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by KC Brooks

I have been addicted to blackjack ever since reading Revere’s "Playing Blackjack as a Business" when I was 15. The art of blackjack is a lifetime endeavor. I went through the learning process backwards, learning Revere’s Advanced Point Count first. I found out early that the actual count system is only a small piece of the puzzle. Presently, I travel "my" Devils Triangle (Reno, Wendover, Vegas}, playing mainly single- and double-deck games. Hi Lo is my choice of strategies and "Professional Blackjack" by Wong is my bible. I worship a large spread, and have been known to wong everywhere I go. Thank God I haven’t had to register as a wonger yet, but I am sure it is not too far off. I also help fellow AP Nick teach card counting at 

Casino visited in August 2013 includes:

Red Hawk Casino (CA)

Casablanca (NV)

Eureka (NV)

Virgin River (NV)

Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of a trip that Las Vegas-based KC Brooks is making to casinos in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Red Hawk Casino (5250 Honpie Rd., Placerville, CA)

My reviews of the northern California casinos would not be complete without the inclusion of Red Hawk (see my article in BJI #164 for previous reviews). Situated in the foothills, just off highway 50, about ten miles south of Placerville. Red Hawk has been voted the best casino three years running.

I visited Red Hawk on a Saturday afternoon and was surprised at how busy it was. Slot action was heavy, as so were the table games. They have over 2100 slot machines and 75 table games, including EZ baccarat, midi-baccarat, Three-Card Poker, Four-Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Let-it-Ride, Pai Gow Poker, and of course blackjack (single- and double-deck), and lots of shoe games.

The majority of blackjack tables were eight-deck shoe games: dealer hits soft 17, double on any two cards, double after splitting is allowed, and no re-splitting aces. Table limits are $10-$500 and the penetration varied from dealer to dealer from anywhere between one and two decks. The house advantage is 0.66% for the basic strategy player.

There are usually at least three double-deck games in play with hit 17. You can only double down on 9, 10, and 11, and there is no mid entry, doubling after splitting is allowed, and no re-splitting aces. Table limits were $15-$500 and $25- $1000, with the high limit room offering a $100-$3000 bet spread. House advantage for the basic strategy player is a little over a half percent; again, penetration varied from dealer to dealer, anywhere from 50 to 65 percent dealt.

The single-deck games are not worth the bother because of the dreaded 6:5 blackjack payout, but for those interested here are the rules: dealer hits soft 17, double down on 9, 10, 11, and no mid entry. I was told during the week there is a $5 minimum table. The house edge in this terrible game is almost 2%.

Rounding out the blackjack action is a couple of tables of Blackjack Switch.

Although I did not eat at Red Hawk, there are plenty of dining options: Waterfall buffet, Henry’s Steakhouse, Koto Grille (Mexican-American cuisine), Two Rivers Café, Pearl Asian Cuisine, and Hanks Tavern.

If you are in the area, I would definitely make a visit to Red Hawk. Although the area is not as beautiful as Lake Tahoe, I am sure they have taken a lot of their gaming action, and in the winter, you don’t have to deal with the snow.

From Northern California, I head northeast of Las Vegas to Mesquite Nevada. Mesquite is roughly an hour and a quarter drive from Vegas, or a half hour south of St George, Utah. There are three major casinos, The Casablanca, Eureka, and Virgin River, and at one time, there were four counting the Oasis, which is now closed.

Casablanca Casino (950 W. Mesquite Blvd., Mesquite, NV)

The Casablanca is the first casino you see on the left as you come in to Mesquite from Vegas (first casino off the ramp). Next to it, sits the now closed Oasis.

The Casablanca has over 800 slot and video poker machines, two roulette wheels, and two craps tables with $5-$1000 and $3-$1000 betting limits, and 3x4x5x odds. There are 4 tables of six-deck blackjack, and 14 tables of double deck. The rules are the same for both games: H17 and DAS. Table limits are $3-$500 for the 6 deckers and $10-$1000 for the double-deck game. The penetration varies from dealer to dealer with about one and a quarter decks cut from the shoe games and about 65% on the double deck games. House edge is 0.40% for double deck and 0.63% on the six-deck games.

I visited the property on a Sunday afternoon, and only a few tables were open. I got a good...

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