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HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY BLACKJACK FROM A CARD COUNTER'S PERSPECTIVE - Part 3

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. This article is a first in a series of articles on the history of blackjack games in Kansas City from JPBs playing experience.

Note: Part 3 covers 2008 to the present. Part 1 appeared in the April BJI; Part 2 in the May BJI.

INTRODUCTION

Around 2008, two new factors came into play in the Kansas City blackjack market: fear and competition. The neighboring state of Kansas decided it was tired of seeing gambling revenue go across the state-line to Missouri. (I know it seems odd if you are not familiar with the geography in this area, but all four of the existing Kansas City casinos back then were located in Missouri not Kansas.) Plans were made for an enormous new casino and hotel that would be located near the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Hollywood Casino was the winning bidder in a joint venture with the International Speedway.

Meanwhile, the state of Missouri had become addicted to the casino tax revenue. When the Missouri casinos complained about the buy-in limit and warned of shutting the doors, the state of Missouri voters listened out of fear of losing the "golden goose".

Major Developments

In November 2008, an amendment to repeal the $500 buy-in limit was put on the Missouri ballot. The state of Missouri had become dependent on the casino tax revenue and they could not afford to potentially lose it; therefore, the amendment passed. The casinos were threatening that if the loss-limit was not repealed, casino dollars would go to other markets, including Kansas, and more of the casinos could go under. Shortly thereafter, the bizarre loss-limit was repealed and Missouri gambling became a little more normal.

Meanwhile, the Great recession hit and the plans to build the Hollywood Casino in Kansas were scaled back and delayed several years. Eventually, the Hollywood Casino was built and opened in Kansas City, Kansas in February 2012. Although it did not include a hotel and was more modest than the original plan, it was located in a growing area adjacent to the Kansas Speedway, outdoor soccer team, and minor league baseball team stadiums, as well as the outdoor (Schlitterban) and indoor waterpark/hotel (Great Wolf Lodge).

Beginning around 2009, the Missouri casinos started looking more normal. All of the Missouri casinos segregate the gambling zones from non-gambling zones so they may appear a little different than the open casinos in Nevada. But if you look well over 21 like me, you can enter without showing identification or a player's card. Drinks are not free to gamblers (in fact, they are fairly expensive) but I have found many casinos outside Nevada charge for drinks, so Missouri does not stick out on this issue. Since 2009, the Kansas City, Missouri casinos have continued the road to normalcy. Summarized below are most my most recent observations of the casinos.

Hollywood

Although I am not a big fan of auto racing, I must admit it is cool looking out on the racetrack from the restaurant on the second level of the casino. I can only imagine the casino being hopping on the handful of racing weekends. The buffet is the typical fare and price. The sports bar restaurant on the second level has decent food and nice big- screen televisions in addition to overlooking the racetrack.

Unfortunately, the blackjack is not very good. The rules are the same as on the Missouri side:

  • DD, H17, DAS, no RSA, for a house advantage of 0.40% against basic strategy player
  • 6D, H17, DAS, RSA, for a house advantage of 0.56%.

Although the penetration has varied during my visits, 50% penetration at DD appears to be the norm. The lowest DD table minimum is $25 on the main floor, and $50 or $100 in the high-limit area. I believe the table max is $1000 in the high limit. I have occasionally found slightly better penetration at the DD, but rarely do I recall seeing much better than 55%, and less than 50% is not that uncommon. The six-deck penetration I have observed has been in the range of 4.0 to 4.5. I have never seen anything that would qualify as good penetration for six-deck game.

Argosy

This has been my favorite casino in the area. Inside the casino area, they have a deli called Leo's Deli. Overall, the sandwiches are mediocre, but the pastrami and Swiss that I recently got was excellent. The buffet is better than average with a few noteworthy dishes, such as the fried shrimp with garlic mashed potatoes. The bar and grill, 99 Hops, has good food and a nice selection of beers. The buffalo chicken sandwich I had on a recent visit was excellent. There is also a Mexican restaurant, the Lucky Taco, and steakhouse, Journey.

The Argosy is generous with...

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