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SOUTH FLORIDA 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 five 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.

Casinos visited in December include:

Hard Rock (near Hollywood/ Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

Immolake (Immolake, FL)

Ironically and completely coincidentally, in my last report in BJI, I covered casinos located in Miami, Oklahoma. In this issue, I started near Miami, Florida and traversed across alligator alley to Fort Myers, Florida. I only found two casinos that offered blackjack- one around Fort Lauderdale and one in Immolake, Florida.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, FL)

South Florida is not an area I usually frequent so this was my first opportunity to play blackjack in this area. For those unfamiliar with the Miami area, the Miami airport is very large. Fort Lauderdale has a much smaller airport about 30 miles north of the main Miami International Airport. I started off near Miami and took the 30-minute drive north near Hollywood Florida to the Hard Rock complex. There are all kinds of shops, restaurants, and bars that are separate from the casino. The Hard Rock Casino is a relatively demure casino amongst this complex. On the weekday afternoon I visited, the whole area was quiet and most of the shops did not appear open (or had sparse guests), but I imagine on weekends and evenings, the whole complex is hopping. I found my way into the casino. As far as I could see there was only one casino, but my scouting report in Current Blackjack News (CBJN) had led me to believe there were two casinos. Since the entire complex is under the Seminole Indian tribe, I assumed a second casino would have similar conditions.

Upon signing up for a player's card, I received $15.00 in free slot play- not worth a special trip, but better than nothing. I quickly turned the $15.00 free play and cashed out $14.00 as quickly as I possibly could. I scouted the blackjack tables and was very disappointed. In the main pit, all tables were eight deck, H17, DAS, and no RSA. Penetration was bad for an eight-deck game, around 6.0 out of 8 decks at best and perhaps a little worse. Table minimums were $25 and I did not pay attention to the maximum. The house advantage is dismal at around 0.70%. To top it off, most of the tables had several players and there were no empty tables where I could easily get a fresh shoe if I wanted. It is virtually impossible to gain any kind of advantage with these rules and penetration.

I was about to get in my car and head west when I found the high limit pit. I was surprised to see a room with about a dozen blackjack tables, about six of which were open. Most of them had no players or only one player. And these appeared to all be six-deck games, with S17, DAS, and no RSA where the house advantage is a tolerable 0.40%. Penetration appeared to be acceptable at a fairly consistent 4.5 out of 6 decks. I believe these were all "no mid-shoe entry," but the fact that there were empty tables was appealing as I could quickly back out of a shoe with a bad negative count and get a fresh start. The problem was that these were all $100 minimum tables. I played a few shoes and was able to play some without the count turning negative.

There are two general rules as an advantage player that I try to follow...

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