I’m often asked exactly how did Two Plus Two begin. Well, it was all an accident and evolved after a couple of negative events. It goes like this.
In 1982, I moved to the Los Angeles area after leaving my job in Laguna Niguel, California with The United States Census Bureau (where I was part of the staff at The West Coast Processing Center for The 1980 Census) when The Northrop Corporation offered me a position as a mathematician. But I had already discovered poker and blackjack, and was reading every book I could get my hands on.
At first, my interest was more in blackjack than in poker, and I had some ideas on what is known today as shuffle tracking, which at that time was probably only known to a select few blackjack players. I read a book by blackjack author and blackjack instructor Jerry Patterson called Blackjack’s Winning Formula which contained something in it that seemed to be consistent with my ideas. So I wrote Patterson to see if he could help with my thoughts and quickly received a reply from him. It turned out that in a few days he was going to give a seminar at a hotel which was located only a few blocks from where I lived. He invited me to meet him at the hotel, and since Patterson lived in New Jersey this seemed like an amazing stroke of luck
This was done and we had a pleasant conversation after his talk, but I discovered that my knowledge about shuffle tracking (which I called “card domination”) was much greater than his, and I agreed to write up my ideas and send them to him. In return, he told me that I could possibly play on his blackjack team and so on. Being just over 30, this seemed like an incredible opportunity. So I wrote up my ideas, sent them to Patterson, and never heard from him.
Also, at this time, I had become aware of a magazine called Gambling Times which carried articles on blackjack and poker. In addition, I was now afraid that my ideas on shuffle tracking would be stolen and written up by Patterson as his own (which never happened). So, I decided to write them up and submit them to Gambling Times, and in August of 1983 my first article, “Card Domination; The Ultimate Blackjack Weapon” was published and I received a $150 payment which seemed like a pretty good deal.
So now I began to write other articles for Gambling Times, and since my emphasis had switched to poker, some of my articles were submitted to another of their publications, Poker Player Newspaper. Also, much of what I wrote was unique at this time. While it may be hard to believe today, apparently I was one of the first statisticians to come through gambling. I was introducing concepts such as the standard deviation and “self-weighting” versus “non-self weighting” to gambling that no one had heard of before, as well as a way to value one’s chips towards the end of a poker tournament which is now known as “The Independent Chip Model.”
Anyway, one day my phone rang and it was Mike Caro who was a big name in poker at that time, and shortly after The Bicycle Club opened in Bell Gardens, California I got to meet David Sklansky. Thanks to Caro, I also got to meet another man, Stanley Sludikoff, who was the majority owner and Publisher of Gambling Times, and with Caro’s help secured a contract for my first book Winning Concepts in Draw and Lowball in 1985.
In 1987, I left my job at Northrop and moved to Las Vegas to play poker and blackjack and to write about them as well as other gambling. But now I had another problem. Gambling Times had gone bankrupt, they had not published my book, and Sludikoff (who passed away last year and who my opinion of is let’s just say not positive) refused to return my manuscript to me. So I hired an attorney (who still represents Two Plus Two today) who was able to get the book back. In 1987 my first book was self-published which was then quickly followed by two others, and this was the beginning of Two Plus Two Publishing.
Part of the reason I wanted to tell this story is that I was fairly bitter young man after my dealings with both Patterson and Sludikoff. But it turned out that these negative events were some of the best things that ever happened to me, and I now had an accidental business that would become more successful than I ever could have imagined.