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Colin Jones and Ben Crawford have a tremendous story to tell, and one blackjack table to organizing a Christian card-counting team that was.


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Ben Crawford is a co-founder of Epipheo, a Cincinnati based communication agency. He shared insights on what a vision statement with.


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The Church Team was a card counting blackjack team that operated from to It was started and managed by Ben Crawford and Colin Jones. Over the.


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Colin Jones and Ben Crawford have a tremendous story to tell, and one blackjack table to organizing a Christian card-counting team that was.


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Ben Crawford is a co-founder of Epipheo, a Cincinnati based communication agency. He shared insights on what a vision statement with.


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Ben Crawford is a co-founder of Epipheo, a Cincinnati based communication agency. He shared insights on what a vision statement with.


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ben crawford blackjack

In Atlantic City, I played the persona of an aggressive Russian guy. Though wins came much more frequently than losses, early success did nothing to assuage guilt he felt about being in casinos and playing blackjack. I got released into downtown Vegas with a check instead of my chips and money. He felt a responsibility to investors. I coached guys and helped them figure out what they were good at. To him, cracking the code of the standardized test was a lot like cracking the code of blackjack. Treas met his match one night at Wynn Las Vegas. He left the team to form a test-preparation company called Torch Prep. But when I asked him to hit a local casino with me, just for the sake of the story, he refused. Mentally freed, Crawford turned to card counting in earnest, playing as many as six nights per week, believing that he had discovered the holy grail of gambling. While the more progressive church deacons seemed to get a kick out of the Christ-loving lads who had a knack for bringing down the houses of Vegas, others were less impressed. Nicknamed the Church Team, this group was managed by Evangelical Christians, who traditionally view gambling as a sin. Crawford went on to cofound a company called Epipheo Studios, which got its start by using stick-figure animation to simplify difficult concepts for companies that include Google and Microsoft. Like the others, he needed to figure out whether or not attempting to beat casinos at blackjack counted as a sin. He now runs a website and training service called blackjackapprenticeship. I showed them how to think out of the box. One highlight for him is the night that he spent with a group of fellow Christians. Card counting, incidentally, is completely legal. With Crawford and Jones managing the team—dealing with investors, deciding where players would play, tracking results and shipments of money around the United States and into Canada—things ran relatively smoothly. This was all I ever wanted to do: reach young guys and counsel them on getting out of debt, on marriage and on children. Because Treas had previously been warned against returning to the Wynn, he was arrested and told by Nersesian that he had no case against the casino. What did his wife have to say? So he took the time to understand how card counting worked and knew all the moves cold. That the team members had agreed to cooperate for a documentary indicates how lackluster things had become. I am faithful to my wife, and Las Vegas is no place for a man who wants to be faithful to his wife. After teaching a Bible camp friend named Colin Jones how to count cards, Crawford had company. Sometimes local law authorities were called in. People sometimes mistook us for a church. What Vegas sells is not what I am consuming. We were a blackjack team that had Christians on it. I had to figure out a way to get back to my room at the Venetian. The team was also mired in a two-year net losing streak—which, Jones acknowledges, had to do with issues other than bad luck. But the situation forced me to think about what was wrong with it. Still, though, as somebody who had formerly waited tables and always associated his income with a predetermined hourly wage, blackjack was a revelation. I felt like I was doing more ministry on the team than I was doing in the church. I called the police and then I called Bob Nersesian [a Las Vegas attorney who specializes in representing advantage players against casinos]. He, too, was worn down by the enterprise. He was raised in a strict Christian household and taught through religion that gambling was bad. That marked the beginning of a pattern. Besides an hourly rate received for playing, the comps and gifts were fabulous. Other times, particularly on the Indian owned casinos, players were taken into backrooms and threatened. I was never afraid of losing my money. He played a lot of hours and made pretty good money. He hoped to find a hobby that he could make a little bit of money on. And to take as much money as possible out of the casinos. Cigar Top Opportunities for good games began to thin. He completely turned over the reigns of management to his Bible camp buddy Colin Jones. At the table, they were not your typical card counters. That bought me some more time. The desired plan when heat came down was to gather your chips and get out of the casino as quickly as possible—praying or not praying—as you hustled for the exit. Inadvertently, maybe because of his Christian beliefs and a comfort in the fact that God would look out for him, Crawford embraced the kind of gambling that may be reckless but is also necessary for building a bankroll from nearly nothing into something pretty big. Treas sold wristwatches and gift cards on eBay. It was something we all had in common and it was fun. Gambling Blackjack. Plus he has the potential to make more money, help people and not need to spend time in casinos where, despite his rationalizations, he was never percent comfortable. The Last Dance Review: The Final Episodes We all knew how this story would end, but no matter how well we thought we knew this team, surprises … May 18, The Legend of Mr.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} Cigar Life. Chips and cash were confiscated, and he wound up in a cell with the human remnants of a drug sting. His goal was to get kicked out of every casino he could. Nevertheless, the ordeal caused him to miss his flight home and his blackjack career ended on a pair of sour notes. But Treas and the others made do. He decided to call it a day as well. We trusted people because of who they were. But the back-offs became increasingly aggressive. One of the more enthusiastic recruits was Mark Treas, a big-boned, athletic-looking guy with a buzz cut of blond hair. He flipped me over and started screaming at me. Casino hosts would ask what they could do for him and Treas, a vegetarian, would be happy with a salad. To test for the team, he flew from his home in northern Kentucky to where Crawford then lived in Seattle. Wisniew was a member of one of the more unusual card-counting teams in the history of blackjack. More in The Good Life See all. But word circulated among young, male churchgoers, and suddenly, Crawford and Jones were being approached for tips on how to play. Many of the players, mostly in their 20s, were recruited through various religious organizations. We all knew how this story would end, but no matter how well we thought we knew this team, surprises …. Mark Treas took it a step further. It became more complicated. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}Maybe so. The Cincinnati Bengals rolled out a cigar-filled promo for their NFL schedule, most likely due …. The Magazine. Why was it a sin? Security interrogated him for a while, and the casino refused to accept his chips, but Bellagio eventually allowed Treas to leave—with his chips, which the team could use for playing. In the end, Jones was left to salvage a sinking ship. In —while the team was in the midst of a nasty downswing, resulting in part from fatigue, possible theft and a kind of malaise that sets in when it becomes increasingly difficult to play—Ben Crawford had similar sentiments. Casinos are entitled to halt a player for any reason, even if that player has a legal, mathematical strategy for beating the game. But I kept on winning and winning. And he did. He eventually found the cash—inside his sofa—and returned it, but Crawford considered throwing him off the team for being so careless. Never mind that he made money at it, had fun and clearly operated at an advantage. He justified it with the rationale that casinos are public places offering games to the public. Early on, Ben Crawford seemed like a long shot for card-counting glory. Players were no longer being asked to not play blackjack in the casino; they were actually getting 86ed.