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ST. LOUIS 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.

Introduction

St. Louis has six casinos that are spread out over the metro area. Two are located on the Illinois side and four on the Missouri side. I usually travel to St. Louis about three or four times a year. In general, blackjack conditions have continued to improve, particularly on the Missouri side. In Missouri, a player cannot be barred from playing based solely on card counting. The casinos can, and do, take countermeasures; but in general, compared to many of the overly paranoid, counter-hostile casinos in Las Vegas, the Missouri casinos are a pleasant surprise. As described in this report, I have become increasingly disillusioned with the casinos on the Illinois side and will probably skip visiting them.

Casinos Visited

On my recent visits, I was able to play at:

  • Hollywood, Lumiere, and Ameristar on the Missouri side and
  • Casino Queen on the Illinois side.

St. Louis Logistics

The logistics of the St. Louis casinos is not particularly amenable to someone trying to hop around. Hollywood and Ameristar are fairly close together (within five miles) on the west side of the metropolitan area. Lumiere is about 25 miles east of Hollywood in the heart of downtown. Casino Queen is right across the river (less than half mile from Lumiere as the crow flies but requires a tortuous drive through a less-than-affluent area). Argosy is about 15 miles north of downtown and River City about 10 miles south.

Hollywood in Maryland Heights

This is the former Harrah's casino. Fairly recently, Hollywood double-deck rules changed for the better. DAS is allowed, double on any two cards allowed, and you can resplit aces. This is a big improvement since the house advantage was nearly cut in half. Current conditions are:

2-deck

  • DAS, RSA, double any two cards for a house advantage of about 0.35%
  • Penetration ranging from 60-70%
  • Table minimum $25 (or higher)
  • Table maximum about $2000

6-deck

  • H17, DAS, RSA for a house advantage of 0.56%
  • Penetration about 4.8-5.0 decks dealt out
  • Table minimum $25 in high limit ($10 in main pit)
  • Table maximum $ 2000 in high limit (lower in main pit)

Caution: All of the six-deck tables are...

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