The Vegas Card Counting Adventures of LV Pro




In the mid to late ’90s Barfarkel was an average low-rolling gambler. He often drove from his home in Los Angeles to Las Vegas to play craps, because it was the most exciting casino game and had a low house edge. However, he found he was steadily losing money playing craps and, since he hated to lose, he decided to learn how to play blackjack skillfully.


He first mastered the basic playing strategy. This was a good first step but even playing a strong basic strategy game the casino still had the advantage. In the long run he would still lose more than he won. So he decided to teach himself how to count cards in order to turn the tables on the casino and gain the long term advantage over them.


In late 1998, he purchased and studied Ralph Stricker’s The Silver Fox Count System, which is a simple level one counting system. He practiced for months until he felt he was ready to start counting cards in casinos. He also met blackjack author and expert Stanford Wong early on, who told him that the Silver Fox was a good system that would “get the money” over time if he played the system accurately. Despite the existence of more complicated systems, which are slightly more accurate but harder to master, Barfy came to understand the conventional wisdom that, if played well, a simple count system will suffice.


In the spring of 1999, Barfarkel began his card counting avocation with a $2,000 bankroll.  He took his lumps early while playing solo, and then joined a few blackjack teams, where he learned some expensive lessons about team play and the short term negative fluctuations that can occur even though you have the long term edge. Nevertheless, he doggedly stuck with his new avocation and soon started to win money consistently.


Barfarkel also started to participate on blackjack websites and became a Green Chip subscriber to Wong’s popular Internet site for serious blackjack players. He soon hit upon the idea of arranging secret lunch and dinner affairs, attended by many of the counters active on the blackjack internet message boards. He hosted sixteen of these “Rat Pack” dinners, which were quite successful. Simultaneously, Barfy would post long, detailed trip reports, to which the other message-board members would respond and comment. These trip reports brought him to the attention of noted gaming author Henry Tamburin, who hired Barfarkel to write exclusively for his Blackjack Insider newsletter.


Meanwhile Barfarkel continued to visit Las Vegas five or six times a year. Starting in the fall of 2000, each week-long trip was chronicled in great detail in his reports that appeared in the BJI newsletter, under the new nom-de-plume “LV Pro.” As his bankroll would rise and fall, and rise again, he became a more astute advantage player, and his bankroll grew steadily. He established an overall objective to grow his relatively small $2,000 starting bankroll to $10,000, which he felt would allow him to conspicuously increase his stakes, and garner better comps and mail offers from casinos. He felt that his larger bankroll would grow exponentially from that point on.


During this time, his trip reports in BJI developed quite a following of readers from the blackjack community, who eagerly awaited each new narrative to see if he would achieve his $10,000 bankroll goal. Because of the popularity of Barfarkel’s trip reports, Henry decided to publish a book of twenty-six of them in chronological order, to show the evolution of Barfarkel from a beginner to an experienced advantage player.  Besides authoring the book, You’ve Got Heat, Barfarkel also wrote an article entitled, Graduating from Red to Green, which appeared in the final issue of Arnold Snyder’s Blackjack Forum magazine.   


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