon his twenty-first birthday,
James travelled to Vegas for the first time, eager to play
blackjack in a real brick and mortar casino. He learned some
basic strategy by reading, “Winning Casino Blackjack for the
Non-Counter,” by Avery Cardoza on the drive over there.
Although from that point on he played blackjack more often,
he didn’t tap into his full potential until his mid-twenties. At
this point in his life, he was attending the University of
Chicago, working his way towards a Master’s Degree in
Mathematics. One night while he was playing, a careless dealer
revealed her hole card to him, making him realize that seeing
the dealer’s hole card could give him a huge advantage over the
James again turned to his computer to determine what the
optimal plays would be in correlation to what the hole card of
the dealer was. He did a plethora of research on other
strategies he could use to get ahead, leading him to discover
shuffle tracking and card counting. After many hours of
practice, he was able to master these skills and apply them
effectively at the casinos.
He didn’t want to just learn how to use these skills in the
casinos to make money though, as he also wanted to understand
the mathematics behind them. He used computers and other devices
to produce some of the most accurate equations related to
blackjack strategy today.
Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker
James Grosjean published, “Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino
Games from Blackjack to Video Poker,” in 2000. Many blackjack
players of all skill levels rushed to read this book, as it
explains a variety of different methods that can be used to gain
an edge over the casinos. Not only does this book explain card
counting, the hole card approach, and shuffle tracking entirely,
it also shows the mathematical equations to back these methods
Gambling enthusiasts from all over the world have used the
strategies addressed in his book to make thousands of dollars
from the casinos. This is a gambling strategy book that players
can use to turn negative expectation games into games where the
casino has no edge over the players. Some of the more popular
games addressed in this book include Craps, 3-Card Poker, and
This book also contains mini quizzes or tests that get
readers to think about what they would do in specific scenarios.
It gives advice for players who are interested in working with
partners or on teams to gain an advantage over the house.
Terminology such as spotter and Big Player are defined in this
book to make these concepts a little easier to understand. Some
of these techniques may be a little complicated for beginning
blackjack players, but this book does have at least something to
offer players of all levels.
On top of writing this book, James Grosjean also writes for
several different blackjack forums. He has written on a plethora
of different topics including Averse Betting, Basic Strategy,
Doubling Down, and Las Vegas Coupon Books to name a few of his
more popular ones. He’s a well-respected author across the
gambling community, and there are many people that rea his
articles on a weekly basis.
The Casinos’ Response to His Card Counting Skills
Once James Grosjean had more experience as a card counter,
his eyes were opened to the maltreatment of card counters by the
casinos. Some casinos would violate the rights of players, just
because they were able to use their skills to win a significant
amount of money. On Easter weekend of 2000, James experienced
first-hand what the casinos were capable of.
James and his friend, Michael Russo, were playing the tables
at Caesar’s Palace. They were easily able to use their card
counting abilities to win thousands of dollars in just a matter
of minutes. Casino personnel had been keeping a close eye on
them, suspecting that they were cheating to get ahead. The two
men were forcefully escorted away from the blackjack tables, led
to a backroom in the casino, and eventually handcuffed to a
James and Michael were interrogated for over 5 hours.
Although the casino had no clear evidence to prove that they
were actually doing anything illegal, they still decided to
imprison them. James and Michael were escorted to the Clark
County Detention Center; Michael was placed in a holding cell
for only one day, while James was held for five days. This was a
frustrating experience for the both of them, and eventually they
would seek their revenge.
Just a few weeks later, a similar incident took place at
Imperial Palace casino. Before James even sat down at one of
their blackjack tables, he noticed a security guard eyeing him
down. He was going to run out of there to avoid confrontation,
but his attorney had previously advised him to never run away
from a situation, especially if he hadn’t done anything illegal.
James slowly walked towards the exit instead, making his way to
the parking lot.
In a matter of seconds, he heard a higher authority radio the
security guard, “Detain him,” the voice said. Before James had
time to react, a large man about 6 feet tall physically
assaulted him. He aggressively twisted James’ arms behind his
back, then forcefully pushed him into the concrete wall. Pushing
his face against the wall, he put James into handcuffs.
“You have no right to detain me; I wasn’t even playing,”
James screamed out in pain, but the security guard completely
James was then escorted back into a secret room of the
casino, where the guards took every last possession he had out
of his pockets. They held him for several hours, while their
boss was apparently looking over their records to see if he was
actually the man they were looking for. Supposedly, he wasn’t
the person they thought he was, so he was released from their
backroom a few minutes before midnight.
Taking the Casinos to Court
“Mike and I once asked Richard Wright, a criminal
defense attorney, whether we could sue for the Caesars incident.
Mike and I like to mimic his cynical, almost-mocking reply,
which was, “Who ya gonna sue?” In the months that
followed, only one answer emerged-everyone.”
Michael and James
were both interested in suing Caesar’s Palace, and they sought
out many different lawyers for advice before deciding to do so.
In 2005, James finally felt like he had enough evidence to
take the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Caesar’s Palace, and
Imperial Palace to court. He also was placing charges against
Griffin Investigations, as they were the security company hired
by both casinos.
When it came to the case against Caesar’s Palace, everything
got a little messy. The casino tried to defend their case by
using the techniques discussed in James’ book, “Beyond
Counting,” against him. The casino tried to claim that viewing a
dealer’s hole card and shuffle tracking are forms of cheating in
their eyes. Despite their defense, the court ruled that James
and Mike were both unjustifiably detained. Both James and his
friend received $25,000 for actual damages; James received an
additional $10,000 for punitive damages, while Mike received an
Soon after, James found himself at court against the Imperial
Casino, where the jury again ruled in his favor. It took them
less than two hours to come to a decision. Part of this may be a
result of the surveillance footage his lawyer was able to find,
as it revealed the brutality of the events that occurred outside
of the casino.
When asked by the judge if he felt like he had the right to
be nervous while he was being detained, James answered,
“Everything I see, the tape, the documents — yeah, he wasn’t
there to help me out or be nice. I was the guy they were
interested in, he did handcuff me, even though I didn’t do
anything, they did search me, they did go through my ID. They
did all the things that I feared they might do.”
Another reason for the court’s decision may be a direct
result of the fact that James hadn’t even sat down at the
blackjack table before these events occurred. James was awarded
$399,000 in total for both actual and punitive charges, in
addition to being reimbursed for legal costs and other fees
associated with taking them to court.
How did the result of these court cases leave a lasting
impact on the world of blackjack? Well, Griffin Investigations
had to pay a good portion of these fees, as they were
responsible for the illegal procedures that took place. Griffin
Investigations actually had to file for bankruptcy when all was
said and done. This left a lot of card counters very happy, as
this company had been working against them since its creation in
James Grosjean was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame
in 2006, thanks to his contributions to the game. Only select
people are awarded with this honor, making it something to
certainly be proud of. The most exciting part of this privilege
is the fact that James Grosjean was the youngest person to be
added to the Blackjack Hall of Fame at the time.
Each year James attends the highly anticipated Blackjack Ball
that’s hosted by a close friend of his: Max Rubin. All
attendants to this ball compete to win what was formally called
the Blackjack Cup. This is a two part competition that with the
first part being a 21 question trivia quiz.
The people with the four highest scores move onto the skills
part of the competition where they are tested on a variety of
skills including card memorization, reading the shoes, and card
counting. Since Grosjean won this competition in 2004, 2007, and
2008, he’s no longer permitted to compete. However, they did
rename the award to Grosjean Cup, in his honor.
James was also asked to compete in CBS’s Ultimate Blackjack
Tour. Even though he didn’t make it very far into the
competition, he was still able to enjoy playing at the most
prestigious blackjack tournament of the year. He still enjoys
playing blackjack in Vegas today, but will often wear disguises
to avoid being attacked by security again.
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