Blackjack Insider Newsletter, November 2002, #35
LAS VEGAS BLACKJACK REPORT
BY CAPTAIN JOHN
Mr. Pit Bossís advice in issue 34 of the Blackjack Insider newsletter was to stay away from the strip casinos and play in the local casinos. Therefore, for this report I checked out the blackjack playing conditions for several local casinos in town.
From what I observed, I completely agree with Mr. Pit Boss. The major strip casino managers are pinching every aspect of the game, comps, and service to get at least enough profit for their annual bonus. Advantage players are getting barred when they get greedy and casino management is driving away their customers by their greed. Tables are open but some dealers stand with arms folded their entire shift without any customers. Potential players walk past open tables with high betting limits. Even though advantage players can find open tables, their play is observed closely by pit personnel and the eye-in-the-sky. If they use a betting spread that gives them any advantage, unless they put on a very good act, they will be barred. After all, if you are the only player on a table, what else does the pit and surveillance have to do but to watch your play.
I did manage to find a couple playable games on the strip if you are looking for comps and are willing to minimize your spread.
CASINO ROYALE offers a good double-deck game with penetration from 0.5 to 0.7 decks. Rules are h17 and das. Dealers are friendly. Pit personnel are not too attentive to the play because they are usually busy with other pit duties. I would recommend that if you are playing for comps to keep your betting spread limited to 1 Ė 4 units and donít jump your bets by more than double the previous wager. The 6-deck game is also playable since some dealers offer good penetration.
FLAMINGO HILTON offers good penetration (at times less than 1 deck) on their 6-deck games. Rules are h17, das and ls. Limit your playing time, as it appears most of the pit attention is given to the double-deck games.
The local casinos offer many player card benefits as well as some playable games for the advantage player.
FIESTA RANCHO offers a good single-deck game playable early in the morning. Rules are h17 and das. Penetration varies by dealer, usually rule of six. Stay away from the Superfun 21 game offered in the same pit. By showing a players card, it seems to minimize heat from the pit.
BARCELONA, located at Craig Rd and Nellis, has the best single-deck rules in the area. The single-deck table, open in the evening only, has h17, ls, suited bj bonus and 6-7-8 bonus play. Bonus Blackjack side-bets are offered, but they only slow the game down considerably.
DOWNTOWN casinos; Golden Spike, Lady Luck, Golden Gate, Las Vegas Club, Four Queens and El Cortez offer playable single-deck games. Table-limits are usually low. Limited casino surveillance abilities. I recommend you play hit-and-run during the early morning. Binionís Horseshoe casino is not recommended since I observed only 3 rounds being dealt to a single-player as the norm.
I would like to recommend more places for the advantage player, but Iím finding them few and far between. Most places have numerous non-playable, single-deck 6 to 5 blackjack payoff games, which are taking up valuable space. Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSMís) are still around taking up more space and pushing out some playable 6-deck games. However, continue to look for good playing conditions and donít be satisfied with unsatisfactory conditions (i.e., save your bankroll for the good games).
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.
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