Mason Malmuth is one of the most recognizable names in gambling for writing an incredible volume of information on applying skill to casino games. His book, Blackjack Essays, generally represents some of his earliest forays as an author and serves as a compendium of most of his contributions to the game of blackjack.

There are about 70 essays in this book dealing with a wide range of topics. Almost every one represented a new area of inquiry when it was written. Some now are well integrated into the corpus of general blackjack knowledge, some have been extended and elaborated on in other books, some represent the first foray into a still largely unexplored area, and some are still largely the last word on a particular topic.

The earliest essays in this book cover a concept Malmuth calls, “Card Domination”, which these days is more commonly called Shuffle Tracking. This is still a good introduction to the topic, although the Blackjack Forum series on Shuffle Tracking which appeared in about 1994 is far more thorough. However, I’ve recently seen shuffles which are trackable using Malmuth’s methods.

Another topic Malmuth explores in great depth is that of bankroll requirements or “Gambler’s Ruin”. Malmuth does a great job here of discussing why early blackjack literary figures probably underestimated the size of the fluctuations they would face. Of course, there was still room to explore these ideas in more detail in, for example, Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger. However, Malmuth’s writings on this topic are still valuable today, they’re just no longer the last word.

Malmuth provides what is probably the best currently in print description of Front Loading, good information on how to improve the profitability of casino trips, and, a Malmuth trademark, a thorough debunking of several mistaken blackjack myths perpetrated by other authors. Malmuth also provides some surprising results regarding biases, or “card clumping” that receives further attention in other books, but aptly demonstrates the author’s intellectual honesty in this volume.

On some topics, like Malmuth’s preference of shoe Slot Gacor games to hand-held games, and on his preference for more complex count systems, I disagree with the author. However, in these cases I do not fault his conclusions. Malmuth presents his case in a clear, straightforward manner listing the “pros” and “cons” of both sides of the issue and stating the reasons he believes his side of the debate is correct. By doing this he forces a reader who disagrees with him to articulate the reasons why, and, thus, does the reader a service.

Even though this book was first assembled almost 14 years ago, and some of its ideas have been expanded by other authors elsewhere, it still belongs in every serious blackjack player’s library. The ideas it espouses are, at their worst, worthy of serious consideration. I recommend it to anyone who has already learned and practiced a blackjack card counting system. Anyone who enjoyed this book should also read Gambling Theory and Other Topics, and anyone who enjoyed Gambling Theory and plays blackjack seriously should certainly read this book.


If you’ve learned and practiced a card counting system, have played in a casino, and are looking for extra advice, Blackjack Essays will likely be of considerable value. While it may not be the best supplemental book for the blackjack card counter (Blackjack Attack gets that honor), and some of its ideas are a bit dated or covered more thoroughly elsewhere, I still recommend it as a more than worthwhile addition to any serious blackjack player’s library.