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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, February 2002, #27

A WORD FROM HENRY

We’ve got more solid advice for blackjack players in our 27th edition of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter. We start with Michael Shackelford’s analysis of the new single deck blackjack game, Super Fun 21, which is being offered in many Las Vegas casinos. Shackelford also provides an updated basic playing strategy table and revised casino edge for the game. Alene Paone reports on the deteriorating blackjack conditions in Atlantic City including the "Kitchen Sink Shuffle" implemented at Bally’s. Our advantage player and Las Vegas reporter Captain Jack, proved a thorough rundown on the double-deck games you will find in Las Vegas. We’ve also reviewed several web sites that provide derails on playing rules, basic strategy and casino edge for different games including the new Trackjack, a highly recommended site hosted by Victor Nacht; the up-to-date details on the first ever Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton; plus the updated schedule of mini- and major blackjack tournaments. But first, let’s see how our LV Pro made out in his recent solo trip to 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.

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

LV TRIP REPORT – PART 2

BY LV PRO

(Note: Part 1 appeared in Blackjack Insider Newsletter #26, available at www.bjinsider.com/newsletter.shtml).

After a refreshing 4-hour "Vegas" night's sleep, I resumed my attack on the collective LV casino bankroll with an uneventful 90-minute session at my hotel's double deck game. I won $50 to put me at minus $250 for the trip after 7 hours of play over a day and a half. I spent the afternoon with my buddy Stu; then took a nap and shower to prepare for the Rat Pack dinner that evening.

Present at the party were many of the BJ21.com faithful, including Spike, Parker, JimmyB, Bigplayer, Igor, Plover, Titaniumman, J, Anonymouse and Barfarkel, with Northwest, Old School and Clyde dropping by for drinks. It lasted 4 hours with excellent food, drinks and conversation.

Saturday night in Las Vegas is always problematic if you're looking for a good, uncrowded pitch blackjack game at low stakes. Most of the big Strip joints have raised their table minimums and are getting plenty of action. The smaller joints are usually elbow-to-elbow with low stakes local ploppies. Before last years terrorist attack, I'd have to drive out to the farthest casino from the Strip. Usually it was the Santa Fe, which would be only moderately crowded. They had good single and double deckers before Stations Casinos took them over. Then I'd hit Fiesta and Texas Station on the way back as swing shift turned into grave, and the conditions improved as it got later and later.

Now however, post Sept. 11th, game conditions had improved a bit for Saturday nights as Las Vegas was no longer quite as crowded on the weekends, though it is creeping back up to normal levels lately. But on this night, I only had to drive as far as Texas Station where I played a two-hour session at three or four different double deck (DD) tables. It started out badly as I lost my initial $200 buy in, then another $100. Now down $360 or so, I staged a comeback in two marvelous shuffles and got back to even before the cards went cold. So, I quit. After that big meal fit for a Rat, I was yawning and tired so I called it a night and glad to escape with a push.

The next morning I wasn't so glad anymore, after two losing sessions at my hotel before and after breakfast. There's not much I can say about them except I got only 60% pen in the first and 70% in the second session. It seemed that no amount of good penetration would help here; the cards just weren't co-operating so I quit and went to shop for cigarettes. Now I'm down $700 for the trip.

I stock up on cartons of cigarettes in Nevada. I now refuse to give California any of my cigarette money even though that's where I live. California is notoriously intolerant of smokers, more so since Prop. 10 passed by a very slight margin a few years ago. This increased the price by 50 cents a pack. It's not the inflated California prices so much as the attitude. You can't even smoke in bars anymore. Nevada is infinitely more relaxed and tolerant of vices, so I choose to vote for their lifestyle with my pocketbook.

Anyway, the hunt for cheap smokes took me near Sam's Town so I stopped in for some play. One of the former single deck tables was full. Later I found it had been converted to Super Fun 21. But there were still two tables of regular single deck blackjack and one was empty, so I sat down and bought in. To my surprise, my dealer was going pretty deep in the deck and I had a wonderfully fast, deeply dealt, heads up game for 20 minutes or so until the counters at the other table migrated to mine. Soon we were packed in like sardines so it was time to change tables. I sat at an idle double decker and won back the $100 I was in for, plus a net win of $130.

Later that night after discovering all tables crowded at my hotel and all $25 minimum signs on the double deckers at TI, I wound up at the Riviera where I found a $10 DD game with a decent 65% cut. There were two, then three other players including some cowboys. Why were they still in town? National Finals Rodeo had ended that day and I'd expected them to be gone, but here they still were, cluttering up my game with their inept play. Usually I'll swallow my dismay and try to befriend these guys as I'm hoping they'll show me their cards so I can immediately add them to my running count. It worked too well as I got involved in conversations which occasionally caused me to lose the count. My new cow-buddies were drinking and whooping and hollering which was a bit distracting until I got used to it. They did show me their cards and I'd advise them on the easy basic strategy decisions, but I feigned ignorance on the finer points, playing the part of a half-smart gambler who knows just enough to lose. We'd then involve the dealer in their decisions, taking his advice and lacing him with derision if his advice had negative results. Even though I knew I wasn't playing my best game, it was still strong enough to come away with a $100 win after an hour. Plus it was kinda fun to be part of an animated table of cowpokes as we kibitzed, cheering and groaning over each result. I guess they won me over by then; however, I resisted the impulse to go out and buy a Stetson and cowboy boots so I'd fit in better

Plover met me here and we went to dinner at Kady's, the Riv's old Vegas style coffee shop that hasn't changed since the days when Sammy Davis Jr. would order his bagels and lox at a corner booth. I love the 50's décor and the view of the pool through the windows…in fact this is one of my favorite, little known places to eat in LV. The food is standard coffee shop fare, but quite good. We both had the $10.95 prime rib dinner with salad, rolls and baked potato. Plover picked up the check and customarily, I left the tip, as I was unable to get the pit to comp us.

From here we drove to Texas Station, which is getting to be my regular late night haunt. It's a good game for low stakes, plus the late surrender is a unique rule for double deckers found in only one other LV game: Mandalay Bay. However Man Bay's minimums are usually $25 on days and $100 on swing; still a bit rich for my bankroll, though I thought I might mix in a session or two at one of their day shift $25 DD tables towards the end of my trip if I was ahead. I'd observe a strict $1,000 loss limit per session so as not to destroy my bankroll if things went badly.

We played the Texas game for over an hour, mostly at different tables. I broke even and Plover won a few hundred, then we headed back to the Riv where I played another 90 minute session, coming out ahead by $30 or so. I was sitting next to the third baseman, a Scottish chap who had little experience with blackjack, but he was doing just fine with the whiskey. At one point, he peeked at his double down card and, seeing it was the king of clubs, put it in his mouth and bit it, leaving teeth marks. The dealer was horrified while we players were alternately amused and angry that the game had to be stopped so the pit could replace the mangled card. Our Scottish friend was reprimanded by the pit to never, ever bite a card again.

Plover had some useful criticisms of my play. Here's what he told me. "Firstly, in face down pitch games, don't wait until first base's cards have been exposed to place your bet. It's too obvious you're basing your bet decision on what cards you are seeing. Make your bet decisions a bit earlier, based upon what you think you will see. You can always adjust the bet later 'on a whim'".

Secondly, I tend to peek at the cards of the player next to me, even before I've looked at my own cards. I'm always afraid I'll get just that one quick opportunity to see them, and then they'll be tucked and hidden. I know I have plenty of time to see my own cards, but I always want to add the other cards to my count at that moment for a more accurate analysis of conditions. Plover told me that "maintaining cover is more important than seeing all the cards immediately which, on a multi player table, you're unlikely to see them all anyway. In face down pitch games you sometimes have to forego that information".

After an $85 loss at my hotel's DD game the next morning, I had breakfast and napped through the afternoon, catching up on an entire weekend’s worth of sleep deprivation. Later I played the double deck tables in the main pit at TI where I had my best session of the trip. I won $375 in an hour to put me at only minus $150 for the trip.

Then came the finest meal of my trip. I met Bigplayer and JimmyB at Nine, the gourmet steakhouse at the Palms. We talked about blackjack of course, but also video poker, sports betting, and gossip about mutual acquaintances in the card counting community. Bigplayer had beer, JimmyB ordered white wine and I started with my usual double dry vodka martini with two olives. We shared two appetizers: a smoked salmon plate with dabs of sour cream and caviar on top, and a seafood platter with shrimp, clams, oysters and crab legs on ice. For the main course, Jimmy ordered salmon, BP had a filet mignon and I went for the lamb chops which were wonderful. Side dishes included potatoes au gratin and creamed spinach, and then we had crème brulee and coffee for dessert. Everything was first rate and we had used up all but $6 of BP's comp. Thanks to Bigplayer for inviting me along to this wonderful meal.

After dinner, I played briefly at the Palms $15 DD table but felt uncomfortable with the crowded conditions and the dealer, who just wouldn't bust, so I drifted over towards the theater multiplex. Luckily Ocean's 11 was about to start, so I bought a ticket. The Palms theaters are great. Each row is on a descending level so there's no tall guy's head in front of you to block your view. The screen is a wide wraparound format and the sound is wonderfully precise. The seats are plush and comfortable.

As for the movie, it was good but not great. As a caper/heist flick it definitely delivers. Some of the shots of present day Las Vegas look more real on screen than what you see in person, especially the panoramic shots of the Bellagio water show. The movie is packed with stars I like; however the older actors like Elliott Gould and Carl Reiner really steal the show. You could follow the plot and the high tech video gadget and computer stuff the thieves’ use. I won't tell you what happens at the end except that this time the money doesn't get burned up in a coffin like in the original. However, there was an element of cool and style missing from the movie that I'd expected to be there. Guys like Clooney, Pitt, Damon and Garcia are good actors, fun to watch, but none of them can really hold a candle to the original Rat Pack. Even in this day and age there's nobody who can fill the shoes of Sinatra, Dino and Sammy for sheer cool fun.

Later I played a heartbreaking 2-hour session back at TI. I lost back $300 of the $375 I had won just a few short hours ago. I was in for $200, then another Benji, and almost rallied to get even. At one point I was only $10 away. I bet the $10, lost and kept playing to an eventual disastrous conclusion. This put me right back to where I started the day; down $500 for the trip. Oh well, tomorrow's another day, to quote Scarlet O'Hara.

The next day I met Plover for a comped lunch at TI's coffee shop. Before he got there I had played a 90-minute session, winning $125. Afterwards we checked out the 4 DD tables in the main (H17) pit. He found a seat; I didn't, so I split. I stopped in at the Sahara to use their public Internet access computer, as I had to answer some emails. They charge $5 for 20 minutes of Internet time and it's available 24 hours. I ran into Bad Cutter, a local player who mostly bets sports now. He was there to resolve a dispute over a misprinted sports ticket. He's now hooked up with Fezzik and Midnight Cowboy who have moved to LV and are betting sports full time. It's ironic to meet another advantage player at of all places the Sahara, which has the worst blackjack game in town.

Since my original hotel had evicted all their guests to work on some renovations, I had taken advantage of the 3-free-nights mail offer at Stratosphere and had moved my gear over earlier that day. After a nap and shower I started at their $10 DD game, playing an hour and winning $200. The pen was an indifferent 60%. Later that night I lost back the $200 at the Riv to put me back at minus $375 for the trip.

I walked across the street to Slots-A-Fun where there was only one other player at the $10 S17 single deck table. She seemed to be raising her bets in plus counts too, so I started spreading to 2 hands if the count was up and got pref shuffled a few times for my efforts. This place is like a card counters convention. After she left, another counter took her seat and spread with the count like clockwork. He was so obvious it kinda made you ashamed to be a member of the card counter fraternity. I left shortly thereafter, having won $50. I had a late night SoF pizza and walked next door to the Westward Ho for their 99 cent strawberry shortcake and glass of milk.

I was tired but felt I could play another session so I returned to TI, finding a seat at a $10 DD table. Despite players coming in and out of my game, I managed to win $125 in a 45- minute session. Now down only $200 for the trip, I called it a night.

With only 24 hours left in town, I was beginning to wonder if my two-trip win streak might be over. I had not been in the black for almost 5 days and was starting to worry that I might not be able to pull out a win. I know a loss of a few hundred dollars over a six- day blackjack trip is nothing to get concerned about but I feel so much better if I could have a winning trip, no matter how small the amount. It renews my enthusiasm for the next trip down the line. Besides, I'd disappoint the girls at work who love to hear the stories behind a winning trip and are always supportive of my low stakes efforts. They insist upon being the first to read the rough drafts of these reports and their enthusiastic attitude is always a tonic. So I hate to let them down, but more than that, I wanted to try real hard to keep the streak alive for my own ego and peace of mind.

Taking a break from my usual morning session, I decided to do something else just to break the routine. I drove to the Bonanza gift shop on Sahara and the Strip to look for a gift for my girlfriend. After 20 minutes of fruitless searching, I came upon the perfect item. It was a ring with a twist-o-flex band that had a small pink heart-shaped watch on top. It was less than $20. Not exactly Tiffany, I know, but hey it's the thought that counts, right?

Heading back to the Strat I was kinda pleased with myself for finding this little gem. I knew she'd like it, but more than that I think the gals appreciate a gift, no matter what it is, as long as they know you put some thought and effort into finding just the right thing.

As it turned out my new state of mind helped turn things around. First off, I sat at a Strat $5 double decker where the main and relief dealers (both young Filipino men) were dealing a 70% game. I got no scrutiny for going back and forth between one hand and two. Played for almost 2 hours, coming away with an $80 win and comps to Viva Las Vegas and Roxy's, their 50's style diner, which was the default coffee shop now that Lucky's Café by the valet entrance is undergoing renovations.

It always strikes me how changeable and capricious penetration levels can be. You might get a great game at one table and not at the one next to it. Or you'll find good pen on one shift and not on others. You go back the next day and the same dealer has tightened up his formerly deeply dealt game, or another dealer comes into the game and the pen drops dramatically. In a number of sessions over the course of a trip you might get lousy pen on most of them, yet you just know there are deeply dealt games happening elsewhere at that moment. It just takes some effort and patience and discipline to find them and not settle for the indifferent game that's right in front of you. One month Palace Station is dealing deep. The next time you arrive in town that game has deteriorated but the Flamingo is dealing their 6-deckers down to one deck. They put 2-deck games in the Horseshoe and the whole counter community knows they're going 75% into the deck; two weeks later the good pen is gone; three weeks after that the deep pen is back. So you never can tell unless you put in some shoe leather and scout the games yourself rather than just depending upon Wong's Current BlackJack News or the tips from other counters that are a few weeks old.

Plover and I went to the 4 pm Viva Las Vegas show. We had good seats but this show is getting old. This is the third time I've seen it and its old charm is really fading. On the way back through the shopping area, we tried the Hydro-Massage, a coffin like affair in which you lay face down, wrapped in a plastic tarp. They close the lid and a brace of water jets run up and down your back. You can pause the jets in one area of your body, say your neck and shoulders, by holding down a remote button that they hand you. We each did the $10 seven-minute session and I must say it was quite relaxing. I wished I'd gone for one of the longer sessions, but it wasn't as good as a real 30 or 60 minute, hands on massage. But for a novelty it definitely has some value.

Plover and I sat at separate tables and played the Strat DD games again. Apparently the gal dealers on day shift do not deal as deep as the men. I played for 45 minutes, winning $100 to put me at only minus $20 for the trip. Plover was in for a few hundred and losing when I told him I'd catch up with him later for dinner and went upstairs for a nap and shower.

After a relaxing 90-minute nap, I hit the casino again. Plover had left. I sat down at a $5 DD table in the back pit with two other players and played a 45-minute session, booking another small $100 win. It seems I'm not getting the bigger wins of previous trips this time around. I used to routinely rack up wins of $500, $600, $700, but this trip my biggest win was $375 at TI a few days ago. All right, I resolved, if I have to dig in and grind out a series of small wins, then that's just what I'll do. Whatever it takes.

Now up a whopping $80, and in the black for the first time in many days, I headed downtown. I like the valet parking at Golden Nugget since it's close to all the casinos I like to play (except Lady Luck). As I'm walking towards Fremont St., I get a cell call from Plover who says he'll meet me at the Las Vegas Club, a place I've been meaning to try. I had heard that the pen and rules were good on the single deckers but when I played, I realized we were only getting Rule of 6. With three players at the table we got 3 rounds and when one left we got 4 rounds dealt. However I was able to spread to 2 hands on the last round in plus counts with no pit critters hawking my action and no premature shuffling. Plover came to the table and said to pick him up at the Golden Gate (GG) across the street when I'm done here. I played an hour, getting mostly good cards and winning many of my double downs - the key to most winning sessions. I colored out with a $260 win; the second best win of the trip.

Now up $340 for the trip, I went to pick up my friend at the GG and to my surprise found him sitting with 4 other players at a slow $2 double deck table. He was the biggest bettor, but the dealer and players were so slow, moss was starting to grow on the cards. I got him out of there and wondered why he'd waste time at a game like that. He said all the GG games were crowded and he thought he could just screw around and make a few bucks while waiting for me.

After watching the Fremont Street Experience show, we split up again. He went to play the Four Queens and I would have accompanied him, but last year the management requested that I don't play blackjack there anymore. Instead I found one of the few remaining single deckers in the west (old Mint side) of the Horseshoe. On the way in I noticed two shoe games where single deck games had always been. The pit was pretty empty this Wednesday night and the pit wanted to close the remaining tables. I got 45 minutes of play in with a gal at third base, who was losing and whining. I was winning so the dealer and I were trying to cheer her up but to no avail. Finally the pit supervisor sat down at my table and I knew what he wanted. "You want to close the table, right?" I asked to which he replied, "Yes". He offered to comp us to get us to quit so I hit him up for a coffee shop comp. Later I realized I had him over a barrel and could have asked for a comp to the Ranch Steakhouse, their gourmet room. But as it was my last night in town and it was late, the Steakhouse was closed, so I settled for the coffee shop since it was the only restaurant that remained open.

We had another of those late night Vegas style steak dinners. As usual I had to order two half full glasses of root beer and a dish of vanilla in order to make my own root beer float. They don't have floats on the menu because as the waitress has said to me time and time again, "this is Binion's, mister", a phrase that always gets a laugh out of me. Plover is an interesting guy whose evolution as an advantage player mirrors my own, except for the brief gambling problem he used to have. His critiques of my play were right on and much appreciated. Thanks for the insights and friendship, Plover.

On the way back up to the room, I stopped for what turned out to be the last session of the trip. The pen was nondescript and there were 3 others at the table, but I still managed to win $95 in 30 minutes to put me at plus $535 for the trip after 35 hours over 6 days.

I had all day Thursday to drive back to LA, and I had planned to stay and play through the day and leave at dusk, but the weather report predicted a storm blowing in off the Pacific and heading down highway 15 towards LV just as I'd be driving back. So I left in the morning, preferring to drive in mild sunlight rather than stormy darkness. I beat the storm to LA and reflected on the trip during the drive.

Since I started playing solo with $2K last September, I had booked wins of $2,150, $1,130 and now $535. Each trip was 5 or 6 days during which I had put in 24, 27 and now 35 hours for a three-trip total of 86 hours of blackjack. The cumulative win for the trips was $3,815, for an hourly win rate of $44.36, more than double my expected value for a $10 unit and 1-6 spread. I should have made approximately $18.50 per hour on average. According to Auston's BlackJack Risk Manager 2000 software, the chances of this result or better was 19.74%, or less than one in five. My lifetime Risk of Ruin figure was 9.76.

I regret that I didn't stick with my new plan to open up the spread to 1-8 instead of 1-6. I reverted back to what was comfortable and felt right. I guess I'll need to practice more and get used to the feeling of losing a doubled $80 bet in high counts. I've got to overcome this feeling of being gun-shy and just do it. I know my present bankroll can support this spread but emotionally I guess I've been shying away from the bigger bets and that's the area I plan to work on. For my next trip I hereby vow to spread 1-8. There. It's in print and on record. There's no fudging away from it now.

All in all it was a fun trip with mostly good blackjack conditions, but more than that was the good food and good friends. Plus I learned a thing or two and was happy I was able to pull out a small win in the last few sessions. Yes, it could have been better but in retrospect, it also could have been a lot worse.

I'm already planning my next trip so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,

The LV Pro

************************************************************************SUPER FUN 21

BY MICHAEL SHACKELFORD


Super Fun 21 is a new blackjack variant that can be found in many Las Vegas casinos. Although this is the name of the game it can be found under signs saying "Single Deck 21." The game follows blackjack rules with these specifics and differences.

  1. A single deck of cards is used.
  2. Dealer hits a soft 17.
  3. Player may double after a split.
  4. Player may resplit to up to four hands, including aces.
  5. Player may hit and double down to split aces.
  6. Player may double on any number of cards.
  7. Player may take late surrender on any number of cards.
  8. Player may surrender half of the total bet after doubling.
  9. A player hand totaling 20 or less, consisting of six cards or more, except after doubling, pays 1 to 1 instantly.
  10. A player hand of 21 points, consisting of five cards or more, except after doubling, pays 2 to 1 instantly.
  11. A player blackjack always wins
  12. A player blackjack in diamonds pays 2 to 1; all other blackjacks pay even money.

The strategy starts out like that for single deck blackjack. However, as in Spanish 21, the multiple card bonuses sometimes necessitate an exception with hands of 3 or more cards.

The following table shows a complete basic strategy for Super Fun 21.

SUPER FUN 21 Basic Playing Strategy

 

Player’s Hand

Dealer’s Card

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

5-8

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

9

D3

D4

D4

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

10

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D3

D4

11

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

D4

12

H

H

S4

S4

S4

H

H

H

H

H

13

S4

S4

S5

S5

S5

H

H

H

H

H

14

S5

S5

S5

S5

S5

H

H

H

H

H

15

S5

S5

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

R4

16

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

R4

R4

17

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S5

S5

R3*

A,2

H

H

H

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,3

H

H

D3

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,4

H

H

D3

D4

D4

H

H

H

H

H

A,5

H

H

D3

D4

D4

H

H

H

H

H

A,6

D3

D3

D4

D4

D5

H

H

H

H

H

A,7

S3

D4

D4

D4

D5

S4

S4

H

H

H

A,8

S5

S5

S5

S5

D5

S5

S5

S5

S4

S5

A,9

S5

S5

S5

S5

S5

S5

S5

S5

S5

S5

2,2

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

3,3

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

4,4

H

H

H

P

P

H

H

H

H

H

5,5

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

6,6

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

7,7

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

R

R

8,8

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

9,9

P

P

P

P

P

S

P

P

S

P

10,10

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

A,A

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

Key to basic strategy:


S Stand
H Hit
D Double
P Split
R Surrender
S3 Stand, except hit with 3 or more cards
S4 Stand, except hit with 4 or more cards
S5 Stand, except hit with 5 or more cards
D3 Double, except hit with 3 or more cards
D4 Double, except hit with 4 or more cards
D5 Double, except hit with 5 or more cards
R3 hit with 3 or more cards
R3* Surrender, except stand with 3 or 4 cards, and hit with 5 cards
R4 Surrender, except hit with 4 or more cards

Some players have expressed confusion over how to play hard 17 against an ace. If the 17 is composed of two cards then the player should surrender. If the 17 is composed of 3 or 4 cards then the player should stand. If the 17 is composed of 5 cards then the player should hit, attempting to get the six-card automatic winner. At 2 or 3 cards it is a very borderline play and subject to deck composition. If the 17 is composed of three cards, as opposed to two, then the remaining deck is slightly richer in large cards, which favors the dealer, making surrendering a more attractive option.

The following table summarizes when to surrender after doubling down.

Player’s

Total

Dealer’s Card

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

12-16

S

S

S

S

S

S

R

R

R

R

17

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

R

 

As in traditional blackjack, the player should never take insurance.

According to my calculations the house edge following the above strategy is 0.94%. I previously reported a house edge of 0.77% on my web site, which was incorrect. Stanford Wong still puts the house edge at about 1.2%, and I respectfully disagree with him. We have planned to work together to resolve the discrepancy.

On a related topic, beware of the single deck blackjack game at the Flamingo Hilton. It follows normal blackjack rules but only pays 6-5 on blackjacks, which increases the house edge by 1.39%, making it likely the worst blackjack game in Vegas.

Editors Note: Michael Shackelford hosts the web site www.wizardofodds.com and is a feature writer for Casino Player Magazine.

ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT

BY ALENE PAONE

THE GREAT WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT
This has been a beautiful winter for Atlantic City and surrounding communities. There have been no snowstorms, no major Northeasters, the temperatures at times have been positively balmy - 50s, 60s, once in the 70s. The beaches have not suffered much erosion; the casinos have been packed with patrons midweek and positively overflowing with humanity on the weekends. The Boardwalk is crowded and stores that would normally see little business in the dead of winter have been quite lively. Atlantic City is thriving.

It seems that East Coast players have an unending appetite for casino gambling; as teenagers love junk food, East Coast blackjack players find satisfaction in junk blackjack games. And essentially the games in Atlantic City this winter have deteriorated to the point of being the White Castle of junk food as opposed to the MacDonalds -- which is what they have been for the past year. You will find fewer 6-deck games throughout the town; many more 8-deckers. No 4-decks. And one miserable, rarely open, poorly penetrated 3-deck heads-up game at the otherwise dreary Sands. Even high roller rooms have started to utilize some 8-deckers, the dreary Sands, the disappointing Claridge for example. Some casinos have become so paranoid of advantage players that they have incorporated incredibly long, incredibly elaborate shuffle routines dubbed by Frank Scoblete as "the Kitchen Sink." Next time you are at Bally’s Park Place you’ll see the "Kitchen Sink" shuffle. You will have time to go to the bathroom, have a shoeshine and take a nap all between the start and end of that shuffle. How much money does a casino
lose by taking so long? Another awful movement concerns the appearance of more and more automatic shufflers and some CSM (machines) -- check the Trump properties. These have not taken over as they have at some of the Las Vegas Strip casinos on the
lower-limit games for two reasons: 1.) in AC there are almost no "lower-limit" games if by that we mean $5 tables; and 2.) East Coasters are traditionalists and like their bad games to be pure.


Considering the games Atlantic City has, one wonders why the high level of scrutiny is needed. The only counters I have noticed in Atlantic City are the occasional desperate Wongers playing red or green chips into 8-deckers (just about all 6-deck games have "No Mid-Shoe Entry" signs) and a few and far between high roller who might be spreading 1-to-4 or 6 which is not really enough to do any damage even if they play every day for years and years.


On the casino-hotel front, the Borgata is coming along in the Marina district, the new tower is going up at Showboat at the north end of the Boardwalk, and the old World’s Fair is almost down now but the rumor is that Trump is not interested in speeding up the development of that property.


To sum it up: Atlantic City is obviously not hurting and doesn’t have to offer good games to get the competitive edge. Sad.

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 March 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

Shuffle off to sleep! Penetration is declining in the 6-deck games in the high roller pit ($50 to $100 minimums) and 1.5 – two deck cutoffs are the norm. No midshoe entry on all these games. The 8-deckers outside the high roller pit have gone down but "no midshoe entry" as well. The rest of the casino is the standard AC 8-deck with penetration that is consistently more than 70 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

No change from last issue. 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 during the day. The high roller room is 6-deck games, with some 8-deckers, 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

Some noticeable improvement on all games in terms of penetration. The 6-deck games have penetration of 70 percent in high roller area. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. Rest of casino is 8-decks with 75 percent penetration the norm. ** 1/2* (Penetration Report: C+)

HILTON

Card counters paradise, kind of, if you can afford it that is. Penetration was solid 80 percent throughout the casino when I last visited. High roller room 6-deckers are $100 minimums with 80 percent or more penetration. You will be hard pressed to find $10 games after the morning coffee hour. Resplitting allowed except aces. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have good penetration for $10. * * * * (Penetration Report: A-)

RESORTS

No change from last report. 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 blackjack and Spanish 21 at $10 minimums. Still one of the best casinos for blackjack in Atlantic City. Pits are not paranoid. * * * * (Penetration Report: A-)

SANDS

A mud hole. Has been positioning itself as a slot place and is succeeding nicely. Went from the best BJ in AC to the worst in less time than it takes to do the "Kitchen Sink Shuffle." Basic strategy players should even pass this place by. 1/2* (Penetration Report: D)

SHOWBOAT

No change from last report. 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

Can they fit any more slots in this place? I think I saw one in the bathroom! If playing a game of tic-tac-toe against a chicken is your idea of gambling, go for it. Six-deck games in high-roller room are $100 minimums with 66 percent penetration the norm. Thought I also saw some 8-deckers in there, but it was so smoky the night I entered I had a hard time seeing anything at all. Rest of the casino is 8-deckers with $10 minimums and up.

* 1/2* (Penetration Report: D)

TRUMP MARINA

The machines are coming! Six-deck games in high roller room ($100 minimums, $2,500/$5,000 maximums) have 75-80 percent penetration. Eight-deck games are now at same 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

Six-deck games in high roller room ($100 minimum, $5,000 maximum) have improved penetration to around 75 percent. The 8-deck also 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 in two straight reports.

* * 1/2* (Penetration Report: C+)

WILD, WILD WEST

No change from last report. 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 CASINOS FOR BJ IN ATLANTIC CITY: Hilton and Resorts for the second
month in a row.

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 BLACKJACK REPORT

BY CAPTAIN JACK

The weather is getting warmer in Las Vegas and room rates are back to normal at the major casinos. Hotel room occupancy rates are returning to 100% on weekends. More blackjack tables are open with dealers returning to full employment. The mix of blackjack tables to other games is changing and some casinos have removed some of their continuous shuffling machines (CSMs). Blackjack playing rules continue to change in the casino’s favor. Observation of your play by casino pit management and supervisors has decreased since some supervisors are now required to observe as many as 8 tables at a time. At most casinos, your play is observed by surveillance only when requested by floor personnel. Advantage players are utilizing this opportunity by playing in less-observed areas, not showing big profits when leaving, hiding chips, using smaller buy-ins, and not calling attention to themselves. Videotape replay of your playing session can be used after you leave the table to determine if you were counting. So, play smart and don’t give pit personnel a reason to request it.

Double-deck Blackjack in Las Vegas – Part 1

Double-deck blackjack games are offered in 90% of the Las Vegas casinos. "Advantage" blackjack players can find playable games in most casinos offering these games. Part I of this report will identify existing conditions I have found in Las Vegas in 2002. In Part II (which will appear in next months Blackjack Insider Monthly newsletter) I will identify specific methods and offer advice for advantage-play based upon the conditions set by the casinos.

The playing rules determine the casino advantage over the basic-strategy player. In the table below, rules have been identified as:

  1. s17 and das
  2. h17 and das
  3. h17

Some casinos offer both s17 and h17 games with different table-minimums. Table-minimums (min.) are identified as:

(L) $5 and less

(M) $10 - $25

(H) $50 and above

Table-minimums may change based upon activity at different times. The lower table-minimums often are found in the late grave shift and early day shift. Penetration (dealer’s shuffle point) is important to the advantage player. Penetration may vary greatly when not monitored or controlled by pit-management, or it may be mechanically controlled by such things as a slot cut in the discard rack. Penetration (pen) below is rated by:

  1. .5 - .75 decks cut-off

2) .75 – 1.0 decks cut-off

  1. 1.0 or greater decks cut-off

I play primarily double-deck games, continually searching for the best games and conditions. Not all casinos in Las Vegas have been identified in the table below, as I have yet to check out some of the less popular areas. Hopefully, you will find better conditions than I observed.

Casino Rules Pen. Min.

Bally’s 1&2 3 H&M

Barbary Coast 2 3 M

Bellagio 1 1 M

Boulder Stn. 2 3 L

Caesars 1 3 H

California 3 3 L

Casino Royale 2 1 L

Circus 2 3 L

Ellis Island 2 2 L

Excalibur 3 3 L

Fiesta 2 2 L

Fitzgeralds 3 2 L

Four Queens 3 2 L

Fremont 3 2 L

Frontier 1 3 M

Gold Coast 2 2 L

Golden Gate 3 2 L

Golden Nugget 3 1 L

Green Valley Rnch 2 1 L

Hard Rock 2 1 M

Harrahs 2 1 M

Horseshoe 3 1 L

Imperial Palace 2 1 M

Lady Luck 3 1 L

LV Hilton 1 2 M

Luxor 1&2 2 M&H

Main St. 3 2 L

Mandalay Bay 1 1 M

Mirage 1 1 M

Monte Carlo 1&2 2 M&H

NY – NY 1&2 2 M&H

Orleans 2 2 L

O’Sheas 3 1 L

Palace Station 2 1 L

Palms 2 2 M

Paris 1&2 2 M&H

Plaza 2 3 L

Rio 2 2 H

Riveria 1 1 M

Sam’s Town 3 1 L

Santa Fe 2 2 L

Slots A Fun 3 1 L

Stardust 1&2 2 M

Stratosphere 2 2 M

Suncoast 2 3 L

Sunset 2 3 L

Texas 1 2 L

Treasure Island 1&2 1 M&H

Venetian 1&2 3 M&H

Westward Ho 3 3 L

Wild-Wild West 2 2 L

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CASINO EDGE & PLAYING CONDITIONS

BY HENRY TAMBURIN

The following Internet sites can provide you with the following useful information about any blackjack game:

    1. Basic playing strategy for any set of rules
    2. Casino’s edge for any set of rules
    3. Which casino offers the best rules.

www.blackjackinfo.com

At this site hosted by Ken Smith you can input any set of playing rules and obtain a color chart of the basic playing strategy that you can print. The site’s strategy engine not only computes the basic playing strategy but it only calculates the casino’s edge for the set of rules that you input (the casino’s edge is at the top of the basic strategy chart). You’ll also find good basic information on blackjack tournaments at this site and tables that show the probability of each dealer outcome for any set of rules (e.g. how many times the dealer will bust or get blackjack or get 17-21 depending on his face card).

www.thewizardodds.com

In the blackjack section of this web site hosted by Michael Shackelford, you will find color basic strategy charts for single, double, and 4/6/8 deck games along with a blackjack house edge calculator. You’ll also find a lot of other good information on blackjack.

www.skister.com/blackjack

You’ll find the playing rules for all casinos at this site. However, information from some casinos may be out dated. A better alternate for current playing conditions is www.trackjack.com (see below).

www.bjmath.com

This site contains a downloadable Blackjack Game and Basic Strategy Calculator. With the latter you input any set of rules and the program calculates the casino’s edge.

www.trackjack.com

This is the premier site for finding an updated set of playing rules for casinos in US and Canada. The Trackjack system allows players and Blackjack Forum Magazine blackjack reporters to share timely information about playing conditions. As soon as information on playing conditions is obtained by the site’s host, Victor Nacht, they are posted. You can use the site’s search engine to select the playing information for any region (e.g. Las Vegas or Tunica). The information displayed for each casino is very detailed and contains not only the set of playing rules and casino’s edge but also a host of useful information about the game (e.g. whether it’s dealt face up or down, machine or hand shuffled, min./max. betting range, # tables, etc.). The site contains a Conditions Search Engine that allows you to group games according to a wide array of options for any city, state, or region (e.g. list the casinos and rules for double deck games in Las Vegas). The Blackjack Edge allows you to compute the casino’s edge for a wide array of playing options including European No Hole and special payoff hands (like 5 card 21 paying 2 to 1 or naturals paying 2 to 1). The information on this site is priceless for the serious card counter or basic strategy player. Highly recommended.

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

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.casino.com/blackjack/newsletter/blackjack/archive.

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)

 

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BLACKJACK MAJOR TOURNAMANT SCHEDULE

Here are more details on the Las Vegas Hilton’s One Million Blackjack Tournament (first ever blackjack tournament with a $1MM cash prize to the winner). There will be a year long series of satellite tournaments held monthly with the first one scheduled for April 12-13, 2002 . The other monthly satellite tournaments will be held on:

May 9-11

June 6-8

July 11-13

Aug. 8-10

Sept. 12-14

Oct. 10-12

Nov. 14-16

Dec. 19-21

Jan. 9-12, 2003

Feb. 6-8, 2003

March 6-8, 2003

Final round: April 10-12, 2003

The entry fee into one of the monthly satellite tournaments is $1K and that includes a complimentary room for 3 nights and souvenir Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament T-shirt. The tournament format will consist of three rounds, a semi final round and a final round. The winners of the monthly satellite tournaments will advance to the 2003 finals (16 players each month or a total of 192 tournament finalists). In addition, all players who paid to be in the Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament will be eligible for a wild card drawing where an additional 8 players will be randomly chosen for the 2003 final round. (Total number of participants in the final round will be 200). All players, including those that have been barred from playing 21, are invited to enter the tournament. The winner of the Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament will be paid in one lump sum immediately after the tournament finals. The odds in the championship round of winning the $1MM cash are 200 to 1. For additional details, or to get an entry form, call 1-800-457-3307.

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The following 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

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

April 5-7 Imperial Palace $150 six $25K/$10K 1-800-436-3000

Biloxi, MS

April 12-13 LV Hilton $1K six $64K/$20K 1-800=457-3307

Las Vegas, NV

April 12-14 NY-NY free* six $40K/$20K 1-888-469-6958

Las Vegas, NV

Apri13-14 Jackpot Junction $200 four $50K/$25K 1-800-946-2274

Morton, MN

April 19-21 Imperial Palace $300 six $50K/$25K 1-800-351-7400

Las Vegas, NV

April 19-21 Bally’s Tunica $500 six $125K/$50K 1-800-382-2559

Robinsonville, MS

April 21-24 Fitzgeralds $249 six $18K/$5K 1-800-274-5825

Las Vegas, NV

April 26-29 Harrah’s free* six $43K/$20K 1-800-392-9002

Las Vegas, NV

April 28-30 Bally’s free* six $100K/$50K 1-800-634-3434

Las Vegas, NV

 

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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