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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, March, #39



Las Vegas casinos continue to add blackjack games with a higher casino advantage. For example the single deck games paying 6 to 5 on blackjacks are showing up in most casinos now. But the blackjack tables are not as crowded as usual. Management is tightening their operating budget, resulting in less surveillance and pit personnel watching players. If you follow the turnover in casino personnel, this can result in an added advantage for you. Even though you can’t ‘see" the surveillance personnel, if you know that floor personnel are leaving for one reason or another, it’s a good bet that some of the personnel behind the cameras are leaving also. Also, if you observe fewer phone calls in the pit, this is another sign indicating a decrease in surveillance personnel in that casino. I believe some shifts at some casinos do not even have a surveillance person observing table games and if they do, he may be sleeping or checking out the girls bending over the craps tables. The games are definitely not getting better, but the playing conditions at some casinos are.

Two new casinos recently opened, "The Cannery" and "Tuscany". The Cannery is located at Craig Road and Lose Road (north of downtown). The Tuscany is located on Flamingo just east of the strip.

The Cannery has four restaurants: Casa Cocina (Mexican), Waverly’s (steakhouse), Cannery Row Buffet and Victory Sports Bar Café. The Buffet and Victory’s are very popular with the locals. Hotel rates are competitive with the other casinos in the area. Weekday rates are $59, with weekend rates $79. Rooms are clean and comfortable.

Blackjack at the Cannery is nothing special. There are 9 double-deck games with 0.8 penetration and h17 and das; 3 six-deck games with das and h17 and 1.7 deck penetration; 1 single-deck SF21 game with 0.5 penetration; and 1 five-deck CSM game. Table-minimums are normally $5.

The Tuscany casino is an addition to their hotel. There is one restaurant in the casino and two in the hotel. I recommend the Italian restaurant in the hotel. Many of the personnel laid off from other casinos (as a result of 9-11) are employed at the Tuscany. They are trying to lure locals and tourists to their property. The hotel is upscale; all the rooms all suites. Weekend rates are from $129 to $159. The Tuscany casino must compete with casinos on the Strip as well as the many local casinos. Some good video poker games are available.

Blackjack at the Tuscany has some advantages for the observant player. The Tuscany offers 1 double-deck game with 0.8 penetration and h17 and das; 3 six-deck games with 1.5 penetration and h17, das, and ls; and 1 five-deck CSM game with h17,das, and ls. Table-limits are $5 to $500. Surveillance and floor personnel have various levels of experience. They appear to try very hard to make the customers welcome.

Here’s a run down on the current blackjack playing conditions in the downtown casinos.

Plaza (10 Blackjack Tables)

The Plaza has 5 double-deck games, 2 six-deck games and 3 multiple-deck fake single and double-deck games. Rules for all games are h17 and das. Penetration on the double and six-deck games is poor. The fake single and double-deck games should be avoided. Table minimums are $3.

Main Street Station (12 Blackjack Tables)

Main Street Station has 1 single-deck game, 8 double-deck games, 2 six-deck games and 1 fake single-deck game. Rules for all games are h17. Table minimums are $3. Penetration is poor.

California (20 Blackjack Tables)

The California has 19 double-deck and 1 six-deck game. Rules are h17 on all games. Penetration is poor. Table minimum is $2.

Las Vegas Club (12 Blackjack Tables)

The Las Vegas Club has 10 single-deck games and 2 eight-deck games. Single deck games have fair penetration with h17 rules. The six-deck games have h17, das and ls rules and they are very playable for short periods.

Golden Gate (10 Blackjack Tables)

The Golden Gate has 2 single-deck games, 5 double-deck games, 2 four-deck csm games and 1 six-deck game. Penetration is fair. The single-deck games are playable.

Golden Nugget (35 Blackjack Tables)

The Golden Nugget has 2 single-deck (SF21) games, 15 double-deck games, 4 six-deck (s17, das and ls) games and 14 six-deck (h17, das and ls) games. Penetration is fair. The six-deck ($25 minimum) games are playable in the high-limit area.

Horseshoe (24 Blackjack Tables)

The Horseshoe has 14 single-deck games and 10 six-deck games. Rules are h17 and rsa. Penetration is poor for single-deck and good for six-deck games.

Fremont (14 Blackjack Tables)

The Fremont has 1 single-deck (SF21) game, 12 double-deck games and 1 six-deck game. Rules are h17. Penetration on the double-deck games is fair.

Four Queens (15 Blackjack Tables)

The Four Queens has 2 single-deck games, 5 double-deck games and 8 eight-deck games. Penetration is poor. Rules are h17 with das on the eight-deck games.

Fitzgeralds (15 Blackjack Tables)

Fitzgeralds has 10 double-deck games, 4 six-deck games and 1 six-deck Spanish 21 game. Penetration is poor on double-deck and good on six-deck games.

Lady Luck (12 Blackjack Tables)

Lady Luck has 1 single-deck (h17) game, 1 single-deck (SF21) game, 2 double-deck games and 8 six-deck games. Penetration is good on the single and double-deck games. Table minimums are $5. The single-deck game is one of the best in the downtown area, but is watched very closely by pit and surveillance personnel.

Gold Spike (4 Blackjack Tables)

The Gold Spike has 2 single-deck and 2 double-deck games. Rules are h17 with $2 minimums. Penetration is good with few players.

El Cortez (10 Blackjack Tables)

The El Cortez has 10 single-deck games with h17 rules and $2 table minimums. Games are very playable with few players. Pit personnel watch advantage players closely.


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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