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"Spread The Truth:
Regarding Hatchet Job Reviews
Placed By Dubious Sources On Amazon.com"

by Richard Harvey

Blackjack Cards with Richard Harvey Likeness

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but sometimes lame criticism from jealous competitors is the sincerest verification of the power of something new.

For instance, let's look at the thinly-veiled criticism from dubious sources on Amazon.com's listing of my book, Cutting Edge Blackjack. Because Amazon steadfastly refuses to police its open-door policy of allowing competing authors and other malicious writers to post lies under fictitious names in order to hurt books that threaten them (a practice unveiled in a New York Times piece one or two years ago), I would like to ask your help.

First, examine the works of “genius” among the one-star reviews. Form your own conclusions as to what their motivations are.

The interesting thing is that any “details” purportedly from my book in these reviews are outright lies. In other words, they have nothing to do with the content of my book!

Case in point: the Einstein who hides behind the anonymous name, “A Reader.” He writes:

“It says obvious things that most players already know: for example, that even when the dealer has a 6 there's less than a 50% chance of him busting. On the other hand, it gives advice on how to count other player's face-down cards. This is odd because the book never covers counting itself! Apparently he uses a simple hi/low count, but who can tell? It cetainly [sic] doesn't cover strategy changes based on count. Therefore it's bad for both beginners and advanced players.”

Number one: Regarding the dealer's 6, how this Einstein places me on an Old School approach is curious. Einstein conveniently ignores the fact that I'm contradicting this approach! Cutting Edge Blackjack introduced the fact that dealer up cards have constantly varying busting rates. And I give a method to deal with those variances. I guess he had to pretend I was advocating Old School simplistic notions because he's a simpleton who cannot adequately contest what's really in my book.

Number two: I CRITICIZE the Hi-Low card counting method in this book! So how can he claim I'm USING it???

Another “genius” writes:

“The Circle of 13 seems to be ingeniously written- but all its hyped up to be are spreadsheets on probablities [sic] to win or bust on hands.”

NO. It's simply a learning tool for newcomers to state-of-the-art blackjack, to get them thinking properly. (This is clearly explained in the book.)

He goes on: “Another issue I had is this model doesn't give much emphasis on hi-low card-counting, a system that I religiously rely on whenever I play.”

OK! So he's a died-in-the-wool Old Schooler, using a faulty and antiquated card counting method that was invented in 1963 by Harvey Dubner, one of the original Old School blackjack guys! And he's wrong to say that I don't "give much emphasis on hi-low card-counting." The truth is: I give NO emphasis at all to it. As I mentioned above, if I mention it, it's only to criticize it for its being antiquated, faulty and ineffective. He's foolish for using it.

The MIT teams used this. In Bringing Down The House by Ben Mezrich, they admitted that the Hi-Low system was so inefficient that they had to make enormous bets in order to profit from it. Read it for yourself. (Jeffrey Ma, referred to by a pseudonym, complained it gave them a measly 2% advantage over the house.)

Another coward, also calling himself “A Reader,” says “Progressions Are A Scam.” The only problem with this remark is that Cutting Edge Blackjack has NOTHING to do with progressions!

I guess those who fear this book (competitors and those who don't want you to win) have to criticize it for things that are NOT in it because they can't formulate an intelligent response to the powerful innovations that ARE in it – innovations which have made the game much more winnable and have been praised by many gaming experts and players (see www.blackjacktoday.com for just a sample).

Another writer, in a tome called “When I play blackjar [sic]”: “… when I opened this book at B&N for a quick scan...there it is...don't play at tables where the other players don't play correctly, and a long senseless explanation as to why this would hurt your chances.”

If this genius ever took the time to actually read the book, perhaps he'd get beyond a simpleton's view based upon a misimpression. I don't even know what he's referring to!

Clearly there's a malicious motivation here that he (whoever he truly is) is not brave enough to state. Who are you, writer, and what makes you so angry that you'd criticize this book with misinformation and malice?

A favor to ask of you: Since the false information in these reviews can be damaging, can I ask those of you who've found Cutting Edge Blackjack to be helpful to post your own reviews on Amazon?

I'm not telling you to write – except that it be the truth . Let's get the truth out. Many thanks and God Bless.

(And, until Amazon agrees to remove these offensive and malicious reviews placed anonymously by those who have not even read my books, I encourage you to buy my books from other fine booksellers and dot-coms, such as Barnes & Noble and Borders, who respect authors. I don't see how Amazon could object to this favor that I ask of you. After all, don't they allow competing authors to trash my books as pretend "reviewers" and suggest that Amazon's customers buy their books and not mine?)

The Internet is great, but it's got its drawbacks, one of which is allowing snakes to anonymously spew vile and untrue poison and it's hard for those unacquainted with this Internet phenomenon to recognize the trash for what it is. I encourage everyone who might be confused by it to go to a legitimate bookstore and pick up a copy of my books. Let your eyes see my books for what they truly are. Your eyes won't lie to you.

All this being said, obviously most players have seen beyond the trash on the Net because my books have become big bestsellers and remain on the shelves of the nation's finest bookstores while most others have disappeared.

The views expressed above are those of Mr. Harvey's and not necessarily our own. However, it should be noted that we have attempted on numerous occasions to get Amazon to change its policy of allowing competing authors and others with a motive to trash our books anonymously and maliciously, and they have persistently ignored our requests that they police their reviewers. We feel this does a disservice to all authors and we urgently ask Amazon to update itself and remove its open-door policy allowing fraudulent and harmful lies to be posted under the guise of being those of an impartial and intelligent reader-reviewer.

While Amazon's policy of allowing anyone to post criticism for any motivation and without a shred of truth is now glaringly wrong, we understand the time in which this innovation was instituted. Amazon's motivation initially was pure in trying this noble experiment. We respectfully suggest, however, that the time and place for this idea has come and gone. It has not worked and will not work. In fairness to all authors, it must be stopped.

Amazon does not seem to care that it is causing real pain and real harm by its open-door "reviews" policy. And Amazon is being callous when it ignores all pleas to remove offensive, false and malicious diatribes that pretend to be "reviews" by uninterested parties and continues to enable the malicious to do their dirty deeds by posting anonymous hatchet jobs with false claims.

We do agree with Mr. Harvey in that if Amazon argues it has the right to continue to post these dubious-source "reviews," Mr. Harvey should have the right to post his opinion (which he is unable to do on Amazon's site, ironically enough) here.


Caveat Emptor

We have been investigating the sale of our books on Amazon.com by second-market sellers, some of whom claim to sell new books. We, ourselves, purchased numerous of these books only to find that these were out-of-date books, older printings and older editions, most if not all of which were of a condition we would not consider saleable here. They were damaged, scuffed and shopworn.

In more truthful times, these would have been correctly labelled "used." Yet many were touted as being "new" by Amazon.com resellers.

We brought this problem to the attention of Amazon.com but they clearly did not care to correct the situation. One attorney there told us he did not object to resellers calling used or damaged books "new." He said, and we quote: "New is a description placed by the seller." (In other words, words have no meaning and Amazon.com does not require "new" to mean what you and we think of as new.) He continued: "It can mean unread, undamaged."

When we pointed out to him that the books we received from five different resellers were damaged, he changed his tune, even though he had just defined "new" as being undamaged. He clearly did not care that Amazon's resellers were duping unsuspecting buyers into thinking used books were new.

And you should understand this if you're considering buying those "bargain" reseller books. Because we suspect most readers don't want a damaged, older edition or older printing book (which will not have the latest updates) and would not buy the books said to be "new" if they knew the truth.

All of our books (whether just new printings or new Editions) are improved with each printing and Edition and your information is not current unless you buy truly new books.

Of course, you have the right to purchase used books or books of dubious origin if you prefer. But, bear this in mind: we have had inquiries from readers who want to know why the information in their books is different from the information they read in Richard Harvey's columns or newer books. The reason is always that those reader had out-of-print books.

On top of this, in buying these books, our authors are being deprived of royalties they deserve to get. Used books do not benefit the author (or the publishing company) one iota. Think about your own occupation and how you'd feel if someone was selling something you'd done and they made all the money off of it.

That is why we have recently created our New Books Club, to reward readers who purchase their books (preferably at a bookstore) new, at or within 20% of the retail (cover) price, with special secret web sites with informational available only to them, products only they may order, and access to Richard Harvey's seminars (which are now closed to those who are not members of our New Books Club). See the last three pages of the new Third Edition of Cutting Edge Blackjack or the new Gold (Fourth) Edition of Blackjack The Smart Way for details. (Please do NOT write us about this; everything is explained in those books.)

Anyway: buyer beware. We recommend you buy your books here or from a reputable bookseller. You get what you pay for.