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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, January 2002, #26

A WORD FROM HENRY

 

Our first issue of the New Year is loaded with information to get you started on the road to winning. Captain John gives you the low down on blackjack conditions at two new casinos that recently opened in the Las Vegas area, the Palms and Green Valley Ranch, along with important tips for advantage players. CC Rider reviews the playing conditions in the Lake Charles, LA area and offers his advice to basic strategy players on the Continuous Shuffling Machines. Alene Paone explains why the blackjack conditions are continuing to degrade in Atlantic City and gives her recommendation for the best place to play. Our LV Pro describes his latest playing excursion to Sin City including a description of how the pros gain the edge at Three Card Poker. On the tournament front we’ve updated the schedule of minor and major tournaments including the first ever million-dollar blackjack tournament. We’ve also included a handy index of major articles that have appeared in the first 25 issues of Blackjack Insider Newsletter. Our Casino Spotlight-of-the-Month is the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.

Ready, set, let’s go ….

Henry Tamburin

Editor

Abbreviations used to describe playing rules and conditions in the BJ Reports

h17 = dealer hits soft 17

s17 = dealer stands on soft 17

das = double down after pair splitting

rsa = resplit aces

ls = late surrender

d4 = double down on first four or fewer cards

d9 = double down only on two card 9 or more

d10 = double down only on two card 10 or more

doa = double on anything

nm = no mid game entry

nrs = no resplits

csm = continuous shuffle machine

pen = penetration = The fraction (or percentage)of cards in a pack that the dealer will deal before reshuffling. Usually the pen is designated as a percentage (for example a game in which the dealer deals 4.5 decks out of 6 decks has 75% penetration). Sometimes, however, the penetration is stated as just the deck(s) of cards that are not put into play. For example, "a 0.8 penetration in a 2-deck game" means 1.2 decks are played out prior to shuffling and the penetration is 60%.

EV = expected value. Another way of stating what the player’s percent advantage or disadvantage.

Rule of 6 = In single deck blackjack games, 6 – n rounds will be dealt to n players.

Wonging = A term to indicate back counting and playing only when the count is favorable.

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LAS VEGAS BLACKJACK REPORT

BY CAPTAIN JOHN


The start of 2002 brought normalcy back to Las Vegas. Hotel occupancy is getting better and players are returning to the tables with the exception of the high-limit games. In addition, the smaller casinos are offering better games, as larger casinos are reducing the number of games for the advantage player. Lots of two-for-one offers are available for locals and tourists. Check with your hotel and the visitor’s guides for the best deals.

The Palms Resort and Casino and The Green Valley Ranch Hotel & Casino recently opened and are attracting hordes of players to their games. This month the feature Casino Spotlight will be the Palms and I’ve also summarized the blackjack playing conditions at the Green Valley Ranch casino.

CASINO SPOTLIGHT-OF-THE-MONTH

PALMS

The Palms Hotel and Casino opened in mid-November. It is located on Flamingo, across from the Gold Coast Casino. The Palms offers a great selection of restaurants and entertainment for locals and visitors.

The Palms tower has 455 guestrooms and suites. Each guestroom includes 27-inch televisions, high-speed Internet access, data ports and stocked mini-bars. City views are available from all rooms in the tower. Guestrooms are decorated with natural woods, soft color schemes of beige and taupe and contemporary furniture.

The Palms offers a collection of award-winning restaurants from around the world. Little Buddha Café is a unique Asian Café with a fresh sushi bar. Garduno’s, a well-known local favorite, serves authentic Mexican specialties. Alize, a Gourmet French restaurant located on the 56th floor, offers gourmet dining with breathtaking top-story views. Nine Steakhouse offers prime aged steaks and seafood specialties as well as exclusive champagne and caviar bar. Blue Agave Oyster & Chile Bar offers freshly shucked oysters and seafood cocktails as well as authentic Mexican and Southwest Chile favorites. The Sunrise Café, open 24 hours a day, offers casual atmosphere dining. The Festival Market Buffet offers all-you-can-eat international favorites.

The Palms offers a great selection of entertainment, starting with the eclectic Ghost Bar on the 55th floor, which has 14-foot floor-to-ceiling windows with outstanding evening city views. The Palapa Lounge, located on the main casino floor has nightly live entertainment. The 25,000-square-foot Rain in the Desert offers a unique nightclub setting, with a sixteen-foot water-wall behind and in front of the concert stage where video images are projected. A Brenden Company 14-screen movie theatre is also located in the Palms. The theatres have all-digital sound, tiered stadium seating and wall-to-wall curved screens. Hourly childcare is available at Kid’s Quest on the main casino floor. The Palms Spa and Fitness Center is located overlooking the swimming pool. The Palms Spa offers the most advanced technology, unique body treatments and products found anywhere. The Palms Race and Sports book has individual monitors at each of its 150 seats. The book has seventeen 70-inch screens plus other screens for viewing sports events.

Blackjack at the Palms

The Palms offers 7 two-deck games with 0.8 deck cut out of play (60% penetration), $5 - $5,000 limits, h17 and das; 6 six-deck games with 1.5 decks cut out of play (67% penetration), $25 - $5,000 betting limits, s17, ls, das and rsa; 27 six-deck games with 1.3 decks cut out of play (78% penetration), h17, ls, das and rsa; and 1 single deck h17, Super-Fun 21 game with 0.5 deck penetration. Also available are high-limit 2-deck and 6-deck games with s17 rules. The high-limit games are located adjacent to the buffet in the path of casino personnel going and coming for breaks, so be prepared to be observed by casino management personnel.

Dealers and pit personnel are young and appear to be inexperienced. The music in the main pit area is loud. Pit personnel and security personnel are difficult to tell apart and are plentiful on the main casino floor.

Captain Jack Recommendation

If you are an advantage player, walk around and observe the penetration of the dealers since they will cut off from 0.6 to 1.0 on two-deck games (50-70% penetration) and 0.9 to 1.8 on 6-deck games (70-85% penetration). You should also play short sessions and be friendly with the floor personnel.

Blackjack at Green Valley Ranch

Green Valley Ranch offers seven 2-deck games with 0.8 deck cut out of play (60% penetration), $5 - $2,000 betting limits, h17, das, and rsa; twenty 6-deck games with average of 1.5 decks cut out of play (75% penetration), $5 - $2,000 betting limits, h17, das and rsa; and three single-deck Super Fun 21 games. The gaming tables are located around a central bar on the main casino floor.

Captain Jack Recommendation

If you are an advantage player, play where you can observe pit personnel since it appears that your play is observed by surveillance only if requested by the pit personnel. Table-hopping can extend your play but aggressive advantage play should be avoided on swing shift. Penetration can vary from 70-85% on 6-deck games and 50-70% on double-deck games.

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BLACKJACK IN EAST TEXAS (almost)

BY CC RIDER

Despite the published reports of the recent (illegal to State officials) opening of an Indian casino in East Texas, the vast majority of gamblers from Texas who choose to gamble within driving distance choose Louisiana as their casino du jour. For players in the Houston area, the Lake Charles and Kinder casinos can each be reached in less than two hours by car, and can provide some decent action for those bitten. The Dallas patrons have a little more variety to choose with 5 riverboats in the Shreveport area, which is also less than a two hours drive.

I have been a witness to the legions of Texans who frequent the Grand Casino Coushatta in Kinder, Louisiana, a formerly sleepy little town thirty miles north of Lake Charles. I became curious as to why people would drive another 45 minutes through Lake Charles just to get there to gamble. I mean, why not just stop in Lake Charles, leave your money there, and drive back?

I now know why.

Granted, I’m not a fan of riverboats in general. Having grown up in New Orleans, I also have little tolerance for poor food. I like my foreign beer served to me in nice, cold bottles, imported from Europe, not Mexico. I hate waiting to grab the last spot on a blackjack table when there are other vacant, unmanned tables next to me. I like a blackjack game pitched to me, not dealt from an eight-deck shoe. Lastly, although I understand standard deviation as well as any non-Ph.D. mathematician out there, I abhor losing........EVER!

As you have probably intimated by now, a glowing recommendation is NOT forthcoming for the games in the Lake Charles area. I will try to objectively evaluate the games for you readers and guide you in the right direction for your play if you are in the area and need a game. However, you may wish to try Kinder instead. More about this at the end of this report.

The Isle of Capri
This riverboat is on the westbank of the high-rise bridge crossing Lake Charles on I-10, making this boat a little more proximate for Eastbound travelers. I would guess that this is why the dang place was so crowded, besides me being foolish enough to go there on a Friday night.

My visit there started out the same way all of my first-time visits to a casino do; I walk around all of the pits, perusing the tables, checking out penetration, special rules, table limits (min and max), etc. All of the games here were basically the same: 6 and 8 deck shoes, cut about 1.5-2 decks, S17, DOA, DAS, no RSA, no LS, $5-10 min, $2,000 max on 8-deck shoes, $25-50-100 minimums on the 6-deck shoes with a $5,000 max. There is a tiny high rollers area with 6-deck shoes, $25, 50, and $100 mins. They have hors d’oeuvres and a bar set up just for the players in this area, making service at the tables kinda nice. It didn’t make me feel wanted when there were two tables open and unmanned and two of the other tables with no vacant spots. However, the floorperson did call around to try to get a dealer to open up another table, so she did get an "A" for effort. She was also very apologetic and courteous and offered to buy me supper while I waited. I’m old school; this helped.

I had an uneventful session here (down $600 or 24 units), and needed to check out the other boats in the area, so I was off across the bridge to:

Harrah’s (60,000 sq. ft, 63 table games, 1450 slots)
There are actually two boats available here. I did not play at the Star Casino, but walked around and checked out the games. All the games are 6-deck shoes with 1.5-2 decks cut off. Standard rules apply here as well; S17, DOA, DAS, no RSA, no LS.

The central concourse between the two boats seems like it’s a barge that resembles a shopping mall. The buffet is on this barge, but don’t bother. The fixin’s were institutional and relatively tasteless, although well varied and copious. At $14.95 (I was comped), there was little value here for paying patrons.

At the end of the concourse is the entrance to the boats. To the right is the Star, turn left and you’ll be in the Pride of Lake Charles. On the third floor is the salon (high rollers) area, and this seems to be a significantly more upscale area than any other in Lake Charles. The floorpeople were courteous and non-oppressive, there were hot hors d’oeuvres for the players, and little floor heat was perceived. Of course, losing IS the best cover, which I seemed to be doing well on this trip.

The game here is 4.5/6 decks dealt from a shoe, S17, DOA, DAS, no RSA, no LS, and the dealers were uniformly congenial and polite. Aside: It seems that Harrah’s organization nationwide seems to place an emphasis on civility. I have never been treated badly in any Harrah’s property. I am not, however, a fan of the Harrah’s rules for the games. While other casinos offer double deck, a few single deck, late surrender (LS), and the opportunity to resplit aces (RSA), Harrah’s keeps plugging along with the same old standard rules listed above. If all things are equal, the rules at Harrah’s 6-deck shoes provide for a negative expectation for perfect basic strategy players of minus 0.41%. Good 2-deck "pitch" games (beware of "fake" pitch games) have a negative expectation of less than half that, about minus 0.19%. This is basically why table minimums for hand held games are higher than shoe games, all other things being equal. To the casinos’ way of thinking, twice the bet times half the loss is the same. This is why I prefer the Grand Casino Coushatta in Kinder to the Lake Charles boats. The casino offers two different games: a 2-deck pitch with a negative expectation of 0.19% and a 6-deck shoe that allows RSA, for a negative expectation of 0.34%. If you combine those improvements and variety with the fact that the casino is land-based, offers more dining options, and generally offers the same quality of service, I would choose Kinder.

CC’s Rating

Overall, there are better games elsewhere. If I had to pick one of these boats, I would choose the Pride of Lake Charles, and head up to the third floor. And remember, eat before you go. But, the 30-45 minute drive to Kinder would be the way I’d suggest.

 

CC RIDER SOAPBOX

CONTINUOUS SHUFFLING MACHINES (CSMs)

Starting with this issue of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter, I will offer the reader a bit of savvy that I hope he/she takes to heart. Each issue will have a well-gleaned pearl that is a result of my personal experience, conversations with other advantage players, book research, website perusal, or just from the good ol’ school of hard knocks. If even one of you benefits from this information, it’ll be worth my time to write it. The purpose of this is simple: information is power. The casinos have a plethora of technology, endless personnel, and rules that favor the house to assure that they get more than their share of your money.

Use this information to minimize their advantage. Just the simple decision whether to sit down at one table or another can statistically save you hundreds of dollars. Using the example above for the 2 or 6-deck games, all things being equal, the advantage player would choose the 2-deck game because of the lower house expectation. However, more and more casinos are opting for a new game that further increases the house margin. These onerous, high tech, and expensive gadgets called the continuous shuffling machines (CSMs) are primarily designed to foil the card-counter. What the unsuspecting player may not be aware of is that, all things being equal, the house expectation increases by 10-40% when these gadgets are used, compared to the identical game dealt from a shoe. Note: Most casinos offer a slight enhancement of player-favorable rules for the player to get them to play these games, such as RSA and LS, which lessens this effect.

CC says: Skip these games. If you think the casino is spending tens of thousands of dollars to lease/purchase these machines to be fairer to the player, then play them. It’s your money.

Until next time, good luck, good cards, good counts, and may every double be followed by a face.


CC Rider

(Editors note: For another analysis of CSMs, check out Blackjack Insider Newsletter #8 at www.bjinsider.com/newsletter.shtml).

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ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT

BY ALENE PAONE

Things Are Changing in AC Blackjack -- for the Worse!

When I first started writing this report, it looked as if we might be entering a second Golden Age of AC blackjack. Sands had several 4-deck games, albeit with ludicrous $300 maximums, and then it converted to an all 6-deck casino -- something that hadn’t been seen for many years (recall that Trump Plaza once was all 6-decks in the early to mid 1990s). Claridge had several 4-deck games, with high minimums, and the big rumor (which I actually bought into) was that Trump Plaza was going to an all 4-deck casino in the Fall of 2001. Could the other casinos be far behind, I wondered. Was it possible that the flocks of players heading for the Sands BJ games would encourage other casinos to offer semi-Vegas-style BJ?

God, was I naive! I forgot the gambling venue I was writing about. Repeat after me: Atlantic City, Atlantic City...the town that gave us the 8-deck shoe! Instead of seeing a glorious age about to begin, reality (Atlantic City, Atlantic City) smacked me right in the face. In the past few months, the worst games in America (and according to Frank Scoblete’s analysis in the December issue of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Atlantic City has the worst games in the country -- even Mississippi -- roll that on your tongue -- Mississippi! -- has better games, way better games) are getting even worse (yes, the worst were not the worst since they have gotten, pardon me English teachers -- worser!).

Sands is now an all-8-deck casino, just like every other joint in town, with some 6-deck games in the high roller room, just like every other joint in town. The minimums are up all over the place. The 4-deck games are gone -- those $300 maximum bets must have taken their toll, at least on the nerves of the nervous pit crews. That 3-deck experiment is probably over. When last I heard there was only one of those one-on-one tables left in the place and they were cutting off 50 percent of the shoe. ALL the games are watched by the most paranoid pit crew it is this lady’s misfortune to encounter. People have been half-shoed for sundry reasons, most of which had nothing to do with advantage play: some for winning and increasing their bets; some for using progressive betting systems ala Walter Thomason’s Twenty-First Century Blackjack; some for just having the wrong last name. The Sands is a failing casino and that’s just desserts. Let it topple like a sandcastle at waters edge!


The rest of the BJ scene is also going downhill. Claridge has also stopped those 4-deck games a few months back. They still have decent 6-deck games in the high roller room but they always had that. So that’s a step back for the Claridge. In fact, no casino is better in this report than it was in the last issue -- all the games have declined with just a few exceptions (they just haven't changed). The only hope for advantage play is the Hilton, where deep penetration is the norm, but they have gotten somewhat paranoid now as
well. So far no one has been harassed just for winning but several non-counting, progressive players, have been short-shoed. Still, if you are an advantage player, go to the Hilton. You might also find one or two dealers who are "front loaders." Check out the swing shift for one and the graveyard shift for the other!


With the January winds and frigid temperatures, it used to be a welcome respite to go into a casino and play blackjack. Now, the games are as frigid inside as the climate is outside.

THE PENETRATION REPORT
To beat blackjack, penetration is the key variable for the card counter. It is essentially meaningless for the basic strategy player and, in fact, BSers might want to consider playing at crowded tables with poor penetration in order to have a slower game with more shuffle time. Casinos have not yet realized, nor will they ever realize it seems, that deep penetration, while it helps the handful of card counters, causes the Basic Strategy player to lose much, much more and that the Basic Strategy losses more than make up for any card counter wins.


So I am going to continue to do the penetration report. There is only one problem with my report, as I stated in previous issues, and it is this: It is possible that I might give a casino a good grade for penetration and that when you go, you find something different. That is always the problem with reports on dynamic activities such as penetration -- things can change from day to day and, in some cases, dealer to dealer. So take my ratings with a grain of sea salt and always do your own scouting when you go to the
casino to make sure you are getting the best of it. Again, Basic Strategy players might consider playing at the casinos that I have rated the worst for blackjack since what’s good for a card counter is bad for a Basic Strategy player and what’s bad for a Basic Strategy player is usually good for the casino.

The rules for Atlantic City are pretty well standardized. Players can double on any first two cards, split pairs (some casinos allow resplitting), double after splits, and the dealer stands on all soft 17s. Insurance is offered and pays 2 to 1.


Here’s a rundown of the January, 2002 Atlantic City blackjack scene.


Rating system:
* * * * * = Excellent

* * * * = Very Good

* * * = Good

* * = Fair

* = Poor

Penetration Report:
A = EXCELLENT for most dealers; beatable game for a counter spreading at least 1-12 in 6-deck game or 1-16 in 8-deck game;
B = GOOD for most dealers; game is somewhat beatable with above spreads.
C = FAIR for most dealers; game is only beatable with larger spreads than above.
D = POOR for most dealers; game is not really beatable unless you can go minimum to maximum without counter measures.
F = AWFUL for most dealers. Go play craps if you’re stuck in this place.

I have also decided to put "no change from last report" for those casinos where there was "no change from last report" so that those who are keeping close watch on these listings won’t have to scour the report to find anything new. If it says no change, there’s NO change.

BALLY’S PARK PLACE

Penetration is good in the 6-deck games in the high roller pit ($50 to $100 minimums) and 1.5 deck cutoffs are the norm. No midshoe entry on all these games. The pit people still seem to be savvy enough not to harass decent players. The 8-deckers outside the high roller pit also have good penetration but "no midshoe entry" as well. The rest of the casino is the standard AC 8-deck with penetration that is consistently more than 75 percent. You can resplit for a total of three hands, but aces can only be split once. You will be hard pressed to find many $10 games, much less $5 games. Weekends are $15 and up, mostly up. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 are also available for minimums of $10. Always crowded. * * * 1/2* [Penetration Report: B+]

CAESARS

Six-deck games with penetration of 70 percent in high roller room only. Minimums $100 to maximum of $2,000/$5,000. Rest of tables are 8-deck with 70 percent penetration. The $10 tables are almost gone, especially on the weekends, replaced by $15 and $25. Early morning a $5 table was sighted. Resplitting allowed but you can only split aces once. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! * * [Penetration Report: C-]

CLARIDGE

More slots and more $5 games in winter. The high roller room is 6-deck games with $25-$50-$100 minimums most days. Penetration varies but now averages anywhere from 70-75 percent. You can resplit pairs up to four hands in high roller room but the rest of the casino doesn’t allow resplitting. The rest of the casino is 8 decks with mediocre penetration. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available for $10 and up. * * [Penetration Report: C]

HARRAH’S

Basic Strategy players might consider this to be one of the two best games in town! The 6-deck games have poor penetration of 66 percent in high roller area -- and some players claim that they have seen 50 percent penetration. The Vegas’ Harrah’s has a reputation for being counter-crazy but if that 50 percent tale is true, why would anyone with skill play at this place? Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. Rest of casino is 8 decks with 66 percent penetration the norm. * [Penetration Report: D-]

HILTON

Penetration is 75-80 percent throughout the casino. High roller room 6-deckers are $100 minimums with 80 percent or more penetration. I did not find any $5 games but I saw a few $10 ones in the early hours. Resplitting allowed except aces. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have good penetration for $10. * * * * [Penetration Report: A-]

RESORTS

Good penetration on 8-deck games, consistently in the 75-80 percent zone, dealer dependent however. Plenty of $5 and $10 games during the daytime hours. The 6-deck games in the high roller pits ($25/$50/$100 minimums and up) are good, coming in at 80 percent penetration. Resplitting is allowed at all tables. Casino also offers Multiple Action and Spanish 21 at $10 minimums. Still one of the better casinos for blackjack in Atlantic City. Pits are not paranoid. * * * * [Penetration Report: A-]

SANDS

Creepy. See intro to this report for in-depth review. * [Penetration Report: C-]

SHOWBOAT

Six-deck games are good in the high roller room with standard penetration of 75-80 percent and $50/$100 minimums, $2,000/$5,000 maximums. No resplitting allowed. Eight-deck games have 75-80%+ percent penetration but some dealers have been going deeper – almost to 85 percent. Very few $10 tables, mostly $15 and up. Multiple Action available at one table. Reports are they have loosened their comp requirements.

* * * 1/2* [Penetration Report: B+]

TROPICANA

This is THE place for basic strategy players as the games are dreadfully slow and shallowly cut. Can they fit any more slots in this place? Next they’ll be in the bathrooms. They even have some chickens plucking at a special game. Six-deck games in high-roller room are $100 minimums with 66 percent penetration when they’re feeling generous. Rest of the casino is no better, except these are 8-deckers with $10 minimums and up. Leave this place to the slot players unless you are strictly a basic strategy player, then it is the place to play as you won’t be playing too many hands. * [Penetration Report: D-]

TRUMP MARINA

No change from last report. Six-deck games in high roller room ($100 minimums, $2,500/$5,000 maximums) have penetration based on the individual dealer but you can find some that give decent cuts and the pit will tolerate large spreads. Eight-deck games are now at 75 percent mark, with about a half dozen shuffle machines on these. Has the new Streak Bet -- avoid it. One table of Multiple Action available at $10 and up. Games are mostly $15/$25 and up, especially on weekends. * * * [Penetration Report: B-]

TRUMP PLAZA

No change from last report. Needs to get its act together in more ways than one. The casino has become top heavy with 8-deck games with penetration ranging from 70 percent to 75 percent on all, depending on the dealer. No midshoe entry on 6-deck games but you can find $25 (a few) to $50 minimums on these. Allows resplits, except aces. Most 8-deck tables are $15 and higher. * * [Penetration Report: C]

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL

No change from last report. Six-deck games in high roller room ($100 minimum, $5,000 maximum) had mediocre penetration on my visit, around 70 percent. The 8-deck had penetration around 75 percent. Lowest tables are $10/$15 even during midweek -- but mornings midweek have $5 games as well. No resplits. Multiple Action, Double Exposure and Spanish 21 are available at $10/$15 minimums and up. Casino has improved from last report. * * [Penetration Report: C]

WILD, WILD WEST

I like the atmosphere in this place; it has that Vegas feel. They have added more slot machines but the table games are still packed and the place is jumping all day and all night. They still go deep! Consistent 80 percent penetration throughout the casino but all games are 8 decks. Many more $5 tables in evidence. They tolerate very large spreads but, again, 8 decks are rough. Resplits allowed, except aces. Great atmosphere for gambling. * * * 1/2* [Penetration Report: B+]

BEST CASINO FOR BJ IN ATLANTIC CITY: Hilton, Resorts

Editors Note: Alene Paone runs Paone Press, a mail-order business that sells gambling
books and tapes at discount prices. She also writes for a number of gaming publications and contributed chapters to several books. For a free catalog call: 1-800-944-0406 or write to: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.

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LAS VEGAS TRIP REPORT

BY LV PRO

Once again the car was packed and gassed for the nighttime drive to Las Vegas. Since our last BJ team had disbanded this past summer after a fairly devastating loss, this was my third solo gambling trip of the fall/winter. After the team quit, I was left to play solo with only $2K, after paying off my share of the team loss. In September, three days after the terrorist attacks, I took my $2K to Vegas and doubled it, winning $2,150 in 24 hours of blackjack over 6 days. In October, I returned to LV with $4K and won another $1,120 in 27 hours over another 6 days.

Now with $5K in hand and hoping my good luck would continue, I was driving along, humming a song when, just beyond Barstow, I got pulled over for speeding. I learned the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is not as tolerant as their Nevada counterparts. This past summer, a Nevada patrolman had pulled me over for doing 105 mph, but only wrote me for 95. Later the Nevada court had cut the $190 fine in half. The CHP wouldn't shave any mph's off the ticket, even though I asked them if it wasn't customary to reduce it from 87 mph a bit. They turned out to be real assholes - when I got out of the car to stretch they insisted that I get back in the car. I said "ok", but continued to stretch, stalling for time until I was damn good and ready to sit back down. One of them even made me surrender my old driver's license that had been hidden underneath the current one. He told me I wasn't allowed to have more than one, then handed me a $146 speeding ticket (plus $29 to allow you to attend traffic school) then said, "have a nice day", which was infuriating. Sorry but you don't get to hand me a citation then try to be a nice guy about it. You can't have it both ways. I cursed a blue streak at him (after they left of course).

I know it's childish but I was mad, mostly at myself for getting caught. So I cranked the cruise control back up to 85 and continued the drive, albeit a bit more cautiously. Now I'd slow down if I saw a car coming up fast behind me. After all, I'd already paid for the infraction and felt there was nothing more to lose. All along the stretch of road between Barstow and Baker I saw people being pulled over and CHP cars whizzing past me. Apparently they were engaged in a traffic crackdown this night which claimed many victims. This ticket plus the numerous 55 mph construction zones made the entire trip take 3.75 hours, making me lose the land speed record for the LA to LV run I was trying to set. Not a good start.

After unpacking and settling in, I walked through my hotel's casino, but all games were crowded. I knew the first few days of this trip would be challenging as it was the final weekend of National Finals Rodeo. I have nothing against the cowboys, though most of them play blackjack atrociously, except those big hats make it harder to see the layout while back counting tables. I finally found a decent $10 double deck (DD) game at Treasure Island (TI) where I played for an hour, winning $130 and a coffee shop comp.

I was still using the Silver Fox count, the $10 unit and the 1-6 spread that I had started with in September. I wanted to up my stakes a bit, but my computer caught a virus and crashed a week or so before the trip, so I couldn't use Auston's BlackJack Risk Manager 2000 software program to recalculate my spread. I knew it was too soon to play those nice $25 Strip double deckers. Too risky with only a $5K bank and 6 days of blackjack ahead of me. So I stayed at the $10-$60 level and comforted myself with the thought that my Risk of Ruin had diminished.

Twice during that session at TI I hit my 12 vs. the dealers 4 in minus count situations. In the Silver Fox count, the index for this play is zero; which means that if the count is plus or exactly zero, I stand, but if it's at all minus, I hit. Both times I took the dealers bust 10, and he made 20 and 21, to the dismay of the table. I apologized both times, but the ploppy at third base was quite agitated and asked me if I always played that way. He demanded to know why. "Just a hunch", I smiled. I know this has happened to all card counters at some time or another. It sure makes you feel foolish though. The Grifter always tells me to keep doing it and by letting it work for me, I might get one or more players to leave the table. But that was not my intent at the time. Otherwise I'd start splitting 10's.

The next morning I had a long phone conversation with Anon (handle withheld by request), a local player that scouts for dealers who expose hole cards at night and sleeps during the day. He promised to take me on a casino tour to school me hole card play later that night after he awoke. He told me to re-read the section on Three Card Poker in Grosjean's "Beyond Counting", a book I had with me.

My first session of the day was short. Only 45 minutes at my hotel's $10 DD game where I used my usual $10-$60 spread and won $150 with the same dealer who had secretly caught me counting last trip. Last time she had shuffled unexpectedly in a high plus count when I had a max bet out and stupidly, I had pulled the bet back on some pretext and saw her smile to herself. I knew I was busted. However nothing came of it then. She didn't rat me out to the pit and was still dealing me a decent pen game. She also didn't try to preferential shuffle me this time either, to my relief.

After a visit to Huntington Press to renew my LVA subscription (Anthony Curtis wasn't there), I decided to check out the new Palms casino on Flamingo Road near the Rio. I had lunch at the food court where $3 bought me 2 huge slices of Regine's pizza, then walked through the blackjack pits. All the double deckers were $25 minimum, except for one crowded $15 table. I talked a pit boss into grandfathering me in at $15 to let me open an idle $25 table, just to get things started. I guess I could have a whole new career as a shill. However, I lost $380 at this table to put me at minus $100 for the trip so far.

The dealers and pit crew were all-abuzz because Muhammad Ali had walked through the casino a short time before, probably heading for his room. He was there for the premiere of the new film "Ali" that night in the Palms movie theater multiplex. Tickets for the event were $100.

Later I met Old School for drinks and dinner at the coffee shop at TI. I had two comp slips with me; the one I got last night and an old one from October. Using one of the tricks The Grifter had taught me, I used a ballpoint pen to change the date on the old one and we used it to rack up $70 in food charges with no problem. If you're ever in the Lookout Cafe at TI, be sure to order one of the four fruit smoothies ($4) as a beverage. My favorite is the Island Breeze, which has orange, banana, coconut and pineapple blended together.

While eating, we were joined by Clyde, another of those notorious Green Chippers from Stanford Wong's BJ21.com website. The three of us then caravanned to Texas Station (TS) to play the $5 and $10 DD tables with decent pen and late surrender. Late surrender is a very minor advantage to a basic strategy player, but quite valuable to a counter. It allows a "bail-out" when the count is through the roof and you have a max bet out and get, say a 15 vs a 10. In that situation, it's much less dis-advantageous to surrender than to hit or stand. It also smoothes out that roller coaster ride we call variance. The first time I came to TS several months ago, I drove far to get there just because of this rule, then promptly forgot to surrender a single hand. Now Old School was likewise neglecting this rule until I tugged his sleeve. I had lost $40 after an hour while Old School and Clyde had migrated to a table more to their liking. They were winning almost every hand and having a fine old time and I would have joined them but I had to leave to meet Anon at a Strip bar.

As promised, Anon took me on a walking tour of casinos in close proximity and showed me what to look for to try to spot dealers who flash their hole cards. I'm sorry I can't go into greater detail about what I observed or where we went but Anon asked me to keep the good stuff confidential. We walked through one place, stopping at each table to observe a few deals. We couldn't spot any "flashing" dealers so we moved next door where he told me the Asian gal dealer at one table was flashing occasionally. You had to sit just to the right of 3rd base to see it. I learned that there's a unique seat position for every different dealer. Some flash to first base, some to third and some to the middle of the table. We played this dealer for a half-hour, until she went on break, but I'll be damned if I could spot the flash even a single time. I had lost $60. This must be tougher than I thought.

We then moved to another casino (all names withheld by request) where he spotted a Three Card Poker game in which the dealer seemed to be vulnerable. You could see it from first base if you positioned yourself just right. Anon started in that seat while I watched, then instructed me to take the seat and watch for the flash. The basic strategy for this game is simple: If you see none of the dealer's cards, you play Queen, 6 or higher. If you can see one of the dealer’s cards (one card is usually the most you'll ever see), and the card you spot is 2 through Jack, you stay and play any hand. If you've spotted a Queen, you play Q, 9 or higher. Spot a King and you play K, 9 or higher. Spot an Ace and you play A, 9 or higher. And stay away from the "Pairs Plus", even though every other player at the table is putting chips on it, because it's a sucker bet.

I started with $10 bets on the Ante and a matching amount if I decided to play the hand. To my amazement, I saw the 7 of clubs underneath as the dealer dealt the first hand. Unbelievable. This actually works! I stayed with a king and won the Ante, though not the Play bet. To win both, the dealer must "qualify" by having at least a Queen high, and then your hand must beat his. If the dealer doesn't qualify, you win only the original Ante bet.

During the hour I played, I saw one of the dealer’s cards 5 or 6 times. It didn't help too much as I still lost $100 at this table, but it was a short sample. If you play for any length of time, you'll surely win as the player edge is an outstanding 3.5% (if you can see a card every time; otherwise your edge drops dramatically), more than double what the best card counters can achieve. I was kinda thrilled that I had actually seen my first series of dealer flashes and resolved to be more observant in every casino from now on.

There are two things I learned about attempting hole card techniques. First, it takes a lot of practice to be able to recognize card values at just a glance. Second, with 2's through 10's you have to recognize the pattern and number of pips quickly. Eights, nines and tens are tough. Face cards are hardest to distinguish and you have to be able to differentiate Jacks, Queens and Kings from each other. Anon has studied every line and curve in each of them, memorizing every detail in each of the three card values so he can sense what has just flashed before him as each image is deep in his memory.

The other thing is that it takes a lot of scouting and shoe leather to find these dealers. Once you find them there's no guarantee that they'll have a consistent schedule nor be at the casino on the night(s) you expect them to be there. Also, there is no guarantee that they'll be assigned to the game you want. A dealer may flash at one game and not at another. Player behavior may inhibit the dealer from his usual tendency to flash. There are so many variables that must fall into place just right for a hole carder to be able to operate successfully. However, it gets easier as time goes on if you're a local player who has a regular circuit. You've done your scouting and record keeping and you know where several flashing dealers are at any given time.

I liken it to Wonging but with much more observation and much less playing time. However, when a hole carder finally is able to Wong into the occasional blackjack game, he's playing with an 8%-10% advantage. Not bad, if you don't mind the drudgery of all that scouting.

Read the conclusion of LV Pro’s trip in the next issue of BJ Insider.

**********************************************************************

INDEX OF FEATURE ARTICLES

BLACKJACK INSIDER ISSUES 1-25

Listed below is a summary of the feature articles that have appeared in issues #1 through #25 of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter (covering the period Oct. 2000 through December 2001).

To read any article, go to the archive at www.bjinsider.com/newsletter.shtml.

#1

Casino Edge in Blackjack (H. Tamburin)

Spanish 21 (M. Shackelford)

Casino Spotlight – Beau Rivage (MS) & Sands (AC)

Book Review – Blackjack in the Zone

#2

Interview with Frank Scoblete

Tipping the Dealer (H. Tamburin)

Oct. 2000 Trip Report (LV Pro)

#3

Blackjack Terminology (H. Tamburin)

Royal Match Side Bet (M. Shackelford)

October 2000 Trip Report (LV Pro)

Casino Spotlight – Resorts (AC)

#4

Interview with John Grochowski

European Trip Report (M. Shackelford)

Super 7’s Side Bet (M. Shackelford)

Casino Spotlight – Isle of Capri (MS)

#5

Interview with Max Rubin

Double Exposure Blackjack (M. Shackelford)

Blackjack Terminology - Part 2 (H. Tamburin)

Book Review – BeatWebCasino.Com

November 2000 Trip Report (LV Pro)

Casino Spotlight – Harrah’s (AC)

#6

Streak Side Bet (M. Shackelford)

Basics of Surrender (H. Tamburin)

Casino Spotlight – Golden Nugget (LV)

#7

Blackjack Tournament Basics (A. Glazer)

Book Review – Get The Edge at Blackjack

Casino Spotlight – Trump Taj Mahal (AC) & Imperial Palace (MS)

#8

Continuous Shuffling Machines (M. Shackelford)

December 2000 LV Trip Report (LV Pro)

Casino Spotlight – Horseshoe (LV)

#9

Some Thoughts on Blackjack (B. Here)

What’s New in Blackjack (H. Tamburin)

December 2000 LV Trip Report –Part 2 (LV Pro)

Casino Spotlight – President (MS) & Showboat (AC)

#10

Video Poker vs Blackjack (J. Robison)

Pair Square Side Bet (M. Shackelford)

Blackjack Terminology – Part 3 (H. Tamburin)

Book Review – Sklansky Talks Blackjack

Casino Spotlight – Aladdin (LV)

#11

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Card Counters (F. Scoblete)

Casino Spotlight – Treasure Bay (MS) & Hilton (AC)

Best Blackjack Games (A. Snyder)

#12

Low Minimum BJ Games in Las Vegas (Captain John)

Blackjack Rule Variation Throughout the US (S. Bourie)

Single Deck Blackjack Rule (H. Tamburin)

Top 10 Phrases Card Counters Should Not Say

#13

Casino Spotlight – Claridge (AC) & Isle of Capri (MS)

Blackjack News

#14

How to Manage the Magnificent 7 Hands in Blackjack (F. Renzey)

Getting the Edge With The Ace/10 Front Count (F. Renzey)

#15

Getting the Edge With the Ace/10 Front Count –Part 2 (F. Renzey)

April 2001 LV Trip Report by LV Pro

Casino Spotlight – Caesars (AC)

#16

Software Review – Blackjack 6-7-8

April 2001 LV Trip Report-Part 2 (LV Pro)

#17

Basics of Gambling Online (M. Shackelford)

Casino Spotlight – Tropicana (AC)

Greater Chicago Blackjack Report (F. Renzey)

#18

Chicagoland BJ Report (F. Renzey)

May 2001 LV Pro Trip Report

Casino Spotlight – Stratosphere (LV)

Blackjack News

#19

May 2001LV Pro Trip Report-Part 2

The AC Beach Report (A. Paone)

Casino Spotlight – New Palace (MS)

#20

Interview with the "Bishop" Arnold Snyder

Getting the Monetary Edge with Blackjack (F. Scoblete)

What’s Interesting and Annoying (A. Paone)

Casino Spotlight – MGM Grand (LV)

#21

Mini-Count (F. Renzey)

BJ in the Big Easy (CC Rider)

Casino Spotlight – Cypress Bayou (LA)

#22

Why Unbalanced Counting Systems Works (F. Renzey)

August 2001 LV Pro Trip Report

#23

Sept. 2001 LV Pro Trip Report

Overview of G2E & WGC

Casino Spotlight – Tropicana (LV)

#24

Capturing a BJ Edge with Hand Interaction (F. Renzey)

There are Mistakes and Then There are Mistakes (A. Paone)

Cincinnati Blackjack Report (Riverboat Flyer)

Oct 2001 LV Pro Trip Report

#25

Southern Casino Experience & Player Advisory (CC Rider)

Las Vegas Casino Experience (CC Rider)

Greater Chicagoland Blackjack Report (F. Renzey)

Cincinnati/Louisville Blackjack Report (Riverboat Flyer)

Casino Spotlight – Grand Casino Coushatta (LA) & MGM Grand (LV)

**************************************************************

BLACKJACK MINI-TOURAMENT SCHEDULE

Editors note: If you are new to tournament blackjack and want to learn the basics check out the article on tournament blackjack by Andrew Glazer in Blackjack Insider #7 at www.bjinsider.com/newsletter.shtml.

Most mini-tournaments (also known as fun tournaments) have entry fees of $50 or less and nonnegotiable tournament chips are used for betting. Player entry fees are pooled and returned as prizes to players.

Casinos that offer mini-tournaments do so on a regular basis (mostly weekly). The following is a summary of mini-tournaments offered by casinos throughout the US for each day of the week. Call the casino for tournament times and entry fees.

If you know of recent changes to any tournament listed, please pass it along to www.bjinsider.com so that we can update the information in our schedule.

Monday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn Casino (1-702-435-9170)

Mesquite, NV: Si Redd’s Oasis (1-800-621-0187)

Reno, NV: Sundowner (1-800-648-5490)

Sparks, NV: Baldini’s (1-800-845-7911)

Pahrump, NV: Terrible’s Lakeside (1-888-845-7911)

Laughlin, NV: Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777); Pioneer (1-800-634-3469)

Biloxi: President: (1-800-624-3000)

Dubuque, IA: Diamond Jo (1-800-582-5956)

Tama, IA: Meskwaki (1-800-728-4263)

Hinkley, MN: Grand (1-800-472-6321)

Prior Lake, MN: Little Six (1-800-548-8536)

Kansas City, MO: Ameristar (1-800-499-4961)

Albuquerque, NM: Sandia Pueblo (1-800-526-9266)

Willamina, OR: Spirit Mountain (1-800-760-7977)

Tuesday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); J. W. Marriott (1-877-869-8777); Texas Station (1-800-754-8804)

Laughlin, NV: Avi (1-800-284-2946); Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777); Pioneer (1-800-634-3469); Edgewater (1-877-972-7222)

Mesquite, NV: Eureka (1-702-346-4600)

Stateline, NV: Harveys (1-800-553-1022); Tahoe Horizon (1-800- 683-8087)

Minden, NV: Carson Valley Inn (1-877-783-7711)

Reno, NV: Peppermill (1-800-648-6992); Siena (1-877-743-6233)

Biloxi, MS: Imperial Palace (1-800-436-3000); Treasure Bay (1-800-747-2839)

Greenville, MS: Jubilee (1-800-946-6673)

Tunica, MS: Sam’s Town (1-800-456-0711)

Clinton, IA: Mississippi Belle II (1-800-457-9975)

Michigan City, IN: Blue Chip Casino (1-888-879-7711)

Harris, MI: Chip’s-In Island: (1-800-682-6040)

Cass Lake, MN: Palace (1-800-228-6676)

Morton, MN: Jackpot Junction (1-800-946-2274)

Prior Lake, MN: Mystic Lake (1-800-262-7799)

Albuquerque, NM: Sandia Pueblo (1-800-526-9266)

Greenbay, WI: Oneida (1-800-238-4263)

Turtle Lake, WI: St. Croix(1-800-846-8946)

Toppenish, WA: Legends (1-877-726-6311)

Alpine, CA: Viejas Casino (1-800-847-6537)

Jackson, CA: Jackson Rancheria (1-800-822-9466)

Lincoln City, OR: Chinook Winds (1-888-244-6665)

Toppenish, WA: Legends (1-509-865-8800)

Marysville, WA: Tulalip (1-888-272-1111)

Verona, NY: Turning Stone (1-800-771-7711)

San Filipe, NM: Hollywood (1-877-529-2946)

Wednesday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); Speedway (1-877-333-9291)

Laughlin, NV: River Palms Resort (1-800-835-7904); Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777)

Reno, NV: Atlantis (1-888-551-7007)

Incline Village, NV: Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe (1-775-832-1234)

Biloxi, MS: President (1-800-843-7737)

Gulfport, MS: Grand (1-800-946-7777)

Philadelphia, MS: Silver Star (1-800-557-0711)

Bettendorf, IA: Isle of Capri (1-800-724-5825)

Fort Madison, IA: Catfish Bend (1-800-372-946)

Florence, IN: Belterra (1-888-339-3369)

Baton Rouge, LA: Argosy (1-800-378-6000)

Morton, MN: Jackpot Junction (1-800-946-2274)

Prior Lake, MN: Little Six (1-800-548-8536)

Walker, MN: Northern Lights (1-800-252-7529)

Thief River Falls, MN: Seven Clans (1-218-681-4062)

Mahnomen, MN: Shooting Star (1-800-453-7827)

North Bend, OR: Mill (1-800-953-4800)

Anacortes, WA: Swinomish (1-360-293-2691)

Jackson, CA: Jackson Rancheria (1-800-822-9466)

Towaoc, CO: Ute Mountain (1-970-565-8800)

Holton, KS: Golden Eagle (1-888-464-5825)

San Filipe, NM: Hollywood (1-877-529-2946)

Thursday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); J. W. Marriott (1-877-869-8777); Fiesta (1-888-877-5108)

Henderson, NV: Fiesta Henderson (1-888-899-7770); Sunset Station (1-888-808-7717)

Laughlin, NV: Avi (1-800-284-2946); Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777); Pioneer (1-800-634-3469); Edgewater (1-877-972-7222)

Reno: Siena (1-877-743-6231)

Mesquite, NV: CasaBlanca (1-800-459-7529)

Carson City, NV: Pinon Plaza (1-877-519-5567)

Sparks, NV: Silver Club (1-800-905-7774)

Stateline, NV: Lake Tahoe Horizon (1-800-322-7723)

Pahrump, NV: Terrible’s Town (1-888-845-7911)

Rock Island, IL: Casino Rock Island (1-309-793-4200)

Fort Madison, IA: Catfish Bend (1-800-372-2946)

Clinton, IA: Mississippi Belle II (1-800-457-9975)

Suttons Bay, MI: Leelanau Sands (1-800-922-2946)

Carlton, MN: Black Bear (1-888-771-0777)
Tower, MN: Fortune Bay (1-800-992-7529)

Red Wing, MN: Treasure Island (1-800-222-7077)

Lincoln City, OR: Chinook Winds (1-888-244-6665)

Gardena, CA: Normandie (1-310-352-3400)

New Orleans, LA: Bally’s (1-800-572-2559)

Friday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170)

Laughlin, NV: River Palms Resort (1-800-835-7904); Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777); Pioneer (1-800-634-3469); Avi (1-800-430-0721)

Boulder City, NV: Hacienda (1-800-245-6380)

Mesquite, NV: Virgin River (1-800-346-7721)

Sparks, NV: John Ascuaga’s Nugget (1-800-843-2427)

Stateline, NV: Harveys (1-800-553-1022)

Wendover: Pepermill (1-800-648-9660)

Biloxi, MS: Isle of Capri (1-800-843-4753); Treasure Bay (1-800-747-2839); President (1-800-624-3000)

Alpine, CA: Viejas Casino & Turf Club (1-800-847-6537)

San Filipe, NM: Hollywood (1-877-529-2946)

Saturday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); Boulder Station (1-800-981-5577); Sante Fe Station (1-866-767-7771)

Laughlin, NV: Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777)

Sparks, NV: Baldini’s (1-800-845-7911)

Deadwood, SD: Miss Kitty’s (1-800-668-8189)

Towaoc, CO: Ute Mountain (1-970-565-8800)

Alpine, CA: Viejas Casino & Turf Club (1-800-847-6537)

Sunday

Las Vegas, NV: Silverton (1-800-588-7711)

Mequite, NV: Eureka (1-702-346-4600)

Laughlin, NV: Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777)

Robinsonville, MS: Hollywood (1-800-871-0711)

Biloxi, MS: Isle of Capri (1-800-843-4753)

Fort Madison, IA: Catfish Bend (1-800-372-2946)

Deadwood, SD: First Gold Hotel (1-800-274-1876); Silverado Gaming (1-800-584-7005)

Lincoln City, OR: ChinookWinds (1-888-244-6665)

North Bend, OR: Mill (1-800-953-4800)

Gardena, CA: Normandie (1-800-946-637)

Towaco, CA: Ute Mountain (1-800-258-8007)

Christmas, MI: Kewadin (1-800-539-2346)

Manistique, MI: Kewadin (1-800-539-2346)

Sault Ste. Marie: Kewadin (1-800-539-2346)

St. Ignace: Kewadin (1-800-539-2346)

 

********************************************************************

BLACKJACK MAJOR TOURNAMANT SCHEDULE

The big news on the tournament circuit is the announcement by the Las Vegas Hilton of the very first ever million dollar blackjack tournament which will be open to all players. Twelve monthly satellite tournaments will be held starting with the first on April 12-13. Each monthly winner wins $23K and a total of 16 semifinalists each month advance to the $1MM championship round. Entry fee is $1K. For details call 1-800-457-3307.

The table lists the date, name and location of the sponsoring casino; the fee for entering the tournament; the number of decks of cards that will be used during play; the total prizes that will be offered including the amount for finishing first; and a telephone number to obtain more details. Since tournament dates and prizes can be changed or canceled sometimes at the last minute, please call and confirm.

Note: The entry fee for most tournaments includes a free or discounted room and meal(s) – check with the sponsoring casino for details. The prizes listed below included the total to be given out followed by the amount of money that can be won for finishing first (e.g. $40K/$20K means a total of $40,000 will be given away with $20,000 going to the first place winner). Tournaments that are starred (*) require an invitation from the participating casino; however, check with the casino tournament coordinator if you could still enter. Some free tournaments are only open to players who are members of the casino’s slot club. Prizes for Canadian tournaments are in Canadian currency.

 

Date Location Entry #Decks Prizes More Information

Jan. 22-24 Foxwoods free * six $30K/$5K 1-800-752-9244

Ledyard, CT

Jan. 24 Casino Niagara $100 eight $14K/$10K 1-888-698-3888

Niagra Falls, Ont

Jan. 25 Resorts free * six $10K/$10K 1-800-336-6378

Atlantic City, NJ

Jan. 26 Kewadin free six $0.4K/$0.25K 1-800-539-2346

Hessel, MI

Feb. 4 Turning Stone $25 six $8.4K/$2.2K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

Feb. 7 Jumer’s free six $5K/$2.5K 1-800-477-8946

Rock island, IL

Feb. 7 Bally’s free * six $10K/$5K 1-800-572-2559

New Orleans, LA

Feb. 11-14 Stardust $375 * two $170K/$100K` 1-888-271-1777

Las Vegas, NV

Feb. 14-15 New Frontier $300 six $70K/$30K 1-800-421-7806

Las Vegas, NV

Feb 15-16 Shooting Star $100 six $31K/$12.5K 1-800-453-7827

Mahnomen, MN

Feb. 16 Mystic Lake free * six $16.8K/$10K 1-800262-7799

Prior, MN

Feb. 21-22 Treasure Island $200 two $50K/$20K 1-800-222-7077

Red Wing, MN

Feb. 22-24 Tropicana $500 * six $50K/$25K 1-800-545-4989

Las Vegas, NV

Feb. 22-25 Harrah’s free * six $43K/$20K 1-800392-9002

Las Vegas, NV

Feb. 26 Mystic Lake $100 six $22K/$10K 1-800-262-7799

Prior Lake, MN

Feb. 26-27 Foxwoods free * six $50K/$25K 1-800-752-9244

Ledyard, CT

Feb 28- March 1 Foxwoods free * six $100K/$50K 1-800-752-9244

Ledyard, CT

March 1-3 Kewadin Shores $99 single $28K/$8K 1-800-539-2346

St. Ignace, MI

March 5-7 Ramada Express $99 single $28K/$8K 1-800-343-4533

Laughlin, NV

March 7 Bally’s free six $10K/$5K 1-800-572-2559

New Orleans, LA

March 8-10 Kewadin $75 six $5K/$1K 1-800-539-2346

Christmas, MI

March 9 Bally’s free * six $135/$100K 1-800-634-3434

Las Vegas, NV

March 11-13 Foxwoods free * six $30K/$10K 1-800-752-9244

Ledyard, CT

March 15-16 Colorado Belle $10 six $3K 1-877-460-0777

Laughlin, NV

March 15-17 Tahoe Biltmore $250 single $12K/$3K 1-800-245-8667

Crystal Bay, NV

March 19-21 Sam’s Town free two $20K/$10K 1-800-456-0711

Robinsonville, MS

March 22` Casino Niagara $1K * eight $150K/$100K 1-888-698-3888

Niagara Falls, Ont

March 22-24 Pioneer $200 single $25K/$11K 1-800-634-3469

Laughlin, NV

March 24-26 Edgewater $129 single $20K/$10K 1-800-289-8777

Laughlin, NV

March 25 Turning Stone free * six $2.5K/$1K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

March 30 River Palms $99 two $10K/$5K 1-888-298-2242

` Laughlin, NV

April 3 Speedway free * six $2.5K 1-877-333-9291

Las Vegas, NV

April 4 Bally’s free six $10K/$1K 1-800-572-2559

New Orleans, LA

Looking Ahead- other major tournaments scheduled with top prize include:

April 5-7 Imperial Palace, Biloxi ($10K)

April 12-13 LV Hilton, LV ($20K)

April 13-14 Jackpot Junction, MN ($25K)

April 15-18 Stardust, LV ($20K)

April 19-21 Imperial Palace, LV ($20K)

April 19-21 Bally’s, Tunica ($50K)

June 7-9 Imperial Palace, LV ($20K)

Aug. 12-15 Stardust, LV ($100K)

Aug. 15-16 New Frontier, LV ($30K)

April 26-29 Harrah’s, LV ($20K)

Tip: Try to play in blackjack tournaments in which all the player’s entry fees are returned in prizes. If unsure, ask the host casino if this is the case.

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BLACKJACK INSIDER EXPERT REPORTERS & COLUMNISTS

Alene Paone is an East Coast expert blackjack player that frequently plays in Atlantic City. She is the CEO of Paone Press. Alene has contributed chapters to The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and 109 Ways to Beat the Casinos, both

edited by Walter Thomason. Her Q&A column, Just Ask AP, appears in several magazines. Paone Press sells gambling books and tapes at discount prices. For a free catalog call: 1-800-944-0406 or write to: Paone Press, Box 610,

Lynbrook, NY 11563.

Captain John lives in Las Vegas and is an experienced blackjack player. He has been studying and playing blackjack for over 30 years including attending classes on how to evaluate different games and how to identify the weaknesses in the pit. He uses a 2-level, advanced card counting system and limits his play to only advantage games. He plays about 30 hours a month and finds that playing blackjack is a good way to supplement his retirement income.

CC Rider lives in the Deep South and plays blackjack in the casinos in Mississippi and Louisiana. He has been studying and playing blackjack for 10 years, averages 2-8 playing sessions each month (40-60 sessions annually), and has managed to make playing blackjack a lucrative sideline. He uses the high low counting system with an ace side count and has only been backed off once. He recently has begun training for blackjack tournament play.

Fred Renzey lives in the Chicago area, is an experienced blackjack player, and author of the popular Blackjack Bluebook. He also writes a monthly column on poker for Midwest Gaming & Travel magazine. To order Blackjack Bluebook, send $16.95 to: Blackjack Bluebook, PO Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009.

LV Pro is a serious recreational player who started with basic strategy in 1996 and learned the Silver Fox count by the end of 1998. Has been counting since early 1999, starting with a 2K bankroll, and slowly building it with red play over the last 150 hours of actual casino play. He started playing a low green spread on the last few LV trips. He gets to LV 4-5 times a year and has some limited team experience.

Michael Shackelford, a.k.a. "The Wizard of Odds", has twenty years of computer programing experience and thousands of hours of casino gambling experience. His mathematical analysis of casino games is accurate and reliable. He has also extensively reviewed blackjack offerings on different Internet sites. His "Wizard of Odds" column appears monthly in Casino Player Magazine and he hosts the popular Internet site for casino players at www.wizardofodds.com. Shackelford has written a book "May the Odds Be With You". His game of choice is blackjack and his gambling philosophy is to bet big when he has the edge and small when he doesn’t.

Henry Tamburin is an expert player and author of 6 books including Blackjack: Take The Money & Run. For over a quarter of a century, he has been playing and winning at blackjack and teaching the masses of blackjack players how to do the same in his books, articles, seminars, gaming school, and TV/radio appearances. He is a featured writer for Casino Player magazine, Chance magazine, Midwest Gaming & Travel magazine, and Jackpot. He hosts the blackjack page on www.bjinsider.com and has his own web site at www.smartgaming.com. For a catalog of his products and those he recommends call 1-888-353-3234 or write to: RSU, PO Box 19727, Greensboro, NC 27419.









Casino Player Magazine

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