Gambling humorist and Blackjack specialist Max Rubin calls himself the “Undisputed Overweight Comp Champion of the World.” He has earned an international reputation as an author, gaming consultant, television commentator and tournament host, in addition to being a “former” elite Blackjack professional. Once a year, the greatest Blackjack players in the world gather at his home in Las Vegas for a very special competition—the “double secret” Blackjack Ball.
Making Casinos Pay
According to Rubin, he has “been in this business for decades,” starting out as a dealer and rising through the ranks to pit boss and casino manager. Then, he moved to the “other side of the table, where I won so much money that I got barred from all the casinos out there.” He says he is now a bit of a “gambling activist,” who wants to help players “get a leg up on the casinos and turn the tables on them.”
By far, Rubin’s most important contribution to the game of Blackjack has been his 1994 book entitled “Comp City—A Guide to Free Gambling Vacations.” In its pages, he described ways in which non-professional could exploit weaknesses in the casino comp systems to gain an advantage. It revealed how to get the free food, drinks, accommodations and other great perks offered to high-action players with little actual wagering, while offering low-level card-counting techniques that could help players gain an edge at the Blackjack table.
As he found himself a persona non grata at casinos, Rubin turned his attention to writing articles for magazines, speaking at events and consulting. He also organized the very first Blackjack Ball in the mid-1990s, inviting the likes of Tommy Hyland, James Grosjean and Johnny Chang to compete against members of the MIT and Greek Blackjack teams, among others. Each year, the winner of the event is awarded the coveted “Blackjack Cup” and dubbed that year’s “World’s Greatest Blackjack Player.”
Publically, Rubin has appeared on numerous television programs, including CBS’s “48 Hours,” the Travel Channel’s “Sucker Bets” and the Discovery Channel’s “Casino Diaries.” He was also an expert commentator for GSN’s “World Series of Blackjack” and provided gambling expertise to the CBS series “Ultimate Blackjack Tour.”
The Best of the Best
In 2004, Rubin was inducted into the official “Blackjack Hall of Fame” at the Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino in San Diego, California. He now calls the Barona “the greatest gambling joint in the world” because they reportedly pay him “a whole bunch of money on a steady basis” for his expertise. Rubin also makes regular presentations for numerous gaming and marketing symposiums and has consulted for such major casino properties as Mirage Resorts, Harrah’s, Hilton Casinos and a variety of Native American and International gaming operations.
The Hall of Famer is quite outspoken about the benefits of “advantage play,” meaning card counting, steering, sequencing, hole carding, shuffle tracking, bobbles, signatures and other advanced tactics. But he also believes that casinos are missing the boat by trying to bar card counters from their tables.
As Al Francesco has put it, “One of his favorite themes is that casinos should welcome card counters and treat them with courtesy. In the long run, the casinos would gain more from the bad card counters than they would lose to the good ones. By barring card counters, the casinos are in effect ejecting their own profits.”
Today Rubin leads a relatively quiet life in Las Vegas, where he is available for lunch and dinner speeches, casino consulting and training, television and film engagements, and serving as a “gambling escort” at $5,000 per night. Most recently, he has released an instructional DVD called “Master Blackjack Strategy – Essentials of the Pros with Max Rubin.”