ATLANTIC CITY – It’s a gray Wednesday afternoon in the city. Five men and a woman are seated around a corner table at Tony’s Baltimore Grill. Their pockets and her purse are stuffed with hundred-dollar bills.
“Everybody ready?” Tommy Hyland asks.
They file out the restaurant door and walk up Iowa Avenue, their target straight ahead.
“Wow … looks like you brought the whole team,” a Tropicana supervisor says with an uneasy smile as Hyland takes a seat at a $100-minimum blackjack table.
She’s on a house phone faster than Hyland can buy $1,500 in chips. Men in dark suits soon appear. “My alarm went off,” one says.
Bob Ferri, the casino manager, knows all about Hyland and his crew. So do most casino bosses in North America.
Hyland & Co. are card counters, professional blackjack UFABet players who use their brains to gain an undisputed mathematical advantage over the house. They’re here on a rare team outing to illustrate why their profession is on the wane.
Ferri knows they can quickly beat Tropicana for tens of thousands of dollars. Over the next 45 minutes, he’ll reach into his bag of regulator-approved tricks to foil and frustrate them.
“Shuffle,” a supervisor commands Hyland’s dealer after he has played just four hands.
“Why are you reshuffling?” Hyland asks, as if he doesn’t know the answer.
“Management decision,” the supervisor replies.
Ferri walks pit to pit, his steely eyes trained on Hyland and colleagues Richard Dougherty, Michelle Gross, Bill Coburn, Andy Anderson and son Andrew Anderson.
Unable to “get a game,” as the counters say, Hyland leaves his table to check on the others. He returns 10 minutes later, finding “reserved” signs at each of the three empty $100 tables.…