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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, August 2002, #32

A WORD FROM HENRY

After a month long vacation, we are glad to be back with another great issue of Blackjack Insider, the newsletter that provides interesting and helpful advice to all levels of blackjack players. This month you will learn about Trackjack, a new Internet-based interactive information service that provides timely blackjack playing conditions for casinos in the US and Canada (I never leave home without my printout of Trackjack). If you are a casual player that doesnít want to spend a lot of time memorizing basic strategy tables, Dan Pronovost has developed a simple set of 6 blackjack rules that can be mastered in minutes and gives you a greater than 99% return when you play. Our Southern blackjack reporter, CC Rider, gives us a rundown on the blackjack playing conditions in the 10 Tunica-area casinos. If you play in Atlantic City, Alene Paone has the latest playing conditions including the best places to play. In July, LV Pro made another attack on the blackjack tables in Sin City and weíve got all the details. Finally, Iíve summarized whatís going in the world of blackjack and last, but not least, updated the schedule of blackjack tournaments.

Ready, set, letís go Ö.

Henry Tamburin

Editor


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

sd = single deck

dd = double deck

6d = 6 decks

h17 = dealer hits soft 17

s17 = dealer stands on soft 17

das = double down after pair splitting

rsa = resplit aces

sr = surrender

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. The amount (expressed in dollars or percent) a player should win (or lose) based on the playerís statistical advantage (or disadvantage).

Rule of 6 (Ro6) = In single deck blackjack games, 6 Ė n rounds will be dealt to n players.

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

RC = Running count

TC= True count

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

TRACKJACK: THE POWERFUL NEW TOOL FOR FINDING YOUR GAME

BY MICHAEL BELGARD

Trackjack is RGEís interactive information service on casino blackjack gaming conditions. With it, subscribers can find exactly what games are available in the part of the country in which they will be playing. We also cover Canada, and eventually the world. The online database assures subscribers of the freshest information possible. The date and time that the information was reported is displayed along with casino phone numbers, and links to any available casino websites. The subscribers can also report back on conditions and make comments. Subscribers can also list new games they have found.

A short time ago, Henry Tamburin sent Viktor Nacht a very complimentary message about Trackjack. Viktor passed those kind words on to me. I thanked Henry for his compliment, and told him that if he ever needed any information about Trackjack, to feel free to ask me. Henry graciously responded with an invitation for me to write an article about Trackjack (TJ) for the Blackjack Insider. How can I refuse an offer like that?

TJ is now growing at an impressive rate, but it is still young. It is already one of the most useful tools both an advantage and a recreational player can have, and as it matures, its capability grows even faster. Exposure such as this is a good thing for the whole blackjack community.

Viktor Nacht is the creator of TJ. He came up with the concept, and spent two years designing it. He became a partner to Arnold Snyder along with Principal & Webmaster of RGE21.com. He changed the forum format, and has made many other improvements to the site. He linked his brainchild, Trackjack, to RGE. He also brought the charming Bettie Paige on to RGE as the Office Manager, and more recently has made Parker the Host of the RGE free pages. Viktor has also written several articles in Blackjack Forum. His latest is a two-part article in the Winter 2001/2 and Spring 2002 issues about online security for card counters. It is a must read for todayís advantage player for protection of identity and from viruses and other dangers on the internet. (Since the writing of this article, Viktor has bought out RGE, and Arnold and Blackjack Forum have moved to Huntington Press. Viktor has also worked with Don Schlesinger to set up the "Masters of Blackjack" pages on RGE that include hosting luminaries John Auston, George C., Cacarulo, James Grosjean, Karel Janecek, Kim Lee, and Norm Wattenberger.) As you can see, Viktor has been quite busy, so he also brought me on.

Who am I? Iím Michael Belgard, the editor of TJ. I was intrigued by TJ when it first became available last summer on its beta test / promotional period. I made one of the first reports on TJ, and started questioning Viktor about it, and made suggestions and showed it off to other counters. My main duty as editor is to review and determine disposition of reports on casino blackjack gaming conditions. TJ is interactive in that subscribers can directly make reports on blackjack gaming conditions. When reports are made, the reporterís handle (unless the reporter wishes to make an anonymous report) and rating (more on that later) is displayed giving the author credit for the report. I also get many reports by email, which I verify and post myself, so you frequently see my name on reports.

Additionally, I sometimes find that an old report is still valid. Every single different blackjack game in each casino has its own posting date on its report. If the gameís conditions have not changed, I usually leave the original authorís handle on the report. If you ever make a report, and find that the date is suddenly newer, your report has been re-confirmed to still be accurate. There are close to one thousand games being reported on TJ at this time.

TJ was free for several months during its promotional period, which ended in April. The subscription cost is $50 per year, but for the time being, there is a 25% discount available making the initial yearís subscription only $37.50. A three-month subscription is also available for $20. You can subscribe by going to www.trackjack.com or by going to any of the TJ ads on any of the RGE21.com pages. There are screenshots of sample report pages that can be opened up on the TJ welcoming page and on the ads that let you see some of the report formats.

If you have not seen TJ before, the first thing you will notice is that the site is green, very green. The background is two tones of a pea soup or olive drab green with black text and red trim. Eventually, you may be able to choose other colors for your TJ, but I have personally become quite fond of the color of the site. The support forum (yes, there is a private discussion forum on TJ) looks especially nice in this color in my opinion. It is easy to run off printouts of conditions to take with you on your playing trips. Printouts omit the background colors. By the way, if you were taking a printout with you, I would recommend that you print it just before starting your trip to make sure you have the freshest information possible.

The following is an actual slice of TJ copied & pasted for your perusal. Some of the background came out white with some extra lines, but it is adequate for discussion purposes. If you click on any of the commands in this sample, you will be asked for password authorization, and will have to be a subscriber to proceed. You may, however, utilize the casino website and email links contained herein. If you want to look at actual pages of TJ exactly as they appear, check out the screenshots I mentioned previously. Henry suggested Treasure Island as an example, so thatís what I have presented.

Add to myConditions

 

 

 

 

3300 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV  89109-8914  United States
tollfree: 800-955-4777 - reservations: 800-944-7444 - phone: 702-792-5627 - fax: 702-894-7680
www:
www.treasureisland.com - email: guestservices@treasureisland.com

Notes

 

 

 

 

 

No Notes.

Games    5 games

Rule Legend | Add Game

 

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Belgard (Admin) on May 09, 2002 at 10:13AM PDT (24 days old)

2D

H17

DA2

DAS

Sp3

SpA1

nS

FD

HS/SC

5T

+P

$10/5,000

-0.372%

?

                           

Notes: This game typically has a $25 minimum, though it does drop to $10 or even $5 (very rare) during off hours.

Confirm | Update | Report Defunct

 

Posted by Michael Belgard (Admin) on May 09, 2002 at 10:12AM PDT (24 days old)

2D

S17

DA2

DAS

Sp3

SpA1

nS

FD

HS/SC

2T

+P

$25/5,000

-0.167%

?

Confirm | Update | Report Defunct

 

Posted by RGE Publishing (VIP) on May 09, 2002 at 10:12AM PDT (24 days old)

4D

H17

DA2

DAS

Sp3

SpA3

LS

FU

CSM

20T

-P

$5/5,000

-0.396%

?

Confirm | Update | Report Defunct

 

Posted by RGE Publishing (VIP) on May 09, 2002 at 10:12AM PDT (24 days old)

6D

H17

DA2

DAS

Sp3

SpA3

LS

FU

HS

20T

=P

$5/5,000

-0.449%

?

Confirm | Update | Report Defunct

 

Posted by jeffj2h (Tourist) on May 09, 2002 at 10:12AM PDT (24 days old)

6D

S17

DA2

DAS

Sp3

SpA3

LS

FU

CSM

5T

=P

$10/5,000

-0.254%

?

Confirm | Update | Report Defunct

 

 

News    0 news items

More News

 

 

No News Items

Comments    0 comments

Post Your Comment | More Comments

 

 

 

As you can see, next to the name of the casino are the international symbols for amenities. In this case, the casino has hotel rooms and restaurants, but others symbols like parking and camping are available for casinos that provide those services. Clicking on Add to my Conditions would store this casino in a special file for the subscriber. Anytime the subscriber clicks on My Conditions, a report is displayed providing the updated conditions to all casinos in the file. The addresses, phone numbers, and links to the casino website and email are next. No administrative notes about the casino overall are stored in this particular example.

There are five games listed in the screen shot above. I will describe the first one, although most of the codes are either fairly standard or self-evident.

2D means a double deck game.

H17 means the dealer hits a soft seventeen.

DA2 means that you can double down on any two cards.

DAS means that you can double down after splitting.

Sp3 means that you can split pairs up to three times to make four hands.

SpA1 means that you can split aces only once.

nS means that no form of surrender is offered.

FD means that the playersí cards are dealt face down.

HS/SC means that the game is hand shuffled with a shuffle card used.

5T means that up to five tables of this game are available.

+P means above average penetration (This is being changed to a more precise numeric code.)

$10/5,000 are the minimum and maximum bets allowed.

Trackjack automatically calculates the basic strategy expectation of this game to be Ė0.372%.

Clicking on the question mark will automatically display a table that explains all the codes I just described for this game.

You can also see that this particular game has an individual note about it. Who posted the report, the reporterís rating, and when it was reported are also clearly displayed. Commands for calling up the Rule Legend, adding a game, reporting that a game is no longer offered (defunct), and updating conditions are readily apparent. There is also a place for the user to post a comment about the casino. The confirm command is not yet available, but will allow players to indicate that they have witnessed that these conditions are accurate.

Once logged in, subscribers can click many different options. New Conditions is an option that displays the latest reports that have been posted. The default is for the last seven days, but the user can easily change that along with the number of reports per page. Search by Region allows you to search geographically, starting with a list of the states in the U.S. The subscriber can also click on My Conditions, which will display the up to date conditions of the casinos the subscriber has previously selected and stored. Other choices are: the Support Forum, New News (posted by TJ administration), New User Comments, the Rules Legend which describes all the abbreviations for playing conditions, and the User Ratings which describes the authoritive rankings of persons reporting on conditions.

There are several other options. The most powerful is the Search Engine. For instance, letís say you were going on a business trip that would take you to Tunica and then on to New Orleans, and you will have some time at each location to play a little blackjack. Letís further say that you were particularly fond of double deck games. You can, in a matter of seconds, tell the search engine to find the double deck games with good pen and the rules you desire in those two areas. You can also tell the engine in which order you would like the report, how the games are grouped in the report, and how they are sorted. Not enough games found? You can go back and edit the search to accept a little bit more- shallow pen or ignore some of the rules in order to obtain a bigger list of games. Too many games listed? Hit edit and require double after splitting or late surrender in your search, or require casinos with enough tables of your game so that you can wong around. You can even search by betting limits, game expectation, or age of report.

I have had several occasions in which subscribers have expressed a desire for us to enable the search engine to do a new kind of search that they have thought of, and have had the pleasure of telling them that the engine can already do that particular kind of search. The engine is easy to use, but there are so many things it can do, it takes a little practice to realize them all.

I have written a userís manual for TJ. I sent it to Parker, who made a few minor changes. I then sent it to Don Schlesinger, who did a very thorough proofreading of it. The manual is informative for subscribers and non-subscribers alike. I posted the manual in six sections on the "Computing for Counters" page on the RGE free pages on July 8th. If you would like a copy of the manual in the richer text of Word, which makes it easier to read, email me.

Parker has already invited posters to discuss TJ on the "Computing for Counters" page. You can also direct questions about TJ directly to me at michael@trackjack.com. Questions about subscribing or becoming a paid affiliate to sell TJ subscriptions should be addressed to Viktor. If you are not sure to whom you should send a question about TJ, send it to host@trackjack.com. That way, Viktor and I both will receive it.

There are many more capabilities planned for TJ. I invite you to subscribe, and to participate. I pledge to you to do my very best to make sure you have the most accurate and up to date playing conditions. I welcome your reports, which will help other subscribers. We have some subscribers who send in lengthy and very detailed reports. I am monumentally grateful for such efforts. I know how difficult it is to walk into a casino, and spend time counting tables and finding out which ones have which conditions instead of spending that time playing. I do ask each subscriber to try to get in some little bit of information after they have played. A single bit of information, a confirmation, or even a "Are you sure this is correct?" goes a long way with enough subscribers participating.

In conclusion, I am having a whole lot of fun editing Trackjack, and I would like to acknowledge the following individuals for making this project so rewarding. First and foremost, I want to thank Viktor for bringing me onto TJ. Working with him is a real pleasure. Our conversations are focused on making TJ a success. I would like to express my appreciation to Henry Tamburin, Arnold Snyder, and Don Schlesinger for their compliments about TJ and their support. Don has also directly given me constructive criticisms of the site of which I value greatly. I would also like to thank the subscribers, especially the ones who have reported conditions and made comments on the site and questioned possible errors, and the ones who have emailed me conditions. You guys are #1. You are making TJ the tremendous success that it is becoming.

 

SIMPLIFIED BASIC STRATEGY

BY DAN PRONOVOST

NOTE: This article is now part of the Best of Blackjack Insider e-book publications. CLICK HERE for more information on our new e-book containing this article.

Editors Note: Dan Pronovost is the owner and President of DeepNet Technologies, makers of a wide range of blackjack training products and software. Dan recently released a new e-Book, "Blackjack Count Master", which uses a series of exercises based on his software to teach readers how to master card counting in blackjack. Their web site is: www.HandheldBlackjack.com.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

TUNICA BLACKJACK REPORT

MULTIPLE OPTIONS FOR THE SERIOUS BLACKJACK PLAYER

BY CC RIDER

Don't ask me why, but I just had the urge to see what all this talk about Tunica, Mississippi was all about. I had a whirlwind trip from Friday to Sunday recently to scope out the conditions and facilities, and summarize them for my fellow Blackjack Insider subscribers. There's a lot to report (ten casinos), and a multitude of games at most, so here goes:

Tunica Casinos
All of the casinos are actually in Robinsonville, Mississippi and some have a Tunica address. I had no idea where this was, but believe me, there are enough signs on I-55 to direct you there. The area is about 30 miles or so south of Memphis, so if you fly, Memphis is your best bet, then a rental car. I drove over five hours to get there, so the trip was a bit more arduous than I would have liked.

I've listed the casinos alphabetically, and give you a summary of what I found on the weekend there. For the most part, tables were crowded, especially at night.

Bally's

There were two SD tables that I observed open, ranging from $5-10 minimums to $5,000 max. I saw consistent Ro6 here. The pit scrutinizes any bets above $25, especially with 1 to 4 spreads. DD or 6D seem to be watched much more casually. These tables were VERY crowded at night. This is really not one of the bigger casinos, so if getting a dealer to yourself is your thing, move on down the list, or get up early.


Penetration on the DD is surprisingly good, cut at about 40 cards, but is VERY dealer dependent. All games are H17. SD games won't allow you to resplit, but at DD and 6D you can resplit anything 4 times, including aces (As). Penetration on the 6D shoes looked to be about a deck and a half. There is also Spanish 21 for the uninformed.


Fitzgerald's

This is DD heaven. There must have been 20 tables open when I was there with open spots at many of them. An interesting caveat here: the dealers keep their own tokes, and penetration varies, especially if you put a bet up for them while they shuffle and know how to coax the shuffle card down. I'd say average is about 40 cards or so. Mins are $5 and max bet is $1,000. The Floorpeople are extremely busy when the tables are crowded, so heat is not a major problem, unless you overstay your welcome. With nine other casinos in the area, don't make this mistake. The DD and 6D are all H17 and DAS with no resplit of As. Penetration on the 6D shoes (I just saw a couple of them) seemed to be about 1.5 decks.


Gold Strike

Has two SD games open, H17, and they allow you to resplit As. This place was packed and hard to get on the tables. It appears that their marketing department does a good job keeping a lot of traffic through the casino. The pit crew seemed to be more attentive than other places, so be careful. They watch the SD and DD tables fairly closely, especially when they are not very busy. The two SD tables were $25 mins when I was there, and $5,000 max! Penetration is standard Ro6. DD games are $10-5,000, H17, DAS, RSA, and about 40-45 card pen, somewhat variable. Both the SD and the DD are non-wongable, with "No mid-shoe entry" signs posted. The vast majority of the games are 6D shoes, and they are uniformly, poorly cut at about 1.8-2 decks. Due to the traffic in this place, I played a very short session.


Grand

I visited in the morning and saw two SD tables open and two closed, so I'm assuming at night there are four going. Rules are H17, RSA, but no DAS. Min $10, max $5,000. There were maybe ten DD tables, with H17, DAS, and RSA with no midshoe entry, $10-$5,000. Played here the most and felt no heat at $25-$150, 90 minute sessions. The pen was a little less than a deck, but I did so well, I didn't mind. They have a seemingly endless supply of 6D tables, S17, DAS, RSA, $5-$5,000. Pen looked to be about a deck and a half. This is easily the largest casino in Tunica.


Harrah's

Probably the smallest of the casinos in the area. No SD here, for some reason. They have a decent DD game dealt (about three tables) with H17, DAS, and pen is about 40-42 cards. Min is $10, max $5,000. There are a few 6D and 8D shoes with $5 minimums and the 8D is the only place that allows surrender, but NO ONE does it. I guess the ploppies just aren't aware or don't realize it's offered. The 6 and 8 D shoes cut about 1.5 decks, and are H17, DAS.


Hollywood

I don't know if they are still there, but this was the only place in Tunica where I saw continuous shuffle machines (CSMs). Please, ignore this game! Play DD, SD or stay home, but please don't support this game. (It's just a thing with me.) There are about ten DD tables, half are closed during the day, but packed at night. The DD is H17, DAS, RSA, $5-$500. Pen is pretty consistent at about 40 cards.


Horseshoe

Wow! Single-deck heaven. About fifteen tables at SD, with H17, RSA, $10-$5,000 (but I saw nothing under $25 SD on Saturday night). Sunday morning it went back to $10 minimums. The $25 games were well watched and I saw an advantage player draw two phone calls from the eye-in-the-sky (EITS) after two max bets of $200 with +4 and +6 true counts. He appeared oblivious, or didn't care, and I couldn't wait to see if he was going to get the tap or not. The boss came over and perched at the table, but I had to move on down the road. There are a few DD games, H17, DAS, RSA and $10-$5,000. Pen is variable from what I could see. This one female dealer cut about twenty cards one time, then about forty the next. The first time she had seven cards left after she played her hand! I think this got her nervous and she cut around forty cards thereafter. There are 30 or so 6D games, H17,DAS, RSA, $5-$5,000. Pen appears to be 1.5 decks.


Isle of Capri

This is a joint! The DD game has a fifty-dollar MAXIMUM!!! I failed to realize the sign stating this when I sat down. First hand, I bet $25, count goes to RC of +6. I bump up to $50 and get a snapper, but the RC goes to plus 11 after the hand (TC about +7!) I stack the 5 green and the dealer throws three back to me off of my stack and yells "table max" and gives me a T,T. I look at her as if she had just stolen my money, and she pointed to the sign and said, "Sir, this is a $50 maximum bet game here." Fortunately, she had 19, and I left when the pack was dealt. There are 6D shoes here, too, but don't bother. The only good thing I have to say about the place is that it is S17, but sayonara, baby!


Sam's Town

A smallish place with a couple of single deck tables $25-$5,000, but the dealer said that they are sometime $10 during the day. I didn't see any at night. There are five or six DD $5-$5,000 H17, DAS and no mid-shoe entry games. The majority of the tables are 6D, same rules and average pen. The DD games that I played were dealt fairly deeply, but other times weren't. I called my buddy who plays here frequently and he feels that preferential shuffling (PS) should be watched out for. I only had one positive pack and was shuffled at about 45 cards. It may be my imagination, but the negative packs seemed to be dealt deeper. If you play here, just a word to the wise. If you suspect this, move on. I didn't play SD at all, but especially be leery about PS in this game. If it occurs, it is most assuredly only one or two dealers who are sharp enough to do this.


Sheraton

Only one SD and only one DD that I saw, and there were people (during the day) waiting behind the table to get a spot. Standard rules: H17, RSA on SD and H17, DAS, RSA on DD. SD is $10-200, but midweek day is $5 min. DD is fairly well cut (keep in mind I was spying this from three people deep) at about 35-40 cards. There are about 15-20 6D tables with standard H17, DAS, RSA. I have been told of this being a very "heaty" place, but I saw none of that possibly because of the crowd. The players also seemed to be flat betting.

CC's suggestions:

First, go with more time than I had. I almost wore out the battery on my palm pilot taking notes and didn't have much time to play. However, I would like to come back and play, now that my fact-finding mission is over. The games at the Grand, Hollywood, Fitzgerald's and Horseshoe seem to be the class of the bunch (DD), with Gold Strike about to make the top list. If you are looking for SD games, look no farther than Horseshoe.


Remember the Scoville Blackjack scale of heat is usually inversely proportional to the number of decks dealt, all other things being equal. So, if SD is your game, play short sessions and table-hop.

(Editors note: If you donít know what the Scoville scale is donít feel bad because I didnít either. CC Rider informs me that it is a scale used in culinary circles to judge the heat of the food (eg. chili peppers are 1,000 on the scale, jalapeno peppers are 5,000 and Habanero peppers are like 200,000. CC Riderís "Scoville Blackjack scale of heat" r ranks intrinsic game according to how much Ďheatí you can expect from the pit (e.g., SD>DD>6D>8D).


Well, that's it for this edition. I just returned from a Las Vegas trip and will offer a few comments next time.

Until then, good luck, good counts, good cards, and may every double down be followed by a dealer bust.

CC Rider

ATLANTIC CITY BLACKJACK REPORT

BY ALENE PAONE

 

GOING BACK OVER THE BASICS

If you play basic strategy, that is, the computer-derived strategy for the play of every player hand against every dealer upcard, you will face an approximately one-half percent house edge against Atlantic City blackjack games. All Atlantic City casinos allow doubling on any first two cards; the splitting of pairs; doubling down after splits and insurance. All Atlantic City games have the dealer standing on soft 17 (Ace:6). You will find that from time to time, some casinos will allow the resplitting of pairs up to three times, and, on rare occasions, some casinos will occasionally allow resplitting of aces. As of this writing, no Atlantic City casino allows surrender, although rumor has it that the Claridge might again offer it.

For card counters Atlantic City blackjack is not an easy game to beat. Eight-deck games are the norm; with six-deck games in the high-roller rooms only. Those high roller rooms usually start at $100 minimums, so they are pricey. Even the eight-deck games come with a steep price. You will find very few $5 or even $10 games at night (youíll find some in the daylight, especially the morning hours); and youíll be lucky to find $15 games on the weekends. Atlantic City has a huge feeder market and little competition so there is little incentive to make their games competitive with the best in Nevada or Mississippi.

The following ratings are from the point of view of an advantage player and thus much of a casinoís rating will come from its penetration since that is the single most important variable for a card counter. However, non-counters might want to play in the casinos that are not rated highly. Why? Because with shallow penetration, you play fewer hands per hour and fewer hands per hour means youíll lose less in the long run. For card counters, heads-up games with the dealer are the best possible games; for basic strategy players, the more players at your table the better. Why? Again, youíll play fewer hands. Strangely enough, games that are good for card counters are actually good for the casinos; games that are bad for card counters and casinos are actually good for basic strategy players. Astute blackjack people know this.

For comping purposes, it is also best for basic strategy players to play at full tables as four hours at a full table will significantly reduce your exposure to the house edge but still be worth four hours in comp points from the raters. With that said, hereís a rundown of what Atlantic City has to offer us this August.

Rating system:

***** = Excellent

**** = Very Good

*** = Good

** = Fair

* = Poor

BALLYíS PARK PLACE: Penetration is excellent on the six-deck games in the high-roller pit with standard one-deck cutoffs. The paranoia level is not great here and the pit is friendly. The rest of the casino is the standard AC eight-deck games with penetration that varies but is consistently more than 75-80 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 in August, much less $5 games. Weekends are $15 and up. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 are also available for minimums of $10. Always crowded. ****

CAESARS: Six-deck games with penetration of 75 percent in high-roller room. Rest of tables are eight-deck with 70-75 percent penetration. The $10 tables are at a premium, especially on the weekends, replaced by $15 and $25. Resplitting allowed but you can only split aces once. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! **

CLARIDGE: Park Place Entertainment is firmly in control. The blackjack is still very good by AC standards. The rest of the high-roller action was six-deck games with $50 minimums most days, higher on weekends. Penetration varies but averages above 80 percent. You can resplit pairs up to four hands, including aces, in high-roller room but the rest of the casino, all eight-deckers, doesnít allow resplitting. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available for $10 and up. In my opinion, actually deserves the title "friendliest casino in town" although it doesnít use this moniker in its advertisements anymore. ****

HARRAHíS: The six-deck games have poor penetration of 66 percent in high roller area. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. Rest of casino is eight-decks with 66-70 percent penetration. Harrahís Table Game Guarantee: if the minimums are raised during play, you still get to play your original minimum. *

HILTON: Generally has decent penetration -- in the neighborhood of 75 percent, sometimes more -- from the six-deckers in the high roller room to the eight deckers on the regular floor. Resplitting allowed except aces. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have good penetration for $10. ***

RESORTS: Resorts is doing it right and youíll find good penetration on eight-deck games, consistently in and above the 80 percent zone, dealer dependent, however. Most of the $5 games have become $10 games, even midweek, but this is still a bargain by AC standards. The six-deck games in the high-roller pits are good, coming in at 80-85 percent penetration. Resplitting is allowed at all tables. Casino also offers multiple-action blackjack and Spanish 21 at $10 minimums. Pits are friendly. ****

SANDS: A little over a year ago Sands was the best place to play blackjack in Atlantic City -- maybe ever! It had a few four-deck games and the rest of the casino was six decks -- all with deep penetration. Now the management of Sands has decided to make this the Sassy Sallyís of the East Coast and has converted 90 percent of all its floor space to slots (90 percent is the most allowed by law) Now, Sands has five BJ tables, all eight decks, all with poor penetration. For slot players this place might rate; for table-game players, itís like walking into a funeral home. Paranoia and poor management might cause this place to close. *

SHOWBOAT: Showboat is a good casino for AC BJ players. It is also a bright and cheerful place to play. Six-deck games in the high roller room have standard penetration of 75-80 percent. No resplitting allowed. Eight-deck games have 75-80 percent penetration. Very few $10 tables in summer, mostly $15 and up. ***

TROPICANA: Six-deck games in high-roller room are $100 minimums with 66 percent penetration. Rest of the casino is no better, except these are all eight-deckers. Another slot heaven or hell, depending on how you view the one-armed bandits.*

TRUMP MARINA: Six-deck games in high roller room have penetration based heavily on the individual dealer. Eight-deck games are now at 75 percent mark. Avoid the new Streak Bet, which might not exist as you read this. One table of Multiple Action available at $10 and up. Games are mostly $15/$25 and up, especially on weekends. **

TRUMP PLAZA: Once one of the best games in town, now just average. Six-deck blackjack games in high limit area have 70 percent penetration, sometimes slightly higher. The casino has become top heavy with eight-deck games with penetration ranging from 70 percent to 75 percent on all, depending on the dealer. No midshoe entry on six-deck games but you can find $25 (a few) to $50 minimums on these. Allows resplits, except aces. Most eight-deck tables are $15 and higher. **

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: Six-deck games in high roller room had only 70 percent. The eight-deckers had penetration at 75 percent. Lowest tables are $10/$15 even during midweek. No resplits. Multiple Action, Double Exposure and Spanish 21 are available at $10/$15 minimums and up. **

WILD, WILD WEST: The closest thing to Vegas in Atlantic City! Consistent 75-80 percent penetration throughout the casino but all games are eight-deckers. Most tables were $10/$15. Resplits allowed, except aces. Great atmosphere for gambling. ***

THE BEST BLACKJACK IN ATLANTIC CITY: Ballyís Park Place, Claridge, Resorts.

Editor Note: Alene Paone is the CEO of Paone Press, which sells gaming books and tapes at discount prices. She also writes for www.scoblete.com. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406 or write: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.

 

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LAS VEGAS TRIP REPORT Ė JULY 2002

PART 1

BY LV PRO


Once again the hour arrived to fill the gas tank and pack the car for a six-day, blackjack-playing trip to Las Vegas. This would be the sixth time I ventured to Sin City since I began playing solo again beginning Sept. 2001. The solo style was necessary after some devastating team losses that left my bankroll at a puny $2K. However, since playing solo Iíve managed four winning trips and only one loser. So now my blackjack bankroll stands at $5.4K, with my ultimate goal to push it up to $10K at which point I'd be able to safely play the lovely $25 Strip double deck tables with a decent spread.

I'd been using a $10 unit when playing. I starting with a 1-6 spread during the first few trips, then increased it to 1-8, and lately I'd max bet at two hands of $50 each. I was still
operating at a Risk of Ruin of over 16.5%...a number that I'd like to reduce considerably. My hourly win expectation was $24 per 100 hands and I expected to get in 25-30 hours over the trip.

I arrived at my Vegas hotel in 3 hours 50 minutes from Los Angeles. Decent time but by no means a personal best as the three or four 55 mph construction zones on Highway 15 made me slow down from my usual breakneck pace. After unpacking, I scouted my hotel's games. There were a few good tables but they were all full. This place had recently switched some DD tables to continuous shufflers with six decks. Two decks would drop out of the machine, get dealt, and then they were placed back in to be remixed with the other four undealt decks. You'd have to be a moron to play those games.

I drove to Treasure Island and found two of the four double deck tables in the main (H17) pit were $10 minimums near the end of swing shift. I bought in for $200 and played alone for the whole hour, just me and the dealer. I was down to my last $35 in chips and then I staged a mini-rally to recover my entire buy in plus $100 profit, without having to dig in for more cash. I used a mild spread of $10-$65 to get my feet wet as I re-acclimated myself into the familiar rhythm of this wonderful, maddening game.

Even though low stakes blackjack conditions in Las Vegas doesnít get much more perfect than this 70% pen table, I quit after only one hour in the interest of preserving my longevity. As this place has been and continues to be my favorite DD venue in town, I didn't want to give the pit or the Eye too long a look at my game.

My bet scheme was planned as follows: I'd come off the top with a bet of $10, $15 or $20 and stay at that level until a True Count of plus two where I'd increase my bet to $30 or $35. At plus three the bet was $50; at plus 4 I'd bet $75; and at plus 5 the bet would be two hands of $50. Sometimes I'd bet $60 or $40 instead of $50, just so my bets wouldn't look so rigid. I tried to look like a lucky gambler on a streak who chips up after wins, so sometimes the bet amount wouldn't quite conform to my original bet scheme, but it would be close to the optimal, and true enough to form in the long run.

During negative counts I'd sometimes chip up from $10 to $15 and back down again depending on whether I'd won or lost the previous hand. If the count got too negative early in the deck(s) I'd take a bathroom break or fake answering a cell phone call. As most of you know, in casinos you must step away from the table to use a cell phone.

I still used my balanced level one Silver Fox count which is similar to Hi-Lo except you count the sevens with the low cards as +1, and the nines with the 10's and aces as -1. This count's betting, playing and insurance numbers compared favorably with Hi-Lo, plus the additional cards that are counted make counting easier since there were more pairs of cards that net out to zero. The only card you'd ignore is the eight, and I find it slightly more difficult to ignore a card than to count it. Plus I have been using this counting system for over three years and I am totally comfortable with it. I used around 60 index plays, mostly hit/stand and double down; no pair split or soft doubling. I also used Don Schlesinger's Fab Four for surrender.

I've received emails suggesting I should upgrade to a level two count like Zen, which would be slightly more accurate but more complicated to use. I always reply by telling them what Stanford Wong (SW) told me the first time I met him. It was at the Peter Griffin tribute at the Gambler's Book Store in December 1998. I was introduced to SW and told him I had read his books and was just starting out using the Silver Fox count. He told me that "you don't need a complicated level two or three count system with hundreds of index numbers to memorize. Any decent count will get the money. The important thing in blackjack is to know when you have the advantage, know how much of an advantage you have, and to get the money out on the table."

How's that for the pure, unvarnished essence of wisdom from the mouth of the master? I've always followed his advice and I hope you do also.

I played my hotel's $10 DD game for an hour and won another $100. I played heads up, and then one other player joined the table. We got a decent 65% cut and I used the full $10-$100 spread. After lunch and a nap, I played the same table again, this time getting only 60% pen, but won another $100. Three small wins in a row had put me $300 ahead from the get go. Later I played this table twice more, losing $155 and then winning $5 to put me at a trip total of plus $150. That $5 win was a nail biter. I was in for $245 and down to just a few chips when the cards turned in my favor and I was able to win it all back.

In between sessions, I made sure to be in my room to watch the local LV news on KLAS Channel 8. They had a three part series on card counters in Las Vegas and how they were claiming lately that the casinos were abusing them with uncalled for handcuffing, back rooming and intimidation tactics. I watched as three card counters were interviewed on camera, two of whom I know. Victor Nacht of RGE.com wore a baseball cap, beard and sunglasses, as did David Matthews, a friend of mine who administers Stanford Wong's BJ21.com website. But Eliot Jacobson, another friend whom I had dinner with a few months ago, wore no disguise at all. I couldn't believe he would take absolutely no precautions to preserve his playing career. All he had to do was don a cap and sunglasses and the casinos would have a hard time identifying him from his televised image. One of his statements was along the lines of "if the casinos see fit to bar me from play as a result of this interview, then so be it." At first I was actually kind of dumbfounded that this fine advantage player and friend of mine would appear on camera without any attempt to disguise his true identity. And Elliot is a professor of Computer Science who teaches programming at a major California UniversityÖ.not exactly your typical dumb gambler. Now he might have to wear disguises when he plays blackjack in the future if he hopes to preserve his playing longevity.

On the other hand it's a real nervy position to take. Eliot must really hate injustice to the point where he's willing to sacrifice his playing career to get the message out for the greater good. You've got to respect that kind of commitment. And you know what? Most likely he'll be able to play blackjack in Las Vegas with very few hassles in the future, as these interviews will probably be long forgotten. That's like having your cake and eating it too. Viva Eliot!

After a frustrating two-hour break even session at TI the next morning, I made my usual pilgrimage to the Gambler's Book Store. I talked to Howard Schwartz about the news series that I watched. He said the TV crew had been to the store yesterday and filmed him for an interview that would air in part 3 of the series that evening. I missed the broadcast, but was able to see it on the website later. Howard warns the casinos that the recent trend towards gimmick games, like single deck games that pay only 6-5 and Super Fun 21, were alienating many long time blackjack players. Also the intimidation tactics being used against card counters was counterproductive and would lead to lawsuits and bad publicity. Since blackjack is the one game that a skilled player can beat in the long run, it's in the casinos interest to keep this "myth" alive. That's why so many gamblers play blackjack (because it can be beat) although very few of them can actually beat it long term. According to Howard, the casinos are shooting themselves in the foot with their payoff tightening gimcrack games and hard-nosed intimidation tactics.

If you want to read the text here's the link:

http://www.klastv.com/Global/category.asp?C=8032&nav=168X1MaV30nI


Scroll down the page to "Card Counters Claim They're Getting a Raw Deal."

From the GBC I drove downtown to play my last Golden Gate "blackjacks pay 2-1 for one hour" coupon. The first table I sat at was an empty $3 double decker. I lost the first 5 or 6 hands and then two girls joined me so I moved. Why do gals always think a man will be happy if they join his table? Ironic that the smart guys a gal would consider worth having are the exact ones that don't welcome them.

After a second change of tables, I finally found an idle table where the dealer seemed to be busting way more often than the standard 28% of the time. I played heads up for the entire hour, flat betting quarters mostly, although I did make a few $75 bets. As you may know, the Golden Gate coupons pay 2-1 on naturals only up to $25. If the pit and dealer are paying attention, on a $75 bet I would get $50 for my first $25 and $75 (standard 3-2) on the remaining $50. A few months ago I got paid the full 2-1 on one $50 and one $60 bet with the pit gal looking right at the payoffs. I didn't get any blackjacks on those $75 bets this time, but I won my fair share of them. After the hour was over, I colored up with a nice $400 win and a coffee shop comp.

Then I went to the Plaza and played one hand with a $25 matchplay bet, which I lost. I have two more matchplay coupons, which I'll return to play some other time as there was only one pit open and the floorman was hawking my play. So I was only able to play the one coupon on this session. But that's OK since you only have to win one of three hands to break even.

After some shopping for my girlfriend on the Fremont Street Promenade, I joined two other guys at a $5 single decker at the Las Vegas Club. We got three rounds to three players. Then a young Latino kid sat at third base, which reduced the pen to two rounds to four. You're not allowed to spread to two hands on the last (or any) round if you started the deck playing only one hand.

Even though I resented the kid at third base, and secretly rooted for him to lose quickly and depart, I found out I'm not as ruthless as I thought. Soon, with his last few chips stacked in the bet circle, he looked at his hand and saw a pair of aces against a dealer 8 up. Rather than reach in his pocket for more cash to cover the split, he just hit the hand. He got a 7. When he hesitated and looked like he was about to hit again, I involuntarily blurted out, "Whatta ya doing? You got 19." He thanked me, tucked them, and went on to win the hand, enabling him to stay longer at the table.

I guess my inbred empathy for the players - even the ones cluttering up my table - runs too deep to deliberately let him make stupid mistakes. I still wanted him to get lost though. He finally did leave, breaking even. Me? After all that fuss, I won $50 to put me at plus $600 for the trip.

Later while parking my car, I noticed the brake pedal sinking all the way to the floorboard. It turned out I needed a master cylinder. While waiting for them to finish the repair, I hung out at my buddy Stu's house, checking email on his computer, etc. Most of the day went by without my being able to get in any play. On the drive back to the Strip, I managed to get in a late afternoon session at Barley's where I played my three $20 matchplays with not a peep out of the pit about how many you're allowed to play per day. I lost all three of them in a 30-minute session in which the DD pen stayed at 50%. I tried to wait for high counts to play the coupons so as to reduce the variance but lousy cards coupled with lousy pen had the predictable result. I lost $140 here and quit, refusing to play any longer at this waste-o-time game. Too bad this month's Current BlackJack News wasn't too accurate in having reported that the DD pen here had improved. Like I always say, you have to observe each casino, pit and table on your own without depending too much on the published reports. Usually you're pleasantly surprised to find better pen than reported - or maybe your selective memory just recalls those instances more than the disappointing ones like this Barley's game.

After that I stopped and played at Casino Royale's (CR) $10 DD table. I was with one other player. At one point, Marvin the floorman walked by the table while the count was up. He said lightheartedly, "Bet up boys. Look at all those little cards." Laughing, I took his advice and won the hand. He seemed indifferent about the fact that anyone might be counting while playing their nice little double deck game. I hope they maintain that attitude for a long time.

After winning $125 at CR, I finally drove out to the Suncoast. I had three of the "3-1 on any blackjack up to $25" coupons I'd been saving. It was Saturday night in Vegas and all venues were too crowded to make any money using straight counting so this was the perfect time to travel to an outlying casino. The Suncoast was also crowded, but this becomes an advantage if you're cruising between pits to try to play all three coupons in one visit. The way the Suncoast casino is laid out is also perfect for this tactic as it's a long series of parallel pits where the floormen on one end cannot see too much beyond their own little station so there was little danger of anyone seeing me try to play multiple coupons.

I've started using more self-parking and less valet these days. I want to familiarize myself with the layouts of the casino parking lots. This is not simply so I don't have to wait for my car although time is certainly a factor. When I move up to green play, I'll have to be more careful. I've read several reports about casino security personnel following advantage players (who have refused to produce ID) to the valet pickup area and writing down their license numbers. As I save a lot of car rental money by driving my own vehicle to LV, I don't want my car license number to be tagged nor have any casino identify me this way and put my real name or photo in an "undesirable" database.

The visit to the Suncoast couldn't have been more perfect. I sat down at the first table, produced the coupon and proceeded to flat bet green chips. I won the first two hands. The third hand was a blackjack. Up $125 in three hands. I moved to another table. This time I got the snapper in four hands. Up $200. The third table had two players moaning about the dealer's luck. It took me all of five hands to get the natural this time. Now up $250 for 20 minutes work, I cashed out and left, as I normally wouldn't be caught dead playing straight up against this inferior 50% pen DD game.

I decided to check out Santa Fe Station. I hadn't visited this place since Stations Casinos bought them. I knew their old single deck game was gone, but perhaps I could find some decent double deck if I took the time and trouble to drive up there.

During the drive I thought about what had happened so far now that I was at the halfway point of the trip. I had started with several small wins and had never been in the minus column at all. The $400 win at Golden Gate had been the key session that had placed me within easy reach of being ahead by $1K. I had played just over 12 hours in less than three days though I knew once the weekend was over I'd play more hours each day. So there was the whole second half of the trip still in front of me.

To be continued.

***********************************************************************
BLACKJACK NEWS

BY HENRY TAMBURIN

Here are highlights of whatís happening in the world of blackjack.

  1. Several Las Vegas strip casinos offer single deck games that pay only 6 to 5 on blackjack. On a $10 bet you would be paid only $12 for a blackjack (compared to $15 on a traditional 3 to 2 payout). The casinoís edge in this game is about 1.4%. Ballyís even advertised the game on their marquee (shame, shame). You definitely want to stay away from this game.
  2. A couple of Las Vegas casinos offer a fake 2-deck blackjack game (Las Vegas Club, Imperial Palace). Hereís how this deception works. Six decks are automatically shuffled but only two of the six decks are played in what looks like (from the playerís perspective) as a double deck hand held game. If you are an advantage player you are essentially playing a 6-deck game with only 30% penetration. Even though there is a sign on the table that states "multi-deck game", most players are confused by what that means (hey, isnít a 2-deck game a multi-deck game?).
  3. Harrahís Cherokee casino in the mountains of North Carolina recently installed several Digital 21 blackjack tables. Up till then the casino was forbidden by state law to offer table games (the casino only has slot and video machines plus some video blackjack, craps and roulette and keno games). However Digital 21 uses a live dealer and electronic cards on a regulation size blackjack table. Preliminary reports from players indicate that the game uses 6 decks, 50% penetration, doubling only on 10 and 11, split up to 3 hands (no resplit on aces), dealer hits soft 17, and no double after pair splitting. The Trackjack edge calculator (www.trackjack.com) computes the house edge against the basic strategy player for this game at 0.936% (ouch!).
  4. Attendance at the Las Vegas Hiltonís Million-Dollar blackjack tournament has increased since the Hilton guaranteed in writing that all of the prize money will be given away. The number of players in the monthly satellite tournaments have been 95 (April), 66 (May), 115 (June) and 105 (July). Anthony Curtis (Las Vegas Advisor) and A. Tinker Bell (Blackjack Forum) report that if less than 160 participants show up for a monthly tournament then itís an overlay (i.e. if you can afford the $1,000 entry fee and less than 160 show up to play in any month, then the playerís mathematical expectation is positive). The August issue of Blackjack Confidential magazine has details on the June tournament including the detailed play-out of the last few hands in the final round plus a list of the names of finalists that have so far made it to the million dollar championship round. Several blackjack luminaries have competed to date including Anthony Curtis (twice), Eddie Olsen (Blackjack Confidential magazine), and Ken Smith (www.blackjackinfo.com). Itís been reported that Stanford Wong will be entering the August tournament. Your truly will also give it a shot in the fall.
  5. Speaking of Stanford Wong, he is opening up an office/warehouse in Las Vegas. he is planning an open house sometime in August. Check www.bj21.com for details.
  6. Terribleís casino in Las Vegas is offering blackjack players a 5-10% rebate on their losses. For example, you can get up to $500 in losses returned if you are a $25 bettor. There are specific playing requirements and some restrictions (i.e., if they suspect you are card counting, you wonít get paid) so get all the details beforehand.
  7. Arnold Snyder has sold RGE publishing including www.rge21.com to Victor Nacht. Victor is continuing to operate www.rge21.com (if you havenít been there, check it out, itís an excellent site for all blackjack players). Huntington Press (a.k.a. Anthony Curtis) will take over publishing the Blackjack Forum, and Snyder will continue as editor-in-chief of the well-known quarterly publication.
  8. Michael Shackelford reported in the July issue of Casino Player magazine that the best blackjack game on the Internet at the moment is the Boss Media Version 1 game. Rules include: one deck, dealer stands on soft 17, double down on any two cards and after pair splitting, European no-hole card against dealer ace, and insurance. Shackelford calculates that the player has a slight edge of 0.07% in this game.
  9. The new game Blackjack Switch is coming to the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. In this unique game you make two bets and play two hands. After the initial two cards are dealt to each hand, you have the option to "switch" the two top cards from one hand to the other or to "stay" with the original two hands. The game then plays as a traditional blackjack game. Having the opportunity to switch the two cards makes for some interesting playing strategy (for example, is your expectation on the two original hands better or worse than the new hands you create by switching the top cards). You can try the game at www.blackjackswitch.com.

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BLACKJACK MINI-TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

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: Oasis (1-800-621-0187)

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

Sparks, NV: Baldiniís (1-800-845-7911)

Laughlin, NV: Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777); Pioneer (1-800-634-3469); Riverside (1-888-733-5946)

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)

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

Longview, WA: Cadillac Ranch Casino (1-877-773-5874)

Tacoma, WA: Emerald Queen (1-888-831-7655)

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

Tuesday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); J. W. Marriott (1-877-869-8777); Terribles (1-800-640-9777)

Henderson, NV: Fiesta (1-888-899-7770)

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)

Kenner, LA: Treasure Chest (1-800-298-0711

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

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

Tunica, MS: Samís Town (1-800-456-0711)

St. Joseph, MO: St. Jo Frontier (1-800-888-2946)

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

Harris, MI: Chipís-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)

Tacoma, WA: Emerald Queen (1-888-831-7655)

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

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

Wednesday

Las Vegas, NV: Terribles (1-800-640-9777)

Henderson, NV: Green Valley Ranch (1-866-617-7770)

Laughlin, NV: River Palms Resort (1-800-835-7904); Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777); Riverside (1-888-733-5946)

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

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

Kenner, LA: Treasure Chest (1-800-298-0711

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)

Council Bluffs, IA: Ameristar (1-877-462-7827)

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

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

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

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

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)

San Felipe: Hollywood (1-877-529-2946)

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)

Quebec, Canada: Casino de Montreal (1-800-665-2274)

Longview, WA: Cadillac Ranch Casino (1-877-773-5874)

Thursday

Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); J. W. Marriott (1-877-869-8777); Fiesta Rancho (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: Terribleís Town (1-888-845-7911)

Rock Island, IL: Junerís 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)

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

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

New Orleans, LA: Ballyís (1-800-572-2559)

Biloxi, MS: Imperial Palace (1-800-436-3000)

Lula, MS: Isle of Capri (1-800-789-5825)

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); Riverside (1-888-733-5946)

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

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

Sparks, NV: John Ascuagaís 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); President (1-800-624-3000)

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

Inglewood, CA: Hollywood Park (1-800-888-4972)

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: Baldiniís (1-800-845-7911)

Deadwood, SD: Miss Kittyís (1-800-668-8189); First Gold (1-800-274-1876)

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

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

Deadwood, SD: 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)

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

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

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

Ontario, Cananda: Kewadin (1-800-539-2346)

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

Gardena, CA: Normandie (1-880-994-6637)

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont: Sault Ste. Marie (1-800-826-8946)

 

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

BLACKJACK MAJOR TOURNAMANT SCHEDULE

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) Ė 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 casinoís slot club. Prizes for Canadian tournaments are in Canadian currency.

 

Date Location Entry #Decks Prizes More Information

Aug. 8 Jumerís free six $5K/$2.5K 1-800-477-8946

Rock Island, IL

Aug. 8-10 LV Hilton $1K six $57K/$20K 1-800-457-3307

Las Vegas, NV

Aug. 8-10 Beau Rivage free* six $125K/$85K 1-800-760-3354

Biloxi, MS

Aug. 12-14 Ramada Express $99 single $29.5K/$10K 1-800-343-4533

Laughlin, NV

Aug. 12-15 Stardust free* two $125K/$100K 1-888-271-1777

Las Vegas, NV

Aug. 13 Mystic Lake $100 six $22K/$10K 1-800-262-7799

Prior Lake, MI

Aug. 15-16 Frontier $300 six $70K/$30K 1-800-421-7806

Las Vegas, NV

Aug. 16 Shooting Star $75 six $10.5K/$4.2K 1-800-453-7827

Mahnomen, MN

Aug. 16-17 Colorado Belle $10 six $35/0.5K 1-877-460-0777

Laughlin, NV

Aug. 16-17 Excalibur free* six $20K/$10K 1-800-879-1379

Las Vegas, NV

Aug. 17 Atlantis free* six $50K/$25K 1-800-752-9711

Paradise Island, Nassau

Aug. 23-25 Grand $1K six $300K/$120K 1-800-550-4473

Robinsonville, MS

Aug. 23-25 Samís Town free* two $20K/$10K 1-800-456-0711

Robinsonville, MS

Aug. 25 Turning Stone free* eight $25K/$10K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

Sept. 5 Ballyís free* six $10K/$5K 1-800-572-2559

New Orleans, LA

Sept. 5-8 L.V. Hilton $499 six $50K/$20K 1-800-457-3307

Las Vegas, NV

Sept. 8 Grand $30 four TBD 1-800-472-6321

Hinckley, MN

Sept. 9 Turning Stone $25 six $8.4K/$2.5K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

Sept. 12 Silver Smith free* single $5K/? 1-800-354-3672

West Wendover, NV

Sept. 12-14 L.V. Hilton $1K six $57.5K/$20K 1-800-457-3307

Las Vegas, NV

Sept. 13-15 Casino Magic $250 six $50K/$25K 1-800-562-4425

Biloxi, MS

Sept. 13-15 Royal Oasis free* six $20K/$10K 1-800-432-2294

Freeport, Grand Bahama

Sept. 20-21 Ballyís $500 six $125K/$50K 1-800-382-2559

Robinsonville, MS

Sept. 21 River Palms $99 two $10.5K/$5K 1-888-298-2242

Laughlin, NV

Sept. 22-24 Edgewater $129 single $20K/$10K 1-800-289-8777

Laughlin, NV

Sept. 22-25 Ballyís free* six $60K/$25K 1-800-634-3434

Las Vegas, NV

Sept. 24-26 Foxwoods free* six $30K/$5K 1-800-752-9244

Ledyard, CT

Sept. 26 Silversmith free* single $5K/? 1-800-354-3672

West Wendover, NV

Sept 30 de Montreal $250 six $52.5/$15K 1-800-665-2274

Montreal, Quebec

Oct. 7 Turning Stone $25 six $8.4K/$2.2K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

Oct. 10-12 L.V. Hilton $1K six $57.5/$20K 1-800-457-3307

Las Vegas, NV

Oct. 11 Silversmith free* single $5K/? 1-800-354-3672

West Wendover, NV

Oct. 11-14 Harrahís free* six $43K/$20K 1-800-392-9002

Las Vegas, NV

 

Other planned tournaments:

Oct. 17-20 Beau Rivage, Biloxi (1-800-760-3354

Oct. 21-24 Stardust, Las Vegas (1-888-271-1777)

Oct. 26027 Jackpot Junction, Morton, MN (1-800-946-2274)

Nov. 9-12 Imperial Palace, Biloxi (1-800-436-3000)

Dec. 2-5 Stardust, Las Vegas (1-888-271-1777)

Dec. 5-6 New Frontier, Las Vegas (1-800-421-7806)

Dec. 20-22 Pioneer, Laughlin (1-800-634-3469)

Future dates for the satellite tournaments in the $1MM blackjack tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton (1-800-457-3307) are:

Nov. 14-16

Dec. 19-21

Jan. 9-12, 2003

Feb. 6-8, 2003

March 6-8, 2003

Final round: April 10-12, 2003

To enter or for details call 1-800-457-3307.

 

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

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

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 Expertsí 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.

Dan Pronovost is the owner and President of DeepNet Technologies, makers of a wide range of blackjack training products and software. Dan recently released a new e-Book, "Blackjack Count Master", which uses a series of exercises based on his software to teach readers how to master card counting in blackjack. Their web site is: www.HandheldBlackjack.com.

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.

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, Midwest Gaming & Travel Magazine, The Gambler magazine, Gaming South 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.

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.

Riverboat Flyer is a low stakes blackjack player. He plays the southern Ohio riverboats along with frequent trips to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tunica and occasionally Lake Tahoe. He has been counting cards for over ten years, using the Hi-Op, High Low and currently the Half count system.

Michael Shackelford, a.k.a. "The Wizard of Odds", has twenty years of computer programming 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 doesnít.

Mr. Pit Boss is a seasoned veteran who has worked in the casino industry for over a decade on the Las Vegas strip. He has experience in all casino games.

The Mayor has been beating casinos since 1966. He uses "Wong Halves" at the low green betting level, and playís mainly double deck and shoe games in Las Vegas, making 6-8 trips a year. Formerly a Professor of Mathematics in the Midwest, he now works in Computer Science in California. The Mayor hosts the web site www.cardcounter.com, which contains his "Card Counting Computer" and Blackjack essays.


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