Max Rubin isn’t your run of the mill professional blackjack player. His first real experience with the game was as a dealer, giving him dual views of how the system really works. Over the years he’s run the tables, authored a best selling guide to casino comps and earned himself a laudable placement in the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2004.
Road to Las Vegas
Max Rubin grew up in the Texas Panhandle; a product of a broken home. Although smart, and notably athletic, his lack of a traditional upbringing led him in what turned out to be a very interesting direction in life.
Rubin’s father was heavily involved in gambling, and made quite the tidy profit doing it. He wasn’t a card counter or a situational strategist, though. He was simply an opportunist, cheating the casinos out of money instead of earning it in a more traditional way. In fact, Rubin’s dad was so good at it, he became employed by a Las Vegas casino to catch the same type of duplicitous players he had once been.
This was the lifestyle Rubin had grown up understanding. When he turned 18, he wanted to go to Las Vegas to be with his father, but he had no car and little money to work with. Instead, he used what he did have—his thumb. Max hitchhiked his way to Vegas and wasted no time in getting a job.
Using his inherent traits, Rubin began working as a rounder for deceptive teams of gamblers. He would start a fight to distract security, while his cohorts swiped chips from the casino.
Rubin earned himself a track scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, disentangling himself from the corrupt lifestyle he’d so recently entered. However, he soon tired of his studies and became bored with attending track practice.
With the draft in full swing, he remained in college just long enough to draw a high number in the draft lottery. With his safety outside the military secure, Max immediately dropped out of college and secured employment as a blackjack dealer in Lake Tahoe.
It didn’t take long for Rubin to become exposed to professional card counters while working the tables. To his advantage, being a dealer gave him plenty of opportunities to develop his counting skills. Soon enough he was teamed up with some of the most talented blackjack teams in the area, hitting the tables from the player’s side.
One of the most famous teams Rubin joined up with was known as the Depth Chargers. Using the same technique they were named after, they became an extremely successful blackjack team that focused on single-deck games throughout Nevada and California.
Rubin maintained his job at the casino as well, where he was quickly working his way up the management ladder. While working at The Mirage, he was promoted to a head position on the graveyard shift where one of his primary roles was to observe and catch card counters.
Max Rubin Turns the Tables on Casino
It wasn’t until 1992 that Max gave up working for casinos. Having worked in the industry so long, and gotten to know the ins and outs of the business from all angles, he had discovered exactly what it took to earn casino comps—big casino comps. He began exploiting that knowledge by playing minimal amounts of blackjack while taking full advantage of free gratuities from the casinos.
Max was getting free rooms, free meals, drinks, transportation, etc. He didn’t even bother with card counting at that point, because the whole idea of his new strategy was to avoid getting on the bad side of the casinos.
Rubin galvanized his bankroll by using basic strategy techniques, which gives players a very slight advantage over the house. And while that slight advantage won’t come with lucrative payouts at the tables, for a regular gambler who wagers high enough, it can come with amazing perks in the way of casino comps.
That lifestyle led Max to publish one of the best selling blackjack strategy books of all time, Comp City: A Guide to Free Gambling Vacations (1994). The literature delves into the inner workings of casinos, how they grade players, and how to achieve the highest comp-worthy grade. Essentially, Rubin’s book teaches players to manipulate the comp system with high bets, low volume and basic strategy.
Throughout the years, his inherently humorous nature led Max to dub himself the “Undisputed Overweight Comp Champion of the World”.
Rubin has also contributed to numerous magazine publications as a columnist. Although his editorial work spans all classifications of the blackjack world, the topic he’s touched on the most is the way casinos view card counters.
According to Max, casinos would be better off catering to counters, rather than shunning them. He believes gambling establishments would make a lot more money off bad card counters than they would lose to the good ones. But as any professional blackjack player today is well aware, casinos have yet to indulge in Rubin’s philosophy.
Broadcasting, Consulting and the Blackjack Ball
For more than a decade, Rubin has undertaken several new paths in his professional blackjack career. In the early 2000’s, he became a highly sought after broadcaster and analyst for televised blackjack series, including the Casino Diaries (Discovery Channel), Sucker Bets (Travel Channel) Ultimate Blackjack Tour (CBS), and The World Series of Blackjack (GSN).
Being a comedic character with comprehensive knowledge of the game’s multifarious angles, his colorful commentary was a highlight of each broadcast.
For the last decade, Max Rubin has hosted The Blackjack Ball, an annual gala that is as affluent as it is mysterious. According to a 2000 Card Player Magazine article by Rubin himself, only those who are invited know of its arrangement, and each are required to bring a bottle of chilled, premium Champaign to gain admittance past security. The best blackjack players in the world gather for the clandestine ball to compete for the Blackjack Cup and title of ‘World’s Greatest Blackjack Player’.
Rubin has built an impressive empire in the consulting business as well, traveling to various casinos throughout the country and teaching them how to recognize card counters and bona fide cheaters at the blackjack tables. He’s been employed as a private consultant at such renowned casino companies as Harrah’s, Hilton Casinos and Mirage Resorts.
One might say Rubin is working against the very players his book helped to educated, but remember – Max does not preach card counting. His technique is based on basic strategy and comp accumulation.
At present, Max Rubin works exclusively for one of California’s most popular casino destinations, the Barona Casino in San Diego, where he educates the staff in identifying and thwarting all sorts of cheating techniques.