Huichuan Chen, a veteran gambler who comes from Taipei, has some radical—and possibly profitable—ideas on how to win at casino blackjack. But unfortunately, her ebook primer, The Secret of Blackjack, presents many challenges to accessing those thoughts and strategies.
Chen’s writing is excessively difficult to navigate. “The variation and random order of the flow is created by way of playing from the players,” she cryptically writes. Later, there are more mysteries in her prose: “Ace after ten and ten after ace is a phenomenon after the nature hand blackjack happened a lot in previous shoe” And: “This four cards will clung together, then dealer deals the order like, 2 and 6 to player and queen and 9 to dealer or queen-9 to player and 6-? to dealer.”
Ever since mathematician Edward O. Thorp published his biblical Beat the Dealer in 1962, scores of blackjack theorists have promised riches at the table. Among the best: Lance Humble, Arnold Snyder and Stanford Wong. Chen’s unconventional strategies—don’t split aces; sometimes split tens; employ “surrender;” always “hit” 17; monopolize the table with cooperating fellow-players—may have value, but her supporting arguments are linguistically murky. “Lots of gamblers still experienced suffering losing by playing a consistent strategy,” she confusingly writes.
The amateur illustrations of poker players with thought bubbles above their heads that accompany the text add to the book’s unpolished presentation.
Chen tells readers on page 2 that she lost $200,000 between 1999 and 2013 at the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut. She later seems to reverse herself, writing that her three children “grew up on” her blackjack winnings. Certainly, she loves the game — “I got hook [sic] on it,” she acknowledges — and her enthusiasm may offer readers inspiration. But her writing requires polish if readers are to benefit from her strategies at the table.