Tabman, you are my hero :) You also make a good point that the casinos will let you slide sometimes if you a) don't get greedy, and b) are making it easier for them to fleece some other mark who thinks your table is hot because you're winning.
I was a piker compared to you though, the most I made was about 1500-1800 in one night at a $25 table; I refused to bet the full amount when the count went high. It's fun to do once or twice, but it's hard work, and you really need to be able to drink and (if appropriate) smoke as camoflauge, and physically surviving that in the longer term is tough :) . One of the top counters died a few years ago, and one person said "Basically his lifestyle just caught up with him."
For those who wish to pursue it I would recommend two books:
Knock Out Blackjack - an effecive and not too difficult to learn counting system by Vancura & Fuchs.
Blackjack and the Law - by Rose & Loeb.
An excellent source of gambling stuff is http://www.gamblersbook.com/
The gaffed shoes have a prism concealed in them so the dealer can preview each card, and then 'deal seconds' to keep the high card for himself or an accomplice. They show up on Ebay very occasionally and go for around $1.5k which is more than a bit ridiculous. I can't recall but they may also have some modification which allows easier seconds; I think you can push up the card and pull down the one underneath it. I would not expect that most reputable casinos would use anything like this since it can be blown, and it can be seen if you have the right angle. Why cheat like that when all they have to do is shuffle when they're only 1/3 to 1/2 down the deck? There have been reports of casinos cheating by subtracting a couple 10 cards from the deck, but that again is tough since nowadays they ribbon spread the packs and the spectator, pardon me, the gambler can check for himself. I and friends have had moments when we thought we were being cheated (1 blackjack dealer had 2 hangers in a row to my friend and on both hands the dealer won), but there's enough variation in the odds over time that it's easy to ascribe this to chance.