Michael Shackleford WizardOfOdds.com Interview
Here is our first interview in our series of interviews with webmasters that have created the best blackjack sites.
Michael Shackleford is the creator and webmaster of one of the most widely recognized casino strategy websites, Wizard Of Odds. He was willing to answer questions on his website as well as blackjack.
Kendall: The reader gets a really honest, genuine vibe from your site–probably one of the reasons why it has such a great following.Have you ever found it difficult to be in the gambling world when honesty isn’t always the focus?
Mike: Thanks. While the focus of my site is on the odds, I am big on honesty in gambling. The first two of my ten commandments are “Thou shalt not cheat” and “Thou shalt honor thy gambling debts.” Morally, I’m fine with gambling. Hopefully I have exposed some of the darker side of it over the years.
Kendall: One of the great things about WizardOfOdds is the always updated content and the Ask the Wizard section. How many hours a week do you find your self working on the site?
Mike: About 30.
Kendall: We are a blackjack site, so a couple questions on blackjack. How did you get started playing blackjack and do you still play today?
Mike: Blackjack was the first game I played my first trip to Vegas, shortly after turning 21. Long before then I used to play blackjack on my old Atari 2600. I don’t play much anymore. Usually just if a friend is in town and wants to play.
Kendall: I believe you have one of the best blackjack pages (http://wizardofodds.com/blackjack) on the internet. Are any sections on the page that you are especially fond of? Any new sections to look forward to?
Kendall: What is the best way to learn to be an advantage player in blackjack? Would you recommend reading books, practicing or taking seminars? Also any favorite books or seminars?
Mike: You probably don’t want to hear this, but my advice would be to take up advantage sports betting instead. However, if it must be blackjack, then I would learn the Knock-out count, which is described in Knock-Out Blackjack by Olaf Vancura & Ken Fuchs, or the Hi-Low, which is described in lots of books. There is a good introductory treatment of it in Hollywood Blackjack by “Hollywood” Dave Stann. You should then practice counting on your own before hitting the casinos. I don’t think seminars are necessary. Card counting can easily be learned from a book.
Kendall: Have you had any close calls at a casino for being suspected of card counting?
Mike: I’ve been called out lots of times. Camouflage is not my strong point.
Kendall: What is your casino game of choice as an advantage player?
Mike: As mentioned above, sports betting. It is tough making it these days in blackjack and video poker. I find sports betting is the easiest way to grow a bankroll. For the pleasure of the game, I like pai gow tiles.
Kendall: As a Las Vegas resident, it’s likely that you get many promotional offers and have a favorite casino to play, but which casino or casinos would you recommend at this point for new players in terms of promotional offers and game selection?
Mike: I get a lot of offers in the mail, but never to anything worth going out of my way for. The casinos that used to be generous with mailers and offers, worth making a trip for, have quit sending me stuff. It may be because they are not as generous, or I’m on a list of unprofitable players. I used to be a big video poker player, and now I hardly play at all.
There is no specific casino that stands out in my mind as being especially generous in terms of liberal game rules, offers, and comps. I’d be happy to promote such a casino if I believed there was one. If forced, I would say that the MGM casinos are more generous than the Harrah’s casinos. I find the Station and Boyd casinos to be about the same. In my opinion there is an opening in Vegas for a single property to actively try to become known as having the best odds in the city, like the Barona of San Diego.