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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, December 2001, #25


Our year end issue contains a rundown on blackjack playing conditions in Atlantic City, the casinos in Chicagoland and the Cincinnati/Louisville area, plus detailed reports on the MGM Grand and New York New York casinos in Las Vegas and the Grand Casino Coushatta in Louisiana. You’ll also learn valuable tips from CC Rider on dealer cheating and how to rectify a dealer mistake and win what’s owed to you. Captain John also provides insider information on the player surveillance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. We’ve also updated our Blackjack Tournament schedule through March 2002. Enjoy the issue and I wish you and your family a Happy Holiday and Healthy & Prosperous New Year.

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

doa = double on anything

nm = no mid game entry

nrs = no resplits

csm = continuous shuffle machine

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

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

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

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




A few months back, I gave a favorable review of a South Louisiana Indian casino in issue # 21 of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter ( Since that time, my suspicions regarding a particular dealer there have been confirmed. For the past several years, I have been very cautious about playing with this dealer, as he appears to "peek", deal seconds, and stack aces (read Bill Zender’s book, "How to Detect Casino Cheating" for specifics). I recently had an experience with him that falls well beyond the limits of coincidence, although I readily admit that he is so talented that the naked eye cannot pick up the sleight of hand. I’ll describe the incident to you in detail and let you be the judge as to whether I’m being paranoid or not.

Let me set up the circumstances for you a bit. The casino is an Indian casino, with large signs out front that proclaim "Welcome to the Chitimacha Nation..........a sovereign state........under the rules and laws of the Chitimacha tribe." In other words, any disputes will be carefully judged, and decided according to our rules. The game is double deck, stand on 17 (s17), resplit aces (rsa), and players can double on anything (doa).

I was at first base and doing well. I was up about 50-60 units and drawing some bothersome heat from the floor person. I can’t be certain what was discussed, but several phone calls to the pit followed a few of my maximum bets. The floor person then noticed this dealer coming back from a break and called his name. "R-----, come see." The dealer approached the floor person, both of them turned their backs to me and the floor person whispered something to R------. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught him glancing directly at me, and proceeded to our table to tap the dealer out.

As I stated earlier, I have been suspicious of R----- for some time and my conversations with other players did not put my fears to rest, but only affirmed them. Against my better judgment, I stayed put and bet the minimum for 10-15 minutes. Not seeing anything out of the ordinary, I decided to get back into the game and pay attention. At a true count of +2.4, I placed a four unit bet out and was dealt 7,5 against a X (i.e. 10 value card). R----- then dealt me Ace of spades, Ace of clubs, 7......21! He hit and busted the player to my left, the next player tucked and the next player hit and busted. The dealer, R-----, turned over another X for a twenty, beating the remaining player’s 19, and paying my 21.

Then, something peculiar happened. R----- began scooping the cards from third base to first, but when he got to the 7, he scooped it up, pulled his deck back, then picked up the Ace of spades and Ace of clubs, then said "Shuffle!" Now, there were three things very strange about this. First, the move to keep the Aces on the bottom of the deck and second, penetration was pretty consistent at 65-70% but this deck was about 50 cards dealt when he shuffled. Third, he never said "shuffle" before. After what seemed like an extended shuffle, about twice as long as he usually shuffled, he handed the cards to third base to "cut" then brought the cards back and cut the cards so fast that I couldn’t follow him.

Now, I usually smell a rat when I see one. This time I was now up around 60 units, and I let my guard down. I spread to two hands from the outset of the deck, two units each. I split the first two rounds, and the true count went to +4. The floor person was nowhere to be seen. I spread $150 x 2 and got 6,5 and 8,3. The dealer had a X up (he routinely turns over the first card), then tucked his hole card under the X. I doubled both hands, got a X and a 9 for 21 and 20. The next player hit four cards and busted, the next player hit once, and third base tucked. R----- then dutifully turned over the Ace of clubs! I felt some mild relief that both of my doubles were returned, but this relief was overcome by greed when I realized that the true count was now about +7! I spread $300 x 2, and chuckled when I
was dealt X,X and X,X. This was too good to be true!


The dealer turned over a seven and I felt that I had the hands won. The dealer made his way around the table, then began to turn over his hole card. I’m thinking, "Face, face!". When he turns over a three, I felt a push, until he pulled the Ace of spades!

At that very second, I knew what had happened. I thought about calling the floor person over, the shift manager, hell, anybody who could help. Of course, R----- quickly shuffled up. While he was shuffling, I felt like the most naive player in the joint. Using my better judgment, I got up and went home.

I never play with R----- anymore, and learned a very valuable lesson. Although it cost me $900, I think it was pretty cheap. Some other mechanics charge a lot more!




I had a most interesting incident and resulting conversation with a shift manager at a large strip casino and must pass the info on to all fellow Blackjack Insider Newsletter subscribers.

I was playing at a large casino on the strip. Allow me to reconstruct the hand: 3 players, mid double deck, true count and running count = +2, h17, and das. First base player takes a hit and tucks. I have my cards in my left hand and am turned to my right, ordering a drink from the cocktail waitress. The dealer zooms past me and hits third base A,X for a bust. When 3rd base turns over his cards, I turn around and ask the dealer, "Forget me?"

I glance down at my hand and I have 7,3 and the dealer has 7 up. The dealer says, "Oh, no!" and calls the floor person over and recreates the scene. The floor person says, "Sorry, sir, but we can’t back the cards up. It’s a Nevada Gaming Control Board rule." I very calmly but firmly said, "please call the shift manager." When the shift manager arrived at the table, I asked for an opportunity to state my case and offered to have the dealer correct any misstatements.

I explained that I had been passed over on my 7,3 against a dealer 7 and would have unquestionably doubled down, gotten the A and made 21 (I had $200 up). I also, before he had an opportunity to reply, stated that the floor person had said that there was a Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) rule that cards could "not be backed up". I also told him that I knew for a fact that this was not true, that there was no such NGCB rule, and that if the cards were not backed up to give me my hand, I would like to file a grievance with the NGCB.

The dealer and the players agreed that the facts as stated were, indeed, accurate. Immediately, the manager explained that the floor person was "misinformed" that, indeed, there was no NGCB rule prohibiting backing up the cards when obvious plays could be reconstructed. He instructed the dealer to move the A back to me (after I doubled), give third base the X which busted him, and he instructed the dealer to push third base’s bet. The dealer then hit her hand, giving herself 19, which beat 1st base. The manager then instructed the dealer to push 1st base as well, then shuffle the cards. He then apologized to me for the error, and informed the dealer to pay me for the doubled 21 ($400). The floor person sheepishly came back to me (we had a cordial relationship to that point) and also assured me that he really had been told that there was a rule that prohibited backing up cards. I assured him that there were no hard feelings on my part, or on the part of any of the other players (since they all benefited), and that when disputes are handled in a professional manner such as this, all players cheerfully return to play here.

Everyone played the next hand with a smile on his or her face!




Grand Casino Coushatta

777 Coushatta Drive

Kinder, LA 70648

1-318-738-7300; 1-800-58GRAND

Where? About fifty miles from the Eastern border of Texas, just off I-10, lies the formerly sleepy community of Kinder, Louisiana. My best guess of the population is about 5,000 people, but on any one-day, 3,000 to 15,000 more people (mostly Texans) come to visit the tables and slots of Grand Casino Coushatta.

The facility, owned by the Coushatta tribe and managed by the Grand Casino group, has recently expanded and upgraded the restaurant fare as well. The upscale restaurant, Seven Clans, is quite good. The Steak House, though not nearly the caliber of Mr. Lester’s in Charenton at the Cypress Bayou Casino, is still good and comps are easy to come by here. But, let’s talk about the reason you’re reading this, blackjack.

The Game
All of the tables in the main part of the casino are 6 deck shoes, cut about 1.5 decks (75% penetration). Most tables offer $1,000 max bet, and there are numerous $5 minimum tables open at any time. Sadly, the double deck (DD) games are few. They are located in the "Salon" area with $25, $50 and $100 minimums and closely watched. Spreading to 6 units resulted in some tap-ins and subsequent shuffles. Once the dealer shuffled before the cut card came out when I went to "black in action."

The penetration is via cut card, and is fairly reliably consistent at 54-58 cards. At one recent session, after I managed to move ahead around $700 (by the hardest), one pit boss moved next to me and asked about my occupation, my hometown, whether I played craps or roulette or slots, why I hadn’t been there in almost a year, etc. The guy was hanging onto me like clematis on a wrought iron fence, and I couldn’t shake him. I finally moved to the adjacent private lounge for the Salon players and had a beer, just to get away from him. This little lounge actually is a nice little quiet place to relax between sessions. It has a self-service bar, a TV, and lounge chairs to relax, unwind, and clear your head.

CC Rider’s Recommendations
I am not crazy about this game, although I do think that certain conditions can make it enjoyable. Some dealers did appear to give better pen with tokes and friendly banter. The last floor person sort of gave me the willies, but the others seemed to be fine. Heat was more perceived than real, in my opinion. Maybe they were still trying to feel me out. At any rate, careful, attentive play, relatively easy comps, good name entertainment, and better than average food can make your next visit here enjoyable.

(Note: I had planned on including the Lake Charles casinos in this report. However, the proliferation of space, the addition of another casino, and the time needed to adequately report the conditions there did not allow me to properly assess this location. My research there will continue, and I will be providing all you insiders with a complete report in the next issue of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter)

Until then, good luck, good cards, good pen, and may every double down be followed by a face.


(Editors note: According to Steve Bourie’s 2002 American Casino Guide, the casino also has 223 rooms, 45 suites for casino guests only, a total of 6 restaurants, a buffet, RV park, Kids Quest, and 71,000 square feet casino).




There are eight floating casinos within a 30-60 minute drive of downtown Chicago. This is a year end update of the blackjack playing conditions at those casinos. Below is a list of each casino by name and its distance from the heart of the city.

Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin, IL 40 miles Northwest
Hollywood Casino, Aurora, IL 35 miles West
Empress Casino, Joliet, IL 50 miles Southwest
Harrah's Casino, Joliet, IL 50 Miles Southwest
Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, IN 15 miles South
Harrah's Casino, East Chicago, IN 20 miles South
Trump Casino, Gary, IN 22 miles South
Majestic Star Casino, Gary, IN 22 Miles South


Located in the most affluent quadrant of Chicagoland, the Grand Victoria is always jam-packed. Due to its tremendous success, it also tends to offer a comparatively poor gamble (nearest competitor is 25 miles away). It has 29 blackjack tables and $5 minimum games have become extinct. There may be a half dozen $10 minimum tables in the early part of a weekday, but by nightfall, all except two will have been upgraded to $15 minimum. On weekends, even the $15 tables are at a premium with $25 minimums being the norm. There are also multiple $50 and $100 tables -- including a $200 minimum table on Saturday and Sunday nights. Maximum bet is $5000 throughout. All games are 6 decks, dealer hits soft 17 and you can double after splits. Basic strategy house edge is 0.64%. There are no "Mid-Shoe Entry" tables and the average dealer will cut off the last 1.75 decks (71% penetration). If they suspect you're a card counter though, they'll "half shoe" you. Beyond that however, you are free to spread your bets from 1-20 units if you wish. Back counting is also a relatively easy maneuver with the big crowds.


Having been open eight years, Hollywood still operates its two smallish paddle wheel riverboats. Gaming is on four separate floors with tight quarters and a veritable overdose of tobacco smoke. They’ve customized their blackjack games to the stakes being played. Hollywood has roughly 14 tables with minimums ranging from $5 to $15, though the $5 tables tend to disappear in the evenings. At these stakes, the dealer hits soft 17 and deals an eight-deck shoe. You can double after splits and that's about it. Basic strategy house edge is 0.67%. Upstairs in the high limit rooms are 14 more blackjack tables with $25 and $50 minimums. There they deal six decks and the dealer stands on soft 17. Basic strategy house edge is 0.43%. Throughout the casino, the dealers tend to cut off about 1.75 decks. In the summer of 2002, Hollywood plans to open their new more luxurious barge, which promises an impressive upgrade.


Empress has two yacht style riverboats with a friendly atmosphere and a fairly good blackjack game. There is one $5 table available until mid afternoon during the week and a half dozen $10 tables most of the time. With about 22 total blackjack tables they deal six decks, dealer stands on soft 17, you can double after splits and re-split Aces out to four hands. The basic strategy house edge is 0.36%. The dealers tend to cut off the last 1.75 decks, but you can shop table to table and do a little better. Only the $50 tables are "No Mid-Shoe Entry" and back counting is not a problem, nor is bet spreading 1-20 units.


With their new square, flat barge just opened, Harrah's is a cut above all the other Chicago area riverboats. The main floor has 12 blackjack tables and their classy high limit gaming room has 8 more. Forget about $5 tables. There's just one $10 table and that's it. Harrah's also broke the ice by spreading several $20 minimum tables on its main floor. All games are six decks; dealer stands on soft 17, double after splits and re-split Aces. Basic strategy house edge is 0.36%. Out on the main floor the dealers cut off the last 1.75 decks (i.e. 71% penetration). In the high limit room ($50 minimums), they cut off about 2.25 decks (62% penetration) and every table is "No-Mid Shoe Entry" -- and I do mean NO-MID SHOE! I was playing there, sneezed and turned around to blow my nose. The dealer dealt past me and I couldn't get back in 'till the shuffle!


Jack Binion purchased the old Empress Casino, refurbished it and offers a fairly nice gambling hall. With roughly 35 blackjack tables in all, there's a lot to choose from. The main floor has mostly $10 and $15 tables which deal 8 decks, dealer stands on soft 17 and you can double after splits. The basic strategy house edge is 0.46% and they cut off the last two decks (75% penetration). Horseshoe has about the only non-smoking table games room in the area and it offers 8 blackjack tables. Seven of them are $10 or $15 minimum and deal 8 decks. The last table is "quarter" minimum and deals 6 decks -- same rules. Binion also has a high limit gaming salon which pampers its high rollers with constant hors d'ourves trays. $50 minimum blackjack tables are the norm, and most tables are No Mid-Shoe. They cut off about 1.75 decks out of the six-deck shoe (71% penetration).


This is the largest riverboat in the area with room for 3,000 gamblers on four gaming floors and a total of 30 blackjack tables. On the main floor there are 18 tables with $10 and $15 minimums, plus one or two $5 tables. East Chicago has the distinction of being the only area casino using continuous shufflers -- on some of its tables. Eight of the 18 low stakes tables have the dreaded CSM's while the other ten tables hand shuffle their six deck shoes. Rules are: dealer stands on soft 17 and you can double after splits. Basic strategy house edge is 0.43%. Upstairs in the high limit room you can find eleven blackjack tables with $25, $50 and $100 minimums. The really odd thing is -- downstairs in the cheap seats they cut off only 1.25 decks at the hand shuffled games (79% penetration). But upstairs in the high limit room they cut off 2 full decks (67% penetration).


Furthest down the strip from Chicago proper, Trump Casino doesn't have the business of Harrah's or Horseshoe. So like usual when a gambling casino is hurting, they have to give you a little better gamble. Trump deals all six-deck shoes with stand on soft 17, double after splits and late surrender. Basic strategy house edge is 0.35%. Their $25 and up tables have signs that read, "Mid-Shoe Entry Allowed - $100 maximum bet". They cut off 1.75 to 2 decks (67-71% penetration) and you can spread your bets pretty freely.


Right next door to Trump sits another large riverboat that doesn't get all that much play. Majestic has about 33 blackjack tables total. The main floor deals all 8-deck shoes with stand on soft 17 and double after splits. Basic strategy house edge is 0.46%. In their high limit room there are 10 blackjack tables. Nine deal 6 decks with the same rules plus late surrender. Basic strategy house edge there is 0.35% and they cut off 1.5 to 1.75 decks (71-75% penetration). The tenth table is a double deck pitch game with stand on soft 17, no double after splits, no re-splitting and no surrender. They cut off half the pack (50% penetration) and the sign on the table reads, "$25 minimum/$250 maximum". Basic strategy house edge is 0.38%. Even with the tight constraints, if you jump your bets too drastically in this pitch game you'll get the proverbial tap on the shoulder -- I did!

Editor's Note: Fred Renzey is an "advantage" blackjack player and the 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.



The Ohio River Riverboats (Cincinnati to Louisville) are all located in Indiana. Most of the players are from Ohio and Kentucky, which are ironically two states that don’t want casino gambling. The state of Indiana is somewhat rigid in their casino rules, which has resulted in similar, boring blackjack games at all the Indiana riverboats. Some of the rules help players since dealers must stand on soft 17, even in Spanish 21. Others are less player friendly including the rule that the casinos cannot give players free liquor. The most annoying rule of all, however, is boarding times. Every 2 hours you can only board for 30 minutes. Then the boat either leaves the dock to sail or most likely, simply shuts the door and pretends to sail, while not allowing any boarding for another 90 minutes. The Argosy and Caesars board on the odd hours. The Grand Victoria and Belterra board on the odd ½ hours. The riverboats offer an OK atmosphere for the local recreational player. However, poor penetration and crowded tables severely limits their attraction for serious card counters.

The Argosy, Lawrenceberg, Indiana

The Argosy has dropped their continuous shuffle machines. Presently all blackjack tables are dealt from a 6-deck shoe with s17 and das and 2 decks cutoff (67% penetration). You can find an occasional dealer giving less than a 2-deck cut off, but you must scout the tables to find one. The high limit area offers the only real variation with free snacks, higher table limits ($25 to $2,000) and even worse penetration with consistent 2 ½ decks cut from a 6 deck shoe (58% penetration). Don’t bother scouting for better penetration in the high limit area since all the dealers are very consistent on cut card placement. Casino personnel claim Spanish 21 and the Blackjack Plus 3 game are coming soon (Blackjack Plus 3 is a traditional 21 game with an optional side bet on a 3-Card Poker hand). The Argosy is presently training dealers on the new games.

Grand Victoria, Rising Sun, Indiana

The Grand Victoria offers a variety of games including 6 and 8 deck shoes, a double deck game, Spanish 21 and double exposure. Their double deck game (s17, das, no mid game entry) is dealt face up, a plus for counters since you can see all the cards. Recently they started dealing it from a shoe. I guess management doesn’t want even their dealers to handle the cards. During the week you may only find 6 and 8 deck shoes. Constantly changing blackjack conditions and competition from the newer Belterra has hurt business. Management has responded by tightening their comp criteria and bringing in other attractions like jewelry sales in the pavilion. I suspect that sooner or later they are going to have to convert it completely to a jewelry store or bring in new management.

Belterra, Vevay, Indiana

The Belterra in Vevay, Indiana is literally in the middle of nowhere. Consequently management has had to become very aggressive to attract players. They offer a very nice 300-room hotel with hot tubs in each room. Comps including rooms are relatively easy to get. If you are thinking about News Year eve, you are too late since the hotel is sold out. They do bring in big name entertainment on a regular basis. They offer single, double, 6 deck and 8 deck blackjack games (all with s17 and das). The single deck games start at $50 and the double deck games at $25. Penetration unfortunately is poor. Double deck games are cut off at one deck and single deck games are cut at ½ deck (50% penetration). An added single deck restriction limits a single player to no more than 4 rounds and 2 players to no more than 3 rounds prior to shuffling regardless if the cut card has come out. Some continuous shuffle machines remain, mostly on low limit tables. If you can live with poor penetration the atmosphere is nice and the casino personnel are friendly.

(Editors note: The $50 minimum single deck game with s17 and das gives the basic strategy player a slight edge over the casino without card counting).

Caesars, Indiana (near Louisville)

Caesars encourages high limit players and reserves their top deck for high limit tables and slots. Upper table limits are $500 to $5,000. They offer double and six deck games. Every so often they seem to change back and forth between 6 and 8 decks (with s17 and das). Penetration does vary somewhat by dealer. The boat is large with 66 blackjack tables and they also offer a large non-smoking area. Big name entertainers are offered on a regular basis. The recently opened a 500-room hotel makes overnight stays convenient. As with the other riverboats in the area, most blackjack games offer mediocre penetration and no mid shoe entry on high limit tables.




Las Vegas continues to be slow during the week and more crowded on the weekends. The National Finals Rodeo that was recently held in Las Vegas provided some players and guests, but the high rollers continue to stay away. Casino management is hoping for a busy New Years weekend with many offering very low room rates prior to New Years Day.

Conditions at the blackjack tables continue to be tough, with few tables open during the week. The tables that are opened are usually dealt by continuous shuffling machines (CSM) or are 8-deck games (it’s hard to find one, two and six-deck games open during the week). Early morning play provides the best conditions for the advantage player. Weekends provide opportunity for the 6-deck player to Wong in and out of many open playable games.

For this months report I will take you on a walking tour of the world’s largest hotel, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino located on the Strip at the intersection of Tropicana Ave., with special emphasis on playable blackjack games and conditions.


We arrive at the MGM Hotel and Casino through the Main Entrance. We will not be checking in, but are just here to play blackjack. As we enter the beautiful, spacious lobby, we observe 40 video monitors behind the front desk. Turning left, we notice the first of several table game pits consisting of 7 blackjack games and one roulette table. You notice that all the blackjack games are dealt by a CSM and the rules are s17, das, ls and rsa. We continue past these CSM dealt games and look for better blackjack playing conditions.

We pass the Betty Boop Lounge, and turn right toward the Studio Walk shopping area and restaurants. Here we find the Mark Miller’s Coyote Café and Grill Room, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Neyla, Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant, Olio and The Brown Derby restaurants, as well as many shops, Arcade, the entrance to the Grand Garden Arena, and the Pool Area. We pass up the shopping and food for now, and turn left toward the Race and Sports Book.

In front of Wolfgang Puck’s Café, we find our first pit of playable blackjack games. There are eight 6-deck shoe games with s17, das, ls and rsa. Table limits are $5 to $1,000. By using a slot in the dealing shoe, the dealer consistently places the cut card at 1.5 decks from the last card (i.e. 4.5 decks are dealt or a 75% penetration). The tables are not crowded and the dealers appear to be slower than normal. We observe a fellow advantage player using a 1 to 10 betting spread with no attention from the pit personnel.

We continue on toward the Race and Sports Book and notice the Entrance to Mansion Casino, the high-limit gaming area. This area has four 6-deck blackjack games with s17, das, ls, and rsa. Table limits are $100 to $10,000. About 1.5 decks are cut out of play (75% penetration). Several high-limit baccarat games are also located here. Our observations in this area will be the key to finding the best area for our play. Surveillance personnel are very observant in the high roller room. If this area is very busy with lots of action, other locations and pits will go with little or no surveillance observation, except by pit personnel and we can keep an eye on them. The reason for this is because surveillance personnel have been impacted by lay-offs and some good experienced personnel have moved on to better jobs with the opening of new casinos. As with other casinos, surveillance at the MGM does not appear to be what it used to be. Both quality and quantity have gone down hill.

As we leave the Mansion Casino, we turn right toward the main casino and on the left are two pits which offer sixteen 6-deck blackjack games with s17, das, ls, and rsa. Table limits are $25 to $10,000. Penetration is by the slot in the shoe and 1.5 decks are cut off (i.e. 75% penetration). Many tables are $100 minimum bets and higher with lots of activity. We could easily enter one of these games and play undetected by keeping our average bets below the other players. Pit personnel are very busy tracking buy-ins and markers for comped players, however be warned that bets above $500 in this area will get their attention.

We continue past the craps tables and find more blackjack tables. The first pit has five 6-deck games with the same good rules and $10 to $5,000 table limits. There are many players at the $10 minimum tables and few at the $25 minimum tables. The following pit has eight 6-deck games with $10 and $25 minimum tables. Continuing further, we find another pit with eight 6-deck games with a few at $5 minimums. Continuing further past the 3-Card Poker, Let-it-Ride and other games pit we arrive at the Show Bar Casino area. The Show Bar area is adjacent to the Grand Buffet, The Rainforest Café, Studio 54 Night Club and the Lion Habitat. Here we find five CSM games and two 6-deck games with the same rules as we have observed before, except these games hit soft 17.

We have finally found all the playable blackjack games. Now, we must decide which ones are the best. We have observed lots of action in the Mansion Casino area and many players in the $25 and $100 minimum area playing for comps. But our mission is to win money, so we go back to the area adjacent to the security and cashier, which had several $25 minimum tables with only a few players. We find a table with just one other player, and buy-in for $500. In this area, the surveillance will be minimum or non existent unless requested by pit personnel, and we can keep an eye on them. The supervisor verifies the value of the buy-in, with little or no observation of us. The rules are good, only 1.5 decks are cut out of play (75% penetration) and we use a 1 to 12 betting spread with little heat (pit personnel are too busy verifying buy-ins and other routine pit activities). Our maximum 12 unit ($300) bets go unnoticed as we continue to play. We Wong out a couple times on high negative counts and discretely pocket some black chips while leaving the value of our original buy-in on the table. When observed by pit personnel, we therefore appear not to be winning. We could probably play in this area as an advantage player for hours with little heat. As we get ready to leave, we pocket the blacks and color up $400 in green, walking away a $100 loser in the eyes of the pit supervisor.

The MGM Grand casino is very large (175,000 square feet) and busy and it provides us with many choices for advantage blackjack play. The pit adjacent to Wolfgang Puck’s Café could be equally playable, with minimum observation by surveillance. At times, table limits will be raised, opening more playable tables in lower observed areas.

Blackjack play in the Mansion Casino games should be avoided unless your cover is excellent because players are critically observed in this area by surveillance and pit personnel.

Let’s leave the property and take the sky walk across Las Vegas Boulevard to another MGM-Mirage property, the New York- New York Hotel casino.


The view of New York – New York is unmistakably the New York City skyline, except for the Manhattan Express roller coaster screaming through loops above the buildings. ESPN Sports has recently opened a restaurant on the property with a good selection of dishes for sports fans. The bar at Times Square features dueling pianos, which is great entertainment.

Blackjack at New York – New York

NYNY offers two single-deck games with various rules and conditions. However, neither of the single-deck games are worth playing. There are six 2-deck games with both s17 and h17 rules. The s17 games are $100 minimums. Double after pair splitting (das) is allowed on all games at NYNY. The dealer cuts off 0.9 decks, which is a 55% penetration. Twenty-two 6-deck games are offered, three with $100 minimums with s17 rules, and nineteen with h17 rules. Late surrender and re-split aces are allowed on all 6-deck games. Black chip ($100) action and aggressive betting spreads appears to attract more attention from pit personnel than at the MGM Grand. I would recommend short playing sessions and Wonging on negative shoes. Surveillance information is shared by MGM- Mirage properties. Therefore a word of caution – if you are barred at one of these properties, it could result in barring at all the other MGM-Mirage properties.





Midweek in December is a gambler’s field of dreams in Atlantic City, especially this year. Because so many people are thinking "holidays," to lure gamblers and their wallets to the shore requires a little bit extra.

Most casinos are offering excellent room deals for moderate play. If you are a $25 bettor, you can probably rack up a free or heavily discounted room Sunday through Thursday. If you are a $50 bettor, they’ll probably add Friday as well.

Since December is gift-giving time, you’ll note the delightfully diverse presents many casinos have prepared for their rated customers: crystal stemware, glasses, ash trays and objects of art; linens and bath towels; indoor heaters, grills, scarves and assorted logo items. Some casinos even give away food such as turkeys.

The Boardwalk is a festival of lights and decorations; and walks at dusk are enchanted. It’s a great time to go to the Pier One Mall and observe the city from the observation deck. Beautiful!

Since Atlantic City is always Atlantic City, the blackjack games don’t change that much. The most startling changes have come about at the Caesars and the Claridge, where formerly good games are declining. Sands still has the most beatable game for card counters in AC, with Hilton a very close second. If you are an advantage player, you should have these two casinos in your sights. I was particularly impressed with
the Hilton when I was there recently. The game is good and the pit is (or
was) very cool and not the least paranoid.

Christmas is a time of giving but for you AC blackjack players may it be a time for taking as well!

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

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

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

Here’s a rundown of the December, 2001 Atlantic City blackjack scene.

Rating system:
* * * * * = Excellent

* * * * = Very Good

* * * = Good

* * = Fair

* = Poor.

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

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


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


Six-deck games with penetration of 70-75 percent in high roller room only. Minimums $100 to maximum of $2,000/$5,000. Rest of tables are 8-deck with 70 percent penetration. The $10 tables are almost gone, especially on the weekends, replaced by $15 and $25. Early morning a $5 table was sighted. Resplitting allowed but you can only split aces once. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! * * 1/2* [Penetration Report: C]


More slots and more $5 games. The 4-deck games are gone. The Claridge is no longer going deep on most games. The high roller room is 6-deck games with $25-$50 minimums most days. Penetration varies but now averages anywhere from 70-75 percent. You can resplit pairs up to four hands, including aces, in high roller room but the rest of the casino doesn’t allow resplitting. The rest of the casino is 8 decks with mediocre
penetration. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available for $10 and up. * * 1/2* [Penetration Report: C]


No change from last issue. Basic Strategy players might consider this to be one of the two best games in town! The 6-deck games have poor penetration of 66 percent in high roller area -- and some players claim that they have seen 50 percent penetration. The Vegas’ Harrah’s has a reputation for being counter-crazy but if that 50 percent tale is true, why
would anyone with skill play at this place? Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. Rest of casino is 8 decks with 66-70 percent penetration. Harrah’s Table Game Guarantee: if the minimums are raised during play, you still get to play your original minimum. * * [Penetration Report: D]


Penetration has gotten better, over 80 percent throughout the casino. I did not find any $5 games but I saw a few $10 ones in the early hours. Resplitting allowed except aces. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have good penetration for $10. * * * * [Penetration Report: A-]


No change from last issue. People have rediscovered Resorts. Good penetration on 8-deck games, consistently in the 75-80 percent zone, dealer dependent however. Plenty of $5 and $10 games during the daytime hours. The 6-deck games in the high roller pits ($25/$50 minimums and up) are good, coming in at 80 percent penetration. Resplitting is allowed at all tables. Casino also offers multiple-action blackjack and Spanish 21 at $10
minimums. Still one of the better casinos for blackjack in Atlantic City. Pits are not paranoid. * * * * [Penetration Report: B+]


Three-deck, heads-up game has minimums that are accessible at $25 to $100 (usually high on weekends, low on weekdays). These may not last too much longer. Counters can probably play these games if they look like ploppies and seem not to know exactly what they are doing. Bone up on your indices for odd plays and make the types of mistakes that don’t cost all that much, such as not hitting your 16s against a dealer 10 (which is the
correct move in a high count anyway). The two 4-deckers still exist but you won’t find them 24/7. Reports say the pit has eased up on counters so now may be the time for all counters to take on the Sands. Sands is still an all 6-deck casino, with 75-80 percent penetration the norm. Sands also has Multiple Action Blackjack and Spanish 21. * * * * [Penetration Report: B+]


No change from last report. Six-deck games are good in the high roller room with standard penetration of 80 percent and $50/$100 minimums, $2,000/$5,000 maximums. No resplitting allowed. Eight-deck games have 75-80+ percent penetration but some dealers have been going deeper -- almost to 85 percent. Very few $10 tables, mostly $15 and up. Multiple-action available at one table. Showboat is now a part of Harrah’s
"total gold" computer network so you can use your comps at other Harrah’s properties.

* * * * [Penetration Report: B+]


This is THE place for basic strategy players as the games are dreadfully slow and shallowly cut. Can they fit any more slots in this place? Next they’ll be in the bathrooms. Six-deck games in high-roller room are $100 minimums with 66 percent penetration when they’re feeling generous. Rest of the casino is no better, except these are 8-deckers with $10 minimums and up. Ever since the Campione case several years back, Trop seems to have positioned itself as the slot-machine king of AC. Leave this place to the slot players unless you are strictly a basic strategy player, then it is the place to play as you won’t be playing as many hands. * [Penetration Report: F]


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


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


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


No change from last report. Still the only casino in Atlantic City that has that Vegas feel. They have added more slot machines but the table games are still packed and the place is jumping all day and all night. They still go deep! Consistent 80-85 percent penetration
throughout the casino but all games are 8 decks. Many more $5 tables in evidence. They tolerate very large spreads but, again, 8 decks are rough. Resplits allowed, except aces. Great atmosphere for gambling. * * * * [Penetration Report: B+]

BEST CASINOS FOR BJ IN ATLANTIC CITY: Sands, Bally’s Park Place, Showboat, Resorts, and Hilton

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.



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); Siena (1-877-743-6233)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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); Fiesta (1-888-877-5108)

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton, MN: Black Bear (1-888-771-0777)
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: Pepermill (1-800-648-9660)

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

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


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)

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)

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 first quarter of 2002 features many blackjack tournaments from different areas with prizes totaling up to $100,000 to the winner.

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

Dec. 31 Speedway $55 single $3K 1-877-333-9291

Las Vegas, NV

Jan. 7 Turning Stone $25 six $8.4K/$2.5K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

Jan. 15 Turning Stone free * two $10K/$5K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

Jan. 17-19 Las Vegas Hilton $299 six $25K/$10K 1-800-457-3307

Las Vegas, NV

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

Robinsonville, MS

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

Ledyard, CT

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

Niagra Falls, Ont

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

Atlantic City, NJ

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

Hessel, MI

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

Verona, NY

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

Rock island, IL

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

Las Vegas, NV

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

Las Vegas, NV

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

Red Wing, MN

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

Las Vegas, NV

March 4 Turning Stone $25 six $8.4K/$2.5K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

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

Crystal Bay, NV

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

Robinsonville, MS

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

Niagara Falls, Ont

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

Laughlin, NV

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

Laughlin, NV

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

` Laughlin, NV

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



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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