Live Blackjack Tweet Test Tomorrow

I’m headed back to the casino tomorrow and going to try and live tweet my day as best possible.  With the rules against using phones at the tables I’m not sure how well this will go, but if you’re interested to follow join me – the Twitter handle is @blackjackroi and will likely use simple #blackjack.

Goal for the day is +$600-1000 and since it is a short trip there is a good chance I’ll either lose outright or win more than my goal and then give it back since I’m playing on a compressed schedule.  No matter what happens it should be interesting to see what happens.

Nice Dealer = Big Losses

I’ve mentioned before that blackjack dealers are some of my favorite people to chat with.  Just like everything else there are good dealers and not so great dealers and in certain casinos they make it a point for their dealers to be very friendly at all times.  This is usually a good thing, but when you are trying to make money, staying the extra shoe to keep a conversation going with a nice dealer or even worse to keep staring at a beautiful dealer is a quick way to big losses.

Some of my favorite dealers are at Planet Hollywood in Vegas – there is James who is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet and several bikini cald beauties at the Pleasure Pit who are always happy to see you return.  They have sucked me in several times with their great attitudes and fun atmosphere keeping me at the table longer than I knew I should stay.

Here is my simple piece of advice – be friendly and have a good time with your dealer, but remember that they are business people and they understand that if you get up and walk away there will be another buyer to fill your spot.  

I’m a Gambler and Proud Part of the 87%

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The American Gaming Association recently released a survey which said that 87 percent of Americans think gambling is an acceptable activity. Now there’s a ringing endorsement – acceptable – and that was the lead of the press release.

Politicians can rev up their base by opposing new casinos in their state, moral authority types can tell us the evil gambling brings with it, and the worry-wart set can always point to the distant uncle who threw away the family business on the ponies.  The thing is that gambling does create jobs and it brings people entertainment in a way that is no more harmful than sugary foods, smoking and alcohol.

I know people abuse gambling and I hate that it has been part of the destruction of lives in various ways.  I also would proffer that these people likely would have found some other vice to destroy their lives had gambling not done the trick.  I’m not making light of bad situations, but my personal opinion is that gambling when done responsibly is more than acceptable.

Of course as I write this I’m not out there advertising my affection for blackjack to my friends, family and co-workers.  I have a few close friends who will talk gambling with me on a regular basis, but otherwise I am not going to start in on blackjack or gambling conversations unless someone else initiates it.

This blog is my outlet to let people know what I’m excited and passionate about and in the hopes that the 87% won’t grow to 100%, but ‘acceptable’ will turn into ‘excited’.  So let’s get gambling out into the mainstream, bring more people into the casinos and have more fun along the way.

No Happy Fathers Day for Blackjack

First, to all the Dad’s out there – Happy Fathers Day!  I hope that you are doing whatever it is that you truly enjoy doing on this day made for us.  For me in order of preference I’d be 1) in a casino playing blackjack 2) playing golf 3) sitting on my couch watching US Open and World Cup.  Today I’m getting #3 thanks to my wife and kids.

I love the family, but it is nice every once in a while getting some time to myself and blackjack is one of my favorite escapes from the routine.  With that in mind I was thinking about a post to thank the ‘father of blackjack’ for creating this pastime, but in my admittedly broad and shallow research via the internet no one could pinpoint where blackjack came from.

It’s probably fitting that there is no one inventor of the game.  With no point of inception there is more intrigue and mystery associated with blackjack and also there isn’t one guy to curse when that dealer turns a 16 into a 21, only the elusive blackjack Gods.

So Happy Fathers Day to blackjack from all of us who are devotees to this game that has no father.

What Happened to Atlantic City?

Back when I was in college a friend and I were driving up the east coast and took a minor detour to check out Atlantic City.  We actually changed clothes in the Taj parking garage to make sure we looked presentable enough for the casino.  I’d venture to guess that if I walked into any AC casino now in a shirt with either a collar or sleeves they’d call me a high roller.

Okay, maybe its not that bad, but with the influx of new casinos in the area over the past decades and the many pending casino applications in New York state and Massachusetts we may be witnessing AC’s swan song.  It is a shame in some respects and in other ways it is probably fitting for a locale that just never could find its way to living up to the potential of becoming Vegas East.

Harrahs is likely closing another one of its properties in AC over the next year and the other existing properties are either struggling, selling at a loss, or outright closing.  It seems improbable with the relatively close proximity of huge gaming populations in NYC, Philly and New England, but the Monopoly board might be your best Boardwalk investment at this time.

My personal opinion is that transportation is their biggest hurdle.  If you live in NYC or are visiting you likely don’t have full time access to a car and so you need a way to get to AC.  At the present time an easy alternative just doesn’t exist.  You can take a bus, but unless you are 80 years old and have a oxygen tank that doesn’t present a tantalizing option.  On the other end you could rent a helicopter or town car, but if you have that kind of money you likely want to go somewhere a little more upscale.

The next time I go to NYC for work I’m going to try and work in an extra night for an AC side trip to see what happens.  I’ll keep you updated on what I see and if there might still be some light left in those AC lights.

How Much Money Should I Bring to Casino?

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When you walk into a casino they have a plan to take as much of your money as possible so your best defense is to be prepared as possible.  My first rule is to only walk into a casino with as much money as you are prepared to lose that day.  If you start to hit the ATM it is easy to lose track of how much you’re in for the session and before you know it you’ve gone too far.

One piece of the budget puzzle is how many opportunities you have at the tables.  In order to maximize your chances you want to make sure your buy-in amount is appropriate for the table minimum.  If you buy in for $100 at a $25 table you likely won’t have enough chances to get rolling, but if you buy in $500 at a $5 table and the momentum goes the wrong way you could quickly lose more than necessary.

My general rule is to buy-in for 10-15x the table minimum.  That gives you enough chances to get on a roll, but doesn’t put you in so far that if things go south you’ve buried your bankroll in one session.

For those following along at home:

  • $10 table = $100 – 150 buy-in
  • $15 table = $150 – 225 buy-in
  • $25 table = $250 – 375 buy-in
  • $100 table = $1000 – 1500 buy-in

Buy in for an amount that is comfortable for your budget and have a plan of attack going into the session and you’ll have a much better chance of having a great day at the blackjack tables.

How Do I Earn Comps at a Casino?

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If you have a high Theo at a casino it doesn’t mean that you’re smuggling a soprano chipmunk named Theodore, it means that your Theoretical value to the casino is high which puts you in line for potential comps.  Even if you win on a regular basis the casinos know that over time they have the advantage so it is in their interest to offer free rooms, food, etc to bring you back as often as possible.

The basic calculation for your earnings are based on the average amount you bet x the length of play x the odds advantage to the house.  This is why heavy slot and roulette players tend to earn more rewards since their games have better odds for the casino.  

Those of us who play blackjack earn less since the odds are closer to even.  For someone like me who tends to play in short bursts of an hour at a time, even though I may bet a decent amount on every hand my comps don’t add up very quickly since I keep my time variable intentionally low to give me a better chance of winning. 

For example purposes my current level of play – $1000/day budget at $25 blakcjack tables – earns me 2-5 free nights every month and invites to special events at almost every Harrahs property.  I also earn enough comps to pay for lunch, souveneirs, or dinner from time to time.  If I had a job that allowed me to play more than once every month this would likely increase beyond rooms and I could spread my play around to other properties to increase my rewards and options.

I don’t play the comps game very aggressively so I’m likely missing out on some additional opportunities by not talking up the casino hosts who email me offers and working the system when I’m on property.  Winning money and getting more comps are not mutually exclusive, but I put my energy into playing winning blackjack rather than getting a few extra perks.

My advice, play to win, get the rewards card wherever you play, and take advantage of any free offers you can so even if you lose on the tables you’ll come away ahead in some way.