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BLACKJACK REPORT: ONEIDA CASINO

IN GREENBAY, WI

by Stu D. Hoss

Stu D. Hoss is a recently retired Air Force officer and aviator. He has visited and served in over 40 countries including flying combat missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. Most of it under the guise of keeping the world safe for democracy, better blackjack, and for a few other personal reasons. He has been playing blackjack for over 20 years and cut his teeth on the tables of South Lake Tahoe during flight training in Northern CA. Mr. Hoss uses basic strategy and the HiLo count method to give himself a chance against the house edge. He currently resides in NV and is weighing his options for a second career.

The observations of casino conditions were made in Jul 2012. The casino visited in Green Bay, Wisconsin:

Oneida Casino, 2020 Airport Drive

Living in Sin City isnít all fun and games. Sometimes life its own self taps you on the shoulder and reminds you about things like family, responsibility, duty, and obligation. Such was the case last month as I found myself in a gradual descent from 30,000 feet over the green landscape of Central Wisconsin. Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton was my initial destination. From there Iíd pick up a rental car and continue my journey. However, the trip wouldnít be complete without a visit to the Oneida Casino in Green Bay.

In case you arenít familiar with gambling in Wisconsin, there are approximately twenty casinos in the state. All Wisconsin casinos are located on Indian Reservations and are a byproduct of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed by Congress in October 1988. Most, if not all, offer blackjack, video poker, and slots. Some also offer additional table games such as craps, roulette, poker, mini baccarat, Let It Ride, Big 6, and Pai Gow Poker. Bingo and off-track betting are also available at many of the properties. Casinos are generally open 24-hours, but table games often have reduced operating hours. If you are planning a late-night or early-morning dance with Lady Luck at the blackjack tables, be sure to verify the table games operating schedule. The minimum gambling age in Wisconsin is 21, except for bingo, which is 18.

With its "Fun is our Game!" motto, the Oneida Casino is located at 2020 Airport Drive in Green Bay, in the southwest portion of town, directly across from Austin Straubel International Airport. Itís also an easy drive north from Appleton (about 35 miles). Just take Highway 41N to exit 165 (Highway 172) and follow the signs to the Green Bay airport. The airport is on the left and the casino entrance is on the right if following the above directions.

The Oneida Tribe operates multiple casino properties in the Green Bay area. The Main Casino, which I visited, and the IMAC Casino and Bingo Hall (2100 Airport Drive) are co-located, practically next door to one another. The Mason Street Casino, 2522 West Mason Street, offers slots and video poker 24-hours and has a poker room. The remaining properties are a collection of convenience stores and gas stations with some slots and video machine games.

The Oneida Casino held its grand opening in 1993 and features one primary gaming area with two satellite high-limit areas Ė one for machine play and another for table games. The casino floor is comparable to a mid-size, Las Vegas locals-style casino. It features one table-games pit, a variety of slots and video poker machines, a lounge with live musical acts, a snack shop and noodle bar, and at least one other bar. There are several flat screen televisions scattered throughout the property Ė most were tuned to the Milwaukee Brewers baseball game the night I was there.

The Oneida Casino offers single-deck, double-deck, and six-deck blackjack games, each with slightly varying rule differences. Each of the variations is posted on large stand-up displays at each end of the pit area on the primary casino floor and to the left of the tables as one enters the high-limit area. (Iíll discuss the blackjack rule variations below.) In addition, "high-limits" at this property is nowhere near what you find on the Las Vegas Strip, or many other properties for that matter, and may not be considered high at all by some of you. Iíve played this venue a few times in the past and found the staff to be friendly and competent, but Iíve never noticed commas in the posted maximum wager amount, in other words, no four-digit wagers on the high end.

The main casino area has one fifteen-table pit area. There were seven six-deck blackjack shoe games, a double-deck blackjack pitch game, three Three-Card Poker tables, a pair of Four-Card Poker tables, and two roulette wheels. Playing rules on the six-deck shoe blackjack games allow players to double-down on any first two cards (DOA), and double-down after splits (DAS). Player blackjacks on these games pay 3:2. Aces may be split and re-split, to form up to four hands, and surrender is allowed. Dealers do hit the soft 17, however. Shuffle penetration appeared to be just over four decks. Table limits ranged from $5 or $10 minimums to $200 or $300 maximums. There are also two craps tables on the casino floor offering five times odds and $5 minimums.

Blackjack rules for the double-deck games at the Oneida Casino are the same as the shoe games with two notable exceptions. Players are not allowed to DAS and surrender is not allowed. I saw two double-deck games on this visit, one in the main pit and another in the high-limit room.

The high-limit room is off the main casino floor and rather nondescript. Itís past a casino bar and across from the Gold Lounge, a members-only bar and lounge, akin to the former Harrahís Seven Star lounge Iíd guess, but on a much smaller scale. I poked my head in and saw one bartender and one patron Ė and this was a weekend night! The high-limit room is composed of eight tables, two of which were closed when I visited. The games being dealt were Baccarat (two tables) and blackjack (four tables: two single-deck, one double-deck, and one six-deck shoe). The table limits in this room ranged from $15 and $25 minimums to $400 and $500 maximums. The blackjack rules for the double- and six-deck games are the same as mentioned previously.

The single-deck game is a bit different...

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