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IOWA TRIP REPORT

by JPB

JPB has been playing blackjack and counting cards part-time since 1996. He plays throughout the country but primarily in Missouri. He has been a Green Chip member of BJ21.com for four years and one-time winner of the Post-of-the-Month. JPB is a professional engineer with three engineering degrees and works as a consulting engineer.

Introduction

No offense to the good people of Iowa (which I believe is the birthplace of the great Blackjack Hall of Famer Stanford Wong), but for me, Iowa is usually a "drive through state," Most recently, on trips to Minnesota, Western Illinois, and even Nebraska, I have driven through Iowa solely to reach an out-of-Iowa destination. On one of my recent trips going south to north along I-35, I had the opportunity to visit three Iowa casinos located on I-35. It had been a few years since I played in Iowa; on this trip, I found that blackjack conditions at one of the casinos had significantly deteriorated since my last visit, however, one of the casinos still offered an excellent game for card counters.

The three casinos I visited were: Diamond Joes (just south of the Minnesota border), Prairie Meadows (in Des Moines), and Lakeside in Osceola (about 30 miles south of Des Moines).

Lakeside

This was my first stop as I was driving north. A few years ago, I played there on several visits and both double-deck and six-deck games were offered. Back then, there was a time when the six-deck penetration was excellent (about 5.5 out of 6 decks). Not anymore. The penetration looked like a consistent 4.5 out of 6 decks. The rules were not good: H17, DAS, and no RSA. and no surrender. The house advantage is about 0.60%. Table minimums I observed were $10-300 although I am sure higher table maximums are available. This is not a good game, but usually I will go ahead and play at places like this for at least a short period. But I was tired and still had miles to go, with the hope of finding some decent blackjack games.

Diamond Joes

Conditions here are still very good. I played here a few times before and started wondering if they had enough evidence to classify me as an undesirable, so I...

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