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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, May 2002, #30


We welcome two new writers to the Blackjack Insider newsletter, Dan Pronovost and Mr. Pit Boss. Dan is a developer of a wide range of blackjack training products and software and the President of DeepNet Technologies. He explores the question of whether it is necessary to memorize different basic strategy tables for different games (the results may surprise you). Mr. Pit Boss is a veteran casino games supervisor and he provides his insight and experience from the other side of the table. His first article covers tips on how to get a better rating when you play. Our Atlantic City blackjack expert, Alene Paone, brings us up-to-date on the latest happenings in Atlantic City (including the new Borgata casino) including the casinos that currently offer the best blackjack games; Frank Scoblete reviews Kevin Blackwood’s new book, The Counter; and LV Pro summarizes the results of his recent attack on the blackjack tables in Sin City (check out his tips on matchplay, 2-1, and 3-1 coupons). Last but not least, we have our reader’s feedback section and the schedule of upcoming major and minor blackjack tournaments.

Ready, set, let’s go ….

Henry Tamburin


May 2002

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

sr = surrender

ls = late surrender

d4 = double down on first four or fewer cards

d9 = double down only on two card 9 or more

d10 = double down only on two card 10 or more

doa = double on anything

nm = no mid game entry

nrs = no resplits

csm = continuous shuffle machine

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

EV = expected value. The amount (expressed in dollars or percent) a player should win (or lose) based on the player’s statistical advantage (or disadvantage).

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

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




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




From the beginner to the seasoned player, it seems that everyone is getting short-changed on his or her ratings and comps. But the key to comps is good ratings. Contrary to what players believe, the casino is not looking at how much you won or lost but rather your time played and average bet.

First thing to understand is that all casinos are not alike. They may all use the same system for determining comps but each casino has its own requirements for giving comps to players. For example, the high-end casinos require a higher average bet to get anything comped whereas smaller casinos might give you a room and dinner for a $25 average bet. However, the nicer ones may give you a buffet for the same play. My advice is to stay within your means if you’re looking for comps because nothing is really free.

Here are a few tips to maximize comps:

  1. Make sure you obtain a player’s card and always use it every time you sit down on a game.
  2. A sure-fire way to make sure you’re being rated is to put $500 to $1,000 on deposit at the cage and draw on it in the form of a marker when you sit down at a game. That way there will be a paper trail of your play.
  3. The casino is looking for time played, so take advantage of time away from the game. Leave some of your smaller denomination chips at the table and leave the game for 10 to 15 minutes an hour. They will continue to rate you while your gone.
  4. If you catch a run and you’re wagering more than you usually would, feel free to point this out to the floor supervisor who is rating you. You want to make sure that they see and rate your higher play.
  5. If you’re usually a $100 average player and you’re having a streak of bad luck and decide to play $25, you might not want to be rated since this will lower your average bet and thus reduce your comps.

6) Be pleasant! The better rapport you build with the dealer and the floor supervisor,

the better chance you have in stretching your rating to the limit. Tipping the dealer once in a while will get noticed by the floor supervisor (who was at one time working for tips). That is the defining factor of a nice player, which will probably boost your rating.

7) Most importantly, when you finished playing don’t be afraid to ask the floor supervisor what your average bet was and how much time he has you in for. If you disagree, this would be the time to let the supervisor know. If you work on him a little (in a nice way) he may pump up your rating. If he doesn’t just be polite and shake his hand because the next time you sit down in his section, he may be more generous with his rating.

The bottom line with comps is the longer you play and the higher your average bet, the more you get. Just make sure you always get rated for your play.

Good luck at the tables!

Mr. Pit Boss

Editors Note: Mr. Pit Boss is a seasoned veteran who has worked in the casino industry for over a decade on the Las Vegas strip. He has experience in all casino games and his tips apply to all of the games. In future articles he will discuss other points of interest to blackjack players such as card counting, money management and systems for advantage players.




Borgata Going Up!
In one year, give or take a few months, the Borgata will open its doors in Atlantic City. With over 2,500 rooms, 11 restaurants, spacious, tree-lined grounds, this massive structure is positioning itself to be the resort destination, not just a daytripper’s paradise. The AC blackjack community is holding its collective breath, hoping that the Borgata will bring in some "Vegas-style" gaming, at the very least some 4-deck games. (Go to the
Borgata website and you can see daily updates on the building itself.)

You can see the effects of Borgata on the AC market already. One of the reasons the Sands has repositioned itself as a slot house has more to do with the Borgata’s opening than it does with anything else. The Sands has one year to position itself in the slot market, the daytripper’s market, in the hopes of winning and keeping its share of the coin crowd. Borgata looks to be angling to take the high rollers away from the other properties. It remains to be seen how loyal AC customers are to their old properties when this new beauty opens.

The bet here is that Borgata will quickly zoom to the top. The only drawback to it is location -- it’s not just a hop, skip or jump to the ocean; it’s a car ride. Those players who enjoy walking the boards might find they don’t enjoy having to wait to get to the water’s edge.

Summer Fun
June begins the summer season in Atlantic City. Many of the boardwalk casinos have special deals for cabanas on the beach. Check out Hilton, Caesars, Trump Plaza for the more interesting deals. There’s a wealth of entertainment in the summertime. It’s also the only time of the year when children really have things to do in AC, apart from standing outside the casino proper watching mommy pouring money into the slot machines. There’s the beach, there are rides and amusements. So if you must bring junior to the Queen of resorts, summer is the time.

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 June 2002 Atlantic City blackjack scene.

Rating system:
* * * * * = Excellent

* * * * = Very Good

* * * = Good

* * = Fair

* = Poor

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

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

BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last report. They’ve ditched that long
shuffle, hallelujah! Penetration is getting better in the 8-deck games and the 6-deck games in the high roller pit ($100 minimums). No midshoe entry on all the 6-deck games and high-stakes 8-decks as well. 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: B+]

CAESARS: Getting better on their 6-deck games with penetration of 80 percent in high roller room only. Minimums $100 to maximum of $2,000/$5,000. Rest of tables are 8-deck with 75 percent penetration. The $10 tables are almost gone, especially on the weekends, replaced by $15 and $25. Resplitting allowed but you can only split aces once. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! * * * [Penetration Report: B]

CLARIDGE: No change from last report. Even the Claridge doesn’t have as many $5 games as it used to. The high roller room is 6-deck games, with some 8-deckers, with $25-$50-$100 minimums most days. Penetration varies but now averages about 75 percent. You can resplit pairs up to four hands in high roller room but the rest of the casino doesn’t allow resplitting. The rest of the casino is 8 decks with better penetration than last report. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available for $10 and up. * * 1/2*
[Penetration Report: C+]

HARRAH’S: Games continue to improve. The 6-deck games now have penetration of 80 percent in high roller area. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. Rest of casino is 8-decks also with 75-80 percent penetration the norm. * * * [Penetration Report: B]

HILTON: Still the best place to play for AC card counters. Penetration was solid 80 or more percent throughout the casino. High roller room 6-deckers are $100 minimums with 80 percent or more penetration as well. You will be hard pressed to find $10 games. Resplitting allowed except aces. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have good penetration for $10. * * * * [Penetration Report: A-]

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

SANDS: They are not taking care of this place at all. As they start the changeover to a slot venue, the tone of the place has deteriorated as well. People are not happy working here, at least that’s how it appeared to me when I visited. No stars. [Penetration Report: F]

SHOWBOAT: No change from last report. Six-deck games are good in the high roller room with standard penetration of 75-80 percent and $50/$100 minimums, $2,000/$5,000 maximums. No resplitting allowed. Eight-deck games have 75-80+ percent penetration but some dealers have been going deeper-about to 85% percent. Very few $10 tables, mostly $15 and up. Multiple-action available at one table. Reports are they have loosened their comp requirements. * * * 1/2* [Penetration Report: B+]

TROPICANA: No change from last report, except now they have dinosaurs as well as chickens. Can they fit any more slots in this place? I think I saw one in the bathroom! If playing a game of tic-tac-toe against a chicken is your idea of gambling, go for it. I prefer to eat them. Six-deck games in high-roller room are $100 minimums with 66 percent penetration the norm. Thought I also saw some 8-deckers in there, but it was so smoky the night I entered I had a hard time seeing anything at all. Rest of the casino is 8-deckers with $10 minimums and up. * 1/2* [Penetration Report: D]

TRUMP MARINA: Continues to improve. Six-deck games in high roller room ($100 minimums, $2,500/$5,000 maximums) have 80 percent penetration. Eight-deck games are now at same mark. One table of Multiple Action available at $10 and up. Games are mostly $15/$25 and up, especially on weekends. * * * 1/2* [Penetration Report: B]

TRUMP PLAZA: No change from last report. Penetration ranging from 70 percent to 75 percent on all games, 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. This place has seen better days. * * [Penetration Report: C]

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: No change from last report. Six-deck games in high roller room ($100 minimum, $5,000 maximum) continue to improve with penetration to around 75-80 percent. The 8-deck also had penetration around 75-80 percent. Much of the penetration is dealer dependent, so scout around. Lowest tables are $10/$15 even during midweek -- but mornings midweek have $5 games as well. No resplits. Multiple Action, Double Exposure and Spanish 21 are available at $10/$15 minimums and up. Casino has improved in two straight reports. * * * [Penetration Report: B-]

WILD, WILD WEST: I still like the atmosphere in this place; it has that Vegas feel. They have added more slot machines but the table games are still packed and the place is jumping all day and all night. They still go deep! Consistent 80 percent penetration throughout the casino but all games are 8 decks. Many more $10-$15 tables in evidence; saw only two $5 tables when I visited. They tolerate very large spreads but, again, 8 decks are rough. Resplits allowed, except aces. Great atmosphere for gambling.

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

BEST CASINOS FOR BJ IN ATLANTIC CITY: Hilton and Resorts for the fifth
month in a row. Bally’s/WWW in second place.




Once again the time had come to fill the gas tank and drive across the desert to Las Vegas for a five-day blackjack trip. I realized I was not going to break any speed records for the LA to LV run this night when I ran into the first of what would turn out to be several 55 mph construction zones. Each one seemed to take an eternity to cross and it felt like I was just crawling along, even though I did 65-70 mph through most of them. At times it seemed that the entire length of Interstate 15 was being torn up and renovated. As usual I was anxious to reach my hotel, but the drive took nearly 4 hours. Oh well, count your blessings, I thought to myself. Even though I'd averaged 90 mph on the open stretches of highway, thankfully there were no traffic tickets this time.

After unpacking, I walked through my hotel's casino but the few remaining open tables were full so I headed over to Treasure Island (TI). All four double deckers in the main pit were still $25 minimum, even at this late hour at the end of swing shift. One table was idle so I asked the floorman if he would let me play $10 minimum "to get the table started" but he refused. Sometimes they let me play with a $10 minimum wager but not tonight.

I had decided to get more shoe play into my repertoire this trip so I walked around the casino looking for a six decker, but all the TI shoe tables had continuous shuffling machines. Hell, I thought, if I have to play $25 minimum I might as well check out the high limit room where they offered two DD tables with the stand on soft 17 rule (unlike the main DD pit where they hit soft 17). As most of you know, the S17 game is 0.20% better for the player.

All the high limit tables had $100 minimum signs on them. Even though the pit was deserted, I decided not to ask to play at a lower $25 minimum. Usually my first session of any trip is one in which I take it slow and easy to get re-acclimated to the rhythm of Las Vegas blackjack, so I didn't want to play with a minimum bet I was uncomfortable with right off the bat. If I'm going to play higher than is optimal for my bankroll, I need to be in a solid groove mentally and at this moment I knew I wasn't. So I got the car back from valet, tipped a buck, and headed to Palace Station.

For this trip I was carrying a bankroll of $4,600. I had started solo play last September with my then remaining $2K after some disastrous team losses. Three of the last four trips had been winners and I'd increased my starting bank to $4.6K, down from a high of $5.5K at the end of the third trip (my last trip ended with a $900 loss). I was still using the $10 unit I'd started with, but had increased my betting spread from 1-6 to 1-8 and this trip I would use a top bet of 2 hands of $50, thus a 1-10 spread. Despite this, my risk of ruin would be stable due to keeping the unit size at $10 and the increased bankroll.

Usually I played mostly pitch games, primarily double deck, using my balanced level one Silver Fox count with about 60 index numbers. However, this trip I planned to incorporate more shoe games into my play.

Last month I took a pleasure trip to Vancouver for a family gathering. One night I had some free time so I cabbed it to one of the Gateway casinos. They had no pitch games but several tables of 6 deck shoes with H17, das and late surrender plus 1.3 pen. Playing only for a few hours, I was pleased to find I could count through shoe after shoe with accuracy and calculate the true count pretty well, though I still need some practice estimating the number of decks in the discard rack. What I realized about shoe games is that you need lots of patience. You have to wait longer for those advantageous situations to occur, and then really jump on them when they finally do show up.

I also planned to use more coupons from the Las Vegas Advisor's "Pocketbook of Values" coupon book. I had ordered two more of them at $37.50 each by calling and giving 2 friend's names as new online subscribers and I'd pick up the booklets later this morning when the Huntington Press offices opened. Of course the subscriptions were meaningless to me. All I wanted were those 2 extra coupon books containing all those lucrative "blackjack pays 3-1" and matchplay coupons.

Well, crowded tables at my hotel and the too high minimums at TI compelled me to find another venue (which is why I drove to Palace Station). It looked like a slow grave shift with only 3 double deck tables open, plus one shoe and one Super Fun 21 game. I got a heads up game at the $10 DD table and soon wished I hadn't. I bought in for $200 and by the time the first shuffle had ended, my $200 was gone. Talk about a "hot" dealer. He just couldn't lose. If he had 16, he'd draw a 4. If he had 12, I'd cringe as he drew what I just knew was going to be an 8 or 9. Meanwhile I busted every stiff. I went to 2 hands of $20 each at +2 true, but no "changing the order of the cards" would help me tonight as I lost both hands.

The main dealer was giving 60% pen, so I was glad when the relief dealer arrived. This was better pen at 65%, but my shellacking continued. Finally the count shot up to +10 running with 1.25 decks left, a +8 true! I shoved out two hands of $50 and he turned up a 4. My first hand was 9, 9 so I reached in my pocket for my fourth Benji to cover the split. I wound up with 14 on one and 20 on the other. The second hand was a disappointing 17 so I had to stand and hope. He turns up a 10 in the hole for 14. Ok, I thought….push on the split and lose or tie on the 17 if he makes a hand for a loss of $50, or win $150 if he busts. So I liked my chances. I liked them up until that horrible moment when he pulled that ugly 7 of clubs out of his ass for 21. That's it, I thought. Not my night. I almost ran out of there into the parking lot, cause I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I lost $400 in like 20 minutes on my first session of the trip. This was definitely my worst start of a trip in recent memory. I guess that if you increase your spread, you have to accept the increased volatility too. I was cursing my luck as I drove back to my hotel and tried to calm my anger by repeating to myself, "you'll get it back tomorrow". Fuming, I called it a night. Jeez, I hate to lose, especially when I know I've got the edge on them and I’m supposed to win.

I started the next day at my hotel's double decker where I got 65% pen from both dealers on the game. After starting out in the hole, I battled to get even for over an hour before quitting with a $300 loss after a series of disastrous high count max bets. It was only my second session of the trip, I’d played less than two hours and I was already down $700.

I took a break from blackjack, picked up my two extra POV coupon books at Huntington Press, and headed downtown to play the Golden Gate's "blackjacks pay 2-1 for an hour" coupon. Pen was 60% on the $3 DD table, but I had the table to myself for most of the hour, so the hands per hour were acceptable. Many people have told me that if you are sitting at a slow table with other players while playing the 2-1 BJ coupon, it's best to move to the CSM table for increased speed. It's the only instance I know of where it's more advantageous to play a table with a continuous shuffler. Ordinarily I boycott those tables, and I hope you do too. Fortunately I didn't have to move, as old prejudices are hard to break, but I guess if conditions deteriorated at my DD table, I would have moved over to it. Anyway, I seesawed back and forth for the hour finally coloring up with a $50 loss to put me at minus $750 for the trip after less than 3 hours.

Taking a break from the game, I hung out at the pool for awhile, then showered and took a nap. I met Mayor for dinner at the Seafood Broiler at Palace Station where I had gotten a $40 comp from a sympathetic floor gal last night. Guess I didn't rush out of there as fast as I thought.

Mayor is another of Wong's Green Chippers who has a great website that features a card counting simulator which will run as many hands as you set it for after entering your count system, top bet, unit size and bankroll. It's fun to watch your bankroll and win rate fluctuate wildly as you run simulations and adjust your betting schemes to see which ones work out best. You might check this out at

I guess I felt a little better about my bad beats so far when Mayor told me how he was now in the hole $1,200 or so after being up a few thousand. I suppose misery loves company, so we commiserated and tried to encourage each other. We also talked about mutual acquaintances we knew through and where good dealers could be found. I had the steak and scampi while Mayor had the lamb chops. We both had the excellent salad and soup bar then departed after coffee, arranging to meet again tomorrow.

After talking with Mayor, I decided to take a page from his book and change my hours. This meant sleeping during the busy times when the BJ tables were crowded, and taking advantage of the grave shift hours when conditions were better. I slept through Friday evening, then woke at 3:30 am to go out to play.

I started my new schedule at my hotel's DD tables, which were still surprisingly busy at a quarter to 4 in the morning. I sat with 2 other players, one of whom was playing 2 hands. I hadn't been doing very good playing alone, so as a way of changing things around I sat down despite the less than optimal conditions. I bought in for $200 and went downhill quickly as the dealer pulled hands like you wouldn't believe. In the early part of my card counting career I would have been quite discouraged. I would have quit after losing my $200 plus another $50 I pulled to cover a double down. After going in for another hundred, I was in for $350 and still losing. Down to my last few bets, I took a break to walk around and collect myself using the experience I'd gained over the last few years to calm my agitation. I was now down over $1,000 for the trip in only 3 plus hours of play.

After this little pep talk I was able to make my mind calmer so I rejoined the game. The other players had departed. I vowed to play unemotionally, just going by the numbers and betting the true count as usual. Things started to slowly get better. After a high-count deck turned things around a bit, I still had $125 in front of me.

Soon I was winning a series of high-count max bets, though I only bet the $100 once. My top bets this session were more like $75 or $80. When you've been getting hammered good like I had been, it tends to make you gun shy.

After another half-hour, I had won back the $350 plus another $200 besides, so I quit after 90 minutes, most of it playing alone. Even though conditions were still good, this is the hotel that comps my rooms so I felt it was prudent not to overplay their game. Why take the chance that they'd spot me as a counter and rescind my comps? Even at 5am there were plenty of other casinos with good games to play so why give the pit and surveillance guys too long a look at my game? Besides, I needed to record a win, any win, just to re-establish confidence for the rest of the trip.

Ok, so far so good. I was now down only $550 after having been in for over $1,000. I felt truly lucky that I was able to cut the deficit in half. As it turned out, this was the key session of the early part of this trip.

Now re-energized and newly inspired, I set out to get the rest of my money back. I decided to go on a hit and run tour, using the "Blackjack pays 3-1 up to $25" coupons in the LVA pocketbook of values. Since I had two coupons for each casino, and you're only allowed to play one per day, I had to scout the casinos before sitting down to play to determine how I can best get both coupon plays down without having to return. The best way of course is to play each of them in different pits, but at this hour, many of the pits might be closed. There might only be one pit open which would make it almost impossible to play two of them under the watchful eyes of the same pit crew. This was important because in many cases I'd be playing inferior games, especially at three of the Coast properties. I didn't want to invest time and money playing a second coupon only to have the pit disallow the coupon once I'd hit the natural.

First stop was the Barbary Coast, traditionally one of the worst places to play advantage blackjack in town because of the pits intolerance of anyone who looks somewhat skilled, or even lucky gamblers who happened to be winning. There were two pits open, so I started in the back pit close to the Victorian Room coffee shop. I hit the blackjack in the first deck in a low count when I had only $20 bet. I remembered my last trip here where I played the same coupon and underbet [$15] and low and behold hit my 3-1 natural on the very first hand dealt. I admitted ruefully that I still hadn't learned this lesson when playing a 3-1 BJ coupon with a $25 max allowance: "flat bet $25 minimum at ALL counts, then spread horizontally to two, then three hands of $25 in high counts ".

I was now up $75 and moved to the front pit to play the second coupon. After 15 minutes I finally hit my blackjack with a $25 bet out. I colored out with a $150 win and headed for the car.

From there, I hit the Gold Coast where it took 25 minutes to get the snapper. I had hoped that the back pit by the buffet would be open, but it wasn't. Only one pit was open with the same floor crew that had good sight lines to all the BJ tables in their pit. So I felt it would be wise to return here another time to play the second coupon. My total win at the Gold Coast was $25, which came out to $1 per minute.

Next I hit the Orleans, another of those infamous heat-y Coast casinos. Here I was able to play both coupons in different pits, even though the first pit boss could see me if he decided to look across the floor. Knowing this, I chose a table and seat where the dealer would block his view of me and I stayed hunched down in the seat. But there was no problem except that the first natural I got, the dealer also got one too, so the floorman said "no payoff". I had to wait another 5-10 minutes before getting another snapper. Fortunately the dealer had a 9 up, so no danger of another push. I wound up winning $125.

I proceeded to Terrible's to use a $25 matchplay. I waited for a high count to use the matchplay but wound up losing the hand. The count was still mildly up, so I bet $50 on the next hand and got a blackjack for a standard $75 payout. That hand was the key to my small $50 win, and I colored out shortly after the dealer disallowed the second coupon I tried to play. I should have switched tables before trying to play the second one.

Now down only $200 for the trip, I drove west on Flamingo and pondered my next move. I'd have to wait for a shift change at Gold Coast to play the second 3-1 coupon. I had two more 3-1 coupons for Fiesta, now the closest venue. Or I could try TI where there might be a $10 DD table now at 9 am. Should I go straight past the light at the LV Blvd. intersection and onto the freeway to the Fiesta? Or turn right towards TI? Since I could play the Fiesta coupons anytime, I decided the time might be just right for some straight counting at TI. So I turned right. Funny how these momentary whims can so drastically affect your outcome.

To my consternation, all the DD tables at TI were still $25 minimum. Fortunately I'd told the valet I might be back in 15 minutes and to keep my car close for awhile. Three of the four tables had players. My favorite floorgal let me play $10 at the idle table, while keeping the $25 min sign in place. Soon another floorman changed the sign to $10 minimum to my dismay. Now I'd be getting all the low-level ploppies barging in and cluttering up my game.

It wasn't that bad though. Eventually two other players joined but we were all winning pretty good and the dealer, unprepared for so much nickel play, ran out of red chips resulting in a fill. Yawning, I finally quit with a $125 win, two packs of cigarettes, and a coffee shop comp for two. Despite what will happen later in this narrative, I still love TI since it's now and always my favorite double deck venue.

I was now down only $75 for the trip after having been in the hole for $1,000. I had six consecutive winning sessions this night and felt I was "in the zone". I concluded the night's work at noon, finally heading to my room for a well-deserved nap. I woke up in the late afternoon. then I hit the pool for some sun and relaxation.

(The surprising conclusion of LV Pro’s trip will appear in the next issue of Blackjack Insider)



The Counter by Kevin Blackwood (Wooden Pagoda Press, $14.00)

I usually stay away from fiction books about gambling and casinos because often the author displays his or her total lack of knowledge of gambling games as the book progresses. That can get irritating when you've invested your time only to find out on page 103 that the writer hasn't a clue as to what happens in a casino or to casino players.

I remember once reading an otherwise decent book that took the protagonists to Atlantic City where they played blackjack using $20 purple chips and tried to hit to hands of 21, no matter what the dealer had showing – and these characters, the author insisted, were supposed to be savvy gamblers. He even got the location of individual Atlantic City casinos wrong! (Aren't there supposed to be editors that check these things at major publishers?) It almost ruined the experience for me. Luckily, the author got them out of
town before I got up and threw the book out. (The one glaring exception to the above was Mario Puzo's Fools Die, a brilliant book.)

So, when Kevin Blackwood's book came to me, it had to face my distrust of gambling fiction, and also the fact that I have never heard of the publisher. The book had obviously been read in galley form by some prominent gaming authorities as the back cover was liberally sprinkled with quotes about its virtues.

Good enough to give me a reason to read some of it.

So I started reading. Immediately I was struck with a scene that I felt was labored and false. The protagonist, Raven Townsend, is playing at a casino and a young lady, obviously a chip hustler or hooker, is asking questions. The dealer is explaining the essence of card counting to her. Those questions were heavy-handedly designed, it seemed to me, to inform the readers about the mechanics of card counting and I thought, "this book is going to be laborious. I'll give it thirty pages."

It didn't take thirty pages. Once that initial, and strained, conversation took place, the book took off. I couldn't put it down. Blackwood weaved a world of professional blackjack with a quest for truth and identity, a love lost and found, and a rollicking series of adventures that culminated in a showdown at the conclusion that was teeth clenching and stomach tightening.

The Counter is a book that is everything its blurbs say it is. The blackjack information is right on the money. Scene after crackling scene I kept saying to myself: "I've been there and done that, wow!" Mr. Blackwood knows the game inside and out, and he has liberally sprinkled the book with, I believe, true life adventures and thinly veiled true-life
characters. (Blackjack buffs might be able to pin down these characters!)

Still a work of fiction has to be more than just a series of blackjack anecdotes, no matter how appealing. Such anecdotes are fine for nonfiction, how-to books in order to take away the tedium of reading serious strategic matters. A work of fiction has to have a search for truth, be it the little truth of an individual's existence that we can relate to or be it the big truths about the very nature of existence itself. A novel has to be, well,
novel, in the strictest sense of that word. Otherwise why get involved? Why not just live your own life which is novel enough?

Blackwood's first novel is indeed novel. His main character, Raven Townsend, is a fully drawn, unique individual with a moral compass that starts spinning uncontrollably as the story progresses. In fact, the core of the novel is Raven's search for his sense of self and the meaning of his life. At first, the love of God and a reverential fundamentalist
Christianity consume him. He desires to be a great archeologist; he wants to discover Noah's Ark. He also wants to unload the guilt associated with a deed done in youth that has caused him shame. But as he attends and graduates college, money and materialism become his lifeboat. As he gets deeper and deeper into the world of professional blackjack play, and as his bankroll grows from a mere $5,000 to over $800,000, he becomes the foil, pawn, and then scapegoat of some very well-drawn, shady characters (one of them highly reminiscent of the late, great, blackjack guru Ken Uston).

He finds himself banned by casinos in Vegas, Mississippi and the Islands; he is hoodwinked by his cronies. He discovers that the girl he loves, a throwback to a time when women ruled the moral roost, is repelled by his career choice and disgusted with his growing immorality. His father, a man of simple vision and strong principles, is also disheartened by Raven's inability to see the hollow nature of his lucrative blackjack calling. The book insightfully creates a dramatic tension between characters --
father/son, friend/friend, casino/counter, lover/beloved -- and among partners in the business of blackjack. However, the moral struggle within the character of Raven himself is at the core of the book.

The title itself can have various meanings. The "counter" with the small "c" is Raven, and what he counts are cards and money and, as the book revs up, his mistakes. But the "Counter" with a capital "C" can also stand for the Creator, God, or the Great Spirit of Raven's part-Indian heritage, who counts our ways and numbers our days. Raven is indeed on a quest for knowledge and, despite his fundamentalist leanings, he experiments with a "vision quest" (ala Carlos Castenada who wrote The Teachings of Don Juan),
participates in an archeological dig in the holy land, and examines his conscience throughout.

The book's climax is both tense and exhilarating. It ends...well, that's for you to find out.

While there is some intermittent and occasionally awkward dialogue, along with some corny witticisms here and there, on the whole and in its parts, Blackwood's literary style is smooth, consistently straightforward and admirably concrete. This is a novel I can recommend to anyone interested in a good read. Congratulations, Mr. Blackwood, on a job well done.

(The Counter is available on or send $14.00 + $3 S&H to Wooden Pagoda Press,1056 Green Acres Rd. Suite 102-132, Eugene, OR 97408 or call: 1-888-281-5170)


I enjoyed the report on BJ in Tunica (Issue #29). I play Tunica regularly; I would advise you to stay away from the Grand low limit tables as you discussed in the article. No counting system will compensate for the absolutely "rookie" players that you find at these tables who pop in and out of the game at lightning speed. You obviously know that the Grand only has no mid shoe entry on quarter or higher tables. Try the high roller area; well lighted, great players (for the most part), uncrowded and friendly/courteous staff. Also, you obviously were not at the Grand on the weekend when you said it wasn't crowded. The Grand is always packed three deep on the low end tables on the weekend.

Tunica BJ Player


Really enjoyed the article on Tunica by River Boat Flyer (issue # 29). It's good to see articles about playing in our back yard, so to speak. I believe, and I think the article
underlines, that the casino venue in MS is definitely player friendly. While we periodically visit the casinos in Tunica (Hollywood, Harrah's, Sam's Town) I guess our casino of choice is the Silver Star at Philadelphia MS.

I enjoyed the article because for once here's someone whose experiences I can really relate to. So often these authors put on as though every time they sit at a table they make a killing. I can empathize with RF (the Riverboat Flyer). His article rang true.

RF wrote, "The area features...good blackjack games, and easy room and meal comps." This is part of the charm of the MS casinos. Player friendly rules (blackjack or craps), good odds at craps, and relatively easy comping policies.

RF also wrote, "One thing I noticed about Tunica is that the dealers sometimes offer playing strategy advice to players that is usually suspect at best ..." While I tend to agree with RF I would like to think that there is no malice in this poor advice. I think we make an erroneous assumption that just because someone is a dealer that makes him or her a good player. I don't think the two necessarily go together.

RF related an anecdote concerning mid-shoe entry writing, "My friend Louie, who always looks for every advantage, asked the dealer during a shuffle if he could switch from playing one hand to two hands. The dealer (said no) because that would be mid shoe entry". I've not seen that situation before and wonder if the dealer was just flying by the seat of his pants. It might have been interesting to ask the pit boss.

RF wrote about some players at a table who did nothing but complain about every move the 3rd base and the other players made concluding, "The dealer went along with this even though they were obnoxious because they tipped well." I'm not too sure what RF expected of the dealer. I doubt that the dealer "went along" with this because "they tipped well". Sounds a little like sour grapes. If things really are unbearable I guess the solution is to get up and find another table. I've done it.

RF wrote about "...a side game that seemed to be popular in Tunica. I don't know what the locals refer to it, but I call it, 'what could have been'". While a certain amount of that can be expected, interestingly the only time I have been put off by that kind of 'what could have been' was playing on a riverboat at St Louis MO.

RF wrote, "It seems that everybody in Tunica (except for me) believes that you should NEVER split anything that begins with an F: fours, fives or faces." There is a certain truth in his observation. Very often it seems it's conventional wisdom to not split "F"-cards.

RF wrote, "The average blackjack player might be discouraged by my results...To put it simply the cards just did not come my way." And that's exactly it. Again, I enjoyed the article. At least there's one other person around whose luck (or whatever) is on a par with mine!

By the way, RF says, " I plan to return again." Try the Silver star. I think you'll like it.

Mississippi BJ Player


In the monthly Blackjack Insider newsletter you ask for input about comps on blackjack ----I just returned from Las Vegas staying at the Excalibur. The experience was a good one. It wasn't to crowded until Sat. nights. I stayed five days and played blackjack about 12 hours per day with average bet of $25. The room was comped for the entire 5 days as well as all meals at the restaurant of my choice. Luxor's restaurants were included. All restaurants served first class food. I did spend several hours playing at the Luxor also. The same player’s card can be used at both casinos. The dealer, with the exception of one, was great. Unless things have changed I would go and stay there again. When I checked out, my entire out of pocket expenses was 90 cents. (for a couple of phone calls) Oh by the way I ended up $1800.00 ahead, for the five day trek, which made it that much sweeter. Love your newsletter---keep up the great work.

Midwest BJ Player


I've been going to Las Vegas for about 20 years now. I love to play in blackjack tournaments so I usually go about 4 - 5 times per year during the "Stardust Week". This is when 4 - 5 casinos put on their tournaments all in a row so you can play all the tournaments in about one week time. Well, this past April there was one thing I did different then on my past trips. I booked every 'FREE" room any casino gave me or sent to me by mail. I noticed several of the casinos would offer 3 nights free, but they started adding little extras like $75 in food comps, $50 in spa comps, and $75 in cash just by coming to their properties. Hell at one time I had 5 rooms at different casinos. The main point to this story is the MGM casino gave me $75 in cash. I checked in, went over to the main cashier cage to pick up my "FREE" money only to receive three over sized chips at $25 each. I was told these chips play just like the regular $25 chips, but you just can't cash them in for money. Normally I just play blackjack but for some reason I decided to play Three Card Poker. There were two other players, one on each corner of the table. I just sat down in the middle and played my big chips, one on the pairs plus and one on the ante. The first hand I caught was a pair so I played my last big chip and I won all. So now I'm up $75 plus I still have all three of my big chips. Next hand same thing, same results. This is great- now I have $150. This continued for eight consecutive hands before I finally didn't get a pair (I only got ace, king high). The dealer turned a Queen so I still made $25. The next two hands I was back getting pairs and winning all. Now I've played eleven hands and not lost yet, all from the "FREE" money, and I'm up $775. By this time the pit boss is watching me real close and telling me to bet more so I obliged and played my last two big chips one at a time. When I looked at my cards I saw an eight, next card another eight so I tuck my cards under another $25 chip. The dealer turned up a pair of Jack. When she turned mine over I had a third eight.......three of a kind at 30 to 1. Now I'm up over $1,600.00 without pulling a cent out of my pocket. I finally lost three in a row, tipped the dealer and left the table. Two day's later same thing at New York/New York, I'm with Ken Smith (who I'm taking to dinner with a $75 comp). After dinner I go pick up my $75 in big chips and decide to play blackjack. Unlike my MGM adventure I lost my first two hands, won the third, and lost the fourth. I turned to Ken and asked if he was ready to go, I cashed in the $25 I was up and we left. I normally don't use all the comps that are sent to me for $5 -- $10, but this time I used $150 in comp chips to win over $1,500.00 after taxi's and tip's and had two great meals at over another $75.00 each. I've always heard you should take everything Las Vegas is willing to give you and this time I did.

Rick J. (Texas BJ Player)


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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); Terribles (1-800-640-9777)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Las Vegas, NV: Longhorn (1-702-435-9170); J. W. Marriott (1-877-869-8777); Fiesta Rancho (1-888-877-5108); Terribles (1-800-640-9777); Fiesta Henderson (1-888-899-7770)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rock Island, IL: Juner’s Rock Island (1-309-793-4200)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Laughlin, NV: River Palms Resort (1-800-835-7904); Colorado Belle (1-877-460-0777); Pioneer (1-800-634-3469); Avi (1-800-430-0721); Riverside (1-888-733-5946)

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Rumors were rampant that the Las Vegas Hilton was planning to cancel their million dollar tournament. However, we checked and that is not the case. The tournament is alive and well and will continue with the monthly satellite tournaments.

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

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


Date Location Entry #Decks Prizes More Information

May 29 Casino Montreal $25 six $5K/$2K 1-800-665-2274

Quebec, Canada

June 1-2 Bally’s free* six $135K/$100K 1-800-634-3434

Las Vegas, NV

June 3 Casino Montreal $250 six $52.5/$15K 1-800-665-2274

Quebec, Canada

June 3 Turning Stone $25 six $8.4K/$2.5K 1-800-771-7711

Verona, NY

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

New Orleans, LA

June 7-8 LV Hilton $1K six $64K/$20K 1-800-457-3307

Las Vegas, NV

June 7-9 Treasure Island $1.5K* six $100K/$100K 1-800-944-7444

Las Vegas, NV

June 7-9 Grand $1K six $300K/$120K 1-800-550-4473

Robinsonville, MS

June 7-9 Kewadin $150 six $5K/$2K 1-800-539-2346

Christmas, MI

June 12 Grand $20 six $4.2K/$2K 1-800-946-7777

Gulfport, MS

June 15-16 Flamingo $79 six $12K 1-800-662-6004

Laughlin, NV

June 21 Casino Niagra $100 eight $17K/$10K 1-888-698-3888

Ontario, Canada

June 21-23 Pioneer $200 single $25K/$11K 1-800-634=3469

Laughlin, NV

June 23-25 Edgewater $129 single $20K/$10K 1-800-2898-8777

Laughlin, NV

June 29 River Palms $99 two $10.5K/$5K 1-888-298-2242

Laughlin, NV

July 4-6 NY NY free* six $40K/$20K 1-888-469-6958

Las Vegas, NV

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

Las Vegas, NV

July 12-13 Reno Hilton free* single $25K/$10K 1-800-443-3105

Reno, NV

July 14-16 Peppermill $250 single $15.7K/$8K 1-800-648-9660

West Wendover, NV

July 16 Cactus Pete $200* single $50K/$20K 1-800-821-1103

Jackpot, NV

July 19-21 Sam’s Town $500 two $100K/$50K 1-800-456-0711

Robinsonville, MS

July 26-28 Imperial Palace $150 six $25K/$10K 1-800-436-3000

Biloxi, MS

Other planned tournaments:

Aug. 12-15 Stardust, Las Vegas (1-888-271-1777)

Aug. 15-16 New Frontier, Las Vegas (1-800-421-7806)

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

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

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

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

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

Sept. 12-14

Oct. 10-12

Nov. 14-16

Dec. 19-21

Jan. 9-12, 2003

Feb. 6-8, 2003

March 6-8, 2003

Final round: April 10-12, 2003


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.

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

Michael Shackelford, a.k.a. "The Wizard of Odds", has twenty years of computer programming experience and thousands of hours of casino gambling experience. His mathematical analysis of casino games is accurate and reliable. He has also extensively reviewed blackjack offerings on different Internet sites. His "Wizard of Odds" column appears monthly in Casino Player Magazine and he hosts the popular Internet site for casino players at 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, Midwest Gaming & Travel Magazine, The Gambler magazine, Gaming South 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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