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I’m Going to Turn A Toothpick Into a Lumber Yard by Mark Anthony Given



Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
 -Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

HIS NAME WAS GEORGE KOSKO, out of Roanoke Virginia. A former private pilot for George Jones, professional golfer and nightclub owner and bookmaker. When I met him he was doing twenty years years for RICO and conspiracy to distribute couple hundred keys. He's the only guy I ever met who negotiated his surrender to the Chief Federal District Court Judge on the tarmac! He was sixty three and looked like he stepped off the page to Ralph Lauren add with complete white full hair and tanned like a walnut. Walked the track every day eating Oranges and calculating his return to the casino's where he had devised a betting system that beat any fast moving game, with a near fifty-percent chance of winning against a betting formula that required he win one of every three. Pure mathematics, and, virtually unstoppable.   He came to see me when I was the Head Clerk at the Inmate Law Library at Seagoville, Texas in the early 90’s.

        GEORGE OWNED A HANDFUL of bars strip joints and restaurants in and around Roanoke, Virginia. He told me he would drop by each of the places once a week for the receipts, and drop off a ounce of coke to particular bartenders and managers and would have plead guilty to that, he just didn’t think he conspired with anybody and he jumped bond in his Cessna President and flew to Mexico, spent all his money an turned himself in. The Chief US District Court Judge appointed his former law clerk his first case, on the tarmac, to represent George and informed him his trial started Monday morning. This was late Friday afternoon. He had been through nearly 10 years of direct appeal and felt after watching me for months that I was the only guy he would ever let look at his case. His case is in the law books, US v. Kosko, 870 F.3d. 162 (4th Cir. 1988),

        ALTHOUGH GEORGE’S BETTING FORMULA worked well at Roulette and Baccarat, Blackjack was and is the one game in the casino you can consistently win, and this betting formula was designed for it.  But, before he would teach it to me, I had to learn Professional Blackjack. Conveniently enough, he had a chart from Beat The Dealer, that shows all the dealers hands running across the top and you compare with the players hand’s down the side, and where they intersect on the chart says;  Hit, Stand, Double or Split. You could teach it to a six year old....The thing is you have to play enough times to where you don’t have to look at the chart anymore and you start playing like a machine. No emotion, Hit, Stand, Split or Double it's like to calculators playing against each other and any one hand doesn’t matter....I believed then, and believe now he invented either a new mathematical theorem or this has been around forever and I just never heard of it.

        GEORGE ONLY HAD A COUPLE YEARS left on his sentence, and had been down nearly fifteen years, having started at the worst Penitentiary's making it to Seagoville due to good behavior.  He explained to me his bookmaking operation as we walked around the track or practiced Blackjack day and night. I could see how he came up with this betting formula because he had numbers running in his head constantly. The first time he showed me the mathematics of the thing it was so basically simple you wondered why anyone in their right mind who gambles, doesn’t do this. Watch, I am going to make five bets loose three and win two but make money.  First bet $1 lost, 2nd bet $2 lost, third bet $3 lost, fourth bet $4 win, fifth bet $3 win. Do the math. I can lose the first seven bets, win the last three and still make money. How can the casino win twice as many hands as me but I still make money? I'm telling you this guy should be a Nobel Laureate! He told me he was going to turn a "Tooth pick into a lumber yard!  And when I got out, I did, see “The Mechanic,” by Mark Anthony Given

        I STARTED READING every book I could find on blackjack and betting. Structured betting is what George’s system is called, and there is a new betting system guaranteed to win published every week or so nowadays. All the books had the same thing in common, they followed Beat the Dealer playing strategy, with minor variations and they all had structured betting. And a lot of things work wonders on paper but don’t work at all in the real world. I was at FCI Seagoville for fourteen months and spent months and months playing Blackjack and reading Supreme Court cases.

        GEORGE’S BETTING FORMULA MADE ME THINK of when I was 20 years old stuck on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico as a roughneck finishing my two week hitch but we couldn’t get in because of the fog. I remember asking the helicopter mechanic they kept stationed on the rig if, under the worst scenario like the pilot drops dead could you fly us back in? We were 150 miles in the Gulf of Mexico and the weather changes every 15 minutes in the middle of the summer, but we had been stalled 3 days after my hitch, and I wanted off that thing. He told me under no circumstances could he fly us anywhere. I said let me get this straight, you can make the thing fly but you can’t fly it? “That’s what I’m telling you.” I had a hard time wrapping my head around that… But that is what I was afraid of; George’s Betting System would work great on paper and fail in real life action. So after several months of practicing we busted out the real chips and started playing, and it still kept working.

                                               More Blackjack stories:
                           The Mechanic, by Mark Anthony Given
                                                           Color me Up  

Copyright 2016 by Mark Anthony Given 
All Rights Reserved 

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