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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, November 2001, #24


We’ve got lots of good advice in this issue of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter that can help you become a better blackjack player. For starters, Fred Renzey describes how to use "Hand Interaction", which is one of the most ignored advantage techniques for blackjack players (and you won’t find it in any blackjack book). Is learning one basic strategy OK for all games? Alene Paone answers this question in her timely article on "There Are Mistakes and Then There Are Mistakes". Our skilled Las Vegas blackjack reporter, Captain John, gives us a tour of the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino and reports on blackjack playing conditions there and also at the Mirage and Golden Nugget casinos. Out newest reporter, Riverboat Flyer gives us the scoop on the blackjack games offered in the Cincinnati area (Argosy, Grand Victoria, Belterra, and Caesars casinos). We also have the results of LV Pro’s latest trip to Sin City that includes not only the details of his marathon 27 hours of play, but also a glimpse of the infamous Green Chip Party. Did LV Pro win, again? I’ll let you find out for yourself. Enjoy the newsletter and the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Ready, set, let’s go ….

Henry Tamburin


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

nm = no mid game entry

nrs = no resplits

csm = continuous shuffle machine

pen = penetration = The fraction of cards in a pack that the dealer will deal before reshuffling.

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.





Okay, so you're not a card counter. You know your basic strategy to a tee however, and can give the house a legitimate run for its money. Still you wish there were something extra you could do, short of counting cards, to improve your overall chances in the game. Well, there is! It probably won't convert you to an overall favorite, but it sure will eat into that last half percent of disadvantage you face as a basic strategy player.

You may not know it, but every time you play blackjack, edges come your way. You just have to possess enough blackjack card sense to recognize them -- and take advantage. A seldom thought of way to seize an edge on a blackjack situation is something called "Hand Interaction".

I've never read about hand interaction strategy in any blackjack book. It might be the most ignored advantage technique in the game. Yet, opportunities to use it come up several times a day. Take a look at the following illustration.

10/8 8/3

Your hand doesn't matter in this scenario. But the player at 1st base has $50 riding on his hand and has foolishly decided to double down for less and wagered only an extra $25. Knowing nothing else, you know this: He's a 6-5 favorite to win the hand! That's a 9% edge! Get your own $25 chip over there and take up the rest!

Doubling down for less than the maximum is always wrong, mostly because it doesn't optimize a favorable situation. Nevertheless, many players chicken-out on what they know is right and consequently "double for less". Always try to move in and complete it to the full amount whenever a player at your table does this in a proper doubling situation.

Now here's something you probably never thought about, so read slowly.

Some improper doubles are improper only because they win less often than by just hitting -- but still win more often than they lose. An excellent example is given in the following illustration:

10/8 5/4

The 1st base player on your right has $50 wagered on his hand. He's pretty sure that doubling with 9 against a 7 is not right, but he's won the last three or four in a row. So he decides to press his run and doubles for less, setting an extra $25 chip next to his first bet. You should immediately toss him a green chip and say, "Man you're hot -- I'll take the other $25 and go with you on it!" Why? Is it because he's hot?? Get real! It's because doubling with 9 against a 7 is wrong only because you have the option to just hit it instead. That's because hitting will win 59% of the time, whereas doubling will win just 53%. But as a bystander, you have a chance to jump in cold on a 53% shot. Never pass that up -- it's a 6% edge! You can't find that lying in the street!

Also, many times a player will hesitate, thinking of doubling but not being quite sure. At times like these, you should offer to make the entire double for him if it's a proper basic strategy double down -- as well as any improper double from the list below. The percentage figure to the right of each hand tells you your edge on that bet.

8 vs. 5 up +1% A/3 vs. 4 up +3%
8 vs. 6 up +5% A/7 vs. 2 up +6%
9 vs. 2 up +4% A/8 vs. 3 up +15%
9 vs. 7 up +6% A/8 vs. 4 up +18%
11 vs. A up +6% A/8 vs. 5 up +21%
A/2 vs. 4 up +3% A/8 vs. 6 up +24%

Splitting pairs is a lot trickier. I'm sure you understand that when you split two 8's against a face card you're an underdog on each 8. Splitting them is correct only because 8 against a 10 will lose less than half as much money as 16 against a 10. Hence, for the player who's stuck with the hand it's cheaper to play 8 against a 10 twice, rather than 16 against a 10 once. Many other pair splits are like this also. Consequently, several correct basic strategy pair splits should be avoided by a bystander who has the option to invest or not invest. Many of these look attractive but are money losers! Here's an example:

10/8 7/7

The player with the pair of 7's knows that splitting is the right play, but doesn't have enough money left to do so. Preferring not to play the 14, he asks if you would like to put up the extra bet and play one of his 7's. These opportunities come up all the time. Should you take it?

The answer is, not in this spot! Why? Because if you did, you'd have only a 46% chance to win your bet. That's not what you want! Then why is it correct basic strategy to split a pair of 7's against the 3 in the first place, you ask? Because a 14 will win only 38% of the time against a 3 up, and 46% is a lot better than 38%. As is the case with so many pairs, you split them merely to reduce your loss. But as a bystander, you have no loss to reduce, so you should just stay out of this one.

Then how can you benefit from hand interaction involving pair splits? Easy! The next time you have that pair of 7's against a 3, ask the guy next to you if he wants one of your 7's. If he takes it, you'll be pawning off a negative liability and saving 8% of your original bet. You should attempt this move any time you have one of the following pairs.

2/2 vs. 2, 3 or 7 4% to 1%
3/3 vs. 2, 3 or 7 7% to 3%
6/6 vs. 2, 3 or 4 10%to 1%
7/7 vs. 2, 3 or 7 7% to 4%

The following splits however, will all win more often than they'll lose and you should take a piece of them if you can. Note that the list includes (in parentheses) some pair splits that are incorrect basic strategy plays because although they earn less money when they're split, they still win more often than they lose. You should grab a piece of that action too if a bad player makes one of those splits.

2/2 vs. 4, 5 or 6 +2% to +10%
3/3 vs. 4, 5 or 6 +2% to +9%
4/4 vs. 5 or 6 +5% to +8%
6/6 vs. 5 or 6 +4% to +6%
7/7 vs. 4, 5 or 6 +2% to +10%
8/8 vs. 2 thru 7 +2% to +16%
9/9 vs. 2- 6, 8 & 9 +10% to +22%
(9/9 vs. 7) +18%
(10/10 vs anything) +2% to +28%
A/A vs. anything +6% to +34%

How else can you gain an edge from another player's hands? One of the most frequent is when somebody has blackjack and the dealer's got an Ace up. You know that player will most likely take "even money" which is a nice edge for the house. But if you can beat the dealer to it, go right ahead and blurt out, "I don't think she's got it this time -- here, I'll buy your hand for even money". Then toss him the amount of his bet. If he takes it, he also gets to keep his original bet for an even money profit. You'll either get back 1.5 bets from the dealer or you'll get nothing. But the times you get 1.5 bets will cover the price you paid in the long run, plus give you a 4% profit. In fact, if the player's bet is $50 or more, you can afford to offer him a $1 bonus by paying him $51 for his $50 blackjack and still have nearly a 2% edge on the deal. Not many players will turn down better than even money, guaranteed, for their blackjacks.

This next one is a personal favorite of mine. Look at the following example.

10/8 10/9

The player on your right has been losing and losing, and has a $50 bet out there. He's been dealt a pat 19, but the dealer has a 10 up. Because most typical gamblers wrongly believe that the dealer usually has a 10 in the hole, this player is half expecting to lose again, this time to the dealer's pat 20. In truth however, a player's 19 is an 8-7 favorite against a dealer's 10 up, once it's been determined that she hasn't got a blackjack. What I'll sometimes do in this situation is say something like, "I think your 19 is good this time. Here, I'll lay the bookie's vig for your hand", and toss him $55. What I've done is paid him 11 to 10 odds on his bet and bought an 8-7 favorite. That leaves me with a 1.8% net edge. If 1.8% doesn't sound like enough to you let me remind you that professional card counters operate on an edge of around 1% -- usually less.

Okay, so how much can all this hand interacting help your game? It depends. The typical interaction play gains or saves about 8%. If you can pick up three plays an hour, each for about the same amount as your own average bet, that will net you about a 0.25% gain over your current position in the game without interaction. If you're a straight basic strategist playing to a 0.50% disadvantage in a shoe game, this will cut your deficit in half.

Editor's Note: Fred Renzey is an "advantage" blackjack player and author of the critically acclaimed "Blackjack Bluebook", a clearly detailed 188 page strategy manual for casino "21". For your copy, send $16.99 to Blackjack Bluebook, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009.



Is there such a thing as a perfect basic strategy that fits all blackjack games? Savvy players know that there is not. Single-deck games with "X" rules will have slightly different strategies than single-deck games with "Y" rules. The same goes for multiple-deck games. If you are playing a six-deck game where you can double after splits, you’ll split those 4s against a dealer’s 5 and 6; if you can’t double after splitting, you’ll just hit that eight composed of two 4s when the dealer has his weak 5 or 6 facing you.

Yet, most gaming gurus don’t recommend that you learn every possible basic strategy for every possible blackjack game. That would be daunting and, for the occasional player, largely a waste of time. Only the professional or semipro player might want to do that or the fixated hobbyist. So, if many players are not playing perfectly are they still playing correctly? Yes.

Slight alterations in basic strategy do not affect the occasional player’s long-term expectation all that much. If you never learned the strategy for proper splitting of 4s and thus you never split fours, you won’t be killing yourself. A pair of 4s against a 5 or 6 in any blackjack game is not that frequent an occurrence. There will be games where splitting them would be right (and not doing so will be a mistake) and there will be games where not splitting them is the correct move (and here you will be playing correctly).

However, there are some hands that are always played a certain way, regardless of what type of game you’re playing. Thus, hitting a 12 against a dealer’s 2 or 3 is always the right move (for a basic strategy player, not a card counter); and hitting a two-card 16 against a dealer’s 10 is also the correct move in just about every blackjack game. Hitting A7 against a dealer’s 9,10 or Ace is also the best move in all blackjack games. Splitting 8s against all dealer upcards, including 10 and Ace, is also the only right move to make.

The most frequent mistakes made by otherwise decent players often occur on the above strategies. There is something about those 12s against a dealer’s upcard of 2 or 3 that makes strong men tremble and stand on the hand. Some players dread splitting 8s against a dealer’s 10 because they fear they’ll get two 10s and wind up with two 18s and the dealer will turn over a 10 in the hole -- and now they’ve lost two bets, instead of one. So they don’t split and instead either hit or stand on their 16. Still other players look at an A7 and think: "Hey, I have an 18, not a bad hand. Why should I hit it and probably make it worse?" So they stand.

But the computers that have figured out the correct basic strategy decisions don’t lie and these computers also don’t feel fear. When the computer says that the best way to play a hand is thus and such, then you should play the hand exactly that way. Although some basic strategy decisions are close (that 12 vs. 2 or 3) and deviations are not that costly, the more hands where you start to deviate from the tried and true, the worse your overall game will be. Remember this, the totality of your decisions is the key to winning money (or losing less money) at blackjack. The more right decisions you make the better for you and your bankroll.

Some mistakes are inherent in utilizing one basic strategy against all blackjack games; these are inevitable. But some mistakes are merely the product of fear or rationalization; these are not inevitable and should be corrected.

Editors Note: Alene Paone runs Paone Press, a mailorder 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.



The Las Vegas Scene is continuing to change. The Palms Casino opened November 15th in competition with the Mandalay Bay and Hard Rock casinos for the younger gambler. Strip casinos are replacing more of the "Stand on Soft 17" rule with the player unfavorable "Hit on Soft 17" rule. Many tables are shut down during the week to decrease dealer and pit staff. This results in many good games being closed and crowded tables at the games remaining open. Finding good games during the week is now as difficult as finding good conditions on crowded weekends.

Casino management appears to be lowering their requirements for comped players. Air travel from the Far East is way down, with High-Limit games suffering. Casino profits are decreasing resulting in more attention being given to the green and black chip player. Advantage blackjack players should be able to get better comps if they can stay under the casino’s radar.

Dealers and pit personnel are being fired or reduced to temporary employment. Many dealers are working hard to hang on to their jobs by following strict compliance with procedures. Surveillance personnel are on the lookout for increased employee theft due to the uncertainty of their jobs. However, surveillance personnel are also being reduced which decreases the number of eyes available to monitor your play at the tables.

Many new games have been introduced in casinos in the past year. Three Card Poker, Double Fun 21, Triple Shot, and other new games (including blackjack dealt from a continuous shuffler (CSM)) have all taken away the limited space occupied with double-deck and six-deck games in many casinos. Some casinos now have only 10% of their table games that are playable to the advantage player. I believe this is a result of the Corporate College Graduate greed for increasing profits at the expense of the loyal customer, which is a reverse from the Old School Management.

For this month’s report, I will take you on a tour of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino and provide updated blackjack conditions at the Golden Nugget, Treasure Island and Mirage casinos.


We begin our tour by turning our car over to the valet at the lobby entrance to Treasure Island. The friendly bell-desk employee takes our luggage and directs us to the main lobby entrance. The lobby, by the way, is very elegant with a view of the lushly landscaped pool behind the check-in area. It is mid-afternoon with many people checking in, however, the lines are short and in no time at all we have the key to our room.

As we leave the lobby, we pass the Lobby Store on our right, with a fine selection of ancient coins, fashion jewelry, fine gifts and sundries. To our left is the Terrace Café overlooking the casino and the pool area. The Terrace Café is open 24/7. After we walk past the Café, we turn left toward the Steak House, which is adjacent to the elevators. The Steak House is open for dinner 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. It’s an excellent, quiet dining location with a great selection of steaks and seafood. Children under five are not allowed in the Steak House.

After a quick ride on the elevator, we arrive at our hotel room, which is bright and artfully decorated with European fabrics and fine appointments. The drapes are open and as look out the widow we enjoy a terrific view of Buccaneer Bay and the Strip. Soon, our luggage arrives by a very courteous bellman. He checks that we are comfortable with our room and informs us that 24-hour room service is available if desired.

We decide to take a tour of the facilities and take the elevator back down to the casino level. We turn left and enter a small shopping area that has a gift shop, clothing stores, a candy store and the Mystere Show specialty store which is located directly across from the entrance to the Mystere showroom and ticket office. We turn left again and pass Starbucks Coffee and a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream store on our left. To our right is "Kahunaville", the newest restaurant to Treasure Island. It is decorated in an island paradise setting and offers tropical cuisine. The bar is lively and the service is outstanding. We continue our tour to the pool where we stop and enjoy a poolside drink from the Big Kahuna Bar. As we sit in the shade of the many tropical palms and enjoy the lush landscaping, we try to plan our activities the rest of the day which includes making reservations for the premier show in Las Vegas, Mystere.

But I’m anxious to get some bets on the weekend NFL games, so we head back to the casino area and make a left toward the Sports Book. We pass The Treasure Island Buffet and Madam Ching’s restaurant on the way. We notice a Prime Rib and Shrimp dinner special which we will want to keep in mind. Adjacent to the Sports Book is The Delicatessen and The Battle Bar. I check the points on the games on the large reader board and make my bets. The employees in the Sports Book are very helpful and sign me up for the Treasure Island Sporting Club, which will make me eligible for comps based on my Sports Book wagers. Hopefully, I will win on all my bets and collect comps too.

We leave the Sports Book and head towards the casino area. The Battle Bar is on our left and lots of slot machines to our right. We come to the first of many table game pit.The first has twelve table games, four are double-deck blackjack games and four are 6-deck blackjack games. The 6-deck games have these rules: h17, das, ls and rsa. The dealer uses a slot cut in the shoe to measure and place the cut card at about 1.5 decks into the freshly shuffled 6 decks of cards. You glance at the tables limits which are $5 minimum to $5,000 maximum. You also notice that there are double-deck games that are dealt face up. Table limits on two of the games are $10 to $5,000, and on the other two tables $25 to $5,000. The rules for the double deck games are h17, das and no mid-round entry. A slot cut in the discard holder is used for determining the location of the cut card and penetration. You notice the dealer places the cut card at about 34 cards from the bottom. The dealers are friendly and helpful and the cocktail service is friendly and frequent.

Pit personnel are quick to track your action for comps. Unless you are an obvious advantage blackjack player, your identification is not checked against previous trips or other property information. At the conclusion of your play, the information is entered into the computer. Pit personnel frequently check the chip tray of dealers to monitor player’s wins or losses. If playing black chips at these tables, you are best not to hide winnings unless there are other black chip players at the table. Be happy with your win and thank the dealer with a tip as you leave as this will help minimize suspicion by the pit personnel that you are a skilled advantage player. Pit personnel, by the way, appear to be very tolerant of advantage players as long as they do not push to big betting spreads or get greedy. Don’t be afraid to ask for a meal comp since most pit personnel are more than happy to give you one if your action warrants.

As we continue on our tour, we pass by the Casino Cashier cage and to our right is another area with roulette and blackjack tables. The 6-deck games in this pit are the same as the other pit. However, you notice that there are also continuous shuffle machine (CSM) blackjack games in this pit. CSM games are dealt from four decks that are continuously shuffled. Rules for these games are the same as the 6-deck games.

The best games in the casino are to our left, in the high-limit pit. Here we find three double-deck games with s17, das and no mid-round entry and three 6-deck games with s17, das, ls and rsa. Table limits for these games are sometimes $25 min, but usually $50 or $100 minimums. Observation of players by pit personnel is greater in this pit since these games offer better conditions for skilled players then the blackjack games in the main casino floor. Penetration cut-card location is the same as the other double and six deck games. Dealers in the high-limit pit do not appear to be chosen for their skill since I have observed more dealer errors in this pit than others. These errors, when identified, are generally handled by pit personnel to the player’s advantage.

The crap table pit is located just past the high-limit pit. As we make a left turn and go in the direction of the hotel lobby, we observe the Treasure Island Slot Club and the Gold Bar. Adjacent to the Gold Bar are two more table game pits. The first pit has mostly CSM dealt blackjack games and a new game called Triple Shot, which is a combination of War, Blackjack and Poker. The adjacent pit contains mostly table games other than blackjack. Two tables of the popular Three Card Poker are located in this pit.

Just before reaching the front doors, we turn left and go past Francesco’s Restaurant, one of the finest in Treasure Island, featuring Italian selections. Next is the hideaway Lounge, which has nightly lounge entertainment. Past the Watch Shoppe, we leave the building and go out to Buccaneer Bay. People are gathering for one of the nightly, fiery battles between the pirate ship Hispaniola and the Navy frigate HMS Britannia. The show is spectacular and well worth standing with other tourists to watch it. A more relaxing way to see the show is to observe it from the outdoor patio or the Battle Bar.

Later that evening we have a wonderful dinner at Francesco’s. Since our reservations for Mystere are for the next evening, we decide to head over to the casino to play some blackjack. We find the dealers and pit personnel on the new shift friendly and helpful, but not as good as the day-shift personnel. We find that playing conditions, at times, are better in the early morning.

Blackjack at the Golden Nugget

The Golden Nugget, located in downtown Las Vegas, offers 15 two-deck games with h17, rsa , 0.8 penetration and $5 to $5,000 table limits; 4 six-deck games with s17, das, ls, rsa, 1.7 deck penetration and $25 to $5,000 table limits; and 20 six-deck games with h17, das, ls, rsa, 1.8 deck penetration and $5 to $5,000 table limits. The Golden Nugget shares information with other MGM and Mirage properties and uses computers to evaluate players. Surveillance and pit personnel do not appear to be observant of the advantage blackjack player.

Blackjack at the Mirage

Mirage offers 10 two-deck games with 0.7 deck penetration, $50 to $10,000 table limits and s17 and das; 24 CSM games with s17, das, ls, rsa and $10 to $10,000 table limits; and 30 six-deck games with 1.5 deck penetration, $10 to $10,000 table limits and s17, das, ls and rsa. Mirage uses Facial Recognition technology as well as computer evaluation of players as they play. Dealers and pit personnel are not as friendly as other MGM Mirage properties. Playing for short periods of time and successfully concealing winnings is your best chance of keeping your name on the Mirage welcome list.




Editors note: The Riverboat Flyer is a skilled blackjack counter that plays at the Cincinnati riverboats. He plays mostly low stakes using the half count. The Riverboat Flyer reports that all the Indiana riverboats have the same blackjack rules: s17, das, split up to 3 times for a total of 4 hands, and one card to split aces. The only differrences are in the table limits and some no mid shoe entry games.

The Argosy, Lawrenceberg Indiana

The Argosy bills itself as the world's most popular riverboat. It is hard to argue with their claim if you have ever been there on a weekend. The boat has 3 levels, two of which offer blackjack games. Argosy offers a fairly consistent game. They have 57 tables, 6 with Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSM), the other 51 with 6 deck shoes. Penetration varies by dealer except for the high limit area where dealers consistently cut off 2.5 out of 6 decks. Because of the popularity of the boat, comps are more difficult to come by. A $15 player can probably get a free boarding pass (they charge admission to the unsuspecting) and a buffet. Room comps are for high limit players only.

Table Count

Tables Decks Cut Limits Rules

6 4 3.75 $10-500 ds, s17, csm

33 6 2.0 $5/10-500 ds, s17

9 6 2.5 $25-2,000 ds, s17

9 6 2.0 $25-1,000 ds, s17

Grand Victoria, Rising Sun, Indiana

The Grand Vic is constantly changing their BJ game. Over the last 3 years many tables and dealers have been eliminated. They offer double, 6 and 8 deck games. They also have double exposure and Spanish 21. Double deck games are dealt face up and players never touch the cards. Apparently they have some security consultant on board that has them constantly worried about players cheating. While they watched for cheating players an employee walked off the boat with over $90,000 in $100 bills about 1.5 years ago. The good news is that no BJ players ever marked any of their cards. Penetration varies by dealer. Comps are easier to get, especially rooms on weeknights. The Grand Vic is almost an hours drive from Cincinnati and you have to drive past the Argosy to get there. They also have a golf course and golf packages. They are not currently using continuous shufflers.

Table Count

Tables Decks Cut Limits Rules

1 2 1.0 $15-500 ds, s17, nm

7 6 2.0 $25-1,000 ds, s17, nm

4 6 1.5 $10-300 ds, s17

12 8 2.0 $10-300 ds, s17

1 8 2.0 $10-500 s17, Spanish 21

1 8 2.0 $10-500 ds, s17, double exposure

Belterra, Vevay, Indiana

The Belterra is half way between Cincinnati and Louisville. The boat is the smallest of the four. It is also the least crowded and most comfortable. Playing 2 spots is usually not a problem. Tables are further apart and it is not as smoke filled. They have a very nice hotel and a golf course that just opened. The casino opened November of 2000. Comps are easy to get even for the low limit players. A couple playing $20 each for 5 hours can probably get a room and 2 buffets if they use some of the techniques described in articles in this newsletter and Max Rubin's book (Comp City). Continuous shufflers are in use, but their numbers have declined since the boat was opened one year ago.

Table Count

Tables Decks Cut Limits Rules

2 1 0.5 $25-1,000 ds, s17, nm

2 2 1.0 $25-1,000 ds, s17, nm

1 4 3.75 $25-1,000 ds, s17, csm

3 4 3.75 $10-500 ds, s17, csm

6 6 2.0 $25-1,000 ds, s17, nm

23 8 2.0 $10-500 ds, s17

Caesars, Indiana (near Louisville)

Caesars is the only area riverboat that seems to want high limit players. Their 500-room hotel opened just before Labor Day. It is a nice complex for a riverboat with the hotel, a large parking garage, and 4 restaurants. A golf course is in the planning stages. Comps are relatively easy to get for low limit players, even room comps. That may change if the hotel gets popular. I heard over the weekend that they have been setting revenue records since the hotel opened. They bill themselves as the world's largest riverboat. It has 4 levels, all of which offer BJ. At slow times the bottom floor may be closed. One half of the second floor is non smoking. Caesars keeps alternating between six and eight deck games. They switched to all 6-deck shoe games earlier this year. They also offer, double deck, Spanish 21 and some games with a BJ side bet they call 21 Madness. Double deck and some high limit games are no mid shoe entry (nm).

Table Count

Tables Decks Cut Limits Rules

4 2 0.7 $25-1,000 ds, s17, nm

50 6 2.0 $5/10-1,000 ds, s17

12 6 2.0 $50-2,500 ds, s17, nm on some tables

1 2 1.0 $500-5,000 ds,s17, nm

1 8 2.0 $10-1,000 s17, Spanish 21




This was the week that I had been looking forward to all year. The Green Chip party with the other members of Stanford Wong's website was planned for Saturday night at a secret location in Las Vegas. There would be 40-50 of the blackjack brotherhood in town so I figured many of the good games would be occupied by one or more card counters. Usually common courtesy precluded any of us from joining an advantage player already sitting at the table, however this weekend was different. Occasionally two or more of the Green Chippers would decide to sit and play at the same table for short amounts of time. If you didn't care that you might lose a particular casino through barring, the temptation to play with your BJ buddies was hard to resist. Usually each counter would play solo at his table, but there were a few times this weekend when we disregarded the usual cover and played together.

As usual I drove to LV at night, averaging 95 mph and arriving in just over 3.5 hours. After unpacking, I played a grave shift double deck game at my hotel for an hour, winning $50. I used a small spread of $5-$55 as my first session of any trip to just get my feet wet and get back into "casino rhythm".

Back in September I came to LV with my remaining $2K after several team losses in previous trips. During that 6-day stay, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the blackjack conditions were outstanding. Playing solo, I managed to win $2,150 in 24 hours of play using a $10 unit and a 1-6 spread. I played mostly double deck and some singles. Now I was arriving with a $4K bankroll (BR), but I planned to just play the same unit and spread. The higher starting BR helped lower the Risk of Ruin from the 33% of the last trip to 15.54%, while keeping the Expected Value (EV) the same. I should make $18.50 per hour using the Silver Fox count, a balanced level one similar to Hi-Lo except you also count the 7's and 9's. At a conservative 4 hours a day over 6 days, my expectation was to win $444. I planned to sit on my prior winnings and play conservatively.

Next morning I played an hour at the double decker in the main pit at Treasure Island (TI), one of my favorite places. I must have lost every high count bet I placed. The cards just weren't cooperating so I quit the table after losing $350. I refused to dig in my pocket for more money, figuring I'll win it back in my next few sessions. My biggest bet was two hands of $60, so there went my resolution to play within my limits. My top bet was supposed to be $60 on one spot or two hands of $45 each. This slight overbetting would have been ok if I had won, but when you lose you tend to examine every tiny mistake while vowing not to repeat them.

I went to the Rat Pack lunch. This was the unofficial kickoff to the Green Chip party weekend. Sixteen of the BJers were drinking beer and soft drinks and eating appetizers while talking in groups. Present were: Bootlegger and his wife Bootie, Adhoc, Neko, Linus Blankette, Rumi and his wife, Bad Cutter, Clyde, Plover, Old School, Parker, BobbyC, Almost Eligible (aka Anonymouse), Titaniumman and Barfarkel. Everyone had a great time. We learned a lot about where to scout good BJ games at casinos that didn't appear worthwhile in Wong's Current Blackjack News. Some of the local players like Anonymouse, Bad Cutter and Neko were especially helpful.

That night I attended the first official Green Chip event- bowling at one of the locals casinos. I managed to break 100 without throwing too many gutter balls and even had a few strikes and picked up a few spares. Then I headed for the casino. I played a $10 double decker for an hour and won $565 to finally put me $265 into the black. Adhoc was playing at an adjoining table and I met him at the cashier. We decided to try the Horseshoe next and left in separate cars. I got there first and found an empty table. It was the first time I had ever played double deck at the Shoe. Usually most of their games are single deck, but they had recently put in several 2-deck games. The rules are lousy. It's h17 and no doubles after splits, but the penetration was excellent, a consistent 75%. Soon Adhoc joined me and started firing green chips. It was a pleasure to watch him spread his bets with no fear while conversing amiably with the floorman. Meanwhile I was spreading reds and occasionally tucking a few greenies under the reds when the count got good. I won $200, but Adhoc lost a few hundred after being up $600 at his high point. We found Packrat bouncing around the Shoe so he joined us in the coffee shop for another of those comped Vegas style late night steak and eggs breakfasts. Now up $465 for the trip, I called it a night.

Apparently Las Vegas is getting back to normal. There were crowded conditions everywhere this morning. The few open tables at my hotel were full so I checked out TI. All double deck tables were $25 minimum and crowded. I finally wound up at Terrible's. I was able to find a seat with only two other players, but with clueless ploppies banging in and out of my game, and 60% pen and the inadequate lighting bothering my eyes, I played only 30 minutes here, lost $30 and left.

Back at my hotel, I was able to play a heads up double decker for an hour. The main dealer gave me 65% pen, then the relief dealer went 70%. There was no scrutiny from the pit while I employed the usual $10-$60 spread, winning $200 to now put me up $635 for the trip. How quickly conditions had improved. I guess Vegas wasn't quite all the way as back to normal as I had thought. Thankfully.

I spent the afternoon with Packrat and his wife at the wave pool at Mandalay Bay. The one problem during this lazy relaxing day was the extremely slow service at the snack shack. At one point I was a bit hungry so I got in line while Packrat secured us a table. Half an hour later I still hadn't received the two $6 hot dogs and I was beginning to get steamed. I didn't mind the price so much as the wait. They were pretty busy, but 30 minutes is still a long time to wait for a couple of franks. Next time I'll know to just grab a few of those wrapped, ready to go pastries and not wait for them to cook anything. It's ironic that this is the only time I paid for a meal all week.

Then night fell and it was time for the Green Chip party. It was held at the home of one of the local GCers. There was plenty of soft drinks and beer and conversation. Then a buffet style dinner was served with ribs, chicken and tri-tip as the main entrees. There were 40-50 of the blackjack brotherhood in attendance, including Stanford Wong and Anthony Curtis. Anthony told me he had to miss yesterday's Rat Pack lunch, as he was still in LA and had to attend a party at Hefner's Playboy mansion. I guess he'd rather cavort with Bunnies and centerfolds in Hef's jacuzzi than tell gambling stories with us, and I (enviously) don't blame him one little bit. Stanford talked mostly about sports betting, which is the subject of his new book, "Sharp Sports Betting." He also told us he would get together with the Wizard of Odds and reconcile the differences in the analysis they'd done on the new Super Fun 21 single deck game. It was a wonderful party with great food and a lot of good new information.

Afterwards, Old School and I caravanned to Texas Station to meet Packrat. Texas is rapidly becoming one of my favorite casinos as their double decks have $5, $10 and $25 minimums, the pen is decent and late surrender is allowed along with the usual h17 and double after splits. The three of us took over a $5 double deck table and had fun counting and kibitzing for an hour, then went to the coffee shop for another of those comped late night steak and eggs meals. I had won $115, Packrat won $100 and Old School had lost $30. Once again we had played together, three Green Chip counters at the same table for an hour, and had gotten away with it. Now up $750 for the trip, I called it a night.

What I love about these Green Chip weekends is that once you've met other advantage players and know what they look like, when you see them again in a casino, that guy is automatically your friend. You can hang with him, have drinks or dinner, exchange comps or inside information despite differences in background, age, race, gender, class, economic status or any other divisive influences. You're part of a secret society, but it can get lonesome at times, so any chance to hook up with someone else who is also in the know is always welcome.

After a short morning session at my hotel where I lost $75, we went to meet Stumpy. Stumpy is the head surveillance guy for Palace and the other Station casinos. He lost his right arm, hence the nickname. Northwest arranged the meeting. Several other Green Chippers were there, including BJ Addict, Titaniumman, Linus Blankette, Spartan Buckeye and Parker. We spent 4 hours picking his brain. Stumpy is an engaging guy with a lot of experience in nabbing card counters and a lot of contempt for the way corporations run casinos these days. He promised not to use this meeting to identify nor bar anyone in attendance as long as they didn't act greedy with their spreads in his casino. He said that if he knows you, you could probably get away with more than an unknown counter could.

Stumpy feels that most casino surveillance departments are overrated. They are mostly checking for cheaters and cheating dealers, and have many other duties. Card counters are fairly secondary in importance. Most counter surveillance is initiated by the pit personnel with a phone call upstairs. The most telltale thing pits watch for is the bet spread. Most surveillance rooms use BJ Survey Voice, a computer program in which a person must type or say each card value as it comes out, and enter the bet amount. It can be used live or with a tape review. Many times the software cannot differentiate between "eight" and "ace" rendering the software inaccurate.

His oft-quoted advice to us was, "play your game, be yourself and let your heart and personality come through".

Titaniumman and I walked through a few of the north strip casinos but couldn't find anything worth playing. We ran across Bootlegger and his wife Bootie at Slots-A-Fun and walked over to Stardust with them. All tables were crowded. I decided to take a nap and prepare for the night's festivities.

The last Green Chip event was a buffet dinner in a lounge where Bootlegger provided the entertainment. Boot is a former professional musician and he can really play guitar and belt out a song. I liked his renditions of "King of the Road", "Me & Bobby McGee" and "Folsom Prison Blues". The GCers were singing along and clapping in time while we ate and drank.

From here many of us made plans to meet in one of the downtown casinos. I wound up with Old School and Dr. Van Nostrand at a single deck table where we had fun playing red to low green stakes together. Then we went to the coffee shop for a comped late night snack along with BJ Addict who had been at an adjoining table. When we left the restaurant, BJ Addict and I headed for the restroom. Soon Old School came in and told us that Dr. Van Nostrand was getting barred by security guards. We three grown men hid in the restroom for a few minutes, then I walked out slowly to test things, but no one said anything to me so I made it out to valet parking without incident. The other guys showed up while I was waiting for my car. They reported that they had also walked out without incident. We thought that the good Doctor was the only one who had gotten barred. As I had used a player's card with a fake name here, I felt I was safe.

The next morning, while walking through Casino Royale, I ran into El Burro who was flat betting $100 chips with a fistful of coupons. This coupon book had been reported in Wong's Current Blackjack News. He eventually got his suited blackjack, which paid 3-1 when you presented that coupon. Another one paid 2-1 for any non-suited blackjack. Those are valuable coupons and I tried to get them, but they told me they were for new sign-ups only and that I was already a member of their players club, thus ineligible. El Burro told me that Stanford Wong had been here yesterday playing the coupons. Flat betting black chips, it had taken Stanford the better part of an hour to get his suited blackjack, but he'd finally gotten it and had quit winners. El Burro, however, had lost $600 while waiting for that 3-1 payoff.

I finally found an uncrowded table and bought in for $200. After 45 minutes of getting 70% pen on the double decker, the dealer shuffled unexpectedly in a high count while I had a max bet out. Stupidly, I gathered the bet into my chip stack to "count" my money and saw a sly smile cross her lips. I guess I was busted but thankfully it didn't affect anything. The dealer continued to give good pen and I colored out after an hour with a $70 win, but I've got to be more careful. Reducing a max bet at the shuffle is a telltale sign to the pit that you're counting.

Old School met me at TI for lunch and an hours session in which I won another $100 to put me at $980 for the trip. After a nap and shower, I met Dr. Van Nostrand who had an unlimited comp at any restaurant we'd choose at NYNY. We settled on Gallagher's steakhouse where I had the best meal of the trip. I usually don't drink alcohol if I plan to play BJ later, but couldn't resist a dry double vodka martini. I had the escargot appetizer, which came in a small muffin pan, each one covered in a puff pastry shell. They burst with an explosion of garlic and butter when you bit into them. The good Doctor had crab cakes. With the waiter's help, I finally figured out how to get my two favorite entrees, lobster tail and lamb chops, on one surf & turf platter. They wouldn't just substitute for the filet mignon, so the Doc and I split a double lamb chop entrée, then each of us ordered an a la carte lobster tail. We had creamed spinach and Lyonnaise potatoes as our side dishes, then finished with crème brulee topped with berries and coffee for dessert. Afterward we just sat there, happy, stuffed and glassy eyed.

It's ironic that my biggest expenses in Vegas are tips for comped meals. That bill came to $240 or so, so we each threw in a $20 for the tip. Otherwise I cannot recall paying for a meal in the 6 plus days I spent there, except for those infamous $6 dogs. However, I must have laid out over $100 in tips during the week.

Later the Doc and I played at separate tables at Texas Station. We pretended not to know each other and arranged to meet back at the car at 2 am. Good thing we took this precaution, as he's been backed off here before. At one point a floorman came from his table, stood in front of my table so I could hear him, and asked the pit boss if he knew this name. The name he asked about was one of Doc's pseudonyms. I saw Doc leave the table shortly thereafter. Back at the car, I got the story. The floorman had been hawking Doc's table while Doc was in for $1,500 and losing. When he started to come back, the floorman became more concerned and intensified his investigation. The Doc had won back his $1,500, plus another $500 in net winnings and departed before they could take any action. Close call.

Meanwhile I had won $40, which was insignificant except that it had put me over $1,000 for the trip. This was the end of my 4th day in town, so I was making $250 a day, way ahead of expectation.

The next morning I played the double deck game at my hotel for just over an hour. I was alone at the table and came under some casual scrutiny but was able to deflect any suspicion with my happy Vegas gambler act. I was happy because I had a stack of the casinos green chips in front of me for most of the session. I colored out with a $500 win to put me at $1,520 for the trip.

After a visit to the Gambler's Book Club, I stopped in the Stratosphere to try the slot promotion. The Strat has a program where new sign ups get their losses returned to them up to 110% for their first 30 minutes of play. You get your money back on your next trip to LV. This promo is good for both slots and video poker, and it's ok to play 25 cent machines. I found a 10/7-bonus game with a good pay table, checked the time and put my $100 bill in. I finally got the machine to acknowledge my presence and started playing. After 30 minutes, my initial 400 credits had become 600. I had gotten several 4-of-a-kinds plus a few full houses. I played another 10 minutes, losing $12.50 back, and cashed out with $37.50 in winnings. I was kind of hoping to lose so I could look forward to getting my money back next trip, but it was not to be. I guess I can't even play these promotions correctly. Oh well, video poker is not my game.

After a nap and a $200 loss at my hotel's double decker, Dr. Van Nostrand took me out for another comped dinner. This time we ate at Francesco's, the Italian restaurant at TI. We let the waiter pick out a dry white wine for us. The Doc had his usual crab cake appetizer while the one I ordered had crab and caviar on tomato slices. After a Waldorf salad, I had the Osso Buco while the Doc went for a Caesar salad and seafood linguini. We had coffee and strawberry sorbet for dessert.

Later that night at Texas Station, I won back the $200 that I had lost earlier. Still on swing shift, I drove to the Horseshoe and played a single decker for 45 minutes, switching tables several times. I started with $200, was down to the last $25, then rallied to win it all back plus $45. Considering myself lucky to have recovered, I quit the Shoe and headed for TI. Alone at the $10 DD table for the entire 45 minute session, the last scenario repeated itself. I bought in for $200, lost steadily for the first half hour, then down to my last few chips, I staged a dramatic comeback on one monster count deck when I got all the blackjacks and 20's while the dealer busted almost every hand. Got my $200 back plus another $100 in winnings and, now up $1,620 for the trip, I called it a night.

My last morning in town I returned to TI for a morning session from hell. Nothing I did was right. The count would go up; I'd bet up and get a 15 with the dealer invariably having a 10 up and another 10 in the hole. I'd stand on a stiff and the dealer would hit and be pat. I'd hit my stiff and bust, then the dealer would do likewise. Too late, my chips are already in the table's chip rack. I quit this damn game after losing $200, refusing to chase my losses. I was still up $1,420 with less than 24 hours before I had to drive home.

Taking a break from blackjack, I went shopping for gifts for the gals I date. Joanie likes classic kitchy Vegas things, but I refused to buy her a dice clock, opting instead for a wood jewelry box from the Bonanza gift shop on Sahara and the Strip. Debbie got a triangular "swingers" pendulum clock done in that 50's modernistic boomerang style. I also bought my casino host one of those ties he likes, decorated with the green and black dollar bills.

After lunch I played another hour at my hotel, losing $300. Pen is really dealer dependent here, with the main dealer giving only 55% but the relief dealer going 70% into the double decker. Now up only $1,120 for the trip, I went to the Venetian to check out the art exhibit. Ignoring the motorcycle exhibit, I opted for the paintings. Each area required a separate $15 admission fee. I saw one Monet and one Pissarro that I liked, plus a few Chagalls, otherwise the rest of the paintings were nothing special.

While walking through Casino Royale, I ran into Dreamer, another of those pesky Green Chippers. He reported getting some heat while playing there, so we walked down the Strip to talk. He was enthusiastic about a new betting scheme he had discovered while reading Grosjean's "Beyond Counting" and told me to re-read it.

I had been trying to hook up with my buddy Stu for 5 days now, but his new work schedule, my blackjack playing and the activity of the Green Chip weekend had gotten in the way. We finally got together for dinner with his family at the Chinese buffet located at the intersection of Trop and Pecos. Afterwards I went back to his house and we played with his computer for awhile. I was finally able to get a week’s worth of email, thanks to Stu.

What turned out to be my last session of the trip started easily enough. I was at TI again and started out losing. Northwest and his friend were at another table in the double deck pit. I was in for $200, then $300, then $400. Down to the last $60, I slowly climbed back to even. I had switched tables several times, wonging out in negative counts after losing a few hands each time. I checked my watch and discovered that I had been playing for 3.5 hours which is way too long to play in one pit while counting cards, especially with TI's sharp pit personnel. However, I got no scrutiny or unwanted attention, probably because my $10-$60 spread was under their radar. You'd think by this time in my playing career, I'd know better. When I finally build my bankroll back to $10K or so, and am able to play a true green spread, I'll really have to be more circumspect.

As I drove home the next morning, I reflected upon the trip. I had won $1,120 in almost 27 hours of play. That was a win rate of $41.50 per hour, way better than the mathematical expectation of $18.50 per hour. According to Auston's Blackjack Risk Manager software, the probability of this result or better was 33.5%. My result represented a 0.424 standard deviation to the right.

In the last two trips, I had won $3,270 in 51 hours for a cumulative win rate of over $64 per hour. The probability of this result or better was 12.4% and the standard deviation was 1.2 to the right.

However I had made several mistakes. Playing too long in one pit, grabbing back my max bet because of an unexpected shuffle, and playing too many times with other card counters at the same table could become problems when I eventually move up to green play. Plus I keep vowing to hide chips but never seem to remember to do it. I'll have to study these deficiencies and correct them before my next trip.

No question about it, I had been the recipient of positive standard deviation. In other words; luck. Can it continue? Stay tuned for the results of the next trip.

Thanks for reading,

The LV Pro


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

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 so that we can update the information in our schedule.


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)


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

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

Reno, NV: Peppermill (1-800-648-6992)

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)

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

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)


Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); Golden Nugget (1-866-346-5336)

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

Carson City, NV: Carson Station (1-800-501-2929)

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

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

Biloxi, MS: Casino Magic (last Wed. each month) (1-800-562-4425); 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)

Clinton, IA: Mississippi Belle II (1-800-457-9751)

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

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

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

Tower, MN: Fortune Bay (1-800-992-7529)

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); The Regent (1-877-869-8777)

Henderson, NV: Reserve (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)

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)
Granite Falls, MN: Firefly (1-800-232-1439)

Tower, MN: Fortune Bay (1-800-992-7529)

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

Biloxi, MS: Boomtown (1-800-627-0777)

Lula, MS: Isle of Capri (1-888-330-5825)

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

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


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: Si Redd’s Oasis (1-888-346-4055); Virgin River (1-800-346-7721)

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

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

Wendover. MN: Silver Smith (1-800-354-3572)

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

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


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)

Crystal Bay, NV: Tahoe Biltmore (1-800-245-8667)

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

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

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)


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)

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

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

Christmas, MI: Kewadin (1-800-457-9975)

Saulte Ste. Marie, MI: Kewadin (1-800-539-2346)

Saulte Ste. Marie, ONT: Salte Ste. Marie (1-800-826-8946)

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

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)



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

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

Date Location Entry #Decks Prizes More Information

Nov. 23-25 Reno Hilton free * six $25K/$10K 1-800-648-5080

Reno, NV

Nov. 24 River Palms $99 two $10.5K/$5K 1-888-298-2242

Laughlin, NV

Nov. 27-29 Bally’s free * six $100K/$50K 1-800-634-3434

Las Vegas, NV

Nov. 27-29 Bally’s free * six $100K/$50K 1-800-634-3434

Las Vegas, NV

Nov. 30-Dec 1 Grand free * six $100K/$50K 1-800-946-4946

Robinsonville, MS

Dec. 3 Club Cal Neva $50 single $1.5K/$1.5K 1-877-777-7303

Reno, NV

Dec. 3-6 Stardust $375 * two $170K/$100K 1-888-271-1777

Las Vegas, NV

Dec. 5 Riviera $200 six $28K/$12.5K 1-800-437-7951

Las Vegas, NV

Dec. 6 Bally’s free six $10K/$5K 1-800-572-2559

New Orleans, LA

Dec. 7-9 Sunset Station free * six $12K/$5K 1-888-808-7717

Henderson, NV

Dec. 7-9 Sundowner $150 single $3K/$3K 1-800-648-5490

Reno, NV

Dec. 8-9 Flamingo $49 six $12K/TBD 1-800-662-6004

Laughlin, NV

Dec. 9-11 Edgewater $129 single $20K/$10K 1-800-289-8777

Laughlin, NV

Dec 14-16 Pioneer $200 single $25K/$11K 1-800-634-3469

Laughlin, NV

Dec. 14-17 Harrah’s free * six $43/$20K 1-800-392-9002

Las Vegas, NV

Jan. 18-20 Bally’s Tunica $500 six $125/$50K 1-800-382-2559

Robinsonville, MS

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.



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 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 and has his own web site at 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.

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